Head Coach Sean McDermott
Opening Statement: Before we get started here, I would like to start off and, I would be remised if I didn’t mention all the families affected by the tragic news of last night’s events in Las Vegas. Everyone is in our thoughts and prayers today. [It] puts things in perspective in a hurry, so with that, we’ll move forward and I’ll open it up to questions.
Q: Can you update us on Jordan Matthews’s thumb? Will he be having surgery, has that been determined?
Q: And Ramon Humber, his hand?
A: The same.
Q: Is there any type of- I’m guessing indefinite at this point?
A: Too early. Too early to tell at this point.
Q: That’s surgery for both?
A: For both.
Q: Is it safe to say, at least in the short term, meaning this week, [that] they’re out?
A: That’s what we’re looking at at this point, but it’s still too early to tell. We’ll know more in the next 24, 48 hours at this point.
Q: Is it a broken hand for Ramon?
A: Again, it’s more of a thumb location at this point.
Q: For both?
Q: Sean, with injuries for the team, are you going to reach out to Anquan Boldin to see if he’s had any second thoughts? You still hold his rights, right?
A: Brandon [Beane] and I talk about a lot of things. At this point, we haven’t had any of those conversations about Anquan, but we look at everything every week to improve our football team. We’re going to have a lot of conversations this afternoon, but this is why, with respect to injuries, this is why we develop and count on players to develop in our system. Our coaches work with our backups who stepped up last night, did a great job, I thought, in a couple key areas in the game. We work with our practice squad players in the same way that we develop. You need depth in this league to sustain wins. Injuries are going to hit every team.
Q: How quickly do you expect Walter Powell to contribute?
A: That’s all part of the conversation Brandon and I are having this afternoon, so we’ll just see. Walt’s been out a number of weeks at this point, so we need to see where he is, we need to see where we are on things, and take it one day at a time right now.
Q: So it’s no sure fact that he even is going to be on the roster this weekend? He’s probably going to get the exemption Monday?
A: Yeah, we’ve just got to continue to talk about it.
Q: How do you feel about the wide receivers you have on the practice squad?
A: I feel good about them, I do. I like the guys we’ve got on this football team overall. Practice squad for us, maybe differently than for other teams, for us is a- if we have guys on that roster and on our football team, practice squad in this case, that are working hard, we will look to bring those guys up if we feel like they’ll give us a chance. We’ve got some young guys on the practice squad, so the process continues to develop; all of our players, the practice squad, is a huge part of that.
Q: With Colt Anderson, the severity of that?
A: Yeah, with Colt, he’ll be in surgery also with the forearm. No time table on Colt at this point.
Q: How much of this is sobering that, how nice it is to be 3-1, but knowing that you face challenges ahead and it’s going to test your depth?
A: Right, and this is life in the NFL. This is what happens. This is, again, throw this under the bucket or headline if you will of how long a group of men and women can hang together through adversity. We’re certainly facing adversity, we’ve faced adversity before, and this is only going to make us stronger. This is where leaders and leadership have to step up and get out in front of it, out to the forefront of things, and that’s what good teams do. That’s what leaders do. I expect that we’ll do that this week. This is an important week for us for a lot of reasons, and we’ve got to handle this the right way.
Q: Sean, I think the only guy left out there is E.J. Gaines, what’s his status?
A: Right now, still don’t know exactly, but we’re thinking day-to-day at this point.
Q: Is there any hope of Shaq Lawson practicing this week?
A: Well, with the rest he got yesterday, we’re hoping that he’s improved. Again, we don’t practice at this point until Wednesday, so we’ll know a little bit more in the next day or two on that.
Q: After looking at the film, there were some key 3rd down conversions by Tyrod [Taylor] scrambling, even though he had a spy who obviously knew that was a part of his game. Looking at it, how do you balance him extending drives with his feet and still reminding him of being a pocket passer?
A: There’s a good balance there, I think he understands where that balance is. What I like about what he’s done is he’s put in an unbelievable amount of work to get to where he is and I think he has a good time mechanism in his mind that goes off when it’s time to move. That’s tough to defend, when you have to defend all eleven guys on the field, in terms of coverage, in terms of the spy, as you mentioned. I like where he is, I like what he did yesterday in the game, and he’s only going to continue to get better. We’ve got a lot of room to grow as a football team, that’s the encouraging part of this is we have a lot of work to do, when you look at penalties, when you look at: we had opportunities and a drive stalled. At the end of the game, we’ve got to finish, when we’re in those situations and we have an opportunity to finish a team, we’ve got to finish. Just speaking offensively, that’s where I expect us to grow this week. Defensively, we’ve got a lot of work to do as well on the other side of the ball. As good as it was yesterday at times, we gave up some big plays, and we didn’t tackle as well as I would’ve liked to have seen us tackle. Communication could’ve been better. Those are all areas we have to continue to improve, special teams, no different; a lot of good spots special teams wise yesterday, obviously with what Hausch [Stephen Hauschka] did and what Colton [Schmidt] did in the punt game as well. We’ve got some work to do there. Guys have to understand the roles, there’s roles on this football team that are for specials teams, and it takes a special individual to do that. That’s what we’re looking for. We had a return that got out on us in a critical part of the game on our kickoff coverage unit that can’t happen. We have to be better in that area as well. It’s a lengthy list, and we have to be focused. That goes for myself, that goes for our entire staff and group of players. Our team has to be focused on the Cincinnati Bengals moving forward.
Q: Sean, it was kind of hard to tell from the TV, but was there only ten guys on the field for the 4th and one?
A: Yes. Well you look at it, and substitution, that’s another area we can improve on, substitutions. Hey, we call a timeout, try and get a good look at what they’re wanting to get down on offense and we need to get better in that area as well, going back to communication. Unfortunately, the rules don’t allow you to call two consecutive timeouts. We knew we had ten on the field, that’s a positive I guess, but we couldn’t do anything about it, short of me walking on the field, calling for a do-over. I couldn’t do that. Great heads-up play by our players that were out there, smart football, but that’s another error that we’ve got to get better at. You can’t, in a critical situation, you’ve got to have eleven guys on the field.
Q: There’s been a lot of attention placed on Tre’Davious White, for what he’s accomplished, Rookie of the Month last week, and then step up, play and perform the way he did yesterday, what more can you say about this rookie?
A: Well he’s played well to this point. I love his approach, he puts a lot of time in the film room, and the success he’s had is not a mistake. He’s wired the right way and that’s why we drafted Tre. He has a lot of work to do though too, just like the rest of our team. I know I keep coming back to that, but you guys have to understand we’re at the first week in October, and we have a lot of work to do between now, and what happens in November, December, and that’s what we have to continue to push towards, our quality of play every week. Handling winning is a big part of sustaining success, which is the key in this league. You must sustain success, and that’s what we have to have our focus on, that’s what leadership has to continue to emphasize this week, and we have some adversity with the injuries. So, it’s the next man up, and its guys that have been working for these opportunities all along. The coaches have been developing these players, it’s time to step up and get us to where we need to go.
Q: How do you feel that Matt Milano played, in for Ramon, and will he be starting next week if Ramon can’t go?
A: At this point, yes. I thought Matt did some good things in the game. When you look at the amount of young players we had out on the field, in a critical game, at critical moments of that game, in particular with Dion [Dawkins], with Tre, obviously, with Matt, Zay [Jones], we’re getting good contributions from our young players and they’re getting significant experience. Which is all good stuff, things we can build on. We have to continue as individuals to climb, and move forward, just like our football team. I think having that mindset, I look forward to Matt continuing to improve this week on his individual performance.
Q: What’s the process for a head coach getting his players to handle winning, is it just you say it once, ‘hey guys focus,’ or is it individual conversations with certain guys? After a win like that, you saw how excited LeSean [McCoy] was, even your social media account was talking about how ESPN analysts didn’t pick you guys, so clearly the team is feeling itself, but how do you put a lid on the expectation of winning?
A: Did you say my social media account? I was going to say, I don’t have one (joking).
Q: We figured out what your social media was, so you’re exposed now.
A: I guess that would be a one-off conversation another time. How do you handle winning? You go back and you focus on the grind, the process of what got us to winning in the first place. That’s what winners do, that’s what teams that are used to winning do. You focus on that process, and it’s really what we talk about, is 90% process, 10% result, and that’s where I expect us to be as of a few hours ago. To focus on that process, focus on the Cincinnati Bengals, learn from the film that the guys are watching as I speak, celebrate the good and the things that are up to the standard of performance that we’re looking for. The things that aren’t, we better get them corrected fast.
Q: Is that the biggest challenge for you, because a lot of these guys aren’t used to winning consistently?
A: I believe it’s a big challenge for our building to keep things in perspective. If we’re going to get addicted to anything, let’s get addicted to the process of what leads to winning.
Q: You’re not aware of this, Kyle Williams might be the only person that’s been a part of this, but the only two times you started 3-1, you finished 7-9 and 6-10, history has spoken against this team during this round?
A: This is a different team, number one. That said, we can learn a lot of lessons from those guys that were here when they went through that. Things happen for a hurry in this league, and we have to stay hungry, we have to stay humble, and that’s what I’m looking for. I’m looking for the best week of practice from our football team this week as we move forward.
Q: I know you said we care about snap counts more than you do, which is probably right, but Marcell [Dareus] did have the lowest number of anybody on defense, how much of that was injury-related after being a bit limited during the week, and how much of that was rotation?
A: A little bit of both. First week off the injury, it’s good to get him back out there again. Just like our team, he’s going to continue to improve, and that’s what we’re looking for moving forward.
Q: LeSean following the game was pretty animated, saying everyone picked against you guys, having that come from your star running back, if you will, is that sort of something you want to see from LeSean?
A: Well I like to see a guy that loves the challenge, I think our team loves the challenge. They embrace that role, and really when you look at high-achievers, high-achievers embrace that challenge on a day-to-day basis. Again, that’s what I’m looking from our football team, is consistency of approach, consistency of performance, and continue to get better.
Q: You said last week that you weren’t worried about Zay, Rick Dennison said that he was winning his routes, things like that, he had another drop yesterday, and now with Jordan out, his role, I don’t know if it’ll expand he’s already playing a lot, but you’re going to need more from him, are you worried after yesterday’s game?
A: I’m not, I thought Zay did some really good things in the game. Zay has to do his job, just like the rest of us have to do our 1/11th. The young man works extremely, extremely hard, and he’s going through what normal rookies go through, that are expected to come in and play right away. That’s been the case with Zay, and he’s earned that role, he’s only going to get better. Again, as our football team looks to get better every week, so do our individual players, and Zay is no different in this case. We have to stay focused on the goal, and that’s improving [with] every rep at practice, every piece of film we watch in the meeting room, and then as a result, every game.
Q: Two weeks ago, you talked about how long it takes until you know what you are as a football team, how much closer do you feel you are to knowing what you are? Have you ever been fooled into thinking you knew what you were, then later on it turned to be something else?
A: I think there’s a lot of people that have been fooled, and that’s the key right now. We have to understand who we are. That’s where, when you look at things and you say, ‘hey these plays were up to the standard that is acceptable for us, and then these plays weren’t.’ You have to be honest with yourselves, to know who you really are right now. We’re not where we need to be, and anyone who thinks we are, in this building at least, is only fooling themselves. I’d like to believe that I’m honest with myself when I look at our football team, and I see a team that has to continue to improve.
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Offensive Coordinator Rick Dennison
Q: Tyrod [Taylor] on third down yesterday, whether it was scrambling to avoid a spy, the way he hung in on that one he got to [Andre] Holmes on the 3rd and 9 down in the red zone, overall thoughts after reviewing the film with him on third down decision making?
A: I think he did a really good job, I think we in general as an offense, were better. 6 of 13 is good, but we have another step we can make. But I think we did a good job, he did a good job organizing and operating on third down. Certainly, the 3rd and 1’s help. [The] offensive line played well yesterday, especially in those situations.
Q: What’s the challenge with Jordan [Matthews] appearing to be out? The challenge of filling that role and knowing once again that your group of receivers is going through a little bit of a shuffle?
A: Any time a player is expected to lose some time, it’s a challenge. We have guys on the roster that have to step up. You know it’s going to happen, you don’t know what position, certainly can’t predict any of those things, so players on the roster have to step up. We’ll figure it out, we’ll have 11 on the field, that is for sure, you can count on that. Guys will earn their spots and earn their catches, earn their targets, just like any other time.
Q: It seems that the playbook is expanding a little bit every week, is that actually happening or is it more about game plan for each opponent?
A: I think it’s more game planning for each opponent. I think each week we find things that look better. All the coaches have been great for input, putting in various things that we think will work, and I think that’s a perspective. If people are going to crowd the line, we’re going to take our shots, and we were able to connect on a couple.
Q: When it comes to replacing Jordan Matthews in this offense, do you see it just being one player or more of a committee stepping up?
A: We’ll make that decision as it progresses, we just got finished with a game. I think we’ll make the right decision for us, it might be different personnel’s, we may still be in three wide, and have different wide outs, I don’t know. We’ll work on that one.
Q: How does having a hot kicker affect your thinking when you get in that territory?
A: Certainly Stephen [Hauschka] has done very well, and we know the quality we have as a place kicker. [Special Teams Coordinator Danny Crossman] gives me a number going each way before every game. ‘We feel good at this spot, when you get there, we know we have a chance at points. From then on, it’s how we’re going on the field, what’s the down and distance, what the situation is. If it’s third and forever, I’m going to make sure I get to that spot, if it’s 3rd and 3, 3rd and 4, something we can make, I’m going to call a play. I think we play it based off that, and obviously, with Danny’s input prior, and certainly Sean [McDermott] has complete control over that. He’ll tell me what he needs to do and then we work from there. All of that is a matter of conversation in situations, place of the game, where we are, whether we need the points, whether we need to be aggressive and go for it.
Q: How does, whether the kicker is going great, like Hauschka is right now, and you probably been in situations where your kicker was struggling, how does that affect your play calling?
A: I let Danny let me know, if he feels good about that, then I feel good about that. That’s all in Danny’s corner, I’m not going to say, ‘well I don’t feel good about that.’ I’m trying to answer your question without, because I’m not going to do that. I‘m not going to say, ‘well I don’t feel like our kicker is warm.’ That’s up to Danny, that’s his deal and if he feels good about him at the 35-yard line, then that’s what we’re going to get to.
Q: I guess what I’m getting at is when you get into a situation where you start thinking well we’re at least going to get a field goal here, therefore we can do this without play calling, or if whether or not it would alter what you do to try and get in the red zone?
A: Not in the guidelines that Sean gave me. Coach McDermott has given me these guidelines, we’re going for points, we’re going for touchdowns. He wanted to be aggressive so we were aggressive, in certain situations, down and distance prevailed. We took our shots and [if] it didn’t work out, Stephen is going to kick them.
Q: How encouraged were you by the fact that not only did you get to take some down the field shots, even though you missed three of them early, you did make some, that they continue to put that on tape?
A: I’m encouraged by the improvement that our players are making in all regards, not just shots down the field. We ran the ball, we made steps that way, we made steps in a lot of different areas, not just throwing the ball down the field. Like I said, that’s game plan oriented. Next week, I haven’t even started on the Bengals, I’m just about ready to get started and looking at [them]. We’ll see what challenges they’ll present, because they do. I’ve played them before, they have a very talented roster, especially on defense, that’s all I look at anyway. Moving forward, we’re going to try and progress and get better at everything we do.
Q: If we go back to after the interception, you get it at the Atlanta 35, there’s 3:27 left, can you walk us through the philosophy that you’re thinking, what you and Sean were discussing about, if you wanted to make sure they used their timeouts, obviously you don’t want to take a sack or anything like that, can you walk us through that scenario leading up to ultimately a field goal attempt?
A: Well we’re certainly trying to use the clock, get them to use their timeouts. We had some things going in that certain personnel and we were going to try and do the same thing. We had it coming and going, and we went backwards which we didn’t want to do. Certainly, them using their timeouts but being aggressive at the same time with regard to keeping the clock running, that was what the biggest discussion [was]. ‘Let’s keep the clock running, let’s take our shots while keeping the clock running.’ I don’t know that I’d change it, I’m not sure what I’d do, obviously, we love the outcome as it sits right now. We’ll just say that, the discussion was, let’s make a play, let’s end the game with the ball in our hands. I have to go back, make sure we have a few arrows in the quiver.
Q: You weren’t here last year, I’m sure you got a good look at Charles Clay on film, he’s about halfway to his production from last season through four games this year, what’s been different for him that’s allowed him to be that effective early?
A: Just like you said I wasn’t here. Watching him on film, he looked like a different guy from when I saw him in Miami. I love what he’s doing, I can’t say what was the difference between last year and this year, I just like what he’s doing. He’s done a great job, he’s an eager worker, willing to listen, and puts his time in every day.
Q: What’s different from him here than in Miami?
A: I don’t know, [from] not being around the guy. I saw a dynamic guy when he was in Miami, then he went over and I see him being equal. He’s running fast, he’s playing fast, yesterday he was exceptional.
Q: Knowing that he’s going to be one of the focal points of opponents moving forward, how do you approach that as a game planner and a coach, because you don’t want to chase ghosts, but at the same time you want to be prepared for whatever comes his way?
A: All we can is what we can do. We can see what we see on film, put together a game plan, and just make sure that the quarterback has a place to get the ball, whether it’s in his hands, a wide receiver’s hands, a running back’s. We’ll put together something that works to our strengths, where we want to put the ball, and match it up to what the defense presents.
Q: What was working for you guys on that 19-play drive?
A: I think our offensive line was working really well for our team. [We] put it in their minds that they were going to take the game over in that situation, and they did. They did a good job with the combinations, knocking the defensive line into the linebackers because it’s an aggressive defense, it’s a fast-flowed defense. They did a good job of getting a hat on a hat, and between LeSean [McCoy] and Mike [Tolbert], they were getting downhill. We were rolling pretty good [during] that whole drive, once we got them going a little bit, we had a couple of passes that we threw in. Obviously, when they were over-flowing, Tyrod made a couple plays.
Q: What sort of challenge does that present? Usually you’re not calling 19 plays in a single drive, is it similar to when you’re going drive-to-drive, or do you have to kind of change things up a little bit more?
A: I think I had [Offensive Line Coach Juan Castillo] in my ear pretty good there, and a couple other coaches. It helps, the guys have been really, really good about that, where we’re going to next. We always talk between drives, where do we want to go, I try to use their input, and put an idea or some ideas together and get into a flow. [If] you get a few in a row, that’s a good thing, like getting interest in a bank, that’s not all bad. Once we got things going, then you see, ‘hey, they’re overplaying,’ you can see that as they drive, they’re overplaying that side, let’s go the other way. I think that’s how that drive pretty much progressed. I knew in the back of my mind I had two throws that I wanted to do, and once we got them rolling, that’s where we went.
Q: How do you keep Zay [Jones] level? It seems that there’s been some missed passes, some dropped passes, passes that have gone over his head. I know he’s trying, but how do you keep encouraging him that things will level off?
A: I mean it’s the same as any other player, you’re 1 of 11, let’s keep working. He had a couple of really good routes, didn’t make it happen, then he came back and made a big play at the end. I think he’s always put his time in just like the rest of them. He’s working hard at it. I don’t know how to answer your question other than he’s 1 of 11 and I think he’s done a good job as far as, keep him working, keep improving, and we keep encouraging, we’re going to count on everybody in here. He has put a lot of work into it.
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Defensive Coordinator Leslie Frazier
Good afternoon everybody, good win for our team yesterday. Hard fought game against a very good opponent, traveling down to Atlanta, NFC defending champs. A game that we knew was going to be quite a battle, and it turned out to be just that going down to the final possession. Fortunate for us, we came out on top, and it was a hard fought win for sure.
Q: Coach, can you walk us through what happened with only having ten players on the field? I know that Sean [McDermott] said that he recognized that you couldn’t call a timeout, but what was the sequence there that led to that?
A: You know, we were just talking through how we wanted to handle that certain situation, and we end up with ten guys on the field. Fortunately for us, we got off and down, ended up winning the game. We’ll learn from that and keep moving forward. The exciting news is, it didn’t hurt us, the Buffalo Bills won.
Q: Did you realize at the time that you don’t have ten? Like, before the snap, did you know?
A: I knew. I knew.
Q: Can you maybe tell us what’s going through your mind in that moment?
A: ‘Let’s see what this play ends up becoming.’ Fortunate for us, it worked out.
Q: What were you missing? What position?
A: One of our linebackers/ defensive end, depending on how you determine what Lorenzo [Alexander] is, defensive end [or] linebacker.
Q: The throw was in that second level area, right?
A: Yeah, he looked at a wide receiver first, the quarterback did, and then he ended up coming back to the other side to another wide receiver to the other side. It worked out.
Q: Regardless of having ten guys, what are you talking about in the huddle, like what to look for? Is it really a stay based, watch your keys, or are you anticipating play action or anything like that that you really want to make sure you key on?
A: Leading up to that, you have studies where you have an idea what they might want to do in those particular situations, so we talk through some particular scenarios based on the personnel that was on the field, but they can do anything they want on offense. You do try and give your players some clues as to what they might expect, but at the end of the day, they have to play the defense that’s called and do their jobs. They did.
Q: Last week, we talked about how this is a gage for how good the defense was the first three weeks of the season. Based on what you did against the Atlanta Falcons and Matt Ryan, even though they didn’t have Julio [Jones] or [Mohamed] Sanu for the second half, where do you put this defense now? What do you know more about this defense today that you didn’t see a week ago?
A: Well, I felt like going into the game, we were a resilient group, a group that would battle through adversity and just keep playing and not get caught up in the scoreboard or what happened on the previous play. That came through again yesterday. They just kept playing one play at a time, just kept battling, and that’s been true throughout. They just reinforced some things that we thought about going into the football game and it really hasn’t changed.
Q: After the game, Micah’s [Hyde] in there talking about how he’s still mad about the passing touchdown that he gave up, the first one of the year, he’s talking about how communication has to be better. When you’re hearing that after a win of that magnitude, does that encourage you as a coach, that you’ve got guys with feet still on the ground here?
A: Absolutely, you want to always be looking at how can you approve in our league. I mean, everybody else is doing the same thing across the league, so you can’t rest on your laurels in the NFL. Every week presents its own challenges, so you like to see players, when they’re looking at tape and kind of looking at the good things that they’ve done, but also really critique their performance, not only the positive, but the negative as well, and then figure out ‘how can I get better’. So to hear Micah talk about some of those areas where he in particular can get better, that’s good for our defense.
Q: With respect to Jerry [Hughes], do you feel like he was put in an adventitious situation because, on the other side, they had a backup they were trying to help in terms of protection at the right tackle spot. Do you think that afforded Jerry the opportunity there or was it Jerry being Jerry?
A: Well, you’ve seen Jerry Hughes’s play. What we saw yesterday was not an aberration. You go back, you look at the week before against Denver, you look at the Jets game, Jerry’s one of the premier pass rushers in our league. It’s smart to pay attention to Jerry Hughes.
Q: To what extent have teams that you can recognize, specifically, game plan for him through this first quarter of the season? And if not, are you anticipating that it’s going to happen now based on what he’s done so far?
A: Well if you take a look at the Denver game, we had not seen as much seven-man protection or guys staying in to protect as much as we did. I think the team that we played before, Jerry had maybe a couple sacks against Carolina, and we were coming off of a six sack game, so Denver took a different approach, whereas Atlanta, there were times they allowed our ends to rush, and we were able to get some really good rushes. Every team is going to approach it a little bit differently, I’m not sure what the team that we’re going to be playing this week, how they’re going to approach our pass rush, but most of the time, you give Jerry a chance to rush one-on-one, we feel pretty good about those situations. We don’t know how often that he’ll get those, but we like to see them often. We’ll see.
Q: Was that ball out? And was Micah’s interception, did that ball touch the field?
A: Now, what was the ruling on those? There’s your answer. (Laughs)
Q: Coach, Adolphus [Washington] being inactive was a little bit of a surprise to some of us. Was there anything specific that led to that? I know there is a numbers game there with Jerel [Worthy] and Marcell [Dareus] coming back.
A: Yeah, I mean that’s it as much as anything. This week could be completely different, we’ll see as the week goes on.
Q: How would you describe what you’ve asked your corners to do in this system, and how does that compare to some of the other schemes across the NFL?
A: I don’t know if it differs a whole lot. At some point in our league, you have to play some man coverage, you have to be able to play some zone, you have to be able to play when there’s a blitz, when there’s not a blitz. I think everybody in the league pretty much does the same thing sometimes. The leverage may be a little bit different, I might be inside, I might be outside, but everybody is looking for the same type of production from their corners and getting their safeties to play top down for the most part. I don’t think it’s a whole lot different across the league in what you ask guys to do in your secondary. Schematically, sometimes, depending on who you are, you might play a little more zone than man or vice versa, but that’s about the gist of it.
Q: What about Tre [Tre’Davious White]? A lot was made about the fact that he was a fourth year player at LSU and just what he did there. To see him get rookie of the month and then to come up with the game that he did- the heads up play, to scoop that ball up and not hear the whistle and just keep going. What more can be said about the maturity that this kid carries?
A: Going back to OTAs and the offseason program, we were all very impressed at his maturity early on; the way he was able to gather information and then take it to the field once we got into OTAs when we could go onto the field, and then be able to execute his assignments as well as he did. To see him in training camp and the preseason games, to see that the game wasn’t too big for him early on in our discussion about ‘should we start a rookie, and if we are going to start a rookie, when should we put him in the starting lineup’. It was evident to us early on that this guy could handle it, and we made a decision pretty early that he was going to be a starting corner for us and not have to wait until Week 2 or Week 3 or the preseason to make that move. We’ve been impressed all along with his maturity, his ability to be able to have a short memory, which you have to have at that position, and the mental toughness that’s necessary to succeed out there. There more plays he makes, the more confidence he’s going to gather. We’re really encouraged by his play. There’s a lot more football to be played, but there are signs that he’s going to be a really good player in our league for a long time.
Q: How early was that in the process? Was it May? Was it rookie camp? Was it the day after you drafted him?
A: No, it wasn’t quite that soon, the day after we drafted him. Early on, after we went through a few meetings and just observed how he was handling himself in those meetings, I think maybe some time in May the decision was made. I think it was around May or June that we made the decision.
Q: This may be a bit of an off-the-wall question, but with the way the ball hopping that goes on in your defense, or at least the instinct that your guys are showing, I’m curious to know what your stance is on, when you do get a takeaway, and you’re returning it, what your stance is on laterals and trying to turn it into an even bigger play?
A: That’s a good question, that’s one we’ve discussed as a group. We’ve had some guys who will lateral and, you know what I’ve talked to them about is, and we do, we preach takeaways all the time, it’s a big deal as you guys know in our league, the percentages when you finish plus in our league, plus one, plus two, plus three. To answer your question, we’re open to guys potentially lateraling the football, but we want it to be a clear situation. That’s part of a game, where we lateral the football and the other team got the lateral and scored on it, shared that story with the guys in the secondary as well. It has to be a clear situation where we know I can really hand it off to the guy and he’ll have a chance to score. Otherwise, we’ll take what we can get, but the guy who has the takeaway will live with it, wherever the ball is spotted. Don’t’ want to completely discourage it, but we’ve got to be smart.
Q: Do you practice it?
A: We don’t really encourage it. It’s available, but not something we encourage.
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CB Tre’Davious White
Q: One of the themes of what we heard from Sean McDermott earlier today was, for this team to not get ahead of themselves, you’re accustomed to winning at LSU, being new to the NFL, how do you keep a level head knowing that 3-1 is nice, but there’s challenges ahead, especially now that your lineup is being hindered by injuries?
A: We just take it week-by-week, game-by-game. We know that any given Sunday, any team can lose in this league. We have to trust the process and continue to improve each and every week. I feel like if we do that, we’ll be fine. We have a great group of guys in the locker room, guys that know what it takes to win, and those guys are willing to do anything to win. We’re not going to get complacent or anything like that, we’ll just trust in the process and continue to take it week-by-week.
Q: What has made you so comfortable in this defense so early?
A: I think that Coach McDermott and Coach [Leslie] Frazier have done a great job, going back to rookie minicamp, of just bringing me on slowly and giving me the plays piece-by-piece. [And] not putting too much on me at first so I could kind of master the things they give me. They did that, and I’ve progressed well, I’m continuing to learn, I’m still learning right now. Our front seven makes us look great on the back end, and I give those guys all the credit because those guys have been generating a lot of pressure, and we’ve been getting lucky.
Q: When you were going through the pre-draft process, how much did you expect to be a starter right away?
A: That’s what you compete for. You go through the pre-draft process, you train, you want to come in and play. I’m a competitor and I want to be along one of the best to ever play. I put that pressure on myself, and I hold myself to that high standard.
Q: Leslie Frazier talked about how they were kind of hesitant to name any rookie a starter, he said it was around May, early June, where they identified you and said ‘okay, we’re comfortable with this guy starting.’ Do you recall on when you were informed that you might be the guy, it’s going to your role? And what your emotions might have been?
A: I’ve heard, I’ve talked to a lot of guys that played in the league, or playing while I was in college and high school, I’ve heard nothing is official until you play the first game. I didn’t get too high or too low on me going with the first group until probably the first game. It was a big deal for me, just playing in my first game and being a starter, was a big deal. Other than that, I didn’t try to make it a big deal.
Q: When you watched the replay of your touchdown yesterday, did you have a feeling maybe it was going to get called back?
A: I didn’t, once I saw Jerry [Hughes] hit the quarterback’s arm and the ball started getting loose, I knew it was a fumble then.
Q: It seemed like almost the whole stadium was confused as to what was going on, but you were pretty alert, play until you hear the whistle, was that a classic example of that type of thing?
A: To be honest, that’s something that we practice in practice every day. If it’s an incomplete pass, we’re taught to scoop and score. Pick the ball up because you never know what’ll happen, and it happened yesterday, so definitely something that we practice.
Q: Did you realize as a player, on that 4th and one, you guys had ten guys out there, they did throw the ball your way, so you had one less guy out there. In that moment, did you know that there were only ten guys on the field and they went to you and you --
A: You know what, I think Tyrod [Taylor] told me this morning.
Q: How did you react when Tyrod told you that?
A: I didn’t believe him, and then Lorenzo [Alexander] told me too. We executed well with ten people on the field, I can say that.
Q: What don’t we see with the secondary behind the scenes of what you guys, with you all being new, but all meshing so quickly together, all communicating so well?
A: It’s like giving you cheat answers to the test, huh? We’re fortunate to have our two safeties, Micah Hyde and Jordan Poyer, those guys play corner and nickel, so they know pretty much how receivers work. It shows why they’re in the back end. We’ve got two guys that have been battle tested for years in this league and they’re back there behind me [and] E.J. [Gaines], so we’ve got a lot of room for error, me and E.J. do, because we’ve got two veteran guys back there to kind of cover us up.
Q: How much time do you spend away from this facility together?
A: We spend quite a bit of time. I think I said this before, Micah Hyde, he’s a rich guy, and he has a nice house that he just got built, so we go over there, we watch a little Thursday Night Football games and Monday Night Football games over there. I think I’m hesitant to go over there again because you’ve got to take your shoes off because he’s a little boujee; you can’t wear your shoes in his house, but [we] spend some time together. I think we’ll be over there tonight, today’s Monday. Yeah, we’ll be over there tonight. I’ve got to make sure I’ve got some clean socks.
Q: Have you gotten lost over there?
A: He’s so boujee, there’s a certain area of the house that you can go in. I don’t know what else he has in there; he’s probably got kids that I don’t know about.
Q: I’m looking at your stats here, have you ever scored on a fumble recovery before?
Q: Not in high school?
A: Nope, this is my first time doing it, other than doing it in practice or something like that. [I’ve] never done it in a game. First time for everything, right?
Q: You mentioned how you had to identify that it was not an incomplete pass. It’s so rare, though, that a ball shoots out in that direction and is a fumble, so how did you have such a clear view of what Jerry was doing while still doing your job?
A: I didn’t know. I was just executing what we do in practice. I didn’t know [if] it was an incomplete pass or a fumble, I didn’t know. I just picked the ball up, and I didn’t see the referee blow a whistle and I saw one referee right there with me down the sidelines, so apparently they saw something that let me run.