GREEN BAY – The Packers' coordinators and defensive assistant coaches met with the media over the past couple of days. Here's a summary of their key comments.
Offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett
On Aaron Rodgers knowing the right time to extend plays:
I think that's why we've had so much success. There's so many plays we call and as we prepare for them, there's a very specific defense we're looking for and when we get that defense or whatever specific coverage or look or pressure, the guys are executing it at a very high level. … When you have somebody like Aaron that looks even more steps ahead, it just gives you a chance for every play, and then when you've got a line blocking the way they are, it gives the wide receivers even more time. He's getting the ball out when it's open and when it's there and everybody understands what we're trying to attack, and then when it's not there, everybody knows how to attack that second phase, that extended portion of the play.
Defensive coordinator Mike Pettine
On the rise of the 2019 draft class:
It's nice to see those guys step forward. Darnell Savage and Rashan Gary right off the top, those are guys that know the expectations are high. To whom much is given much is expected. And they know that and they've embraced it. We've already talked about Rashan and how he committed himself in this crazy offseason and showed up in phenomenal shape and hangs on every word and truly wants to be great, and same with Darnell. You can just tell. Those two are so passionate about football that it just shows in their play and the way they prepare, the questions they ask every day. They just want to be better. And then Kingsley Keke is a guy that he's done a lot of growing up and it's great to see. Because we knew from the jump that he showed flashes of potential, that at times he flashed that NFL skill set but it just wasn't as complete a game, and this was another guy that's committed himself and really hung on every word from Jerry Montgomery and really has made that jump in Year 2. He's so much more of a complete player.
Special teams coordinator Shawn Mennenga
On whether the Eagles' punt-return TD was more on the punt or the coverage:
It was both. It was a 54-yarder, about 4.58. We have to be able to cover that. Any punter you watch is going to hit the balls that are down the middle, or he's going to out-punt his coverage, so we've got to be able to cover that. That's first and foremost. Again, we would like the ball over more, hang it up a little bit more, and JK knows that. And then obviously it started with the gunner getting caught inside and then we had a couple of guys not get wide enough and got pinned in and then we missed a couple tackles. Anytime that happens you're going to give up a big return, so that's a recipe for that to happen.
On Tavon Austin's potential debut:
We'll see. There's a chance of that happening. We're going to evaluate and break it all out on Sunday. Obviously you're just making sure he's ready and up to speed on everything and is physically ready.
Outside linebackers coach Mike Smith
On the unit's workload and how much the top guys have left in the tank:
I think they're good. You really look at it, they're starting to get healthy, starting to feel good. I think that's a big part of the production. I think their bodies are in a good place. Everybody's going to be dinged up this time of year. That's part of football, and toughness is being able to play with that and deal with that and still play at a high level.
On affecting the QB more lately:
I feel a lot better than we did at the beginning of the year. I'll be the first one to tell you when we're not rushing well, we're not playing the way that we need to. But I think as of lately, going about 4-5 games ago from here on out, we're starting to get in the rhythm of us all being together and guys being healthy and working and having fun. I expect it to stay like this if everything goes right.
The Green Bay Packers practiced on Clarke Hinkle Field on Thursday, Dec. 10, 2020.
Inside linebackers coach Kirk Olivadotti
On Kamal Martin's ability to shoot gaps:
It's getting aligned correctly, putting your eyes in the right spot and, when your key tells you to do something, go ahead and do it. He trusts what he sees and he's going to do those things. A lot of that is, to his credit, he's looking forward to it and he's ahead of plays sometimes because of the study that he does during the week. The reaction that we had, when you're in the backfield unblocked, we like that. Now, finishing the play, there were some things leading up to the actual miss … there's things that we can correct before he even got to the guy that will help him make those plays. Obviously, he made the second one, so he self-corrected there.
On the run defense:
Run defense, it truly is a team game. The defensive line has been doing a tremendous job and the safeties and the corners, those guys are doing a really good job. The outside backers have to set the edge. Run defense is a team thing and everybody has to do their part in that. It's about consistency. It's about doing it every time. You have to be stubborn with it. You have to be stubborn with stopping the run. When teams are stubborn with running the ball, they're just going to keep on going and keep on running. There's going to be the same play over and over and you can't get bored at executing correctly. That's the challenge is we have to stubborn with our run fits.
Defensive line coach Jerry Montgomery
We're going to miss Billy. Hopefully he gets back soon. He did a hell of a job. He came in, he was in good shape, he picked up the system pretty well and gave us some quality reps. I hope Rush will do the same thing. He's a smart kid. Had a good week last week. I anticipate him being in a similar role to Billy.
On Dean Lowry vs. the Eagles:
He was more productive, obviously. There's a lot of things that most people don't see, which is the dirty work. Taking the double teams that he does week-in and week-out. But definitely was pleased with him being able to get off blocks and make some plays, push the pocket in crucial situations. He collapsed the pockets a couple times there to allow other people opportunities to get sacks and then he got himself one, retracing when the quarterback stepped up. I hope he continues to take the right steps forward and keep growing because it was a good outing for him.
Defensive backs coach Jerry Gray
On Darnell Savage's recent INTs and stronger game recently:
When the ball comes his way, he has the ability to go get it out of the air, and then (he's) being a little bit more consistent. We're looking for a guy that's going to do what he's supposed to do all the time. We know that's kind of hard to do, but when you're consistent, you'll make your plays, and if you're hunting down plays, it's hard to be right all the time. I thought the last three or four weeks, he's been very consistent, doing what he's supposed to do, understanding what we're trying to get him to do, and then being patient enough to make your plays when they come your way and not try to force the issue.
I thought Raven was just now hitting his stride…so we're going to miss him. We've kind of lost one of our good football players. Now you know what, you gotta step up. It's your time to help this team win. You're young, you're energetic, you gotta bring some energy to us, and now you have to play maybe a little bit more snaps than you're used to playing. We're going to work our way through what we're going to do, trying to replace Raven, which I think is going to be tough, but we have a committee of guys that's going to have to step up.