Offensive Coordinator Tim Kelly
Other than great coaching, how do you explain the turnaround of the offense in a week?
"I think it's a testament really to those guys. Obviously, in this league it's hard when you went through what we went through up in Buffalo and they did a great job last week coming in and turning the page. Coming in and really working hard and putting that behind them and focusing on the new opponent that we had to deal with last week."
Specifically, what about QB Davis Mills and his turnaround?
"He came and he really focused on the game plan. Like we talked about last week, he's coming in and he's learning that kind of on the fly a little bit. It's a testament to him and his capacity to be able to come and process and learn from those mistakes quickly. You saw last week that he went out there and played a pretty clean game. There's some stuff that we need to clean up, but he definitely took a step forward in the right direction."
QB Davis Mills was 12-of-13 on third downs. When a guy is executing like that what does it do for you as a play caller as the game progresses?
"It gives you confidence to go and put him in a position to go and make plays. Obviously, we were able to go and string together a good first drive, and he made a heck of a play on that third down to Ant (Antony Auclair). You saw him really create for the first time, which was really encouraging. When you have players out that are going out and really making plays for you, of course you feel more confident when you get in those situations to put them in a position to go out and make a play."
What happened in the second half and what defense adjustment did the New England make to slow your offense down?
"They probably played a little bit more zone. At the same time, the first drive we scored. Second drive we came out got into a third and two, didn't win the one on one match up. The following drive we end up having a holding penalty, getting into a first and 20, anytime you're in that position that's difficult. There was something on that following drive where we wanted to make a better read at a certain position. So, I don't think it was anything they did. They were playing man and zone the first half, probably played more zone in the second. We just got to execute better. That's kind of part of us moving forward is being able to execute at a high level for the entire game and not just for four possessions. We came out, three in the first half, one in the second half. Got to be able to maintain that and sustain that the entire game."
What did you see from WR Chris Moore going from the practice squad and having the type of game that he did and did that surprise you at all?
"No, you guys are out there, you guys see him run. He's out there every day, he's running, and I mean he can run for days. He does a great job out there when we ask him to fill in, he's come in and made plays for us. Even when he's giving a look for the defense, he does a great job really stressing them as far as his route running abilities, play making abilities and it wasn't something that was just kind of a one-time thing. Even going back to the preseason, he made some big plays for us in the Dallas game, he made a big catch for us in the Tampa game I believe. He's a guy who has produced at the NFL level and we are looking forward for him continuing to grow in this offense."
What do you expect from OL Geron Christian Sr. and OL Charlie Heck?
"I'm expecting them to come out and do their job. Charlie had a really good preseason. Unfortunately, he got sick at the end so it kind of derailed him a little bit, but he was on track and he was playing really well and he's picked up right where he left off. Looking for him to go out there and execute at a high level. G (Geron Christian Sr.) played for us in the Jacksonville week. When he's in there you don't notice him, as an offensive lineman we all know that's one of the highest compliments you can get. We are looking for them to come in and play well and play physical and make sure we can get moving the running game and protect us in the pass game."
How did WR Nico Collins look in his practice yesterday?
"He looked good. He's running, hasn't missed a beat. Looks like he's healing up and we will have to see what direction we go here at the end of the week."
What is it going to take to get the run game going?
"Hopefully next week I'm not answering this question. Doing a good job at every level. I saw Davis (Mills) come in yesterday and kind of shouldered some of the blame. Some of it's there, some of it's play design, some of it's up front, some of it's with the back. Until we can get everybody on the same page and executing at a high level, we're not going to get the results we want. We had a good day of practice yesterday in pads and hopefully that pays off for us in Indy."
What are you getting out of WR Chris Conley, and is that someone you want to get more involved?
"Yeah, absolutely. Chris does a great job. He does everything we ask him to do, was really excited for him. Had a big week last week, not just on Sunday but during the week. He does everything we want, he's a great pro, he catches the ball when the ball comes his way. So, yeah, we are going to try to find ways to get him the ball, but a lot of times the balls going to find guys that are winning and are open. For him that hasn't happened yet, but that's not because he hasn't won or anything along those lines. We are going to try to continue to get him the ball, obviously we saw on Sunday good things happen when he touches it."
What do you do to try to get guys to be more disciplined?
"Those penalties, they're hard because there's a fine line. You want them to continue to be aggressive and continue to block to the end of the whistle, but a lot of times those guys don't have eyes in the back of their heads. So if the ball bounces outside like the one Mark (Ingram II) had with Max (Scharping), ball was designed to go inside, Mark saw something he ended up bouncing out to the right. Max got exposed for just a second and was just a hair late. and we end up getting the penalty. You saw Chris Moore on Phillip (Lindsay)'s run, he's doing a great job blocking down field, it's a similar deal. He's blocking his man, Phil makes a cut, he gets extended for a second on the perimeter and he's a second late holding onto it. We are continuing to stress the fundamentals of blocking as elementary as that sounds. But really when you feel in your head that time clock, 'Ok, I'm starting to get extended,' just doing a good job of letting go and whatever we got at that point is what it is. In my time here, this is really the first time we've had to deal with as many first and 20's as we've dealt with the past two weeks. They are working hard to alleviate that issue and we have every bit of confidence they will be able to do so."
Do you have any concern with OL Justin Britt with him not practicing?
"I don't have any concern with him not practicing. JB's played a lot of football, he's started in a Super Bowl, he's played in a lot of big games. The biggest thing for him is to make sure he's feeling as good as possible on Sunday and if we are in a situation on Sunday were somebody needs to step up, that's why they are here. I have every ounce of confidence in everybody in that offensive line room to where if their number gets called, they will be able to step in and do a great job for us."
WR Brandin Cooks is leading the team in targets but this past game QB Davis Mills spread out more. Is that a matter of what you were seeing defensively or Davis getting more comfortable?
"It's probably a little bit of both. They were definitely doing some things to where you could tell there was a focus on him. But at the same time, other people were winning, and Davis was finding them which was really encouraging. Even though somebody might be a primary, something pops open or somebody wins drastically, similar to what happened to Chris Conley's catch on the sideline, Davis was able to see it and able to make a big play for us. So, probably a little bit of both."
Once QB Tyrod Taylor comes back, does that change play calling for you?
"Oh, it doesn't. Every ounce of my being is focused on how I'm going to call plays against the Indianapolis Colts. Unless you know something that I don't know, it's going to be Davis (Mills) and we are going to be moving forward with that. We don't have time to be worrying about hypotheticals and what happens when this happens, we have to find a way to win a game. Every ounce of my being, like I said, is going to be focused on how we can do that and how we can put out guys in a position to win on Sunday."
Some wide receivers are coming back, what are you looking for from them and how do you evaluate them?
"Looking for matchups, looking for guys we can trust, looking for guys that are reliable, looking for guys that can make plays and produce. I don't think it changes the way we are evaluating I think it changes who we are evaluating but that metric and standard will never drop depending on who's available for us. It's good to have the more people out there, the more options we have, the better off we are going to be."
Special Teams Coordinator Frank Ross
When a kicker has missed some time, gets to kick again and misses some kicks, what do you do to get them back on track?
"Not just Ka'imi (Fairbairn), but any kicker, if you don't have a process that you're comfortable with sticking to, if you're just all of a sudden shooting from the hip, I would project that that would not make you very successful for very long. Stick to the process, do what you do well, continue to focus, self-correct and move forward. Simple as that. If you start changing who you are, you're not going to be able to be that consistent, which all we know, the most successful kickers are exactly that."
Breaking down the missed extra point attempts, what did you find in those?
"Just a little bit of an overcompensation, correcting it a little bit too much. Nothing better than seeing a kicker self-correct, go out there and do it again the next time with the proper adjustments. We'll continue to do that."
Can you take us through the fake punt that turned into a real punt, and then glanced off P Cameron Johnston's foot?
"Any time, whether it's an offense, defense or special teams, we are here to create opportunities to put our players in position to be successful, win one-on-one matchups and create an advantage. We're going to continue to do that. So, (regardless) of a play that happened in a game ago, we obviously need to move forward, but when those things happen, you've just got to execute them better. No different than a punt return that gets you six yards when it could've got you eight or nine. Just a little bit better on our execution. Creating an advantage, had an opportunity there in the look we got, just got to execute it a little bit better there. It's not going to change anything about who we are. So, questions about playing in the certain circumstance of the game, or whatever the situation (like) the score of the game, we're always going to attack, we're always going to look for ways to create opportunities for our players to have an advantage. So, that's never going to change. We're always going to be on the attack."
What's it going to feel like coaching against your former team?
"We're going up against a very, very good special teams unit. They're well-coached, they have guys that have been in their core four, playing and developing. That is their developmental engine of the team in Indianapolis. You see guys grow, growing from undrafted free agent special teams types of players into offensive and defensive players. Guys like Ashton Dulin, guys like E.J. Speed, Zaire Franklins, Matthew Adams, core players for them. George Odum can play in the secondary. Core players for them that have time to develop and grow in the kicking game, and now you see it at its all-time height. They're in their, quote-unquote, maturity, year four of being the same core special teams group. We're expecting them to be at their best. It's a big challenge for us, very big test for us. Excited to go up there and see if our guys are up to the task."
Did New England shift their defensive look on the near-fake punt, and is that why you decided to punt?
"Our scheme is our scheme. Our ability to execute is the primary focus there. Whatever look they gave us, whatever look we gave them, everybody's got their adjustments and checks. Whether it was the exact look we wanted or whether it was not the exact look we wanted, it's inconsequential to the point of us just executing."
What do you think is holding WR Andre Roberts back in the return game, and what's holding back the return game in general?
"One of the things about the punt return is you've got to have certain opportunities. Whether we're dialing up a rush, whether we're in short field range, are all things that are going to factor. There's also a couple of punts like in the Jacksonville game. There was a punt that hit on the tick marks, slash out of bounds, things like that. Opportunity weight might skew some of those numbers, as well. Bottom line is you've got to win your one-on-one matchups in the kick return game and the punt return game. We're going to continue to do so and work on that."
How do you feel about the execution when you guys are getting opportunities??
"It was a great kick by Jake Bailey, for example, on the one kick return there. Got squeezed out a little bit based on the return scheme, and then the kick's wide, good hang time, et cetera. All those things are going to factor every week. Going up against good cover units, we're going up against a great coverage unit this week. These guys, in four years, 17 yards was their longest punt return allowed, for example. Last week, one squirted through, even with coverage, squirted through for 18 yards, and that's the longest that they've ever allowed. So, that's a tall task at hand. Not only do they have two elite gunners on the outside that affect most of it, they've got a great directional punter in Rigoberto Sanchez. Knows how to put the ball outside of the numbers, leverage coverage. You're talking about guys that cover with their hair on fire. Jordan Glasgow, Matthew Adams, Zaire Franklin, E.J. Speed, the personal protector, whoever it is. Khari Willis, (Andrew) Sendejo, it doesn't matter. Those guys know how to cover, leverage the football, play off of each other. We have our hands full making sure we win our one-on-one matchups to be able to create those extra yards this week."
Could some of K Ka'imi Fairbairn's misses have to do with him missing time?
"No, I don't think it has anything to do with it. Any time you go out on the field, regardless of how you're feeling, this is the NFL in Week 6. Players are sore, all that other stuff. When you're out there on Sundays, you're expected to do your job. Nobody wants to do their job better than themselves. Those guys want to perform, things like that. That's not something coming from an injury, or anything like that. We're just going to line up and continue to kick it, and kick it well."
Before the 56-yard field goal attempt, there was a timeout. Was OL Laremy Tunsil trying to come on the field, and was it mixed up because he was out?
"It's just a personnel grouping, whatever we decided. You get into the 50-yard line to whatever your, quote-unquote, field goal range is. Any point in time in any game you do that, you have options. You can go for it on fourth down, you could punt it, you could do a fake or you can kick a field goal. Relative to whatever we're deciding as a staff to do is what's going to dictate the substitutions or the tempo in which the exchange of the personnel grouping on the field may change."
How do you fix execution issues?
"Every coach in the league will tell you the same thing. When you're talking about execution, it's going to come down to two things: technique and fundamentals. So, as we continue to do that, as we continue to play fast, play aggressive, find ways to attack, it's all great, can draw up a million things on paper, got to go out and play with fundamentals and technique. Every player on our roster is expected to do that. I'm expected as the coach to create drills and situations in practice to get them ready to do that on a Wednesday, Thursday, Friday to get ready for Sunday. We're going to continue to do that and make sure that those guys understand this is the technique asked, let's see if we can go out and execute, and let's play football."
Associate Head Coach/Defensive Coordinator Lovie Smith
What do you think about QB Carson Wentz and what you've seen from him with the Colts?
"I know just kind of going back, of course, a big fan of his early on in his career on what he's done really in the NFL. But coming there, I know he had a few injuries early on, but we had started really focusing in on him this past week. So, you look at the last game. Each week, I start looking at the last game. Played about as well as you could possibly play at the quarterback position. But just in the past, he's mobile and he's a big guy. He's mobile, smart. I'm familiar, of course, with one of my better friends in coaching. He used to coach at North Dakota State forever, so I know an awful lot about him. Big challenge for us. He's playing his best ball right now. With their quarterback position playing great ball complementing their running game. They have three excellent running backs, good offensive line. Baltimore really never stopped them last week. It will be a big challenge for us."
What are you looking for when evaluating a defensive back, moving them around from game to game?
"When you say when we move them around from game to game, it's the same. That's our approach for every position. If you're starting, you need to play well. If you don't play as well as we think you should, then we look for other options. What are we looking for? I mean, it's the same thing. All of our defensive backs, corners and all, need to be able to tackle. And that goes without saying, you need to be able to play man coverage. Intercept the balls when you have opportunities to do that. Just overall play as a defensive back is what we look at. We don't give out lifetime jobs, season jobs. You need to perform daily, and if you get an opportunity in the game, you need to perform then."
Was there any consideration to adding a blitz package last week, going up against a rookie quarterback and a team that had four offensive linemen out of the lineup?
"We like our package. We believe in it. It covers everything, I think, and we're going to continue to play it better."
Why was DL Charles Omenihu inactive, and will he be back this week?
"It's the same with everything else. We look for options. Jordan Jenkins is the one defensive lineman that we hadn't had an opportunity to see, and you can only dress so many defensive linemen. We start each process over each Monday after the game. See how a player practices that week, see what the best combination that brings us that we can go with, and that's what we've done this week. Can't wait to see the guys out at practice today."
What went into the decision to bring LB Zach Cunningham off the field when you go into nickel?
"It's pretty simple for everything. We put the best combination that we think gives us the best chance to have success out there, period."
How do you think LB Zach Cunningham is playing for you right now?
"Zach's starting for us, so we like what he does. In the nickel situation, we like the other combination that we use out there then. Why we think a certain way, what we think, is always about putting our best group out there that we think we need to put out there to win games. Simple as that."
Has DB Eric Murray improved enough to be in that combination?
"He's getting better like all of our players are. This past week, I thought Tavierre Thomas did some good things. But Eric (Murray) is a part of the stable. He has played football for us, and he's just getting in position for his next opportunity."
When you rotate players, are you concerned that they are not getting enough time to build chemistry?
"I think the chemistry is built when you make plays while you're out there. In order to have a chance get a chance to build that chemistry, you need to play well when you get an opportunity. I think it's more about that. You get an opportunity, and if we don't like what we see and don't think that's the best, you look for other options. It's kind of as simple as that. To get chemistry and to continue to play, when you get your chance, you've got to produce. It's kind of as simple as that. We judge everybody the same way. We let everybody know why we're making any move if we have to. Just like we let those guys that initially start playing, we let them know why they were in that starting rotation. But that's why it's that way, it's the starting rotation and you go from there."
What have you seen from the Colts running game?
"Excellent offensive line. You look at what they did last week against a good Baltimore team. But it's one thing about blocking, then you need to have running backs that can carry the ball. Of course, Jonathan Taylor, I'm very familiar with him from college. It's not a surprise to me on him being one of the best running backs in the league for them. But as I mentioned, they play two extensively, and a third. (Marlon) Mack's an excellent football player, too. Lot of options at the running back position. Good offensive line, and what sets up the running attack an awful lot is what they can do in the passing game. Of course, if (T.Y.) Hilton comes back this week, that'll add just a little bit more."
Colts WR T.Y. Hilton has burned the Texans more than any other receiver in the league in their history. What do you like about him, and what do you have to do to keep him from having success?
"That part of history, I wish I did know. But it doesn't surprise me. You could probably say he's burned a lot of people most of his career. He's just an excellent football player. But as far as we're concerned, it's a new year. We assume there's going to be great players on the other side of the ball at all positions. It seems like that's what we've faced each week. But it's more about, right now, about us playing our best ball, which we haven't played. We've had moments and certain areas we had, but just playing a complete game, that's what it's about. Good football for 60-plus minutes."
What have you seen from DL Jonathan Greenard as he continues to play more?
"He plays our six-technique position, which is over the tight end a majority of the time. I think he's strong enough, stout enough, big enough for us to have a favorable matchup at that position. It always comes down to defensive linemen being able to rush the passer, and I think he can rush, too. He's young and I think his best football is ahead of him, but he'll continue to play for us. We like a lot of the things that he's done. Anxious for him to take another step, also."
What does DB Justin Reid give you when trying to find the right combination in the secondary?
"I wouldn't say we're trying to find the right combination. The right conversation is us playing the guys that we play each week back there. But Justin (Reid) is a versatile player. I think he can cover. Most safeties you don't put on a wide receiver, but I think his skillset can do that. He'll hit, he's got good size, he's a smart guy, he'll tackle, those things."
How difficult is it coming from the cornerback position to the safety position and what DB Lonnie Johnson Jr. is doing?
"I think it's hard to be able to do that, yes. I think from in college there are a lot of players that play at the corner position and make a transition when they get to the NFL. It's harder but it can be done. I think you can play nickle and also transition to corner too, a lot of the same skills that you're looking at. We look for guys that have that type of ability to do more than one thing."
What have you seen from LB Kamu Grugier-Hill that allows him to get penetration for the tackles for loss?
"Well I should know that I didn't know that about him. But just on how we look at him, you see, he's gotten more and more reps and when he's gotten opportunities, he's kind of stepped up to the plate. A lot of time you have chance to make a tackle in the backfield, knowing exactly what to do but he's got a good skill set. He's a smart guy. He can play the run. Those stats are saying that. For him to be playing more in third down situations, kind of tells you a little bit of what we think of him as a pass defender. He would probably talk to you about the interception he let get away from him a couple of weeks ago, but I think his football is all up there going forward."
How hard is it to game plan for a guy like WR Michael Pittman Jr.?
"It's hard to game plan against a small quick guy, the big guy. We try to set up our personnel early on to try to deal with receivers in our division and we are excited about the opportunity to go to be undefeated in our division this week. But in our division, there are a lot of big guys that can run. Seems like in all three opponents we have to be ready for that each week. Most cornerbacks are not over six feet, very few are 6'1", 6'2", and it seems like most receivers are there. But all the guys are just as fast and athletic, that's just life in the NFL. We feel like our package allows us to do that. We're not going to play man coverage every snap. We're zone, mix in man, we try to keep people off balance that way."
You mentioned there's not many tall corners. When you look at a guy and sees where he fits, what goes into that thinking?
"I think every team will tell you they would rather have the tallest corner possible. For a 6'4" receiver, you would like to have a 6'4" corner. But you would like for them to be as tall as possible, skill set normally doesn't translate really with that. You're always looking for those guys, but I don't think you really have to be that big to actually play. Things you're looking for, if a guy is a few inches shorter but his vertical is five inches more, you can get it that way. That's just a profile you're looking for, the profile is not going to be that way with most corners that's just life."