HEAD COACH LOVIE SMITH
"You know, Mondays are a lot better when you win. Of course, that's kind of obvious, but there is a lot of football left to go. It does not matter whether you win or you lose, you evaluate the video and move on from there. So, we are excited about that. A lot of good things happened yesterday. I've come in here and talked a lot about that we're close, we're going to be a good football team, we just need to finish. Yesterday, we finished. We needed to have a drive to get points on the board, and we did it in a way that was fitting for who we want to be as a football team. The offensive line needs to block and get the ball to our tailback and let him do his thing. That run was one of the better runs we're going to see this year. That is what (Dameon Pierce) is capable of doing. It's good to be undefeated in our division also. There were some positives we had that we can build upon. Then we get into the details. There's a lot of room for improvement, and its coming at the right time, five games into the season. Just finishing the first quarter of our season as we see it. You have some bumps and bruises. This week we get a chance to kind of evaluate what we have done up until this moment, so I'm excited about that. I'm excited to move on to the Raiders, to watch that game tonight. I'm excited to be in Houston. Our Astros with Dusty Baker leading them, I know we are going to do well against the Mariners also. So excited about a lot of things."
What have you seen from WR Nico Collins in recent games?
"Nico Collins is a big target. He can catch the ball. He can jump. Starting from the L.A. (Rams) preseason game, we've gotten a chance to see that. We tried to get him more and more involved each week. He's a tough matchup against defensive backs. So, we need to continue to do that."
How do you approach the postgame, travel and getting into Monday after the win?
"With the players, as for as do we change up our routine? It's the same routine we've been doing, except we are doing it on a win. Monday is the players' day off, so they'll be off today except for injured guys. Then they'll be back in tomorrow studying video and on from there. It was a lot more fun being on the plane and being in the locker room yesterday. I had to brush up. It had been a few minutes there since we'd been in a winning locker room. That was a lot of fun."
Can you talk about how the rookies played yesterday?
"It seems like we are saying this each week. They are getting better. They are talented. They love playing. On the offensive side of the football, in order for Dameon Pierce to run like that, Kenyon Green needs to do something pretty good up front, which we continue to do. In order for Dameon to run like that, Troy Hairston has to some pretty good things. He continues to do that. In order for us to hold (the Jaguars) to six points, a team that had been averaging 26, Jalen Pitre needed to do some good things, Derek Stingley needed to do some good things. It was good seeing him getting his first interception as a professional athlete. So yes, our young players are getting better weekly, and they haven't reached their potential yet.
What are some intangibles you have been focused on as the season goes along to get WR Nico Collins those increased targets you mentioned?
"I don't know if there is anything else. I can't start giving away game planning and all that. But first, just acknowledgement that Nico (Collins) needs to be more involved. When you've had the opportunity to go through five games, you kind of see and everybody is showing you who they are, and you have to go with it. Some, you really like what you are seeing, and maybe others you don't like as much. Some need to get more reps. Some need to get less reps. That's how we're looking at it."
What did you make of DB Jalen Pitre, DB Derek Stingley Jr. and the secondary's performances yesterday?
"I liked the way the defense competed as a whole. The front seven, I'm talking about the Jaguars, I mean, they run the football, but you would say they are more of a passing team. So, the pass coverage needs to be at its best. I thought the guys competed. We had a couple plays we need to clean up, but we played a lot of zone with seven sets of eyes on the quarterback and you make them earn it the hard way. Ultimately, in the end you need to come through. You need to come through on third downs. You need to come through – we had three fourth down situations yesterday. And then in the red zone, play your best ball down there. Coverage was a big part of that."
When you were evaluating DB Derek Stingley Jr., was zone coverage one of the areas you felt like he needed to develop in?
"First, Derek Stingley's talent, I know coming into the draft it was thought that he is a man cover guy. What does that mean, he's a man cover guy? He can only do that? No, what we say was a complete – I saw a guy that could become a complete cornerback, being able to play man, of course, but being able to play zone. You get more interceptions when you have your eyes on the ball playing zone coverage. We also saw him as a player that would tackle. We don't bring anybody in unless they want to tackle, they want to be physical. When you start playing roll-up corners, cover-2 or whatever, they need to be able to be physical on the receivers. Eventually offenses are making corners tackle. You can make a corner tackle. I saw Derek (Stingley) doing all those things. That's what we saw. Each week we'll call on him, and I know we're talking about Derek, but Steve Nelson has been playing good football too. This is what we will ask our guys to do."
On DB Derek Stingley Jr. finding the quarterbacks eyes on his interception
"That's how I saw it, zone coverage. It was zone coverage. Man coverage, guys are looking at their man, they don't see the ball until the last second a lot of the times. Zone coverage, feeling the receivers on you but eyes on the quarterback. Quarterback will normally tell you where the ball is going, so great play by Derek (Stingley, Jr.) adjusting on the run to a few different things that he got on that play."
Was rotating the defense more performance based?
"That's what we did yesterday. First off, if we don't think a player can perform at a certain level we won't let them play. We won't put them on the field. We felt comfortable about playing some of our other linebackers. We haven't been completely pleased with how we've played at the linebacker position and when that happens guys get an opportunity to play. Yesterday, it was warm out there. We felt we needed to play more guys to keep guys fresh. If you look at the ways to improve and finish, you look at maybe playing guys a little less early in the game. It worked out well. Some of our backup linebackers got double digit reps, which helped everybody."
Can you talk about how you guys performed in the red zone on defense?
"We want to get to a point where we're giving up a lot less total yards than we are. Eventually, it's about when you move down and once you get to that line, you can't cross it. Red zone, you have to make plays down there. Again, we change it up. We play man. We play zone. We play all the different coverages down there. Once you get down there, it's a lot harder for offenses to especially pass the football because those windows are a lot smaller and the area that you're defending. Just not this game, we played pretty good red zone defense this year. It's one of things we've been pretty good at."
How much does special teams impact the formula of winning games?
"After five games, I think you see how we would like to win football games. Offensively, we've talked about who we want to be, what we want to look like. Run based, we want to be able to run the football. What allowed us to win in the end, being able to run the football. Special team wise, our special teams have been outstanding throughout. Ka'imi (Fairbairn) really kicking yesterday. We have an excellent punter (Cameron Johnston). Those two field goals that he made, what we got seven points from him we're big. Defensively, we had a couple takeaways. As we see it in our calculations, if you stop them on (fourth down), what's a turnover? When you get a turnover that means the other team gets the ball, right. We look at fourth downs the same way is my point. There were five of those situations. This is how we would like to play football."
How do you think RB Dameon Pierce is stacking up in the rookie of the year race?
"It's a little early. Je's a rookie and he's playing well. I haven't seen all of the rookies out there. I just know that our rookie, we've loved him from the start. It's not a bandwagon-type thing. We believed in this guy and what he can do. He's letting other people kind of see it a little bit. Again, for us to be talking that way, the offensive line and the guys that are blocking for him, they have to be doing their job. I just know after a quarter of football, we like where he is. Much more to go, but I like the way he's trending."
How many times have you watched that run by RB Dameon Pierce?
"We watched it a few times and some of the other plays too. How can you not if you're a football fan, to just see one word, finish late in the game. I'm always excited too. We go to a lot of different places and some places just means a little bit more to guys than others. Playing his college ball, 70 miles from there, seems like most of his hometown was there watching him play. So for him to perform that way the first time he comes back to his home state is pretty neat."
Can you talk about the work DB Desmond King II did yesterday?
"It's good for you to mention Des (Desmond) King. We've talked about Rasheem Green up front, Derek Stingley made some good plays yesterday too, but overall play Des King is just hard to beat. He had an interception, big third down stops, tackles. Des is a smart football player that knows our defense. He's one of the guys that has been around here from start to finish. As a punt returner, he does an awful lot for our team behind the scenes. It's about, as a defensive player, when you get in position, do you make the play? Our guys get a pursuit grade on when you run to the ball, technique grade, but when you're at the point of attack, what happens? Percentage, what happens? Des King was pretty good yesterday."
Do you think OL Laremy Tunsil is still developing in this stage?
"I think all players would like to think that they're developing still, they're getting better. I would definitely say that's the case with LT (Laremy Tunsil). I thought both of our tackles, thought our offensive line did a good job, especially offensive tackles. Of course, LT, (Laremy) Tunsil did a great job, but Tytus (Howard) did also. Going against a team, I mean Jacksonville has a couple of scholarship players on the edge that can rush the passer and play hard. Their entire front is that way. It was a big challenge for our guys and starting with them, LT (Laremy Tunsil) has been around here longer than anyone. He sets the pace on exactly who we want to be. He's a left tackle, he can pass block and all that. There were physical plays, a lot of physical plays that we saw from him yesterday, like always."
What do you hope to continue to see from QB Davis Mills after this win?
"Continued growth. Just look at his play yesterday. It was a tight game. You had two quarterbacks on the football field. One thing you have to do is protect the football. He did a good job of that, made some timely throws. We're talking about to Nico Collins, Brandin Cooks, Jordan Akins, some of the guys getting involved in the passing game with Davis (Mills) making those throws. I like what he's done. I like the direction he's heading and how's he trending. Excited about the second quarter of our season with Davis (Mills) leading us. What we want him to do is just continue to learn from things that are happening each week, and I know that's what he's going to do."
How do you and GM Nick Caserio approach making additions to the roster behind the scenes?
"Once we get started right now, I'm not looking at a whole lot of video of players. That's Nick (Caserio) and our personnel department. Most of their focus is that and then they bring guys to us that may fit into what we're doing. As far as our roster, we're always trying to improve. Hopefully the data shows somebody out there that we think will fit. That's always in motion behind the scenes. If it gets to the point where we're constantly working guys out, when I say I'm not actually evaluating guys, we're watching video. When guys pop up that may be available, it comes up. Those discussions are daily throughout on ways that we can improve our ball club. You look at the amount of moves that we have made, that's just not lip service."
How much credit would you give to LB Garret Wallow in the defense's performance? Do you believe that the linebacker group will continue to improve when LB Christian Harris comes back?
"First off, some of your questions that you've noticed are guys, the Des (Desmond) King question, Garret Wallow, LT (Laremy Tunsil) and some of those physical things, you have to look at the details to see those things. Garret Wallow has been a good football player whenever he's played. Last year, he started the Jacksonville game and he started the LA Chargers game, two of the one's that we won last year. He started this game, and we get consistent play from him whenever he plays. I thought he did an outstanding job yesterday with everything that we asked him to do. Student of the game, another guy that's always here working, and I like some of the youth that we have at that linebacker position."
Watching OL Charlie Heck drive a man to the ground on the touchdown run, is that what you mean when you say you want players to finish drives?
"Yeah. I think it's easy. Play starts, one side of the ball is snapped and the play ends when the official blows his whistle. We want guys trying to dominate their man or trying to make a play, maximum effort until that whistle blows. On that play, you can't assume, 'Well I think he's down' and stop. No, you have to keep going. That sound (whistle), Pavlov, that sound you hear, that's what tells you to stop. Again, you need some plays though to really demonstrate, 'Hey guys this is what we're talking about right here.' That's a coach's dream on that play right there, to show our guys exactly what we want to be, how long we want to go, all those things. Absolutely."