GREEN BAY – The Packers' coordinators and offensive assistants met with the media over the past couple of days. Here's a sampling of their key comments.
Offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett
On Pittsburgh's defense:
I think this is one of the most unique defenses we'll face all year. It's got a long, long history. I remember being able to face it a couple times when we were at Jacksonville, and even prior to that. It's got the Dick LeBeau traditional world, which is organized chaos. These guys do a great job trying to disguise, fool the quarterback, bring pressure from all over, rush five with a bunch of really good football players, so I think it's going to be about communicating and the guys seeing the looks and just being able to talk and work though things throughout the game.
On whether the running game is close to breaking a big one:
I like to think so. I think that we've got a long way to go still. It's still early in the season, just kind of as an offense as a whole. There's some things that are really good and then it's just about that consistency. And I think that as we continually run the ball and continually get the guys in a groove, I think that's where those things are going to start popping. So we've just got to keep running it.
Defensive coordinator Joe Barry
On Pittsburgh RB Najee Harris:
They use him in all situations. It's not like he's just a guy that's running inside zone on first-and-10. He plays on all downs. They use him in the empty game. They get him out of the backfield and throw him the ball. He's a complete back, and he's big. The biggest thing we always talk about with our guys is you've got to have a tackling plan. And what that means is, as a defensive tackler, you have to approach a ball carrier different if he's a guy that's 5-10, 190 pounds compared to 6-1, 230 pounds. You've got to have a plan and really a mental approach when that guy has the ball, how am I going to get him down, because even in his early NFL career, he's embarrassed some people in the three games they've had as far as running through them, running over them, stiff-arming them. You've got to have a plan. He's a talent. There's no doubt about it.
On giving up the late TD vs. the 49ers:
The three situations that most people continually talk about – third down, red zone, two-minute. Those are things that we definitely have to continue to improve on but specifically two-minute at the end of the game. We gotta find a way to make one play and we were in position to do it. Third downs in two-minute, they had two unbelievable conversions, one with '85' and one with '19,' but we gotta find a way to make that play in that situation and then it doesn't come down to the dramatics.
On Jaire Alexander's INT:
Because he took off and went right away because his key told him to, he was able to be there 50 yards down the field and make a heck of a play. Just an unbelievable, instinctual play for him. But him not hesitating is what allowed him to do that. It was awesome. It was a huge play for us, both takeaways were.
Special teams coordinator Maurice Drayton
On Corey Bojorquez's strong performances:
Corey is doing a great job. He's working very, very hard at it. He has given us exactly what we're asking for. That was part of our vision to be a really, really good directional punt unit. A punter can take a returner out of it. He can be a one-man show if we protect for him. And that's in essence what we're striving for.
On the confidence in Mason Crosby:
In pre-game, he hit one that would have been good from 64. So, we were very confident. If you go back and look at the footage, as soon as Aaron spiked the ball, everybody started celebrating 'cause we knew. Mason is Mr. Clutch. I saw some guys teasing him earlier saying he has ice in his veins.
On allowing the long kickoff return:
Kickoff is like riding a motorcycle without a helmet. You make one mistake, it can be pretty bad for you. Like literally, we had a guy get a little too far to the right and another guy that didn't get far enough to his right. Next thing you know, they're up on Mason. We definitely are in the process of correcting these things and we're going to stay on top of it and we're going to get it right. I promise you, we're going to get it right.
Offensive line coach/run game coordinator Adam Stenavich
On Aaron Rodgers feeling good about having Yosh Nijman protecting his blind side:
Once he saw that I was pretty convicted about my decision I think it made him feel better. I know everyone saw Yosh this preseason, and we were going to put him out there to see if he could handle this and what he showed out there is he was a guy we could count on. When Elgton Jenkins went down, my gut told me this is the right decision and Coach LaFleur supported it. Once I explained it to (Rodgers), he was good to go. It was great that Yosh was able to show everyone that he belongs.
David was there with him, like sitting next to him on the bench, just kind of talking things over with him and did a really good job just keeping his head in the game and getting him not to panic or anything. Yosh had a great look in his eye before the game, and I knew he was feeling pretty good, like ready to go.
Tight ends coach Justin Outten
On Robert Tonyan's blocking help vs. Nick Bosa:
Watching him be physical out there … any type of shot like that, that's legal and still in the game, we're going to take advantage of. It was such a cool experience. He did it three times, not as aggressive and physical, but he got him on the ground.
On Tonyan making that sacrifice at the expense of receiving stats:
It's easy to do when you've got a guy who's all about the team. A guy like that, that whole room is about, 'What can I do to help the team out?' Statistically, that stuff will come. Just like last year, it will come. You've got to be patient with it because it just takes one game or one series to get off like that.
Quarterbacks coach/passing game coordinator Luke Getsy
On how difficult Aaron Rodgers' first throw was in the two-minute drill vs. 49ers:
That takes some talent to be able to roll the ball over a second-level defender. He was, I don't know, 15 or 18 yards deep, whatever he was, so that makes it even more of a challenge, but that's another tool that he has in his tool belt. That's a big-time throw and it's nice when you have Davante, who can go up and get something like that, too. His body control in the air was typical Davante stuff, so that was awesome. That is not an easy throw, that's for sure, just like the corner route in the end zone, same type of thing where he's jumping up and just over the fingertips.
On all the chip blocks and change-ups the offense threw at the 49ers:
The first thing as you enter that week is you have to identify who are the game-wreckers, like who do we have to make sure they don't wreck this game for us. Every team poses certain threats. It's critical in this league that you constantly evolve. If you just line up and do the same thing, they're gonna tee off on you, so to be able to chip 'em, to be able to bluff 'em, to be able to cut 'em, to be in empty and get the ball off quickly, all that's really important when you try to frustrate those guys, so they're using their energy to get back off the ground or they think they have a good pass rush and the ball is out. All that stuff.
Running backs coach Ben Sirmans
On the running game:
We're getting better every week. I think up front, we're doing a better job of stabilizing things and we got our first explosive run of the season, so that's a plus. Yeah, the guys are pretty eager and hungry to make some improvements with that.
On Aaron Jones being ready to break a big one:
He'll get 3 yards, 6 yards, 1 yard, no yards and all of a sudden he rips off a 40-yarder, you know, or a 30-yarder, and that's the one thing that hasn't happened so far this year. But I think we had a little bit of that same thing happen last year, so it's just a matter of time before we start ripping off some of the long ones.
Wide receivers coach Jason Vrable
On Davante Adams' competitiveness:
His standards that he holds himself (to) are probably higher than I actually even do. I'll be like, 'Oh, that wasn't bead,' and he'll be like, 'Nope. It wasn't good enough.' So for him, it's like that. He has the captain (patch) on his jersey this year which is obviously important to him. But he's always been that way since I've known him for three years, (setting) the standard of the room and the standard of winning. He wants to win at everything he does, not just himself, but our team. So, yeah, he's a leader, he's a great player and like I said, he's an even better guy.
On Allen Lazard blocking Nick Bosa at the goal line:
Tough to find in this league, man. First and foremost you have to be unselfish. You have to be a team-first guy, 'cause other people think they're above that. We were talking about it in the room and he just smiled. You know with Allen it's expected of him, but at the same time, it's impressive. So, I love the guy. I have since I got here, and I knew there was something special about him. And like I've said from the beginning, he's competitive, he's tough, there's very few teams that have that guy. So we're blessed. He's been everything we need for the last two years to help us in our record and to win. So it's been awesome.