GREEN BAY – The Packers' coordinators and defensive assistant coaches met with the media over the past couple of days. Here's a sampling of their key comments.
Offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett
On Davante Adams pushing the receivers harder:
He is an unbelievable leader on this team. Voted captain, and he has taken that role very seriously. That room has so much pride, and Davante already has so much pride in himself, and he definitely puts that on those guys in that room. When things aren't going perfect or going as well as he thinks they should, he addresses it. When a guy like that talks, and is able to speak to those guys, they listen. They're going to try to raise up their level.
More on Adams and lining him up different places:
I like to feel like there's infinite spots on the field. You just try to be as creative as you possibly can, wherever you need to find a way to get him open. He's a guy you have to get the ball to, somehow, some way. I want to say it's a challenge, but because he's such a great route runner and has such a great understanding of the game, it's actually a little bit easier than you think. We just have to move him around, give him some new routes, and then he captures it. We can give him a route that he might not have run a bunch, and he'll be perfect at it.
More on the WR room in general:
To be able to have a great offense, you have to have real tough guys and real intelligent guys. That's the starting point. When we have those two things, that intelligence level that we have in that room, Aaron and I always talk about it, and Matt (LaFleur) and (Luke) Getsy, is smart players make great players. Because you can have all the talent in the world, but if you don't have that ability to know those nuances, then it's very hard to do. It's such a credit to that room, credit to Coach Vrable and Ruvell (Martin).
Defensive coordinator Joe Barry
On the chance to finish as a top 10 defense:
The only thing I truly care about is the success of this team. I've bragged on these guys, specifically on our side of the ball on defense, because of the way they've worked and prepared and attacked every single day since we started this thing. As a full team, I'm happy with our team's success. As long as we're winning games and finding ways to win games and doing our part, that's really all I care about.
On managing the injuries:
To talk about the demeanor of the entire group, no one's ever really fretted or worried about who's not up or who's injured or who can't play this week, we've attacked every single week the same way. When they break the huddle as one of the 11, they're one of our starters and they've done a great job.
On Preston Smith's performance this year:
I truly love Preston Smith. We've always had a great relationship. If you play or coach in this business long enough, you're going to have some highs, you're going to have some lows. Knowing him like I know him, because I knew him when he was a little snot-nosed rookie when he came in this league, it's just seeing where he's come from and seeing the maturity. Everything that Preston's done, he's gotten married, become a father, he's just matured. It puts a smile on my face when he pulls the defense up and gives them a message, which he does quite often, and then goes and backs up what he said, challenges the defense and backs it up with his play. I'm really proud of Preston. He's always had the talent. He's got incredible God-given ability, and the thing I'm most proud of is how hard he's played this year. He's really played with maximum effort all year long.
Special teams coordinator Maurice Drayton
On new returner David Moore:
He's fearless, and a guy with experience catching punts in the National Football League brings that to the table. He's fearless and he's not afraid to go get the ball.
On Corey Bojorquez's bad punt last week:
We had detailed talks about it. It's just little things as far as staying on his line, concentrating on his drop, getting back to the basics. Doing boring better for him, which is the simple things, over and over again. Really excited for him this week. I think he's going to have a big week.
On how the units have leveled out after all the struggles:
It's always been the goal to just be as steady as she goes, just get a little bit better each day. It's a testament to the guys. We told them weeks ago when we were going through it, don't read the press clippings, and we're going to tell them now, don't read the press clippings. Just attention to detail, attention to your assignment, attention to your work. Do boring better.
Defensive backs coach/passing game coordinator Jerry Gray
On Rasul Douglas exceeding expectations:
I've coached guys like Rasul, I've been fortunate enough to be around the league for a long time. I've had guys where the expectations, the bar is not high, and when a guy has the ability to say, 'Coach, can you help me watch film? I'm a smart player, I know what I can do, I just need a chance,' that's what he really needed. Sometimes you don't get the chance you're supposed to get, or you're not in the right system. I think this is his time. He's in the right system, he's in a position to help us win.
On how much teams challenged Eric Stokes earlier in the season:
Every team looks at it and says he's a rookie – a rookie opposite of Jaire, he's going to get way more balls (thrown his way). I talk to guys when they come in and I tell them, hey look, it's not that you can't play. These guys want to see if you can hold up to being a No. 1 pick or can you play past being a rookie. Because if you lay your head down, you make missed tackles or you let them catch a lot of touchdowns on you, they're going to keep coming at you every week. But until you figure out, I gotta be able to step up and play on my own, and then knock some balls down, hopefully get some interceptions, then they'll leave you alone. Because in this league, they pick on the weak guy. They don't pick on the strong guys up here. To get them to stop throwing at you, you gotta become one of the strong guys.
Defensive line coach Jerry Montgomery
On the run defense bouncing back from the Cleveland game against Dalvin Cook:
First and foremost, the Browns game in general, the most disappointing thing was, it's like a puzzle, everybody has to do their job. Obviously after the game, we were able to correct those things, get them fixed, make sure everybody was on the same page. (With Minnesota) we still remembered what happened last year when they came into town, so we knew they would run it and our whole goal was to stop him and make the quarterback hurt us. I thought they would try to run a little bit more, but the offense put up some points and got them out of their run game.
On Dean Lowry's strong season:
At the end of the day, when you find out who you are as a person and a player and you buy into that, all of a sudden you start to excel and he's done that. I think he realizes, hey, this is who I am, this is how I can affect the quarterback, and that's not being a guy running around people. This is him being a hard hat, knock people back, high-effort, high-energy violent player, and I think he's really bought into that.
Inside linebackers coach Kirk Olivadotti
On De'Vondre Campbell's journey:
He's the type of guy you're really happy for, because he works at it, he likes to do it. It's something he gets to do that he doesn't have to do. He's a real professional and just a really good dude. It's just great to be around it and great to have him as part of what we do, and a big part obviously. He gets better at things quickly. He doesn't make the same mistakes twice. That's what you get with a veteran guy.
On Krys Barnes in tandem with Campbell:
Krys is always just been about when there's an opportunity to make a play, he wants to go make a play. He's going to prepare the best way he can, and he's a smart, tough, instinctive guy who will do everything in his power to make the plays that he can and help others to make plays, too. He's grown into being a pro. He's a really mature guy, but I think he's grown in even more.
Outside linebackers coach Mike Smith
On how Preston Smith has racked up the sacks the second half of the season:
Just staying with the process. When you look at the first part of the schedule, we played a lot of quarterbacks that got rid of the ball quick. Just our effort and our toughness and how we set up rushes, eventually you're going to have success. I'm proud of Preston. He's stayed the same all year, hasn't changed, hasn't chased anything. Usually when you do that you'll have a good year.
On how gratifying it is to see Rashan Gary's growth:
It's great, because everything as a coach that you sell and try to get them to believe in, it pays off. And Rashan deserves all the credit, the way he works. We don't take periods off. If special teams is going, we're doing something. Everything is locked in, full speed. It's crazy how fast time goes by, it's been three years, watching him grow and develop into what he is today, and he hasn't even scratched the surface of what he's going to be. He does his job and he's a tough son of a gun.