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What We Learned From Thursday's Media Availability

Co-Offensive Coordinator Matt Nagy, Defensive Coordinator Bob Sutton, Special Teams Coordinator Dave Toub, WR Jeremy Maclin, OL Jah Reid and OL Zach Fulton spoke with the media on Thursday.



Q: Why do you think you got off to such a slow start against San Diego?

NAGY: "Well, I think there's a few factors in it. One, everyone's a little juiced up. For some guys, it's their first time out there on the field, but credit to their defense. They had a good scheme for us. The biggest thing that we wanted to do going into that game was move the sticks and have some extended drives like we did in preseason, unfortunately, we didn't do that. But, we stuck together, we hung in there and got into the second half and fought."

Q:  It has to be encouraging to see your team come back and fight like that?

NAGY: "Yeah, that's huge. We've put a lot of time and effort into the offseason in improving, get better, work on our two minute stuff. When you get behind, you're forced to be one dimensional. So, I think the players, the guys did such a great job understanding where we were at in that game with the clock, and how the rules go with when the clock stops, when it starts, getting up to the line of scrimmage and rolling. Just to go back and watch that and see the amount of plays that we had and the time that we used up, it was neat. You don't really want that to happen the first game and get down like that, but it just goes to show all the hard work that they put in this offseason came into fruition."

Q: How important was it for Alex Smith to get outside the pocket in the second half?

NAGY: "Well, that's something that he's done since we've had him. It's a weapon that he uses to his advantage, so if teams want to go ahead and try and double other players, he's going to take advantage of his legs. He doesn't look to make it happen, but if it happens, he's pretty smart with being able to get down and not take that extra hit."

Q:  How do you prepare for a front seven with that skill level that Houston has?

NAGY: "Well I think the biggest thing is try and get them a little bit off balance. You see it in the Chicago game, if you get one dimensional with this team and they tee off and pin their ears back, you're in trouble. That's no hidden secret. We need to make sure that we're balanced, we need to make sure we have a good, crisp game plan for their scheme that they're going to have and for the one-on-one matchups. We have all the faith in the world in or guys up front, and we're looking forward to it."

Q: You look at Alex Smith's stats since he's been here, and his away stats are better than his home ones – any particular reason for that? 

NAGY: "No, I didn't know that, so that's interesting. I think the thing with Alex [Smith], you can see him grow from year one to right now, year four. Some of the things that we're doing in the offense and the flexibility that we give him. On the road or at home, I'm not real sure what the difference would be for that, but it's an interesting fact."

Q: His touchdown interception ratio is a lot better on the road than at home.

NAGY: "That's important. You get on the road and you have turnovers, let alone interceptions, that's difficult. Obviously, the numbers aren't in your favor to come back in those situations. Then, you throw the crowd into it, so turnovers, interceptions – keep them to a minimum."

Q: What was Spencer Ware doing that allowed him to have such a breakout game?

NAGY: "Attitude. Playing with attitude. I was on the sideline, and when we were down 21 points, he's over there – he just wanted the ball. He was positive. We wanted to go out there and make a play. Just to see him go out there and do it was pretty cool. So, he just continued to, not only do it running the ball, but catching the ball as we all learned. "

Q: Is that attitude level something that you've never seen before at that high level of play?

NAGY: "No, we saw it before. The one that jumps out to me is the Buffalo game last year. In the rain, it was a struggle to get going, and then, we handed the ball off to him a few times and he picked us up. I think single-handedly, he got us going. That's what happened the other day."

Q: Is there anything as a coach you can do to prevent coming out slowly like you did last game?

NAGY: "No, I don't know if I believe that they came out flat. The effort was there – the efforts there – it's the first game of the year for us. It's the first game for a lot of people out there, and you take that for consideration. It was the same thing for our opponent – for San Diego it's the same thing. Unfortunately, we came out and didn't perform and go out and work on the things that we did in training camp, but in the end, we got the win. You try and take the positives of what happened."

Q: When you hear other teams preparing for Travis Kelce, how do you prepare for that?

NAGY: "Well you know, each and every week, we know that Travis [Kelce] is most likely going to get double-teamed or there is going to be a plan for him. So one way to do that is to move him around, you can put him in different positions, but in the end, he's going to have to win. So, on top of that, if they're going to double-team him, then someone else is open somewhere else. We have all the confidence in the world in all our other guys, and I think that's one of the biggest things to this offense and what Coach [Andy] Reid does. It's almost like a pick your poison type of deal. We know we're going to see that, and we just want to have a plan for it."

Q: How does having a few questionable players for Sunday change the dynamic of the game?

NAGY: "I think for that, the linemen that we have that are in there, we have trust in all of them. That's the biggest thing. You saw last year with Jah Reid. He came in on a short moment notice and did well in such a hostile environment. So, the biggest thing is really the next man up mentality, and I think the great teams do that, and if we start worrying about this guy not in, this guy not in, then, you're in trouble. Let's just focus on who's in there, and believe in them and let's roll."

Q: How do you take that big overtime win and that energy into the start of Sunday's game and not allow a slow start like the last game?

NAGY: "Well, number one – let's not get in that situation again. So, that's the first part. If we do, let's continue to keep growing on it. Like I said earlier, the tempo, the execution was awesome. We just want to continue to keep growing. Situationally, we want to make the guys aware of different situations that occur. You saw it over the weekend with other teams. So, just educate them as much as possible and practice it."

Q: Can you just speak to what Barry [Rubin] and his staff have done, because it seemed like late in the game San Diego was getting a little tired and our guys were rising to the challenge?

NAGY: "Yeah, they do such a great job, and they've done it since they've been here. Our guys are able to finish into the fourth quarter and into overtime if needed. It starts in the offseason, and we have 100 percent rate of guys here, the conditioning, and the gassers, and the strength training that they do, the box jumps – you see them out here. Again, the work that you put in the offseason with the scheming of two-minute, per say, and the physical part of it. I think you did see that at the end of San Diego game."


DEFENSIVE COORDINATOR BOB SUTTON* Q: Is there any benefit to having played against [Brock] Osweiler for a half last year as opposed to just seeing him on video?* SUTTON:**

"Yeah, I think so. You have an appreciation for him that you can't have until you're actually on the field with him. From our standpoint as players and coaches, we at least know who he is and we have an idea of his arm strength and what he can do. He's obviously a big guy. He had the big scramble against Chicago last week. We know he is into some of the movement passing and the bootlegs -- his big scramble was in the second play of the game last week. Even though he's a big guy, I think they still feel like he can do some of the movement things that he was doing in Denver. It helps you understand and appreciate what he can do. That half is just a limited view, but it helps you appreciate."

Q:What did you see on your end last week versus San Diego?SUTTON:"We got off to a bad start. I think what really prevented us from going forward in the first half was execution of basic defenses and technique. There's always going to be those plays where we step back and say, 'that's really hard.' The offense might say, 'Hey that's a pretty good concept there.' We always say, 'somebody has a hard job.' We didn't execute our core stuff as well as we needed to. There are a couple plays that were obvious, and there were others that bled the down and distance and prevented us from playing the way we wanted to. Our tackling struggled -- I don't think we tackled as well as we should have. There were times when a ball carrier was moving the chains forward after contact had been made. There were missed tackles as well. All those things added up to make it difficult for us to play well. That, and we also couldn't flip the switch to show up and win on third down. We didn't execute in those opportunities. There are times when you need to stop and say, 'That was a good play call or a good execution by San Diego and Philip Rivers and the offensive guys. You know that's going to happen, but you need to win enough of those to give yourself a chance to be victorious in the end."

Q:What jumps out to you about Will Fuller?SUTTON:"He's fast. He's real fast. He's got great vertical speed, he's competitive, he's tough, he blocks well in the run game, he's a good catch and run guy in screen-passing situations and he's going to be a dynamic receiver in this league. He's a great asset for [Brock] Osweiler. He obviously got off to a great start last week in Chicago."

Q:What did you see from Marcus Peters last week and how tall of a task will it be dealing with those two receivers on Sunday?

SUTTON:"No matter who you are, those are two really good receivers. They're kind of different in style, but they're both really good. Marcus will be fine, he's usually up for whatever challenge we give him. Whoever is on those two guys will have to do a great job because they're real guys who make real plays and do it in tough situations. DeAndre Hopkins has got great ball skills, a great catch radius, strong hands, he loves to go up and win the 50-50 ball and he's turning into one of the real elite receivers in the NFL."

Q:How much of limiting those two receivers production depends on getting pressure on Brock Osweiler?

SUTTON:"A lot. You aren't covering most of the receivers in our league unless you can get to the quarterback. So they've got to do a good job of effecting the quarterback, whether we're sending three, four or five or however many guys -- they've got to effect the quarterback. If they let the quarterback sit back there, it's going to be hard. On the flip side you need to be as competitive as we can and contest every throw."

Q:How much do you take into account the knowledge of this defense that Peyton Manning passed along to Brock Osweiler while he was at the Broncos?SUTTON:"I'm sure there's things that every quarterback likes that he does well. I'm sure there's parts of that that are already in place. Coach [Bill] O'Brien is a smart man and you're always going to do what your players do best. So if there's a really good pass concept, route or throw that he really likes and feels comfortable against our defense with, I'm sure that'll be in the plan. I think this early in the year, there's still four or five plays that we haven't seen from them. It's just part of playing these early games. They haven't quite set who they are yet, so you just kind of figure out who they are. That's why you need your core techniques and core defenses to play well. Those are the ones that adjust the best and they're the ones you play the most. If you can play them well and stay at a high level, tempo and intensity with them, you have a chance to rally and make it back to the huddle and play the next down."

Q:What's the key to tightening up the run defense?SUTTON:"I don't think it's just the run defense. Run defense is just, 'Hey, you've got to come across the line and win some one-on-one battles.' Sometimes a one-on-one battle means you're getting double-teamed, but you still need to win those battles. That's what you're asked to do. All these things factor in there: you need to tackle better, you need to push them back and you can't let three-yard gains turn into four-five-six yard gains. The main thing for us is we need to play much better in our most basic things. We took a stride in that in the second half. We're nowhere where we need to be, but it was much better than it was in the first half."

Q: As the leader of the defense seeing this guys practice every day, were you maybe surprised with the lack of development by KeiVarae Russell?

SUTTON: "No, to be a rookie in this league is not always easy nor is it equal. Not every guy that comes through these doors plays at the exact moment as the other guy. I don't ever worry about that. Sometimes its situations, sometimes it's just this guy is more comfortable in what you're doing, sometimes he's just adjusted quicker. I don't think that was necessarily anything with Russell at all. I think there was a lot of things that went into what happened, and again, that's out of my wheel house, but there's a lot of other things that were going on on our team. I don't think you can say he's not going to play in our league. I think he very easily can. He's a hard working dude and it's one of those things that happen."

Q: Tamba [Hali's] playing time on Sunday, do you think it was just right? Too much, too little? And how did he look to you?

SUTTON: "I think he looked good. I mean we really kind of had three players there that hadn't really played any significant snaps before that game with Eric Berry and Phillip Gaines as well. I thought all three of those guys did a good job of playing the defense, seemed in pretty good condition and did a good job there. I think the snaps were somewhere, we didn't sit down and say hey it's three and that's it or 31 and that's it. We kind of go by a flow and he kind of got ramped up there in the second half and did a good job. I thought he did a really good job and it was a reasonable amount of snaps."


Q: How did some of your rookies do on special teams mainly [Demarcus] Robinson and also [Eric] Murray and [Tyreek] Hill in the return group?

TOUB: "I was really pleased with all of them. We had a couple of situations where we had a great returner out there, Travis Benjamin, and [Dustin] Colquitt gave him the ball a few time and we were able to find out right away what kind of coverage guys we had. We're starting two rookies at gunners and they came down and did a nice job."

Q: All three of those guys played well then?

TOUB: "Oh yeah, and then Murray at the slot had to protect him [Colquitt] when Darrell Stuckey was there, their edge rusher. We had a true test of the rookies in the first game which was good for us."

Q: Last time you played Houston, special teams set the tone very early, do you see anything different on their specials where maybe we can't exploit it the same way?

TOUB: "They have a new coach, Larry Izzo, and he's done a great job as far as getting them to play very very hard. It's a lot of the same guys, but they're playing with so much more effort and on special teams it's all about effort number one, and they're showing it. In the Chicago game they were flying around, so we expect it to be a really tough test this week for us."

Q: Are you expecting that kickoff out of the end zone?

TOUB: "If they can do it, yeah. Last week we didn't even get a sniff at kickoff return, you know, because Knile [Davis] is back there. We may see that with Knile back there early in the year. Later in the year when it gets colder they might not be able to kick those touchbacks. We have to be ready if the ball is kicked short."

Q: Last week against the Chargers, about three minutes to go, what went into the decision and the communication between you guys as far as kicking deeper, maybe attempting an onside kick?

TOUB: "At the end of the game that was a critical situation and I actually had the onside kick team in a huddle and Andy trumped it, made a great decision and decided to kick it deep and play defense. We banged the ball out of the back of the end zone and our defense stepped up and did a great job. It ended up being probably one of the more critical decisions in that game, I think. That was a good call."

Q: How'd you feel Cairo [Santos] and the coverage team did with getting field position on kickoffs?

TOUB: "I thought he did a good job. We change it up. Cairo can kick touchbacks if I ask him to. At the end of the game the last two we wanted to kick touchbacks, save time and just play defense at the 25. Early in the game we were blooping it, kicking it down to the goal line. We had one that got out past the 25 and I call that a loss, but anytime we get them inside the 25 or inside the 15 like we did the other, those are all wins and a less chance to score."

Q: The first kickoff looks like it was intended to go short, what was that?

TOUB:"Adrenaline, he tried to kick it as high as he could and it actually went a little deeper than we wanted it to. We like those high kicks that come right around the goal line, so they have to make a decision. Do I come out or not? One yard line out obviously they have to come out, so that's what we're looking for on those."

Q: Cairo talked about kicking farther than he ever has before when you're indoors, is this the opportunity to do that?

TOUB: "Yeah, his leg is definitely strong. Indoors there's no wind and in those situations he's going to be able to kick it deep. His range will probably be a little bit more, indoors."

Q: Are you going to give him a 60 yarder?

TOUB: "We're going to give him a little bit more, I don't know about a 60 yarder."

Q: What are the biggest things that you're working on this week to prepare for Houston?

TOUB: "Intensity, how hard the games going to be. It's going to be tough for us on special teams. Being that we were successful last year we know we're going to get great effort and that it's going to be a challenge for us."


Q:What differences have you seen from Alex Smith's play that's changed since last year?MACLIN:"He just has confidence. He's a confident guy in what he does, and he knows what he's capable of. He goes out and wins. He's continued to win at a high level. One thing about him is that he's a winner. Anytime you've got him under center, you're always going to have a chance to win the game."

Q:What are some of the things you as a receiving core are working on this week against Houston?MACLIN:"It's always the same approach for us: be accountable. Clearly you study your opponent but at the end of the day, it's about accountability. Whenever Alex [Smith] needs you, you need to be there for him. We just need to be accountable."

Q:This team continued to get knocked down last week. How did you keep getting back up so late in the game?MACLIN:"Anytime you can get a win in the National Football League, it's huge. Anytime you get a win in the fashion we did, it's rare. You enjoy it, but after you enjoy it for a little bit, you go back to the drawing board and figure out how you can prevent it from happening again."Q:How does the team prevent having a first half this week like they went through last week? REID:"We want to come out fast and play as hard as we can and hope that it shows up on the scoreboard."


Q:Is there anything specific you want to improve on that you didn't accomplish last week?REID:"We just want to put forth our best effort all around. We want to come out and move the ball, establish the run and protect well. The same things we try to do every week."

Q:What are some of the things you've seen from Houston's edge rushers like Jadeveon Clowney? REID:"They're good. We know they're good players just like they were last year when we played them."


Q: Throughout the week, how is your process different for each of the three positions you may have to step into? FULTON:  "It's not that different. During the course of the weeks, I hop in all three spots during practice to stay familiar with each role."* *

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