GREEN BAY – The Packers' coordinators and defensive assistant coaches met with the media via Zoom on Wednesday. Here's a sampling of their key comments:
Offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett
On the production from the tight ends:
They never get enough credit for what they do, especially in the run game. Really in the end how you want to run the football is determined by the tight ends. For what Marcedes Lewis does on that front side, and the ability to put those other tight ends next to him, it allows you to run to the strength. And then the things they've done in the pass game, not just the routes but even just helping with protection, whether they've been 100 percent protecting or chipping or helping, they've done a great job. They keep their head down and they keep working, and it's been great to see all those guys contribute.
On scheming up new things when guys are in and out of the lineup:
It's what we always talk about, it's an exciting challenge. It gives an opportunity for different people to step up. We saw Tyler Davis last week catch a huge ball down the middle. Every single opportunity you get in this game is precious, and as long as the guys know that, when their time comes, they'll be able to execute. For this game, it's the same way. That's how it is in the NFL right now. It's crunch time right now and everybody's beat up. It's going to get people experience, and we're going to need everybody ready to rock and roll once we get to the playoffs.
Defensive coordinator Joe Barry
On Cleveland RB Nick Chubb:
He's a phenomenal back. I think he's a do-it-all back. Not only can carry the ball, he can receive the ball. They do a great job with him on screens, great in protection. The main thing is he is really elite as far as when they just turn around and hand the ball off to him, he's really good. Got two Pro Bowl guards in front of him, a team that knows how to run the ball and wants to run the ball.
On getting caught with only 10 on the field in Baltimore:
It's very irritating in the sense that, we as coaches and the players, we take so much pride in not beating ourselves, and we were able to survive the one time. They went tempo on us in a substitution situation, … thankfully we won that down, we were able to survive that down. The one down in the red zone at the end of the game in two-minute, that's inexcusable. That can't happen. We preach to our players, anytime you substitute in a two-minute situation, it has to be urgent. There can't be any hesitation at all, and there was a little bit of hesitation. In the red zone, you have to be even more urgent because of the distance you have to travel (from the sideline). That last one was a miscommunication, … and those are mistakes that can potentially lose a football game for you.
On Eric Stokes:
He's an unbelievably talented kid. He's got everything you want in an NFL corner. He's got height, he's got length, he's got speed. Running with him, he almost looks effortless when he runs. Even though he played the college game at the highest level at Georgia in the SEC, there's still a learning curve. He's come in and been a sponge. When you have an elite skill-level player and you have a kid who just wants to be better, comes out and works every day, those blocks he's been able to stack on each other every single week, that's allowed him to continue to grow, and he's just a rookie. Very exciting.
Special teams coordinator Maurice Drayton
On the FG/PAT unit making several in a row the last couple weeks:
I'm definitely not keeping track of that. We just take it one rep at a time. The goal each time we take the field with that unit is to go 1-0. That group has put together back-to-back weeks of good practice preparation, and that generally equates to game reality.
On where things are headed:
We feel like we're trending in the right direction as it pertains to what we're getting on the practice field. But once again, we have to take it to the game field. That's where it counts, that's what we're getting judged on. Whenever they ask us to play, it has to show up at that time.
Defensive backs coach/passing game coordinator Jerry Gray
On Eric Stokes:
When you're a rookie coming in the NFL, it doesn't matter where you get drafted, they're going to test you and see if you can play, and he was getting a lot of balls thrown at him early. You can see a drastic improvement on the things he's done the last 3-4 weeks, playing man-to-man, which I think is his best forte, and he's learning as he's growing. We know he came in as a press corner, now he's playing off and getting better that way. Now he's understanding what receivers are doing and understanding the game plan, not just for him but the other guys around him.
On Darnell Savage rebounding from last week:
We always ask how do you bounce back? You had a rough football game here, what are you doing? Are you still thinking about last week? Because that's a recipe for disaster. You have to have a short memory and you have to work you tail off on the things you messed up on. I think it was mostly angles, and where his eyes were, and those things are mostly correctible. He's going to be hungry. He doesn't like giving up plays, and neither do I, but sometimes when you get humbled, we do have another week and (the mindset is) I'm going to show you I'm a lot better than that.
Defensive line coach Jerry Montgomery
On Cleveland's ground game:
Very, very, very good running game, both backs (Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt) are dynamic, and even the young kid (D'Ernest Johnson) is a stud. They've got three backs that can take it the distance. Great vision, they run downhill. As much as they're a power running team, they're a perimeter running team. It's a big challenge. Our guys are excited to face a normal running team and not a quarterback running game.
Inside linebackers coach Kirk Olivadotti
Dre's a huge part of what we do, and I'm really, really happy to have him. As far as the Pro Bowl goes, I stopped trying to figure that out years ago. I really don't concern myself much with that stuff. He's been everything that we would want and a little bit more. He is a professional. He's a really good player, a really good dude. He makes my life easier and everybody around him, their lives easier, and I can't say enough good things about him.
On rookie Isaiah McDuffie:
Isaiah is a worker, he's a football guy. The nice thing is he approaches the week the same way whether he's going to be up or down. He pays attention, does a really good job trying to develop. His development is in several different areas, and he takes it serious. He takes his job serious.
Outside linebackers coach Mike Smith
I think this is Preston's best year since I've been here. A lot of people want to go with the sacks, but it ain't about that. Run game, pass rush, affecting the quarterback, just a really good year. Rashan, too. I'll take my two guys against anybody in the league. When you get high-paid guys or big-name guys like Rashan and Preston, around the league, they always go off of sacks, and it's hard for me not to think of a guy that doesn't go for sacks on run plays. Our guys play the game the way it should be freakin' played. They're not going to run up the field and guess and all that stuff. We do our job. I couldn't be more proud of Preston, because he had a lot of pressure on him this year coming off of last year. But he does his job. That's what I respect with Preston, and same with Rashan.
On trying to contain scrambling QBs:
It's always a challenge with the running quarterback. It's starting to get where receivers are in the backfield. The quarterback is going to get out, you just have to limit it. What was disappointing at times, there were three or four where we hurt ourselves. We had some games (stunts) called, and he got out. We had a pressure called with a spy where he got out, because he got chipped. RG missed him about 12 times back there. It's tough. It's not an excuse, but it is. It's tough. It's easier said than done. But we've got to do a better job, and it starts with me.
We're not going to rush scared. We're not doing it. That's the worst thing you can do. You're messing up the back end, and now they have to cover forever. You can't have four rushers go out there scared and standing at the line of scrimmage. There's always learning moments in the game that we've got to get better at.