Coordinators Press Conferences 9/26

Offensive Coordinator Doug Pederson, Defensive Coordinator Bob Sutton and Special Teams Coach Dave Toub speak with the media as the team prepares for Monday Night Football against the Patriots

Doug Pederson

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Q:** Tough blow with (Joe) McKnight. He was pretty involved on Sunday and he just comes out here and gets hurt. Have you ever seen anything like this with the Achilles injuries on one team?

PEDERSON:"No and not specifically with an Achilles, just these types of injuries in general, but it's unfortunate. He did have a tremendous game on Sunday and it helped us, obviously, win that football game and I just wish him well now and get him healthy and get him back to us sooner."

Q: Did you talk to Joe McKnight afterwards?

PEDERSON:"No, I did not have a chance to talk to him. He was with the doctors and trainers, so I didn't get a chance to visit with him."

Q: When you see something like that, what goes through your head as a guy who coached him and knows what he's been through to get back?

PEDERSON:"It tows at your heart a little bit because he did battle through not only an injury here, but an injury in New York and sitting out of football and being away from it just knowing how hard he's put in the time, put in the effort all the way back into our OTAs and our offseason program and he was a guy who brought some energy to that room and he was electric and brought a whole other skill set that we were able to use this past weekend."

Q: Did you see him go down yesterday? Did you see what happened?

PEDERSON:"I was actually watching the play down the field, I didn't get a chance. I know Alex, I think, was throwing him the football. I just didn't. I got a chance to see it actually on tape."

Q: Was there contact on it? Do you know what happened?

PEDERSON:"It didn't look like there was any contact. I know there was a linebacker. It was a man coverage situation and it was playing in man and it looked like it was a non-contact injury."

Q: What kind of loss is this for you offensively? I know you have some bodies at that position, but what kind of loss is it after you saw what he could do for you.

PEDERSON:"Yeah, anytime you lose a guy like Joe. First of all, we've been blessed with having depth at that position. Knile (Davis) Cyrus (Gray) and Joe and Jamaal (Charles) and the guys. It's fortunate that we still have depth at that position. We'll miss his talent. He's going to be missed out there, and he gives you that depth. It gives, again, the opportunity for Knile to continue to improve and continue to get better and have another good game like he did this past weekend. Cyrus is in that same situation."

Q: McKnight was a guy that you didn't have much of training camp and you didn't have for some of the preseason. Were you surprised at what he was able to give you on such relatively short notice?

PEDERSON:"Not really. We saw it back in OTAs. We saw it pre-training camp some of the ability that he had out here in practice and felt like he was going to be a guy that could one, give Jamaal some much needed rest during the game and keep him healthy and fresh during the second half of the game. He was able to provide that and come out and do what he did last week was just a great effort and I think too it was a personal, it was a pride thing with Joe. He wanted to come out and prove that he could still play and he did that."

Q: As far as a pass-receiver, do you have anyone that can do the things he could do? Can Jamaal Charles do that for instance?

PEDERSON:"Jamaal is in that situation through that. Cyrus a little bit is in that position to do that. Joe, it's a natural talent to him, it comes easy to him. He was used that way. I actually coached against him in high school when he was in high school, John Curtis High School. I've known his history, I know what he's done even back in high school and of course what he did in college. He's a tremendous athlete and he'll be missed."

Q: Knile had a big game. How do you improve his pass protection when he's forced into that? That's a tough angle.

PEDERSON:"Knile's one that keeps working hard. He's a prideful guy as well. Coach (Eric) Bieniemy pounds the protection home with all of his backs. Alex helps him out on those as far as who to block. It all starts with the proper identification of linebackers and or safeties with the front and it just becomes a pride thing. It's a one on one thing and Knile's a willing participant to stick his nose in there and block and he's getting better. He's going to make mistakes, but the fact that he's showing and the willingness to block is important."

Q: On the fumbles, do you attribute that to how he carries it? What were your takes on it?

PEDERSON:"One just, it popped out and I think there was one on the sideline that popped out and out of bounds and the other one kind of just, again, got hit on it and tackled on it. The ball was a little away from his body at the time; he's got to keep that one high and tight. It was fortunate that he got that one back."

Q:  What about his hands as a receiver? Where is he at in that area?

PEDERSON:"Again, it's part of that pass protection, he's working at it. He's a good receiver. As you know, we don't throw him a ton of balls, but yet when we do, he's able to make the catch. It's a focus and concentration thing."

Q: Is that what you chalk up the two drops to between the first and last game?

PEDERSON:"A lot of it is just concentration and focus on the football. If you take your eye off it, you're going to drop it, doesn't matter who you are. You've got to continue to focus on the football."

Q: What do you expect to see from the Patriots' defense?

PEDERSON:"This is a good group. They don't show you. They'll mix their personnel on defense. They play a multitude of personnel groupings. They don't do a lot. It's not a big blitz team, not a heavy blitz team, but what they do, they get you with stunts and games and picks and things like that and they've got (Chandler) Jones and (Rob) Ninkovich are two of the top pass rushers in the league and (Jerod) Mayo keeps those guys going there in the middle. (Dont'a) Hightower's playing at an extremely high level. They have a front seven that can get after you. Then, in the back end they're aggressive and they like to play man coverage with (Darrelle) Revis and (Devin) McCourty out there. There's some guys that can challenge our receivers. It's a good test, and it's one that we look forward to on Monday."

Q: Does De'Anthony show the comfort level with the angle routes and some of the west coast stuff you guys ask your running backs to do?

PEDERSON:"He's getting better at that. I don't know that that is his niche in the offense, but it is something we will continue to explore."

Q: Safe to say, there's some stuff from De'Anthony that we haven't seen yet?

PEDERSON:"Well, we haven't seen him, so, yeah there is and each week as we go, there's going to be specific plays much like we did with Joe and much like we've done with Jamaal and Knile and things like that. It's just part of the game and even with our tight ends, creating packages that way for those guys and keeping everybody involved."

Q: Do you feel like the offensive line is getting better at communicating?

PEDERSON:"I do. I think it's something that they've worked extremely hard at. They'll continue to get better with that with time, with reps. Mike McGlynn is settling there right now and Zach (Fulton) has a few starts now under his belt and then Ryan Harris moving over to right tackle getting him comfortable over there. Being together for the last couple of weeks has really helped them."

Bob Sutton

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Q:** Are you happy with the growth in the secondary?

SUTTON:"Yeah, I think those guys, we've obviously had some different people back there, but I think they have all done a good job of improving every day and every week. That's kind of the key to this whole drill, as this thing goes along you're getting a little bit better. I thought they did a nice job at Miami. Obviously, a guy like (Mike) Wallace has great speed and can affect the defense quickly. They did a good job with him."

Q: Specifically, what did you think of Ron Parker?

SUTTON:"I think Ron's done a good job. We actually started playing him at safety the week before the first game. Of course Coop (Marcus Cooper) got hurt there so we had to shift him back out there, and started training him more and more. He still has to be a corner too, so he's kind of wearing both hats. But I think he's done a good job. For a guy like Ron, the things that he needs to improve on can only happen with being back there. And seeing them time after time, whether it's entering a tackle, breaking on the ball, anticipating by a formation what's going to happen – all those things come with just repetition, repetition. If he keeps working I think he's going to be an improved player and a player that helps us win."

Q: Have you ever seen a team have this many Achilles injuries?

SUTTON:"I'm not a historian on injuries but I can't think of any that I've been on."

Q: What do you chalk it up too? How do you approach it?

SUTTON:"They always say, 'two things you can't worry about is weather and injuries because you can't control them.' I really don't have a strong opinion, I have no facts. It's one of those things."

Q: When you see this many do you guys think about reevaluating what you do in some way, shape or form?

SUTTON:"Again, that's in somebody else's wheel house. I've got my own set of issues here coming up, he's got 12 on his jersey."

Q: Is there much difference in the Tom Brady you tried to get linebackers ready for 10 years ago as to now?

SUTTON:"No, I think he's one of those elite players at his position, really, elite players in the whole league. Again, he's a guy who has Hall of Fame talent and that free agent work ethic. He's always prepared, he understands what is happening, he understands the opponent very well. He knows the players on the opponent very well – he studies hard that way. He's one of those guys that's going to be drilled down very well. You're not going to fool him a lot because he's seen about everything that happens in life and over the 15 years he's been there. He's a really, really good football player. Very accurate as a quarterback, tough minded, has been outstanding in his career in the two minute drills. That's kind of been one of his real attributes, I think. You can see from the games that you watch, he's a highly competitive guy. That transcends, that goes through the whole offense, though the whole team. When your guy is like that, people rally around it."

Q: How important is it going to be to shut down the connection between Brady and Rob Gronkowski?

SUTTON:"Well, obviously you are dealing with a really good football player. Gronkowski's got unusual size, huge hands, he can grab about anything that goes up in the air and he's a big body guy that runs. Physically it's hard when you're playing a quarterback that's as accurate as him and a guy like Gronkowski because they know how to use leverage and then when they use leverage, it's just hard to get around this guy. It's a challenge, you've got to do a really good job on him and change up things on him but you've got to be as close as you can to him and he's going to catch some passes because there's really nothing you can do on some of them. You've just got to get his rear down as quick as you can and that's not easy either. But he's a great challenge for any defense and our guys understand that and everybody involved in covering him realizes that. And sometimes that isn't man-to-man, that's zones and whatever. You've got to do a really good job on this guy."

Q: The Patriots have had some offensive line issues and Tom Brady isn't the most mobile guy. Are you licking your chops a little?

SUTTON:"Well, I don't think when you are playing the Brady's and Manning's, they take care of so much of it themselves. They understand, they've got this clock that goes right here and they usually do a pretty good job of that, so I think you go into the game and you've got to play your game no matter what happens in there. And obviously anytime we're dealing with that kind of quarterback, if we can affect him, just want to affect him where he can't sit back there, that's to our advantage obviously."

Q: How are you limiting the big pass plays so far this season?

SUTTON: "Well, we've worked hard on it. Some of it is what Emmitt (Thomas) and Al (Harris) have down outside. They've done a good job with the techniques of the corners, that's part of it. Part of it is how safeties enter plays. There's completions that sometimes aren't of great length that end up being big plays because you don't enter a tackle right, you miss a tackle. I think we've done a better job of that in space than we did maybe a year ago sometimes. But I think honestly, it's kind of a combination of those things. And the players understand everybody has a tendency of when they take their shots, who is the shot to, all of those things. So the more you understand that, the better you can perform out there as an individual. And we had some young guys last year that have grown and got better in that regard. It's a challenge every week because the way we play, people still are going to take their shots down the field and you just have got to know how to battle those things. And if they hit one, the big thing is you just can't go in that shell. As hard as it is to do, you've got to shake that baby off and go right back at it."

Q: Going off of that psychological thing, what do you tell your players about bouncing back from a play, especially considering that Brady is likely going to exploit that?

SUTTON: "Well, the whole thing again, if you just look at the history of a guy like Tom Brady and what he's done. He's going to make some plays now, it's going to happen. He's not going to go to Canton because he can't and I think he's going to Canton. So you really have to do is what you're saying. You've got to accept the fact that hey, occasionally they might make a play but hey, you've got to have that same kind of attitude, that, 'Ok, you got me this time but I'm going to be right back here next time and if you think you're backing me off, no, it ain't happening.' And that's the only way you can play defense. I don't care what style of defense you're playing. You have to have that kind of feeling because these guys are good, they make plays and you've just got to make one more than they do."

Q: You've allowed fewer big plays but also fewer turnovers. How do you get back to forcing turnovers like last year?

SUTTON: "Well, I think turnovers – and we talked to our players about it – turnovers you just have to keep doing all of the things that allow you to get those and that's play fast, play hard, play physical. And like we always say, numbers favor us. The more people we have around the ball, whether it's thrown or carried or whatever, the better chance we have if the ball comes loose. Whether it's tipped, fumbled, catch-and-run fumble, whatever happens and that's really what you have to do. We had a couple shots in Miami where we've got to catch the ball and most of the time when you're studying yourself, and you're trying, 'hey, how are we going to make more turnovers,' if you take advantage of your opportunities, it usually works out pretty good. I use last year as an example.  We didn't have that many caused fumble, but I think we led the league in recovering fumbles. And that's what it comes down to. When that opportunity comes, you have to take advantage of it. And the best way to do that like we keep preaching is 'hey, be around the football, be around the football, good things are going to happen if you're around the football."

Q: How important is it to hit and hurry a quarterback so you can get him off the spot?

SUTTON: "Well, I think it's critical. Like we say, you don't want him to be out here in seven-on-seven, where he's completely in rhythm, comfortable, visions good, everything's there and go. And like I said, Tom Brady has seen every coverage, you guys could draw up a couple and if they'd work, we'd take them too. But he's seen these coverages. We're not going to stun him with a new coverage concept or something so we've got to play the coverage really well and understand where your help is and if you're the guy that's got the tough job, 'Ok, I've got to live with that in this coverage and understand that.' If he finds the place that's the easiest to hit, he finds it. Then you've just got to move on and change it up and don't give him the same thing all the time. But you definitely want to affect the quarterback, you want him not to be sitting there, boom and go. Now if he wants to throw it as fast as he can, there's probably nothing we can do about that but that doesn't always kill you."

Dave Toub

Q: What are your instructions to Frankie Hammond Jr. fielding punts when you are backed up?

TOUB:"It changes game to game. Our gameplan in that game, we knew we were going to get some low driving punts. We told Frankie to be aggressive, that's really what we told him and he was doing exactly what we wanted him to do. If you go back and look at him he caught the ball and there was nobody within 15 yards of him when he caught it. We just so happened to have – we touched a guy in the back and we got the penalty and then that kind of hurt our offense and the field position. But we kept our plan up. We didn't change and then at the end of the game we were able to get one and get it out to the 50 and help our team instead of hurt our team."

Q:So even after the fact you were happy with his decision making?

TOUB: "Yeah there's no question, no question. We try to put special teams units on the defensive. We're an aggressive unit, that's what we do. In this case, in this game, we have a particular reason why we wanted to return those balls that are inside the 5."

Q: But you might have different instructions for him this week if he's your guy?

TOUB: "Sure, yeah, sure, no question. Every team is different, every punter is different. They kick different balls at certain areas of the field so we're going to adjust accordingly."

Q: Are you presuming Joe McKnight is out for the season?

TOUB: "That's up to the doctor, I don't know. I just know he went down yesterday and we're really upset for him because he was a year and a half without playing and coming out and having such success and doing a good job for me as a returner. It's just a shame, I feel bad for him."

Q: Have you ever seen anything like this with all the Achilles injuries to one team?

TOUB: "No, no, and three on one team, I'm not sure if that ever happened. I'm not sure."

Q: Is it just a freak injury thing or is there more something to it?

TOUB: "Well, I wish I had the answer to that. I really don't. I'm sure we'll go back and look and look at all avenues and see what the problem was."

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