OC PEP HAMILTON
How is the offense progressing when it comes to balancing being aggressive and ball security?
"We just want to be more consistent in our overall execution as an offense. We have moments. We came out of the half guns blazing, but we want to start the game that way and we want to play that way for four quarters. More importantly, we want to finish the game that way. In a perfect world, we want to finish the game running the football. It shouldn't come down to the last play of the game for us to be victorious, so we want to play fast and execute at a high level for four quarters."
How do you train that split second decision making?
"It's not just a matter of training any of our guys to do more than what they're asked in any given situation. It's just more so situational awareness. It's risk versus reward. But I think more than anything, you look at last week's game, it's hard. You start out third-and-11 in the first series, and you come back with a couple of series later you have another third-and-long against that defense who's very aggressive and is notorious for blitzing the quarterback. You put yourself behind the chains, and it becomes more of a challenge. It's us mitigating the times when we're in obvious passing situations. You guys heard me say that before. Just knowing that let's get first downs, but we've got to score touchdowns. We've got to score more touchdowns."
Have you emphasized ball protection in practice?
"Our defense emphasizes ball security, and so it happens organically in practice each day for us when they are ripping and stripping at the ball. It was definitely inopportune times where we ended up with turnovers. Costly turnovers."
How has it been facing talented defensive fronts over recent weeks?
"They do have another formidable front, but we're up to the challenge. We feel like when we're playing our best, we can move the ball as necessary. We just need to do it more consistently."
Can you identify why you are playing from behind so often in games?
"We have to score more points early. We have to score more points early in the game."
But why do you need to score more points early in games?
"Not necessarily. I don't know if it's just one thing. I think of course we can come out and maybe take more shots, in a calculated manner though. You know, it's getting that first first down. I can replay the first third downs that we've had in all of our games up until this point. We want to stay out of third down as often as we can, first and foremost. It's getting the first first down and finding ways to keep the chains moving and scoring the ball early."
What's your conversation with HC Lovie Smith on QB Davis Mills' progression and whether to move to another quarterback?
"We haven't had any conversation other than what we have to do to beat the next opponent. And what do we do to put our guys in a position to score early and often and have more consistency as an offense in four quarters."
What does the coaching staff need to do to have more success with the new players that are brought in, like RB Eno Benjamin and WR Amari Rodgers?
"It's a player-by-player, case-by-case basis. It's not just trying to bring them in and trying to acclimate them all the same way. They all bring a different skillset. Once those guys are inserted into the offense and get themselves acclimated into our system, our terminology and how we comminate our plays, we'll evaluate how they can help us as a team and as an offense specifically."
What do you see in RB Eno Benjamin as a player?
"I think he's dynamic. From watching the film earlier in the season, he's an explosive playmaker."
Are you self-evaluating as coaches while you watch film?
"Well before we watch it with the players, we self-evaluate as a coaching staff."
How would you evaluate OL Laremy Tunsil and OL Tytus Howard this season?
"They have played good football up until this point in the season. They're really the two leaders of our offense. They have field credibility. From week to week, you can count on those two guys. We hope that it is something that will continue. We know that it will continue because those guys come to work every day."
Have you noticed the Commanders defense taking on the personality of Ron Rivera?
"We feel like they are physical now. Two big linebackers that can play in the A gap, as well as make plays in space. They are a good defensive front."
Do you see a need to add another running back to the fold to even out the load?
"No, that's not our approach. I think coach (Lovie Smith) answered that question. We're more so about our feature guy, and we have confidence in the two guys that are backing Dameon (Pierce) up to pick up where they need to."
Will RB Eno Benjamin fill the backup role to RB Dameon Pierce?
"It's yet to be determined."
SPECIAL TEAMS COORDINATOR FRANK ROSS
"New podium! Washington's coming to town. Excited to be home. Punting in stable conditions with the dome. The NFL is sweet, so every week you have different challenges, and it doesn't matter what brand of football you play every week. You're going to try and tailor it to whoever your opponent is. There's a lot of challenges man. Washington, they play super sound, a lot of linebackers and size players in their core. With Antonio Gibson, that guy is a monster. Antonio Gibson running the football on the kick return, you see the size, speed-element. It truly factors. We can't just have one tackler in our kickoff cover versus Gibson. We have to have multiple guys and hats at the football to secure that guy. He is a real special talent and one heck of a challenge. One of the biggest challenges we'll see all season truthfully in kickoff cover. Overall, they are playing really sound, ability to get off blocks and play and press and fold in coverage. We have our challenge in the return game, handling those guys in coverage. Big week for us. Let's see if we can get it done here."
What are your thoughts on P Cameron Johnston's season so far?
"Improvement has been every step of the way, he's gotten better as he's gone. Started out not where he wants to be, and has gotten better since then. Had a few clutch and really closer to the elite punts, one that checks back inside its own 10-yard line and the ball hits the ground and checks backwards and doesn't go in. Not always easy to do and then it resulted in the ball being on the 3-yard line. That's like the ideal version of every punt that happens, not always going to happen. That's the strive on each one of those. So far, got to continue to get better."
How do you approach onside kicks?
"Don't want to kick a ton of them. They keep coming up here, and I think it's a low percentage as far as across the league goes. Doesn't matter what it says, the percentages, we've got to find a way to kick the ball to where a soft spot may be and find a way to recover it. It was almost inconsequential whether we recovered or not because there was a foul on the play for offsides and illegal touching too early on the first attempt. On a play that's already limited success rate, we have got to be perfect at all those technicalities and all the rules. We've got to get that right, and next time it comes up, we're going to do our best to get that thing recovered."
What have you noticed from WR Dax Milne in his return game? Is it his first cut, his vision, his ability to see the field?
"It's just second point. We talk about it with all the guys. He's not necessarily different than any other player we've seen. What he does very well is just vision, setting up his blockers and making every correct cut. He's not missing any opportunities that there for maximize and then the yards are there to find afterwards. Ability to get the ball vertical and cut off of his blockers more so than take the ball all the way to the sideline and win a foot race to the edge. He knows how to read his blocks, really good set up and vision. I guess you'd say he's a technician in those regards. It's serving him well. He's a challenge as well."
How do you approach bringing in WR Amari Rodgers when he's had some issues with turnovers on special teams?
"Any player that gets added to the roster is going to have strengths and weaknesses. No matter where they come from, they have different training history that they've used. Got to integrate everybody onto our roster and start, whether it's fundamentals or schematically, getting him up to speed in our techniques and things we're asking him to do. Trying to improve every single person on our roster whatever it is. You've got to sweep the corners of your skillset and make whatever your strengths are stronger and your weaknesses, make sure those are cleaned up. Any challenges whatever it is, we'll find a way to make each player better as best we can."
Is WR Amari Rodgers in the mix for kick returns and punt returns?
"Sure. Anybody that's on our roster. It doesn't matter where he comes from. If it's Dare (Ogunbowale), if it's Chris Moore, if it's Phillip Dorsett, we have to have skill players that can handle the football and multi-returners on the roster because it's thin. The NFL is a thin gameday, 48-man. Everybody has got to be able to contribute."
How do you get players to mentally flush out mistakes when they are in a new place and a new environment?
"I'm not a golfer, but I golf. The first tee I'm probably slicing it right over there. You've just got to reset and go hit the next ball. At some point, this is the NFL. If you don't have confidence, it's not going to be a very long tenure for you. You flush that whatever it is, and then it's going to come back down to doing your keys, your techniques, and your fundamentals. If you trust those and you start with those, you're going to have a chance to be successful. Allow whatever natural talents or instincts or savvy that can come out of your body. Any of those things, we can get those after we start with our fundamentals and our techniques."
Was WR Amari Rodger's special teams impact one of the reasons you brought him on this roster?
"Yeah. Roster improvement is going to be an everyday thing as Nick (Caserio) and Lovie (Smith) make decisions. Ever since coming out of Clemson, watching him at the Senior Bowl, being about to stop, start and shake, those are things you look at as far as a returner goes."
Do you remember watching WR Amari Rodgers in the Senior Bowl?
"Not actively. I'm just saying on the film watching it. Just remember him, the ability to get in and out of his breaks with quickness and sudden movements. Played against him as well. He's a challenge and hopefully brings that here."
Are there different approaches in special teams to try and gain advantages when you're behind in score?
"I would say the amount of possessions left in the game, time left in the game and the flow are all going to factor into risk aversion or taking on some more of that. If you're bringing the ball out deeper from the end zone because you need to make a play, or if you're, 'Hey, we have to flip the field in coverage here. It might not be as perfect as punt. Let's let that thing rip.' Those things will always come up throughout the entirety of the football game, whether you're at the beginning or the end of the game. You're definitely going to evaluate as you go. It's not something that's going to take away from, 'Hey, you're going to go hat and hand somebody, make a tackle, play as fast as you can, run as hard as you can.' All those things are going to, just like a runner getting down before getting out of bounds, trying to milk the clock. All those things are going to play. It necessarily isn't a drastic change at different times."
CB COACH DINO VASSO
On DB Derek Stingley, Jr.
"Incremental gains every game. Rarely makes the same mistake twice. He's competitive. We talked about his resiliency in the pass, so pretty impressed with him up to this point."
What kind of works well with DB Derek Stingley, Jr.?
"He doesn't have a physical limitation. I wouldn't say he has any weaknesses. He has some things he does better than others, but I don't think he has any limitations or weaknesses. He can do it all in that regard."
What have you seen from DB Steven Nelson this season?
"I've liked the way Steven (Nelson) has played. Not going to stand up here, we've won one game, and say I'm content with everyone, so there are more plays to be made that way. He's been pretty sticky in coverage. As a group, we've got to do a better job of turning that positive coverage into takeaways and flip one of these games."
What's it like having DB Tavierre Thomas back?
"TT (Tavierre Thomas) gives us an edge, and a guy that has played a lot of ball for us on the interior. Toughness, instincts speed, so great to have him back in the room."
How have y'all approached rotating DB Tavierre Thomas and DB Desmond King II?
"As a whole, we've kind of been rotating throughout the backend. Some of it has been premeditated. It's not really based on production or execution. We haven't been able to finish games, so we're trying to keep guys fresh for the fourth quarter. We've done that early in the game and whoever is hot, whoever is playing well, they'll finish the game."
Does DB Desmond King II's versatility help you make some decision on when to play him or DB Tavierre Thomas?
"Sure, it just gives us more versatility so he's not sitting on the sideline when TT (Tavierre Thomas) goes in. He has the versatility to play outside on the perimeter."
What kind of challenge does the connection of QB Taylor Heinicke and WR Terry McLaurin present?
"This might be the best trio of receivers that we've played. 17, Terry (McLaurin), elite speed, game changing speed. Can win at all three levels. Obviously, strong after the catch. Just a great player in this league. I know they say in the analytic community that wins isn't a quarterback stat, but this guy (Taylor Heinicke) has won games at of late. He's playing at a high level. The guys have rallied around him. Then you look at the other receivers, Curtis Samuel, kind of a position-less player, will line everywhere on the field, good run after catch, just good combination of elusiveness and power with the ball in his hands. And then the rookie, (Jahan) Dotson, he's missed some time but he's back now. Just a refined, polished route runner. When you cut on the tape, doesn't really look like a rookie, so they've got a good group."
What about the running back group of the Commanders?
"Yeah, that's what I kind of hit on, like the position-less players. When you look at 24 (Antonio Gibson), he was a receiver in college. All those guys can line out there and they look like receivers when they're lined on the perimeter."
What are some of the larger questions that DB Derek Stingley Jr. has had that you've been able to answer?
"Most of his questions are about splits, formations, leverage, some of the things that we do that's a little bit different, offensive ID than he played in college, so more so in that regard.
With Derek Stingley Jr., going up against guys like WR Davante Adams in previous weeks, do you think that has got him more prepared for this matchup against WR Terry McLaurin?
"Sure, those have helped him. They've served him well, good, bad or ugly. The Davante (Adams) matchup, matching (Courtland) Sutton earlier in the year, those are all banked in his memory bank there."