I heard John Ross does a pretty good impression of you...
* *"The discipline part of his presentation was very good, to quiet the crowd (laughs). It's very impressive, actually. (He said), 'I got this coach, don't worry.' Ok, I'm back in my place (laughs)."
It seems as though the offense had a lot thrown at them in Monday's practice. Were you guys just trying out different things with the defense and seeing how the offense would respond?
* *"From the offensive point of view, there were a lot of things going on with different looks. But the offense, with where they are in instillation and the other things they were working on, doesn't always match up with the defense and what they see in the film study prior to practice as they install plays and know what to expect. They have to revert to certain things. So, it was good that they had to understand the situation about where that particular drill was, what the focus was and making sure we get refocused correctly when they watch the tape after practice on Monday, because they weren't at their sharpest and it kind of snowballs. From the coaches to the quarterbacks, the skill guys to the line, we have to do a better job than where we were on Monday with it. So that was good for them to understand that."
From a coaching standpoint, what were some of the major points of emphasis that you took away from the game?
* *"I was very pleased that we had only four penalties in the game. Two were within the play, and two are very easily correctable — the motion penalty on Bene (Bengals CB Bene Benwikere), and then later the false snap in the last drive of the game. So it's a good start, a good outing. Our hands and feet were in good spots. We have to continue with that, but it will be another challenge this week. Particularly in the kicking game, when you get into those challenges with open-field plays and not having penalties. We had a chance to field a punt late in the game that probably you don't want to field, knowing what the risk of that situation. So those kinds of things. We had great opportunities to kick field goals and put the kickers through their paces that way. The defense got to look at situations of, basically, a one-minute offense with getting the call, getting lined up and understanding the situation and where the ball must go. There was a lot to work on and have an opportunity to put on tape."
Your team was able to limit the number of penalties against it last season. Is that a point of emphasis?
* *"That's been a point of emphasis, and we have to keep it up. I really felt like a week ago having an entire set of NFL officials was very beneficial to us. Especially for the young guys, since it's their first time around these alignments on offense, and even on defense with not lining up offside and those types of things. We have to continue with playing down the field, which is what the secondary has always been good at, and continue to get better with those things."
Do you like watching Geno Atkins practice?
* *"Geno has one speed, which is great. That's what he showed back in 2010 as a rookie, and it's never changed. And that's been great and huge for him to always be at that same speed. It helps him be such a dominant player on Sundays."
Is there a balance with him? He needs to get his work in and get better, but he can wreck things as far as what your offense is trying to practice...
* *"Well, we play some 'wreckers.' We played one last week with Tampa. You play some of those guys. It's great for the offense philosophically to have to deal with a guy like that. Then, secondly, for the guys up front to have to deal with someone like that, who has the quickness and the lower-body strength to cause issues for you."
Have you ever had to tell a guy like that to not go full speed so that the offense can function in practice?
* *"We aren't running full speed plays anyway. They aren't cutting him on the back side and those other things that happen in live football. So there has to be a respect element. It's like your initial question. You can say this or that about the offense, but it's not real football. A lot of times one guy goes harder than another guy, or one guy is more respectful of what we have to get done than another guy. So it doesn't always fit together in practice, offense and defense. But, we don't play the guys in the striped helmets this year. We just have to keep practicing and working together and do the best we can all the time."
Most guys come in with a lot of confidence, especially those higher draft picks. How important is it for a guy like Jordan Willis to make an impact, like he did, in that first preseason game?
* *"Huge. There's a guy who's going to do something exactly the way you want him to do it. And then, when he got to go play live football, he stood out. And that's great."
Is Jordan Willis turning out to be as advertised?
"We are trying to get him to smile every once in a while (laughs). He's so doggone serious (laughs). He just wants to work to get better. He has that standard answer. 'Yes sir, coach.' However he continues to grow, that's big. Having some success is what you want for a young player, so they can continue to build upon it."
Did you say last week that it was Willis or Carl Lawson who comes to your office to watch film?
"Carl. But Willis has as well. They both actually have. That's what you want from your young guys. It's funny, because when you look at them you would think Carl would be the quiet one. But its not, it's actually Jordan. We're blessed with a nice group of young players from the draft class, as well as with the CFA (college free agent) guys."
Those other guys performed well in the game against Tampa Bay, didn't they?
"Yeah. Nick Vigil, being the starter now, went out there and did his thing. There were also Willie (William) Jackson and Andrew Billings. We've got to keep extending Andrew some, and that will be big this week. It will be a good thing for them to continue to take steps forward, just like the players we saw the year before, like Josh Shaw, C.J. (Uzomah) and Tyler Kroft."
KeiVarae Russell was drafted by Kansas City last year, before being released by the Chiefs and coming here. How has he developed?
"Luckily for us, he was in a position where you have him on the 53-man roster or practice squad, and he's one of the additional players, beyond the guys who suit up every week, we have for practice purposes. He's done a great job of being very attentive of everything you want, and with detail. He's a smart guy, and he's just got a good way about his personality. He's worked at it, and he's changed how he has been coached in some ways to play within the techniques we're coaching all the time. He's embraced that. You can talk to him about a play, and he knows what you want to see done differently."
Have you seen an uptick in his energy against his former team?
"No, because he's coming out of concussion protocol. He's getting through that. I know he'd like to get the opportunity to play, because he's competing for a job on this football team. He's already been through it where there was no job for him. He knows how this thing works."
What do you think about Andy Reid coached teams?
"We know they play extremely hard. On offense, they throw the whole kitchen sink at you. They got a great quarterback in Alex Smith. Their skill positions (are good), and their line is athletic and strong. But you get a lot of different looks from the Andy Reid-coached offense. On the other side of the ball on defense, Bob's (defensive coordinator Bob Sutton) side, they're very aggressive. They've got great outside edge rushers, and they've got big, physical guys in the middle. And they've got guys in the secondary that run and cover. They're also well-coached on special teams. So those are the challenges. We've got a great football team in front of us. They were 12-4 last year in the regular season. They just kept grinding all year and stayed after it. Just like two years ago, when we played them, and they got back into their (playoff) race. They're a hard-working bunch."
Tyler Kroft has had a couple of instances where he's shown good hands. Not that he had bad hands before, but are you seeing an improvement there with him?
"His hands have always been the same. I just think it's just confidence with him, and doing the right things all the time. Everything seems natural now, as opposed to actually thinking about it. The ball comes secondary to that. He has wonderful hands, and he's been everything we wanted when we drafted the tight end out of that class. We got the guy we wanted."
He said he's added weight through working out this offseason. Is that something you worry about?
"He's not doing anything out of the ordinary. He's matured as a man. as all young guys do. We expect that from all guys from their rookie year to their second and third year. All the big-boned guys do."
Your young TEs seemed to play well and look like they belong in the first preseason game. Did you get that impression as well?
"Yes they did. Mason (Schreck) and Cethan (Carter) both did a great job of handling it, and that's what you want to have. Obviously C.J. (Uzomah) didn't get to play. You've got to feel good about Ryan Hewitt. His snaps. on the ball were great, along with his snaps in the backfield. We feel good about those things."
Demetrious Cox had a good game on Friday. What do you like about him?
"He's done a nice job coming in here as an undrafted guy. He's just working hard and understanding everything. We tell the guys it doesn't necessarily matter how you got here, but take advantage of your opportunities. With the injuries we've had at safety, he's been able to get more reps and more opportunities, which make you more and more comfortable about what you are doing. He's got to feel good about what he's been doing."
Is there anything else that strikes you about him?
"Just being in the right spots."