Have you decided who your captains are going to be for Saturday?
I haven’t. I’ll announce that at the team meeting the night before.
Thing with team captains, you mentioned wouldn’t pick permanent ones until later in the season, what’s behind that?
I think it adds a little excitement to the guys when you name new guys the day before the game. Each reason is different. I kind of have my own message with it. I usually try to pick three guys for offense, defense, and special teams. It might depend on who we're playing. Maybe it's someone who used to play there. It might depend on something I want to emphasize this week or how someone did in practice but I like being able to send a message by having a different thing each week. I also would like permanent captains but I don't want to pick that before the season started. I want guys to earn it and I think in order to earn it and for it not to be just a popularity vote, I feel like it needs to be halfway through the year. It can be based on how they handled themselves the first eight games and who can lead us going forward through the end of the season.
After a busy offseason, taking a new job and all the things that come with that, does this week give you a sense of normalcy a little bit? Just getting back to gameplanning, knowing who’s on the team and focusing that way?
It has, definitely. I’ve gotten much more into the normal routine this week, going through the process of how we prepare for a game. I’ve done my normal process, I have had a few other things to add to it. It’s been nice to get into this routine. It’s definitely a lot more to what I’m used to. I think coaches and players if they’ve been through the league, training camp is always different; you play on different days, different days of the weeks, so the schedule is always off, but once you get into the season it’s pretty much Groundhog Day every day. Every Monday is the same, every Tuesday is the same, you get that one week that’s different when you play on Thursday, then you got your bye week which is different, but after that, everything’s the same. It gets easier each week. You just get into routine and you become a creature of habit.
You ever have to tell any of the rookies that have to be playing in one of these games how to tackle their emotions being on the big stage for the first time?
A little, went over some of that stuff in my team meeting today. Trying to address, you always address the elephant in the room. I know there’s people feel pressure and I know people feel nerves. Usually that goes once the game starts. I try to tell everyone, from the bottom to the top, everyone has pressure on them. From the head coach to the quality controls to our quarterback to our o-linemen. Everyone feels that inside and there is a lot of pressure, it’s a big game and you’re judged out the results every week. I just try to tell everyone that you never can do it on your own. Everyone’s going into it with you and if you’re feeling the pressure, just know everyone else with you has got your back. I feel pressure when I feel alone. So I try to tell the guys you’re not alone in anything you do and we’re going to go through it together.
You anxious at all for your first game?
Ready to get it going. I want it to get here. I'm excited for it to get here. To be totally honest, I don't feel different nerves now than I have for every single week in my entire life. I always feel this way before game day. I felt this way as a player in college. I felt this way as a Q.C. [quarterback’s coach]. I feel it as a coordinator and I feel the same as a head coach. Always pretty locked in and ready to go.
Four games now from preseason on the field after a full season in the booth. Was it different at first? Was it second nature and you’re comfortable with it because you’ve done it in the past? Was there a transiton?
Get out on the field?
No, it was a transition getting into the box. I called plays on the field for eight years, I had one year in the box. It’s much easier to get back down there and be around the guys. I gotta get use to standing all game again. I wish I had a chair but they aren’t going to do that for me on the sidelines.
Schematically is that first game of the season a little bit of a different challenge in that you’re reading and reacting a little bit on the fly since you don’t have any actual film on Carolina this year?
Yeah, definitely. Everybody has a little bit of an idea what people are going to do. YOu know what coordinators like and schemes they run. Everyone knows that coaches work all offseason to come up with new things; how to tweak it, how to make it better. You have to wait to see what those are. You try to anticipate them, but you see what they are, you look at the pictures. You definitely try to see it live. And then you try to talk to your players and make adjustments the next series. I also think a big thing is, does an offensive coach, you have so many new ideas over the summer and stuff that you try to want to get them in what I’ve learned is you can’t get them all in in one week. You got to let them last you throughout the year. So you just sprinkle in a little here, a little there. I’ve learned the hard way trying your new favorite stuff week one. Guys are off. Main thing you want guys to do is be confident in what they’re doing. The way guys are confident in what they are doing is to make them do things they’ve done before. So you’re not trying to put a ton of new things on people.
It was mentioned Wednesday that if Jimmie [Ward] can’t play that Jaquiski and Lorenzo [Jerome] would be competing to potentially fill in. How could that bear itself out?
Colbert’s in that too. It’s been good competition. I have pretty good idea of who’s leading it, but I won’t know for sure until kickoff.
Jimmie’s done a bit more practicing, could that bear out—
Yes, he’s done a little bit more each day. He’s getting healthier each day. That’s why I think he has a chance to go this week. I will say we will list him as doubtful. It’s an outside chance, but he has improved each day.
How has Trent Taylor got himself ready to play the slot and return specialist?
Trent’s a talented guy, but he’s a pro already. He’s locked in. We asked him to do a lot of things he never did in college. He was always a slot receiver, but as far as huddling up and motioning them, doing different things, it’s new for him. I think he was a little overwhelmed at first as he should have been. Anything is to people to that are new. You always want to see how people react when they are overwhealmed. Sometimes people try to hide and wait and hope they get a redshirt year, take the pressure off and let it come naturally. He’s a guy that every time he got overwhelmed, he just tried harder, worked harder; could handle us riding him, didn’t get insecure about it, has confidence in himself and that’s why he’s gotten to this point. That’s why we’re confident with him to come in and be our slot receiver to start this out, it’s a credit to him.
Also punt return?
Yeah, that’s something he’s worked at a lot. I know he did it at times in college. We were hoping he could do that, we knew he had the ability to. It takes awhile to get that confidence to catch those balls consistently. I know he has that confidence and he’s given us the confidence to have him doing it.
Paired against Kawann Short a few different times. What makes him unique at his position?
He’s a very big man who can explode off the ball. So when you’re a big guy who has quickness and—not just size, he has power—he’s usually penetrating every play, even when you put two guys on him, which usually equals 600 lbs together, those guys don’t usually stop him. He’s very physical, powerful. I believe he’s a smart player. His endurance is good, he doesn’t take plays off. He’s going to be there all game. He’s going to have his plays you have to understand that. But if you go to sleep on him he can change the game in one play.
You talk about stuff you think of in the offseason. Like that’s something new. Do you mean like literally new? Or new for the scheme or new for the guys?
Most of the stuff is new for our guys because we didn’t run it together last year. But it’s just stuff you hadn’t put on tape before. You have certain plays. You watch them you study them the whole offseason. You see how teams evolve and start to defend them and a new idea comes to someone: “What if we do this, we change one little thing?” It makes it a completely different play off the same play. Plays that are successful over the years, you know teams are studying that every year to see how to stop a specific play. Sometimes they come up with an answer quick, then you try to think of ways to tweak that play and once they get their answer to stop what they think you’re doing, it opens up a touchdown for another play that we just anticipated. You come up with that stuff, but sometimes you can come up with too much of it. You call the new play and it’s a sack and if you called the old play, it’s a walk-in touchdown. That’s the stuff you’re going back and forth with in your head all week.
Does Aldrick [Robinson] have the ability to play all three positions? Will he mix in at slot, rolling outside, or do you have a spot you’d like to have him invest?
We like him best backing up Marquise [Goodwin] outside at ‘X’, but Aldrick can play all three. He’s been with us for awhile. We used him that way in Atlanta. He’s a very smart player, he’s prepared at all the positions and he’s got the skillset to where he’s got the speed and the quickness to use in a number of different ways.