GREEN BAY – The Packers' coordinators and offensive assistant coaches met with the media over the past couple of days. Here's a sampling of their key comments.
Special teams coordinator Rich Bisaccia
On Minnesota's special teams:
I think Minnesota's playing well. A couple weeks ago they had a kickoff return for a touchdown against New England and they just had a big blocked punt a week ago against the Giants. They've had one blocked recently, as well, and they blocked a field goal. So I think this is a great challenge for us. Again, real excited to be home to play them. The magnification of this game is pretty obvious to all of us.
On Vikings returner Nwangwu:
He's got great size and he's got great speed and obviously he's put on tape he has the ability to finish. I think that (TD vs. New England)'s his third one in the National Football League, if I'm not mistaken. So, he's hard to tackle, he's a slippery player. We only had to cover him really one time the last time we played 'em up there, at their facility. So it will be a good challenge in this weather, he's certainly going to get some returns against us. So hopefully, we'll tackle.
Defensive coordinator Joe Barry
On whether Week 1 has much relevance in the rematch:
No, I don't think so. I do think it was, in an NFL season, a long time ago. But we studied it. We looked at it. Of course, there's things that they did that they still do, so of course, we look at those things. But you live and learn from every experience. That's definitely one that we learn from and on to the next one.
On Devonte Wyatt's increased playing time:
He's earned that because of the way he's worked. He's improved. So it was exciting to see him kind of coming on. Obviously with Dean (Lowry)'s loss now, when you lose a veteran like that, you're going to expect D-Wy's role is going to increase even more. Same thing with T.J. (Slaton). But it's been good to see D-Wy grow.
He's such a diligent worker. He really works at it. The way he plays the game at least once he gets out on the grass is, he plays his tail off. He plays with unbelievable effort. I think that's the thing that I know me personally, because a lot of times, as a player, when you're not getting it, the first thing is you go in the tank and you don't give that effort. D-Wy's really done a great job from Day 1 just busting his butt.
On how Darnell Savage has handled being in and out of the lineup:
He was resilient. He came in here every day and I think anytime any player when they go through something like that, they're not happy. But you can't let it affect (you). You've got to be a pro, and he really did an unbelievable job with that. Probably resilient is the best word I can use. He came in there every day and he didn't like it, but he grinded through it and worked and kept allowing Coach Gray and Coach Downard to coach him and he did a great job. I'm happy for him because those aren't easy situations to go through, and he did a heck of a job.
Offensive coordinator Adam Stenavich
On the red-zone and goal-to-go struggles:
If you look at the first time we went down there (in Miami), we took a sack and lost like 14 yards or something like that. Any time that happens, it's really hard to overcome. We had a fumbled exchange between the quarterback and the running back that I thought had we gotten, the running back could've cut it back and probably would've scored a touchdown. Then we had another one where I was hoping AJ (Dillon) could run through a shoelace tackle. That would've been another touchdown. I think it's just when you get down there, you have to execute … avoid those negative plays and then, when the time comes to make a play or make a guy miss, you've got to make those plays. That's how you score touchdowns.
On Christian Watson's impact:
He provides a big, explosive element to the offense. As you know, if you have to consistently hammer out 13-play drives to score, most NFL defenses, that's going to be a hard thing to do. But if you can get one or two big plays a game where now you're pushing the ball down the field, you're getting huge chunks, that's a big advantage. Typically, explosive plays lead to points. Anytime you can get a player when they get the ball in their hands, they have the ability to take it to the house at any moment, those are valuable, valuable players. As you've seen, he's done a great job with that this year when he's been on the field.
Receivers/passing game coordinator Jason Vrable
On the difference with Watson since Week 1:
The full understanding of our system. Over the summer, it was like OK, I can learn on the chalkboard. But then he got to now rep it and he's learned it and he sat back and he's grown. There's very few times I think he probably goes out there on a play not understanding exactly what we want done, and the QB, being on the same page. And you can see the confidence. There's a couple clips last week where they had double coverage on him. You can start to see that stuff show up on tape or other teams are recognizing it. He's become an impact player for our offense. The things you don't see is him blocking for his teammates and him picking guys up and being a true player. I just love the way he's gone about his business.
On how Romeo Doubs is doing post-injury:
He's healthy. He looks great. Last two weeks, he's had some really good releases, some really good routes, some strong hand catches. He's done a great job the last two weeks and I think now he's back from being off the injury and probably looks like he did beforehand.
Quarterbacks coach Tom Clements
On Aaron Rodgers being critical of his own decision-making:
He's generally a good decision-maker. He's probably referring at least in this last game, early on he missed the potential to throw to Lazard on the right just running a slant. He threw a bubble out to the left, and Allen ended up running a very good route and potentially could have scored. Anytime you pass up something like that, you kind of kick yourself. I think that's probably what he's referring to. Then down in the red zone later in the game, third and long we had a chance to hit a shallow cross, and might not have gotten into the end zone, might have. There's always a handful of plays after the game where you say I wish I'd have done this or wish I'd have done that, so I think that's natural.
On Rodgers not having a 300-yard game this year:
Well, we still have a couple games left and maybe more for that to happen. A lot of times this year we've relied on the running game. We have two great backs. Our offensive line has played pretty well. The second half of the season we've started to throw the ball a little more consistently with the receivers in there, the receivers developing. I think the biggest thing is we probably haven't had as many explosive gains here, big gains down the field. But we've had a lot of completions on the short passes, on what we call the run solution throws, which we're very effective at. A run is called but we have an advantageous look to throw a quick pass and we do that, and Aaron's probably the best in the business at that. I don't think he's concerned and we're not concerned with yardage or statistics. We're playing better now and we just want to continue to do that.
On whether Rodgers is still capable of putting a team on his back and carrying it:
I think so. He had three great throws in the last game. The one to Allen, the long ball when we were backed up in our own end. Probably the one to Marcedes, I don't know too many quarterbacks who could make that throw. If you look at the film, when he actually let that ball loose and you see where Marcedes was in relationship to the DB, it's amazing that he hit him right in stride. And then in the fourth quarter, the throw to Romeo over on the right. So he's capable of making all the great throws, and hopefully we'll see a few more.
Running backs coach Ben Sirmans
On Aaron Jones' ankle injury and his limited usage:
It wasn't great. It was more like me just being cautious with him. The guy's a tough kid. No matter what type of ailments he has, he's ready to go out there and be a warrior. Plus AJ was rolling pretty good along with that, so it was more just a situation of game management with him.
This time of the year, especially as a running back, you can get pretty beat up. This might be the first year he's played the entire year without missing a game, so it kind of shows you the type of toughness that he has with that.
On Patrick Taylor's contributions lately:
Yeah, that's what he does. He's one of those guys that is going to give you everything that he has, whether it's special teams, the roles we have for him as a ball-carrier, as a protector. He's a very convenient player to have, because he's a guy that you trust in all elements of the game. To see him get in there and perform and help the team through his production, those are some of the things that we expect out of him and feel pretty good about him delivering that.
Offensive line coach Luke Butkus
On Zach Tom's work at left tackle as a rookie:
Zach is a different bird, man. You probably haven't heard much from him because he doesn't say anything ever. He prepares. He comes to work every day like he was a 10-year vet. He's young. He still has a lot to learn. That's the thing – he's humble, he's hungry and he'll do whatever's asked of him. So I'm excited for him and his future. Just the versatility he's shown this year to be able to plug in a few of these spots and compete and battle. Man, that's what we ask for.
On Elgton Jenkins' new contract and getting back to his old self:
We came into this thing together four years ago. To see him grow, to see him get that contract, I'm ear-to-ear smiling. No one deserves it more. I'm so excited for him. He deserves everything he gets because he comes to work every single day.
He's a confident young man. He's a very good player and you can kind of see that building week by week, the more he practices, the more he gets these reps, he is becoming that Elgton Jenkins that we've seen in the past.
Tight ends coach John Dunn
On his reaction to Marcedes Lewis' big play down the sideline:
My reaction was obviously happy just because it's a big play in the game, but more so for him. I can't say enough good things. Every time I come up here I talk about him, but you talk about the ultimate professional, and all the good things that have come his way have been earned. So when I see things like that it doesn't surprise me, because of how he goes about every second of every day.
We always talk about production doesn't always necessarily for our position mean catches. He is incredibly productive in all the things he does, and a lot of those things might not show up in the box score but they're really important to us.
On having all four TEs in on Lewis' fourth-down TD:
Yeah, we love it. Obviously that was our goal-line package, so all four guys were out there. They get excited, because there's not that many times when all four are together on the same play, and then when you are and one of your buddies scores, yeah, it's fun for the room.