When you look back on the game Sunday and the turnovers, what do you do, what do you focus on moving forward to try to eliminate those?
“Any way you can help, not having those turnovers happen, you work on and try to improve. Any little thing that can help, that’s what you try to work on.”
Is it easy to do? Is it an easy fix?
“Yeah, it’s not rocket science. It’s just little stuff. It’s a game of inches. One is when I step up in the pocket two inches more, the ball doesn’t get taken out of my hand. With the one interception off the end of [WR] Pierre’s [Garçon] hands, that’s a game of inches. Obviously the fourth-and-20, you’ve got to make a play. But, it’s nothing that can’t be fixed. It’s just little stuff.”
When you look at the Packers defense, I assume you go back to the last few games of the season. Do you go back over the past few years? How far back would you go?
“We watch most of everything from this year and then in games in the past when Atlanta has played them when [head coach] Kyle [Shanahan] was there. But, I mostly stick to stuff from this year.”
You guys are a lot more efficient in your passes to the running back than you were last year, there were a lot of incompletions, drops. Can you account for that? Is it different personnel that’s more efficient in year two?
“I think just obviously it’s the second year in the system, you’ll be more efficient in that sense of getting check downs, getting the balls to the backs. We’ve got a lot of trust in our running backs to put a lot of plays in their hands to where we expect them to get open and make plays and we trust those guys to do that. I think we’re just better there than we were last year at that position and I think it’s showing.”
Does it require chemistry between you and those guys? RB Alfred Morris hasn’t even been here a month, but he’s caught every pass that’s gone his way so far.
“Yeah, I think some of it is chemistry. When they’re number one in progression, definitely, around choice routes and such things. But, on those check downs, it’s kind of just being in the right spot and getting them the ball and turning a five-yard gain into a 10-yard gain.”
From a quarterback’s perspective, what really stands out about Green Bay Packers QB Aaron Rodgers’ game to you?
“He’s just a baller. That’s what he does. He’s got a crazy, crazy arm. He’s got the quickest release, craziest arm that I’ve ever seen. It just looks like he’s throwing a nerf ball out there. We all have a lot of respect for him.”
One more question about the turnovers. You mentioned a couple of times that it’s a game of inches. Do you feel like it’s just bad luck that is happening or is it a product of a lack of carefulness or discipline?
“I don’t know. I think a lot of it is luck. It’s just tough to say. Some of those things don’t happen, we’re not talking about it. I don’t think it’s discipline. I think we’re a disciplined team and stay on stuff like that. But, I would just say some of it is just unfortunate events that have happened.”
Going into Lambeau field, such an historic venue, do you look forward to going in and playing a game at a place like that? What are some of the keys to have success going into a ruckus environment like that and maybe trying to keep the crowd not so much of a factor?
“It’s definitely something to look forward to and a great opportunity for us. A Monday night game in Lambeau, historic stadium. We’re playing a great team. It’s everything you ask for. We’ve just got to go in and handle the noise, handle the crowd and go out and execute and try to take care of the ball and just do the little things right. I think if we do that and play well and our defense plays well, special teams, we can give ourselves a good chance.”
Is there anything TE George Kittle has done this year as a pass catcher surprised you or did you know that when you guys were teammates back in Iowa?
“That doesn’t surprise me. I always knew George had, he’s one of the most athletic dudes that I’ve known. He’s a freak athlete and I’ve always known that, even at Iowa. I think everyone that’s been around him knows that and so he hasn’t surprised me.”
Is there anything that he did at Iowa that was particularly freakish?
“We’d always test our vertical jumps and our 5-10-5 and our 10-yard sprints. He just blew everyone out of the water. He has the tight end records there. We’ve got a tight end in there now that’s pushing those records because he’s an athlete too, but George just blew everyone out of the water in those competitions and records for sure.”
You’ve touched on how things are slower for you this year in terms of being able to go through and see things. I’m curious, when you were sitting and watching at the beginning of last year versus when you were sitting when QB Jimmy Garoppolo was playing, did the game look different to you, even then from the sideline after having that experience playing?
“Yeah, I think so. I think just another offseason in the system, another camp in the system. Watching Jimmy’s first few games this year, even then, felt like it was slower and I could see things a little bit better. I would say definitely even then.”
Are there any specific examples of something that you see and think, “Oh, this is way different than it was before?’
“When you’re out there, I think even in the preseason, it just feels like things have slowed down. Your mind’s not going a thousand miles an hour like it was last year. You can feel defenses, feel rotations, feel pressures a lot easier. It’s just slowed down and you know where to get the ball and get it out of your hands.”
A lot of quarterbacks say the difference from college to the NFL is that the windows are so much tighter. Is that the biggest thing to you or is there something else about transitioning in the quarterback role?
“I think that’s a huge thing. The windows are a lot tighter. You’re playing a lot better players, but you’ve also got a lot better players on your team. So, that helps. But, I think more than anything it’s just learning a new offense as a new quarterback. That’s the toughest thing that any new quarterback is trying to deal with, learning a new offense and going out there and executing it and knowing where guys are going to be and what they’re going to be doing. I think that’s the biggest thing.”
How challenging is it going out to practice today and you guys are going to be missing probably about seven, eight more would-be starters? What’s the harm in that in terms of setting up continuity?
“Obviously it’s tough not having the guys that are going to be out there, out there with you practicing. But, it’s a great opportunity for the other guys to get in and get reps, like [WR] Richie James [Jr.] and guys like [WR Victor Bolden Jr.] Vic who haven’t been getting those reps, to get those reps and really get better chemistry with me and the team. So, it stinks, but at the same time, you take it as a positive and the guys that are getting the reps today will definitely get better from it.”
How much does an X receiver benefit from having great speed and how much different is it when you have an X who isn’t WR Marquise Goodwin?
“It’s different, for sure. Defenses definitely have to game plan for having a guy like Marquise in there. It changes your offense a little bit and what you want to do as a scheme, for sure. So, it’ll be nice to have him back this week.”