THURSDAY MEDIA AVAILABILITY: JAGUARS – WEEK 15
Special Teams Coordinator/Associate Head Coach Jerry Rosburg
Jerry, your thoughts on WR/PR Ace Sanders, their punt returner who – if you look at the numbers – hasn't called for many fair catches, seems like a guy that tries to take some chances? (Luke Jones) "Yes, [Ace Sanders] is exciting. He's a very good change-in-direction returner. He makes a lot of people miss, and we're going to try to limit the opportunities and get him between us. It's always easier to tackle a guy when you have friends." (laughter)
To that note, P Sam Koch and K Justin Tucker get a lot of the credit when you talk about special teams success, but how impressed have you been with just the overall coverage this year? It seems like guys aren't really getting an opportunity to return on you at all. (Jon Meoli) "I guess as a coach you're always looking for better, and last week is an example of that. I didn't think we covered kicks particularly well. They bled a couple out. Nowadays, when it gets out to the 20-yard line, it seems like it's a big return even though the 20-yard line isn't as bad as some. But we still have some things to work on. I don't want to seem like I'm dissatisfied with it, but I just see things in the video that we need to fix. As the weather – we've talked about this before – as the weather cools off as we're experiencing out there today, we're going to have to cover kicks. They're not all going to be touchbacks. So, we have some things we have to shore up."
The holding, has that been addressed this week? You've had some decent returns, but there has been … (Jim Forner) "The fouls? The fouls were addressed every day this week and on game day last week. So yes, it's something that we stressed in the offseason, and we started off the year doing quite well, I thought. The last two weeks it has got out of hand, so we need to do better there."
Offensive Coordinator Gary Kubiak
Last week with your first three drives, [they were] three-and-outs. To change, to then be so productive, is it a feeling out point? What happened there? (Pete Gilbert) "We weren't feeling them out very good were we? (laughter) We struggled. We missed two third-and-1s, so that kills momentum right there. [We] had some communication issues going on in their stadium; that was a problem that we had to work through and were able to get that done. But give them credit. They're a good defensive football team. We knew that going in, and we're facing another good defensive football team this week. It's part of the NFL, and you have some things like that happen to you. How do you respond? Well, we responded very well for three quarters, and we were able to get it done. It's just part of the grind. I think you learn from all those experiences, and you just have to rise to the occasion."
You guys are on pace to have the best offense in franchise history this year. What would it mean for you to do that, and just how pleased have you been overall with the direction and course of the year? (Garrett Downing) "The thing I've been most pleased with is how they've responded to new [information and approaches]. Anytime there's change, and you're asking guys to learn a new system and buy into something new, it takes time and those things. The guys have been great from Day One. The thing I really like is I think we've continuously gotten better. And then the biggest thing going on, I think with us as a group, is all the people that are contributing. We're not some group that sits there and waits on one or two guys to make a play. Kamar [Aiken] is a good example going in last week for Torrey [Smith]. So, we're built with everybody, and we're built playing hard, and everything we do starts up front. Our guys up front have responded to me this year coming off of last year – responded very well in how they've played."
Is this what you expected, or have guys kind of caught on quicker than maybe you anticipated? (Garrett Downing) "I think they've caught on fairly quick. That's our job to get that done. But I also think the coaches have done a pretty good job, too, of us trying to understand exactly what we do best and not get too far ahead of ourselves. As coaches, sometimes you spend so much time in that office you have a lot of ideas, but if your players can't do them – if that's not what they do well – you have to be careful. So, we've really tried to focus in on what our guys are doing well, what Joe [Flacco is] doing well, and I think our guys have responded to that."
You mention guys stepping up – TE Phillip Supernaw getting an opportunity to almost get to the end zone. Does it surprise you with how many guys are being able to be ready to go? It's a nice slogan, "Next man up," but to actually follow through on it … (Pete Gilbert) "Yes, and I think it's something guys buy into. It's something you preach all the time as coaches, and you're always coaching them all. You never know who's going to have to step in and play. In our meeting Saturday night before the game, we talked about everybody probably having an opportunity to contribute in the game. John [Harbaugh] talks about that all the time, and I'll be darned if it didn't happen really in a big way this past week. I don't think it's going to be different here down the stretch. We have some guys nicked up, it's late, it's that time of year. How young players respond – maybe some new faces that you find along the way – have a lot to do with whether or not you continue to go. Hopefully, they'll keep stepping up."
Is it satisfying to see [players stepping up]? (Pete Gilbert) "Yes, it's really [satisfying]. You're happy for players when you watch a guy sit there on the practice squad, or you watch a guy like a [Phillip] Supernaw get cut I think six or seven times this year, and all of a sudden he makes a big play. You watch a guy like Kamar [Aiken] come in and he's battling for a roster spot, and he goes in there and plays like a starter right now. Marlon Brown playing the way he's playing [is great]. So, that's very encouraging. And like I said, I think that's the way we're built, and the guys are buying into it."
You often hear teams at any level in football wanting to finish strong, but you look at the numbers I think you guys are second in the NFL in fourth-quarter scoring, and you've been able to spring so many long runs late in the game. Do you take pride in that? Is that the blueprint for what you want? (Luke Jones) "Yes, I think our guys have confidence throughout the course of the game that they're well-built, as far as conditioning and those types of things. Our guys work extremely hard. And when it gets tough and gets late, the confidence to run the football is huge. I think last week, 113-or-some of our yards were actually in the fourth quarter. That's important. In this league, a lot of close football games you have to win the fourth quarter, and I'm sure this week won't be any different."
Encouraging to see both RB Bernard Pierce and RB Lorenzo Taliaferro kind of have a nice game? (Garrett Downing) "Yes, it was. We went in to the game going to play Lorenzo [Taliaferro] kind of as the two last week. That has been bouncing back and forth. He played well, did some good stuff, nicked his ankle up or foot up a little bit. Bernard [Pierce is] sitting there ready to go, and he proves that at the end of the game – he has three carries for 50 yards. That's what a real pro does. When there's not a lot happening for him, he stays in tune to what's going on, and then when it is his turn, he steps up. So, I'm proud of Bernard."
Defensive Coordinator Dean Pees
When you have a great pass rush combination, especially on both sides when you have OLBs Terrell Suggs and Elvis Dumervil out there, what kind of problems does that really create for offenses? (Jamison Hensley) "They really can't slide the protection necessarily to one guy, just because of the other guy. They have to decide which way they're going to put the protection. And what Miami was doing, at least going into the game, was they would chip their way out, which means they'd put a back on one side and maybe a tight end on the other side, give the tackle a little bit of help and then get out. So, we had to do some things to kind of prevent them from chipping. That's what they're going to do. They're going to try to let the back help or the tight end maybe help in an off position and chip the other guy on their way out, which changes their routes a little bit, but that's the best way to protect. You can full-fly the protection. The other way you can do it is you can max protect and leave everybody in, around two guys or three guys out. In either case, that's a good scenario for a defense."
And does that mean when you have such a great pass rush like that, isn't it even if you don't get to the quarterback, if it's just having the offense maybe adjust to things that they don't want to do … Is that almost considered a win as well? Like, you know, using an extra guy for protection? (Jamison Hensley) "The only thing is, though, they have a good situation, too. If they're using a couple extra guys to protect, we have to make sure we're in a coverage, because now the play is going to last a little longer. So, you still have some coverage issues. You still have to be able to cover them a little longer now if they're going to leave everybody in to protect. It's just a chess match back and forth trying to get them to change a little bit and them trying to get us to change."
[The Ravens added] another big piece to the secondary with CB Antoine Cason. For you as a coach, how do you try to get a guy up to speed that quickly? It's kind of been new pieces so much throughout the season because of injuries and that sort of thing. How do you try to keep up with that and get these guys as ready to play as much as possible? (Garrett Downing) "The thing of it is coaches try to meet with them extra as much as they possibly can to get them up to date. But it really isn't the playbook so much on a veteran guy, because he's going to kind of know what the coverages are. It's the terminology they have to learn. We may call something, maybe exactly what he played at Carolina, but it's called something different. And then in the course of a game … It's a lot different when you're sitting there studying it and you say, 'Yeah, I know it,' and then all of the sudden stuff happens fast, or it's a no-huddle situation. You just try to get them up on everything that you can. The only thing is, as a coach, you have to evaluate at the end of the week and say, 'OK, where is he? Is he really ready to play?' It's not the fact of whether we can trust him as much as, 'Does he know enough that we can do the whole package?' Or, when he's in the game, do we have to change the package a little bit to make sure that he knows what he's doing to give him a chance? Just to throw the whole playbook at the guy who has been here for four days is not fair. You have to decide at the end of the week, 'What can he do if he's in there? This is what we're going to do.'"
What are you thinking in the fourth quarter of that game [at Miami] when you know you only have two healthy cornerbacks? What are you thinking at that time? (Garrett Downing) "You have always got a contingency plan. Everybody knows more than one position. It may not be great, but everybody knows. We talk during the week as a staff every week. We have a depth chart, and in that depth chart there are always the 'what-ifs.' 'What if we lose three nickels? Who's going to be the fourth?' I mean, there is always a situation … Or, maybe you don't play nickel anymore. You just have to decide from that standpoint. We always have a plan. It may not be the best person in that situation, but we have a plan. Unless we lose them all, we're going to find a way to put them in."
**S Jeromy Miles has played quite a bit the last couple weeks, and aside from a couple other points in the season, we haven't really seen that. What have you seen from him in his development recently to kind of throw him in the mix a little bit more than what we've seen? *(Luke Jones) *"The thing of it is Jeromy [Miles] is a really smart football player. Really, to me, the whole time [he] has been on top of it as far as knowing what to do, making the calls, making the adjustments. It really is a matter of … I think I told you a long time ago, everybody is kind of equal there at safety, so it was a matter of, 'Alright, let's give each guy a shot and see where it goes and see how he plays that game,' and, 'Did he lose the job? Did he keep the job? Are we going to split the time?' It's really not a matter of other guys doing stuff poorly. He has done some things well, so we … It's kind of like, 'Why take him out?' [We are] going to keep giving him a shot."