Where do you see the team improving on the offensive side of the ball? Do you see signs that things are going in the right direction?
“Yeah, each week is a different week, but you start back to the Carolina game and I thought we missed some big plays, came out early on that first drive and did well. But, I did think we were inconsistent. I thought we were definitely inconsistent versus Carolina, but you take it to the Seattle game and I thought we ran the ball as good as we could. Weren’t great in the pass game. You go to the Rams game, I thought we did a much better job in the pass game and made a lot more explosive plays. Then you go to the Arizona game and I thought there were times we had a chance to score a lot of points. Those opportunities we had, especially in the first half, we missed. Then we really struggled and went cold in the fourth quarter and went on a 19-play drive in overtime that came up short from a touchdown, but got a field goal. If you look at the tape, there’s lots of things to be encouraged about. There is. It’s tough as a coach to ever turn it on and feel like you’re not doing anything good, but I haven’t felt that way really once after any of the four games. I know we’ve got to do better and we’ve got to clean a lot of stuff up, but that’s the goal to get better each week.”
Looking at some of the advance metrics in your special teams they are at the top of the NFL. As a coach, especially when you’re struggling and with a young team, is special teams something you can look at and say, ‘Hey, we’re at the top there. That’s a sign that the effort is there and that you have guys that are playing hungry football?’
“I see the effort there in all three phases. You still have to play well. It starts with effort, but it goes to executing and playing the best that you can. Statistic-wise and result-wise, we’ve done a better job of that on special teams compared to the other two phases. We’ve been more consistent in all four games like you’re saying. I really don’t come to conclusions really until the year’s over. There’s a lot of ebbs and flows throughout a year. Each game is different depending on the matchups, what type of people you’re going against. You always rate a team, but it’s also different, the battles inside a game, what’s the matchup, the offense versus their defense? The defense versus their offense and the special teams. Each week is a little bit different. I think our special teams has definitely been the most consistent and done the best so far, but we’ll see when the year is over.”
WR Marquise Goodwin has had four diagnosed concussions in just over a year. Given that history, will the medical staff handle this situation any differently?
“I think we handle that situation as delicate as you possibly can. I think we all know how serious those things are, and I think whether you have one or whether you have a lot, we still handle them all as delicately as you could. I don’t think you could handle it any harder or give any more effort than you do. I think everyone knows how serious those things are and you’ve got to look into everything. That’s why we go through a protocol. There’s a lot of steps into coming back. That’s what Marquise is in now. He’s had it happen to him a few times, so I think he understands the process and how it goes. I was very glad our guys recognized it quick. Marquise communicated fast and they got him out of that game early. Hopefully he’ll recover this week, you never know.”
How did that occur? Was it on the play when the ball wasn’t even going to him, right?
“No, he thinks it happened on the play where it went to him. The one that he caught on the sideline. It doesn’t look big, so that’s why it wasn’t real obvious, but if you slow it down, he did land a little bit on his head and to the ground. That’s where he thinks it happened. He didn’t notice it right away and he stayed in for about four more plays, I think. Then he came to the sidelines and started feeling some stuff, so he talked to them and then they got him right away to evaluate him. Then it got stronger as they were evaluating him, so they shut him down.”
How do you assess the pass protection and what can be done to improve it?
“I think the pass protection has been pretty good. I think our strengths are tackles outside. I think they’ve done a good job. I thought they did a decent job last week. When guys pressure, you can’t hold onto the ball. We’ve got to pick those blitzes up and get rid of it. I thought we did a pretty good job of that for the most part. We missed a couple blitzing safeties with their backs in the game, which hurt us a couple times, but I’ve been pretty pleased with our protection.”
What do you make of OL Trent Brown? You just talked about the protection. I know you weren’t here last year, but what have you seen in his developments from when you arrived until now?
“I think he’s just working to get more consistent and I think he has. Trent’s strength is his protection. He’s a very big, long guy who’s hard to get around. He can put together some very impressive clips and I think he’s done a pretty good job for us this year and I thought he did a pretty good job for the team last year just watching him on tape. His whole deal is just trying to get better and more consistent. I think one hard thing about O-Linemen is people don’t really notice you until you miss. You can play a perfect game, but you have one bad mistake at the end of the game and it’s a crucial sack and then you played bad. The more consistent you can be, which I think he will be the more he plays, the more he’s in this scheme, the more he can just be decisive in everything he does because he’s a very talented guy. What I’ve been impressed with Trent since I’ve been here is I believe he’s working at it and I believe he’s going for it.”
You said you saw stuff on the tape offensively that encourages you, but some of the players after this last loss were just frustrated. Obviously being 0-4, hasn’t been a lot of success for the veterans who have been here before. How do you approach that, how do you keep the energy level in the players that they had all training camp and all offseason?
“You watch the tape together. I mean, everyone after a loss is frustrated. You try not to lose perspective and just sit and focus on 0-4. If I sit and think about 0-4 and just constantly harp on the results, I’ll get the same way. And I think that’s human nature and I think everyone feels that way after a loss. But, then you go back and you watch the tape and you coach and you study and you try to get better. I do strongly believe that when you lose three games by a total of eight points that you very easily could have won those games just by one or two plays going different. If one or two plays would have gone different, we’d be 3-1 and people would probably be hyping us up telling us that we’re something maybe more than we are. And then you’ve got to put that in perspective. You didn’t make those plays and you’re 0-4 and people might be telling you that maybe you’re worse than you are. It all depends on what you see on the tape, which is why you try to keep it real and keep perspective. You focus on the process. What I can say is I do see some good things on tape and that’s why I think we’ve had a chance to win all those three games. But, it hasn’t been good enough and that’s why we didn’t get it done and we’ve got to finish. We’ve had opportunities in these last three games to win at the end and we haven’t finished. That goes from the coaching staff to all the players and we’ve got to make those plays in the moment of truth that are the difference of winning and losing. And when you don’t, you don’t overcome those mistakes.”
QB Brian Hoyer was saying after the game that his back had locked up. Is he feeling 100-percent? Do you think any of that impacted the fourth quarter?
“I don’t know. You’ll have to ask him on that. I think it’s always harder to play when you’re not feeling 100-percent, but I don’t think any football player feels 100-percent throughout a game. You get hit throughout the game and then it does wear on you, but I know he’s practicing today. He’s good enough to practice, but I’m sure he’s still trying to recover from it.”
If he’s limited at all, does QB C.J. Beathard get first-team reps for the first time or is that--?
“No, C.J. always does. We always give C.J. reps with the first team. We always do that with all the backup quarterbacks. You don’t have the starter take every single rep. You mix them in when the quarterback is 100-percent and if he can’t take them all because of injury then you’ve got to mix him in more.”
You guys extended CB K’Waun Williams last week. Are other guys being discussed and where do things stand with RB Carlos Hyde in that regard?
“Yeah, we discussed everything with all those players. We know all the guys who are up. We discussed Carlos. We’ve been very happy with Carlos. I think he’s been doing a good job for us. It’s still early in the year and I expect it to continue. I know he battled through an injury last week, but I’ve been very pleased with Carlos.”
Is it sort of a wait and see with him? Do you want to see more games from him?
“I think it’s the same situation with everyone. It’s not a simple wait and see. You’ve got to do best for the player, best for the team, best contract-wise from a business standpoint. We’d love to just re-sign everybody and get it done right away and not have to worry about anything, but there’s a business part of it that goes into it. It’s not just Carlos, it’s all the guys.”
Monday you mentioned that guys might be pressing a little bit. Is there a way to remedy that other than just doing it?
“Yeah, you can talk forever, and I get it, but you’re going to press if you sit here and constantly harp on everyone says you’re 0-4, everyone says you’re horrible, everyone says you’re not better. You’ll press when you start to think of that stuff. You have to look at the tape. You have to look at what you do. You have to work on getting better every single day. It’s a long year and a lot of things can turn things around. But, if you sit and harp on what’s happened in the past, what your record is, stuff you can’t really control at this time, then you will press and make it a lot harder on yourself to perform. That’s what I try to get guys to constantly do.”
As an observer from afar, what stands out to you about Indianapolis Colts RB Frank Gore, particularly about his longevity and everything that he had to overcome early in his career?
“I don’t know Frank personally. I don’t think I’ve ever talked to him before, but Frank has been one of my favorites in the league since he came out of school. He’s a guy, I remember being a quality control in Tampa and I think my first year was when he came out and always studying guys and I remember being in love with him then and watching him throughout his career. I know everyone knows how good he is, but I still think he’s one of the most underrated backs of our generation. I have nothing but respect for Frank.”
How did you think the pregame demonstration came off the other day and do you envision that being something that will continue or is it a one-time thing because you hadn’t had a chance to do anything yet?
“Yeah, I’m not sure how it came off because I was standing there looking at the flag. So, I’m not sure how it came off. That’d be more me asking you guys. But, I think the players were happy with it. They never got, I think what was different for us was we never got our opportunity after what happened the week before. So, I think everyone wanted the opportunity to show the unity and show that we were together regardless of any differences of opinion. I think the players were pleased with that. As far as going forward, they haven’t mentioned anything to me. I’m assuming that we’ll go back to doing whatever you’ve done for the flag the rest of your life. I know I will. If they bring anything to my attention that they’d like to do, then I’ll have that discussion with them.”
During RB Matt Breida’s touchdown catch last week, if you could call that play over again, it didn’t count because of the offensive pass interference penalty, would you have had WR Pierre Garçon run that rub-route just because he’s a veteran and has more experience running that route and may have gotten the benefit of the doubt from the official?
“No. I wouldn’t. I don’t think that way. I hope that our guys don’t. I hope they don’t give guys benefit of the doubt based on how many years they play. They either call it or they don’t. I don’t think that they look at who it was and decide how to call it then. They called that. You’ve got to live with it. Sometimes that doesn’t get called. Sometimes it does. You’ve got to adjust to how they are playing in the game. No, I don’t look at who to put on for that reason.”
Did Taylor run the correct route?
“I think it was unnecessary to even touch the guy. We didn’t want him to touch him. I don’t think it had any effect on the play. I think the result would have been the exact same whether he nicked him or not, so yeah we didn’t want him to touch him.”
Breida did a lot of pass catching at Georgia Southern. How has he kind of developing to that role, the pass-catching aspect of it and also the protection part?
“He’s developing. He’s been very good in protections for a guy who’s not very big. He does not flinch. He puts his feet in the ground. He puts his face in people. You have to have that, especially at his size, to have a chance to protect. He’s also a smart guy who works at it, so he’s got his eyes in the right spot. In the pass game, he has the ability with his speed and stuff, but you’re right he hasn’t done a lot of it. So, he’s still developing. He’s still pretty good where he’s at, but I plan on him getting a lot better as he goes.”
I have a punting question. P Bradley Pinion had a couple of pretty clutch punts. I know it’s early, but statistically he’s having the best season of his career. What have your impressions been of him?
“I’ve been real excited with him. He’s done a very good job, especially his kickoffs too, kicking it out of the end zone every time. I keep messing with our special teams coordinator because he always says there’s four phases in special teams, but I see a touchback every time. So, I’m starting to call it two phases, which he doesn’t like when I do that. That’s because of our kicker. He’s done a great job doing that and he’s had some big punts in some key situations.”