Obviously you go through it many times. Anything from the QB Jimmy Garoppolo performance you appreciated more on the tape? Anything maybe you appreciated less from what he did?
“You know, it was fun to watch, first time on the plane, watching it a couple times today. I think seeing it out there live you could tell he made some impressive throws. There were definitely situations where he got a little confused in and still was able to make plays, which the more he plays and the more he's around us knowing the scheme and reps he'll have less of those. But, I think it was still very impressive to the situation he was in for him to just be able to keep his poise and still be able to make some plays when things weren't perfect.”
The TV crew kept saying you told them you were keeping your timeouts and you were always going to be ready in case he needed, the play clock went down. It didn't really seem to come up. Were there times when you were worried or was it better than you might have predicted?
“No, I mean, it got a lot closer than we were used to because we go a little bit faster and we just had to slow it down and wait for people to be in the huddle. It got close a number of times, just closer than what we were used to. But, he did a good job getting the ball snapped, didn't have any delay of games and didn’t have to use a timeout. There were a couple times the headsets went out so you can't talk, but we had a few plans in where if that did happen, a couple plays that were just memorized that we were going to go to. I think it happened twice in the game. But overall, I went in not really sure how it would be and I think it went a lot better than expected.”
What did Garoppolo do that allowed him to--?
“I mean, he made the throws to the right spots, guys got open, and we protected. So, he made some impressive throws, especially one where we missed a blitz and there was a free guy coming up the A-gap and hit [WR] Trent Taylor over the middle. I thought one was the most impressive. I thought the guys blocked very well, too. I thought the receivers did a good job. I don't think we had any drops in the game, that I remember. I know we didn't on third down. [WR] Marquise [Goodwin] being eight for eight, Trent six for six on those targets, I think Jimmy played well. I also think the receivers did a good job and the O-Line did and our backs protected well, too.”
Your players seemed really enthused about him particularly, not just the win. Did that surprise you at all? Do you think part of that is just, in your experience, do players sometimes get energy from mid-season change like this or is that just strictly because he played so well?
“I think it's both. I think anytime you trade and get a quarterback in the middle of the year, especially one who is talented like Jimmy to where I think, I don't think it's hard for people to see the talent he has as a thrower. I know players can see that. I think fans can see that too. So, guys get excited about that as soon as you get him in the building and they're out at practice and things like that. I think they've really enjoyed the guy here over the last few weeks. So, I think they recognize the talent and they're also pulling for the person. Everyone knew it was his first game, and I think everyone was confident that, I think everyone knows that he's going to be a good player here, but no one totally knows what to expect in the first game. So, we all went in pretty open minded. I think the guys were real excited for him to have some success, and also excited for themselves because it's fun when guys play well, and especially at the quarterback position.”
Do you find yourself wanting to tamp down the enthusiasm because that's what coaches do or are you saying oh, man, this is pretty great?
“No, I mean, I try to just be realistic, keep it real. I'm not going to try to get too high or too low. I've been very excited since the first day we got him, so just to have the opportunity to have him here in this building, there are a lot of great things he did yesterday, things that we're very excited about. I know there is still a lot of work that we have to do too. The coolest thing about him getting out there, having some success, having the win is that we've been through it for a week now. It was a lot more fun watching tape today, being able to grade him on some things, being able to coach stuff that you don't really understand truly until you go through those reps. Looking forward to the rest of this year, just having these four games to do that each week. It will make it more fun going into the offseason where you're not just talking hypotheticals. You can actually look at him. He's gone through it. I think he understands it more after going through it yesterday. I think he’ll understand it even a lot more after getting four more of these going into the offseason when we watch the cut ups.”
You mentioned wanting to build momentum throughout the latter portion of the season. How does that manifest itself with you?
“Mine is more about I just want to be proud of how we play. I want us to play our best. I've never been a part of a perfect game anywhere. You always strive for that as a coach, but you want to be proud of guys effort, that guys are getting better. I was proud of how we played yesterday. By no means was it perfect. I told our players there was a stat line I could read from that game where it would have looked like we got blown out if I read zero for five in the red zone when they're one for one. I know they returned a punt for a touchdown. I know we had one turnover, they had none. You look at stuff like that, and those are usually statistics that you're losing pretty good on. Then on the other hand, you can look at the stats that we outgained them by over 200 yards. We had 73 plays to, I think, they had 36. The time of possession was huge. You could look at those, and it could be how much did we blow them out by? And we won by one point, and it came to the end. What I was really happy with our team is I felt like the score, some of the highs and lows in the game didn't affect our players. I felt we played the same way on the first play as we did the last play. I didn't feel that way versus Seattle the week before. I felt we struggled in the first half and I felt that affected how we played in the second half, even though it was a one-score game for a long time. What I liked about this game, even though we were having some success, you come up short that many times in the red zone, you have some turnovers, they return a punt, you're having some costly penalties, sometimes that will wear on a team. What I was really happy with our team, it didn't. I felt like the score didn't matter and nothing fazed them. I felt like that's why we were able to stop them at the end on defense, and we were able to go on a long drive on offense. That' what I feel really. You have to learn how to win, and I think stuff like that helps you learn how to do it. No matter what the score is or no matter how you're playing in a game that if you believe you can win, you always have a chance to win. That's what we're trying to develop here. Not just hoping that we are. That comes through having success, and doing things like that and overcoming some things that we did. Hopefully we can put a few of those together and that can lead us into next year.”
Speaking of the red zone, there were a couple trips you had down there that you had some penalties that put you back. How did you feel Jimmy did in the red zone after reviewing the tape and is it just a product of not getting enough red zone reps during practice? How do you view that going forwards?
“The tighter it gets, the more exact you have to be. Everything gets harder, the windows get smaller. Even the run support with safeties, you can play a two-shell defense and still meet the back at the line of scrimmage because they don't have to drop back as far. They're not as worried about posts up over the top and things like that. So, everything gets tighter so you’ve got to execute very well. We didn't as a whole team. It wasn't just Jimmy, but you can't waste plays down there. There were a couple plays that he could have done better. But, there were three times we got inside the 10. The last time we weren't truly trying to score a touchdown. We were trying to work that clock out. So, the two times we were trying to score, we had second and one, and thought we could have gotten the first down on our second and one run and we didn't. Then we had two false starts in a row on third and one that got us to third and 11. It's very hard to convert third and 11 in the red zone. It's just too tight. The other time we got in there, I believe we had a holding call on second and goal from the nine, and we had a holding call. Then it was second and goal from the 19, and that's a very tough thing to overcome. So, I put a lot on those penalties down there. We had way too many penalties. But, it wasn't just the number of penalties, it was the time we got those penalties. I feel like that cost us two touchdowns down there, so that was disappointing. The other two times we got in the red zone it was two third and sixes, and we didn't convert between the 20 and 15. So, we've got to do a better job there. Not getting the third down, and being better on our third down. But, the most disappointing thing with the red zone was the penalties when we should have scored, I believe.
You and Jimmy both talked about process and understanding the playbook. How much can that accelerate now that he's out there?
“I think it's more, you've got to go through the muscle memory and the situations of doing it so you can react. Jimmy's out there thinking a lot. I know he just called this, what does that mean again? I had it down yesterday. Alright, that's it. The ball's snapping. I forgot to change the protection. There are lots of thoughts that go into a quarterback, and there are lots of thoughts that go into all players and I feel in all sports you play your best when you can kind of go on autopilot and you're in the zone and you’re making plays. The only way you can do that is if you've had tons of reps and a lot of experience through things. Obviously, he hasn't. So, each game he goes through, that's going to help more and more. We're going to put in a new game plan this week, and he'll get that starting Wednesday for Houston. When you talk about a playbook, that's OTAs, that's training camp, that is the foundation of how you teach people and then you game plan each week. So, Jimmy will know this game plan going into Sunday just like he knew yesterday. The more he keeps doing it, which he's going to do it here for five weeks in a row, I think he'll absorb more and he'll be able to be more decisive and just mindful when he's in that pocket how far he has to go and make the plays he does.”
In the red zone, how exact was Jimmy? Did he miss any reads? Was he late on throws? Him in particular.
“There were a couple. We had a couple receivers confused on a couple plays, which I kind of expected to happen a lot more in the game. Every play is so important down there. One time we threw a thunder to [WR Louis Murphy] Murph. I know he bobbled it. They called it incomplete. He was adamant he caught it. I believe him. But, there was no angle that showed it, so we challenged that. They couldn't see it. We still don't know because we haven't seen a good angle. I'm just going to take Murph's word for it. But, that got us into a third down. So, it’s just little things like that when you're in the red zone and things don't go perfect, you end up getting field goals. It's a combination of all those things. The biggest thing was the penalties though.”
At least twice guys were going in motion apparently the wrong way, and Garoppolo stops, yelled at him. Did that jump out to you to see him with that kind of presence in the middle while learning the playbook and trying to figure it out himself? Does that sort of thing jump out to you?
“Yeah, definitely. That is the key to the quarterback position. He'll get better at that the more he goes. That was one of the challenging things putting him in this situation because he's also playing with a lot of young guys out there who do need that help from the quarterback. He'll get better at being able to help them each week. I also thought the other 10 guys on the field did a pretty good job helping him. Sometimes when something wasn't right they were able to talk and get it communicated so you didn't have to waste a timeout. I just think all 11 guys who are out there in the entire offense did a good job playing together, helping each other. I didn't think one position carried the rest. I thought everyone took their turns of helping each other out.”
Was he right both times by the way?
“Yes, he ended up being right.”
Was there a play or strategy if the Bears had let you score or tried to let you score, where you were telling guys don't score?
“It didn't get to that point. It did at the end, the last run and then when we took a knee. We possibly could have slipped through there and gotten one of those early still hoping it would be a two-score game that we'd have to defend. But, with the timeouts that we used at the end, there was going to come a time to that, but luckily it didn't.”
Were you at all surprised by Jimmy's ability to extend plays and make tight-window throws or are those things that you’ve seen him do in practice and are things that you expected from him?
“Those are things you expect from him just because that's what he did throughout college. When I say he's a talented guy, he has the ability to do that stuff. Everyone can see his arm speed and how quickly, whether he's late on a play or not, he has the quick twitch in his body to get the ball there and to get into some windows. And he's an athlete. He's got very quick legs. He can move well in the pocket and when things aren't there he's got a chance to break it and get some off-schedule stuff going.”
Once FB Kyle Juszczyk got that first down, were you expecting them to let RB Carlos Hyde score? Do you have a philosophy in situations like that? Do you take your chance with a field goal or give your offense a chance?
“Yeah, you're probably going to end up letting them score. I didn't know exactly how they were going to play it out. You could tell that they weren't. I can't go through the exact numbers right now. I end up depending on a guy upstairs to help me a lot, his name's [special assistant to the general manager Ryan] Cordell. We were good with it. We were waiting to see if they were going to give us theirs and it ended up working out for us.”
There was a tweet today I saw that someone said Marquise Goodwin gave up his seat at the front of the bus for Jimmy. Did you see that? Were you on that bus?
“Nuh-uh, no. That's nice of him. Smart. Receivers should do whatever they can to get quarterbacks to like them.”
I think you said you would announce who’s starting?
“I'll let you know at the end of the week. I'm just joking.”
All your years in the NFL, can you draw a parallel to anyone else who came off the bench or was introduced to the team late in the season and injected excitement like this on a team?
“Not one that I've been on. I’m sure there have been. I'm sure there's a number of them. But, not one that I've been on, especially with the quarterback position, so it's different. I think it was some excitement that we needed. I think we've gone through a long year. I think it's been a necessary year. I think there was a lot of good that has come from this year, even though your record doesn't totally show it. I'm looking forward to seeing that throughout the next couple years. But, I also think as you get to the end here, it's nice getting a guy in there that can lead us into next year and for guys to get to know him, get to see him. I think it will make guys a lot more excited coming back in the offseason.”