OLB coach Mike Smith: Rashan Gary is 'all over the place'

Key comments from the Packers' coordinators and defensive assistants

LB Rashan Gary

GREEN BAY – The Packers' three coordinators and defensive position coaches met with the media over the past couple of days.

Here's a summary of their key comments:

Offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett

On the jet sweep motion:

It is always good to get the yards. It puts the defense in a bind on how they're going to adjust. Is it a regular motion? Is it a fly motion? It just gives them something different to look at. It fit this past game and it's something we definitely thought kind of confused them a little bit, and we wanted to keep going with the stuff that was working.

Last year guys were wondering why are we moving so much? Why can't we just line up? I think they're starting to understand the power of the motion and all the different motions we can do. They embrace it more and get a feel for it. The more you can learn the why of something, the more successful it can be on the field.

On the benefits of deep shots even if they don't connect:

It can help the run game. Anytime you threaten anybody down the field, it softens up those DBs and they can't be part of the fit against the run. It still makes people very nervous, it changes defensive coordinators' calls at times, whether you complete it or not. It shows you're willing to take a shot.

On Aaron Rodgers' cadence:

The only thing I can tell you is, don't even try to figure it out, because I haven't. It's one of those things, you don't want to mess up a good thing. It's its own world. It's a true weapon. I'd be lying to you if I totally understood it. That's the beauty of it. Aaron understands the power of it, and our team understands that. It's unbelievable, it's like the Matrix, his voice.

Defensive coordinator Mike Pettine

On Jaire Alexander's safety:

He's a big fan of preparation. He's ultra-prepared. He saw something and he triggered on it. We tell those guys if you make a mistake, make it full speed. He didn't have a deep responsibility. I didn't see it from the angle I had. I saw Cousins go down and then I found out it was Jaire to my surprise. It's one of the 'No, no, no,' 'Yes, yes, yes.' He thought he saw something and he triggered. That was a well-calculated risk on his part with a high reward.

On undrafted rookie Krys Barnes' first NFL start:

We tested those (rookies) routinely during the offseason. You could tell he could pick it up and know it. On those tests, you get points not only for getting it right but how fast you do. He had a good football aptitude. Here's a guy who's shown to be very instinctive, communicates well. He helps guys around him, (stuff) that won't be on the stat sheet but showed up on Sunday. It didn't come as a surprise to us based on how he'd practice but there's always that unknown. It's a credit to him.

On the decision to start Barnes next to Christian Kirksey:

We had rotated those guys and see how the week of preparation went given the unknown and now all of a sudden we were in a game plan situation and we were practicing against (the Vikings') plays. … He absorbed the game plan and was able to go out on the practice rep and execute it. We felt it was for the best of the unit for him to start in the Will spot.

Special teams coordinator Shawn Mennenga

On Tyler Ervin's nice return on the post-safety free kick:

It was big. Right after the safety, we didn't get the TV timeout, when we usually sub some guys, but the guys all did a good job blocking for him. He made some nice cuts and got the ball out to the 44. Doing your job always makes you feel good.

On getting an onside kick in Week 1:

To get them right away in the first game, those are things we've covered multiple times in walk throughs and in meetings, and they're part of our Saturday script. We did get a couple special situations that don't come up all the time. The guys did a good job being up there, being aware, and executing.

On Detroit's return man Agnew:

He's been doing this and been really successful at it and one of the best in the league. We're going to do the best we can to eliminate him from the game. Jamal definitely is one of the best there is. We have to do the best we can to keep the ball out of his hands, and when we do have to cover, stay in front and make tackles, because he can definitely change the game.

Outside linebackers coach Mike Smith

On Preston Smith dropping into coverage:

He's an extremely smart kid and you can do a lot with Preston. There's different coverages we have and different pressures we have that allows us to drop him out and bring some other people. I've coached a lot of outside linebackers and it's hard to find a guy that can do it all like that and we ask him to do a lot. He's not a selfish guy and he loves being that guy, that do-it-all type player and so it's very valuable to have a guy like him, especially at his size.

On Rashan Gary affecting Alexander's INT:

On Jaire's interception, even the play before that, both those stunts he was coming inside, he affected the quarterback. You look at it, the quarterback couldn't completely go through his motion. He had a lot of great rushes, but there's still things we have to clean up. Same thing with Za'Darius Smith, same thing with Preston. Get in the rhythm of things again. He had some great effort plays. You guys watch the film, he's all over the place.

The Green Bay Packers practiced on Ray Nitschke Field on Thursday, Sept. 17, 2020.

Inside linebackers coach Kirk Olivadotti

On Barnes seizing opportunity at inside linebacker:

It's one of those deals where we did have benefit of having previous weeks stacked on top of themselves. And yes, it was opened up. To be quite candid, we opened it up and let guys execute. Like I already said, it's going to be a different challenge every week. Some of the things matched what Krys is particularly good at. It's something that he did a nice job doing what he was supposed to do and he did it efficiently. That was the biggest thing. Kind of what you saw in the game is what we saw in practice.

On Kirksey's performance after returning from injury:

He handled it well. He was excited. We were joking, it might have been Friday or Saturday, I've been lucky enough to be in this for several years and I still get pretty excited with the first game. I told him it doesn't ever change and when it does then it's probably time to get out of it. He was excited to get back out there and he managed his emotions well, and got us going. He does a nice job. The whole group has a really good demeanor during a game to be able to keep on going, keep on going and get to the next play. It was nice to see. It was nice to live through it with this group for the first time. Usually, you get a preseason to do that but we had to do it on the fly a little bit and you always do learn about people in those situations. It's just all coming up good.

On Kirksey as a communicator:

Christian, it's something that he has worked very hard at because it wasn't something – no matter what you do when you play linebacker, there's a level of communication whether you're the main guy or the other guy. But being the guy that does it all, like we were asking Christian to do last week, was something that he really worked hard at. He takes very serious. He's a competitive guy so he doesn't want to screw things up and we joke about that too. We joked about that, too. He said, 'Hey, I'm going to screw some stuff up early in the week but by Sunday I'll be fine.' He didn't lie to me. He was pretty good on Sunday with that stuff. Every week is going to be different and he understands that. You just have to flush it and move on to the next one.

Defensive line coach Jerry Montgomery

On the run defense at Minnesota:

I definitely wasn't pleased with the way we performed in the last game. We're better than that. Obviously we gave up 34 yards with the quarterback scramble, so, really you hold them to 100 yards true rushing. But still not good enough up front. So, however you look at it, it just wasn't good enough. Going forward, it's no different. Guys just have to be dialed in and we have to play better. Obviously the Lions are good up front, they do a good job, they have good backs. Again, we have to get off blocks. They do a good job of latching on and we've got to be able to knock 'em back and get off blocks.

More on the play of his unit:

I think we're a lot better than we showed. We've got to be sounder up front fundamentally. The best thing about it is we got the win, so now we can correct those mistakes. The guys in our room, they're very prideful guys. They work extremely hard to they're looking forward to getting onto the field this week and proving that they're better than what they put on the field last week.

Defensive backs coach Jerry Gray

On Alexander's improv blitz for a safety:

You look at it and that's one of those, 'Oh no!' and then 'Yay!' You see that and then you talk to him about being disciplined and understanding the consequences of not making that play and them having that blocked up and then there's no one in the flat. Just so he could understand it's a two-headed sword. This time it happened and worked out for us. We just don't need it to happen and work out against us.

On judging young players:

When I look at their college film, I get a judge and a gauge on how good a football player they can be by looking at their rival game because in the NFL, every game is their rival game. So if you can't play well in your rival well game in college, it's going to be hard to do up here because every game in the NFL is rival game.