GREEN BAY – The Packers' coordinators met with the media on Thursday ahead of the trip to Pittsburgh. Here's a sampling of their key comments.
Special teams coordinator Rich Bisaccia
On if the return units are tending the right way:
I think I say it every week, I don't know if we're ever really happy or feel like we've arrived. I think we have a long way to go. We did some good things I thought last week, but we had another penalty. If you're going to be a good complementary football team you can't do that to your offense or do that to your defense. I think we're moving in the right direction, but I think we take two steps back every time we have a lack of focus or a lack of concentration or a lack of fundamental type penalty that puts us backwards and I think we have to clean it up.
On Daniel Whelans progress as a punter and holder:
He's obviously improved and is playing well to this point. I think his big factor for us early was his basic football awareness. You know, what to do in different situations. Where am I on the field? What's the wind doing? Am I double to one side or single to the other? Or is it double-double, or whatever those things are. So, I think he's concentrating on his drop, trying to get a little bit more hang (time). He's trying to do a better job of what he's going to actually kick, what ball he's going to hit to help the coverage. There's a lot of growth at that position and we think he's on the uphill trajectory.
Defensive coordinator Joe Barry
On getting more young guys ready at cornerback:
I'd be lying to you if I said you're not affected by it because you are. But, bottom line, you've got to (go play). It's all in not only our approach as coaches but the attitude and the mindset that the player has. That's what we continually try to preach that you've got to prepare every single day like you could play five plays or you could play 65 plays. I think it's a credit not only to the position coaches getting those guys ready to play but then also the player having the mindset that if you take the mindset of a backup, you're going to go in and play like a backup. You've got to take the mindset that, 'I'm a starter in waiting and my time could happen at any moment.'
On the improved run defense:
The biggest thing is the explosion play. That's where your run statistics can really get out of whack. But then also, it's the amount of runs that you defend. You get into games where you're defending a lot of runs, it's hard to just keep (up) – eventually, they get paid, too, and they practice also; they're going to pop one. But then you've got to tackle, that's the biggest way, especially in the run game. to eliminate explosion plays is to be good, solid tacklers and we've done that, so we've got to keep that going.
On whether Carrington Valentine's aggressiveness needs to be reined in:
"It always goes back to whatever coverage principle you're playing, whatever technique you're playing, especially out there (on the boundary). As long as you're good with your eyes and good with your feet, you let your technique kind of take over. Of course, you never want to handcuff a guy from making plays in front him but sure, that's the thing about playing corner. If the ball is on the 20-yard line, you got 80 yards of grass behind you but of course you want to make all the plays that are in front of you. It's a fine line but you've got to rely on the call and you've got to rely on your technique down in and down out.
Offensive coordinator Adam Stenavich
On Zach Tom:
He's had a really good string of challenges, and I think he's done an awesome job. He had a big challenge versus Maxx Crosby and obviously this week with T.J. Watt, that's going to be a big one for him. I've really just liked how he's handled himself. A guy that prepares the right way every week, plays with the right attitude, the right mentality and he's a pro. You can see him just keep getting better and better as the season goes on. All these games are so useful for him just in terms of building that confidence and just going out there and having the belief in yourself that you can play against anybody.
On Sean Rhyan's stint off the bench:
He did a good job. Yeah, there's all-around improvement in his game and that's kind of what you're expecting from a guy going into his second year. You're expecting him to start to say alright, let's see what you're all about now and yeah, so far he's doing a good job.
On Pittsburgh's pass rush and blitzes:
It's not as crazy Dick Lebeau blitzes as they used to be. They still bring a lot of pressure, but the one thing they really do is their edge rushers are elite and their interior rushers I think are underrated. Those guys do a really good job pushing the pocket and disrupting inside, so it's going to be all five guys across the board up front are going to get challenged. Our backs are going to get challenged. Their linebackers are very physical players, so their whole defense in general, with how their DBs play, they really challenge you across the board and you have to beat them — they're not going to beat themselves. So they do a really good job just being physical.