SPECIAL TEAMS COORDINATOR CHRIS HORTON
Opening Statement:"[It's] good to see everyone today. I hope you guys are doing well. Obviously, it's been a while since I've been up here [at the podium], but I'm very pleased with the way our guys played last week. I've been saying this from the beginning, we're just trying to find that consistency and go out and play winning football, rep after rep. There's a lot of good in the game, and then, obviously, there are times where we might hit a bad spot, so if we could eliminate those things, our guys will continue to do some good things. [We're] looking forward to this week. It's going to be good to be back home [and good] for our guys to be in our home stadium. I know we're fired up. We had two good days of practice. We'll have one more tomorrow, and we're going to be ready to roll. Questions?"
What did you see from WR Devin Duvernay's 70-yard punt return in London? (Jamison Hensley) "It was easy for [Devin Duvernay]. He got the ball he wanted. I'll tell you this about Devin; we stressed to him, really, about decision making. Across the league, we watch a lot of plays. There are not a lot of guys making a lot of good decisions, and he's still a young returner to us. He hasn't returned a lot of balls, and we just try to put him in positions to where he could have success, not only him, [but] the guys in front of him are blocking their tails off, giving him space and giving him lanes that he can run through, and he's doing a great job of it."
Does K Justin Tucker's Lions dominance transfer to home games also, or is that only in Detroit? (Ryan Mink)(laughter)"No, I think anytime you put Justin [Tucker] out there, he's going to try to dominate the football game. If you let him line up and [you] say, 'Hey, you go out there. It's field goal time,' he's fired up, and he's going to be ready. Hopefully, that will stay at our house as well."
Do you think seeing a certain uniform will impact K Justin Tucker because he has a 61- and 66-yard game-winner against the Lions? _(Pete Gilbert) _"I just think … You're going to have to ask him if he feels a certain type of way. I just think, for him, he'll just tell you [that] it's the next kick. He goes out there, [and will say,] 'I'm just going to make the next kick. It doesn't matter who the opponent is.'"
Was there something about P Jordan Stout's punt that made it difficult to catch in that instance before the end of that half? (Ryan Mink) "I don't know. Jordan [Stout] did hit a great ball, though. The punt was great, it was a high ball and we had gunners. We had guys in his face. Any little distraction in that situation ... If the returner is not fully locked in, that ball could be on the ground, and it was. It was a huge turnover for our team [and] for our guys."
Was that Titans' punter the fastest punter you've seen? _(Jonas Shaffer) _"That was definitely the fastest punter I've seen. I told 'Duv' [Devin Duvernay], 'That was not in the scouting report,' because I joke with him all the time. Once you get past the first wave, there is no one catching you. That kid was rolling. [I give] credit to him."
What happened on the blocked extra point? _(Pete Gilbert) _"It just comes back us executing fundamentally. We got a little high in that A gap. That's really what I came down to, and usually, when things like that happen, it's probably a direct result of us not executing fundamentally. Once we take care of that, we'll be fine."
It's been back-to-back weeks where you've had a blocked kick from the A gap. Is there something specific that is causing that turmoil? What gives you confidence that it can be fixed? (Kyle Barber) "It's an easy fix when you watch the play. Going back to the Pittsburgh play, we had a guy step up in that A gap. We just have to finish the block. We made contact, [but] we just didn't finish that block, and it was a really good rush. [I give] credit to [Miles] Killebrew on that. We have to do our jobs, and we have to finish those blocks. The same thing, really, applied to the Tennessee game this week. We got a little bit high, [and] we had a guy in the A gap. [If] we do our job, [and] we take care of our responsibility, those things won't happen. I don't think those are big issues that we can't get fixed. That should be fixed right away. [It] shouldn't happen, honestly."
S Geno Stone said he would be a kick returner. Have you ever thought of taking that seriously? (Giana Han)(laughter)"I have not thought about taking that seriously. [Geno Stone] told you that, [so] that's probably why he didn't come tell me that. Now that he said that, I'm going to ask him next time I see him."
DEFENSIVE COORDINATOR MIKE MACDONALD
How would you describe the Detroit Lions' offense? (Mike Preston) "It's a lot. [The] first thing that pops off … I guess the first word that I would say is multiple and balanced. [They're] able to get to a lot of things easily with their personnel being able to move guys around using all their pieces. I think their run game mixes all the zone [scheme] and the gap [scheme] world mixed with under center. They're very explosive with the under-center, play-action pass. Then, you couple that with the drop-back game and being able to get guys in space and find matchups and things like that. Those are the things you definitely have to account for. Then, they do a great job of obviously running the ball and then protecting the quarterback where [Jared Goff] can operate back there. Obviously, he knows where to go with the ball. Overall, I think the numbers support it, but [they're] a very good offense."
Is it even more of an emphasis to take the Detroit Lions' run game away to best eliminate their play action passing attack? (Cordell Woodland) "I see them as two independent-type plays – whatever world we're living in – front structure with coverage concepts we're playing. You want to best marry your chance to win the play. If it's a run with the set they're creating, and then also the play action concepts that they're building off of it. It's a play-by-play type of idea on how we're trying to defend it."
What is your theory on getting everyone involved in the pass rush since there are 11 different players with sacks this season? (Ryan Mink) "I don't know if I have a theory about it. I think as a staff, the first lens you're looking at is, 'What puts us in the best position to win the down and ultimately get them stopped to win the game?' I think as you're building a system and a gameplan – like I had mentioned in a question a few weeks ago – you're trying to have the ability to bring it from any side at any given point in time. I think then when you're able to do that … It's kind of like an offense that says, 'Hey, you have to defend the width of the entire field.' Defensively, you have to be able to account for everyone in the blitz game and then in the pressure game. I think that's the idea, and then you're trying to attack things that [are] perceived weaknesses and exploit strengths on our end. I think those are the lenses that you go into a week and making a gameplan."
What about your defensive scheme makes it so player-friendly for players like OLB Jadeveon Clowney and ILB Roquan Smith to learn it so quickly? (Cordell Woodland) "This is the only system that I've coached in, so it's hard for me to compare [it] to other systems. To listen to your question, I think first the credit goes to the types of guys that we're bringing in here and the players. Obviously, [they're] smart players, and they love football, and they've done a lot of different things. Maybe all those concepts will coincide. The next thing is it's not me sitting with those guys running through the details every week; I'm doing other things. The [other defensive] coaches just do a great job of getting them up to speed so they can go play fast and be comfortable out there. I think just as a general philosophy – we have rules, and we have different things that we emphasize and how we want to play, but it's not a rigid system, [saying] 'You have to this all the time, [or] you have to do that.' Now, we want your eyes right and your technique and all that, but we want guys to feel like they can go play football at the end of the day. That's ultimately how you have to play in order to be effective in this league is what we believe."
What makes an inside linebacker a really good pass rusher? It's obviously not the first thing that people really think of with that position, but we see ILB Patrick Queen do it week after week. (Childs Walker) "That's something we saw when [Patrick Queen] was coming out of college. Everyone has their different traits. Like, a Malik Harrison is a great off-the-ball blitzer. [He's] a little bit different with his foot freeze; he's got more power, and the speed-to-power game is different than 'P.Q.' [Patrick Queen]. But I think Patrick's side-to-side movement and his explosiveness is probably what makes him an elite blitzer. I think the answer to your question is you probably go … Just like [with] any other rusher, you're looking at what they do best and their skills and how we develop those types of things. But yes, 'P.Q.' is right up there with the best of them."
What are your thoughts on the play that ILB Roquan Smith made tracking down that running back screen all the way down the field? What does that kind of play say to the other guys on the defense? (Ryan Mink) "Yes, that's a great question. That was something that was a point of emphasis for us, as our defense is finishing games out and closing games out on our terms. And we were in that situation where their offense was up against the clock a little bit. If we had stopped them at a certain time, they were going to be onside kicking it – and I think at that point, they would have had to onside kick it anyways – but you obviously want to get the stop. So, when the ball spit, and it hit, I'm just like, 'Hey, get it down, and I had seen [Roquan Smith] go down …' Or excuse me, I did not see him go down. We're trying to get him, and then I see him get tackled, and I saw that it was … I thought it was 'Ro;' I guess it ended up being 'Ro' and Marlon [Humphrey]. And upon watching the review, I had seen that 'Ro' got knocked down, so I'm like, 'OK, he got knocked down, and he made the play.' So, now, this is just an all-time great play. And again, when guys like Marlon and 'Ro' – your best players – play with the highest effort day in and day out, that just tells you what type of guys they are and what type of football players they are. It speaks to their character. So, definitely, [a] shoutout to those guys."
OLB Jadeveon Clowney sang your praises yesterday. What is he bringing to the meeting rooms, with his personality, energy and experience? What are we not seeing that makes Clowney such an asset to this team? (Sherree Burruss) "I [should have] spoken to this sooner, but just getting to know [Jadeveon Clowney], his enthusiasm, his love for the game, I think that's what makes him fit in here so well. And just his overall energy – [like] you said – it's contagious. And we have a bunch of guys in that room that love football, and they're fun to coach."
DT Justin Madubuike seems like he gets better every year. What strides have you seen him make this season? (Garrett Downing) "Well, I think [Justin Madubuike] is getting a lot more opportunities this year. I think he ended up with like [5.5 sacks] last year with not as many opportunities, so we knew … Or we didn't know; we had a great feeling that was there, so I'm just excited that he's got the opportunity to go out there, and he's taking advantage of those opportunities. But [when] you think about a guy like Justin, he's extremely explosive; he plays incredibly hard; he's incredibly physical; he's a violent tackler; and he has a relentless motor. So, if he's not going to win right now in his one-on-one, there's a good chance he's going to win on a second and third effort, and I think that's what makes him a great player."
In the media, we sometimes look at matchups like who is going to stop WR Amon-Ra St. Brown, or who is going to stop TE Sam LaPorta. Does it matter as much – who is matching up with them at the line of scrimmage – or is it more about just the pass defense in general and how you execute? (Jonas Shaffer) "Yes, I think that's very situational based. Like, first-and-10 is going to be a lot different than third-and-3, and then where you're at in the field is going to matter, as well. [The Lions] do a good job of moving both those guys [Amon-Ra St. Brown and Sam LaPorta] around, so [with] whatever world we're in, we definitely have to account for them. Some of the calls could or could not be forwarded towards those guys in mind, but again, it's going to be situation based. And obviously, our personnel and how we deploy them is at our disposal, and those are options that we can do on any given down."
What is QB Jared Goff doing so well that allowed him to really turn around his career? (Pete Gilbert) "I don't remember when [Jared Goff] turned it around; he's always been really good. I remember when [the Rams] came out here – I think it was in '18 – and we practiced against him, and it was an impressive operation. And what I remember was he was extremely accurate. And so, you watch him now, and that definitely is consistent. But [he's in] total control of their offense, and it seems like his eyes are always right, [and] he always knows where he wants to go with the football. So, that's going to be a point of emphasis – to try to make him not as comfortable as he's been the last few weeks."
OFFENSIVE COORDINATOR TODD MONKEN
For the first few weeks in the red zone, the offense was clicking. The past couple weeks not so much. What have you seen in the difference of not having the consistency in the red zone? (Jamison Hensley) "As I always say, you would much rather be … I think overall stats are a way of rationalizing that everything is OK. You'd rather be 60% to 70% touchdown every game than 100% some games and not as good in others. I think everybody would say that – the consistency of that. So, it starts with how we game plan it, how we call it, and then how we execute it. [It's] really that simple. We did an elite level early on and executed down there being able to run it in. We just have to do a better job of – like I said – scheming it, do a better job of executing it when we have those opportunities. It's pretty obvious. We've done a good job the last couple of weeks of moving the football. That has not been the issue. We've solved some of those things in terms of being more explosive; creating our own identity; having a better rhythm. But turnovers and execution at the wrong times have hurt us – there's no way around it. You've seen it, and we have to be better, and we're capable of better. That's the way it is, we are capable of it."
What have you seen specifically from the Lions run defense that has made them successful this year at stopping the run? (Pete Gilbert) "They do a good job, schematically, of ... Their linebackers play downhill; they're physical up front. I know everybody says it, they're a stop the run mentality, but they for sure play hard, and they chase the ball. [They have] good players [and a] really good scheme. They play hard, and they play downhill."
Are you pleased with offense in Week Seven and how they've come together knowing it's a new system? (Sherree Burruss) "I wouldn't say pleased is the word because the expectation is to be efficient and score every week and take advantage of your opportunities. In some ways, we did that last week and other ways, we did not. Same with the week before, and ultimately that's what we're in charge of. [It] is to score points and not turn it over. And when you don't do that, you're not where you want to be, that's obvious, but we are certainly capable of that. Getting our group back together healthy at a number of spots and then continuing to do it better, consistently obviously, then we'll see. We'll see that result more consistently than we're seeing it now."
Scoring in the red zone across the league has been at its lowest point since 2011. When watching film, have you recognized why that is and why it's been so hard to score?_ (Kyle Barber) _"Not particularly. I haven't really studied anybody else other than [this team]. Early on, we did a good job of being able to run it in, and when we had some third downs, we hit it. I think about the Bengals [game], they did, too, as well. We had Nelson [Agholor] for a touchdown on a third down. We had Mark [Andrews] for a touchdown on third down. Those opportunities presented [themselves], and we capitalized on them [and] some other times, we haven't done that. It hasn't come to fruition. Obviously, it starts with me. We have to scheme it better; we have to coach it better; we have to give ourselves more tools when we have opportunities down there. It's hard to run the ball down there and score. So, I haven't really seen that, I just know we certainly need to do it better."
QB Lamar Jackson mentioned defenses making adjustments in the second half when playing this offense. What are some of those adjustments they're making? _(Brian Wacker) _"Again, I appreciate what Lamar [Jackson] says. Again, we have to do a better job in the second half. The bottom line is … A couple weeks ago at Pittsburgh, the first drive coming out, we hit an explosive [play], [then] we stalled at midfield. We hit another explosive [play] on the second drive, had an opportunity down the field and didn't hit it. So, that I don't look at certain things the way the game goes. We can certainly do a better job at halftime, [and] we can certainly do a better job in the second half. I didn't see significant changes [from our opponent] in the second half other than we just have to do it better; I have to coach it better; I have to call it better; we have to execute better. It wasn't as if we were consistently running the same things; we just have to do it better. That doesn't mean he's wrong. I'm not critiquing Lamar. The bottom line is we've done a good job in the first half of executing, and we have to do a better job in the second half. Some [games] earlier in the year, we weren't so much. We were actually better in the Houston [game] in the second half. We were better against the Bengals in the second half, so again, it's a long year. We have to do it better coming out in the second half, that's for sure. Sometimes it turns out you get the ball to start the game, and you get one less possession [with] the way it turns out. That hasn't been the case, we just have to do it better. There is no magic formula – you have to scheme it better, coach it better, execute better and let your talent shine and not have so much drag."
WR Odell Beckham Jr. suggested that the team has to keep their foot on the gas? Are there times where you felt like the team could be a little more aggressive in the second half? _(Jeff Zrebiec) _"Sure. Though I look back at the Steelers … If you go back and look at those last two drives, it might have been the first play or the second play, we hit Zay Flowers on a banana route, maybe for about 20 yards, and got to midfield. Then we had the next drive and hit Nelson Agholor on a fade, they challenged it on the sideline, and then we had another fade later, so we were still aggressive there. What takes you away from being aggressive is lost yardage plays, you get behind the sticks a little bit. We started last week opening up the second half with a screen, we lost three yards. [We] tried to get the ball on the perimeter, [we] didn't. Then we had a third down; next drive we had a pick. So, all that is true. You certainly do want to keep your foot on the pedal, keep your foot on the gas and keep driving, of course. Not turning it over, being explosive, converting on third down [and] scoring touchdowns in the red zone are all big part of what makes an offense successful and all the ways why [a] defense is successful. They create turnovers. All those things correlate, and we're close. We just have to do it better, and I'm in charge of it. We just have to continue to strive, and I think getting some guys back, getting guys healthy will add to that – that consistency, the trust of all of us and the quarterback."
What has impressed you the most about QB Lamar Jackson when he gets the ball in his hand and runs the ball? _(Jamison Hensley) _"His vision. He has vision of a tailback. What he sees, and when he decides to take off and run, that's what has been impressive. When you ask him to run the ball up inside, he has toughness and vision. That's probably the biggest thing – toughness and vision that some guys don't have. They may be athletic, but they don't have a great feel for rush or running lanes, and he does have that. It's unique."
The Ravens have outscored opponents 41-6 in the first quarter and the Detroit Lions, 38-10, as well. Does it feel like a mentality to keep pace early? (Pete Gilbert) "Crazy enough, we've started fast. We've given ourselves opportunities and wasted some. Obviously, [it's] your ability to start fast and then finish. We all know that. Our ability to start fast, but then your ability to finish [and] your ability to consistently do things at a high level – coaching, calling it, playing, all of the above – that leads to how you want it to look. That's what you're striving for."
Is it just a matter of time before the offense starts getting touchdowns on big plays? (Jonas Shaffer) "[The touchdowns] have all been in the red zone. We've had some other opportunities, whether it was [it] didn't turn out to be the look, or we had it, and we ended up with a sack, or we had Nelson [Agholor] at the [Pittsburgh] Steelers. I'm just pointing out one or two [plays]. We have to call it better – all of us. All of it is a part of it – starting with me, players' execution [and] giving our guys opportunities down the field so we don't have to work so hard once we get down there. It's hard in the NFL to get those, but we certainly have to do a better job of that. We just do."