OC PEP HAMILTON
What did you see from QB Davis Mills and the offense last week?
"I think we saw a point where I felt like we had a good rhythm as an offense. We were able to hit some big plays and good things were happening. We felt like we had some momentum, but nevertheless, there's no reason that we can't start games that way. Now, just take a lot of pressure off the sideline by putting up points early. Have to do a better job that way."
What do you feel like QB Davis Mills had to change to turn the game around?
"Partly at that point, it was 'I've got to have a situation'. Not that we don't expect to have urgency early in the game, but it was urgent that we shifted the momentum our way. It was important that we started to bring some life to our sideline and to the stadium. That's our goal every time we have the football, to try and score the ball. We'll start by really just being a lot more aggressive and attacking for four quarters."
What did you see from RB Dameon Pierce and his 75-yard touchdown?
"We knew he had that breakaway speed. We recognize that he's a talented young player and the more we find ways to put the ball in his hands, whether it's handing the ball off or finding a way to get it to him in the passing game, we expect that he's going to make his own yards. We're going to continue to do just that, get him the ball."
What is RB Dameon Pierce's best quality?
"The combination of power and speed. How often do you see 75-yard touchdown runs in the National Football League? A lot of times our backs, or backs in general, break out into the open field and low-and-behold, you have defensive backs that chase down and have a better angle of pursuit. Now, it's just a long gain and not a long touchdown. I think we saw really good acceleration. We've seen the power throughout our games up until this point. He's an explosive playmaker."
What's RB Dameon Pierce's personality off the field?
"He's business like. It's important to him and we all understand the challenge that we have ahead of us in a really good Jaguars team. He's focused."
What are things RB Dameon Pierce needs to work on away from football?
"I don't know that he needs to work on those things away from football. I think it's more important that he continues to learn to play without the ball."
What do you need to see from RB Dameon Pierce to put him in higher leverage situations?
"It is a combination of we'll just put him in there and let him play and grow through these situations. It ultimately is going to come down to gaining that experience and trust of the other guys in the huddle, that he can play without the ball. It's not that he hadn't shown the ability to process the information and or physically do the things that we're asking him to do. There's a lot of situations that arise in a game where it's just some unknowns. Just like with any young player, it's not always in the best interest of the unit to put them in those situations."
How do you balance the usage of RB Dameon Pierce and RB Rex Burkhead?
"Yeah. You could argue that we're starting to have a pattern when Rex (Burkhead) is in there as opposed to when Dameon (Pierce) is in there. We'll do a better job of recognizing just from a self-scout standpoint some of the things that the defense may look at."
What have you seen from the offense that can make them more consistent?
"Just the mentality, just understanding every play is the most important play in the game. When you have a collection of variance of experience, you have some players that understand just how tough it is to focus of 65, 70 plays throughout a game and be at your best in any given play. Then you have young players who at times, for whatever reason, just that process of processing the information, getting the line of scrimmage, and more so troubleshooting the different looks that we see on the Sunday afternoon becomes more a burden and challenge. It's really mitigating the times where you put players in the position to where they're trying to adapt to something they're somewhat unfamiliar with."
Can you talk about facing the Jacksonville Jaguars and the challenge ahead?
"First and foremost, it's a division game. They count double. Nevertheless, they're a really good defense. They're athletic up front, they have playmakers on the back end and they find ways to harass your quarterback. We have to do a great job of having balance, keep ourselves out of obvious passing situations and just find ways to score point early, early and often."
How do you go about self-scouting?
"You self-scout every Monday. The day after the game you go back and look at some of the tendencies that the opponent may identify as well. Then you adjust and adapt accordingly, but the defense has a lot to defend. I think we're multiple in our personnel groupings and we have a lot of guys that can do a lot of different things. Early in the season, there's not as much data to determine whether or not this is a high tendency. There are some things that you look at that may give an indicator whether or not it's run or pass or who you may be trying to get the ball too. We do that every week."
After having success in the preseason with play action, how do you mirror the run with the pass?
"I don't know that it's very difficult when you have multiple tight ends that can serve a few different roles. That's what we try and do. We try and present personnel groupings, formations that doesn't make it obvious that you're doing one thing or the other. We'll continue to try and do that. I think it's ultimately going to come down to how well we execute early in games. You go back and you self-scout the third downs early in games and look at just in the first two drives, how we've stalled as a result of whether or not it was scheme, lack of execution or tipped ball in the case of what happened this past Sunday. There's a lot of things that factor into all the above. But yes, we want to not make it obvious that were doing one thing or the other."
How do you approach the blitz when QB Davis Mills is the third-most blitzed quarterback in the league?
"It's still early in the season. Only time will tell if that's in fact the way that teams feel like they can attack him. Nevertheless, we always anticipate there's going to be situations where we are blitzed. I don't know exactly how many of those blitzes were successful with regards to sacking the quarterback. I'm sure they've gotten us off the spot a few times and maybe gotten us out of rhythm. We're expecting blitz any time it's an obvious passing situation. We expect blitz and we prepare for blitz."
SPECIAL TEAMS COORDINATOR FRANK ROSS
Can you talk about the play that DB M.J. Stewart made?
"Anytime you get a takeaway in the kicking game that honestly has a little more weight than a regular turnover because of back-to-back, their defense might be tired and they've got to roll back on the field. Our offense can march right back out there. That's important. Strive to do that every week. That's very hard to do. Good job of lane collapsing and discipline, making a returner stop his feet and you can stay on the move and make a big hit. That was executed. Good play."
What did that mean to you? the special teams unit making a play
"If one unit across any team across the NFL isn't playing, the other two are still playing their game and that's just how it works. The game of football is best played when all three units are complimenting each other. Old saying goes, you're playing basketball, you're a shooter and your shots aren't falling that night. You've got to get it on the defensive end and find a way to get a steal, a takeaway and a fastbreak to get yourself going. Kind of take that analogy and that might work for the kickoff team or the punt team. "
Are there ways to keep the special teams unit energized on the sidelines?
"I think the external motivation from those guys isn't something that is going to get them going. They just want to be the best they can at their craft. Everybody on our football team does. The O-line takes pride in protecting and if they go and get beat they're going to be, 'hey, I've got to get that corrected.' If they go and they dominate they go, 'hey, I've got to go and do that again.' Nothing that I'm doing. We're out there having fun of course because it's the game of football. There's an element of emotion and that definitely showed up and provides a little more. But at the same time, those guys just want to do it every time to be the best they can be."
What is your approach working with players that are fighting for roster spots?
"I've always termed that phrase, entry-level jobs in the kicking game and that's fine. Again, we do have veterans that have reset and they said, 'hey, I'm going to play whatever role is asked of me.' Those quote unquote fringe of the roster, on and off, whatever it might be, I enjoy that because it's a blue-collar workmen's mentality. That's the space. The word that I love is 'earned' and those guys have to earn it. Those guys have to show that every single day. We've mentioned it before with guys like Grayland Arnold, have to earn it every single day. Whatever their role might be, they have to continue to find ways way to improve. Honestly, if you have that kind of mentality, whenever your opportunity shows itself, hopefully you're going to be ready to capture that. I love working with that capacity of player. Hopefully we can find that, every single week, every single year or anytime there's a new addition to the roster."
Speaking of that opportunity, has WR Tyler Johnson gotten an opportunity to impact the special teams unit?
"Any player that is here. If you're not winning football games, which we haven't got to a point yet where we're going to accomplish that and we're going to. Every single person has to be willing to take their gloves off and put their hands in the dirt. It doesn't matter who it is or what position you're playing. If you're a starting corner and your taking reps on punt return, kickoff or as a returner. If you're the next tight end, you might never get a chance in a real game but you're repping on multiple phases for the depth. Tyler Johnson, another example, wide receiver position, adding in return reps, whatever it may be, whatever we're asking him to do. Everyone has to take their gloves off and get dirty."
Is LB Christian Harris a player that can have an impact on special teams?
"Anybody that's on a roster, we've got to play football. We've got to go and execute whatever down we're asking whether it be a punt, kickoff or a return unit game. If you're a linebacker in the NFL, you've had or are going to have kicking game experience at some point. Look with the Jacksonville Jaguars, if you guys haven't watched the tape, that unit has been injected and infused with energy from Heath Farwell coming down from Buffalo. That's a good kicking game unit. We have our hands full. You've got guys that're are coming out, Chad Muma, the gunner in (Chris) Claybrooks, Daniel Thomas. You've got one of the best special teams players in the NFL in (Andrew) Wingard, running all their core four game. He's their game plan guy in the personal protector. We've got our hands full this week. We need every single person that's on the active roster to contribute, find a way to get an edge in that phase of the game. See you guys in Florida."
LINEBACKERS COACH MILES SMITH
How has it been seeing LB Christian Harris back at practice?
"It's been good to get him back out there. Obviously, it's a process. Being a rookie, he hasn't played a whole lot of professional football yet at this point. Got hurt so early in training camp. It's been exciting to see him out there. I mean the guy can move."
What is something he could add to this linebacker position group?
"Pure athleticism. I don't think anybody in the NFL questions the type of athlete that Christian (Harris) is. As he becomes more and more familiar with our defense and gets a little more experience under his belt, he has a lot of potential. Obviously, it's still potential at this point because he actually hasn't gotten on the field, but we'll see how that goes going forward."
What does he have to work on now to be the most game ready?
"Just the mental aspect of the game. We don't have the most complicated defense I should say, but there's a lot of detail into the specifics we ask each position to do. I don't think there's really a substitute for having experience and having reps in there. As he gets more and more comfortable, I think he will start to show his true athleticism."
How far do you think LB Christian Harris has come in his film study and what he's done as an observer on the side?
"He's come a long way. Again, he had never been on an NFL sideline at that point when I said that. He's come pretty far. He's able to see the different things that NFL teams could do. Obviously, the NFL game is a lot different than college football. He has come a long way, but again there's no substitute for actually being on the field and actually seeing that with a helmet on from a linebacker's point of view. As we keep going with things, he'll have more and more experience with that and start to feel more comfortable."
Can you talk about the linebackers playing the play action pass?
"I think all aspects of our defense we need to get better at. It's not just the play action aspects or the runs fits. Defensively, I don't think there is any mystery. We're not playing good enough football. It all starts with the linebackers. We have to play better. Play action-wise, we have to play the play action better, simple as that. It's a not a scheme issue. It's about playing the plays better the way that we know how to play them."
What was LB Christian Harris' evaluation prior to him getting hurt?
"He was coming along. He was starting to get the defense. We've put in a decent amount of defense since he was off the field since his injury. He was picking up the defense. He's a smart kid. I think every coach that's been with him will tell you that. He's obviously athletic. He was coming along pretty well before he got hurt but again he's missed the last two months so that's going to have a detrimental effect on him."
Is there a situation where you would put LB Christian Harris in even though he's not fully acclimated to the playbook?
"I would say no. Our defense, for the most part, is a single gap defense. Our defense isn't about tricking people. It's about being exactly where they are supposed to be, all 11 guys. All it takes is one crack in the armor for things to split. I do not feel comfortable putting someone on the field that doesn't know exactly what to do on every play. I think that would be bad professionally on my part. I shouldn't ever put a player in that position."
Is that a key why the run defense hasn't performed well? A crack in the armor?
"Absolutely. It's been pretty widespread, but it always starts with the linebackers. If teams are running for that many yards, it has to go on the linebackers shoulders. There's no substitute for that. Whether it's here or there, I don't think there's one specific person that has that issue. I think overall we have to play more discipline football, do what our defense tells you what to do. Doing your job on every play, not try and do everybody else's. When you're trying to do too much stuff, you're not going to be able to do your job first and foremost. That's what matters in our defense, all 11 guys doing exactly what they're supposed to do, run their butts off to the football and going after that as well. We need to do better with the takeaways as well."
What's you evaluation of the linebackers and filling their gaps?
"There's 11 gaps ultimately on a play if you look at that way. I shouldn't necessarily say it in that way, but ultimately the linebackers are the leaders of the defense. When we're not playing good enough ball defensively as a whole, it should always come back on our shoulders at the linebacker play. If we improve our play, there will be a ripple effect across the defense and I think we'll play overall better defense."