*THURSDAY PODIUM TRANSCRIPTS: Week 13 vs. Lions
Special Teams Coordinator/Associate Head Coach Jerry Rosburg, Offensive Coordinator Marty Mornhinweg & Defensive Coordinator Dean Pees
Special Teams Coordinator/Associate Head Coach Jerry Rosburg
Of all the awards and honors you've received over your lifetime, how does it feel to be a "Gruden Grinder?" (Ed Lee) "It is an honor. Coming from a Super Bowl champion football coach that understands the role of special teams, the big picture of things and how important it is to have good special teams to win … We take it as a whole special teams honor, really, not just one guy. It's a team game, and I think the honor goes to our players that execute and our players that practice hard and our staff – Chris [Horton, assistant special teams coach] and Randy [Brown, specialists coach]. It's really for everybody. Coach Gruden understands the role that has on a football team, so we take it as a high compliment. I knew something was up after the game, when I got my phone, and my phone had blown up. So, I figured something bad happened or something good happened – one or the other. I'm glad it was something good. I got messages from people I hadn't heard from in a long time. One of the guys kind of lost track of me, thought I was in the Witness Protection Program – thankfully, that wasn't the case. (laughter) So, I got some publicity that not necessarily … On a side note, one individual texted me and said, 'If this doesn't stop soon, I'm going to have to shut my TV off before I vomit.' These are really good friends that I have out there. (laughter) On a serious note, I'm really thankful for our players. Our guys work hard. It's not easy playing special teams here, and our guys work really hard at it. I take it as a compliment to those young men and our staff that does such a great job each week."
Monday was another example of how well special teams have done this year. What's been the key to you guys being so consistent? (Ed Lee) "I say all these things, and it's ironic: John [Harbaugh] asked me the next day how we looked, and Chris [Horton, assistant special teams coach] and I were watching the tape, and there are still so many things that we see out there that we need to do better. It's an ongoing process. It's a week-to-week thing; it's a play-to-play thing. Our players are dedicated to being good. So, we keep working to get better; we keep correcting the mistakes that we make and try to make sure we have a clear understanding. Our young players are getting better and better. What it takes, honestly, is it takes a lot of hard work. Our guys are willing to do it. We appreciate that from them."
What challenges do the Lions' special teams present? (Jeff Zrebiec) "This is an outstanding special teams group. I've coached against [special teams coordinator] Joe Marciano in years past, and this is a fine operation. They are very, very well-coached. You can see how hard they play, you can see the place and the players how he uses his rosters, the talent they have, and their specialists, the returner talent they have. This is going to be a huge challenge. Whatever it was we did last week, we better quickly understand that we face a whole different challenge this week. We have to be at our best to play against this group. They're an outstanding group of special teamers. They were last year, too – it's not a flash in the pan. This same group last year, with different players, was an outstanding group. So, Detroit's special teams certainly have our attention."
**Their leading punt returner [CB Jamal Agnew] has two touchdowns. What's the key to containing him? *(Ed Lee) *"As I've said many times standing up here, punt coverage is really a team aspect at its finest, because it takes so many parts of it to be successful. The snap and the punt have to be good, our gunners have to be good, our net has to be good. We have to play within the net with one another; we have to fit properly. It's a wide-open space play, where it's not a set piece. We have to read on the run and fit all together. So, it's an interesting dynamic when you're covering a punt. One little thing that could go wrong with a returner like this, and it can be a disaster. The key to it is everybody fitting together: the specialists doing a great job, our gunners doing a great job, our net fitting together. Hopefully, we can keep this dangerous threat contained."
Can you talk about WR/RS Chris Moore's effort on the fake punt reception? I think it was remarkable. (Pete Gilbert) "Yes, it was. The receiver talent came into play there. You can't just throw that play to just anybody. The fact that we have Chris, who understands how to get off a jam, or how to escape on a route – that'd be a difficult play if you were throwing that to a DB, because it's not the same qualities that he practices every day. Chris did a great job of getting off. Sam [Koch] made an extraordinary adjustment in his throw, too. We practiced that play over and over and over again – as we do all of our special plays – and not one of them looked like that, just because every play is different, and the way that he was held up and how he escaped from it, and Sam put some air under the ball. It was a great play by two fine athletes."
What was your reaction to K Justin Tucker being named the AFC Special Teams Player of the Month? (Ed Lee)"Yes, that was outstanding. As you know, we have a high opinion of our guys. I have said that many times. Justin had a great month. I was wondering what happened in September and October – where has he been? Sam [Koch] was the [AFC Special Teams] Player of the Week, and that was also [deserving].Obviously, Sam had a great game. We like to have these things, because that means we are playing well, and we do not shy away from that. If the trend continues, then Morgan [Cox] should be the Player of the Year the way we look at it." (laughter)
Offensive Coordinator Marty Mornhinweg
Opening statement: "First things first: It's good to win Monday Night, baby! Always love those types of games. The fellas did a heck of a job. I'll tell you what – that No. '90' [Jadeveon Clowney] is a heck of a player and wrecked some havoc early. The guys did a heck of a job. To be able to run the ball against a really good run defense – I thought that would be important going into the game. Then, situationally, I thought Joe [Flacco] and the fellas handled [everything well]. We were in a bunch of different types of situations throughout that game, and they did those very, very well. We put a lot of time and effort into that. So, that was a good one. Now, we've got one on a little bit of a short week, with a good football team coming in here. They've got some really good players on defense. They have some pass rushers, very well-coached, good scheme, got some cover guys. So, it's a great opportunity here back at home, on a short week. So, on a short week now, you see how we've been doing it with the practice. Preparation will be key on that. We'll open it up to questions."
The Lions added DE Dwight Freeney. What does that do to their pass rush? (Ed Lee) "The 'spinner' – he has a great spin move, fantastic. He's played a long time; he has a lot of experience. Now, we don't have him on film [in Detroit], so we have to go back here to Seattle, and in his past history, to look at him, and have a plan for him."
How much did those first three drives on Monday Night – if at all – change up the gameplan and how you guys were going to play? (Brett Hollander)"Some of the things we did were in the gameplan. We were late one time getting off the ball, which allowed some disruption by '90' [Jadeveon Clowney]. I thought our players did a heck of a job with the plan and how we wanted to go about that game. He's a player – I'm just telling you – [Clowney] is a player that can wreck a game. I thought our players did a heck of a job. And you go back to the gameplan, take away their great strengths, and he's definitely one of many. They have some big-time strengths. So, I thought the guys did a decent job that way."
*There's been a lot of attention of QB Joe Flacco's post-game comments about expressing concern on whether you can continue to win that way. What are your thoughts? Can you continue to win this way? *(Jeff Zrebiec) *"Well, you can win many different ways in this league, as an individual game. He and I … You know the old [commercial campaign] 'Bo Knows'? Well, Joe knows. Joe knows exactly what the situation is. He and I do get philosophical up [in the meeting room] a little bit. So, I do agree with him to an extent. So, when we go into a game, and that extent is … Hey, typically, with some exceptions, you have to play better on offense and more dynamic and all those things. Within any particular game, it can be much different; you can win games many different ways. Anytime we go into a game, we're going to do whatever it takes to win that individual game. We'll deal with the rest of it afterwards. So, I do agree with Joe. I wish he wouldn't get into all the philosophical things, because then I have to answer your question. *(laughter) Man alive!"
On the broadcast, Sean McDonough made a comment about coaches feeling that QB Joe Flacco has had some opportunities with deep balls this year, but maybe hasn't put in the time or energy to make those plays. How do you respond to that? Is that true?* (Luke Jones)*"I didn't hear that. I'll tell you, there was one last week, it was later in the game, and Joe … I'm going, 'OK,' and he threw it underneath, and he's going, 'I'm not going to let '90' [Jadeveon Clowney] wreck this thing,' and he would have had to hang onto it. So, there's been some of those. I don't know where Sean got that, but certainly we didn't talk about it. I think Joe handled all of those situations, in the last ball game, just beautifully. I really do. I think he played a heck of a game. He moved and grooved, just a little bit when he was forced to, and he helped our offense that way. All those situations we were talking about. I thought he did a really fine, fine job."
You showed a Wildcat look with a direct snap. What about that appeals to you? (Bo Smolka)"I love the Wildcat. Geez, I'm telling 'Big Jens' [C Ryan Jensen], 'Man, we have to have those snaps perfect.' So, I felt comfortable with that part of it. We've been working it for quite a while. There are several things that go into why you would do that. By the way – that's a good point – everything we do, typically, there's a reason for it. I know you guys don't … When it works, you kind of know, when it doesn't … In fact, it was a couple weeks ago when we had our bye week. Wasn't that a couple weeks ago? I'm sitting there watching these games – which we rarely get to do – and I'm rooting for a couple of these teams that could help us. I found myself going, 'Gee! What are we doing?' You know? (laughter) I'm going, 'This is what the fans are doing, isn't it?' to my wife. She goes, 'Ah, it's worse. The fans are worse.' But typically … Anyway, I guess you had to be there. *(laughter) *Typically, everything we do, there's a reason. Sometimes you can't really see it. But, we understand – typically – the reason for doing everything we do. Did I even answer your question? *(laughter) *I got off on a big tangent there. Did I say: Man, it is so good to win those Monday Night games? We have a great opportunity though with Detroit coming in. Kind of got off Detroit and got back on to the last ball game. But, anything else on Detroit?"
Not on Detroit – but can I ask you about WR Breshad Perriman? He had two targets, no catches. (Ed Lee)"I just know this: When we're in this type of situation, like Breshad's in, you keep preparing, you keep working hard, and almost always good things happen. That's what I would say. That's what I've told the young man. Let's just keep working hard, [have] the mentality of getting better every day, and good things tend to happen. So, that's where we're at; that's where he's at with the thing."
**How has RB Terrance West handled the last couple of weeks? John Harbaugh says he's healthy, and clearly, his role has changed from the beginning of the year. How has he handled that in practice? *(Luke Jones) *"Yes – just talked to him, probably 20 minutes ago. He's healthy. He's ready to go; he's preparing like he's going to play. We'll see what happens. There are some numbers and everything in there to that. So, in special teams, and the offensive group that we have, and all these things go into that. Certainly, John [Harbaugh] talks personnel. I don't get into personnel here, publicly, very much. But, I know John has put an awful lot of thought into Terrance West. We'll see what happens here going forward."
Defensive Coordinator Dean Pees
What has excited you the most about DT Willie Henry's development? (Childs Walker)"Believe it or not, his football knowledge. The guy is really a smart football player. [He is] very knowledgeable. For a young guy that can go in there … Sometimes, we will have a gameplan where we have to run certain games in pass situations and stuff like that. A lot of times, young guys can't really do that. They have somebody else tell them; somebody else will run it. He can actually run it if we wanted him to, and sometimes we do. I think he is playing well and he is playing hard – it is all of those things. But, really, behind the scenes, he really has a great grasp of what we are trying to do gameplan-wise and has really excellent football knowledge. That is always a really good thing."
Has it been a major asset that you can seemingly plug DT Willie Henry into any game situation, run or pass or whatever? (Childs Walker)"Yes. Really, besides Willie, I think we can do that with Carl [Davis]. Brandon Williams has seen more action in the passing game, as far as an inside rusher. Za'Darius Smith … We have a bunch of guys that are that way. Willie is certainly one of them, but I think we have a bunch of guys that can be plugged into different spots."
You have seen Lions QB Matthew Stafford over the years. What makes him such a difficult guy to match up with? (Jamison Hensley)"Besides his physical ability just to be able to throw the ball – his accuracy, the velocity on the ball – he can make every throw. Every throw. There are some guys that just throw hard and can't put a touch on it. There are some guys that can put a touch on it and can't throw hard. He can do them all. He really, to me, is a complete quarterback, physically. The other part of it is that he runs the show. It is similar to New England – not the scheme necessarily – but he runs the show, which means that the coaching staff and everybody feels like they have enough faith in him that he can go out and audible to anything, see the big picture [and] check everything at the line of scrimmage if he needs to. When you have a quarterback with his physical skills, and obviously, his mental skills, then you have a complete quarterback."
When you look at his weapons, he does not have retired WR Calvin Johnson anymore, but it seems like there is diversity there. WR Marvin Jones Jr. can go deep and WR Golden Tate works really well out of the slot. Is it just really challenging that they have weapons at every level? (Luke Jones)"I think sometimes it is harder to defend that then it is one guy. I think also, sometimes, from an offensive standpoint when you are spreading the wealth around, everyone else is a little more involved when they go out for a pass. [They think], 'I have a good chance that it is going to be me that catches the ball.' Sometimes, when you have a superstar, everyone knows that is where the ball is going, and maybe you don't get quite the same effort. They really spread the ball around. Each receiver has his own kind of special quality, and they are not the same. That makes it difficult, because there are some guys that can really take the top off the defense and a guy like Tate, who is a catch-the-ball [player] and is probably more dangerous after he has the ball in his hands than he is running a route. Not that he is not a good route runner – he is – but the guy is an exceptional run-after-catch guy. They all have great qualities."
I think Lions QB Matthew Stafford has thrown the ball third most out of any quarterback in the league, and their run struggles have been well-documented. How much does that affect the aggressiveness that you guys have in terms of blitzing and all that stuff? (Jeff Zrebiec)"It is hard to say. The thing of it is, I don't really read a lot. I just watch the film, and their backs are good. I don't really buy in to … Everyone can talk about how they are struggling in the run game and all this type of stuff. I think sometimes you look at stats and you look at things like that and they can be very misleading. Just like a couple of weeks ago when I talked about the Chicago game and us against the run defense. Other than the one play, everyone is looking at the 180 yards or whatever rushing. Really, it was three-point-something a carry. Well, if it is three-point-something a carry and we only gave up 70 yards, everyone thinks we did a great job against the run. But if we give up 180 [rushing yards] and it is still three-point-something [yards per carry] – that statistic is skewed. I think sometimes their statistics are skewed, too, with the run game. They have two very, very capable runners. We, by no means, are ignoring the running game and thinking, 'Oh, we are going to blitz all the time, because they are going to pass.' The other thing is, honestly, us blitzing is not always the answer. That was the case this last Monday night [against Houston]. Both of our sacks came on four-man rushes. We did not do a good … We were not getting to him with pressure, and he was completing balls on us or we were getting interference calls. Part of the reason why was because he was able to hold the ball and throw it down the field, because we were not getting pressure on him with our pressure. Hey, we did a better job when we four-man rushed. It all plays into it. We have to play their scheme and their system, and we have to play ours. Whether that requires more blitzing or less blitzing, it just kind of depends on the game."
WR DeAndre Hopkins had seven catches for 125 yards. How much of that do you look at that and say, "That is a guy just making great plays and the coverage was pretty much what we wanted." Or do you go back and look at it and say, "There are things we did not do very well." (Pete Gilbert)"Obviously, if you had interference calls, you did not do that very well – you did not play the ball very well. There were some times where we had decent coverage on the guy, and we just did not turn and play the ball well enough, and we ended up getting an interference call. There are other times – there were a couple – where we were draped all over him, and he made the catch. We could do some things a little better, but again, we tried to pressure him a little bit, and when you pressure … Everybody says, 'Double cover [Hopkins].' Well, I can't pressure and double cover; I don't have enough guys. I can go to Canada maybe and do that. *(laughter) *So, when you pressure, hey, you are going to get singled up. When we pressure and you don't get home, you are singled up. That is what happened to us a little bit, so we kind of backed off of it later in the game a little bit more, because we thought we could get pressure and get to him, and we weren't doing a good job of that. We did better when we four-man rushed and played some coverage and kind of helped those guys out on him a little bit, and we did a better job. But, he is an exceptional receiver, too. The guy had a … He is a good receiver. We can play some plays better, certainly."