RE: Brandon Jacobs development
……as a player and as a person, the most salient features that I see emerging – not that they weren’t there, but I just see him becoming more and more powerful - - more and more a deeper grasp of what we are trying to do so he can pick up a little more nuisances of what we are asking of the offense at that position. At first, it was just play; he knew what the assignment was but he didn’t really know – he thought the thing was blowing up there for a second – what the blocking would be up front. He was kind of reacting to what the defense was. Now he knows what the blocking is, he knows what the adjustments will be, so it allows you as a runner, as a player, to anticipate what is going to happen. So therefore, your reaction and response is a little bit more timely.
Q: Will Brandon be more of a passing threat this year?
A: We’ll see. I don’t know. We will see. He has got to prove that. And I think what happens is when we get him in there is an inclination to make sure that the protection is shored up. Very often our backs are intimately involved in the protection part of things and it is not just the assignment but we check and we do a lot of things that are unsung and not maybe appreciated by the outside world. But we wouldn’t be able to function without it. So he has been an integral part of our passing game from that standpoint. Now, can he catch more passes? Yeah, that’s what we are hoping.
Q: What emotions or feelings do you have about starting the season with these receivers on your roster?
A: One word, huh? Two words? I’m excited. You just don’t know. They are young and there are a couple of guys that have played before. Maybe you are asking a little bit more of them. So you are hopeful and expecting that they are going to respond to this opportunity the way you think they can. But until somebody does it you just don’t know. And then of course there are a couple of young guys that haven’t done it before that are going to have to step up and play. But there is no reason, based on what we believe is the ability and the improvement we have seen over the last few weeks, to think that it is not going to come. Now the key is that it has to come Sunday. They have to play Sunday. And until it’s a legitimate game and they go out and do it for you, you always – you believe they can, you expect them to, I have confidence that they will – but they have got to go do it for us.
Q: I’m sure a lot of people thought going in – training camp, preseason, you figure out who is going to fit where on the depth chart. Is that process still going on?
A: Yeah, it definitely is. And I think certainly a lot of questions have been answered in our minds – I don’t want to necessarily announce it to them – exactly what we are doing and who is going to be where. But I think some things have clarified themselves. Some things are still definitely ongoing. And quite candidly, I think some guys are in a position they will probably play more this Sunday but as the year goes on maybe other guys will become more and more an integral part of what we are doing. At least, that’s kind of what I think is going to happen. But we will go by performance. That’s it, who can go do it. And again, I honestly genuinely believe they can do it, but we are going to wait who – who on game day plays better than what they do in practice. And some guys just do and some guys – the enormity of it – the anxiety – whatever it is – nervousness – they just don’t play as well as we think they can. But there is no reason for me to think right now that they are not going to respond the way we are hopeful of.
Q: What was your reaction last week to all of the offensive coordinators getting put out of their jobs?
A: I checked the fine print of my contact to make sure that it was okay. The League is such a copy-cat league. It is amazing to me when somebody does it – and for whatever the reason – it seems like it emboldens everybody else to say we have problems here, too.
Q: Did Tom come to you and say, "You’re cool"?
A: No, he said, "Just make sure you mind your p’s and q’s. You could be next." (laughs) No, he didn’t say that. From a coach’s point of view it is somewhat disturbing because they haven’t even played a game, you gotta give them a chance, but that is the way it is. You just don’t know – it’s like a relationship between a man and a woman. Behind closed doors you don’t know what is going on. We all think we know but nobody knows and nobody knows what is going on there - what caused that reaction to happen. I hear all kinds of things and you guys I know hear more than me. But it is kind of a sad state of affairs that that is happening. It is hard for me to look at it and say ‘that’s fair.’
Q: At the wide receiver position, assuming everybody stays healthy – are you almost finessing this group through the season – in other words, no real two, three or four or five?
A: Definitely; yeah, definitely. And trying to determine, which is very much -- my guess – very much still in the evaluation phase of who can do what best. You know what you want to do. You see a scheme defensively. You say, ‘Okay, we want to go after it here. Who can best do that thing that most effectively attacks or gives you a chance to perform that play or execute that concept against that defensive approach?’ I don’t know that we have one guy that we say, ‘Okay, he can do it. That guy – he can do this, or this guy can’t do that.’ I think we kind of feel like they all have their strengths and they all have their areas that we still need to get better at. And so that is why, as I said, I can see certain guys right now we think are ahead, but maybe in another five or six weeks maybe some other guys that we think maybe physically can be better at that. But right now we are not advanced enough to call upon. And so I can see it – not only finessing, as you said, but also this guy is doing this role now, but six, seven, eight weeks from now maybe somebody else is doing it because we think they have improved to the point that they can do better.
RE: The way the receivers will be used not being traditional.
A: No, we have been doing a lot of things that aren’t traditional for the last few years and we have been able to make it work. And again, you have to believe that your guys can do it. It doesn’t matter what you draw up if you put them in a position to make a play. If they can’t do it, you are handcuffed. I think we feel those guys can do it. And, again, until they do it, you are always hesitant to jump on the bandwagon and say too much. But we feel good about it; we feel good.
Q: As far as running backs go and the running game, you know you are going to see some heavy defensive fronts there. How creative are you going to have to be to maybe show them pass looks and run out of those to maybe get these guys to back off a little bit?
A: Yeah. In theory that sounds like it is a good thing. And that is what you try to do. But I think that until – I think defenses are going to take the approach - we are going to take a wait and see posture here and until you prove whatever look you are in that you can control the ball efficiently enough, we can always load up more than you have blockers and see what you can do. Now we have been creative with our run blocking scheme and we have made things go. I’m not sure most people think you can. And we have been able to still maintain some consistency in the run game. So hopefully that will still be there for us. But there is no question, if you don’t have the balance, and you don’t have the ability, or the threat or the implied threat that, ‘hey, if you do this we can really take advantage of you,’ the advantage goes to them.