*THURSDAY PODIUM TRANSCRIPTS: Week 3 at JAGUARS
Special Teams Coordinator/Associate Head Coach Jerry Rosburg, Offensive Coordinator Marty Mornhinweg, & Defensive Coordinator Dean Pees
Special Teams Coordinator/Associate Head Coach Jerry Rosburg
**Have you talked to any other staffs about kicking in Wembley Stadium or any experience that they've had there? *(Bo Smolka) *"We've done our research, but I have not talked to any other staff members in other clubs. That's not something I do. We have our information. We think we know what we're dealing with."
**What kind of things do you look for when assessing a new venue? *(Bo Smolka) *"The most important thing for a kicker is the plant foot. So, what [Justin Tucker] has to figure out during pregame, and the analysis of the field during the pregame, is: What is the field like? How firm is it? How much can I trust my plant foot? That's important for every placekicker and on kickoffs, as well. For the punter, it's a little bit less of an issue, but it's still the same thing. That's probably the most important thing for our placekickers and our punters."
Some of the players before have said the grass at Wembley Stadium is really soft because it's a soccer field. With that in mind, what concerns do you have about the field?* (Ed Lee)*"I think both teams have to play on the same field. When you're playing with athletes of the caliber that play in the National Football League, these guys typically get it figured out before the game starts. However they need to adjust their game to deal with the field conditions, typically that's what they do – the good players do. If players are falling down, they didn't make those adjustments. We've counseled our guys, and it's the same thing every week when you're playing at a different type of field. Figure it out before the game and then adjust."
It's been a while since K Justin Tucker has missed a kick in a regular season game. Is he any different after a game [where he has missed a kick]? (Jonas Shaffer)"We won the game. So, everybody in that locker room was very happy – including Justin Tucker."
Do you get the sense that the role of kick returners has been diminished by the league rule changes, [causing] so many touchbacks over the course of the last few games? (Bo Smolka)"That's a really good question. That's one of the things that came up when the rule change was initiated. Would it, in fact, have an effect on the number of kickoff returns? It was proven last year, and I didn't think it would be as significant as it was – but it was. It was proven last year that it did cut down on the number of kickoff return attempts. And what has happened so far, analytically, from the information I get, is that the people that are bringing the ball out of the end zone haven't been very successful so far. So, it is having an effect. It's a very important play to us. We keep practicing it at a high tempo with the kickoff team. When the guys do bring it out, we want to be there to meet them."
When K Justin Tucker does miss, do you get a sense that he's more determined, angry or… (Ed Lee)"Everybody, if they fail at a particular assignment, they're not going to be happy. So, I typically have other things going on. Randy [Brown, specialists coach], Sam [Koch] and Morgan [Cox] are over there with him at that time. The most important thing for any kicker is the next kick. That's been said time and time again. It's certainly true when you make a kick – the most important kick is the next one – and it is certainly true when you miss one. Justin [Tucker] came and played well the rest of the ball game and had outstanding kickoffs. So, his performance was not affected by the fact that he missed a 58-yarder."
Offensive Coordinator Marty Mornhinweg
Opening statement: "Let's wrap the last ballgame up. The fellas did a heck of a job. I'll tell you what, the players, the coaches, [senior offensive assistant/tight ends coach] Greg [Roman] and [offensive line coach] Joe 'D' [D'Alessandris] have done just great – [running backs coach] Thomas [Hammock] with the running backs, [wide receivers coach] Bobby [Engram], [offensive assistant/quarterbacks coach] Craig [Ver Steeg], and [offensive assistant] Matt Weiss adds an awful lot to us. We have 'Big Rich,' [Richard Angulo], the assistant O-line coach; he has done an outstanding job. Those guys have done a tremendous job. The [offensive] line played pretty well last week, with the exception of a few plays. I thought our backs played really well. We had the one issue where we put the ball on the ground down there with about six-and-a-half minutes left or so. Then, Big Ben [Watson] had a great game, both in the run and the pass. Going into that game, we thought the backs and tight ends would have a pretty good game in the pass part of it. Joe [Flacco] has been outstanding. Especially with everything that he went through, the guy is a real pro. He is a tough, tough guy. He is really efficient; he is a talented guy. You just cannot say enough about the fellas that were on the field. They played a physical football game, really for two weeks. Both of those first two games, the first halves have been really good, production-wise. The second half we are pounding the ball. Some of those things we have done very well at, [like] taking time off the clock. We need to finish a couple of those drives. I would like to see us finish a few of those drives. Now, let's get to this game. This is a great opportunity. Across The Pond, is that what they call it? Across The Pond with a heck of a defense coming in. Grade-wise, these guys are all 'As'. A lot of high-round draft picks, all of those things. They are a talented, talented group. They are fast, they play hard – all of those things. What a great opportunity we have. It is going to be a challenge and a great opportunity."
It was playful, but WR Mike Wallace said it is no secret he wants the ball more. Is he a talent that, moving forward, you do have to find ways to get him the ball? (Morgan Adsit)"That is one thing of just a few, really with me. That is my responsibility. That is one of my jobs. You have quite a few of them, but that is one of my jobs. Mike Wallace is one of our very best players, and you know my philosophy, I'm sure. We try to use all eligible runners and receivers, but man alive! Let's get the ball to our best players quite a little bit. That bothers me, and I'm going to do my best to get that doggone thing corrected. I will say some of it is cyclical. In both second halves, we just have not thrown the football much. We haven't needed it. Looking back on it, I think it was the right thing to do for a lot of different reasons. We basically played one full game with a pass. But, yes. Geez! We have to get our best guys the ball a little bit more than that."
RB Terrance West has missed the past two practices. How does his absence affect what you guys would like to do? (Ed Lee) "First off, I have great trust in Terrance. If he is available, we all have great trust in him to get the job done. Secondly, we have two other men [Javorius Allen and Alex Collins] that have played very, very well. Both of those guys have played at a high level with the exception of the one play I already discussed. We have great trust in all three of those men, and if they are all available, I would expect all three of them to play."
Did you anticipate that RB Alex Collins would play the way he played on Sunday?* (Ed Lee)*"He has done a nice job. He sort of earned that just a little bit on the practice field. He has a little quickness, a little speed. He is a little bit of a change-of-pace back. He showed that in practice. Really, Terrance got a little nicked at some point in the game. We discussed that before the game, exactly how we were going to use him – 34 I am talking about, Collins. I sort of expected him to play well, but he does flash at you, doesn't he? He is a pretty quick, fast guy."
As QB Joe Flacco's back progressively gets better and you see him go through more games without issue, do you expect to kind of open the offense to more of those downfield attacks, or is that just a byproduct of having big halftime leads and wanting to run the clock? (Ryan Mink)"I think if you take the two first halves, that is sort of the way I would like to play. Now, we lost Danny [Woodhead] in the first drive of the first ball game, but excluding that part, that would be very similar to how we would like to play. We have had two pretty good … It is nothing to write in your diary about, but it has been solid in the first two games in the first half."
This is the first time we have had a chance to ask you about G Marshal Yanda's injury and how that changes you guys up front. (Bo Smolka) "I will tell you with Marshal … You usually say, 'Next man plays as good or better as the guy,' and all of that. It is different in this case, because Marshal is sort of irreplaceable both on the field – he was having a great year on the field – but also his leadership and his toughness. The guy is a football player. He is irreplaceable. Here is how we have to do it: The next man has to go in and play great and he may be the next Marshal Yanda at some time. But all of us – coaches, players – we have to pick it up just a little bit. Then, quite possibly we can get this thing done without Marshal."
G Tony Bergstrom went in there to replace G/ Marshal Yanda, but G/C Matt Skura started all four preseason games. Who do you see at that position? (Ed Lee)"We will see. That is an ongoing process. We just got done with Thursday's practice, and we are going to see who is going to fill that spot. There is a country song like, 'Who is going to …' or there should be a song about that.* (laughter) *Anyways, that is the situation at that spot. We are going to see on that. Great competition for that spot."
How would you assess G/C Matt Skura's development? (Ed Lee)"Outstanding. He has been outstanding. I have great confidence in Matt. I have great confidence in Jermaine [Eluemunor] as well. I have great confidence in both of the men, [Luke Bowanko and Tony Bergstrom] that we brought in here. They have done a heck of a job. They have not been here very long either. Hats off to them. They got themselves prepared and ready to play."
What did you think when you saw G Marshal Yanda walk off with a fractured ankle? (Ryan Mink)"I did not know it was fractured until much later. In fact, I asked [head certified athletic trainer] Mark [Smith] if there was any update, and he said, 'No.' I'm going, 'That is probably not good.' I did not know it was broken. Joe [Flacco] did, just because he was out there. You would have to ask him about that. I kind of thought it was going to be bad news. Yeah, geez! During the game, you do not worry as much about it, although I was conscious enough to ask for an update. I was hoping sort of as he was coming off that it was not serious, but it ended up being serious. That is part of this game. Sometimes great things happen, especially when you do … Every now and then, just a cruddy thing happens to a good player. These things happen, so you have to overcome it. Both the player that is injured – he is going to have a long rehab ahead of him – and then the rest of players and coaches have to overcome that thing."
Getting back to WR Mike Wallace and just in a general sense, as a coordinator, how do you handle it when a playmaker gets frustrated? (Bo Smolka) "Hey, you know my background now. I have been fortunate to coach some of the great ones ever to play. The communication and trust is key. That is key. You have to put it on the table. Put it on the table and the communication is key when these things happen. We will continue that. That will never happen where the communication and the trust breaks. It can't happen. That is the way we go about our business here."
Defensive Coordinator Dean Pees
How important or critical would it be to have OLB Za'Darius Smith come back healthy, after missing just one game with what seemed like a serious injury? (Ed Lee) "Oh, really good. I thought he looked pretty good this week, very healthy. He said he feels good. It's big to have him back, especially against [Jacksonville]. This is a very powerful running team; they have a great running game. This is a really good offensive football team."
Along those lines, we don't know about DT Brandon Williams, but DT Carl Davis looks like he could be playing a bigger role. What did you see from him, specifically, against the run? (Bo Smolka)"Hopefully we have Brandon – we'll just have to wait and see on that one. But, if we do or whether we don't, Carl is going to have to step up. We played him a little bit last week, and we thought he did a pretty good job against the run. He had a nice tackle for loss down there in the backed-up area. Even if it's Willie Henry – any of those guys – they have to step up. I thought our young guys outside last week, between Tyus [Bowser] and Tim [Williams], showed a little promise. So, we're going to need the same thing out of the young guys inside."
What have you seen from guys like DT Carl Davis and DT Willie Henry, in terms of their progress? (Ed Lee)"They've improved a lot. They still have a lot to improve [upon], but I really feel good about those guys. They're coming in the right direction, working hard and have seen a lot of improvements since two-a-day camp and all that kind of stuff. So, I think the more they're comfortable with the system, the more they're around it, the more they do it, the more they practice it – you know, just like with anything – the better they're going to get."
Is DL/FB Patrick Ricard still a guy you could use despite his transition to fullback? (Ryan Mink)"Oh, yes. When we put our depth chart together on defense, even though he's been showing up on offense … I think he did, maybe, get in a snap or two last week, even on defense … He's always in our depth chart on defense, too."
Are there other running backs that you might compare to Jacksonville RB Leonard Fournette? (Bo Smolka)"Now, I hate to say [it, but] guys like [Eric] Dickerson and guys like that. He is a powerful, powerful guy. I'm telling you what – '33' [Chris Ivory], now … He's a good, good running back. They have two starters. It's not necessarily a downhill runner and a slashy guy. I think that's what most people think. '33' [Chris Ivory] runs hard in between the tackles, too. They have two really, really good running backs, and probably, one of the best blocking tight ends [Marcedes Lewis] in the league; he's been around a long time. These guys are powerful guys. We have our hands full with this team, right here. We're going to have to play better than we did last week. We did a great job in turnovers; we did not do a great job in terms of total yardage and giving up some big plays – and two of them were runs. We can't do that this week."
Obviously, DT Brandon Williams gets a lot of attention for how well he plays against the run. But, just how good has NT Michael Pierce gotten at that? (Ryan Mink)"He's gotten very good. We said coming in that we thought he had a really good year last year [and] expected even bigger things from him this year; he has not disappointed. Those two guys right there are two solid, inside guys. Michael holds his own in there, just like Brandon."
We asked DB Lardarius Webb about leading the team in interceptions, and he said he was surprised because he didn't think he'd be on the field this much. Is this what you anticipated from him coming into the season, that you'd be using him this much? (Ed Lee)"Well, it's kind of what the other offenses have dictated to us. It's more about that than it is about whether or not we … We have packages for certain offenses that play certain ways every week, [and] it could be totally different than the week before. It just so happens, between the Bengals and the Browns, we ended up playing a lot of sub defense, and that's 'Webby' [Lardarius Webb's] role. So, we ended up playing a lot. This week could be very little. Every week, it really kind of depends on their offense, how much of the different packages we play."
Would you say that you're not surprised by the way that DB Lardarius Webb is playing? (Ed Lee)"Oh, not at all. He transitioned to safety, I thought, very well. But, we've always thought he was an outstanding nickelback. He's a good blitzer, does a good job of disguising, along with Eric [Weddle] and Tony [Jefferson] and those guys. Like I said, they've done a good job of bonding together, the three of them – which has helped 'Webby' I think in some ways. My hat's off to him; I think he's playing at a very high level right now."
The loss of LB Bam Bradley – how much does that affect the depth you have at interior linebackers? (Ed Lee)"It does, and I know it affects Jerry [Rosburg, special teams coordinator/associate head coach] a lot because of special teams. But, it affects us, too, because we don't have that many inside 'backers in there, so we kind of counted on him to be the backup for C.J. [Mosley]. Now, we just have to roll some other guys around, which we've had to do in the past, too. That's the one thing that always ends up getting you, is you don't see it sometimes immediately, but then the problem is once somebody else gets hurt, now you're really at a drop off. Sometimes the drop off is not great at first, but now you're just holding on going, 'Boy, we can't afford another one.' That's kind of what happened to us at corner last year. OK, you lost one, but then all of a sudden, you lost two or three. Now, it really becomes an issue."