Special Teams Coordinator/Associate Head Coach Jerry Rosburg
I know we ask you every week about the return game. (Jamison Hensley) "It's a legitimate question." (Reporter: "Has there been any – and from what you've seen in the preseason games – any clarity from what you can see?") "I wish we had more kickoff return opportunities to evaluate, but teams are choosing to kick the ball out of the end zone or kick it as far as they can, and we haven't really had many chances. We'll see what happens this week, but it's a work in progress. We're working a lot of different guys in practice, and we have to come to some decisions soon, because it's going to happen quickly. This week, Asa [Jackson] is going to start off for us on punt return, and he's going to start off for us on kick return, and then we're going to go from there."
*Jerry, you talked about – a couple of weeks ago before the first preseason game – whether teams would kick to you or not. What rationale – and I know you can't speak for other teams – would a coordinator have for not wanting his kickoff team to cover kicks? (Peter Schmuck) *"It makes no sense to me. None. It makes no sense. You practice all these young men that come to your camp and try to make a team, and you kick it out of the end zone, and they don't get to show what they can do. It's not fair to the players in my view. That's why we kick it to the goal line. We take a 5-yard approach, kick it to the goal line, let the guys that came here to try to make a National Football League team practice. And then they practice and practice, and then don't get to play in the game. So, we let them play. We try to see who can cover kicks. That's what we do. But again, as you said, I can't control what other coaches are doing. It makes no sense to me either why you'd down a ball two yards into the end zone. That makes no sense to me either. Take it out. Let's go. That's why we're here."
**Jerry, how have you seen ILB Arthur Brown develop as a special teams player in Year 3 compared to the previous two seasons? *(Luke Jones) *"Arthur [Brown] continues to make progress. He's a fast athlete – as you know – and he's a physical tackler. He made a really good tackle for us this week. He and Anthony [Levine] got the guy down. He's an athletic linebacker. That's what you're looking for when you're looking for special teams linebackers – guys that can make plays in space."
On the punt return for a touchdown – you would probably see the breakdown more – but was it simply not staying in the lane or something more? (Jamison Hensley) "It's typical of a long play on special teams. It was a bad punt. The gunners both got blocked, the net didn't converge well, and we missed tackles. To give the kid credit, he made two guys miss. It was all those things involved to make it really a bad play all the way through the team, including the coach."
That was looked over a few times this week, I'm guessing? (Jamison Hensley) "Yes, we looked at it. We looked at it."
Offensive Coordinator Marc Trestman
Some of your younger receivers are continuing to develop. WR Darren Waller had a touchdown and [so did] WR Daniel Brown. Can you talk about how Daniel Brown has been able to make that jump from James Madison to here? (Turron Davenport) "I think a big part of it is the guys [Daniel Brown is] around. The level of competition has allowed him to accelerate his growth in the offense and in his individual play. We say it every day: There's a competition going on, and the guys here are all in it. He's one of those guys that just continues to work every day; he comes into work, he works hard like the rest of the guys. But I think the competition around him and the level of play certainly has brought up his ability to make some plays and to compete."
Marc, what have you seen from QB Bryn Renner in his two preseason games? (Ryan Mink) "We've all seen it. We've seen [Bryn Renner] do some really good things – grow and to gain a little bit of confidence in his ability. He has a lot of reps. He had 40-some reps last week with the drives that he had. In the first two weeks, I think we've seen that he has made some plays. What we've seen him do over the last six months is he has made some of the mistakes he has made early, [but] he's not making [the same mistakes] now. He's doing a better job with his reads, getting to the right guy quicker and taking some of the gray area out of the way he does things. He has really sharpened his decision-making, and it has helped him."
Obviously, QB Matt Schaub is the backup this year, but do you see QB Bryn Renner as a guy who could potentially grow into being QB Joe Flacco's backup? (Ryan Mink) "I would never give up on any quarterback. Every quarterback is really on an individual journey. Some of them get started early, some other guys it takes them a number of years and then all of a sudden they're playing. We have a guy that loves football. [Bryn Renner is] highly intelligent. He's quick-minded, can get the ball out of his hands, make some plays. [He has] showed he has a little bit of an 'it' factor against the competition that he was playing against. We're certainly not anointing him or anything like that, but we certainly see a guy that has worked [and is] making some positive strides. We love coaching him every day, because he comes ready to work. He's well-prepared, and he's good for our room."
Which strides have you seen RB Javorius Allen make? (Jamison Hensley) "I think that 'Buck' [Javorius Allen] is really … Having Justin [Forsett] in the room every day has really opened up his eyes to what it is to be a pro and to work at the level that Justin does, and Lorenzo [Taliaferro], certainly, when he was here with us during practice. I think, again, with all the young guys, they have a whole different perspective and way of seeing the game once they get up here. We have so many great role models and mentors – not only mentors on the field, but in the classroom and outside the classroom, for that matter, around here. 'Buck' continues to improve. He has shown us that he can run and make plays and be physical and drop his pads and finish with his feet. We've seen that, and we just want to continue to see him grow and get better in all the little things that he's doing. We're seeing that, so that's exciting. We love coaching him – I know [running backs coach] Thomas [Hammock] does – and we're just looking forward to continue to work with him and develop him."
With RB Lorenzo Taliaferro out a few weeks, do you see that as an opportunity for some of the young backs over the next couple of weeks? (Brent Harris) "Yes, I think that anytime somebody is out … Unfortunately, because Lorenzo [Taliaferro] has had such a great spring and camp, [and] he's just so much a part of what we're doing – both on our side of the ball and certainly [on] special teams – a window opens up for other guys to have more opportunities, like a Terrence Magee, a 'Fitz' [Fitzgerald Toussaint, 'Buck' [Javorius Allen] and those guys. They're going to get more reps, and they took advantage of that during the course of the game last week."
Marc, what would you like to see out of the – besides, obviously, some points – game on Saturday night against the Redskins? (Jerry Coleman) "I think that the goal is to play cleaner football more than anything – to take care of the football, to eliminate the pre-snap penalties and the holding penalties and the things that stop yourself. The things that take drives away are when you get out of sync and out of continuity with your drives. We saw so many good things in the 90 plays that we ran by, really, all three groups that were in there – two-and-a-half [groups], however you want to look at it. We saw a lot of really good play – a lot of good individual play, a lot of good winning-matchups play. But it's 11 guys [playing] at the same time, and we certainly didn't get that in the first two or three drives with the first group, and we have to play clean like we did in the first week. If we play clean, you always give yourself a chance when you play clean. If you get a holding penalty that takes you to first-and-20, that's hard to recover from when you're backed up. So, the guys realize … That's the learning process the young guys got is [that] you can be playing your tail off and beat your man, but all 11 guys have to be doing the right thing, and if one guy gets off on a tangent and does something to inhibit the drive – it's an interconnected process – we all lose. We have to play cleaner. If we play cleaner and play as hard and as fast as we played, we'll go right back to doing what we did, and that's putting some drives together and getting points."
If you get to Saturday and you still don't have most of your offensive line ready to play in that game, would it change what you want to do? (Brent Harris) "It's a reasonable hypothetical, but we have guys out there that practiced today and did very well against the guys that they practiced against, and we're going to have enough [offensive linemen] to play. Lord willing, we'll have enough to play. *(laughter) *And I say that with great sincerity and hope that we'll get enough guys that we can play. But we have enough, and we're excited for them. We have good guys – not just good guys, but guys that we think are good football players, and if they have to play, they're going to match up against a very, very good defensive line and a very good front seven. That'll be the challenge, and we'll work through that."
Marc, when you don't have WR Breshad Perriman on the field, who is your vertical, deep threat, and how much of that do you see in WR Kamar Aiken? (Ryan Mink) "I think we've seen that out here. Breshad [Perriman] is kind of a … Because of his speed, that's why we got him – one of the big reasons we got him. We've hit a lot of deep balls; you saw last week if you were in Philadelphia. We went on the edge and practiced and made some plays on the edge. [If] you went on the deep ball in the National Football League, you don't have to go by your guy to beat him. The guy can be on top of you, and you can back-shoulder throw. That's a vertical throw, too, and we [had] a bunch of that in the games, in the practices anyways. We got one by Marlon [Brown] in the game. We have enough speed to get downfield. It's [about] how we do it and how we scheme it and approach it. Our guys are fast enough. I think when you talk about Breshad, you're talking about another click in speed there."
Marc, with WR Darren Waller, what have you liked best about what you've seen so far, and where do you think he has the most room to grow? (Childs Walker) "I think in all facets. You can start in the classroom. [Darren Waller is] a very, very good student of the game. He's very detailed and detailed-oriented in everything he does in the classroom. Again, the competition and being around Steve [Smith Sr.] and being around Marlon [Brown] and Kamar [Aiken] and the guys that have played in this league, I think has just pushed him to grow, and he has. He's playing faster. His route-running is cleaner and more detailed. He has become a little more physical. Last week in Philadelphia, we saw him [be] more physical in the outside lanes, making some plays. He just wants to be more consistent in his football and then get more acclimated to Joe [Flacco] and to man the guys throwing the football. Again, he's a guy developing, and we're excited about having him here."
*The stereotypical slot guy is a smaller receiver, but we see you're using the bigger guys in the slot, the power slot. Can you just talk about the importance of having that size in the slot? (Turron Davenport) *"I think that you try to utilize the skill set – the size – the skill set of the guys that you have and work routes and scheme that you can work with those guys in those areas. We just try to maximize their strengths that they have in that area. There's going to be a size matchup that we're going to try to take advantage of. A lot of times you're on the third corner – the nickel – and you have the opportunity to play against a guy who isn't playing every down. And again, the size is a factor; it's a benefit. We just try to utilize the skill set there where a smaller guy and a guy who can redirect a little bit quicker and do things like we see in the league as well. We have some of those guys, too. We give every guy … At this point in time, everybody's trying to build a resume to play on all sides – outside, inside and wherever else they can get on the field. So, that's what we're doing. We're trying to allow them to build a resume, so we can make some decisions along the way."
Defensive Coordinator Dean Pees
You guys pride yourself on run defense, and, probably, the Eagles ran the ball a little bit more successfully than you would like. (Jamison Hensley)"A lot more." (Jamison Hensley: "What did you see looking at the film? Was there anything to be terribly concerned about? I know it is preseason, but…")"There is, and there isn't. The first part of the game, I felt a little sorry, really, for our defense, because that is … There are advantages and disadvantages of being in the press box, and at the start of the game – when you're playing a team that goes no-huddle and goes that fast – we had some communication problems with the headsets. It was really hard getting the calls in, and therefore, sometimes they played slow. That being said, we also had five penalties in the first 20 plays, which is … And I know some of them weren't penalties as we find out later on, but still, they all were in second-and-long or third-down situations where we're off the field. It changes the whole complexity of the game. All that being said, the thing that bothered me the most when I came back was [missed assignments]. When you watch film, it is never as bad as you think; it is never as good as you think. But, what I did not like was the fact that we had too many missed assignments on just simple things that we have done all through camp. Now, it was not necessarily the first defense, but we're expecting the second defense to be ready to play, too, just like the first defense. And we did some things in that game on third downs that were just – I don't know what we were thinking. And so, I don't know whether that was because of the confusion. I don't really [know]. We talked about it. The communication – we really changed a whole lot after the first couple series, but those are things that are just unacceptable; and we have to get those fixed. It wasn't anything we can't fix, but we did not get it fixed. That is where I'm the most concerned about. There were some things that don't concern me that happened that don't look good, and then there were some things that did happen that concerned me that we've got to get fixed. It was just mental mistakes."
Was there anything in particular that you can say about the missed assignments? (Jamison Hensley)"No. That is why I wish I could tell you, because there were just some [missed assignments] where a guy is supposed to be in the flat and wasn't in the flat. And we've done that same call a lot of times, and like I said, I don't know whether they got caught up. I don't know, but we cannot have it. It doesn't really matter if it is speeded up or not speeded up. Really, to me, I didn't really think that was going to be a problem. The communication with the headset was a problem, especially when you start the game. That really is hard when calls are getting in late; that's really not fair to the defensive guys. It is a disadvantage being in the press box in those situations, but we kind of got that cleared up. Some of the stuff later on, [Tim] Tebow's run – it should never happen. It just should never ever have happened. It is just the little things like that. We've got to be able to play as fast as the other team plays or as slow as the other team plays, but not make a mental mistake."
ILB Arthur Brown ran with the first team in the preseason game. Just what did you see from him when you went back to look at the tape? (Ryan mink)"[He] played hard, got to the ball pretty good. [He] had a few things here and there – just like everybody had in that game – but we wanted to give him a lot of reps to kind of see where he is at this point in time. We thought the more he plays, the more we're going to find out where he is." *(Ryan Mink: "And what have you found out, just how you evaluated him?") *"Just say that right now, he has still got some work to do, but I thought he played better as the game went on, and he started getting a feel for what the game was."
What have you seen out of the progression of CB Tray Walker, your rookie cornerback? (Jamison Hensley)"Tray [Walker], actually, was a little bit of a bright spot in that game, just from a tackling standpoint. Coverage-wise, he has still ... [The] speed of the game up here is a little different than it was in college, and he's just going to have to learn to adapt to that. But he's really long, and I really think he's going to be OK there. The thing that I was really impressed with him was the way he tackled. Because we had some other guys that didn't tackle so well, but I thought he was a guy that actually tackled pretty well back there. That was very encouraging from a rookie."
It is fair to say you may not know exactly where your pass rush is until the regular season starts with all the starters in, calling what you want to call? (Clifton Brown)"Yes, I'd say that is fair, because we really haven't packaged anything with certain pass rushers. In fact, in that game we just kind of [went with] whoever was in the game was in the pass rush. That's a hard game, probably, to analyze pass rush on anyhow, because everything is off of play-action, which is going to slow you down a little bit, which is what they design it to do. I would say that is a fair assessment. I don't know that we're going to know. Hopefully, maybe we can find out a little bit this Saturday night – maybe a little more, hopefully. If we can get them into third-and-long, we'll find out."
**Dean, as far as this Saturday goes – I know you guys didn't do much game-planning last week – what about this week? Will things change a little bit based on the Redskins? *(Jerry Coleman) *"Yes, it will be a little bit more [game-planning]. It is never going to be … There is never a game in the preseason that you just totally game-plan, like you would in the season, but you do a little bit more, just to kind of rehearse going through the week and how you're going to present the scouting report to the players. It is a little bit more of that than it is actually game-planning a lot of different things, like taking a certain receiver out of the game or something like that. It is not so much [like that], but at some point in time, we've got to go through a week like, 'OK, when do we present the scouting report? When do we talk to them about first, second down, third down, red zone [and] two-minute – all that stuff?' And it all has a segment during the week, and that is what this week does; we kind of get that. Today we did first and second down, and then we'll be doing something else tomorrow, something else the next day. That is how we present it to the team. So, you do kind of give them a little bit of a game plan."
Will you look at what the other opponent has done at all? (Jerry Coleman)"Sure, you do, and they will [look at] us, too. I think everybody around the league will look at what the opponent does just a little more than maybe what you did the previous two weeks."
Have you noticed the beating QB Robert Griffin III has been taking the last few weeks with his offensive line? Do you look at things like that? (Jerry Coleman)"When you're a defensive coach, you don't look at the bad plays. You look at the plays they did [well], and I thought they ran the ball and gashed Detroit, to be honest with you. I thought their offensive line played real well. They've got two good receivers; they have three great backs. Whenever you're analyzing something, you never look at the sacks; you look at the big plays and all the good plays that they made – 'How am I going to stop that?' – and not so much the sacks and stuff. I'll tell you this, though: [Robert Griffin III] is a pretty tough guy. He takes a hit, gets up and plays. So, my respect to him. And, [Kirk] Cousins beat us two years ago [in 2012], so I haven't forgotten that. And we played against the other guy, [Colt] McCoy, at Cleveland. They've got three good quarterbacks."
Dean, how would you evaluate CB Rashaan Melvin's play this summer, and then specifically, Saturday stepping in there for CB Lardarius Webb? (Luke Jones)"He keeps improving. I thought he started slow. I was looking for him at the end of the season. This guy did a lot for us late in the year. I really give him a lot of credit coming over from Tampa Bay and coming in and all of the sudden getting thrown into the mix and having to play, in the playoffs of all things. I thought he started slow a little bit in OTAs – maybe a little bit because of the surgery and the injury – and I think he has gotten better and better and better. I know sometimes it is hard to find bright spots in a game that you lose, but I thought he and [Tray] Walker both were bright spots for us at the corner position. I was pleased. Nothing was perfect by any imagination, but you see improvement."
Going back to CB Tray Walker, is he somebody that you're seeing that could be [ready]? He's making a leap from a small school. Has he shown that he's kind of ready to make that jump and can do it at a high level? (Garrett Downing)"I don't think any of the rookies are ready. I don't know too many rookies that are. I think they are what they are; they haven't seen it all. And so, I would never say a rookie is 'ready' going into the first game of the season. I don't know if anybody can ever say that at any position. They see things in preseason. Look, the other teams don't game-plan us either, so it's the same kind of thing. They can do a lot more intricate things that he's going to see against Denver and Cincinnati and Oakland and all the those teams that we start playing that he has not seen yet. Just like I said, I think both of them, Rashaan [Melvin] and [Tray Walker] … I know Rashaan is not a rookie, but in some ways, he's close. I think those guys are progressing, done real well, but I don't think any of the rookies – Za'Darius [Smith], Carl [Davis], any of them – are ready at this point in time. We've just got to get them to where they can play their best and get ready more and more and more throughout the season."
For an established player like OLB Terrell Suggs, how much weight do you put on their performance in the preseason? (Jamison Hensley)"Not much. The guy was NFL Defensive Player of the Year one year, and the guy has been a mainstay of our defense. It is just no different than when Ray [Lewis] was here. We know what he can do; we know what Elvis [Dumervil] can do; we know what Courtney [Upshaw] can do. But not a lot [is put into preseason]. That is why we really don't play them a lot. The guy is a pro, and the guy is – I think – going to be a Hall of Famer. So, I don't put a lot on preseason."
A big bonus for CB Lardarius Webb was that he was coming into this season healthy, which he hadn't done the previous couple years. Are you getting concerned at all that he's missing these preseason games and these practices? (Ryan Mink)"Absolutely. Absolutely. I know he's trying to do what – it is not his fault – he's trying to do what he can to rehab and get ready to go, but, it is certainly a concern. I'd be fooling you to tell you I didn't think it was a concern. I want guys out there practicing so we can see where they are and know where they are. And the condition thing – all those kind of things – yes, it's a concern. I hope we still can get him out here in the next week or so, but at this point, I wished he was out there. Absolutely."
You mentioned game-planning to shut down certain receivers. It seemed like last year, before CB Jimmy Smith got hurt, there were some games where he would stay on his side, some games where he would follow guys around. What goes into determining that on a weekly basis? (Jon Meoli)"The whole scheme. First of all, you pick a receiver that you think you've got to take out of the game that really is, obviously, a game-breaker. But at the same time, when you look at that, you can't totally abandon what you do on defense to try to take that guy out. You've got to see if it fits. So, there are a lot of times [when] things go into that. Sometimes, you take your best corner and actually put him on the worst receiver, so you can take two guys and double the other guy. There are different ways of doing it. You can take your best – everybody thinks you take your best corner – and put him on the best receiver. We've done that, but I've also taken my best corner and put him on the worst receiver, so I can put two on the other guy. It depends a lot on not only the receiver, but also [on if] they move him around. Do they put him in the slot? Is he the X? Is he the Z? Where do they [move] him? Do they motion him? All those things come into effect. How does it affect the rest of the defense? Is it going to be too hard? And if it is, you can't do it."
Do you think CB Jimmy Smith is capable of having that shutdown role if you put him on the best guy this year? (Jon Meoli)"Sure. I believe in Jimmy [Smith]. Absolutely – I believe that he's one of the best corners in the league."