“What’s up guys. Just stuff from yesterday, [RB] Tevin [Coleman] still with the shoulder, still haven’t gotten the imaging back, so don’t have anything new on that. [S Jaquiski] Tartt, ribs, just irritated the same area. [LB Dre] Greenlaw with a little ankle sprain, but he should be alright.”
With Tevin, was it a dislocated shoulder?
I know you haven’t gotten the MRI back, but any kind of thought on what the likelihood would be that—?
“I mean, we’ve got to wait until we get the stuff back, so I don’t want to speculate too much, but usually a week to rest it and it usually gets back in. I expect him to have a chance to play. Can’t hold me to that. We’ll find out more after the imaging, but expect him to have a good chance to play.”
As I recall, didn’t CB Emmanuel Moseley have it last year, a dislocated shoulder?
“I’m not sure. I think he might’ve torn something, Moseley, because he needed surgery. This is more like Lethal Weapon type thing where we’ve got to pop it back in.”
Are you concerned with Tartt or do you think he’ll be back soon?
“I know he just irritated the same area, but no new damage. He’ll deal with some pain, I’m sure, this week, but it’s nice that the game’s two weeks away.”
You said yesterday that you were going to try to approach this like a regular week. Is that the plan here? Tuesday off and Wednesday, Thursday?
“Yeah, totally regular week. We’ll probably take Saturday off and I think we head out there Sunday. Today, we had a totally normal Monday, just reviewing the game from yesterday. When we’re done here, we’re going to meet with all our players and coaches and go over ticket situations and stuff like that so they can get that situated. Tomorrow will be the players’ day off, we’ll do our game plan and have a normal Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and get there next week and repeat it.”
You had some fun this week with Art Spander, joking about the backpack incident from the Super Bowl. Can you just take us through those few minutes when that backpack was lost to you?
“I had almost a panic attack. All you guys were huddled around me and distracting me, setting me up while he could take it. No, it was right between my legs, I was sitting on the top part of a chair and it was between my legs. Then, when I was done talking to everybody, it wasn’t there anymore. There was a backpack there, but it wasn’t mine. He took mine and left his, but I was panicked, not because of the game plan or anything. That’s on an iPad and you need codes to get in and stuff and we have others, so that’s not a big deal, but I had about 48 Super Bowl tickets in there that I bought for family members and everything. I was carrying a lot of money from that, a lot of IOU’s and stuff. I was very panicked about the tickets and the cash.”
How long did it take to get resolved?
“It was gone for about an hour and a half. The whole team left me, the Patriots came in, I was walking around there looking for my backpack frantically, running into more media people and still having to do interviews past my deal. I was trying not to come off as a jerk blowing them off, but I was panicked trying to find my backpack. It was awkward, but Art ended up coming back with it. I think we found it, because the backpack remaining, I eventually opened it and saw his name in there, so people tracked him down. He had it, and they tried to take it off of him and he wouldn’t give it to me at first until I showed him it was mine.”
Have you forgiven him?
“Yes, I have. I forgave him fast, but I was stressed for a while.”
Also in that Super Bowl, in the game, obviously, the 28-3 lead and you didn’t win. How much have you gone back over that in your head? How much has that lingered for you about whether it’s a teaching moment, whether it’s a learning moment? How much do you think about that?
“Not much at all anymore, to tell you the truth. You do it every second. The days after were real tough. Losing a Super Bowl is extremely tough for everybody, especially when you lose one when you have a 28-3 lead going into the fourth. The way it came down on me personally, I didn’t react to that, I think, the way people would expect, because there were definitely parts in that Super Bowl that I would love to have back and stuff I was very hard on myself, but the whole narrative of if I would’ve just ran it, we would’ve won. I know that wasn’t the case. I know what went into that game and all the stuff that happened, so that stuff didn’t bother me. You’ve got to deal with that and listen to other people, but it was nice to be able to move on and move out here and just keep working. I’m glad I’m going to get the chance to go back.”
You said that one play, maybe second-and-11, second-and-10—?
“Yeah, the play I regretted the most was, when we got down there. We haven’t converted a third down, really the entire second half, I think we were averaging one yard a carry rushing. So, when you do that, the formula to keep giving the ball back to someone is to go run-run-pass. You’re going to make a third-and-seven at the best every single time. If you’re not converting third downs, that makes it tough. We did mix it up a little bit. I think we actually ran it more in the second half than we did in the first half. The other team was I think 34 of 38, converted all their third downs, couldn’t get the ball. Finally they got it within a score, we got it back and got pretty aggressive to get it down there. It was a second-and-10, called a pass on the last time down there. On second-and-10 I called a run. We got a two-yard loss and a holding call that put us out of field goal range. This time I went the opposite. Tried to get a play to [Atlanta Falcons WR] Julio [Jones]. They played a different coverage, didn’t get the call I wanted so I didn’t like the call. I was hoping we could just get rid of it, but they had a pretty good rush and got a sack. Once that happened, I knew we had to throw because now we were out of field goal range. Threw it the next down to [Atlanta Falcons WR Mohamed] Sanu, ran a choice-route breaking out and moved the chains, but they called a holding call on our left tackle so that put us way back and we had to throw again to get back into it and we missed it. I wish I didn’t call that play on second-and-11 that led to that sack.”
Do you think you’ve evolved or improved as a play caller since then?
“I don’t know. I thought I did a pretty good job that year. We had a historical offense in Atlanta and did a lot of good things. As a play caller, you’re as good as your last game. You go after all that stuff. You learn stuff from everything. People act like there was a bunch of big learning moments in that game. I wish I didn’t call that pass on second-and-10, but the learning moments never feel good. That’s why I promise you when we’re way up in the fourth quarter on Green Bay and stuff, I know what 28 minus three is. I know a 25-point lead in the fourth quarter isn’t enough. We only had a 14-point lead with eight minutes to go versus Green Bay. I can promise you that, I think I feel from experience like the game is tied and that we don’t have a two-score lead. I think that’s the stuff that helps you because sometimes I think people can tend to relax. That’s something that I won’t say. I won’t say I ever relaxed in that Super Bowl, especially with [New England Patriots QB] Tom Brady having that ball, but that’s something that keeps you humble at every single moment until the game is over.”
Can I ask you about the possibility of becoming the first father and son coaching in the Super Bowl? You told me if you beat the Packers, you will answer this question, so here we are.
“Alright. It feels pretty cool. Probably like you’d expect, that surprises me, but it is pretty neat. Now hopefully the goal will be hopefully to win one.”
What did you do last night to celebrate and were you watching any of the highlights in the background? Have you broken down the film yet?
“Yeah, broke down the film. We did that all today and just finished with the players. I just had a bunch of family over last night, a bunch of friends from high school and college. My whole family and my wife’s whole family. It was pretty cool. Got home a little bit later, it took a while to get out of here. Took a while to calm down though from the excitement of the night. It was nice to just be able to hang out in the house and reminisce on a bunch of things. Usually it’s most people just making fun of me most of the time and me making fun of people back. It was a good time.”
You’ve touched multiple times on the various ties you have to this organization. I’m sure you’d be happy to lead any team to a Super Bowl. Does it mean more that it’s this particular organization for you?
“Yeah, I’d say so. If you had told me this when I was in middle school, I would have said that’s a dream come true. You get into the NFL and you stop thinking about that stuff because there’s 32 teams and you’re doing whatever you can just to get that opportunity. The way it worked out and the way everything lined up, it is pretty special to sit and think about.”
You have a lot of your key players are younger guys with the exception of CB Richard Sherman, but what can this whole experience over these next two weeks do for you guys in terms of trying to build something sustainable?
“It’s very important to go through all this stuff. You don’t really know what it’s like until you go through it. Our players now have experience with the playoffs, they’re going to get experience here at the Super Bowl. People will tell you all about it, but you’ve got to go through it. I’m very thankful that you’ve got two weeks to do it. I do think it’s crazy when you get down there for the week. That’s what was nice, growing up watching my dad go through it a lot and then being able to go through it myself with the Falcons, just seeing first-hand how important it is to take advantage of this first week. How much pressure is on all these guys. Everyone wants to take care of everybody, but everyone has so many family members and so many people that they want to get tickets for, they want to help people out. People don’t realize that not everyone gets that many tickets and you’re going to have to say no to some people and it’s going to be tough, but you’ve got to focus on the people real tight to you, help whoever you can. But, once you’re done and you make the decisions you can, you have to move on. You’ve got to focus on the task at hand because once you get down there it’s hectic. Everyone wants to be taken care of and stuff, but we’ve got a job to do. That’s what we’re going to do. We’re going in there to play in the Super Bowl, which is a very important football game. For us, we can’t get caught up in an event. It’s just the game.”
For you and the staff, do you approach this like you’re playing this coming Sunday and do all your work before you get to Miami?
“Yes, we try to do everything before. We definitely know that we have the whole week when we get there, but there’s different media obligations that get you out of your routine and everything. You don’t want to play catch up at the end of a Super Bowl week. You want to do that now. That was cool with [Atlanta Falcons head coach] Dan Quinn being at Seattle and going through it. That was something he stressed to us hard. After we won the NFC Championship, would love to take a couple days to relax and stuff and then get at it knowing you have two weeks away, but Dan put us on it right away and man was I thankful when we got there. You have the time to work when you get out there and stuff but there are more distractions and stuff. I hope the players aren’t trying to learn anything and having to study as much. You hope you can get all that done this week and next week we’re just going through the motions again and just locking it all up.”
When you got there last time, did you do some tinkering?
“You do a lot of tinkering and you get to watch a lot of stuff. It all depends on what you’re going against, but it’s also nice to get a trial run of the whole week too. You kind of get down there the next week and you review it again on that Monday and Tuesday. You go back through your weekly practice and ‘Hey I know we liked this last week and we worked on it, but it just doesn’t seem to look like what I thought, let’s take it out and put this instead.’ There will be stuff like that, but the main thing is not wasting this week.”
What’s the key to having receivers who are so willing to block? Is it finding the right guys or is it something to do with messaging to them or do you have to be effective doing it to prove it to them?
“No, I think it’s just holding people accountable from the beginning. Then you just set a standard as it is and every time you watch tape you point it out. Some people don’t point it out very much and don’t think you can get that out of wideouts, but that’s what we do from the first play that we’re with someone until the last play. I mean, you never don’t grade a receiver for blocking. They’re as big of a part of it as anyone on the field and the more you point that out I think the more they enjoy it. I think guys don’t always get that pointed out all the time and once they realize how big of a deal that it is for them I think guys take pride in it. And you can be a real physical guy or you don’t always have to be the most physical guy just to know how to do your job and how to be square on people and get to the right guy and I think those guys learn the more that they do that, the more big plays that they can get in the passing game.”
Back to the Packers, they seemed to be selling out to stop TE George Kittle and some other things, you were able to run. The Cardinals did the exact opposite and QB Jimmy Garoppolo tore them up. I’d also like you to mention the 2016 Falcons were historically good. I guess what I’m asking is if you had an ability to counter whatever a defense does as well as you have with this offense, like if you’re going stop this, we’re going to do this, is it on par with those Falcons?
“Yeah, it’s been a little bit different. I think our offense plays a little bit more to our defense here. Our defense has had a historically good year, so I think we’ve been able to win the game a lot of different ways on offense, but when the defense the way it’s played with us or the way it’s played most of this year, we didn’t have to go out and air it out a ton going into games like that. We’ve tried to do it some old-fashioned ways at times. Our guys have gotten better at that as it’s gone and our defense has allowed us to do that no matter what and it wasn’t always that case with the other team you asked about.”
You spoke a lot about being hard on yourself, your accountability. Your players are exactly the same. Is that unique to the mindset of this locker room?
“Yeah, I mean you’ve got to diffuse guys. Everyone’s sensitive and everyone’s trying to do their best, but also everyone makes mistakes. I don’t care who you are. Hall-of-Fame quarterbacks, Hall-of-Fame coaches, it doesn’t matter. No one has gone perfect in this league and everyone’s going to make huge mistakes in front of a lot of people. That’s what sports is about. I think athletes go through that. Athletes have a great life, they work hard, they get paid very well and they get to play in a cool game, but they’re also going to get judged by everybody in what they do and that’s just part of it. You’ve got to be able, you’ve got to have thick skin, you’ve got to mind not being judged because you’re out here, you’re good at what you do and you’re going to have times that are bad. The more you can call yourself out, the more you can call each other out, the more people take their sensitivity away and say ‘Alright, he’s right we all mess up sometimes let’s just sit in here and work on getting better.’”