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.
Special teams coordinator Rich Bisaccia
On how Keisean Nixon is with his teammates:
Keisean loves football. He's very social. I think he enjoys his players, his teammates. I think he works at being a good teammate, and he's a versatile guy as far as playing around the field. He's done a lot of different things for us. Obviously now he's become a return guy. He's been a really good coverage guy in the past, and I think he gets better and better with his work with (Jerry Gray) and what he's doing on defense. He's an ascending player with a great energy and a great passion and love for football. That's probably what I feel like his teammates must see.
On the effect on the kicking game this time of year:
Kicking-game wise, wind is always the biggest issue, right, whether you're playing in great weather, the wind could be an issue. There's things you have to do. Do you squeeze your linemen or move your linemen according to the wind, whether it's a field goal, short snap or whether it's a punt snap. How windy is it has a lot to do with the direction the punters and the kickers are going to kick off or punt the football and certainly has a lot to do with the drop from the hand to the foot by the punter. There are a lot of things you work on. A lot of them are pertaining to the wind.
Defensive coordinator Joe Barry
On preparing for Baker Mayfield to be running the Rams' offense:
I don't think all of a sudden, in Week 14, that the LA Rams are going to scrap their offense and put the Baker Mayfield offense in. They have a little bit of extra time after playing on Thursday night, I think he'll be able to pick up as much of the LA offense as he can. I don't think they're going to completely scrap what they've been doing. They're going to do some things that Baker might like, that he's done in his past, that's already implemented in this offense.
On what has to get better down the stretch:
We've got to tackle better. I think if you really look at every single game that we have played poorly in, it's the five to six to seven explosion plays that we've given up, whether we've allowed the ball to be thrown over our head or we've missed a tackle in front of us and the guy's been able to run. But those are things that we do preach and we do talk about every single week. It's not just like, oh, all of a sudden we've got to pay attention to that. When we play good, we do those things. We have great eyes, we play one play at a time, we don't allow the ball to be run through us or thrown over our head. When we play well, we do those things and that was definitely the message this week to be able to go 1-0 and beat the Rams and keep this thing moving.
Offensive coordinator Adam Stenavich
On Zach Tom settling in at left tackle:
When he was in the role where he was kind of backing up at every position, he was like, 'Oh, OK, what positions am I playing today? Am I playing guard? Am I playing tackle? Am I playing left side? Right side?' Whatever that is. So I think he's a little bit more, I don't want to say relaxed, but just a little bit more confident, just focusing on one spot as opposed to literally being the backup at every position, where he might have a little bit more anxiety.
He's really come a long way, especially just in his fundamentals. As we know, he's not a big guy, so just how he plays and how he's helped himself play with better leverage and good hands, and when you watch him in the run game, he's come along and he's actually a pretty productive guy. For a kid his size, he comes off the rock and hits people. So it's been pretty cool to watch him just get better.
On running the ball against the Ram's stout run defense:
Their front, their D-line and their linebackers do a good job and you can see as the year progressed just them being a more physical unit. We're just going to have to buckle our chinstraps and come off the rock. They put a lot of hats in the box to try and stop the run. We've just got to really rely on the run game, come off the rock, and knock 'em off the ball.
Defensive line/run game coordinator Jerry Montgomery
(On studying the problems with the run defense during the bye)
When you go back and you watch it all… one, you've got to be able to tackle. There are opportunities we've had where we've missed tackles for losses that have been explosive runs. So that's one element. The other element is, when a guy makes a mistake, normally there's always someone there to make up for it, and that hasn't happened a lot of the times. Ultimately we have to be better at doing our job at a high level, and we have to tackle in space.
Run defense and run fits are like a puzzle, and if you're m8issing a piece to that puzzle because a mistake was made, then it trickles downhill. But if you make a tackle, they don't bleed you as much. So we just have to be better there.
It's like we're really good for spurts, and all of a sudden a mistake happens and we give up a big play. You go back to that Chicago game, we had an unbelievable call on, and we missed an open-field tackle on the quarterback, so all of a sudden we give up an explosive play for a touchdown. That one run (statistically) throws it all off. We've got to eliminate that one run. Someone missed a tackle, but where was everybody else at, at the time?
(On Devonte Wyatt's playing time)
In the last game he got some two-minute reps. He affected the quarterback and got held on the one. To me, you prove things in practice, … and until you prove it on the field, prove it in practice, it's hard to take away from guys that have proven it. But he's earned the reps that he's getting, and he's getting more.
He will be fine. He's going to be a really good player in this league. Again, you're learning a system. Things are new to you, calls are different. There's a lot of adjustments. The more comfortable you get with something, the better you get at it, that's why all of a sudden you see a huge jump from Year 1 to Year 2, and then in Year 3 from Year 2. I think he's got a bright future.
Defensive backs/passing game coordinator Jerry Gray
(On what was studied over the bye)
I always try to go back and do individual assessments on each guy, see what they're doing, and see what other people are trying to beat us on. So those are some of the things that I looked at, like what are my guys doing that are good, what are they doing bad, what are they trying to take advantage of? Because that's kind of how this league is. If you get beat this way this week, somebody's going to put it in for next week. It might not be their plays, but it'll show up.
(On Jaire Alexander's up-and-down game in Chicago)
It was pretty much eyes. That's the biggest thing a lot of guys go through. Not athletic ability, none of those things. You could see when he made that interception, he was in position to make the play and actually see the receiver and the quarterback, where the other plays, he kind of let the receiver get in a blind spot. Hopefully we can keep working on those things and they won't keep showing up.
Inside linebackers coach Kirk Olivadotti
On Quay Walker's progress and use as a blitzer:
He's making the progress every week and learning new things and finding new things to screw up, which is not a bad thing. It's a good thing, as long as you're not screwing up the same things over and over. And he works at it. He enjoys football, enjoys being around people, and he plays hard all the time. That's what you're looking for, and his mentality is what you're looking for also.
There's run blitzes, pass blitzes, and he does a nice job of understanding the difference between the two. There's things that we can get better at, but he does a nice job, and obviously he's an impactful blitzer… the size and speed, and he has some anticipation. He gives us some flexibility as far as when we want to bring him and for what reason also.
Outside linebackers coach Jason Rebrovich
On Justin Hollins:
His role obviously is going to increase as we're going through this. He's impacted (the defense), come in here, utilized not only in the run game but the pass game. We're fortunate to have him. Sometimes some opportunities are the right mold and the right fit, whether it's the coach, the scheme, the system, those guys kind of flourish in it, and we really like what Justin's brought us in the last few weeks, yeah.
On Kingsley Enagbare:
There's some warts in there and some bumps we're all going to go through from a mental standpoint, some physical. But every day that kid comes to work, he wants to win. I text with him every night. He'll ask me questions about the game plan or what we have going in, and how his technique was and what he needs to do to improve. All the things you want out of a player, regardless if he's a rookie or a seven-, eight-year vet. I've really enjoyed being around him and coaching him and seeing him develop as this process is going on.
Safeties coach Ryan Downard
On Darnell Savage losing playing time:
The competition is the biggest thing. I've spoken in detail in here about how impressive Rudy (Ford) was when he came in. We continue to stress the competition in the room. We're rolling those guys in. Two weeks ago, the lineup there doesn't dictate the lineup this week. I'll share with you: I just texted Darnell yesterday, 'Hey, we believe in you.' I've said that to you guys up here. Everybody in the building knows that. As I do Rudy and continuing to gain trust in him. Obviously, Rudy doesn't have as many snaps in this system. He doesn't have as many snaps with us. He doesn't have as many snaps overall on defense in the league. So, there's going to be a learning process there.
More on Ford:
You guys see the speed. It's real. Not only when he has the ball with his two picks but, when a guy pops and there's a runner in the open field, here comes '20' to run him down. We're good with where Rudy is right now but we've got to continue getting him better in the techniques, as we do Darnell.