Paul Brown Stadium
Aug. 5, 2014
“We’re having the opportunity Thursday night to go out there and play the first preseason game against a well put-together and very good football team. Their offensive guys have really played at a high level. Last year they came together with adding the quarterback (
“Defensively they put in the system with a new coordinator (Bob Sutton), and they really picked things up well, and they played good defense and had a great year. It’s a great challenge for us to go out there and play against a well put together football team. Our guys who need to play for the time that they’re out there will be challenged and they’ll need to play well.”
You and Andy Reid are pretty good friends and had similar situations--taking over a two-win team--what’s the key to pulling off something like that?
“They key of it is getting the players to do the things you need them to do to win, get them to play together as a unit, get them to be productive. The Chiefs did a great job of taking care of the football last year. They had seven interceptions and very few fumbles. That’s the key to winning football, and they took the ball away. That’s always the key element to winning and losing in the NFL, the takeaway-giveaway ratio.”
How much do you worry about tackling going into this game, because you don’t get a chance to do a whole lot of that in camp?
“That first preseason game and that first exposure is always an adjustment. We’ve had some tackling that’s not supposed to be tackling at times in camp. We put an emphasis on it on defense to make sure. Ball security and tackling are two things during the first preseason game that hopefully you don’t get surprised.”
What’s the biggest piece of advice you try to give the rookies that are going out there for the first time?
“Well, we’re not going to do much and call much that’s going to confuse them. Just play football, focus on your keys, focus on your responsibility, get your eyes where they belong and look at what you’re supposed to be looking at. Then go play and play hard.”
Will any of the guys that came back to practice?
“None of the guys that came back this week will play.”
In the preseason, games two and three seem to be the most important, with games one and four really for guys to break in and get ready for the season opener ...
“I don’t know. I may look at it a little bit differently. I think the important thing is you want to work your things and get your young guys the experience of going out there and playing. I think that’s important, to get them immersed and playing football competitively against another color helmet because there’s not planning, there’s not preparation for these games. You might get surprised a little bit sometimes, because one team works a little bit harder on some things than others. Our mindset is not going to change. The most important thing for us is when September 7 rolls around this year.”
How far along are you installation-wise?
“I came in the NFL in 1992, and installation was what it is from day one, and then it’s day two, and day three and that’s what installation is. You have no way to measure a barometer because you’re going to get into the season and you’re going to do so many things that you touched on a little bit, so we’re fine where we are in terms of that kind of stuff. It’s different than putting a playbook on a guy’s desk and tell them we’re going to learn this thing. We don’t do it that way anymore. I’ve never been exposed to it that way, actually, since I’ve been in the league.”
Will this be typical opener
You have had some time to work with your son (assistant coach Marcus Lewis) in training camp, and back in the spring as a dad. Has it been enjoyable to be around him a little bit more?
“It’s been outstanding. It’s been really cool. It’s been cool to watch him grow and do the responsibility of things that he’s supposed to do and get his job done. To get the texts from him when everybody’s gone, and he’s wondering if he can leave, it’s kind of funny. There’s no bell that rings around here. That’s the way it is when you start at the bottom. That’s a good place to start. There is no time clock in coaching. That always amazes me, and I kind of chuckle about it. When the weekend rolls around in the NFL, it’s a little different.”
When you think back to when you started in coaching and the opportunity because of you that he has in coaching, it’s a great opportunity...
“I often say that if I had to start with some of the guys that I was on the staff with, and they were in those entry level positions I don’t know that I would made it that far. Guys like Mike Pettine that came to Pitt after I left, but I know what the guys went through before him like Mike McCarthy that were on our staff at the University of Pittsburgh in those roles. I don’t know if I would have made it as far as Mike had with some of the tasks that they were given all the time, and sometimes they way they were spoken to.
“It’s really cool to have Marcus here and to be working with the defensive staff. He’s getting great direction from Paul (Guenther) and the other coaches, and that’s what you want. You want to grow up and have great coaches around you to teach you how to do things the right way: how you break down the opponent, how you draw the cards and things like that. It’s about to take another uptick when we get to game day and he has responsibilities to take care of during the game. He got great experience last year with Coach (Tommy) Tuberville and his staff at UC, and now this is another step in the progression.”
College coaches always bemoan special teams the first couple of weeks because they have no preseason games. This is your first exposure special teams-wise. How big of a deal is it adjustment wise-for the young guys doing that?
“I think we’ll be good there. I’m excited to see some guys go out. It’s where their bread will get buttered. We should be in pretty good shape that way, because we return a core group that’s played on (special) teams so they can show them how it’s done.
“We’ll interject some of those (young) guys in early, with some of those other guys. Until late in the game, I don’t think we have to put 11 guys out there that have never done it before together with us. Which is a good thing. They’ve got great leadership there, and obviously great coaching from the veteran players that have been here 4-5 years, the Vinny Reys, Ced Peermans and alike. Now you have a young guy like