OFFENSIVE COORDINATOR DOUG PEDERSON
Q:** Your center, talk about his improvement (Rodney Hudson) not just the blocks on the line, but he's leading a lot of these sweeps. Just talk about Rodney.
PEDERSON:"I tell you, Rodney is the anchor of that offensive line obviously. And everything kind of goes through Rodney, from calls, from getting the other four guys going in the right direction. He's very quiet, he's very, kind of, to himself but yet he gets out onto the football field and he becomes a different player."
PEDERSON:"Tremendous and we've asked a lot of him. As you mentioned, pulling and getting out in front of sweeps and throws and different things. When you have an athletic center like he is, it's good to be able to utilize him that way."
Q: Was he ever 1000% last year, you know coming off a broken leg?
PEDERSON:"I think as the season went he got stronger. Maybe early in the OTAs and building towards training camp last year, and then of course, trying to learn our system. There's some hesitancy there when you're trying to learn a new system. But as the year went on he became that anchor and that rock in the middle."
Q: What can you do offensively against the Rams? What do you see success-wise against them this week?
PEDERSON:"Again, I think it does start with our offensive line. I mean it's not a cliché thing to say that. But this is a good group on defense. They may not be where they want to be in sacks and relating to that, but you see a lot of negative rush plays against this group. We just have to execute our game plan, bottom line. This secondary is aggressive, they like to blitz, they'll blitz at different times throughout the game. They are going to present different looks to you. But we just have to execute and do it one play at a time, it's going to be a four quarter game. This game is not going to be one way or the other. It's just a matter of paying attention to our details, focusing on our fundamentals and just executing our plan."
Q: How do you make sure Jamaal's (Charles) involved this week again like he's been? When you use him obviously you guys do better than when you don't.
PEDERSON:"That's something that each week as a staff and obviously as a coordinator you go, 'how many times can we get Jamaal the ball, whether we throw it to him or hand it to him it.' And it's going to be big this week. We are blessed to have Knile (Davis) there too, and allow him to give Jamaal that rest, much needed rest during the course of the game so he can stay fresh in the fourth quarter. He's always a big part of our game plan and we are going to continue to find ways to give him the ball and make him go make plays."
Q: How do you lose track of him (Jamaal Charles) during the game? I know (Coach) Andy (Reid) has talked about it before. How do you forget 25 is there?
PEDERSON:"You know what happens is you get so focused on the game at hand and your game plan and your call sheet and the next play, that sometimes – it happens with receivers, it happens with Dwayne Bowe or maybe Travis Kelce. It happens. That's why you rely on your assistant coaches, the guys that are in the press box to mind tap you from time to time. Because being down there on the sideline you are so focused on the next call that sometimes you can lose sight of where he is and if he's over on our sideline or if he's in the game."
Q: As a quarterback yourself, how do you deal with dropped passes. When you put a pass right in a guy's hands?
PEDERSON:"Keep throwing it to him, you keep throwing it to him and you keep throwing it to him. And you never lose faith in that receiver. If it means getting out of practice early or staying late after practice and throwing the ball to him. You can't ever lose trust or faith in that guy. That's the only way you can get it corrected. You have to keep throwing the ball, keep throwing the ball even if that play or that player has dropped a ball at that particular time, it is so good to just pick up the ball and throw it to him as he's walking back to the huddle. Just so he gets it in his mind that I have confidence, number one, individually I can catch the ball. And the quarterback still has confidence in me."
Q: So it's part of the play calling so to speak if a guy drops a third down, and you go back on the field for offense one of the first things you want to do is get him the ball?
PEDERSON:"I wouldn't say it's the first thing you want to do. But if you're ever in that situation again, whatever that down and distance was at that particular time, that one you either consider that play again. Or if you've used it once or twice you move to the next thing. You can't worry about that stuff. Just, hey, it's water off you're back – you go to the next play. And you execute the next play. When that person's number gets dialed up again you have all the confidence in the world that number one you're quarterback is going to make the right throw again and that he's going to catch the football."
Q: You ever look at the number of touchdowns for the wide receivers and think, man, we need to get them more involved in scoring plays?
PEDERSON:"I would answer that and say no. Obviously, the bottom (line) is winning the football game. We set goals as an offense, we set goals defensively, as a team, special teams. And everybody is a part of the scoring deal. If the defense can pick six it, scoop and score on a fumble, if the special teams can return – it doesn't matter, that part doesn't matter. And if at the end of the game you look down the stat sheet and you've got 10, 12, 11 guys, receivers, that are touching the football – eventually those guys are going to score. We don't put a lot of emphasis on that, bottom line is just winning the game."
DEFENSIVE COORDINATOR BOB SUTTON
Q:** Are there challenges to prepare for a quarterback like Austin Davis who is rather new to the league?
SUTTON:"Yeah, I think anytime you haven't played against somebody personally, whether you're coaching or playing it, there's always that kind of unknown. You're not quite sure what it's really like. You can see things on video but you don't appreciate. I don't care whether it's a receiver, a quarterback, whatever, but it's more difficult with a quarterback because they've got their hands on the ball every play. So yeah, there's a certain challenge into it and as we were speaking, I think Austin has done a really good job in there. He's thrown it 65 or 66 percent completion, he's taking care of the ball really well and his ability to escape the pocket to throw is really good. He looks like a good athlete that can move. He has some of that moxie that I think some of the guys that have to play that position need and I think in the early part of this NFL career for him, he's kind of demonstrated that."
Q: What was the reason for making the move from Marcus Cooper to Jamell Fleming at cornerback?
SUTTON:"Well, obviously, we just thought that we needed to. Coop has obviously had some issues in there, but I think the other part, Fleming has practiced really well for us since he's been here. We kind of said, 'hey, we need to see if this guy can play.' As it turned out we had a couple new guys in there. But yeah, that was kind of the driving force of it. It wasn't just Coop not playing as well as we'd like. It was also Fleming showing us in practice and going against our first offense and that for a couple weeks, maybe this guy deserves a look and so we said, 'hey, let's take a look and see how it will turn out.'"
Q: As precious as cover corners are, how surprised were you that Fleming was available (to be signed)?
SUTTON:"Well, we've been lucky. We had the same thing with a guy like (Kevin) Vickerson. Sometimes you just get fortunate in that regard so we were happy. Last year that was Cooper, so sometimes the need allows people to rise up to an opportunity. And for those guys, whoever that is – the key thing we talk about all the time is – if you're working against our offense, you need to realize these are your games right now. You have to get better because in two weeks, three weeks – we were talking about this Wednesday with our players – somebody else is going to be in need. And you have to be ready, you have to prepare yourself like that and take advantage of that opportunity out there. It's a great opportunity because you are working against an NFL offense and it can train you for that opportunity that's about to happen to somebody."
Q: Is it still difficult to get a gauge on a player during practice?
SUTTON:"It's always hard because as defensive coaches, we don't know exactly what is being asked of the defensive players representing in this case, the Rams defense. So we can't really get into that, we can only judge on his skills as we see him: keep change of direction, ability to stay close, a little bit of the feel for the game. We have to be careful because they might be telling him to do something very specific based on how that coverage is played by the opponent. But I think when you watch out there, you can gain a feel for a guy to a little bit of a degree there. It's challenging, but I think you can get a feel for it."
Q: Is it accurate to say you were taking a leap of faith with Fleming and Phillip Gaines in San Diego?
SUTTON:"Well, we know a lot more about Gaines because he's been with us. Fleming was a lot shorter work-span in there, the body of work that we can look at. So yeah, there was some unknown in it, but like I said, we saw enough to say 'hey, let's take the leap.'"
Q: When you guys win the time of possession battle, how big is that for you as a defense?
SUTTON:"Well, I think it's huge and really time of possession is a two-part deal as it always is. One, our offense is doing a great job, and the other part from our standpoint is you've got to get off on third downs. And that was a big thing last week because they were so good on third down, St. Louis is another very good third down team, they are 44 percent on third down. So we've got to do a great job of that. And anytime your offense is functioning like ours was, and we have the ability to get off the field on a fairly regular basis, we can hold up our end of the deal and keep that possession and we play good defense on the sideline. We're pretty good. So anytime we can be over there, we're happy about it."
Q: It seemed like you were playing more zone and off-coverage than you normally do. Was that because the new guys were in there or more because you were playing San Diego?
SUTTON:"No to be honest, we didn't really have a lot of new things in for that game. We kind of played what we've played and we've been trying to mix how we're playing our different things whether it's up tight, off, or a combination of those things and go. And some of them are controlled by sets that they're in and that type of thing. But it wasn't a conscious effort, 'hey, we're going to play off these guys and go like that.'"
Q: You guys have played well against Peyton Manning and Philip Rivers, two of the best quarterbacks in the game. Why is that?
SUTTON:"I think the players have done a great job in preparing and their individual coaches have done a great job in helping the players get ready. It's not only the schematics, the scheme you are playing. But it's also the knowledge. Knowledge is power, whatever you can take into that game if you can understand this formation, this split, this thing, it allows you to play at a faster pace and play at the top of your game so you don't have to sit out there and play every conceivable route or combination of routes. The more awareness you have, the better that I think you can execute whatever defense that you're in. That's a tribute to the players getting ready every day, every week here. So we need to continue to do that."
Q: Do you think the players can sustain that type of level this week even though they're facing a quarterback they haven't seen before?
SUTTON:"Well, you don't know the quarterback, but the formations and that you still try to study the receivers; you try to learn as much about the receivers as you can and what they do best from these different spots and locations and that type of thing. So I think you don't have the body of the work on the quarterback that you have with a Brady and Manning, but you've got to be able to play the same way and prepare the same way."
Q: You've spent some time around Rams Offensive Coordinator Brian Schottenheimer. What kind of offense does he want to run?
SUTTON:"Well, I think he's had a system of offense ever since he's been in the league, ever since he's been a coordinator. And it's very similar. I'm sure they're doing a few things to help the quarterback. They're running the ball really efficiently and trying to make the third downs manageable and that type of thing. But I think Schotty has always liked balance. He likes shift and motions in his system and that and does a really good job with all those things. But the bottom line is he tries to drill down and be a really efficient offense. He wants to be sound, he wants great technique and execution, which is the key and that's what he's always done a really good job of. But a really good coach and is creative, does a lot of things, does a lot of different personnel groupings, that's always been one of his deals. So all of those things play into the way he envisions an offense performing."
SPECIAL TEAMS COORDINATOR DAVE TOUB
Q: Did they (St. Louis Rams) steal your play there against the Seahawks last week?
TOUB: "Yeah, we ran that play in 2011 against the Green Bay Packers and Devin Hester and Johnny Knox. Unfortunately it was called back. They ran it better than us. They executed and got the touchdown. They did a nice job."
Q: Where did you get the idea for that one?
TOUB: "I came up with it. We had Devin (Hester). Devin draws so much attention and we felt like, the same type of thing that they thought with Tavon (Austin). He draws so much attention, teams just go to him and you have a punter who always punts in one spot all the time. So, you just bring your guy down to that part of the field and he catches it and runs it back."
Q: What if the punter kicks it the other way?
TOUB: "If he kicks it the other way, then Devin, he fields it because he has protection and if we're going to make it look like, I mean we're going to run a return there. Really, it's a low risk. If we don't field it, then we just let the ball bounce. In fact, we tried to run the same play against Denver last year and it didn't work out for us."
Q: Why's that?
TOUB: "Because the guy that dropped back was (Kyle) Williams. If you go back and look at it, (Kyle) Williams dropped back and we just didn't get it there in time and the ball hit the ground and the coach at the end of the game was like 'wasn't that the Johnny Knox play?' I said, 'yeah, it was'."
Q: On the reverse side of that, what do you have to tell your coverage guys?
TOUB: "The first thing the gunners have to do is as soon as they release, they have to find the football. That's all you have to do. Once the gunners find the football, then the coverage, what happens is the guys that are covering, they see everybody running and they see all these guys can't be wrong. Then you see three or four guys running down there, but if the gunners release and they find the football and they trace it and go to the ball, then everyone else goes where the gunners go."
Q: It's almost just as important for the gunners to get off the block as giving the routes to the ball.
TOUB: "Yes. Like always you have to get, you have to escape that guy first and as soon as you do, you find the football, go to the football and cover it. You've got to find the ball."
Q: That wasn't their only big special teams play. What is different about this week and their special teams?
TOUB: "Their head coach is in their corner obviously. He trusts those guys to execute plays and counts on them in crucial times in the game to make a big play and that last week was no different and obviously, he did that. The call that he made was a great call. Obviously he had a great feel for what was going on in the game and the fake, they executed it perfectly. Coach (John) Fassel does a good job with his group; he's got a bunch of young guys that can fly around. They trust what he's put in and they execute it."
Q: To call that pass deep in their own territory.
TOUB: "Yeah, you know he must have, Coach (Jeff) Fisher had a feel for how the game was going and what he needed to do to win the game. That says a lot about him and his coaching ability."
Q: Are you still itching to get that return for a touchdown? This time last year, it was almost a weekly occurrence. How close are you coming or what's not happening?
TOUB: "A kick-return game, we are, to be honest with you, disappointed right now. We've had some breakdowns. It's one guy here one guy there, whether it's the kick or whatever. We just haven't been able to pop one yet. It's a long season. We're just going to keep plugging away. Eventually they'll start coming. Hopefully sooner than later."
Q: Are you happy with the decision that your return guys are making, particularly your kick return guys?
TOUB: "Yes. Yeah, they are doing everything that we are coaching them to do. We still want to be aggressive coming out with the ball. That's not going to change. We just have to do a better job blocking. It's not the returners; it's the blocking up front to give those guys a chance to get started."
Q: What about De'Anthony Thomas? There have been a couple of balls he should have fair caught.
TOUB: "He had one ball in that game, the long, deep kick that he let go over his head and it just bounced and died in the 10 yard line. He should have fielded that one. We had a return on it that everybody blocked. Just like I've said before, he's a rookie and there's a learning curve that goes along with playing punt returner and he probably should have fielded that one and he'll be the first to tell you, but he also had a nice return too at the same time. He's going to continue to improve week to week."
Q: As far as place kickers, Cairo Santos is fulfilling your hopes. The Rams have a guy that is a threat from mid-field.
TOUB: "Yeah, he is. (Greg) Zuerlein has got an unbelievable kicking leg. He can kick the long ones. Cairo (Santos), we're really happy with. His game, you know, to be able to make that kind of a kick in front of 65,000 people when the game was on the line, when everybody's (watching), he's got to go out and do it and he did it. That's going to help his confidence; it helps our confidence in him, players' confidence in him going forward. That's going to, that's a plus."
Q: The Chargers called a timeout to ice Cairo.
TOUB: "I wanted him to kick it. We got the snap and the hold, but he didn't kick it. You want to kick that ball, so you can get some information even though they called a timeout in it. Even if the ball goes out, right, you get feedback on the wind, but he didn't kick it and then he just stood there and I was like, 'they're really freezing this guy.' You know? So got froze, he had the whole gamut on that deal and he still made that kick. We're proud of him."
Q: Were you standing there in total confidence that he was going to make that kick?
TOUB: "Yes. Oh yeah. Seeing him in practice, I mean I have said this before, when you see him in practice, he's so consistent. You know it's just a matter of just getting some kicks under his belt, and I think that game really helped him."
Q: Someone told me he hit three-straight off the upright in practice. Is that right?
TOUB: "I don't know. He's not 100% in practice, but practice is practice and every once in a while it's real windy out here. Sometimes you have days like that."
Q: We kind of take Dustin (Colquitt) for granted don't we?
TOUB: "You know, he's quietly having a great season for us. He's got great numbers and we can just count on him. We don't think about him, you're right. We're lucky to have him."