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Transcripts: 12-9-2021 Press Conferences 

Offensive Coordinator Tim Kelly

Who is going to start at quarterback?

"I think we will see how today goes and make a decision on that tomorrow."

How does mobility factor into the decision on who will start at quarterback?

"When you look at some of the things that Davis (Mills) does well, I think one of the better things he does do is throw on the run. I think we're fortunate to have two quarterbacks that are athletic enough to be able to move the pocket and do some things outside the pocket. While Davis probably hasn't had the explosive flash plays that Tyrod (Taylor) has had in terms of scrambling and running with the football, he's a capable athlete. It definitely changes some things, but in terms of redesigning everything, I wouldn't say that's the case. But there are definitely things that we're going to play to Tyrod's strength or Davis' strength."

Considering how well QB Davis Mills played against the Patriots, has he not been able to replicate that performance because of what defenses saw in that game?

"I think it's a number of things. I'm sure that has something to do with it. Ultimately, it's him being able to get out there and be consistent. Going back last week and watching the Colts game, it was kind of a tale of two halves there where (he) did some good things in the first half and the second half just wasn't able to maintain and sustain it for the entire game. I think we would all agree against New England for the most part, he played a pretty solid game for the entire 60 minutes we were out there. So, really for him it's about being able to be consistent and carry the successes he has from drive to drive, series to series and be able to sustain that for an entire game."

If QB Davis Mills does start the rest of the season, how full of an evaluation can you make of a rookie quarterback after their first 10 or so games?

"You can obviously make an evaluation, but the big thing again is seeing continued growth in whatever role, whether that's as a starter or a backup. His ability on the practice field to be able and go and not make the same mistakes twice. We know he's got the arm talent and the ability to make all the throws, so it is just going to be about, like we talked about a second ago, being consistent and being able to go out there and continually improve in whatever role that may be."

Head Coach David Culley has talked about the need to coach better. What are things you can do offensively to effectively make some changes?

"As we continue to look at this, continue to look at the run game and continue to figure out different ways to try and get that going, obviously when you're having an efficient run game, it kind of takes some stress off the quarterback position, takes some stress off the offensive line in terms of having to pass protect the entire game. So, doing a better job of scheming up different runs and just continuing to make sure that everyone's on the same page, as far as what the intent of certain plays are and what we're trying to get out of certain things, and again, when we're on the field, to make sure that they're prepared as possible. We can't go out there, and it's not like Madden, although sometimes we wish it were, where we you can control them and do some things. You've got to trust their preparation and we've got to continue to just do a good job and improve on the jobs that we've been doing in terms of making sure that they're as prepared as possible and they understand the game plan thoroughly, and not just memorizing things. Because when you understand conceptually everything, you're able to adjust to some unscouted looks and some things that may pop up throughout the game. As a staff, we're continuing to work to make sure they're as prepared as they can be when they get on the field."

How much can OL Justin McCray's return help what you are trying to do on the offensive line?

"It helps a lot. He's a versatile guy, he's smart, he can play in multiple positions. So, again, he's a guy that has some position flexibility that allows us to get our five best guys on the field. It's good to have him back."

As the coach calling the plays, how frustrating is it that you all are averaging 11 points a game and less than 200 yards in the last three games?

"Yeah, it's frustrating."

Pro Football Focus has OL Tytus Howard as the highest-rated pass protector at tackle in his two starts. Do you think he's done a good job in pass protection?

"Tytus (Howard) has done a good job with everything we've asked him to do. He's bumped around, he's played different spots, he's played next to different people, which is always a challenge at that position because they all work together. Tytus has done a good job going out there at left tackle and he's performed well, and we're looking for him to have another good game here on Sunday."

How much have you seen from OL Justin Britt and OL Lane Taylor?

"They've brought some grit, they've brought some edge, they brought a lot of experience. They've both played in a lot of big games throughout their careers. They're big, strong, physical dudes. Having Lane (Taylor) out there, you can see him start to come into form here, which has been good. Getting J.B. (Justin Britt) back is going to be great. He's a good player and has been for a long time. So, having those two guys on the field for us has been good."

Special Teams Coordinator Frank Ross

Opening Statement

"Seattle. Talking to different people the last few weeks and the last few games both on the opposing teams we were facing the last couple of games are really the best special teams units in the league that we are going up against, between Indianapolis last week, Seattle this week and the New York Jets. They got the better of us in that game there on the special teams perspective. You can make the argument that Seattle is the best going and arguably I think right now in 2021, their star player Nick Bellore is the best special teams player in the NFL. From being an interior type of player, he is really second to none. We have our hands full with him. Travis Homer, obviously they hit the fake punt there last week to get them jump started and start that running game there for them. Their specialists are pretty electric right now. We have our hands full this week."

How does P Cameron Johnston leading the AFC in Pro Bowl votes reflect his play?

"I actually didn't know that. I think that's for other people to worry about. Specifically, for his play, got to worry about the next punt. Put one last week, mishit directionally, got a big hit, great tackle, no gain on the punt return. He is obviously just worried about the next punt and wants to perform individually. All that other stuff, accolades, all that stuff is an end of the season deal. We just got to maintain as a team and as our individual players maintain, 'hey it's about this week, this game, this play so on and so forth.' I think that kind of resonates with our group and they believe that it's not just talk."

What has DB A.J. Moore Jr. meant to your special teams unit? Can you take us through his big hit last week against the Colts?

"What he means to our special teams is a reflection of what the unit wants to be or the core group wants to be as a whole. We want to be fast. We want to be to tough. We want to be physical. I think all things aside, making a mistake he's going to make it fast and make it physical. Making a great play, he's going to make it the same. That's what he embodies. That's what we try to preach there, and I think he represents those things. On the punt there, it was an incredible play, an exciting play. He did a great job of re-leveraging on a ball that started drifting. We teach our guys, 'Look when you're down there we trust you to make that impact tackle, make those shots, be aggressive, take that.' So, it's a great job of reading hands, playing through the hand reads of the returner and not stopping his feet and of course he took care of the rest there."

How would assess the way P Cameron Johnston has kicked so far this season based on what you wanted when you got him?

"When I first got here one of the questions was asked, 'What do you like about him?' I said he's got an explosive leg and he can really get after the ball. He can hammer that thing. The number one thing that he has done a great job of is work tirelessly and he's a high-volume worker. I would imagine he's one of the high-volume punters in the league on a practice week basis. That guy works and he can handle that load and that's how he likes to go about his business. But the number one thing he has worked to do is control and be consistent with his direction and matching hang to distance. You know, every once and a while we'll put a ball that is a 4.4 hang time that goes 50-plus yards in the middle of the field and those stress you so much in coverage. You are spread out more. You not able to funnel. You're not able to play off of each other as much. He's done a good job of consistently trying and attempting to change the direction of the punt, keep the returner on the move, so on and so forth. I think we saw that last week. When we needed the big ball, he hit the big ball kind of at the end of the half there. (Nyheim) Hines had to catch it essentially, I think it was a net of 60 with no return on the tick marks on the sideline. That will be the number one thing and he's is going to continue to work on that. I think he will admit to you the times when it doesn't go well, the punt doesn't go well, hangs not matching distance, locations not matching what we are trying to cover. We take that to like Seattle's punter. Obviously (Michael) Dickson is doing equally as good. He's punting the ball and letting his cover players do their thing. If you guys are familiar with Larry Izzo, probably the number one trait of Larry Izzo is that he played with what's called instincts. His hair was always on fire, watch the tape. Put on the endzone copy of punts. Put on the endzone copy of kickoffs. The way that they play off of each other, I told our guys we need to watch this and learn from this. As we study on how to beat them and win in those holdups, we got to study that as our coverage units. They play off of each other so well. Nick Bellore leveraging those punts that Dickson is putting out there. You know, it's a challenge and that's what we try to do here as well."

What did you see from LB Kamu Grugier-Hill when he first got here that shows what he has been able to do now?

"Good technique. Smart. Willing to do whatever it takes. A football player first. If he's starting linebacker playing 50-60 snaps a game and we need him to do kick return, or punt or kickoff cover, going to go do that. I think that's an embodiment of the culture we are trying to breed here, and I think he is playing into those just as everybody else is. Happy with where he started and whatever the role the team needs you to do and in this case, it's an increase on the defensive end so it might have taken from the reps we are giving him in the special teams game. But the things I said about him, the technique, he's smart, playing in punt protection, understanding the whole picture, he is very good at that. I think it shows up in his reaction time on defense."

How do you prepare for Michael Dickson's hang time?

"It's very difficult. This league is about players so as a coach my job is to ideally to make the matchups to give us the best chance to hold up as long as we can. We are going to study every little thing and hopefully on Sunday when we go out there and he is giving us a look, we are prepared for that look. When he's changing the direction on us based on his alignment and stance, we are doing everything we can to counteract that and put ourselves in a position to set up say a return."

How much does special teams help decided if the guys on one-year contract can be guys you want around long term?

"Special teams in general across the NFL, it's a developmental engine, especially for young players. I think someone last week was asking about Garret Wallow, like it is a developmental engine. Garret got his first extended defensive snaps last week in the game. That's what this game is. It's how long can you stick around by doing the things the team asked you to do. Special teams is a great opportunity to do that whether it's a one-year contract, a rookie, a veteran, whatever it may be. Winning teams are complimentary football, three phases. As long as I am here, we are going to try to that to do that. Doesn't matter where you came from, what your contract looks like, I think just overall you just need to be a good football and whatever the team needs that is going to breed our overall success as we grow here in the future."

Associate Head Coach/Defensive Coordinator Lovie Smith

Can you talk about the decision to release LB Zach Cunningham? Who will have to pick up the slack?

"I'm sure Coach (David) Culley has gone over it. I kind of talk about the guys on our team now. Pretty simple, sometimes divorce is a good thing, then you move on. It's good for both parties. As far as what we're going to do going forward, we had to play this way for a while. We had to play this way Sunday. Kamu Grugier-Hill has stepped up every time we've asked him to change his role, sometimes on short notice. Last week, Kevin Pierre-Louis has gotten reps. Garret Wallow was able to get reps. It was good getting Christian Kirksey back, Neville Hewitt, so we'll go forward with those guys and feel good about them."

What would you like to see out of LB Garret Wallow? Do you see you giving him more playing time over these last five games?

"We've seen marked improvement from Garret (Wallow) from day one. Smart, good football knowledge, but like most young players, needed experience. He's gotten a lot of that. He's a student of the game, and now it's just about daily improvement. We'll continue to talk to him about, as a young player, developing your body. We'll continue to talk to him about that. We like some of the things he's done for a period of time. What a great opportunity for some of those guys to get more reps."

Can you talk about the challenges that Seattle presents to your defense?

"Any time you play a team with Russell Wilson – I was in the league, I was out of the league, and way back when I was in, I remember when he first came on the scene. He's just played outstanding football just about every game he's played. Some of the problems he gives you, he's a mobile quarterback, makes great decisions, keeps plays alive. They have a system, of course, that's kind of set up to highlight some of those things. It's not just them as a passing team, they have great receivers. They have a good combination of a quick receiver along with the big, physical receiver. But there's still a commitment to the run, and we always go into games trying to stop the run, needing to stop the run, and that'll be the case this week."

How much does it hurt a defense to stay on the field for 42 minutes?

"That's not ideal by any means. I'm sure as you talk to our defensive guys, what they're going to talk about is that we kind of control how long we play each game. We control it, and we need to get off a few more times, take the ball away a few more times just in some critical situations. Starting off with not letting a team run the football. That's the easiest way for an offense to stay on the football field. We're just glad that we get another opportunity to make more improvements. We've seen the defense getting better, but we're not quite there yet. Hopefully we'll play our best ball this week."

How has LB Kamu Grugier-Hill impressed you, and how has he shown that he can be on this team for a long time?

"From the moment we signed him, he's seemed like he's been here. Every time he could be in the building to get better, he's been there. Frank (Ross) was talking earlier, he's been a core special teams player when we ask him to play that role. He can play all three linebacker positions. In my coaching career, I haven't had a whole lot of players that have been able to play all three linebacker positions and play them well. This past week, he found out Sunday morning he was playing another position. To have that type of game is pretty special. But he's got great football knowledge, he's good in zone coverage, he can play man, you've seen him rush. You can do a lot of things with him. He's made us take notice to him."

How much of that has to do with LB Kamu Grugier-Hill having a good position coach in Linebackers Coach Miles Smith?

"His position coach has done a heck of a job. Miles Smith has done a heck of a job. Seriously though, it is quite a bit with what he's having to do. What the linebackers have done, that entire room of changing positions, that is hard to do. Even for a player, we talked about Garret Wallow. Garret this past game played two positions. That's hard for a young player to do, too. So, pleased with what they've been able to do. They just keep answering the bell play after play."

Who are the other linebackers you have coached that effectively played all three positions?

"We have not had guys to play an awful lot. Shelton Quarles down in Tampa played all three, and Nick Roach in Chicago. Those are the only two that I can recall that have played all three. You try to lock a player in and just have him (play one), because each one of them is different. Just, 'Hey, you play linebacker?' No, each one is different. But it takes a special guy to do that."

How do you feel about the job Linebackers Coach Miles Smith has done this season, considering you took a chance bringing him here?

"I don't feel like I really took a chance bringing him. I kind of knew his football knowledge and what we were going to get. When you work with someone and you know how they've learned the position and learned the defense, you kind of have an idea. We've had certain linebacker coaches through the years going through the same progression and gotten similar results. It's not like it's shocking, but it's kind of good for you as a football coach to have to do that. The game is about adjustments, and sometimes a few more than you would have to, you want to make, but that's what the game calls now."

Do you take a lot of pride in Linebacker Coach Miles Smith development as a coach?

"Absolutely. I take a lot of pride, and we have a couple of young coaches on our staff. When you're an older coach, I like the blend of some older guys along with some youth, and for them to see exactly how you think it should be done, coaching how you should coach. These challenges that come up only make you a better coach."

Several defensive backs have said they spent time with you personally looking at film. Do you do that with linebackers like LB Kamu Grugier-Hill?

"I haven't met with linebackers like that. Some of the positions I'm more hands-on with. I actually coached the nickel position, but why he's spending time with me, I meet with him every day. I meet with the nickels. I've always coached one position. When I was a head coach, I've always pretty much coached one position. A lot of those years have been the nickel position. It kind of ties in with everything, so that's why I know Tavierre (Thomas) a little bit better and spent a little bit more time with him. But as a coordinator, I try to occasionally watch and spend time with all the position groups, especially individually."

What do you learn from when you take time to work with specific position groups that you wouldn't see if you were looking at it as a big picture?

"I think the more you can be hands-on, I think you have a better idea of what guys really do go through. That's why I've tried to keep my hands on all the positions. As a position coach, except for the two interior guys, I've actually coached those positions. It gives you a better idea of what's expected and what you have to go through to prepare. All of this just makes you be able to coordinate a defense a lot better knowing exactly what goes into each one of those positions."

How different are the three linebacker positions, and what does it take to play those effectively?

"They're linebackers and they play off of the ball a lot of times, but it's like that with every position. You have defensive backs, you have corner and safety. There's a big difference between the two. A nickel is a defensive back position, too, but there's a big difference between the two. And linebacker, even though they're on the second level, different gaps, different reads that you get, different responsibility. On a typical zone play, one linebacker could be responsible for running down the middle of the field. Another guy could be responsible for covering a wide receiver in the slot. There's all different type techniques at every one, and to be able to go from play to play and not make any mistakes, and then play that technique the way you need it to be played to have success, that's what we're talking about."


With the Seahawks offense not being as explosive as past years, what have you seen from them this year?

"I don't really look at records. I pretty much look at the guys they got up front, the guy that's running the show, the quarterback. They've got backs to get downhill. They've got receivers that can do damage. That's what I look at. I look at the tape."

What stands out to you about Russell Wilson?

"He is Russell Wilson, that's who he is. Being able to move around in the pocket, he creates a challenge for us."

As a defensive lineman, how hard is it to defend Russell Wilson since he makes throws on the run?

"You've just got to do your job and just keep him uncomfortable. Anything you can do, getting hands up in throwing windows, internal pressure is going to be huge. Just getting internal pressure on any quarterback, veteran quarterbacks especially in this league, because they all want to step up. They all want to move around. If you can disrupt that pattern anyway you can, which we plan on doing as a front, then that's how you (do it)."

Does it matter more when it's a shorter quarterback?

"I'm short too, so I don't think so. As far as batted balls and stuff like that, I think he has a pretty good release. It speaks for itself that he has a big arm, et cetera."


How much does OL Justin Britt coming back this week help the offensive line?

"It's been pretty good with JB (Justin Britt) coming back this week. He played a lot of games, he's played a lot of football in this league. He's a great leader up front. He's very smart and we need his energy up front, and I think he's going to bring it. (He's) having a pretty good week. JB's been here for us as a group even when he was out the whole time, he stayed in contact with us and tried to help us as much as possible from the things he's learned over the years. Like this week, he played with the Seahawks, so this is a big game for him. He's brought the energy all week and it's fed off on us, and I think that's a good thing."

Do you get a sense that OL Justin Britt is ready for this game?

"Yeah, I get a sense that he's ready. He hasn't really talked about it much, but you just get that feeling that it's a game that he's pretty excited to play in."

If QB Tyrod Taylor is not able to play, do you think it will be better the second time around with QB Davis Mills?

"Yes, sir. I think it'll be pretty good. Davis (Mills) put the work in all year and he's gotten better over the season, and he's going to continue to get better. He's a rookie, but he's been doing a pretty good job. If he gets the chance to start this weekend, I think we're prepared for whatever the quarterback situation (is), to play the best we can be as a group. Our job is to protect the quarterback, no matter if it's Davis or Tyrod (Taylor)."

What does OL Justin McCray bring to the run game?

"(Justin) McCray's very physical. He's also very smart, he's athletic. He pretty much is one of the only few guys I know since I've been in the NFL that's started a game at every single position on the offensive line, whether that's left tackle, left guard, center, right guard, right tackle. That tells you a lot about him. He's very dependable, and I think his physicality he brings to the game is going to help us up front."

How comfortable are you feeling at left tackle?

"I'm feeling more comfortable by the week. By the day, actually. For me, it's all about repetition, so as long as I continue to get all these reps, I'm only going to get better. I'm happy with how I've been doing so far. I think the team is. But my goal is to become a better player than I was the week before. As long as I'm getting better each and every week, that's my goal. That's the thing I continue to take pride in, just being better than I was before. If I continue to put the work in, everything else will settle itself."

How would you compare your comfort after two starts at left guard to your comfort after two starts at left tackle?

"Definitely, I probably feel more comfortable at left tackle because, like I said, I've been playing tackle my whole career. So, it's easy for me to accommodate myself back to playing tackle versus starting to play guard. I would say the tackle."

What about the Colts game made it hard to sustain drives?

"Like Coach (David Culley) said, penalties and turnovers. As an offense, I feel like we've just got to be more consistent. We haven't been consistent this season and it shows. Defense plays pretty good with a lot of energy. I think as an offense we've got to be better every week. Like I said, we've got to eliminate the penalties, eliminate turnovers, and (if) we can do that, we can sustain a game long enough to get us a win."

How would you compare the athletes you play against on the left side of the line to the right side?

"(There are) good athletes on both sides. You've got two sack leaders in the NFL, I think T.J. Watt and then you've got Myles Garrett. Myles Garrett plays predominantly on the left, T.J. Watt plays predominantly on the right. So, you're going to get dogs on both sides."

With Grambling State hiring Hue Jackson, how good does it feel knowing that some of these former NFL coaches and players are going back into coaching at HBCU programs?

"I think it's huge. I've been following up on all this ever since it's been happening. I saw that this morning when I was headed to work that (Hue Jackson) got the job. That's good for the program. It's good for the kids to get that type of coaching in college. It just doesn't happen every day. I think it's just good for the whole (of) HBCU's in general. I think I read that it was Hue Jackson, Kevin Sumlin, Ray Lewis, even. That's just big. It's just bringing a lot of media to HBCU football, and as a whole, like me playing at Alabama State. We just hired Eddie Robinson Jr., former NFL player. He played at Alabama State. I just think it's the right trend and it's going to be better for football in general."


What is it like preparing for a quarterback like Russell Wilson?

"I've faced Russell in my past couple of times. Definitely a dynamic player, knows how to extend the play. A guy that can throw any ball down field and that can use his feet. Duel threat type of guy."

Do you notice any difference with Russell Wilson before and after his injury?

"Yeah, you're going to see a guy go through an injury and try to come back, and you'll see a kind of hiccups here. But that's a pro athlete, Russell Wilson, a guy that knows how to play as a pro and knows how to correct his mistakes. I think that's exactly what we saw."

How hard is it to contain Russell Wilson in the pocket since he makes some of his best throws on the run?

"We are definitely aware of that. We know what he is capable of and just doing our job and staying the task at hand." 

Do you think the Seahawks wide receivers are one of the best one-two punches you've seen?

"They both compliment each other. You got (Tyler) Lockett and you got (DK) Metcalf, and like I said, you got a quarterback that can make any play down the field. They're definitely going to be a task for us, and we are up for the challenge we got to do what we have to do."

Is DK Metcalf one of the most physical wide receivers you've played against this season?

"I mean I haven't played him before ever. This is going to be my first matchup with him but just seeing him on tape, he's definitely a bigger receiver. Looking forward to it."

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