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28 October 2015

Week 8 Conference Call Transcripts: at Atlanta (11/1/15)

(On how pleased he’s been with his team’s performance this season)
“I certainly have [been pleased]. The biggest thing, I think, is when you see how tight this team has become, the connection that they have for one another. For me, most of the good teams that I’ve been a part of, they have that connection, just knowing they’re just going to play as hard as they can for one another. That part, from the players and coaches connecting, I’ve been really pleased with so far.”
(On current Atlanta Assistant Head Coach/Defensive Passing Game Coordinator and former Tampa Bay Head Coach Raheem Morris)
“We have a long history together. I coached at Hofstra when he was playing, and then also coached at Hofstra when we hired him to be the DB coach. We grew up not far from each other. I grew up in Morristown, New Jersey, and he grew up in Irvington. Through the years we’ve had a great connection and I knew if I ever had an opportunity to lead a team and [there] was any chance that he could be here and do it with me, I’d want to take that opportunity. He’s [been] a real factor for us, especially defensively. The tackling, the takeaways, all the things from a philosophy standpoint that we want to stand for defensively, he’s had a real impact on.”
(On the Atlanta pass rush)
“For me, when we’re going to be at our best is when we’re affecting the quarterback and taking the ball away. Sometimes those two go hand-in-hand – hits on the quarterback where the ball gets knocked up in the air, or a sack on the QB where it comes out. So it’s something that we’re totally committed to doing to improve in that area. And honestly each and every week, that’s really the challenge for us, to see how much better we can get. That’s really the challenge for the players and for the coaches, not just in the pass rush – that’s for sure a factor – but just in terms of our fundamentals, can we keep continuing to try and get better? That’s where our focus is and will continue to be.”
(On only scoring 10 points in last week’s win against the Tennessee Titans)
“We knew it was going to be a tough game going in. One of those fights that you kind of expect to go the distance. And as it went through, it turned out to be that kind of way. Both teams had a couple of turnovers and that was for sure a factor in the scoring. We were +0 from the turnover ratio, but both teams had red zone turnovers that were a factor. As we’re going through it, was this going to be one that came down to the end, and it did. It was one of those old heavyweight fights where you keep swinging and swinging and swinging and that’s what took place. Their front seven certainly played well, I thought, in the game. We knew they would going in. So that’s where I thought this one came down to, where it came down to some of the turnovers that affected the scoring.”
(On rookie defensive end Vic Beasley)
“It’s really the speed that he can jump off the ball. That’s the thing that’s able to set him apart as a rusher. We’re still working like crazy to try and develop all the technique that goes into being a really good rusher. To his credit, he’s working at it hard. He’s also disappointed that he doesn’t have more finishes on the quarterback, but, at the same time, it’s one that I know we’re going to get a lot better moving forward. So as we are kind of right in the middle of it, he’s healthy, he’s fresh and ready to go. It’s just a matter of us putting it all together and playing our complete game, which we have not done yet.”
(On defensive end Adrian Clayborn)
“I think you guys know AC well. He hasn’t lost that toughness that you guys remember. He’s still not smiling, so that’s a good thing for a defensive lineman (laughter). He has the same attitude and mindset to go. Probably where we’re featuring him a little bit differently is we’re playing him inside in our nickel package and a little bit at defensive end. But we love having that quickness inside and we’re hoping that he and Beasley together, working on that same side, they continue to develop that relationship that it takes to work hand-in-hand as the pass rush goes. So he’s been a really, really good addition, AC has been, for us so far this year.”
(On the challenge of defending slant routes and if it is one of the most difficult routes to defend)
“It really is, and here’s why: if you just went out to practice today, what throw would you and the receiver probably throw? A slant. It’s like that common, where the ball, the decision, can come out of his hand fast and then you get an opportunity to get a run into the catch. So I think specifically, whether it’s man-to-man, or zone, or however you’re defending it, that’s why it’s such a popular play around the league and why quarterbacks like to throw it, because they can rip it to a guy who’s on the run. Defensively, a number of different ways to defend it. Are you in the window, where you can cause some uncertainly for a quarterback, or man-to-man, depending on what type of leverage you have? You only have a few ways to defend it – inside leverage, outside leverage or in a zone – and knowing how to play those are a critical factor for it, too.”
(On what he has discovered about quarterback Matt Ryan that he did not know previous to working with him)
“Every time you get to play against terrific players, you get a sense for how good they are. Sometimes you don’t have a sense for the competitor and how hard they’re driven and why they play. So, for me, when I got here, he was the first player that I met. That told me a lot. I walked in the building and there was a guy waiting there to come talk to me and it was Matt Ryan. That told me a lot about how important playing is to him and what he stands for as a guy. So I think that was probably the thing that quietly I was most jacked about. It was like, not only is this guy a good player, but what a competitor and just wanting to do whatever it takes to play at his best. So I think that was probably the thing that I was most impressed with that you wouldn’t notice as much from the outside.”
(On Tampa Bay running back Doug Martin)
“I think any time you’re facing a back that has the ability to break tackles and cut, that’s when you’re a factor. And man, does Doug have that. It’s the strength that he plays with, the feet that go on contact. Sometimes in a runner, when you get to the contact, it happens and he goes down. This is just the opposite, where the feet are going and they’re alive on contact. Man, do we have a lot of respect for him. You really have to have your tackling down when you’re playing a back like Doug, because not only can he get his feet going on contact, but he’s got enough explosiveness to make a jump cut to make you miss. So when you have those two combinations, which Free (Davonta Freeman) does as well, it’s a real challenge as a tackler.”
(On current Tampa Bay Offensive Coordinator Dirk Koetter, formerly of Atlanta, and the role Koetter played in Ryan’s growth)
“Dirk is a great football coach and I learned a ton from him during the three years that I got to play for him. He’s great with quarterbacks. He knows how to get the best out of you and I really enjoyed my time and feel like I’m a much better player now for having spent that time with him.”
(On Koetter’s skills coaching young quarterbacks)
“I think he works well with anyone, because I think he’s a great teacher. [He] understands football really well and really sees it with the quarterback’s set of eyes, having played quarterback himself. So I think he’s great for Jameis [Winston] and he’ll really get the best out of Jameis.”
(On Atlanta Head Coach Dan Quinn)
“Dan’s been awesome to be around. He’s got great energy. Every day he shows up in the building – I think he’s very consistent day-in and day-out. He’s really clear with his messaging. I think guys understand what he expects from us and the guys buy into it and believe in his philosophy about winning games. It’s worked well so far. We’ve got a long way to go, but it’s been a good start.”
(On what makes Atlanta wide receiver Julio Jones so talented on slant routes)
“There’s a lot of things that go into it – drawing the right coverage in order to have a favorable look for a slant – but [Jones’] ability to explode off the line of scrimmage and to press guys vertically, to make them back up off the line of scrimmage, and then his ability to cut and make such sharp cuts, I think helps him be a great slant runner.”
(On last year’s Week 3 Tampa Bay-Atlanta game and the Falcons’ success)
“It was a good night for us, obviously. We came out, we started fast and kept going – had some things go our way. In games like that, you need some things to go your way. But I know, having played Tampa now into my eighth season, every time that we play this game in division – excluding a few – it’s always really tight and it comes down to the fourth quarter and who finds a way to get it done toward the end of the game. And that’s certainly what we expect this week.”
(On Atlanta running back Devonta Freeman)
“Devonta has played really, really, really great. It’s a thing where we’ve gotten better in the run game as the season’s progressed. Week-in and week-out, I feel like we’re getting better. And week-in and week-out I feel like Devonta is getting better, as well. He’s been so productive that you forget that it’s really only five or six weeks of him starting. He’s taken full advantage of the opportunity. He’s a guy who’s worked extremely hard from the time we drafted him, and I think is a player that has really improved and gotten better because of that work ethic. He’s playing at a really high level for us right now.”
(On Freeman’s ability to be a third-down receiver in addition to rushing duties)
“He’s been great out of the backfield. That’s one of the things that we saw more from Devonta last year than running the ball. He was great for us out of the backfield last year. He’s got great hands, runs very good routes. He’s one of the guys who can kind of do it all at that running back position and we’re fortunate to have him.”
(On former Boston College teammate and current Tampa Bay right tackle Gosder Cherilus)
“Goz is one of my all-time favorite college teammates. A guy that was as tough as it gets, was an offensive lineman that would protect you no matter what. And he’s an even better person, too. Just a really, really good person, great teammate. He’s had a long, really productive career. Playing on the offensive line is not the easiest thing to do, but he’s been able to battle and play really well for a long time. I’m really happy with the way his career has turned out. He’s played great.”
(On whether Atlanta’s success this season as compared to last season comes from a difference in execution or in attitude and belief)
“I think it’s a little bit of both. When you execute really well, that promotes confidence in situations. When you’re able to find ways to get it done, and you believe like you’re going to be able to get it done no matter what the situation, I think early success for us has certainly helped that.”

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