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Transcripts: 12-16-2021 Press Conferences 

Offensive Coordinator Tim Kelly

How do you feel about the Jaguars defense facing them this time compared to last?

"Every time we've played them since I've been here, they have been a group that's fast, runs around. You really feel their speed at every level with (Josh) Allen up front, obviously with Myles (Jack) at the second level, and then everyone that plays for them in the back end can run. You feel it when you watch them. They run around, they are physical, they hit so it's going to be a good challenge."

How does the slot wide position change for you with WR Davion Davis being out for the season?

"I think every week, even with Danny (Amendola) and Davion, just try to find different ways to move people in and out of the lineup. Try to move to move people to different spots in the formation so it's not so predictable as to where certain people will line up. We're just going to continue that. The only difference is that we will be using different people."

Can you talk about the positives that you saw from QB Davis Mills last week?

"He did a good job. First of all, did a good job handling stuff in the run game, getting us out of bad plays, making some different alerts that we asked him to do. As far as playing composed in the pocket, made some good throws, particularly on the run, did a great job on that opening drive moving down the field. Some definite good things that we are looking to build on and hopefully we can just continue to improve at that position."

What challenges are presented to you with two running backs available?

"I have to mindful about not wearing them out. Got to be smart as to how we are using them not only in the run game but in the pass game, don't want to rack up a lot of unnecessary miles running down field if you don't have to. I thought Royce (Freeman) and Rex (Burkhead) did a great job on Sunday and obviously getting David (Johnson) back this week, hopefully we won't be running into that situation here moving forward."

WR Nico Collins still hasn't gotten a touchdown but he's been close a couple of time. What have you seen out of him?

"He's been close a couple of times. He's gotten a couple of shots where he gets the OPI in Week 1 and then the one in Tennessee where if it's called the other way, it's probably not getting reversed. Nico is doing a good job of everything we ask him to. We ask him to go in there and do some dirty work, we ask him to block. Obviously being a bigger body down in the right area trying to find ways to take advantage of his skill set down there. He's a guy that every week you see him when he is out there, especially since he's gotten back after the Cleveland game wafter the injury, he's done a good job of improving. He's a guy that exciting to game plan for and prepare with."

Going forward can you see WR Brandin Cooks and WR Nico Collins being cornerstones for this offense?

"I would hope so yeah. Obviously, Brandin has a career full of production and he's doing the same thing this year doing a great job of producing for us, making big plays, bug chunk plays when we need him to. Hopefully Nico can fit in that mold for us here moving forward."

Special Teams Coordinator Frank Ross

Last week P Cameron Johnston had a bad net putting average. That hasn't been an issue before, are you worried about it?

"Nope, that's a great point and observation. I would think Cam would be the first to tell you that part of the reason our punt team has had a good net or has helped with field position the entire season is because of coverage. His numbers are great. He's had bad hits too throughout the year that have been covered up with a good tackle or what have you. In that last week example, we have to be better on the coverage end. Those nets or those punts from last week were from the midfield logo, plus 50 area, and they squirt out the back side for a 22-yard gain. Can't happen, inexcusable and we will get it corrected. Just making sure we are up to speed on all of our details in the coverage game, will handle those issues moving forward."

What was it about K Ka'imi Fairbairn that made you confident that you could kick that 61-yarder?

"Same thing I'm always confident in. He's a kicker, his job is to go out there and put it through the uprights no matter what the situation is. In an ideal world it's much easier said than done, but in an ideal world no two kick is different other than playing the ball differently based on the wind or conditions. No different swing or approach or mentality. It's always go out with the same pre-kick routine and approach as you are going to hit whether it be an extra point or a long try at the end of the half."

What was your reaction when you find out the roof was going to be open?

"Let's go play football." 

K Ka'imi Fairbairn went through an injury at the beginning of the year. Did you see him get strong as the season went on?

"He'll even attest to it, there should be and was not effect on any of that. Any time you come back from an injury, once you feel you're ready to go out there your job is to go perform at the same level or growth, whatever that maybe as you were before. I don't think there was any comeback through it. I think once he was out there to perform, he had the green light. He was expected to be at full capacity for whatever we asked him to do."

How does making a 61-yard field goal help K Ka'imi Fairbairn's confidence and how does that help him going forward?

"It was a big moment. In reality and honestly it was a big moment. It was a great kick especially knowing that we had to alert our coverage package given that was a returner waiting in the endzone if we did leave it short. He knew, he said, 'I had to get it there.' I think that it's important for any kicker when they have their opportunities to take their shots and you hit it, you hit the game winning buzzer beater in basketball. Those do promote confidence and I think that will hopefully continue to have that little juice in his game, for sure."

Having the knowledge that the roof would be open a head of time, how much studying did you do?

"We did have it open where he (Ka'imi Fairbairn) has kicked in open air in the stadium to feel any different types of wind direction things like that were it kicks off of one end and it comes back into your face on this side and pushes on the other side, etc. I would say these guys are the best in the world at what they do. Every team's specialist, they go out every game, we are going to go out on Sunday in Jacksonville and there is projected to be some rain, some elements. You take the information as you can gather it pregame and you move forward to it. It's not a new adjustment. When we go out to practice today, we're going to see what it's blowing like today how that's going to affect our punts or our kicks. I wouldn't say it's anything new, we just approach it as it goes. When you are at home, majority of the time the roof has been closed and obviously it's a controlled environment in there. We just treat it like, 'The roof is open. If there is wind, we will adjust accordingly." 

What happened with the LS Jon Weeks penalty? It seemed there might not have been execution on it.

"There was execution on it. I think given the circumstance in the game it was no different than the offense going out there and trying to draw offsides."

When you go back and look at the film, is there anything different you can do in punt return?

"Got to have great decision making in the back end from the returners perspective. That's a difficult job, when you are singled as a gunner on the punt team, when the punt team gunners are singled, it's a very difficult job to get those guys handled. This week we are going up against really three very good gunners in (Rudy) Ford, (Chris) (Claybrooks) and Daniel Thomas so we have our tall task a head of us to defend on the perimeter to get ourselves a return started. In the plus-50, returns are few and far between, we're on the receiving end of a couple of those last week. Any time it's a field punt, especially when you got guys on the end that can fly like Jacksonville does, you got to have those guys handled, neutralized to get the return started. That's a big mission for us this week going against Jacksonville. Those are their premier players are on the outside right there. We have to have our "A" game."

Associate Head Coach/Defensive Coordinator Lovie Smith

What changes do you have to be ready for under the circumstances that just happened in Jacksonville?

"I don't see many changes that really affect what we do. Speaking of the defensive coordinator, the guy that's going to call the offensive calls still is doing that, so it doesn't affect an awful lot. I think all of us in the profession, we've been in places where firings happen, coaches leave. But eventually, they didn't cancel the game, so they're going to show up, we're going to show up. I think you get down to that. We're going to practice today preparing just like we were before."

What have you seen from Trevor Lawrence from the season opener to now?

"I think as you look at all players, especially rookie players' improvement, sometimes the record doesn't show that. But he threw some good balls when we played him, he would like to have some balls back. I think that's just kind of life in the NFL a little bit. But the same guy that was drafted No. 1, that's still him and he has a lot more experience. It's just not about one guy of course, too. They beat a good Buffalo team that beat us. They beat a good Miami team that beat us, so that's kind of what we're going on. The second time around you know you're going to get the best effort, and that's what we're playing for."

Regardless if a prospect is a generational talent, how much does a young player's surroundings matter?

"It's always a team sport, that's definitely the case. I think it's kind of pretty early in a career, too. That's a big statement to make before a guy comes into the league, generational talent and all those things, there are good players that come into the league each year and they need to be able to play. There's no guarantee on anyone, but you just go on ability. Trevor Lawrence has all (the) ability in the world. He's a mobile guy, he can make all the throws. Yeah, it would help an awful lot if the supporting cast helps, and I'm sure they will."

With the rotations of defensive linemen, are there exceptions to people who stay on the field longer? What does it take for somebody to be an exception?

"Our rotation, of course, we're going to keep that inside. But we have a history now, too, on how we do things. The way you've seen the guys play is how we like to play them. If there are crucial situations, there's a reason why we have a starting unit. Sometimes after a long drive or a player is playing on special teams, player's just a little winded, you make substitutions. We won't put anybody in the game unless we feel like we can win with that person. We're in a position right now, too, where I think the talent level is fairly close at a lot of positions, so you feel comfortable playing more."

Do you expect the Jaguars to emphasize the run in this game?

"I think you forget everything that's going on just in general. Them looking at us, yeah, we expect everybody. They look at the stats. This past week, you just look at this past game. We gave up two big runs. If you take away those runs, I think we did a decent job. But our stats say that a team should try to run the football against us, so we have to prepare for that. Stats say that teams should try to throw the ball over our head a little bit. We have to prepare for that. You never know if we're going to cover the wider front. For us, we need to put in a good defensive effort. It starts with that, and that's what we're practicing for."

Is being gap-sound one of the focuses this week?

"Just talking about our defense in general, I think every time I've come up to the podium I've talked about, Coach Culley's talked about us being gap-sound. It comes down to that. If everyone just does what they're supposed to do, we're going to have success defensively. I know offense is going to say the same thing. If we just get every block, we're going to be able to run the football. That's the chess match, but I just know our success we've had when we've played our best ball, it's been that. For guys to just buy in to, you talk team concept, that's what team concept is about. Taking care of my job, having just tunnel vision of that little area that I'm responsible for. If we can do that better, we'll be fine."

With all the players on the Reserve/COVID-19 List, how are you working through the depth you have right now?

"It's late in the year, so depth is going to be an issue. You just look at from the time we played them first game of the year, how many starters are we going to line up with? Big change, right? Depth, that's the issue. I think that's the case throughout. COVID is hitting our league, injuries have and we're no exception to that. We have a lot of guys that we've played and we're not to the point where we can't play the football game, so we'll adjust. There's always next man up, and that'll be the case."

Is there a chance DB Lonnie Johnson Jr. might move back to safety?

"Got a lot of options. We've been, how many times I've been up here, I don't talk much about what we're going to do. We have a lot of options. You look at our history, we have a history now. A history of Lonnie (Johnson Jr.) playing corner, Lonnie playing safety, we play guys in multiple positions. Life in the NFL, you need to be able to play multiple positions, and sometimes it comes down to that. It gives you options."

What are you going to do to adjust to preventing big plays?

"Games are different each week, but I don't think you can really tell exactly what, and you can put a label on somebody based on one game. We've played good football for the most part this last month. Have we given up some big plays? Yes, we have. What we're going to do is we're going to go to practice and work on those things. We're not trying to. But I think sometimes you can hone in on maybe it's not an entire group, it's a certain position, a certain guy, and you just try to get him better, and that'll be the case. Hopefully, we'll be able to stay in our gaps a few more times on those two big runs that they had and not let the ball go over our head in the three-deep coverage right before the half. I think we'll be able to take care of those things."

What do you want to see from LB Garret Wallow in this game?

"Just the normal improvements that you see from a rookie. He made some good plays last week. I like what he's done throughout. He's been patient, taking advantage of the opportunities he's gotten. If you continue to do that, you're going to get a chance to really show. If you make a few good plays, you get more. It's like that. That's how we do it. You get an opportunity to get a few reps and you play well, you're going to get more. That's the case with Garret (Wallow). I'm anxious to see him take another step this week, and I believe he will."

What makes DL Maliek Collins so consistent?

"What makes Maliek (Collins) consistent? That's a pretty hard question, right? Maliek, he shows up every day at practice. He's a coachable guy. A lot of times some of that has to do with talent, too. Your best player should be the most consistent, but there are some others also. He's been around a little bit longer, too. He knows what's expected. When you're a young player, sometimes it takes a while before you buy in to just, 'If I just kind of do this and I have enough talent, I'll have success.' I don't know exactly the other reasons why, I just know that he's a student of the game and he shows up every day, he practices hard, he plays hard, and we're glad we have him on the team.


What was your reaction as you look around the league and see what is going on with COVID?

"I think the biggest thing is understanding that this thing is still real and just trying to be as safe as possible. It's unfortunate but it's just what our world is going through. We got to be safe and hopefully adjust the best that we can, and we look forward to seeing what the NFL has to say."

What has the coaching staff communicated to you about if there will be any changes?

"Nothing yet besides now we have to come in regardless of vaccination status wearing a mask, try to social distance the best you can and if you have any symptoms to report those things. Everything that the league has been telling them so far, they have been telling us and just trying to follow the rules the best we can."

Do you think that is adequate or do you think there are other things that can be done?

"I think that's adequate. I mean I'm not the medical expert, so I trust the doctors and the NFL doctors and etcetera to make those decisions to help us with that."

How much do you think it makes a difference when you are meeting in person compared to virtually?

"I think from a meeting standpoint from the X's and O's you can still get the same amount done. But I think just the comradery that you build being able to in person and have those moments where you are laughing and joking together and building with one and another obviously, the one way you can really do that is in person. But from the X's and O's, I think you can get just as much done virtually as well, as long as you are paying attention."

What do you remember about the atmosphere of the team last season after Bill O'Brien was fired?

"I think the biggest thing that I remember was understanding that we still had a job to do. It was just about us and sticking together and keeping the train moving. That was the biggest thing that I could remember during that time."

When there is a midseason change like firing a head coach, does it give the team a little extra motivation?

"Not motivation, I think it's just energy because everyone is counting you out at that point so you almost have a little bit more of that underdog mentality because you're not with the head coach you started with. It just energizes this team a little more."

What do you think about the Jacksonville defense compared to the last time you guys played them?

"I think they've been playing at a much higher level than the last time we played them. You talk about Week 1, first week. Those guys are flying around, that front seven, those guys on the back end led by Shaq (Shaquill Griffin) and Cam (Robinson), you know those guys can run. You talk about Josh Allen and (Myles Jack) flying around making plays. I think they are playing at a much higher level than they were Week 1."

In comparison to other teams, do you think there is more familiarity with each other with guys on one-year deals?

"That's just the business side of it. I don't think that much though goes into it to be honest with you. I think at the end of the day when you have teammates whether you are on a one-year, two-deal, whatever the case maybe you just grow and build that bond regardless of what's going on."

What have you seen from QB Davis Mills and what do you think he needs to improve on to a performance like he did on Sunday?

"I think the biggest thing for him is just to continue to grow, like I talked about, from his first start to his last one his decision making. When the play is not there, being able to find your back and take the check down and keep the chain moving and being efficient. I think as long as he continues to grow in that aspect, he has a great chance to be great. You see that from him throughout practice just not forcing things that aren't there."

On TE Brevin Jordan's touchdown you made a move to move that safety in. Can you sense your influence on the field?

"No doubt. That's what we talk about throughout the office that me and the other guys have to step up and make plays and they've been doing that consistently. Not just Brev but Nico (Collins), Chris (Conley), everyone that touches the ball, they've been stepping up and making plays. You just got to keep doing that and do it at a consistent level."

Is that something that is booked into how plays are called, or do you do that on your own sometimes?

"You're going to have to ask TK (Tim Kelly) on that one."


How are you going to prepare for the running back game situation this week?

"Usually how we do every week. You never know what is going to happen especially with today's times. Just everybody preparing like you're going to get every single rep, every look that the starter would get and just ready to rock when it's game day."

What was it like being the only running back left in last game?

"It was crazy. Just the way we started the day off with what happened and then during the game. It's just a game of football, so you just roll with the punches. I was just glad to be out there and just be out there trying to make plays as the game progressed. Just being the only back out there was quite the experience."

What's your mindset when you find out that's the case?

"You just go full force. You have to embrace it, jump both feet in the water. I just took it as an opportunity to go out there and give it my all and then get different types of plays, different types of looks. Got involved heavily in the pass game and being able to get different types of runs against a great defense. Just embrace the opportunity most importantly."

What was your impression of this team when they claimed you off waivers earlier in the season?

"Very excited. I played against them. I played against them earlier in the season as well. Just being around that and familiar with some of the guys especially in the running back room. I was very excited to be a part of something like this."

Have you given any of the tight ends some tips incase they had to play as a running back?

"No, they g it. They are athletic enough. We're definitely happy to just have those guys and preparing for the week no matter what happens. It's still a couple of days until game day and we are just preparing for everything though."

How would you compare the environment with guys being on one-year deals to other organizations in the past?

"It's a little different, but I think the whole one-year deal thing ,I feel like a lot of guys just embrace being around each other. Just embrace loving the game of football because you never know what's going to happen even in this business in general. I think a lot of guys have, like I said, kind of embraced it and focused on their game as far as football getting better and just surrounding themselves with their teammates."

Is there more of that perspective on this team?

"I think we have a good mix of veterans to younger guys on this team. A lot of guys with knowledge, a lot of guys with insight, even me being in my fourth year I can count on somebody like David (Johnson) or Rex (Burkhead) to talk to them and hear their ear about certain experiences and what they've been through in the league. I think that is something that is truly just valuable especially as a running back in my own position group."

What is it from your perspective that needs to happen to get the run game going?

"I don't' know It's not a question I guess could be easily answered. I think it's something that we are continuing to work. I think a lot of guys have the mindset that we want to run the ball and we want to be successful at it and I think that's the first step. We just got to keep applying pressure and I think it will definitely unfold it's self as we keep pursuing it."


What is your response to all the players being added to the Reserve/COVID-19 List?

"I think after last year with the whole COVID protocols and all the crazy rules and regulations we had to do as players, this little wrinkle with the numbers going up this time of year, I don't think there's any problem with guys that have been around and been in the league through last year's season and preparing week in and week out. I think guys got that down pretty good."

How do you feel as a defense knowing that some players will be out?

"Next man up. That's all you've ever heard (in) my football career, is everyone has to be ready because you never know when your number is going to be called. 'Next guy up' mentality, there should be no drop-off in terms of starter, backup, third string, fourth string, whoever it is."

We saw you wearing number three in practice. Are you going to change numbers?

"No, not to number three. Not to number three."

What number would you change to?

"If I did, I would change to number nine. Obviously, Brev (Brevin Jordan) has nine."

Why number nine?

"I was number nine in college."

What do you think of Trevor Lawrence and the progression he's made from the first time you played him?

"I'm excited. I'm always excited to get after quarterbacks, whoever is back there. I'm excited to play. I'm excited to play against Jacksonville. It's a divisional opponent, so it's easier to get up for those types of games. It's always nice welcoming rookie quarterbacks into the league, especially as a defensive end, a pass rusher. So, that's always fun."

What do you expect from a team that just had their head coach fired?

"I expect them to come out the same way they would come out any other week, trying to win the game. So, that doesn't really change much for me in terms of how I prepare or how I see them. For them, they may see it as a challenge. They may take it as a challenge themselves and prove that they didn't or don't need a head coach to win games, or didn't need that head coach to win games. So, I'm just excited for the dog fight."

What do you remember about the energy around here last year when you played the Jaguars the week after Bill O'Brien was let go?

"That was a long time ago. I would say the same type of mentality. Guys came in and attacked the work week just the same, if not better. So, I assume that's what those guys are going to do down there."

What has this season meant for you after having more opportunities to play?

"For me, it's a stepping stone. This is just the beginning. I've been talking about this and my abilities for quite some time. This is year four, this is my first opportunity being at a starting position, a starting role. I think this is just a stepping stone. There's so much more I'm capable of and so much more I can show and do. So, I think it's a great building block."

General Manager Nick Caserio said in training camp that he would be open to talking to people about their futures during the season. Is that something you've experienced this year?

"I've kind of just been focusing on football. I told them at the beginning of the year that I'm here to just focus on football, and everything else will take care of everything else when it's time."

How were you able to stay motivated during your first three years to get to where you are now?

"I just love the game. There's no other reason for it. I love to play. I'm very competitive, highly competitive. Probably the most competitive person you'll ever meet. Whatever role that my coach, my team gives me, my GM drafts me for, whatever it is, I'm going to embody that role and do that role to the best (of my) ability, 110 percent every day. It's easy to stay focused and keep on grinding. You've got to just be hungry. I went to Temple University. That's 'Chip on Your Shoulder' City."

With four games left, are you thinking about your future and trying to figure out what you need to do?

"No, this week we got Jacksonville. So, I'm worried about Jacksonville, I'm worried about their two tackles and their tight ends this week. Like I said, if I take care of football, everything else will take care of itself. You can't worry about contract extensions or hitting free agency, or nothing like that. The better football you play, the better you'll enjoy your free agency. So, worry about the football."

DL Jonathan Greenard mentioned last week that no one really knows where they're going to be in the future, and that maybe affects people's approach. Do you sense that at all?

"No, because this is the most volatile job market in the world. If you ever think you're safe, you're sorely wrong in this profession. Worrying about where I'm going to be at next year, I can worry about that next year. Like I said, we've got four games left of this season. I'm going to take it week by week focusing on those opponents and focusing on how I can get my game better week to week."

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