The full Andy from the owners meetings
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- Andy Reid sat down for a roundtable interview at the NFL owners meetings for the 14th straight year as Eagles head coach. Reid touched on many subjects. Here is the complete interview (transcribed by Paul Domowitch of the Daily News and yours truly).
The full Andy from the owners meetings
Jeff McLane, Inquirer Staff Writer
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- Andy Reid sat down for a roundtable interview at the NFL owners meetings for the 14th straight year as Eagles head coach. Reid touched on many subjects. Here is the complete interview (transcribed by Paul Domowitch of the Daily News and yours truly).
(Note: There were several topics that Reid was asked about more than once because there were many waves of reporters making their way from table to table. There were also several questions that were unrelated to the Eagles, but are included in this transcript, nonetheless.)
ON L.A. TIMES REPORT THAT HE ENTERTAINED IDEA OF PEYTON MANNING:
Happy with Michael Vick -- that's what I mentioned about a month ago, that’s how I feel today.
ON REPORT THAT HE THREATENED TO WALK IF NOT GIVEN MORE CONTROL:
I’ve had final say for a number of years. I think one of our strengths has always been that we work well as a front office. I’m very into doing it as a team. So that’s how we go about things. We share ideas. Open communication. People do have input and I welcome that. And I make that final decision. And I have great people doing it with me.
HAVE THE LAST FEW DRAFTS MADE HIM CHANGE HIS APPROACH TO THE DRAFT?
I think one of the real challenges is when you get into a draft you pick for position, you pick for the best player, you find a happy medium in between. And so I think you have to evaluate that and look at it and everybody does it a little bit different. Inevitably you better pick the best player that’s there. That’s easier said than done once you get there if you’re short, if you’re empty at the safety positions sometimes you have a safety sitting there, you make that pick, you could go for any position along the board. You just got to how you go about there’s a little art to that.
WAS THERE TOO MUCH TAKING A GUY THAT YOU LIKED AS OPPOSED TO TAKING THE BEST GUY ON THE BOARD?
Some of them have fell pretty close right in there. You sit in there and you weigh it out. If your need is a half an inch as opposed an inch away from the guy you like there’s times when you’re going to take that position. You really want to go back and you want to evaluate how that’s worked for you and then you really want that other part where you take the best player to kind of weigh the heaviest as opposed to the position.
REPORT THAT YOU WANTED JASON PIERRE-PAUL?
That’s not true. We all wanted Graham. We took Graham and unfortunately he got hurt. Fortunately, he’s healthy now. We’re expecting a good season from him.
WHY DID YOU MISS OUT ON PIERRE-PAUL?
There are a lot of players that you go through and you evaluate that. He’s not the only one that you might draft behind and or in front of and take a different player. That’s just how that works. You always remember the first round you’re shooting 50-50 there. For all the time, money, effort that’s put into that first round, you’re trying to make it right and you’re shooting about 50-50. So listen they took that player and he’s a heck of a player. We took Brandon. We felt Brandon was the best fit for us. Like I said, unfortunately he got hurt. His last play was his best play, the one he got hurt on. He’s on the way back and we’ll see how he does.
ARE YOU IN A GOOD POSITION HEADING INTO THE DRAFT BECAUSE YOU DON’T HAVE A GLARING NEED?
I think you need to do it in that area. It’s hard to predict who’s going to be there, so when you get to that point you stay disciplined and you do what you’re saying here, just take the best player that is there, it doesn’t matter the position. Pull the trigger on the guy.
ARE YOU NOT LETTING THE LEAD-UP TO THE DRAFT INFLUENCE DRAFT GRADES MORE THAN FILM?
It’s a part of the evaluation but a smaller part. You better let the weight of performance kind of overrule those things. If you can spend as much time as you can with that player so you can get him out of that combine stage, yeah, speech that they give.
ARE YOU SAYING THE COMBINE SPEECH IS PREPARED?
Yeah, it’s pretty close. So you got to get them out of that and see what they’re about. As much as time as you can spend with them to do that that’s the best.
WHY EXTEND TRENT COLE AND TODD HERREMANS?
Todd’s a versatile player. Todd’s a very smart player. Smart guy. He’s been a very solid player for us, right on the edge of that Pro Bowl-caliber player. And he seems to get better every year. He’s a very hard worker as he’s continued to grow with age. He’s become a very good leader.
You want Trent Coles on your football team. Relentless, relentless, relentless player – whether it’s practice, whether it’s in the game, whether it’s in the first quarter, whether it’s in the fourth quarter – a relentless player. Somebody the other team has to worry about a lot.
WHAT PART DID YOU PLAY IN DESEAN JACKSON'S NEW DEAL?
We all worked it out, whether it was the agent, whether it was the organization, we all felt that he’s an important part of things. It wasn’t me, it wasn’t one person. It was all of us kind of coming together and just taking a deep breath and figuring it out and we had a lot of smart guys there, and they were able to talk it through and get it done.
WHY DO YOU THINK YOU’LL GET THE GOOD DESEAN NOW?
I felt that was the last six games. I mentioned that at the end of last season. And when DeSean’s right he’s hard to stop. Listen, these guys have personalities like anybody else and they can get weighted down on one or another, it can affect them. I thought he put everything to rest in the last six games and he really got a chance to see what he’s all about. He’s had a great off-season, working hard. He’s excited to get back and play. He’s in a good place.
WANT TO GET LESEAN MCCOY'S EXTENSION DONE SO IT DOESN’T BECOME A PROBLEM?
Well, listen, we’ll jump in here and start working on that. He’s a guy that we sure appreciate having on the team. You guys deal with him and you know he comes to work to every day with a smile on his face. He’s excited to play the game. He goes about and he practices hard. From a coaching standpoint and from an organizational standpoint he’s the kind of guy you want to be a part of your organization. He’s a pretty good player on top of all that. We’ll work on that as we go.
WHERE DO YOU STAND ON YOUR CBS AND ESPECIALLY ASANTE SAMUEL?
Asante is obviously on the team. That’s the first one you mentioned. And we’ll see how things go with the three of them. I said this last year, and I’d say it again – It’s a pretty good situation to have, if you could sit there and say you have the three of those corners. Asante and [Nnamdi Asomugha] are a little bit older, but both of them can still play and play at a high level. We’ll see how things work out. That’s the best I can tell you.
DID THE WAY YOU EMPLOYED THREE CBS LAST YEAR CAUSE ISSUES?
As [Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie] settled into the nickel position and he learned it he hadn’t played it so there’s a little bit of a transition there. And he settled in and learned it he understood the leverage that and that was really the primary thing that was a problem, just learning the leverage along with the coverages and indicators of splits with the inside receivers and kind of the routes that came off. He went through and he learned all that. If it came down to that, that’s what it did. Again, we keep all that kind of in-house with our players, any talk we have with them. Good guys.
ON PAT SHURMUR:
Well, Pat’s a hard worked. Pat’s sharp. He understands team. Even though he coaches on the offensive side, he’s not a selfish offensive coach. He’s understands the defensive side, the special teams. He’s got a good head. You’re not going to see him with up-and-down mood swings that take place. He’s going to stay relatively calm and allow his mind to work for him. He’s good with people.
ON BRAD CHILDRESS AND DICK JAURON IN CLEVELAND:
There’s no finer people than those two right there. They’re great people so as coordinators they’re just solid, solid guys. They’re ex-head coaches, so they’ve sat in that same seat that Pat has and they understand their role most of all, which is important. So they know from the head coaching standpoint what you want from that coordinator position and the trust you have to have in those guys and they’re both smart guys. I think he surrounded himself with good solid coordinators.
CHILDRESS HAVE A STRONG INFLUENCE ON COLT MCCOY AND OTHER YOUNG QBS?
I know Colt’s a sharp kid. I think he’ll, like he did with Pat, I think he’ll gobble up the things that Brad brings to the table and Brad he’ll load him up and test him. If Colt wants to be a great one in this league he’s got a great one to learn from. It should be a nice match there.
HOW CONCERNED ARE YOU ABOUT KEEPING VICK ON THE FIELD?
It’s an important question and he realized that. He realized that the last four teams standing in the playoffs their quarterbacks started the whole season. He knows that just from film study that there are times in a game when he can go down and save himself from some hits. Now it’s just a matter of doing that. So I think this has been a topic his whole career and it surely has since we had him. I think he understands that there’s a problem and a situation. And so, he’s in the right frame of mind right now to do that and we’ll just see what happens.
HAS VICK BEEN TOLD HOW TO PROTECT HIMSELF?
We’ve spent quite a little bit of time on that – not necessarily his off-season. You can’t work with him right now. We have in the past. He knows the drill. You’re just dealing with a competitive, competitive guy. Steve [Young] was the same way. A competitive guy that thinks and knows he’s one of the best players on the field and can score at any time. He has the speed and ability to do that. But like anything in life there’s a time and a place for everything and you got to put in there that some guys that are a little bigger than you.
ESPECIALLY WITH ADVANCING AGE AND DECREASING SPEED?
It hasn’t shown so far but I keep telling him that and then he gets on the field and it hasn’t shown so far. But that’s true.
TOUGH TO CHANGE?
It’s tough. It’s a tough deal. He’ll hopefully grow wiser with age.
HOW IMPORTANT IS THIS OFF-SEASON FOR VICK? WILL THE NEW RULES HURT IN THAT REGARD?
The thing that he can do, he can go through and look at the tape. That’s what he can do. And so you can’t sit in there as a coach with him but he can go – he’s a pretty smart guy – so I mean he can go through and evaluate the tape as well and he knows how to do the little cut ups on the machine and all that bit. That’s the first phase here. Really that’s no different as it was before. And I would say that’s a pre-first phase and then you go into phase one which starts April 16 and then he can meet with the coach in the classroom and then you get into phase two when the coach can work with him on the field and the classroom. I don’t think it’ll be a problem, as a matter of fact, I think it’ll be a positive for him and where he’s at in his career.
WHAT WAS YOUR PARTING MESSAGE TO VICK?
It was a little like what Clark said. Listen, you got to stay healthy. That’s got to be a primary concern. How do you go about doing that? These are the things, go back and look at the tape and evaluate that. That tells you and look at the times that you’re taking the shots, is there something that you could do better and as the playoffs went on then he could see the last four standing they started every game. And that’s important. He knew it. He knew it when he was hurt. It drove him crazy when he was hurt. He knew where we at in the season, how tight things are, how competitive the NFC is, all those things. He knows how it affects the football team.
DID HE “GET IT” IN THE FINAL FOUR GAMES?
He’s a sharp guy. It’s just that he’s a competitive guy, too. But he saw it and he did change his game a little bit at the end. But he’s got to continue with that. He can do even better than that.
HOW IMPORTANT IS DEMECO RYANS’ LEADERSHIP GOING TO BE?
I kind of looked at him. This is what he’s been in the past. As a quarterback for the defensive team, and that MIKE linebacker is kind of a transmitter between the secondary and the front four, in our case, and he does most of the communication. I think he does that well. He’s done that in the past, it’s what he did in college very well. And he’s a good presence. He’s great in the locker room. And now that’s important and there’s a certain confidence. You meet him and there’s a certain confidence he gives you, ‘Hey, listen, I got it under control. We’ll be ok.’ You like that from your quarterback, you like that from your middle linebacker.
ANY UPDATE ON PROGRESS OF MIKE PATTERSON?
Mike Patterson is actually doing well. He’s been in lifting. He feels good, hasn’t had any setbacks. And he did it relatively quick. The hair hadn’t grown back and he was back in there. So he did it fairly quick.
IN LESEAN'S CONTRACT SITUATION DID YOU LEARN ANYTHING FROM DESEAN SITUATION?
It’s a different situation. They’re all different, every situation is different. But listen, he’s somebody we enjoy having on our football team. It’ll all work out.
DOES VICK NEED TO ADJUST APPROACH TO GUNSLINGING AND INTS?
Really, that hasn’t been his M.O. in his career. So it was this past year, particularly early, and red zone. I’ve mentioned this, one of the primary things we need to do is eliminate the turnovers. This is not what we’ve been in the past and it isn’t what Michael’s been in the past. And so we got to eliminate those. That will be on people’s mind as we start camp.
MINIMIZING THE HITS ON VICK AND YOU MINIMIZE TOs?
I felt like that as everybody gelled, as he got used to the new protection, the protection scheme was a bit different. The techniques were a bit different. So there were a couple in there that were a little bit crazy, but even with that too many, too many, too many tipped balls, all that stuff. We got to settle down. He can see some things better. And I’m just talking about quarterback, but there were other turnovers, too, and other reasons, and he’s aware of that.
IS THIS A MAKE OR BREAK SEASON FOR VICK?
Listen, he’s had so far he’s had a very good off-season. I wouldn’t expect different from him continuing on. That term, ‘make or break’ -- that’s, I think, every NFL player’s every year, that’s their feeling. It’s every coach’s feeling. You probably when you do your articles that’s a feeling. Right?
That last one? Eh, not so good. There’s pressure there. … By the way, Domo, in that third paragraph – use of adjectives.
JAIQUAWN JARRETT READY TO TAKE NEXT STEP?
I think he is, yeah. What I think will happen is the game will slow down for him when that takes place. I think things were way too fast for him last year. He was thinking way too much. He’d probably be the first to admit that. But when he did play he was still a good tackler and did the things that you need to do back there. I think everything will slow down for him and it will be better and he won’t be thinking quite as much out there.
HOW IMPORTANT IS THIS YEAR FOR JUAN CASTILLO AND HIS DEFENSE TAKING THE NEXT STEP?
I would say we all need to do that. Right? We all need to do that. You finish second in the NFC in defense, well, we want to finish first in the NFL. Those are things we want to do offensively and defensively. There was improvement throughout the year, finish strong, now we build on that and we get better as we go there.
DO YOU FEEL A SENSE OF URGENCY FOR YOURSELF?
I’m excited for this season. Every year you have an urgency. Your expectations are high, your tolerance for mistakes are low. So you go in with that as kind of a given. I’m excited about this football team and so many of them have stuck around this off-season to this point. They’ve had their get-togethers. They can’t do it on property but they do it off property. There’s a certain excitement there. I welcome that in the minicamps and the off-season program – Phase 1, 2, and 3 and into training camp.
DID THE EAGLES GET TOO CAUGHT UP IN FREE AGENCY FRENZY LAST YEAR?
There were a lot of moving parts last season. There are no excuses. We should have done better and come together sooner and gelled with more continuity and that type of thing sooner. I think you can look back on every season and say, ‘Well we could have done this, we could have done that.’ I don’t necessary feel that way. I feel like it just took time for everybody to come together. By the time we did that it was too late. We had a few games in there – like five of them where we had a lead going into the fourth quarter and gave that lead up – and learned from it eventually and got better at the end. But it just wasn’t good enough.
IS THIS YEAR MORE LIKE HOW THE EAGLES NORMALLY CONDUCT BUSINESS?
Last year – to say it was different, yeah the whole thing was different. The whole year was different. The lockout was different. The way free agency was set up was different. The ability to practice. The guys were standing on the sidelines – you had all your free agents standing on the sideline for a period of time. All of that was new. But everybody had the same things. You can’t use that as an excuse. You move on and do what we’re doing here.
HOW DID YOU GET DESEAN TO FOCUS LATE LAST SEASON?
He’s a young guy that has the ability to bring a lot of energy to your football team. You went through a few ups and downs – whether it was contract, losing his father, whatever it was – was in there that for a young guy you had to learn from. He worked his way through it – not all of it was pretty, right? – but he worked his way through it. I thought like the last six games were good games. I saw that energy coming back. When he’s got the energy it affects the football team and affects his game and puts him as one of the top receivers in the league.
CONFIDENT THAT MOVING FORWARD KEEPING DESEAN ONBOARD WILL BE A GOOD THING?
I think this will be a good thing. I feel good about it. And I know he feels good about it, which is really the important thing.
IS LESEAN DIFFERENT FROM DESEAN?
Everybody is different. All the guys are the different. Their agents are different. In this case here it’s the same agent between the two of them, but every situation is different. We like LeSean and we think he’s good for our organization, team and on the field and off the field. And so, we’ll work something out there as we good. Listen, these things take a little bit of time, that’s how it works. But it’ll work out.
CAN JOHN HARBAUGH LAST AS LONG AS HE HAS?
That’s an unpredictable in this league. I sure think that he’s done a fine job and he’ll continue to do that. He’s wired right. He’s got Ozzie [Newsome] who’s been stable in his position and done very well there. He’s got an owner that he has a good relationship with. John is a relentless worker and a pretty smarty guy on top of all that. He gets along with people. He knows when you push the players, when to back off. He’s got veteran players that believe in him. He’s able to make people around him better.
HOW OFTEN DO YOU TALK TO HARBS?
We talk quite often.
IS MIKE KAFKA THE BACKUP?
Yes. I think to this point Mike has earned the right to do that. Does that mean that there won’t be competition there? No. right now, I’d tell you, yes.
GOOD CHANCE YOU MIGHT DRAFT A QB IN THIS YEAR’S DRAFT?
We’ll look, yeah, we’ll look at that. We’re looking at all them. Yeah, we’re looking at that spot.
DO YOU LIKE THE GROUP OF QBS?
Yeah, I do. There are some good players in there. You got a wide variety, man. You got all flavors – big, small, fast, slow, I mean, you got them all.
WHAT DID YOU THINK OF ROBERT GRIFFIN III?
He’s a good kid, yeah. Real good kid. Sharp. Real smart. Yeah. I think if the Redskins get him that will be a good get – or whoever.
WOULD YOU HAVE CONSIDERED TRADING UP FOR RG3?
If you know that you’re getting a QB that’s gonna be one of the best in the game, if that’s how you feel, if that’s your evaluation, you’ll do just about anything to get that guy. I remember sitting at this meeting when we had the second pick in the first round [in 1999] and Mike Ditka’s table was right over there. The whole room [of reporters] was around him and he said, that guy over there [pointing to Reid], I’ll trade my whole draft to him [to trade up and take RB Ricky Williams]. Boom. Everybody was right on top of me in about a second. That’s a veteran coach who was willing to give up his whole draft. He wasn’t after a quarterback. He wanted Ricky Williams. From our standpoint, we were going after Donovan (McNabb). So his whole draft didn’t mean anything to me. I didn’t care about that. I cared about Donovan. I wanted a QB who would be in Philadelphia for the next 10-12 years and help us win a championship.
WERE YOU SURPRISED BY MCNABB’S PLAY AFTER HE LEFT AND WOULD YOU CONSIDER BRINGING HIM BACK?
I’m surprised by the fact that he didn’t have the success (after) leaving (Philly). I wasn’t there. I’m not sure how that worked. I still felt when he left here that he had 2 or 3 years of great football (left in him). It didn’t work out that way for him. I haven’t entertained that last part of the question. I haven’t gone there. I think it’s tough for a guy that’s been the guy for that long to come back.
HOW DO YOU EVALUATE HOW JUAN CASTILLO DID LAST YEAR?
Listen, I thought he did a good job. I know everybody’s got their own opinion on how he did things. But again, there were a lot of moving parts he was dealing with, not only with the coaching staff but also the personnel. I really thought coming into the season that the offense, because we had the continuity, would carry the defense and the defense would gradually get better and better and better. It didn’t work out that way. I thought the turnovers hurt us. We ended up getting better on defense. He kept the guys believing. The first thing that happens in this league is, if the coach doesn’t know what he’s talking about, the players are going to let you know. They’re gonna be very verbal about that. But everybody stayed on board with Juan Castillo. I thought that was a tribute to him, his coaching ability and his staff. That whole group stuck together and they progressively got better and by the end of the year, they were playing as good as anybody.
VICK’S ADJUSTMENT TO NEW PROTECTION SCHEME LAST YEAR; DO YOU EXPECT HIM TO BETTER THIS YEAR?
Yeah, I do. From a coaching standpoint, we probably gave him a little too much too soon protection-responsibility wise. You can’t take quite as much as we did early and do that with a guy. Even though he’s been in the league as long as he has, it’s a different (protection) scheme. If I had to go back on it, I would have backed up and just gradually fed him the stuff. You’re talking about a very intelligent guy. Very intelligent. But you can’t dump years and years of things on the table and expect him to go and perform.
WHAT ARE YOU EXPECTING FROM THE FREE AGENTS YOU SIGNED LAST YEAR LIKE ASOMUGHA, BABIN AND JENKINS?
I’m expecting them to get better in the system they’re in. they have a complete off-season with us, which is nice. Most of them have been lifting together and then they go off-property and work out, which is good. But most of it is just being (more) familiar with the system. They’ve walked in those moccasins for a year and I think they’ll come back even better.
WHY DID YOU GIVE DESEAN A NEW DEAL?
He brings a great energy to our football team. He’s in a good place. He’s excited about the upcoming season. I think if you asked the defensive coaches around the league, I think they’d probably tell you he’s a pretty good player.
ANY INTEREST IN PLAXICO BURRESS?
I know he and Mike (Vick) are buddies. They grew up together. I have a ton of respect for Plax. He’s had a great career. But right now, that’s now where we’re at. But that doesn’t take anything away from his game. He can still play.
DID YOU WANT MORE SAY OVER PERSONNEL?
I’ve had that over the years. I’ve got the final say. But I will tell you we work as a team. We’ve always done that. One of our strengths is that we do that. We check our egos at the door. We work together. And we listen to each other. We have great respect for each other. And we come out with that final move and I kind of put the stamp on it. The people I work with are phenomenal. That’s the way it’s been and will continue to be.
SO YOU DIDN’T THREATEN TO WALK AWAY?
That’s not what was happening.
AFTER RE-SIGNING EVAN MATHIS IS THIS AS CONFIDENT AS YOU’VE FELT ABOUT YOUR OL IN A WHILE?
One of the things Howie (Roseman) and I talked about (before re-signing Mathis) was the (importance of) the continuity part of it. If we could keep the guys together, let’s attempt to do that. Evan wanted to explore the market. So he went out there and did that. I thought Howie did a great job of putting together a deal that Evan felt comfortable with and bring him back that worked for him and worked for us.
ON JASON KELCE STEPPING IN AND STARTING AS A ROOKIE:
This kid could be like (offensive line coach) Howard’s (Mudd) son. Not only do they look alike and act alike, their playing styles are the same. He’s a phenomenal athlete to start with. Howard asks his center to get out in space, to pull. Which is a tough thing for a center. He’s right on top of the ball and everybody else is lining up back on his hip. So he’s got to get around a lot of garbage there when he pulls. He’s able to do that with ease. He can sustain blocks out in the open area. On top of that, he’s a smart kid. As tough as he is, as good an athlete as he is, he’s also very intelligent. That’s the toughest part. That’s the thing you never quite know until you get them. As much as the MIKE linebacker and the QB have to make adjustments, so does that center.
ON IMPORTANCE OF GETTING MUDD’S INPUT IN DRAFTING KELCE AND DANNY WATKINS:
You want to get a little feel on what he’s doing. It was important for Howie to get that as early as he possible could so his scouts could sort of bring in that group of guys that kind of fit that mold. Howie worked very closely with Howard very early during the lockout to find out exactly what he was looking for and then he was able to communicate that with his scouts and find those kind of guys.
ASKED AGAIN ABOUT DESEAN:
If you were around the defensive coordinators in the national football league, they’d probably say it was a smart move for us to re-sign him even though they wish we would have.
WHAT WAS THE DIFFERENCE IN THE LAST FOUR GAMES?
I think we started playing as a football team. That’s a very broad statement. But there’s a lot that goes into that. You check your egos at the door, whether it’s a coach or a player. You all come together with one purpose. I thought we did that. We had trust in each other. We got to know each other. We got to know each other as people and players and coaches. We had a lot of moving parts and I think they all came together. It was pretty at the end, but not pretty enough, because we weren’t able to get to the playoffs.
WHAT DO YOU WANT OUT OF VICK THIS SEASON?
This isn’t anything that Michael doesn’t know. But we’ve got to eliminate the turnovers on offense. Not just Michael. But he’s the field general, so he’s in charge of that. He’ll work on that. And we’ve got to do a better job in the red zone. The plus-minus ratio on turnovers is a huge thing in NFL in winning games. We were ahead in 5 games and we didn’t play very well in fourth quarter and we’ve got to do a better job there.
WILL THERE BE MORE NORMALCY THIS YEAR?
Yeah, I think there will be. I know the whole (dream team) thing that took place last year and people ran with it. I’m not sure that’s how the team really felt. I think Vince (Young), when he stated that, he kind of said it as a joke, maybe not knowing Philadelphia as well as he should have.
HAS ASANTE'S ACT GOTTEN OLD?
No, it doesn’t get old. Asante has a great personality. He is what you would call a live wire. I’ve enjoyed having him. I understand him.
HOW DO YOU HANDLE HIM?
I talk to him one-on-one. We communicate in our way. That’s how we got about it.
DO YOU FEEL THE EAGLES ARE READY TO COMPETE FOR A TITLE?
Yes. That’s what makes it exciting. I think we have a good group coming back. As long as we build on what we did (late) last year, which I think is important in this case. Every year is different. I understand that. But we’ve got to take the momentum that we finished with and build on it and continue to get better.
WAS TRADING FOR RYANS AN ACKNOWLEDGMENT THAT YOU NEEDED A THUMPER AT MLB BECAUSE OF THE WIDE-NINE?
You need somebody that can read downhill. We had young guys (at LB). I knew that going in. The problem that I had, I didn’t execute it very well. That’s my responsibility. I goofed on that one. I thought that the young guys on defense could get where they ended up getting by the end of the season sooner. Particularly the middle of the defense. Linebackers and safeties. I expected the offense to carry us through. That part didn’t take place. As far as the linebackers and the wide-nine, yeah, the more gaps you open up, the more physical you have to be. That’s how it is.
WERE YOU HOPING TO OUTSCORE TEAMS AND THE TURNOVERS KILLED YOU?
Turnovers, turnovers, turnovers. Turnovers kill you in this league. You saw that with New England. Their defense wasn’t as good as what they wanted, but they eliminated turnovers and they did well.
WHAT HAPPENED LAST YEAR WITH TURNOVERS?
There’s a group of those turnovers that were tough to explain. They were just weird ones. But they’re still turnovers. And there were enough there that you just have to eliminate. They never should happen.
DO YOU HAVE TO BE CAREFUL WITH OVERUSING MCCOY?
Yeah, absolutely. Yeah, you do. Probably did that (overused him) a little bit too much last year. Now, it worked because of his youth and he was able to stay healthy. But as we go here, we need to spot him.
BECAUSE MCCOY STAYED IN AND BLOCKED MORE DID THAT FREE UP BRENT CELEK?
We changed up a couple of things with celek. Kind of got him more involved in the screen game. There’s some things we did there with him that were better. We probably didn’t do a good job (of getting him involved in passing game) with him early.
ON HIRING TODD BOWLES:
It was a good addition. Todd’s very intelligent, very knowledgeable. He’s really somebody that Juan can bounce things off of. I didn’t feel necessarily he had that kind of guy. I’ve had Marty Mornhinweg, Jim Johnson. This is somebody Juan can kind of bounce things off of and communicate with.
WILL YOU BRING IN A THIRD RB?
Somewhere, we’re going to need to bring in another guy. I’m not sure where or when.
DOES DION LEWIS HAVE SHORTCOMINGS IN PASS PROTECTION?
That’s where he needs to get better. Pass protection. He’ll work on that in off-season and in camp and hopefully improve there.
ON LESEAN’S VALUE IN SHORT YARDAGE:
He’s really good at that. He’s able to get his pad-level down. You wouldn’t be able to perceive him to be able to do that. People always equate size with short-yardage and goal line. That’s really not the case. I’ve studied that aggressively. And that’s not the case. Patience and then seeing small daylight and hitting it.