SPECIAL TEAMS COORDINATOR CHRIS HORTON
Opening statement:"Good afternoon. Good to see everyone. It's Week 1. I think our guys, we're just getting ourselves ready to play. We're finally putting all the pieces together, all the players meshing together and just kind of seeing what our units look like. I know one thing – we're going to have our guys … We'll be ready to play. And then on Sunday, those guys just need to go out there, play the way we practice, and we'll be OK. Questions?"
What do you like about LB Del'Shawn Phillips? _(Jeff Zrebiec) _"It was pretty easy. You just turn on the tape, [and] you see a good football player. That guy – they told me to watch him – you see [No.] 43 shows up on the tape in the coverage phases, in the blocking phases. It was just pretty easy for us. He's a good football player. He's physical, he plays the way we like to see our guys play."
Is it an extra perk that LB Del'Shawn Phillips played for the Jets last year and has an understanding of what they do on special teams? _(Luke Jones) _"When you turn on the tape, and you watch guys, and [Jets special teams coordinator Brent] Boyer has been there for a while; we faced him in 2019. You see a lot of the same things. You do get a chance to kind of verify some things that you've seen on the tape, those are always if you want to call them extra perks, but I think as a coaching staff, we do a really good job of just watching the tape. Those things won't lie to you; what you see on tape is probably what you're going to get. So, we'll just prepare our guys and be ready to play a football game."
You and the Jets had two of the best special teams units in the league last year. Do you feel like this is pretty great matchup for you as a measuring stick early on? _(Jonas Shaffer) _"Like I always say, for us, it's always about us. If we play well, it will show, and I do believe our guys will go out, and they will play well. It's just one of those things. They are a good football team; they have good players. It's going to be for our guys to create the matchups and the things we want to see. Sunday is Sunday, and we'll find out once we actually get out there and see the guys out on the field."
What do you think it will be like for Sam Koch to go into his first game as a coach? _(Ryan Mink) _"I think he'll be fine. He's adjusted to being a coach pretty well, pretty quickly. It was his decision, so he'll be fine. He'll be ready to support Jordan [Stout] in everything that he's been helping him with so far."
Is there anything you will say to P Jordan Stout to ease his nerves ahead of his first NFL game, as a former player yourself? _(Cliff Brown) _"I think it's normal for a guy to have nerves; it just means he's excited to play. Whether it's a preseason game, a regular season game … It's different. It's not college, it's professional, and he's doing some things that we're asking him to do that maybe he didn't do in college. He's going to be just fine. He'll go out, he'll play well, just like you saw this preseason. This game doesn't change; it's the same game. It's just, now they count."
DEFENSIVE COORDINATOR MIKE MACDONALD
Opening statement:"It's great to see everyone again. We had a great couple days of practice, and I feel like it's been forever since we played last, but guys are excited, they're locked in and I think we're ready to go play."
What are the emotions for you, knowing you are coaching your first game as an NFL defensive coordinator? _(Luke Jones) _"We're just focused on what we're supposed to do. It's a bigger responsibility, obviously, and we're trying to take advantage of all the extra time we have to make sure we're thorough in all the situations. Right now, I feel like we're in a pretty good spot."
Did you have a lot of nerves last year before your first game as defensive coordinator at Michigan? _(Jeff Zrebiec) _"Every game gets the juices flowing."
How excited are you to finally open up the playbook now that you are in the regular season? (Cordell Woodland) _"Excited. _(laughter)I'll leave it at that, if that's alright."
What do you remember most about QB Joe Flacco? _(Kevin Richardson) _"I was here for four or five years with Joe [Flacco]. Joe's a great player, and we have a lot of respect for him. Obviously, he can throw it all over the yard. He's had a lot of success over his career, so he's a guy that if you're not careful, he can pick you apart. He has a history of that. He can throw it over your head, tries to get the ball out on time, so trying to disrupt some timing is going to be a point of focus for us, but Joe's a great player. I learned a lot from him just from watching him, coming up the ranks."
Being as familiar as you are with QB Joe Flacco, how has that helped you prepare to face him? _(Pete Gilbert) _"Yes, it's a good question. You have a familiarity with him to some extent, but it's been a while now, and the scheme that he's operating under now is similar to the one that we were in back in '14-'15, and it kind of evolved from there. There are some parallels that you can draw from, but I wouldn't overstate it. You're really defending the player, you're defending the scheme by situation and then really all the weapons they have around him as well."
During training camp you said you were trying things out and experimenting. How much did you find out about your unit during training camp? _(Ryan Mink) _"Yes, it's a great question. What I learned was by situation, we have guys that can do different things that really help us. I think we're in the process still of narrowing down who's doing what given the situation. That will be a process all the way throughout the season, but I think we're in a good spot right now understanding what we're asking our guys to do, and I believe it's the things they do well so they can go play the right way, and you're asking them to do things they do well."
The Ravens have talked about playing position-less defense for a number of years now. With only two outside linebackers on the 53-man roster, do you kind of feel like this might be a good case study for that? _(Luke Jones) _"I don't know if it would be a case study for that, per se, honestly, because really the guys are still playing the same positions that they're playing, and they have played. So, to the naked eye, it's going to look very similar to what you've seen in the past from those positions. The position-less defense is really more in terms of blitz patterns, coverage responsibilities, things like that. Front structures and things you'll see, I think that will be consistent with what you're used to in the past."
Do you have any routines for dealing with your pregame nerves? (Ryan Mink) _"If I'm in a great spot, I take a nap a couple hours out for like 15 minutes, but I don't know if that will happen this week." _(laughter)
CB Marcus Peters was limited in practice yesterday and CBs Damarion Williams and Jalyn Armour-Davis missed some time in the preseason. Have they gotten up to speed since coming back, and do you feel comfortable relying on them if you have to? _(Jonas Shaffer) _"Yes, I would, honestly. Guys are going to have certain roles going into a game, and obviously that can change if people aren't available or if someone goes down during the game. So, that's something you have to take into account. We saw it during the preseason when we ended the game and four DBs on two separate occasions; one we ran out of guys, the other one we ran out of DBs. So, those types of adjustments you might have to make given who's out there. A guy like 'Pepe' [Damarion Williams] or Jalyn [Armour-Davis] or someone like that. Again, for the things that we're asking them to do for this gameplan, we have a lot of confidence in them."
Given the lack of depth at outside linebacker right now, do you feel like you have to get extra creative? _(Pete Gilbert) _"No, again we have guys that can play. I think you'll see it out there that we're going to try to stay flexible with it. Guys might end up in different spots, but in terms of like when you play the game out in terms of the snap counts that we're anticipating guys to play, it's not anything out of the ordinary. You wouldn't think anything had changed."
OFFENSIVE COORDINATOR GREG ROMAN
Opening statement:"What a day – beautiful day out. [We're] just so excited to start another season. You never really know what's going to happen the first game – you just have no clue. Once the first series happens, I think everybody kind of settles down and just plays football. But there's a lot of excitement. The guys, when they came back in Wednesday, you could just feel it – a heightened level of focus that we all know this time of year. I'm really excited [with] how we're working and preparing, and [I] can't wait to get this thing going. We've got a couple more days, though, so we can't peak too soon. So, we've got a chance to prepare and 'dot some I's and cross some T's.' We're playing against a pretty revamped defense. They've really worked hard in the offseason to revamp their defense. A lot of what we're looking at on tape from last year is involving people that may or may not even be there at this point, so you've got to kind of piece those things together. You never quite know what you're going to get on opening day – they don't know; we don't know – and you've just got to kind of see how it goes, have some options available and go in whatever direction the game takes you. But we're excited. We know it's a stiff challenge. Their defense is very aggressive. It starts with their defensive line – outstanding defensive line. To a man, they've got some real explosiveness there. They like to get a lot of D-linemen involved; usually eight of them play, per game. [Their] linebackers are outstanding. Watching C.J. Mosley on tape, he's as instinctive as ever, and the rest of the linebackers can run and hit. Their secondary is pretty new; they've totally revamped the secondary. So, we're very excited. Any questions?"
You've said in the past that you like running back rotations. Regardless of if RB J.K. Dobbins plays or not, is that still the plan – to get all those guys involved? _(Jeff Zrebiec) _"Yes, I think everybody is going to have a role, for sure, and every game, it might be a little bit different. Some games, honestly, the hot hand gets a lot of the action – as the game wears on. But we're definitely going to involve every running back on the roster in some form or fashion. As we look at it, they've all got to be able to do a lot of things, so we can't just put the guy in and they're saying, 'Hey, watch the toss, watch for the toss,' right? So, those guys are ready. I feel great about them – whoever plays."
What have you seen from RB Kenyan Drake so far? (Ryan Mink) _"Kenyan [Drake] is doing a great job [of] picking things up – all positive, very positive. Kenyan is a very talented guy. He possesses a lot of speed, playmaking ability in space, but also in tight quarters. He has really good vision. His brain and his feet are connected _(snaps fingers) just like that, and he can make quick decisions and good decisions. So, we'll see how it goes. I love what I see so far."
This is the first time we've spoken to you since the WR Demarcus Robinson signing. What has stood out to you about him? _(Jonas Shaffer) _"Yes, Demarcus [Robinson] impresses me every day, since the day he got here, more and more. Whether he's running on our offense, on the scout team. [He's] a true professional, [and] I'm really excited to see how he evolves with what we do as the year goes on. But he's really good at a lot of things, and I really think he's a good, veteran presence that guys are really tapping into – some of the younger guys. So, [I'm] really excited to see how we evolve as a group. We've got some really interesting pieces, and I think, throughout the season, there's going to be an evolution of kind of how we go. We can't really predict it at this point, but it's definitely going to happen."
You never really know about Week 1, but going into this year versus a year ago, it seems much more stable, and you know what you've got. Is that more reassuring heading into Week 1? _(Pete Gilbert) _"You had to bring up last year, didn't you? Yes, definitely, that was a unique circumstance – the last week or so heading into [last] season. I don't wish that on anybody, much less ourselves. And this year, I feel like we had a very productive camp, got done what we needed to do, came out of it pretty darn healthy, and arrow up. So, [we're] definitely optimistic moving forward, especially relative to the year you referenced."
RB Kenyan Drake had mentioned that he's battled injuries throughout his career, so he's been able to talk to RB J.K. Dobbins. Have you seen any of that from them? _(Melissa Kim) _"Yes, I think both those guys – J.K. [Dobbins] and Gus [Edwards] are handling their situation extremely well. And any time you have a guy that's been through what [they're] going through, and he can offer that shoulder, that wisdom, of having been there and done that, that's always positive, and that's the kind of guy Kenyan is."
How have you seen C Tyler Linderbaum progress? _(Kyle Barber) _"That's one of the big things we were really eyeballing, and I think Tyler [Linderbaum] has done a really good job. He's made of the right stuff. There is always going to be a 'rookie' moment here and there, but whenever he does something, he puts it behind him and moves on to the next inevitable situation that comes up as a young player. So, the way he's going, the way he's trending, the way he's wired, he's going to continue to learn from every experience and continue to get better and better and better. So, that's what we've seen since he's gotten back – every day, he gets better. He's got a pretty big 'file cabinet,' I like to say; when something happens, he opens up the drawer, puts it in there and files it, and it's there, and he takes care of it [and] doesn't make the same mistake twice. So, those are the guys that tend to do really well over a long period of time."
What do you remember about Jets head coach Robert Saleh as an assistant with him in Houston, and what do you make of his coaching ascent? (Jeff Zrebiec) _"Yes, [Jets head coach] Robert [Saleh] is a very sharp, very smart guy, and I'm not surprised with how well he's done in his career. [He's] very high energy. Back then, he wasn't quite so high energy, but you can only get so energetic making copies at the copier – you know what I mean? _(laughter)But he's done a tremendous job in his career, and we really respect what he's doing up there." (Reporter: "Did you work with him directly at all?") "Yes, a little bit. Yes, yes, definitely. We had a good relationship; still do – until Sunday, of course." (laughter)
It's been so long since you've seen QB Lamar Jackson play in a game. Just how excited are you to see him after all the improvements that he's made this offseason and to see it all come together on game day? _(Ryan Mink) _"Oh, without question … Lamar [Jackson], of course … So many of these guys, just the whole group collectively, individuals … But, yes, [I'm] really fired up, in terms of getting Lamar out there, and all of us being there together to try to help him be successful and vice versa. So, [I] just couldn't be more excited about that, and he's doing a really good job in his preparation. I really could kind of feel him ratchet things up once we kind of got through the middle of the preseason. It's one play at a time from here, and we've just got to keep getting better, keep trying to improve."
When you work with new players, do you scheme out your plays with them before the game, or do you just go with what the defense gives you? _(Kevin Richardson) _"We generally have an idea of how we want to start the game and see how things are going. They're going to make adjustments, we're going to make adjustments, throughout the game. But to say that we just say that these are the first 10 plays, that never happens. And we generally see some different things, because we're a little bit of a different offense. So, we've got to take that into account, too, and kind of contingency plan a little bit more than I've ever had to in my career. So, the whole gameplan process has completely changed for me, in that regard. But to say you're going to go out and do something … 'Here's what we're doing.' Well, if they come out and do something completely different than they've shown in the past, you don't want to waste that time just running through a script just because you scripted it; you better be ready to change up and go."