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Transcript - Practice (Oct. 31, 2019)


Thursday, October 31, 2019 | Hoag Performance Center | Costa Mesa, Calif.


Opening statement:

"I'll take advantage of this time to kind of recap what took place last week. I thought it was a good overall effort. Obviously, some of that stats-wise, the running game and things like that didn't show up the way we wanted to. I think overall, as you look at it as a defense, it was a game of doing well in the red zone. I think we had some good stops there and then the two takeaways in the fourth quarter I think were big for us, just to give us an opportunity. I mentioned before that we're a defense that tries to keep these points down and get us opportunities and try to eliminate some explosive plays. Well, that will be tested this week with the team we're facing.

"Green Bay, obviously, is really playing at a high level — their whole offense right now. The receivers, starting with that group, I think they're playing really, really hard for the whole offense. They're making some really good plays. The quarterback, obviously, [Packers QB Aaron] Rodgers is very elite. When you look at timing, accuracy, decision-making, if you have those three qualities, you have a chance to be a really good quarterback. Also for him, on top of it is arm strength and mobility. The qualities just keep adding up for him. He's playing really, really well in our minds right now. The running game is something, I think, that helps their team. It keeps them two-dimensional and that seems to be rolling pretty well. It's a really really good challenge for us right now. We're excited about this challenge. You kind of need this as a defense to take another step, so it will be a challenge that we're looking forward to."

On the red zone stops:

"It was [encouraging]. Every game is different, but the guys really made plays. I thought there were some plays where it was extended and they made plays, we got a batted ball. Guys took turns making plays. I thought they had a pretty good awareness of some things that were going to take place. [S] Rayshawn [Jenkins] played well back there. [NT Damion] D-Square [Square] had the batted ball, so it seemed like someone stood up and made a play — even the play when there's only one second left. Just playing smart. We've got to play smart and kind of delaying that whole process, trying to buy time for us. [We] saw some really good signs."

On Packers QB Aaron Rodgers:

"I think you look at it overall. You get all sorts of stats — how he is under pressure, how he is with the four-man rush and he's effective against all of it. I think you've got to pick and choose your times. Obviously, you try to affect him. I think what they do a very good job is his ability to extend plays. I think that's the biggest thing we're talking to our players about, the plaster rules. Usually that's three seconds or two-and-a-half seconds the ball is thrown. Well, maybe routes that occur in between the hashes now can get all the way to the numbers. It's that mental process of really locking in, staying on your man the whole way through and finishing through the echo of the whistle — that type of mentality. I think, obviously, you've got to pick and choose. Affecting him is important, trying to get pressure on him, but he's a guy that even under that makes good decisions."

On focusing on specific plays to stop:

"I think that you understand again, it's the points. When you look back at the explosive plays, we categorize it by plus-12 runs, plus-16 passes. Earlier in the season, I think Chicago, they had five. I think Minnesota they had five or six, but then Philadelphia, Oakland and Kansas City, it was all double-digit. Then obviously, the points start piling up. I think we've just got to look at it and say, 'Alright, we've got a limit these explosive plays,' and part of it is, even hard counts. He hard counts, he gets you to jump offside, there's a shot so being smart with the hard count situations. You know he's going to do a good job of that, so all the little things that are incorporated in the game to try to help us eliminate some of these explosive plays."

On the Green Bay offense:

"I see an incorporation. It feels like to me, and I could be completely wrong, but it feels like he feels very comfortable at running a certain set of plays, so some of the plays you saw in 2016 for us are showing up. Then, you look back and you say, 'Boy, there are a lot of plays that are showing up that are more [Packers Head Coach Matt] LaFleur's personality.' You can see definitely that his philosophy is showing up, Coach LaFleur's, and you can see those plays incorporated into it."

On Packers Offensive Coordinator Nathaniel Hackett:

"Nate is a very, very bright-minded coach. As far as the process of attacking defenses, he has a really good understanding of that regardless of the defense. Yeah, they have a good coaching staff. I'm familiar with a couple of guys. They're talented coaches."

On the linebackers:

"[They're playing] better. I think it was one of those work-in-progress — we loved the skillset, it was just understanding all of the little things that are part of the system. I think that it's really come along. I'm seeing them play a lot faster and making more plays. You see that, I think, in the stats. Thomas Davis [Sr.] is getting eight tackles. Denzel [Perryman] is getting up there, too. I think that comfort level and understanding some of the things that can happen to them in this defense, especially for a guy like Thomas Davis. He's picking up on things. A lot of them are just banked experiences, some things that maybe happened to them earlier in the season aren't quite happening as much now."

On coverages against Chicago:

"We had some busts. We played it, but we didn't play it well enough. I think there was one with [LB] Drue [Tranquill] in a third down situation. Those are things for him [that can become] banked experiences. In dime situations, he's in. You hope that you end up getting a stop or something like that happens within it. Again, he got it another series later and he played it much better. It just goes into that learning curve."

On LB Thomas Davis Sr. guarding Bears WR Taylor Gabriel:

"We have some different ways that we can play it without getting into the scheme things. There are some coverages where we will skew things up and give different looks. It falls on different people's responsibilities. That play, we just needed a little quicker reaction.

"There are so many plays that are in a game. In a situation like that, you'd like to have three DBs back and take care of it. Unfortunately, you don't know. Part of the system — situations like that happen and it could be a matchup like that."

On Packers FB Danny Vitale:

"They'll split him out [wide]. They'll use him on third down. They'll put him out as a wide out, they'll motion them in. I think they do a good job. They have a wide variety of personnel groupings. It feels like there is a lot of the same looks or plays that they can run out of multiple personnel groupings. He has some good speed on the perimeter. You can see by design that they're trying to get him matched up and looking for big plays with him matched up maybe on a linebacker."

On DE Joey Bosa:

"He was an important factor [on Sunday], obviously. I think I mentioned this last week, but the last couple of weeks, I think he's really coming into his own. He's playing at a really high level. I think he feels good about where he is, physically. Mentally, I think he has a good understanding of what we're asking him in the system. [Defensive Line Coach] Giff [Smith] and [Assistant Defensive Line Coach] La'Roi [Glover] do a great job with him. I think they're trying to position him where he gets opportunities. He's playing at a high level. Last week, a lot of attention was drawn to [DE] Melvin [Ingram III]. That's the good thing about having two good rushers like that. It's hard to point out both of them and take care of both of them."

On if Bosa's play can be contagious:

"I sure hope so. I think it is, though. Any time you have spirited players or guys that can make a lot of plays like that, I think it grows in confidence. Surely, the [defensive backs], they feel that. There's not a sense of, 'Oh, we might have to cover this for five seconds. This could be a long-developing play.' They feel that pressure and I think it was big plays at critical times. Even Thomas Davis on a pressure came right at midfield. I think it was a second down situation. He came and blitzed, and made a play. There are different guys making plays. [RB] Melvin Gordon [III], I mean, what a play he made in my mind. To get [Bears CB Kyle Fuller] tackled and give the defense a chance to go out there in a sudden-change opportunity [to force] a field goal attempt. There are different guys making plays — Rayshawn [Jenkins] on the long run in two-minute where he tracked him down. It's plays like that give us an opportunity to really keep the points down."

On CB Casey Hayward Jr.:

"I think Casey is very instinctive. I think when quarterbacks look at him, they're not quite sure. There are technique players — I'm not saying that he's not a technician. I think he does a good job with that, but then there are also players that are instinctive. I think, for a quarterback, the instinctive ones are the ones they're worried about, when they're not quite sure where they're going to be and how they're going to play things. Casey's interception was a prime example. He's a very, very good instinctive player."

On Bosa getting one-on-one opportunities:

"I think that's the situation because of Melvin [Ingram] in there, too. Where they decide to draw their attention. Some of it is scheme. Some teams want to get five guys out [in routes] and they feel like that puts great strain on a defense, which it does. If you can hold off without the quarterback being effective, it's challenging. You only have so many guys in the back end."

On staffing changes:

"It is [still a jolt] just because, I think [former Offensive Coordinator Ken] Whiz [Whisenhunt and I — our relationship is very close. I consider him a really good friend. I've really enjoyed this time [with him]. We've had multiple conversations in his office, in my office. I know that I've grown a great deal — offensively, as a person — just through our conversations. He's a great friend. Obviously, decisions like this are tough on everybody. I wish him nothing but the best. We'll stay close friends for a long time, I know that."

On Bosa as a run defender:

"We're constantly moving him around. I've said this before, he's one of the most unselfish very good players that I've been around. We asked him to do some different things. He lines up head up on the tight end. A defensive lineman is all about, 'Put me on the edge and let me get after the quarterback.' There are times that we need to ask him to do more. He's very open-minded to whatever we need to do. I think that type of mentality — it seems like when you have that mentality, good things come your way. I think that's what has happened to Joey."


"I just want to start off by saying that I have a ton of respect for Coach [Ken] Whisenhunt and what he has done in this league. He's a phenomenal coach. He has been to two Super Bowls — one as a head coach, one as a coordinator. I have tremendous respect for him and his wife, Alice. Love them to death.

"At the same time, I have to get ready to go. We have to go play a game on Sunday. The Packers are a good football team coming in here. We have to be ready to go."

On the transition:

"It's been smooth. [Head] Coach [Anthony] Lynn was in this position a couple of years ago. We have a great relationship, me and him. We've been talking through some things. It's been pretty good. The staff has done a heck of a job. It's a group effort. Every week, it's a group effort. It's been good."

On his focus:

"I just think that we have to stay on the field as much as we can. We had some three-and-outs the past couple of weeks. I just think that we have to continue to stay on the field and try to be as productive as we can.

"You just have to get first downs. You have to have a little rhythm, mix the run and pass, be more balanced as much as we can. I'm not saying that we weren't. I think some of those games the last couple of weeks, we were just in some situations where we had to throw a little more than run it. We have to be as balanced as we can and just go from there."

On simplifying the offense:

"It's the same deal. Simplify things and just how we go about our daily business, whatever it is. Whatever we can do to make guys play faster and not think as much — not that they were thinking a ton."

On improving the running game:

"I think it's a group effort, everyone — offensive line, tight ends, backs. All of those guys, everyone has to be on the same page. All it takes is one big run. We popped one last week with [RB] Melvin [Gordon III]. You get one of those and then it starts taking off. You get two or three big runs and it's like, 'Oh shoot, here we go.' I think everyone just has to be on the same page and then we'll go from there."

On his relationship with QB Philip Rivers:

"It might [change], but probably not, though. We've been together for a while. I was here in 2011-12 with them, but I was on defense. In 2013, I left to go to Cleveland and then came back the last couple of years. We have had a good relationship. We kind of think alike and are on the same page in that way. Obviously, as we are going through the game plan, we talk a lot. 'What do you like? What are we thinking here in these situations,' before we go into the game."

On the week:

"I think the preparation part has stayed the same as far as the meetings and everything like that. Obviously, there's a lot more scripting [plays]. I have to script the plays for practice, do all of that and present a little more than usual. It's been pretty smooth."

On how his experience in Cleveland shaped him:

"I think, whenever you go through a couple of different quarterbacks, there are a lot of adjustments. It's really like, for each different quarterback, guys do certain things differently, how quarterbacks play. You have to adjust the game plan to those types of guys. It was a tough year in Cleveland that year, but you learn from it and you get better."

On his development:

"I knew when I was in high school. I was fortunate enough to be around some really good coaches. My high school coach was awesome. I had a couple of different coordinators in college and they were all great. One of them played in the league and another one played big-time college football. Being around good coaches, it was kind of like, 'Shoot, this is a pretty good deal now,' being around some good coaches and always wanting to coach."

On his biggest influence:

"Shoot, I think it started with my high school coach. He was awesome. We had a great relationship. From there, coming into the league, [Panthers Offensive Coordinator] Norv Turner gave me a chance. He said, 'Hey, I have a job for you. It's on defense, though.' I said, 'I'll be there tomorrow.' I was in Louisville. I got in my car and I drove across the country. I was fired up. I still talk to him every day."

On calling plays:

"You think about it. You always grow up thinking — when you're a position coach. I think everybody wants to be a coordinator at some point, or a head coach. I think, just as you're going, yeah you think about how you would call it. As a group, everyone gives suggestions as it goes anyway."

On balancing continuity while making changes:

"Right now, obviously, we have a game in four days. To tweak a whole bunch of stuff, that's going to be hard. I just think that we have to do what we do and go play."

On advice he has received from Panthers Offensive Coordinator Norv Turner:

"He just said to be yourself. Go let it rip. We joked around about some old-school plays this morning, actually I talked to him. It was good. I love talking to him. He's a great play-caller and a great person. I have a tremendous amount of respect for him."

On preparing for Sunday:

"Yeah, I don't think we play against a crowd. No matter what, we just go out there and play. We got about our business every week like we would no matter where the game is."

On his imprint on the offense:

"I don't want to get into specifics about that, about how it's all going to be. There are going to be little tweaks here and there, but I don't want to tell everything right now. We have to go play."

On his week:

"It was pretty wild with how it all went down. Like you said, you always wanted to be a coordinator and then when it happens in the circumstances — you never want it to happen like this, but it did. It's just getting together. We came together as a staff and talked about how we were going to go about it this week. It has been good, though."

On planning the running game with Offensive Line Coach Pat Meyer:

"Yeah, we're working great together. Even when I was the quarterbacks coach, I would always get with him every week anyways because when we went into quarterback meetings — we'd meet together and do the run game together and the, obviously, I would have to talk to quarterbacks about what we see, certain checks and all of that. I think that relationship has been good and it's going to continue to be good."

On the benefit of having Rivers:

"That absolutely helps. He's a phenomenal football player. He has been doing it for a long time. His football IQ has to be up there as one of the best, if not the best of all time."

On communicating with Turner:

"We were playing phone tag the last couple of days. Then, we caught up this morning."

On if he was coached at UNLV by John Robinson:

"I was. He was phenomenal. When he recruited me, he came to my house. Shoot, I was a little 17-year-old, skinny kid — like I am now, still, I guess. I was like, 'Shoot, John Robinson is in my house. This is pretty cool.' I said, 'Shoot, I'm going to go play for that guy.' I got two years with him. I actually caught up with him this summer and talked to him for a little bit. He's a great man, awesome. He coached some great players. He's good."

On if Head Coach Anthony Lynn assisted with the offensive game plan this week:

"He has great familiarity with [Packers Defensive Coordinator Mike Pettine]. He has been helping me. Like I said, he's been doing a great job — as he has been doing as a head coach — but helping me these last couple of days, it's been great. Obviously, he knows something about Green Bay. Green Bay, they're a tremendous football team. They made a statement, shoot, that opening night against Chicago on defense. They were awesome. They've continued to be awesome. From a defensive perspective, they have good players — the corners [Packers CBs Kevin King and Jaire Alexander] are good players. The [Packers] linebacker [Blake] Martinez on the inside, [No.] 50, he's a solid player. The edge rushers with [Packers LBs] Za'Darius Smith and Preston [Smith], those guys are a handful. We have to be ready to roll."

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