Q: We’ve heard you talk so many times about why you’re doing the offensive line rotations, because you want everybody to play. But why is it working? Every offensive lineman I’ve ever talked to tells me the key to the offensive line is continuity, the same five guys, etc. etc. Why is playing six guys and soon to be seven guys with the three guards, why is it working?
A: We’ve talked about that a lot internally, to be honest with you. Part of the reason we think may be, hey look, maybe it gives our guys a little bit of a breather. It keeps them a little bit fresher. They have fresher legs out there, working with some tempo on offense. You get guys with a series off here or there, it kind of gets their breath a little bit. All three guys are playing, they’re playing well right now for us. They’re all improving, so it gives us a lot of confidence to keep moving those guys on through. Part of it may be it changes a little bit what the defense can do to attack you. They can’t single up on what just one guy does and what they’re trying to look. Maybe it alters how they approach each drive not knowing who’s going in. We’ve kind of talked internally and bounced a few things off. The one thing we’ve concluded is whatever the reasons on the other side may be, we like how it’s working for us and we’re going to keep on going with it.
Q: How hard is what Matt Peart is doing? He might be playing the least of the snaps between Cam (Fleming) and Andrew (Thomas), but he’s the one who has to change his footwork from series to series, left to right. How hard is what he’s doing?
A: Yeah, that’s very impressive, especially for a young guy like Matt. He’s really shown a lot of progress in doing that. That’s definitely something that’s better preparing him for the remainder of his career, and I think he’s shown a lot of promise right now that it should be a very productive career. We love Matt, the way he works, and for him to be able to be a swing guy as a rookie in this league, because as you alluded to it’s not just the footwork you’re changing. It’s also the matchups based on who the defense plays on either side. It also changes some of the responsibilities based on the plays. He’s done a really good job as far as knowing the offense. But he’s done a really good job fundamentally of working both sides’ techniques and haven’t really seen a difference on either side with him.
Q: I know you’ve been pretty adamant about every Monday after a game, win or lose, you’re going to do corrections and approach it with the team the same way. But after a win, is there any difference that you sense in the way the players act, the way they take to coaching as far as more confidence, a sense of “swagger” or something you notice that maybe could help you moving forward?
A: I think one of the things that’s most pleasing about our guys today, to be honest with you, is they’re very consistent, they’re very steady. They came in today with that same attitude we’ve seen in the previous weeks. There’s a little more joking around and laughing at different times, but really ultimately, they came in the room and they’re very easy to coach. They’re very receptive, they’re looking for a better way of doing things. Look, we told them right at the beginning of the meeting, ‘hey listen, we had success yesterday. Let’s not mistake that for thinking everything is perfect. There is plenty that we have to watch on this tape and we have to correct. Philadelphia is watching the same tape we are today, and they’re looking to expose everything we put out there that while it may not have been magnified in yesterday’s game, they’re going to look to go ahead and expose it in next Sunday’s matchup.’ We have to do a good job of knowing what we have to continue to improve on and clean up, and also, what we can build on in a positive manner. Our guys have been great. One of the things I’m seeing that is very pleasing is I didn’t see a group of guys come in today like we have everything figured out. I saw a group of guys coming in here today ready to learn, ready to work and move forward.
Q: Does the little more joking and fooling around and smiling, does that include the head coach?
A: I’m always kind of myself. Win or lose, I’m going to kind of bust your chops a little bit either way, throw something at you. Look, I’m kind of the same guy all the time, to be honest with you, win or loss. In a lot of ways, after a win, it can be tougher to coach in a lot of ways. Our guys have been very good with that in that they’ve been receptive. Sometimes you walk in after a win, you have to tell a team this is the toughest it’s going to be to coach all year because you think you have all the answers. After a loss, people can be more receptive at times. You have to understand and know who your team is and how you have to approach them. In terms of me laughing or joking or whatever that may be, if I think the team needs to kind of lighten the mood a little bit, I may throw something in there. If sometimes it has to be a little bit more serious tone, then I’ll approach it that way right there. But I think the guys know what to expect from me on a daily basis. Win or lose, practice or game, I’m kind of approaching everything with the same mentality and personality.
Q: Where do things stand with Golden Tate this week?
A: He was back in there with us today working. We’re not going to have the players in the building tomorrow, but they’ll be able to come in to work out. Then Wednesday we’ll be on the field for practice, so he’ll definitely be out there practicing with us. Like all of our players, we’re going to have plans for these guys within the game plan. If you’re asking me specifically about him being active for the game, I would anticipate Golden being active. I have no reason to believe he wouldn’t be active at this point. But we’re going to go through this week and kind of see how everything goes with everybody on the team and see where everything lays out.
Q: I was reading that your captains were on board with the decision to leave him home. I think it was Albert Breer that wrote that. Do you consult your captains when you make a decision like that?
A: I try to let the captains know what’s going on with any major decisions we have within the program.
Q: What do you think of your defense and the improvement it has made?
A: Well, I love what those guys are doing with the energy that they play with and the urgency. There are definitely some things we have to clean up and continue to improve on, but every week, there are things that we emphasize that I see turn around in a positive way. Something that’s been a major focus for us is two-minute, and we’ve been working very hard on the two-minute drives in practice. It’s something that we had to really continue to improve on. But like I told the team today, I said we closed out two two-minute drives. You can kind of include that maybe as a third two-minute drive as well at the end, all with interceptions. Kind of two end the game situations, one at the half situation. That was definitely a step in the right direction for our team. But we compete, we go good vs. good on two-minute in practice. Offensively and defensively, we’re getting good competition as far as working the situation, not worrying so much about the looks from the other team. Then we do some kind of crossover against the opponent two-minute drills later in the week. There are a lot of things I’ve seen the defense improve on. There is no reason we can’t continue to play at a high level. I love the way the improvement we’re seeing. The young guys are really coming along. There are a lot of encouraging things we’re seeing from the guys that are rookies or new guys to this program, and we’re getting a lot of production from a lot of guys.
Q: Real quick on Golden, one more thing. Can you explain the decision of why you decided to leave him behind and not dress him for that game?
A: No, I’m not going to go into that. But I appreciate the question and respect the question.
Q: With Daniel (Jones), he obviously didn’t have a turnover in the game. I’m just curious how you as coaches look at it because the ball did hit the ground twice during that game. How do you sort of balance that and look at it?
A: We’re always emphasizing what we’ve done well and correcting what we did wrong in every game. That’s every player, that’s every coach, that’s everyone within different techniques. We’re always emphasizing ball security across the board. We’re always emphasizing playing clean penalties-wise. We did some things in that neighborhood that we have to get off the map as well this next week. We’re always emphasizing playing a clean game in terms of eliminating mental errors by understanding what we’re doing on the field and not making mistakes.
Q: Obviously you eliminated the turnovers in this game. Does the pendulum need to swing back more to be aggressive to give more oomph to the offense? You scored three points in the second half.
A: I don’t think anything with that had to do with a lack of aggressiveness at all. In fact, we were actually moving the ball very well in the second half. You go back afterwards, you watch the tape, okay what happened with we were scoring points? Those were self-inflicted wounds that we have to make sure we get off it. We had some penalties, we had some different things happen offensively, some negative plays. When we don’t go ahead and shoot ourselves in the foot, we’re moving the ball pretty productively. I think the difference in the first half and the second half was we didn’t have any self-inflicted wounds in the first half. We were able to finish drives aggressively. I like the way the offense is playing. I think there’s a lot of aggressiveness with how we’re calling plays right now. There’s a lot of aggressiveness in terms of how we’re playing and executing on the field, starting up front with the run blocking and the pass protection from the offensive line. I see that carryover in everything. When Daniel has a nice clean pocket, he’s been very productive. He’s been able to make plays in scramble situations as well. The offensive line really set the table for us this week to play a good, clean game and complementary with the run and the pass game.
Q: If Daniel plays the same game he played on Sunday, obviously every game is different, if he plays that same type of game on Sunday, is that the style you want to move forward?
A: I think there’s a lot of clips in these last few games that you can see that we can say this is the style we want to play as an offense, defense and special teams moving forward. That doesn’t mean the game plan is exactly the same. We want to keep making sure we have an emphasis in terms of ball security, number one. Limiting penalties and knocking mental errors off the plates. I like the way we’re playing aggressively on offense. I like the tempo we’re playing with. That’s not always going to be part of the game plan. Sometimes we may slow it down. I like the last few games, our ability to work some tempo. I like how we’re running the ball and that’s setting up some plays down the field in the passing game. I like how we’re covering kicks right now. We’ve been able to make plays in the return game as well. That’s shown up in the last few weeks. We’re definitely improving in that area. Defensively, I see a lot of improvement with the situations. Whether it be third down, red area or two-minute. That’s improvement, that’s something we’ve placed an emphasis on with our team that we have to continue to improve on. We’ve seen a lot of really good players, good offenses in the first part of the season. We have to keep on improving, as we keep on going through because they’re going to keep on getting better and better.
Q: It seems when you talk to us, there are times when we talk to a player later on and he will say the same thing you said to us. Is it important to you that the team speak with one voice and that it be yours?
A: I think it’s just important that I explain to the players what I expect. I explain to them very clearly that when something is going on, how I’m going to handle it and why I’m handling it a certain way. To me, it’s important to have transparency with the team and I think at that point they can better understand how we’re attacking a situation or how we’re approaching the season through whatever is going on with it. We don’t try to make our players robots. We don’t try to dictate anything they say. To me, it is important that everyone understands and plays on one accord, that we’re all on the same page. That’s very important, I think we have seen that with our players. You guys asked a lot of questions throughout the year in terms of coming off a loss or continuous losses, how do we deal with it? I think you deal with it just by being very transparent as an organization. Everyone understanding where we are, where we’re going and how we have to get there. That carries over into kind of talking to the media as well.
Q: After the first play of the game for Washington, are you bringing back the mud sliding drill?
A: You bet. We have to be cleaner on the fumble recovery on that. I’m glad we were able to come up with that. Right there, there was a lot of rules to emphasize on that. A lot of things we can teach off of with the sideline fumble technique and the rules involved with it. In terms of if you go out of bounds, if you’re an offensive player, you want to reach and touch the ball to make sure the ball is a continuation of being out of bounds. Then the opportunity for the defense to recover it, for a defensive player, you want to tap it back in before you go out of bounds. If you go out of bounds, get both feet established to give yourself an opportunity to recover that thing cleanly. When (Jabrill) Peppers comes out of the pile with the ball there, the importance of not running off and celebrating but turning and showing the ball to the official so they don’t erroneously signal the ball to the other team, thinking it was a clear recovery. Then you can’t challenge that play and the other team gets it even though you’re holding the ball. There’s a lot of teaching things that come out of that coming out of that situation. We definitely don’t want to be out there looking like the Keystone Cops trying to get that ball. We have to clean that up.
Q: Do you have to sign Alfred Morris to the active roster since you have called him up twice to activate him?
A: Yes, the next move would be to sign him. Obviously, we’ll approach a lot of different things this week in terms of our roster with a lot of different players. Over these next few weeks we expect several guys to have the opportunity. We don’t know where they are physically yet. We start their clocks off the IR, they will be coming off the clocks on IR, so we have to check and see what our total roster is in terms of that. There’s a lot of things with that that are going to factor in.
Q: Two guys I wanted to ask about injury wise. Xavier McKinney, is he going to start practicing with you guys this week?
A: That’s still up in the air. I don’t know if we will necessarily see him this week. He was on the field the other day running with the trainers. I haven’t had much of a chance with my own eyes to really get my eyes on him. I know he’s making a lot of progress. I’m getting positive reports on him. We have until Wednesday. He’ll be with the trainers tomorrow, that may shed a little bit more light on it for us. Based on how we practice Wednesday, if we go full tilt or some kind of an abbreviated walk thru, or short fundamentals practice, we haven’t decided yet. That may affect whether or not we start his clock on that day or not.
Q: Will Hernandez, is he coming off the list (COVID-19)? Oshane (Ximines) and Tae Crowder I think? (off of IR)
A: With Oshane and Tae, they are very similar to X-man (McKinney). We have to figure out where they’re at physically and when do we want to start their clock. All of them have made a lot of progress. Some are a little bit closer than others. I want to see where they’re at. The biggest thing I’d say at this point is because you have the bye week coming up next week, we want to be very calculated when we start their clock, that 21-day window. If you start it too early and then you lose another week with the bye week anyway, it may set them back. There’s a benefit of getting them going with us right away, getting their legs back under them, get them back playing football. There’s also a benefit of holding a little bit knowing you have the bye week next week and there’s really no advantage to getting them to a game next week anyway. There’s a couple different avenues we can take with these guys. I want to see where they’re at physically. We talked this morning with the trainers and basically said, ‘hey look, tomorrow we have to have some answers to at least help us make a better decision.’ In terms of Will coming off the COVID list, I have to check with Ronnie (Barnes) with some of the specifics. I know he has started some of the ramp up stuff from what I understand talking to Ronnie this morning. The one thing I want to make sure is we are fair with with Will is this guy has missed two games, that’s a lot of football he’s missed. We have to be fair to him to get him his conditioning back and get him back on the field moving around. It’s not like this guy has spent the last two weeks lifting weights and running, doing individual drills in his back yard. This guy has been quarantined and fighting a virus. We have to make sure when we get him back, we give him a chance that he’s able to get out there and play a full 60 minutes healthy. Also, make sure he gets some reps on the field to account for some of that lost time and kind of sharpen him back up for some of the movement he is going to see inside at that guard position.