Defensive Coordinator Wink Martindale
Martindale: Everybody going to London? I think that anytime that you hold a professional football team to no touchdowns in a game, you walk away really proud of how the guys played. That's how it was last Sunday. Our fans did a tremendous job again of making it tough on the offense. I really think that defensively that we're getting full use out of the home field advantage and that's great to see. This is a tough challenge. We're going to go over to London and represent this great game. We're excited about that. Going against one of the best quarterbacks of all time is a great challenge for us to see where we're at. With that, I'll open it up to questions.
Q: You are known for blitzing; he's known for kind of picking apart blitzes. How much do you have to weigh that when you're making your game plan?
A: I think there's definitely some weighing to it. We've played him different about every time we've played him. The way to attack him changes from year-to-year of who he has with him. The thing that separates him is everybody knows that he's a Hall of Fame quarterback, I think we'd all agree on that, and that's from him throwing as many touchdowns as he has. So, everybody knows that, but what they don't really appreciate, which I do, is just the great football mind that he has. He gets them in the right run game, he gets protections right, he knows the pressures are coming. He's a great student of the game and I really admire how he goes about playing this game. It's always fun, it's a fun matchup.
Q: What did you see from (Safety) Landon Collins when he worked out? What do you think he has left? In Washington he was hesitant vocally about playing that hybrid linebacker role, which I assume is what he would do for you guys, so did you guys talk about that?
A: I thought his workout went well. You've heard me say before we're a position-less defense, so we'll find some place he likes when we get him here and we'll go from there. Right now, we're all focused on Green Bay.
Q: You're second in the league in red zone, you're second in third down defense. Can you talk about why you've been so successful so far at the early part of the season?
A: I think the guys, the players themselves, have really studied the game, especially situational football, different things like third down and redzone. They've really done a nice job of studying not only what we're doing as a defense but what the offense does. It's going to be a great challenge this week.
Q: The Aaron Rodgers we're seeing this year is a little bit different than in years past. A little bit more of those short yardage passes and such. What are you seeing in how he is playing a little differently than in recent years?
A: It's like owning a python and saying, 'don't worry about it, he won't bite'. Aaron Rodgers is Aaron Rodgers. To me, there's no difference. I think that he's just as effective today as he was five years ago, six years ago. That would be like saying (Shooting Guard) Michael Jordan can't hit any three-pointers, you're going to guard him outside and then he'll five or six three pointers on you. He's playing at top level.
Q: (Defensive Lineman) Dexter (Lawrence) is playing at the nose a lot more this year than in the past. What is it about that you think suits him playing there?
A: The biggest thing is you need to have a center piece of your defense and he wears that badge with pride. We move him around more than what people really realize, and he's done a really nice job. The biggest thing about Dex is he's so selfless. He's just as excited for someone else to have success as he is himself. When guys start playing that way, when they start playing for each other like he has, you'll see good things come from him.
Q: With Dexter, what have you unleashed in him? How have you reached him to get to the level that he's playing like he is now? We've seen him for years here. This year is different.
A: That's good to hear. I just think he's being himself. I think that he understands that we're counting on him to make a difference and he's done a great job standing up to it. Just attacking each week, getting more and more confidence, and playing faster. Like I said when you asked me last time, I just love being around the guy. I think that has something to do with it, too, I really do. I think he feels comfortable with the staff, (Defensive Line Coach Andre) Dre (Patterson) and (Assistant Defensive Line Coach Bryan) B-Cox (Cox) have done a great job with him. I think that he knows he's the leader of this defense, one of the leaders of this defense, and he takes pride in that as well.
Q: One of Aaron Rodgers unique skills is the hard count, getting free plays. Has that been a big emphasis with your guys this week?
A: No doubt. I mean he's a pain in the butt. I wish there was something easy to say, but like I, said it's a great challenge. If you have you respect for the game, which we all do, you really are excited about this challenge, going against him. It will be something that you talk about the rest of your life. When I'm retired on a golf cart some place down in Florida hitting a golf ball, I hope he's in the foursome in front of me and I'll hit a golf ball into him. (laughs)
Q: We asked you about red zone defense and third down defense. When you look at the box score, besides points, what stats do you look at to tell you, 'we had a good game because we did well in this area'? Those are two of them, I assume?
A: Oh yeah, there's no doubt. You look at third down, you look at redzone and obviously the scoring defense because that's the bottom line you get judged by, how you keep them out of the endzone. So far, we've done a nice job of that.
Q: Why have you been able to survive defensively given you've been without your two edge rushers; you had a bunch of guys go down in the middle of the game last game. Julian Love went out. Why do you think you've been able to keep going and keep trudging along?
A: I think it's the culture that (General Manager) Joe (Schoen) and (Head Coach) Brian (Daboll), that we're building here, number one. Number two is the group of guys in that room that have that 'next man up' mentality of just being ready to go. The other part is I think the assistants do a great job of preparing all those guys to be ready to go into the game. That's not as easy as it's said. It's not as easy to do as how I just said it there, but you can see when you put them in there, they're knowing what to do. On the backend, (Defensive Backs Coach Jerome) Rome's (Henderson) done a great job with the secondary. I thought that our inside backers played a lot better against the Bears than what they did the Cowboys. (Inside Linebacker) Jaylon (Smith) had a big part to do with that and (Inside Linebacker) Tae's (Crowder) tackling had a big part to do with that. You know how this thing goes, every week you're going to look to improve on something. If you're not, you're falling behind. I just love the mentality our guys have right now.
Offensive Coordinator Mike Kafka
Q: How do you feel about your situation right now at wide receiver?
A: I think all the guys are doing a really good job. I feel good with where we're at.
Q: Are there enough guys?
Q: What have you seen from (wide receiver) Kadarius (Toney) the last few weeks from when you've been able to get him on the field?
A: He's done everything we've asked. He's practiced hard when he's practicing. It's unfortunate but he's one of those guys that does everything we asked and is working his tail off in the training room and in the meeting rooms. He does a great job with that.
Q: You obviously see the dynamic he can be – how much have you been able to see that explosiveness? He's been on and off the field so sporadically.
A: You see it when he's out there. You see it out at the practice field.
Q: When you have a quarterback who has been running as much as (quarterback) Daniel (Jones) and maybe won't be 100 percent, how much does that effect the gameplan?
A: You certainly account for it, make sure that we put him in the right spots. He's doing a good job. He's doing a good job practicing. We see him run around.
Q: The reason I ask is because it's a very wide receiver-dominant league right now as you know. You guys I think had three catches from your wide receivers. Is that sustainable? You guys are so different week to week. Is that sustainable or are teams eventually going to adjust to – they're not going down the field with these wide receivers, let's put 10 in the box against (running back) Saquon (Barkley)?
A: I think you hit it on a week-to-week basis, being flexible. I think the staff has done a good job of making sure that we have enough stuff in the gameplan to be able to go with how the flow of the game is rolling and have that flexibility to make adjustments on the sideline and take advantage of some looks. You have enough stuff in the gameplan and make sure you go through it and put the guys in the right spot. Those are things that we do every week.
Q: What have you seen from Daniel this week? We saw him yesterday moving pretty well.
A: Yeah, I think you saw it on the field. He was running around and doing everything that we are asking him to do from a practice standpoint.
Q: I think you guys are running play action at the highest rate in the league and Daniel's numbers in play action are much better. What is it about that that has been so successful for you guys?
A: It gives you the ability to influence second-level defenders a little bit. Those guys are stepping up in the run game, obviously creates a little bit bigger of a window on the second level and then gives you a little more space on the perimeter as well. Those are definitely good aspects of any offense. Our offense, obviously, we've done a few more of those. You need to have flexibility to have that, drop back – it all ties in really from the run game, the pass game, the drop-back game, your quick game, screens, play actions. All those things got to tie in together, you can't just be so far on one side or so far on the other. You have to have the ability to do multiple things. That way you keep the defense on their toes a little bit.
Q: How are you handling the whole quarterback situation this week? You have a lot of uncertainty – not just Daniel but also with (quarterback) Tyrod (Taylor).
A: In the building, we have a plan. That's what we're going with. I'll let (head coach Brian Daboll) Dabs talk about that if he wants to talk about those specific plans. We have a plan and that's how we are going to roll with our game planning and how we want to handle this week.
Q; When you say you have a plan, does that mean it's specific for one person? Or are you saying we have a general plan?
A: I think you have to have both. You want to make sure that we have options for whatever may happen.
Q: How comfortable are you with (quarterback) Davis (Webb) if he starts or if Daniel starts, he's one play away? Davis has obviously been in the offense a long time but he's five years without actually playing in an NFL regular season game.
A: Yeah, Davis has done a great job even throughout the spring, training camp, preseason. You saw him play out there. I have a ton of confidence in him. I have a ton of confidence in that whole quarterback room. They do a great job. They're all pros. They treat a game week the right way. They prep the right way. They interact with their teammates. They're great leaders and great teammates. They do all that, as you would expect, at a high level.
Q: What's it been like for you? You obviously had to learn parts of this offense and Davis is sort of a master of it. When you come into that room, what has he been like, especially back in the spring?
A: It's been great to lean on him because he certainly has a bunch of experience in it and how it has evolved over the years. He's been a great resource and obviously when I was first learning it, to be able to talk to him about, 'Hey, look at this, how did you guys see this?' (quarterbacks coach) Shea's (Tierney) been a great resource as well. In that room, it's surrounded between Dabs, Shea and Davis – those guys had a really good head start on everybody and got everyone caught up really fast. That was huge.
Q: Daniel seems to be making a lot of good decisions on his run-pass options. Can you talk about that, what you see in his game?
A: We had some effectiveness on that last week and getting those guys on the perimeter. It's simple for the quarterback, right? Either running it or throwing it. He made good decisions on those.
Q: How about using Saquon as a pass catcher? He's had that in his football history.
A: Oh absolutely. I think we have stuff like that for him on a week-to-week basis. Those are things that we evaluate when we're trying to get him out in space or use him in the run game. Those are things that we have every week. We have them up every week and depending on what the defense is doing, those are things that we might get to.
Q: How much of what you do as a play caller is stringing looks together so you can show one thing and then you have another variation off it?
A: I think that's the art of play calling - tying in your looks based off what you might anticipate a defense showing or defense is doing and then having answers to what they may or may not present so that you have stuff to counter what they do. We spent a lot of time thinking about it and trying to set that up. Then being able to adjust in-game. Sometimes you might not have it on the call sheet, but we talk about it on the sideline and get everybody on the same page and then go and run it and execute it.
Q: Do you mind using Saquon that much? I know obviously he's been your best offensive player so far, but he's been on the field for a really high percentage of snaps, 88 percent of your snaps and touching the ball a lot. Do you look at that as there needs to be a limit on that or do you just look at it and say, 'Hey, whatever we need here. Whatever it takes?'
A: I think however the game is going. Wherever we can find an advantage on offense, that's who should touch the ball. Whether that's a receiver or running back or tight end, quarterback. You want to try to take advantage as much as you can of what the defense is presenting and not so much try and force to one particular person or player or group. You've just got to have flexibility, I think. I know that's probably not the answer you're looking for, but I think that's what we look for as an offense, as a staff, is to take advantage of the looks that we're getting on defense and try to make it an advantage for us.
Special Teams Coordinator Thomas McGaughey
Q: Does (punter) Jamie (Gillan) just kick all the time to catch?
A: Obviously. He's done a great job. He's getting better and that's all we can ask for. Hang to distance is getting better. Talking about being at your best when your best is needed – backed up punt in that situation, that's huge.
Q: That last one seemed to never come down.
A: It had some good hang on it.
Q: Is touch still a thing you need him to refine?
A: That's something he's going to always have to deal with because he has such a strong leg. But no, he's getting better. That's the thing, he's getting better. That's all you can ask for as a coach. Just keep working at it, keep trying to control the power. It's encouraging, for sure.
Q: Where are your options at punt returner if (wide receiver) Richie (James) can't go? Who are the other options?
A: We got a bunch of other guys back there that can do it. I'm not really worried about it. (Corner back) Darnay (Holmes) has done it before. We've had some guys that can do it. Richie will be fine. Hopefully he will be back there but if not, we'll be alright.
Q: How can (kicker) Graham (Gano) make 55-yarders but the 37-yarder? How do you explain that?
A: It was gusty the other days It was crazy. The wind would go from five to 20, it was just gusting a lot. When you look at that last kick, it's going right down the middle and then it gets to a certain point and just moves left. I'll account that to the wind on that one.
Q: What's it say about (running back) Matt (Breida) that he can play gunner and then when (safety) Julian (Love) goes out, you trust him to put him in as the PB?
A: You love to have guys like that with position flex. That's one of the main reasons why he's here. He can do a bunch of different jobs and do them well. Any time you can maximize your value as a football player, obviously it helps him and that helps us in turn as a special teams unit.
Q: I'm thinking about (linebacker) Cam Brown on special teams – how does his length help him if it does help him in that role?
A: He's a hard guy to deal with at the point of attack when he uses his length and not his head and shoulders. He's hard to deal with. You can't get your arms around him because he has those 35 or 34-inch arms. In space, he's able to reach and grab – put his body in positions and extend himself, make plays that the average player can't do because they don't have that kind of length and Cam can run. You couple the length with being able to play fast and be physical, it's a lot of boxes getting checked with that guy.
Q: I know (running back) Gary (Brightwell) hasn't had a lot of opportunities but what have you seen from him? Do you need to see more?
A: I think as a unit, we need to be better. Gary can't do it by himself. We have to do a better job of blocking for Gary. I think once that starts to happen, you'll see Gary Brightwell shine.
Running Back Saquon Barkley
Q: What's this week been like with the uncertainty at the quarterback position? What does that do for the rest of you guys?
A: Same old same old. Come and prepare, get ready to work. Had a great start to the week. Got to try to lock in right now with meetings, watch film and then go over to London and get ready to go out there and perform.
Q: We've seen (Quarterback) Daniel (Jones) in little titbits, he looks to be moving pretty well. What did you see from him so far this week?
A: I really can't speak for him. At the end of the day, I know DJ – he's a heck of a player, heck of a competitor. We'll see what happens.
Q: If I'm not mistaken, the Packers don't usually load up the box. At least they haven't this year. When you see that, does that make you lick your chops a little bit more?
A: I wouldn't really say that. We're doing pretty good right now in the run game. Really good, to be completely honest. Not just myself, but as a whole. It's going to be a focal point for a lot of teams to try to stop us. A lot of teams are going to do a lot new and different things, come up with creative ways. You can't really look too deep into that, we've just got to focus on ourself and adjust whenever they come out to try something.
Q: Can you talk about the job the o-line has done with run blocking for you this year?
A: The o-line has been incredible. Every single one of those guys. Just the way that they're working all on the same page, that's the beauty of the o-line. It takes five guys to be on the same page for one play. If one of them is just a little bit off – or especially me, if I'm not reading it right or my steps aren't right, the whole play can be messed up. The o-linemen are doing a great job. I also want to give credit to the tight ends. The tight ends have been doing an amazing job. There's one clip where they took the d-end and moved him five, 10 yards back and you see them celebrating. As a back, that gets you excited. Also, the wide receivers too and DJ making the right calls. It's been a collective thing. The beauty is, I feel like we've got so much more room to improve and get better. We'll just keep working on it.
Q: In what way? You say you have more room to improve?
A: It's just early in the year. Everyone is continually working on trying our best to get into midseason form and then after midseason form it's so on and so on. We've just got to continue to find the plays that we know that work for us and then just go out there and execute it. For me, I've got to do a better job when the o-line gives me opportunities to make the defense pay.
Q: (Green Bay Quarterback) Aaron Rodgers is widely considered to be one of the greatest ever at his position. How much is that a source of motivation for you to someday be considered one of the best ever to play your position? Is that something that drives you?
A: Yeah, that's the goal. I feel like if that's not your reason – I mean everyone's 'why' is different, I can't really say that actually. For me personally, that's the goal. That's the end goal. I can't really look too much into that. I've just got to take it one day at a time and try to improve every single day. At the end of the day, if I put in the right work and have the right mindset – do I believe I can achieve that? I really do, but if I don't, wherever I come up at I know I put a lot of work in to be there. I'll be able to look back at it and be satisfied with it. When you go against guys like that, it always motivates you. You are definitely going to be on the sideline looking up, seeing the things that he's able to do. I know him pretty well, too. Hopefully, obviously, he's Aaron Rodgers and he's going to be amazing, hopefully he's not as amazing on Sunday. I wish nothing but the best of luck to him.
Q: If Daniel is playing and he's not as much a running threat as he has been – that's been a big part of your offense – what changes for you? How much does that change stuff for you? That thread is always there and it takes a guy out. Am I right?
A: For me, personally, I don't really look at it that way. I look at it as just focus on knowing my assignment, knowing my roles, knowing my keys and making sure I'm on the same page as the guys up front. That's the only thing I can do. I feel like when I'm able to do that and the o-line, when all of us collectively, tight ends, are all on the right page – we've shown how special we can be. Like I said, I feel like we can continue to get better and that starts with me.
Q: Do you worry at all about how many touches you are getting?
A: I missed so many games the last couple of years. Me complaining about touches or being worried about touches, that would be just stupid of me to be completely honest. I'm just blessed and I'm happy I get to go out there and play the sport that I love. I keep saying it, I just want to go out there and make plays and try to help my team win games. If that means 30 touches, then that means 30 touches. If that means only five touches, then it's only five touches. Whatever I can do to put my team in a position to win games, that's what I'm going to do.
Q: At the end of the year, is there anything that you would look back on and be like, 'Oh wow, that's a lot,' or 'That's too much?' Are you good with whatever they throw at you?
A: I'm good with whatever they throw at me.
Q: I guess you were asked this after your performance against Tennessee, but in regard to (Tennessee Running Back) Derrick Henry, when there are great players on the other side do you think that does maybe elevate your own performances a little bit?
A: As a competitor, I can sit here and give you guys the same answer I always do. I'm not really competing against them and that's the truth, but as a competitor, I guess it does. That's every week for me. It doesn't just have to be a guy like Derrick Henry or a guy like (Indianapolis Running Back ) Jonathan Taylor or when we played (Carolina Running Back) Christian McCaffery. (Green Bay Running Back) Aaron Jones and (Green Bay Running Back) AJ Dillon, those are two extremely talented backs too. Every week for me, you're not really competing against them but you're really competing against yourself to be completely honest. For me, I'm just trying to go out there and perform at a high level. That's what I've got to focus on.
Outside linebacker Kayvon Thibodeaux
Q: What are you looking forward to? The game in London is probably a little different than anything you've experienced.
A: Yeah, this is my first time going to London but it's still a football game. Still just trying to keep those same basics, not get too high, not get too low. Just try to keep that same mentality.
Q: What do you think about going against a guy like (Quarterback) Aaron Rodgers? What do you know about him?
A: Obviously he's a great player. He's probably one of the G.O.A.T.'s in my era. I would say he's a playmaker. I'm just going to have to stick to my keys, stick to my fundamentals, and trust my eyes.
Q: What's different going up against him than some of the other quarterbacks you've faced so far?
A: So far, we've had a lot of mobile quarterbacks so just knowing that he wants to make plays throwing the ball, he wants to make plays in the pocket, and being able to just beat the man in front of me.
Q: Would it mean anything more getting that first sack against Aaron Rodgers?
A: For me, I would feel the best getting it because it's in London and it will be an international game. I think that will be cool. When I go against an opponent, I try to just keep that mindset as a nameless, faceless opponent.
Q: How are you feeling?
A: I feel good. I'm excited, I'm ready and the gameplan, (we're) putting it all together.
Q: You itching to get that first sack?
A: Yeah, you know it's time. I feel like it's overdue and hopefully the time comes, God willing, on Sunday.
Q: The back, that is something that flared up during the game. Was that a problem at all?
Q: Has it been anything you've had to deal with this week?
A: No, it's been good. After I got a little stretch out the next day I was good.