Assistant Head Coach/Defensive Coordinator Patrick Graham
Q: How did you feel like the guys responded after a couple tough weeks? Obviously, the score looks pretty good.
A: I think the guys – again, I've told you about these guys, they work hard all the time. The beautiful thing about these guys is each week they start over. They know they've got to start over on the opponent, but it was good to get a win and good to perform defensively like you would want to. I was pleased with that. As soon as they got back here on Wednesday, they were ready to go on Kansas City and you couldn't have more of a challenging obstacle in front of you right now with this offense. It's tough, but hopefully we get out here to practice and get ready to go to see what we can do.
Q: Was that a good example of what your defense can do when you're getting a lot pressure on the quarterback? You guys obviously got a lot of pressure, had a couple interceptions, pressured (Panthers Quarterback) Sam (Darnold) into a few bad decisions. Is that kind of an example of what can happen?
A: I hope so. When you hold an NFL offense to three points, you limit their effectiveness in the running game and you kind of take away their targets for the most part in the passing game, that's what you're looking to do. Again, each opponent is different. This week, I can't even begin to go down the list of all the different weapons they have. It's numerous, plus they have the best player in the league at the quarterback spot. It's hard, it's going to be hard, and the best offensive minds between (Chiefs Head) Coach (Andy) Reid and (Chiefs Offensive Coordinator) Coach (Eric) Bieniemy. It's going to be a challenge. This is the most explosive offense, I think. I don't know statistically, but if you just go off of SportsCenter in the last four years, they're the most explosive offense, so it's going to be a challenge. They've got good blockers, they've got good receivers. It's going to be tough.
Q: I keep reading everywhere that this year they're struggling with Cover-Two defense. I can't imagine it took the NFL four years to play Cover-Two defense against the Chiefs. What is it that teams are doing to them that's giving them so much trouble?
A: I think what you're seeing – and this is just me watching the tape, I'm telling you I was pulling my hair out. These guys are running all over the field. They've moving the ball offensively. I don't have the rankings in front of my face right now, but they're moving the ball. I'm sure there's some stuff that Coach Reid and Coach Bieniemy want to get a little better on, but they're moving the ball and they can score at any moment. You make a mistake, they can score. The numbers between Cover-Two, -Three, -Four, I don't know those numbers, but I would assume teams are playing Cover-Two because you play Cover-Two and you've got two deep people right there. You're trying to top their speed. They've got outside speed, they've got inside vertical speed, they've got backs that can run and take it off and then you've got the quarterback that might tie into some of the zone coverage to keep eyes on. I'm sure they've seen Cover-Two before. I'm sure (chiefs Defensive Coordinator Steve) Spags (Spagnoulo) is running some version of Cover-Two in practice. The struggling part – I get whatever the record is and stuff like that, but offensively just watching them on tape, it's still as scary as it was as at any other time. They've got the best player in the league playing quarterback, they've got arguably the best receiver, they've got arguably the best tight end. It's pretty good. Then, you took at those rookie O-linemen, those guys are playing well too, in terms of the kid from Oklahoma and then the kid from Tennessee. They've got a lot of good players.
Q: You challenged your defense last week and they responded quite well. Do you think this group is turning a corner or do you want to still see more before you feel more comfortable?
A: I never want to change my song. If I get up here when we're losing and I'm like, 'We're on to next week,' I don't want to come up here because we won a game and say, 'Oh, let's bask in the glory of that last week.' To me, we've got to deal with this week. That's how I talk to the guys, so in terms of turning the corner, we'll see. We got one game. That game is over. We've got to string some stuff together, playing good defense, focused on the fundamentals. I think that's the thing that showed up last week, no different than what we're going to do today in terms of focusing on the fundamentals. We've got to tackle these guys. They're in the top-10, I'm sure, in YAC, RAC, whatever you want to say, run after catch, yards after contact, yards after catch. However you want to put it, we've got to work on our tackling. In terms of explosive plays, defending the deep part of the field, we've got to get better at that. To say we turned the corner, I wouldn't say anything like that right now, but we've just got to focus on this week and it's a great challenge in front of us.
Q: One of the things that stood out when I looked at their stats was 18 turnovers. What are they doing?
A: I would say probably the 18 turnovers, sometimes it's just bad luck – tipped pass here and there. (Bills Defensive End Gregory) Rousseau made a great play there from Buffalo. I don't know how many times you're accounting for a D-end batting a ball and catching it himself, but he's a good player. Sometimes, a tipped pass. A whole bunch of stuff goes into that. Coach Reid is old school, so I'm sure he's saying, 'Okay, let's focus on fundamentals, let's not turn the ball over, take away chances from the opposing team's offense.' It's not like these guys don't know how to carry the ball. Again, the most explosive offense in our league for the last few years, so I would say part of it probably is bad luck, but it's on us to try to capitalize off of that and see if we can make some plays with that and force them into turnovers. It's going to be tough.
Q: So, can it be that (Chiefs Quarterback Patrick) Mahomes is just having a bad year?
A: Not if you're watching the tape. I understand how someone – not the tape I'm watching. I'm telling you, hair has been pulled out a little bit. (Head) Coach (Joe Judge) had had to talk me off the bridge a little bit, but this guy is good. He's the best player in the league for a reason. I mean, he's the best player in the league.
Q: I know this is probably overly simple, but when you look at an offense, do you go in saying we've got to take away what they do best? Is that your first objective in the game plan?
A: That's one of the main things and sometimes you're not successful doing that. There's plenty of examples over the years of my time being a coordinator where I've failed at that, but you're trying to minimize the game wreckers, the guys who are going to wreck the game. I would say offensively, defensively, special teams-wise, that's how I was raised. Let's try to minimize the game wreckers and then you've got to ID who the game wreckers are. Again, that's the hard thing. When you don't get that done, you're probably not going to win the game because those guys are game wreckers for a reason. Anytime they get the ball in their hands, there's a chance for them to score, there's a chance for them to get an explosive play to put them in position to score. I would say most of the time you're trying to do that. It always starts for me (with) stopping the run, who are the game wreckers (and) can we minimize their impact on the game and then try to expose their weaknesses if they have any. Again, this team is really hard to find any weaknesses.
Q: Where do you start with them? You say there are all of these scary things. Where do you start from your perspective?
A: My progression starts with the run game first, even though it's a passing team. I get that, but you have to say, 'How can we stop the run?' because like I've told you guys before, if they can run it especially early in the game, we're in trouble because now I'm playing catch-up the whole time. You're trying to stop the run and you do that against these guys – again, our first inclination when you think about the run game, you're (thinking) get more people down there. That's a recipe for disaster with these guys. You start bringing more people down in the run game, now these guys are running by – (Chiefs Wide Receiver) Tyreek Hill, all these guys. You've got to take care of the pass game. Then from there, the second part is, who are the game wreckers? You're looking at the quarterback, you're looking at the receivers, the backs, whoever you ID. You don't have like 10 game wreckers. You've got to kind of focus the defense on the game wreckers and say, 'Okay, how can we minimize their effect on the game?' and you try to come up with a plan. It doesn't always work and that's on me, but that's really where I start with that. To me, I'm always going to start with the run game because if you can't stop the run or minimize the effectiveness of the run, you're going to be playing so far behind. In this league in my experience, any blowouts I've been a part of, that's been a recipe for disaster.
Q: You brought up Eric Bieniemy earlier. What do you think about the NFL expanding the Rooney Rule and also are you surprised Eric hasn't gotten a head coaching job?
A: I've known EB over texting and through mutual friends. Again, I can't speculate on the head coaching stuff and all the stuff like that, but really good dude to me. Been really informative, got some information from him in terms of just picking his brain about stuff. I'm not caught up on what happened with the Rooney Rule or anything like that, but I know the league tries its best to try to be inclusive in trying to expand and give opportunities to people of color, for opportunities in leadership. Obviously, we're all appreciative of that. I can't really speculate, I don't know the exact rules. I'm pulling my hair out with these guys (laughs), but EB is a good coach. He does a good job of getting those guys prepared. They do so much and to me that's about the coaching. If you're able to do that much – I get the talent and all that stuff, and they have the players, there's no question – but the fact that they're able to do so much. The combination of him and Coach Reid doing it all together and being able to do that is because of the coaching. They found a way to simplify it for the players.
Q: I want to go back to that thing you said about how you can't put more guys in the box against these guys and stop the run—
A: I didn't say you can't. You can if you want to. We'll see. That might be the plan, I don't know.
Q: Just league-wide, I feel like a lot of people are playing with two-high. How challenging is it to stop the run when you're more geared to stop the pass?
A: I think the thing in this league and when I came from college to the pros, the defensive linemen and the linebackers, you have to really rely on them to help in the run game because it is a passing league. I'm not trying to talk out of two sides of my mouth, but if they can run it early, you're in trouble because you're going to be playing from behind. You really rely on your D-line to take care of a lot of that stuff. That's why you have the big bodies, you have the (Defensive Lineman) Leo's (Leonard Williams), you have the (Defensive Lineman) Dex's (Dexter Lawrence II) to take care of that run game. You bank on your outside edge guys to help collapse the edge and make sure that they don't go one-for-one. That's how we preach about the run game, don't go one-for-one. You're banking on that so that you can play a little bit more for the pass, but each game plan is different. Sometimes you've just got to get down there and take care of it, and then sometimes you've got to pick and choose, but there's a lot of weapons down there on the field and they open you up and spread you out. It's tough, it's really tough.
Q: When you say, 'Don't go one-for-one,' what do you mean by that?
A: To play defensive football in this league, to me, if you're blocking me, I've got to rely on you to be able to get off that block and play B gap to A gap, A gap to B gap, something like that.
Offensive Coordinator Jason Garrett
Q: How great was that to see that trick play work like magic?
A: Well, I don't know if it worked like magic, but it worked. Yeah, it was a good play for us. We wanted to get to it. There were certain situations where we felt like we could get the look that we wanted, and it came up for us in that case and ultimately those plays come down to execution. Book (Running Back Devontae Booker) did a really good job handling that pressure and getting the pitch off and then (Wide Receiver) Dante (Pettis) made a really good throw and DJ (Quarterback Daniel Jones) made a hell of a catch.
Q: What made Dante the right guy to throw the ball there or was it anybody who was in that spot?
A: No, he just has a real good feel. I think we've seen that from Dante. Whenever he's gotten opportunities, he's gone in and played well. He's got a good feel and instinct for playing the game. We worked on it a little bit last week with him in practice and he threw it well, so we decided to give him a shot and he came through.
Q: Could you have made that one-handed catch when you were in there?
A: Absolutely not. That was a hell of a play.
Q: You moved Daniel out of the pocket a lot last week, is that something that can become a bigger part of his game and the offense going forward?
A: I think each week you just try to decide what you think you need to do to win the game. You try to attack with what are potentially strengths that you have and maybe some things that you think you can take advantage of from them. That was such a good defense last week. I think they were third in the NFL coming into the game and we had a lot of moving parts on the offensive side of the ball, so we felt like that was a way for us to move the ball. Again, I thought the guys responded well to it.
Q: When you look on the other side, you see (Chiefs Quarterback Patrick) Mahomes who does a lot of that moving on the run and throwing not designed, just sort of that freelancing. Do you want Daniel to do that more maybe? It seems like when he goes to run – when he moves, most of the time he ends up running rather than running to throw.
A: Well, I don't even want to compare players. In Kansas City, that guy's a really, really, special player and he has his style of playing. Obviously, he's taken the league by storm. Just all the different things he's capable of doing – throwing from the pocket, throwing on the move, making creative plays, throwing back across his body, throwing from awkward, funny body positions. He's just amazing. You've just got to give him credit for what he's been able to do so far, the way they've used him and then just simply how he's played.
Q: I'm more asking how much would you like Daniel to add that aspect? Not the throwing across his body, but just unscripted throwing on the run.
A: Daniel's made a lot of plays for us on the move. He made a lot of them the other day in the game. He uses his feet to run, and he uses (them) to throw. He has his own style, but he's been really effective and he's going to get better and better as we go.
Q: You used that heavy personnel package at the goal line. It worked a couple of times early in the year. It didn't work the other day. What do you like about just having all those big bodies in there at the goal line?
A: Typically, down there, you get inside the one-yard line, that's been a good personnel in the NFL for a long time. We call it 23 personnel. It's two backs and three tight ends and it's been good for us. It's been good for other teams. They did a good job stuffing us. It comes down to coming off the ball, being lower, getting a little bit of a surge and getting in. The numbers are never going to be right down there. They're always going to have one more than you have. Unfortunately, we didn't get in that time. There are other ways to score down there, too. You can be opened up and spread out, but inside the one, typically that's been pretty good. We'll continue to use that. We'll continue to try to do other things as well.
Q: What would it mean to this offense if you get some of those weapons back?
A: I thought our guys responded really well the other day. Again, if you think about the different pieces we're using on the offensive line and then the different skill guys who came in and played, you've heard me say this before, we've got a lot of professional guys on our team who prepare the right way and get ready for their opportunities. I thought that was in evidence the other day against Carolina. Having said that, guys are starters for reasons, and the other guys who have been out have been really good players for us, but we've just got to continue to control what we can control. Those guys are controlling their preparation and their rehab as best they can. They're trying to get back as fast as they can. When they come back, there will be a place for them. But in the meantime, the guys who are playing, they have to continue to embrace their opportunities and they've done that so far.
Q: (Head Coach) Joe (Judge) was saying that when you go against a high-powered offense like this, there are a couple of different ways to approach it. You can try to play ball control, or you can try to sort of match their 'high-powered-ness,' for lack of a better term. What's the balance like to try to strike that in prepping for this week, especially when you don't necessarily know if you're going to have some of your guys?
A: I think the biggest thing that we always talk about is controlling what we can control, and what we can control is executing ball plays. If we're able to score fast against these guys, that's a good thing. If we're able to drive the ball and score, that's a good thing. The biggest thing we have to do is execute play after play after play, sustain drives. It's about making a lot of little plays in the game. It's about making the big plays when they're there. When we played our best offensive football, we've been able to do that. That will be no different on Monday night.
Q: How do you handle, you personally, game plan-wise with four of your top weapons you don't know, or you might not have them? Do you plan that, 'Okay, we're not going to have these guys and then add as you go'?
A: I think that's the best way. You try to get the right information from the training staff. Our guys do a great job communicating with us. You talk to the players about what their availability is but having said that we're going to have ball practice today, and we need to have receivers and linemen and tight ends and backs out there going and we believe in the guys that we have. If we're able to get some of the other guys back, we'll plug them in and we'll go. We have to be nimble on the call sheet. There's a lot of different personnels with guys names on it and if guys are available, those will be up, and if they're not, they won't be up, and the next guy's going to step in. Again, I keep going back to our guys. They embrace whatever situation it is, and they've responded well to it.
Q: Some of the things that worked against Carolina were the quick slants. I think (Wide Receiver) Darius (Slayton) caught a couple and I think Pettis had one, too. Is that something specific to Carolina or is that something you guys run well?
A: I think it's something that has to be part of what you're doing offensively. The quicks have been good for us around here. It's always a combination of trying to make some of those quick plays where the ball comes out of your hand and then making some plays down the field. Again, the conditions that you have, the guys you have playing and the guys you're going against I think factor into those decisions. The biggest piece is the execution part, and I think our guys did a great job in the game the other day. When those plays came up, they made the throws, they made the catches, they made the runs after the catch and that was big. I think if you look at the ball location on a lot of those, it was really good. Dante wins on an inside slant and DJ puts it right on the front number and he comes out of it for I think a 28-yard gain. The execution at a high level, how you're protecting, how you're throwing it, where the ball is, catching on the run, I think those are big parts of it. You can mix in some explosive plays in that quick game where guys are able to do that.
Q: What have you seen from (Tight End) Evan (Engram) this season? With so many other starters out, it seemed like his time to step up and shine and the numbers aren't necessarily showing that.
A: Evan has just responded well to anything we've ever given him. He's dealt with some injuries himself. He's worked his way in and out of the lineup and all that, but he gets himself ready to play. I think the other day in the game, he did exactly what we asked him. We moved the pocket a lot. He was a guy who was going to get the ball on a lot of those plays. He caught them. He went north and south and made a lot of good plays for us. He's ready and willing to do whatever we ask him. He's been a blocker at times. He's been a vertical receiver. He's been a run after the catch guy. He's always ready to go. We love having him on our team.
Q: This is a national game, a lot of people from outside watching. With Daniel, do you feel like people realize when you talk to people on the outside, how well he's kind of played so far this season?
A: I don't really think too much about that to be honest with you. We really try to focus on what we need to do each day. He's done a great job of that. You prepare, you prepare, you prepare and then you go out there and play. I think he's clearly improving with every opportunity. I think that goes to his approach. He's someone whose always ready for the opportunities in practice and then he learns from the experiences, and he does that in the game as well as any of the guys I've been around. He'll keep getting better and better and better. We're going to keep trying to get better around him and keep growing. We'll just keep kind of focusing on that.
Q: Is it refreshing that for the first time this year you're going to have the same offensive line, I would assume, in back-to-back games?
A: Again, it's just part of the deal. I keep going back to this. Our guys have responded well to it, our coaches and players. Whatever it is, we've just got to be ready to embrace it. Guys have to be prepared. You never know, these situations change during the week. They change during the game. Go in there and play, next man up and keep embracing that approach. That's what allows you to play your best.
Q: How was the victory formation?
A: It was good. It was nice to be in that. It really is. We've got to get more of that going (laughs).
Special Teams Coordinator Thomas McGaughey
Q: Do you get a bonus when your guy gets Special Teams Player of the Week?
A: I haven't seen it yet (laughs). No, I'm happy for (Kicker) Graham (Gano). He's done a good job for us and he's just Graham. He's doing what he does, and he shows up in big spots in big games.
Q: Was he kicking with something a little extra against the Panthers?
A: I'm sure he was, I'm sure he was. I'm sure if he wanted to pick a team to do it against, it would be that one. He did a great job, and he did a great job with all his kicks – kickoffs as well as the field goals. Definitely appreciate his performance on Sunday, for sure.
Q: He has the record for 50-plus field goals in franchise history. How much of a weapon is he when you put him up there from 50-plus yards?
A: He's definitely a bonus. You feel like anytime you cross the 35, you got points. That's a luxury to have and we don't take it for granted, that's for sure. Graham has done a great job and hopefully he'll continue to just keep doing what he's doing and being consistent and being, more than anything, a great leader and a pro. He's greatly appreciated around here.
Q: On most teams, (Chiefs Wide Receiver) Mecole Hardman is the fastest on the team. How dangerous of a punt returner is Mecole?
A: Oh my gosh, you put on the tape and the speed just jumps off the tape. They could probably put a four by one (100) team together and beat half of the college teams around. No, he can fly. He's scary fast. He can stick his foot in the ground, make cuts at full speed and he's a super, super talented guy. We'll have our work cut out for us for sure.
Q: You keep losing returners. Who is next on your list and possibilities?
A: The guys that have played in the game. We've got (Wide Receiver) Dante (Pettis), we've got (Cornerback) Darnay (Holmes), (Wide Receiver) John Ross, we've got some guys. We're not completely dead yet.
Q: John Ross will be the next man up as part of the punt return?
A: No, he won't punt return.
Q: Kick return?
A: Yeah, kick return.
Q: What about punt return?
A: Punt return, it could be Dante, it could be Darnay. We've got a couple guys, so we've got some options back there and we're going to keep working. Depends on how (Wide Receiver Kadarius Toney) KT is with his health. He can definitely be back there. Whoever is up, we'll block for them and we're going to try to make a play.
Q: Whenever a prominent offensive or defensive player is hurt on special teams, what do you think about that? Is it too risky to put a guy in that's important to the defense?
A: You're probably asking the wrong person. You take a risk when you step out in between those white lines. They pay you to play football. They don't say, 'Okay, you can only play this part, but you can't play that part.' It's a game. You get paid to play the game. We're trying to win games and we're going to play the best players. Thing about it is, in this game, you don't know when the game changing play is going to happen, and you don't know who is going to make it. The game doesn't care who makes the play, we do. We just want to make sure that we've got guys in the game that can plays, regardless of quote unquote, injuries or whatever. We're trying to win games. Whatever we've got to got to do to win a game, we'll do what we've got to do to win a game.
Q: When Toney is healthy, you guys would not hesitate at all to put him on returns?
A: Absolutely. That's what he's here for. You can't draft a guy and say, 'Oh, this guy has great return ability. He can do all of this,' and then as soon as he gets here, 'Oh, we can't put him on punt return. He's made out of glass, he's going to hurt himself' (laughs). He's a football player. You watch him catch the ball, catch a slant, he's hard to bring down. Guys like that are a threat. The (Chiefs Wide Receiver) Tyreek Hill's of the world are threats. They have coaches up at night thinking about how they're going to stop the threat. No, we're just going to try to use our best players and try and win games.
Q: You have to be itching. You just talked about how you want to play this guy and he can do it, he just hasn't gotten that opportunity yet.
A: Yeah, like I said, as a special teams coach, obviously, you want things to happen. You want to play certain guys, but you've also got to manage a roster, too. You've got to be smart in how you do it. We see how dynamic (Kadarius Toney) 89 is when he gets the ball in his hand. Regardless when he gets the ball in his hand is, to me, that doesn't make any difference and I'm sure (Head Coach) Joe (Judge) feels the same way. We're just trying win games, but you also got to be smart in how you make sure he's healthy and he feels good, and he feels comfortable being back there because at the end of the day, that's the most important thing. The player has to feel comfortable doing what he's doing. That's what we want. I'm not forcing anybody to do anything. I want him to feel like, 'Okay coach, I want to go back there and make a play. I feel good, I want to play, I want make a play for this football team,' and that's what we're looking for.
Q: You talked about the difference between college punt returning and in the NFL. Obviously, it's harder when you play so many teams at this level. How is Toney doing with the learning curve? How has the learning curve been for him and learning how to confidently return punts at the NFL level?
A: I think it's like anything else. Once you start getting the game reps, it's one thing to come out here and do it and catch balls off the JUGS and catch balls from (Punter) Riley (Dixon) in practice. It's a whole other different thing to get in the game and see that ball under the lights, see it turn over and then be able to just let your natural instincts kick in. I think once he starts to get game reps at it, it'll be different. I can give you a different answer, but you never know until a guy gets under the lights and you've got to return a kick with real bullets flying at you.
Q: On punt returns, punters are so good, I look at any returns as a positive. Last week, the guy punted seven times and you had three 10-yard penalties. Is that something that you've got to get your guys?
A: Yeah, it's frustrating. It's really frustrating and we can't afford to do that, period. That's something, you just can't afford to do it because it hurts the team. We're talking about impacting the team in a positive way and you can't impact the team in a positive way by having penalties. You've got to be able to play penalty free. That's just a non-negotiable. I'm never going to sit up here and justify having a penalty. We can't have penalties. That's something we've got to fix and that's something we need to help clean it up, coach them up and be better.
Q: It seemed like the amount of plays you have on special teams, proportionally there are more penalties than on offense and defense snaps.
A: Yeah, that's a good question. I wish I knew, I wish I knew. It's probably a Perry Fewell question right there. I don't know, I just go out there and coach them, that's all. I don't worry about when they're throwing the flag, they're throwing them on us, 'Hey look, stop. Whatever you're doing, don't do it again.'
Q: Did you get what you wanted on that formation without a punt returner?
A: Yeah, absolutely. It was a 28-yard punt. That was exactly what we wanted.
Q: What's the thinking on that?
A: When you do things like that, it's just situational. You've got a new punter back there, you've got to think about some things. He hasn't been in that situation before and just thinking about speeding it up and speed guys up sometimes back there. Young punter, backed up, worried about getting it blocked, you'll get a 28-yard punt.
Wide Receiver Sterling Shepard
Q: Are you feeling better?
A: Yeah, I'm feeling a lot better, just listening to the trainers. Doing whatever they're telling me to do.
Q: What happened at the end of last week?
A: Running a route, routes on air, I kind of just tweaked it again. Wasn't too bad, but it was enough.
Q: Did you know in that pregame workout? It was really short, so did you know right away that it just wasn't going to be?
A: Yeah, I ran the first couple of routes pretty good. Then, kind of got fatigue on me pretty quick and I knew right then that if I wasn't going to be able to go full 100 percent, that there was no point of me being out there. We've got guys that can go. (Wide Receiver) Dante (Pettis) did a great job in the game and I knew that he would go out there and do his thing. That was a decision that I made.
Q: Was that the same hamstring as before?
Q: So, it was the other one?
A: Yeah, it was my other one. I tweaked it, yeah.
Q: How do you feel your chances are for Monday night? You were dancing out here and it looked like you were in a good mood. How do you feel about your chances for Monday since you have an extra day?
A: I'm always in a good mood. Just listening to the trainers. Whatever they have me doing in the training room, I'm trying to stick to that. Like I said, I'm feeling good. I hope it's a go.
Q: When you're going up against a team like the Chiefs with an offense like that, do you take any more responsibility on your offense to keep them off the field?
A: Yeah, for sure. They're explosive. They're going to put up points. We've got to do a good job of helping the defense out. It's complementary football is what we ultimately want to play. That's what we try to do every week.
Q: What did you think of (Quarterback) Daniel's (Jones) catch?
A: It was nasty. Did you see me on the sideline hopping around?
Q: Did you want to throw that?
A: Heck yeah, I wanted to throw it. That was supposed to be me throwing it, but Dante laid it up nice (laughs). DJ almost got it.
Q: Did you actually throw some in practice?
A: Yeah, I threw some in practice, but wasn't too hot (laughs). I'm not going to lie, it wasn't too hot.
Q: Is that why they didn't choose you?
A: No, I've got an arm – I think it's just my gloves are a little bit slippery or something (laughs).
Q: The four of you guys that missed this game, what has been the collective mood of you guys wanting to get back out there to help this team?
A: Everyone is super anxious to get back out there. This is what we love to do – go out there and perform on Sunday's. Not being able to do that, it stinks. Everybody is doing what they have to do, listening to the trainers. Guys are eager, but you've got to listen to your body at the same time. It's hard.
Q: How confident are you that some of the other guys can get back this week also? You're pretty confident in yourself, right?
A: Yeah, I'm super confident. Yeah, I don't really know the status of those guys, so I really can't answer for them, but I can answer for myself. I've been feeling great lately. I'm hoping, like I said, it's a go.
Q: Do you think Daniel showed something last week and how much coaching staff put on his plate and how much versatility he showed, running the option, running out as a receiver? Is that another step in his growth?
A: Yeah, I think he's been showing that all season. He's been playing great. We've got to do our part and help him out. We've got to protect, we've got to catch, we've got to get open. You give him time and run the right route and get open, he's going to carve defenses up. I've been proud of the way he's been progressing. He's been looking great.
Q: This is a national game so it's a bigger audience of people getting to see him. You know he's legit, but are you getting the sense that people outside the region that don't see him regularly are realizing that?
A: I mean, all you've got to do is put on the tape. It's really not that hard. The man works his tail off and it shows up on Sundays. I've got total faith in him and his ability and I think others should as well. Like you said, it's a big stage, we're not trying to put too much weight on that. It is a big stage and he's going to do his thing. We've been preparing. We prepared a great job today and we've got to continue that throughout the rest of the week.
Defensive Back Logan Ryan
Q: How much are you looking forward to seeing if you guys can stack a couple really good performances and do it against a pretty legit offense?
A: Yeah, that's the goal – consistency. I think last week we found a way to win. We found a formula that was good for us and we've got to try to replicate. Every game's different, different players, different game plan. They're really good on offense. Number two in passing, number one in third down offense, so we've got our work cut out for us. We're up for the challenge. (That's what) we're out here practicing for and getting the looks and so far, so good.
Q: You've seen a fair amount of (Chiefs Tight End) Travis Kelce, what is it that makes him so talented and what kind of challenge does he bring for defenses?
A: I actually played against him in college at Cincinnati. Hall of Famer. He has great chemistry with his quarterback, great hands, good routes, good wiggle. He's able to always uncover and has just a great mind for the game. He doesn't run the routes how you would teach a high schooler or how they're drawn up in the playbook. He kind of runs them to get open. He's just a really good player that knows how to get open, catch the ball and run after it. It's going to be a great challenge. We're going to have to mix it up with him. He's definitely one of their go-to guys. In order to beat the Chiefs, you've got to take care of Travis Kelce or make him have a frustrating day, which you've got to hit him at the line of scrimmage. It's going to take all three levels to really affect Travis Kelce.
Q: How do you think you guys have done against tight ends this season?
A: I'm not sure, honestly. I think in the games we won, we did good and in the games we lost, we didn't do good enough. I think we did okay. We've got to get better at it.
Q: How do you prepare for a quarterback who is kind of willing to throw it anywhere?
A: He's the best quarterback in the league, arm-talent wise, creativity, arm strength, so we've got to do our jobs. We've got to defend the deep part of the field when I'm back there and cover for a little bit longer than normal because he always keeps the play alive. You really can't, you really can't replicate it. Like I said, catching balls off the jugs, but really, you can't. You've got to go out there and just do your job and do it well and be in position when the ball is in the air.
Q: Do you buy into the theory the Chiefs are struggling and this is a good week to play them?
A: No, I don't buy into that theory. It's Monday night, they're going to bring their A-game. They've got really good players. They've got championship-caliber players. I think they're going to be at their best. Like I said, they're still the number two passing offense. They still have legit all Pro Bowlers all over their offensive side of the ball, so defensively, we've got our work cut out for us. But that's just the challenge of the league. That's the challenge of being a defensive back. In order for us to win that game, we've got to play well on defense.
Q: I'm sure you've spoken with (Safety) Jabrill (Peppers) since the news came down. How tough was that and what have those conversations kind of been like?
A: It sucks, man. It really sucks. I feel like we were just finding a groove of all playing together this year. That's a great kid with a great heart. He loves football. He does whatever the team asks him to do. He probably had his best game and, it might be a topic for another conversation, but we've really got to talk about these turf fields, man. It's just not best for a player's safety. It's too many lower body injuries and it's unfortunate. It's unfortunate going into a contract year. It just breaks your heart, so it's tough. It's going to be really tough to replace his energy. He broke our team down after the game. I don't know if you saw the video, with a torn ACL and a high-ankle sprain and he's, 'good job fellas.' That's just him. He's about the team. He's all about the team. I love playing with him. We're in touch. He's still around obviously helping us out. We'll miss him, but it's just too many lower body injuries on turf. The discrepancy is way too high and it's taking guys earnings away, their earning ability away, when you miss a season because your ankle can't get out of the turf or your knee can't get out of the turf. So, it's unfortunate.
Q: This turf has been criticized by a lot of players around the league, what do you think of the turf here?
A: I mean, our turf is like any other turf. I think a lot of the turfs are bad. I don't think they're bad, I just think they're not as good as grass. They're turf. They are what they are. But we practice on grass every day. The English Premier League, those players play on grass and we play on turf. I get it and a lot of guys get high-ankle sprains and tear their knees every year on turf. If it happens on grass, it happens on grass. Grass has the ability to move a little bit move than turf. Our turf to anybody else's, players don't like playing on turf. If you had a poll, the players don't like playing on it. It is what it is. We play on it, but it's just unfortunate when you see that stuff happen.
Q: What have you thought of (Cornerback) Aaron Robinson? I know he's just kind of working his way back in, but he was a guy who came in with pretty high expectations as a third-round pick. Do you think he's somebody that looks like he can contribute to you guys still?
A: Yeah, no doubt. He looks like he can. He's been working hard, and he'll get his opportunity. That's all you can ask for in this league is an opportunity and to be prepared for it. He's been preparing for six weeks or whatever and all offseason for it, so he's got an ability to see some live action potentially and I think he can't be any more prepared based on the situation. He's been doing a lot of stuff behind the scenes. (Hopefully) we get to see him, let him loose…we need that DB, more DBs. We need that depth, and we need him, so we're counting on him.
Offensive Tackle Matt Peart
Q: How do you feel like you've done so far at left tackle?
A: I feel like I've (done) what I needed to do, come out here on the practice field and working every single day. Just working the technique and the skills that I need on the field at practice and showing up on game day and doing it.
Q: The week is not over yet, but in theory this should be the first week of the season where you guys have the same starting offensive line two weeks in a row. Is that just crazy to think about how many injuries you guys have been dealing with up front?
A: Like I've said prior, it's the next man up mentality. I always have the mindset of being ready, so if something were to happen the guy that steps up is just ready and it's all seamless from the top down.
Q: Do you mind the flip-flopping from right side one week to left side the next?
A: Not at all. Like I said, we come out here in practice and we work at it every single day, so once you put it in it's seamless.
Q: Where do you think you've made in particular the biggest strides from last year with your technique? If you could just single out a few things where are you a better player now?
A: Just overall being a better student of the game, just working with (Offensive Line) Coach (Rob) Sale and (Assistant Offensive Line) Coach (Ben) Wilk (Wilkerson), even Coach (Pat) Flats (Flaherty), some of vets, like (Center) Billy (Price), (Tackle) Nate (Solder), just understanding how they see the game and incorporating it into how I approach the game as well, and especially game planning. I feel like I've made huge strides in that regard. Bigger, faster, stronger. Even more than that, just working on my overall technique.
Q: When (Chiefs Defensive Coordinator) Steve Spagnuolo was here, he was a pressure coach. He brought linebackers and multiple people. Have you seen that from the Chiefs this year?
A: Schematically with the Chiefs, they kind of stick to their roots, they're going to do what they're going to do. Based on our scheme, we just have to make sure that we're ready to step on the field and get after them.
Q: What are some of the challenges for offensive linemen on screen passes when an offensive lineman gets out there and has to catch up and match the speed of a little defensive back? Seems like it's a mismatch for their speed and your size. How do you handle that?
A: In regard to screens, you're just making sure you're relying on each coaching technique, having that mentality and you understand the timing of each screen is different. Not every screen is going to look the same when you get out there. Just going out there and playing football.
Q: Are they calling the illegal linemen down the field more this year? There were two last game.
A: You're talking about the one on me? I was already down the field. That was just a lapse on my part. I got on the sideline, made the corrections and I promise you that will never happen to me ever again. But yeah, that was completely on me. (It) cost us a first down, but the guys that we have right here picked me up, staying on the next play mentality, and just having that mentality of just going back out there and just keep going. But yeah, that was just completely on me.
Q: What was that like watching on film? I'm sure the guys were getting on you a little bit. You were pretty far down there.
A: I was just really hard on myself. Like come on, I just cost my guys a first down. It's just one of those things where it's like you have to be keyed into the call and just understand that we can't have that happen.
Q: You were open though if they wanted to throw it to you.
A: I wasn't eligible (laughs), so I can't do anything with that.
Q: What's the approach you take when you know that you have to protect your quarterback's blindside? That's your job right now, right? You need to make sure that you keep (Quarterback) Daniel (Jones) upright, and you keep him safe. How do you approach that knowing that that is basically your primary responsibility?
A: Just take it a play at a time, just playing within myself. Just understanding when he calls a play knowing what my responsibility is to do in that specific moment, run or pass. Just having the mentality of you've got to compete, beat your one-on-one matchup. You're playing the blindside, so you have to keep the quarterback clean.
Q: Do you think there's something to the quarterback getting comfortable with the left tackle and the way you set, the way he drops and all that kind of working together?
A: I don't think it's just the left tackle, I think it's across the board. I'm just one of five. Having that relationship with the quarterback and understand that we keep the width of the pocket as tackles and keep the depth with the front three, and just making sure he's able to step up in the pocket when he needs to.