The addition to your meeting room, is that you or an Atlanta Falcons head coach Dan Quinn--?
“We used that all the time in Atlanta. We bring it in a lot, I think we just usually take it out when our meeting is done.”
What’s it’s purpose?
“Just when we tie in our stuff. We always compete on turnovers or we have a period and whenever there’s a tie we finish that tiebreaker in here. Between shooting free throws and stuff. Call two people out to do it. Usually offensive and defensively.”
Anybody been particularly good at shooting?
“It’s been a lot of bad ones, to tell you the truth.”
Has there been anybody particularly bad at shooting?
“Yeah. [Defensive line coach Jeff] Zgonina, our coach was really bad. I enjoyed saying that. But, we’ve got a bunch of good football players in here.”
I know it was a while ago, but when you have the Broncos come in, does it strike you memories that you have of when your dad was coaching there for such a long time?
“Not really, to tell you the truth. I mean, you would think so but I’ve been in football for a long time. My dad has been away from Denver for a long time. Lots of things change, people change. I know there’s a lot of similar people there, but it’s still changed a lot there also. I bounced around a ton in my career and you have relationships with people throughout the league. So, I really don’t think much about it. You get so caught up in the moment and the day-to-day process of training camp that, I’ll probably think about it more tomorrow when I see them. But, it really hasn’t been much of a big deal yet.”
Your dad hasn’t been around very much. Is that just because he’s doing other things or have you asked him to be here, or maybe asked him not to get here too much?
“No, he comes if he wants to. He enjoys watching football. When he was here he enjoyed it. It’s nice this day and age too that he doesn’t have to be here to see something. I can actually send him something to watch and things like that. If he ever wants to come out and he enjoys it and I enjoy having him here. If not, it’s whatever.”
Have you had exchanges on videos and things and have you asked him anything recently?
“Yeah, I talked to him the day after our game. I asked him what he thought of that and stuff. He told me all the things I did wrong. I try to learn from him and argue with him a little bit on it. But, I always talk to him about stuff to get feedback. He’s been a huge asset to me my whole life in that aspect.”
Do the two of you talk about X and O stuff or was it like, the way you--?
“Yeah, there was one time I should’ve called a timeout on an explosive play. I tried to hurry up and do it. It was a third-and-one and we got a 30-yarder and tried to hurry up and save a timeout, and just took too long. Shouldn’t have done that. Should’ve called a timeout right away. I knew I was going to get a text about that very fast.”
At the end of the half there?
“Yeah. Second quarter.”
When you were going through the interview process, was there ever a point where you thought you might end up in Denver?
“Honestly, no. I just had this gut feeling that I wouldn’t. I went into the interview, I really enjoyed it, meeting with those guys. I hadn’t seen them for a while. But yeah, I never felt like it. I felt after the interview I made it hard on them, but I always had a feeling that I wasn’t.”
“Yeah, always deep down I think I’d rather a different situation. But, I loved Denver. I loved growing up there. My family is from there. My wife’s family is from there. So, it would be a hard thing to say no to when your family’s there and things like that. But, by no means was that my situation of choice.”
After the game did you talk to your dad about penalties and how to eliminate them?
“Yeah, a little bit. But, you know, I think you could say how do we eliminate them. You’ve just got to focus on it and you’ve got to demand it, which is pretty much what you do every day as a coach anyway. So, you can’t harp on it too much. No one wants that many penalties. You’ve got to go back and correct the ones that are correctable. You’ve got to get guys to focus, especially on the pre-snap penalties. And then the ones that you disagree with, you’ve got to find out why they called and what they saw and then try to learn from them and coach your players up on them.”
How did you and Denver Broncos head coach Vance Joseph go about trying to organize these practices?
“You know, we looked at the schedules and stuff because they’ve done it the last couple of years together. So, we looked at how they’d done that. Him and I talked, I believe it was on Sunday and we went through those together and just made it more to fit what we both wanted. We got two practices done together. We talked a lot more about the first practice, knowing that depending on how that first practice goes we’ll probably talk again Wednesday night to see if we want to change anything up on Thursday.”
Right now Wednesday is padded? Will Thursday be padded?
“No. I think we’re just going to go shoulder pads on Thursday. Full pads on Wednesday.”
How much do you look forward to an opportunity like that where you can finally get your guys on someone unfamiliar, and different scheme than you?
“I really like it. You go against the same coverage in OTAs you go against in minicamp. You go against the same stuff now. You’d like to get different looks and you don’t want to make your defense put in a bunch of stuff they’re not going to run in the season just so you can practice them on offense. So, the more you can go against other teams who have a different type of scheme, I think it helps both sides of your ball. Just so you can practice it and you don’t have to get it just in games. I think anytime you can get live work versus other players, you want the practice to be the same. We want there to be no difference. But, there’s a different competition level, just naturally. Going against guys you haven’t seen, you definitely want to win. Which you do every day, but I think it brings out the most in people, and you get to see how guys compete, how they go against other players. From a schematics standpoint I think it’s very important.”
How is S Jimmie Ward looking since his workout earlier this week and do you anticipate he’ll be back tomorrow?
“Yeah, I feel real good about Jimmie. We were hoping to get him back this week and I really believe we could if we really wanted to. But, we’re trying to play it smart with him. We pushed him real hard on Sunday through a workout, wanted to see how he responded yesterday going through the same thing. He responded to both really well. I know we’re going to push him hard today with the workouts and just try to see how he responds to those before we throw him out on the field. I know there’s a chance to get him in the practices, but we’re going to be really smart with him. I definitely think it’s looking positive right now.”
How do you balance getting him back physically while he’s learning a new position in the new system?
“We try our hardest with that. A lot of that is up to the person too. We can bring him to everything, have him pay attention in those walk-thrus, have him really studying in the meeting rooms and try to get all those reps. But, you can’t think for him. He’s going to be there. He’s going to go through it. I’ve been impressed with how Jimmie’s handled it. He’s not just out there checked out because he’s not playing. He really makes the calls, goes through the motions with everyone. He’s definitely out there mentally. I’ve been impressed with how he’s handled it. Now he’s just got to get fully 100-percent so when he does get back he can just take off without having any setbacks.”
When you look at this practice, tomorrow especially with full pads, and evaluate your roster, how do you weigh that with the number of reps these guys are going to be getting as opposed to one of these preseason games where a guy might only be out there for 12 snaps? Is it just as important or even more important than these games?
“Yeah, almost throughout preseason I see practices more important. It’s not just in the scrimmages. You never know what’s going to happen in a game. You never know what the coverages are going to be. You want to see someone, but someone misses a block, so you can’t see that person. You never know what looks you’re going to get. In practice, you can control it a little bit and you can put players in certain situations that allows you to evaluate them, which gives you an idea whether they’re good enough to do it or not. Then you spend practice kind of knowing who the guys are good enough to play in this league, but then that still doesn’t mean that you know how they’re going to react under the pressure and the big lights. That’s what I like the preseason for. The guys you don’t truly know on a personal level how they’re going to handle the pressure, what they’re going to be like in a stadium. Those are the guys that we try to really see out there. Are they going to be better than they were in practice or are they going to be worse? Usually, if they are playing at a high level in practice and they can carry it over to the preseason games, then you feel like you’ve got a pretty good idea of what you’re dealing with.”
When you talked to Vance do you get as in-depth as this is the play we’re going to run, we’d like to see you guys in this defense, and vice versa?
“No, we haven’t done that yet. We know personnel groupings, down and distance, what yard lines we’re going to be doing stuff. I know we’ll get a certain amount of reps in the red zone. We’ll get a certain amount of third-down reps. When you go into a game, yeah I’d love to evaluate how we’re going to do in the red zone. I don’t know if we’re going to be there. I don’t know if we’re going to move the ball and get there or maybe we might score from outside the 20. You don’t know how many third downs you’re going to get. So, yeah, you get those situations. Going against our own, I can make sure we’re getting enough zone looks, enough man looks, things like that. But, you want to be a little bit more competitive going against someone else.”
Who are the vocal leaders that enforce a standard of performance during practice?
“I’m not sure. I don’t totally pay attention to all that. I’m pretty locked in to trying to call the plays and make sure everyone’s doing their job. You guys could probably have an idea of who you guys hear out there more than I do. I always say, I see so much better than I hear. That stuff doesn’t mean much to me if they’re vocal and loud. That’s great if that’s who they are and I see how they play. But, to me the leaders out there are the guys who have a standard with how they practice, what they do every single day. They don’t need to tell you anything. They just show you and you know who’s going to be there day in and day out. You know exactly what you’re dealing with and those to me are the real leaders.”
Is 2017 Bill Walsh Minority Fellow Katie Sowers going to be doing her same role now that she’s back, assisting the receivers or do you have something else envisioned for her?
“No, we plan on her assisting with the receivers. Katie’s done, she did a really good job for us in Atlanta. She’s done a real good job here. She helps [wide receivers coach/passing game specialist] Mike LaFleur out just with some rotations. She helps our quality controls out with all the stuff they have to do. She’s a hard worker. You don’t even notice her because she just goes to work and does what’s asked and because of that she’s someone we would like to keep around. We’re still figuring out exactly titles and stuff and what that aspect is, but she’s done a good job for us two years in a row in camp. We’d like to have her help out throughout the year.”
Are we talking about a full-time permanent job for her?
“Yeah, whatever that means. I told her we’d like her here and we’d like her to stay for the rest of the year. We’d like her internship not to end. I don’t know of the exact title, what that means. But, I guess when we asked her to stay for the year, definitely want her the whole time. She’s not going to leave at half day or anything. So, I guess that would mean full-time.”
Is LB Reuben Foster your starting WILL right now?
That’s pretty clear cut?
“No. I mean, he started last game. He’s been starting out in these practices. He’s been getting most of the reps, which I believe he needs. But, by no means, no one is just, he could get beat out at any time. If our guys behind him, we’ve got some good players behind him too, if they started performing at a higher level than him, then that wouldn’t be the case.”
Is LB Aaron Lynch looking at maybe a return next week? Do you guys have a game plan for his injury?
“Yeah, he’s day-to-day. So, there’s a chance this week. We’re holding out some hope for it. Whatever the word is, I guess he would be doubtful. He’s still day-to-day. We knew he wouldn’t go today. We’re going to evaluate him tomorrow when he comes in and see if he has a chance to practice in those two days. If he doesn’t practice, I wouldn’t expect to see him in the game.”
You’ve been using a lot of different options at punt return. Is there anybody that’s standing out?
“Not yet. It’s still too early. I do think punt return, when you guys talk about games and stuff, that’s definitely something you want to see in a game. I don’t care how good your hands are, but if you stand and catch those punts, and then you get into a stadium and it’s a lot harder. That’s something that you can’t truly evaluate until you get into games. I thought our guys did a pretty good job at it last week and I’m glad to have three more games to evaluate a number of guys.”