GREEN BAY – The Packers’ coordinators and offensive assistant coaches spoke to the media on Thursday afternoon. Here are highlights from their news conferences:
Defensive coordinator Mike Pettine
On Jaire Alexander vs. Julio Jones:
He was solid. He competed. We gave up some plays to him, especially early. But when they were head-to-head, I thought he more than held his own. … We did a couple of different ways. We had some different zone concepts with a different matchup on him. That’s something when you go into each week that you have to look at. Do they have a guy who we absolutely have to take away? And do you have somebody who can do it? The thing that jumps out this year is (Alexander’s) consistency. It’s developed over time and he’s certainly earned our trust.
On whether Bashaud Breeland could play Sunday despite missing time this week due to a personal issue:
He’s a professional. He knows the plan. I don’t know given where he’s been, I think he played 20-some snaps. I don’t know if we’d ask him to play a full game, but at this point, I don’t see it as a concern.
On cornerback Tony Brown:
He loves to compete. We put him out there against some other Alabama guys and that’s going to bring out the best in him. He’s the ultimate competitor. He had the bad penalty in the Detroit game, but he’s learned he has to have that voice in the back of his head … and knows the line not to cross. We’re very pleased with where Tony is.
On offense and defense working together with game plan:
I’ve always thought it’s important that offense, defense and special teams understand the situation for the week. I’ve never liked when those three areas are silos. You feel like you’re an independent contractor. The good teams understand the plight all three phases face. It’s a little tougher on defense to play a certain way to help the offense out. Joe (Philbin) has done a good job connecting Ron (Zook) and I, and talking about the roster.
Our approach is the same. Also, when you look at how this game will likely play out with our offense on the road against one of the best defenses, the turnover battle will be huge in this game. It’s always a point of emphasis for us, but especially this week. For us to win, we have to take the ball away. We’re going to have to steal some possessions. But the key is we do it the right way. When you do your job, sometimes the ball can find you.
Special-teams coordinator Ron Zook
On Chicago returner Tarik Cohen:
He’s as good as any of them. He has great acceleration, great vision. He handles the ball well. He can reverse field, so you have to make sure you cover the field. We need to make sure we have our antennas up.
On finding a returner:
Obviously with the issues Trevor (Davis) had, that was a guy I was looking forward to having. We just have to keep putting guys back there. We’ve had some nice returns we’ve had called back and some we should have had a little bit more. You just have to keep coaching them up.
Run-game coordinator/offensive line coach James Campen
On Corey Linsley’s playing streak:
Having a guy that creates stability has an effect. He’s played through a lot of things that other guys maybe wouldn’t play through. It shows a lot of toughness and the want-to to be with his team. It’s infectious.
On assistant Jeff Blasko:
Jeff is extremely intelligent. I’ve never really been around a guy that can watch tape and hit it so quick. He’s very, very sharp. He’s a tireless worker. He’s on it, it’s fast, it’s accurate. When he says something, he can validate it, because he’s seen it. I give him his equal time in the room, and boy he tears it up. He’s a fine football coach. He’s as loyal as they come.
Joe is as fine a human being as you’ll come across, and I mean that with all my heart. I use great with my grandfather, and my mother and father, and Joe is a great man. He’s a better person than he is a football coach, and he’s a helluva football coach. He knows how to push and be productive pushing. But he also knows how to put an arm around a guy, too. He’s a very balanced person in his coaching, the way he does it.
Pass-game coordinator Jim Hostler
On the past 10 days:
A lot of emotions, a lot of loyalty. I’ve been with both guys. Mike (McCarthy) has given me three jobs in this league. I’ve been with Joe, so my loyalty to Joe. So it’s been an emotional 10 days. All of that has to be put aside and do your job.
On how his responsibilities have changed since Philbin became interim head coach:
My role is the passing game and that’s what I’ve been doing. That’s changed a little bit. Mike has had a lot of success as a play-caller. That’s something Joe hasn’t done a lot of, so we have conversations about how things are set up. Really, my job putting the passing game together and putting it in front of the players haven’t changed.
On Davante Adams being featured in the offense:
Your lead guy, that’s the guy you lean on. I’ve had those guys – Anquan Boldin, Santana Moss – they’re going to get 100-plus targets and you’re going to get 80, 90 catches out of a guy. I think it would’ve been distributed a little more if Randall (Cobb) was here the whole season. His injury gave Davante a little more opportunities.
Quarterbacks coach Frank Cignetti Jr.
On Aaron Rodgers with Philbin as the play-caller:
We had a great practice week. I thought the communication with Coach Philbin was outstanding in practice and on game day.
On DeShone Kizer’s improvement:
DeShone has made a lot of progress, in the classroom and learning the system. In the weight room with the strength and conditioning. He’s improved with his decision-making, ball placement and leadership skills with his teammates. DeShone has done a good job. He’s put himself in a good position if we need him out there, we could trust him.
On Tim Boyle:
Tim came in here as a free agent. I remember it like yesterday. Tim, he can throw the football. He has the ability to make all the throws. He loves football. He has a live body. He can extend plays himself. He’s a quick thinker. He’s eager to learn.
Tight ends coach Brian Angelichio
On Lance Kendricks:
He’s served a lot of the backfield stuff, whether it’s in pass protection or in the run game, the lead-blocking stuff. And he’s been our move guy, where we’ll motion him across the formation or in the backfield. He can serve a lot of different roles, and depending on what’s up that week for the plan will determine how many snaps he’ll get.
On Pettine, from past experience:
He’s good with people, has a good demeanor about him. He understands football, been around defense a long time, comes from a coaching family. I think he communicates well with the players. He’s steady. (In Cleveland) stayed the course, didn’t really waver. He believed in the process of what we were doing.
On Graham missing the deep ball off the scramble vs. Atlanta:
As Jimmy tried to come back, I think the guy tried to grab him twice, and that broke Jimmy’s gait so he stumbled. The guy grabbed his arm and I think that prevented Jimmy from driving back to the football, because that’s what you’d like to see in that situation.
Running backs coach Ben Sirmans
On Aaron Jones:
I think he’s handled it pretty well. We talked about the potential concerns, but his body seems to be right. There hasn’t really been any issues. … I think for him, it’s more touches than straight-up hand-offs. And pounding, he can even do that when called for.
On Danny Vitale:
I know the running backs are pretty happy about it. He’s actually pretty athletic. He’s a really tough kid. … Just watching him on the scout team, I think he ran something like a 4.5. He’s actually pretty athletic for a fullback. If it comes down to a situation where he has to carry the ball, I’m confident he could get it done. … He runs good routes and has good ball skills. As he continues to develop as a blocker, he could be a good resource for this offense.
Receivers coach David Raih
On the Bears’ defense and the turnovers:
They’ve got veteran experience at all three levels, and their coordinator has been there a long time, so I’ve spent a lot of time around here the last few years just watching them. The bottom line is they’re sound in their defense, they all know their assignments, and what that does is that lends to people being able to play the ball and play with confidence, so it’s showing up for them.
You go back to a certain point last spring when he was healthy, and he has just put in a tremendous amount of work. He knows I barely take him out of the game. The main thing we’ve really been working on since last spring is just the vertical entry into the defense, and that’s been showing up. You’ve seen him using his ability to get on edges and get defensive backs on their heels. I did think he’s as good as he’s performed, and I honestly think he’s better than he’s performed.
On improvising with a veteran QB:
It takes experience to get a feel for that, and we have a couple general rules we try to follow. That’s something you’ll see, we can only get better at that right now. There are times you see we’d have a big play if we operate within our rules. It’ll come.
Jake’s definitely earned his spot. I’m trying to work him in there right now. He’s battled. He scored, what, 36, 38 touchdowns in college. He can play, and football is football. Flat out, that’s how I feel. He’s a good player, he’s easy to throw to.