GREEN BAY – The Packers' coordinators and defensive assistants met with the media over the past couple of days. Here's a sampling of their key comments.
Special teams coordinator Rich Bisaccia
On Amari Rodgers in the return game:
I think he's had one muff and now he had a fumble this past game. So, other than that I think he's done a good job. He's made some good decisions. So we're just going to keep working on ball security, keep working on making good decisions, keep getting the ball north and south and just see what happens as time goes on.
We'll just see how it goes as time goes on, you know. We're not going to (give up on) the guy. He works his rear end off and does a good job making decisions back there. He's a clean catch guy right now and he's a young player. So I'm real excited about the future, what he's done and the way he practices, and so we'd like him to do a better job with ball security and hanging onto the ball and he's working on it.
On Mason Crosby:
He's a guy that really knows himself really well. He's gotten a Master's in Mason Crosby kicking and I think the surgery to some degree may have slowed him down a little bit. I think he might have been playing with some things, playing through some knick-knacks maybe for the last few years where I think the surgery got himself a little bit cleaned up. He's dropped a couple pounds, he's got himself in pretty good physical condition and I feel like getting Pat (O'Donnell) has certainly been a calming factor for him in some of the holds that we've gone through. And I think he's playing his best football at this particular point right now and he's getting stronger as he goes.
Defensive coordinator Joe Barry
On the trouble with crossing routes:
It depends obviously on what kind of coverage contour you're in. Not to get into too many X's and O's, but we have to play those better. I think we can mix coverage a little bit at times consistently, there's been a few of those that have shown up in specific coverage principles we've been in, so I think anytime we can mix it up and change it up, I think that will obviously help. Yeah, it's a copycat league. When something happens in a game, it's going to show up in the next game. Until you squash it, it's going to continue to show up. I think there's a number of things that can help on that. Obviously the changing of coverages. The best coverage is a great pass rush. If the quarterback can't throw the ball, it doesn't matter what you're playing behind him. It all works together.
On needing to get more takeaways:
I'm a firm believer that takeaways, they're created. They don't just happen. Offenses are too good. You have to physically go take the ball away, whether it be – we call it punch, hammer, rake – when we're trying to create a fumble, when the ball's in the air. When the ball's thrown in the passing game, I think interceptions a lot of times are created. Again, when we talk about when you change up coverage, the better the pass rush is, maybe the quarterback throws the ball a little sooner than he's ready to, those are all things that go into taking the ball away on defense. Takeaways happen in droves. They really do.
On players having freedom within a scheme:
With veterans you give them a little bit more leeway but I'm a firm believer with players, make a full-speed decision and I'm gonna 100% back you up on it. What makes football players good at this level is their instincts and their awareness. You never want to take that away from them. Because they see things, they feel things different when the ball's snapped and it literally happens in a millisecond. I never want robots. I want guys that are reactionary, that use their instincts, that use their awareness and go. So, we don't ever coach that to take that away from a player. We want that player to use why he's here in the league, especially veteran players. You don't want vigilantes, either. You don't want guys going rogue on you and putting the other 10 guys on the field at risk of a big play, but we want our players to play and be free and go make plays.
Offensive coordinator Adam Stenavich
On teaching the young receivers with film from past stars who worked with Rodgers:
The really interesting thing about that is to show those guys, all right, this is what I think when this happens. This is what I anticipate you doing and then showing the receiver and Aaron being on the same page. You get these young guys and they don't know stuff. They just don't know it yet. So when you can show them guys being on the same page, reading it the same way as the quarterback, making the minute adjustments where you can really make some pretty cool plays, I think that's completely so valuable for those guys, just so valuable. All the coaches do that, with O-line blocking, running backs running, all the different guys, you show plays, you show guys, 'This is what successful guys have looked like in the past.' So that's nothing really new, but it's super valuable for those young guys to see those special players doing that.
On using Aaron Jones and AJ Dillon to catch passes:
We always have stuff for them in the passing game. The problem with that is you can't put too much on their plate route-running wise. So you can't, 'Hey, alright, here's your route tree' and you have 20 different routes. That's not their deal, and you kind of just go with the flow of the game. Some defenses allow you underneath passes to the backs. Boom, here you go and they'll take away your deeper stuff and other teams don't, so it's kind of just depends on the flow of the game with a lot of those running back receptions.
Inside linebackers coach Kirk Olivadotti
On getting De'Vondre Campbell playing like he was last year:
De'Vondre just needs to be De'Vondre and that's good enough. The person that he is, is as important as anything, and he's the same person every day. The player is a good football player. I'm not worried about 'let's get De'Vondre back.' I don't really see it like that. He's a leader of our team. He's a guy that when things start going he's a very steady, even player and human being. That's what I really appreciate about him, how much he brings an even, steady demeanor in his play, and then there's effort all over the place. That standard, he makes everybody live up to just because he's going to give it every snap.
De'Vondre is always prepared. He understands the game plan as good as anybody I've ever been around, as far as this is what we're trying to do, this is why we're doing it, this is what's in the game plan, this is what isn't in the game plan. I can remove this clutter and I'm going to make sure I focus on what we need to focus on, and he doesn't talk about it, he just does it.
Outside linebackers coach Jason Rebrovich
On whether Rashan Gary is getting extra attention from offenses:
Each team, each week is going to be different. He is going to garner some attention, there's no doubt about it. The level he's playing at is extremely high. Rashan has grown tremendously in the time at least tat I've been around him, on and off the field. You talk about a great man, you talk about a warrior, a guy that cares about this team and organization, that's the epitome of this guy.
On the controversial roughing the passer penalties around the league in recent weeks:
Every week, every Friday we set up a reel and go through the penalties of the week, especially pertinent to the defensive line and the outside linebackers, and talk about it. You've got to have an open discussion about it. We constantly coach it, we talk about it, we have techniques built into our individual (drills). The rule and regulation talks about they have to brace themselves. There is no body weight you can put on the quarterback. You set up different drills for them to understand that, how to land. You have to brace yourself with your hands. You've got to watch it, you've got to see it, you've got to execute it, just like the game plan.
Safeties coach Ryan Downard
On Rudy Ford filling in for Adrian Amos vs. the Patriots:
When he stepped in a couple weeks ago, he did a phenomenal job, especially arriving late. He's a guy who we're just getting to know when he first got in the game, and you saw him under the lights do really well. He's got some tools. He's got great speed. We saw a clip in practice today, it was incredible from the post. He shows a lot of promise. He's building his knowledge right now in terms of the defense.
Rudy, since the day he got here, he sits right next to me. There's multiple seats open and he's planted himself right here. Throughout the meeting, he's asking questions, he's taking notes, he's asking me to draw things.
Defensive backs/passing game coordinator Jerry Gray
On the struggles vs. crossing routes:
I'm a firm believer that rush and coverage go hand in hand, and we've got to be tighter on those crossing routes. Like Tampa, we didn't give Tom Brady a lot of time to run those deep crossers. He got one. The rush and coverage go hand in hand. We've just got to make sure that stays a staple for us and our guys have got to understand that when we cover.
On Rasul Douglas playing the slot and whether he's better on the outside:
I think he's done a good job. He played in the slot the first game and then 'Ja' went down so he had to go back outside. He'd been outside for two weeks and now he's back inside. One of the things we've got to do is getting him back comfortable [and] getting all our guys in the positions that they've done. Right now we're getting in that position where once we get all our guys healthy at the same time then you'll see guys doing the same job over and over.
The biggest thing we've got to do is find out what he's really, really good at, and what's good for our team not just for one person, and just try to make sure that we get our guys in those position to make their plays. Rasul, I think he'll be fine. He understands what we're trying to get him to do and to help the team win, not just, hey this is best for him.
Defensive line/running game coordinator Jerry Montgomery
On T.J. Slaton's outing vs. the Giants:
I thought he played really well in this last game. I think he's been hit or miss at times early on, but I thought he was focused and really stepped up in this last game. I thought he did a hell of a job, so he's just got to keep doing those things and progressing the way he is and he's going to turn into a pretty good football player. He had a good week of prep and it showed up. There's some weeks where practice may not be as on point as it was this past week. So just consistency in general is hit or miss. He's still young. Second year player, but excited about when he does things the right way. You guys saw that on Sunday.
On Kenny Clark:
He's playing well. He's affecting the quarterback. I mean, those boot(leg)s, he's chasing that guy all around. He definitely affects the game and people definitely prepare for him. But he played well. He graded out really well, affected the game in the run game, other than giving up the one big ruin in the wildcat.