It seems like you’re great at the off-schedule. TE Garrett Celek was saying a couple games ago on the 61-yarder that the coverage dropped and he just kept running because he had confidence you were going to see him. Is that the way you want to play? Would you like to have sort of more control at the line of scrimmage to figure out the matchup that you would like?
“That is what we do most of the time. The off-schedule stuff it’s called off-schedule because you can’t really plan for that stuff. It just happens and it’s kind of a happening if you see it or not. I think we have plenty of control at the line of scrimmage. We’re changing plays versus different coverages and stuff. I think we’ve got a good thing.”
When it comes to scramble drills, in your past with the Patriots or here, I assume happened a little bit organically, how do you work on that with your receivers, your tight ends on what you want to do or looking for when it is off-schedule?
“We talk through it plenty in meetings. Even when it’s just on the sideline and practice I’ll talk to them about working toward me or what they see and how we can maximize the potential of the play. It’s kind of something that just happens. That’s why when I first got here it was tougher, but as you can see week after week we keep getting better at those types of plays and converting more of them.”
On your touchdown pass to WR Trent Taylor you credited your baseball background to allowing you to make that throw. What exactly did you mean by that? Was it like turning two as a shortstop?
Did you have history as an infielder? I know you were a pitcher in high school.
“I was a pitcher, played a little shortstop, a little center, bounced around. I always threw sidearm. I threw submarine a little bit. Those different arm angles, baseball you use every type of arm angle. I’ve been doing those throws since high school so it kind of just came second nature to me.”
Did you have good hands as an infielder?
As a pitcher, did you throw sidearm and over the top?
“Yeah, and submarine sometimes.”
Trent said that he wasn’t expecting that ball. He said he was kind of surprised to see it coming. What was it that you saw that ‘Okay I’m going to put it here because I know Trent can get it?’
“That was off-schedule and he made a heck of a move. Just the savviness for him to have as a rookie, I haven’t seen many guys with it. He did kind of a circle in the end zone and it got him open. The defender froze his feet and he made a tremendous catch. I didn’t really see it, but I saw it on film and that was a great catch.”
Sounds like the Rams are going to rest a lot of key guys. Is it in any way that a bummer for you guys, just because you won’t be able to measure yourself against the division champions?
“Not really. You try to every week say that you’re facing a faceless opponent. No matter who it is you want to have the same mindset. No matter what type of game it is, first game of the season, last game of the season. I think we’ve done that pretty well the last couple of weeks, just coming in, preparing every day, practicing hard, going through the little critiques of certain plays and I think if we keep going that we’ll be good on Sunday.”
Just to clarify on the Trent Taylor play, him coming back towards the middle, that was just him working to get open?
“Yeah, the play went off-schedule, they did a three-man rush and then the nickelback came out of coverage. Trent, he’s good at finding the soft areas of the defense.”
You’ve obviously spent a lot of time with quarterbacks coach Rich Scangarello since you’ve been here. How has that relationship developed and how helpful has he been for you to get you up to speed quickly?
“Rich doesn’t get enough credit in my opinion. There’s a lot of moving pieces, but Rich has been with me since I first got here. Literally the first day I walked in here we were going over stuff after I did all the interviews and whatnot. I think a big part of our relationship was that Bye week though. A lot of one-on-one time. We only had a couple of receivers here so we got to know each other pretty well. He’s a smart coach and he makes it a lot easier for me to go through my reads when he explains things how I understand them.”
The rise of this team obviously has been a really big story in the Bay Area. You’ve catalyzed that. I know you’ve mentioned in the past keeping your head down and not listening to outside noise, but at this point is it difficult when the story has become as big as it is? Is it harder for you to maintain that focus and block out the outside noise?
“Not really. All four years of my career there’s been big story after big story, just the NFL. I think you just kind of get used to it. You don’t listen to the noise. I hear about it from people. It’s cool to hear about, but we have a job on Sunday to do and if you get caught up in all the noise you’ll be distracted and have no chance.”
How does this area compare to New England-Boston area in terms of--?
“The weather is way nicer.”
Just in terms of the intensity of numbers of media and things like that?
“It’s different. I don’t want to compare you guys, then I’ll feel bad. It’s all good. You guys are phenomenal. I don’t know how to answer that one. That’s tough.”
A lot of rookies have been contributing recently, one in particular TE George Kittle. What does he bring to the offense?
“A lot of excitement. George is a high-energy guy. I’m sure you guys know that from just talking to him in the locker room. It’s fun to play with him. He gets the other guys going around him. That tight end group is a unique group, just in their personalities. Little bit of everything. It’s a pleasure playing with a guy like that.”
What does he do well as a tight end?
“He’s got good hands. It’s tough to find a big guy like that with good hands and has quickness like he does. George, he makes the most of his opportunities. When he gets called upon, he usually answers it. For a rookie, that’s pretty important.”
Do you feel you’re comfortable and able to incorporate everything that you need to in this playbook that head coach Kyle Shanahan has?
“From what I hear, there’s stuff still that I haven’t even heard yet. Words, phrases, whatever it may be in the offense. Every week we come in, yesterday I came in and you hear terms for the first time that I’m like ‘What’s that formation?’ They have to explain it to me. That’s what’s different than the three years prior to this. In New England you come in and you pretty much know what was going on. It’s becoming more and more routine I guess, getting the new information and kind of the process of breaking it all down now.”
When you’re in the flow of a game, can you get a feel for when a play caller is in a rhythm, has an idea, knows what to call, maybe a few plays where he’s confident calling it, you’re confident relaying it and there’s kind of a collective belief it’s going to work?
“I think that comes from the week prior to it honestly. All week last week we had a good rhythm of Kyle calling it, there was really no hiccups in the huddle or anything. There was a smooth transition day in and day out. I think it carried over to Sunday. That’s what makes these games a lot easier is when you have a good week of practice leading up to it.”
How would you describe him as a play caller?
“Awesome. Makes my job a lot easier.”
Do you know what you’re going to be doing a week from now when the season’s over?
“No. I’ve got to clean out my apartment pretty soon. That’ll probably be on the list at some point, but I don’t know. We’ll worry about the Rams, get through this first and we’ll go from there.”
Not to put a bad thought in your head, but probably the last bad game you had was in college. What do you remember of it and how did you come back from it?
“It snowed a ton. There was like six inches of snow on the ground. That was one of the toughest games of my career honestly, football career. College is way different than this. The game planning, there really isn’t much in college compared to the NFL. It was a good learning experience. You learn things about yourself and how you bounce back from adversity. I’ve had plenty of it in my career. I’m sure it’ll happen at some point. We’re just trying to keep this good thing going.”
Who was it against, do you remember?
“That’s Carlos’ opinion.”
Did you feel the earthquake last night?
“Yeah, second one. I had one my rookie year. It was weird. You don’t get those in Illinois.”
Did you get the gifts for your offensive linemen?
“I did, they actually just arrived before I came in.”
They don’t have them yet?
“They’re getting them today.”
So you can’t tell us yet?
“No. Come on, why you trying to ruin the surprise? They just arrived actually right before I came in. Those guys will be happy to get them.”