GREEN BAY – The Packers' coordinators and offensive 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 the challenges vs. the Panthers:
I'm very familiar with Coach Tabor and certainly kind of going through the situation he's going through now, he's been known throughout the league for a long time as a coach that players love to play for. His units play extremely hard right now. Eddie Pinero was the NFC Player of the Week last week for his performance in really poor weather. They're an explosive punt return game. (Ihmir Smith-Marsette) has a touchdown already. I think it was a 79-yarder. They're a physical, fast bunch. Johnny Hekker has been around forever. I call him a quarterback-punter because he's always a threat to throw the ball or some sort of fake coming from him regardless of where you are on the field. He's had over 20 attempts throwing the ball over his career at punter. It'll be a challenge for us to be able to keep up with this crew.
Defensive coordinator Joe Barry
On potentially coaching for his job the last three weeks:
Oh yeah. I read what you guys write. I hear what you guys say. Again, that's the great thing about our league. That's the great thing about the National Football League. It is the top of the top, the best of the best and I think that's not only an every-year thing, that's an every-week thing. When we sign up for this, we know what that's what we're getting into. That's the thing I love about this league. That's the thing I love about the sport, and yeah, it's the highest level of competition at every level with every position.
On the miscommunications:
I'm a firm believer, everything is top down. So everything starts with me. So, when things aren't proper, it's my job to get it right. Now, it is frustrating when … you would think at this point things would be running smoothly. But there's a lot of things that take place in an NFL football game. There's so many subtle nuances that have to take place on every single play with all 11 players. But, that's part of my title as the coordinator – to get it coordinated. And when it doesn't go right, it is on me and it's my job to get it done.
On what has gone wrong:
The simplest answer with that is just consistency. Some weeks it's been there, some weeks it hasn't. Some periods of games it's been there, then a period of the game it doesn't. In the chair that I sit in, that's the ultimate frustration, is that it's not. Because I think any coach, the thing that he's always striving for … is that word, consistency. To consistently get that play at the level that you want. And you don't want it to be up and down and there's obviously been too much of that. But again, getting that consistency, getting that flow, getting that quarter-in, quarter-out, game-in, game-out consistency, that starts with me. And it's the constant search for getting that. There's been too much up-and-down. Bottom line. And that's what's cost us.
On sticking with the scheme:
I think that's where people do make a lot of mistakes a lot of times. In my opinion, the worst thing to do is, 'Oh my god, we're gonna throw everything out and become this,' because there's been games, there's been periods where we've played very well with all the stuff that we've been doing. So last week, it was a bad day. Hopefully we've learned from it. There's some things that I'd love to have back. I'm sure some individual players would say there's some plays they'd like to have back. There's definitely some calls that I'd like to have back, some situations that I would maybe approach differently. That's not the way I'm built – 'OK, let's throw this playbook out and put a new playbook in' – that's just not the way I'm wired.
On De'Vondre Campbell's comments:
The first thing I'll say, 'Dre is an absolute warrior. I mean that in every aspect of his game, as a leader, as a guy in our locker room, as a guy in our defensive meeting room, in the linebacker room. I have the utmost respect for that guy and he has my 1,000% complete support. This is a violent game. It is a physical, violent game and really the last two years, he's been dealing with a lot of things from a physical standpoint, from a medical standpoint … I shared with you the story that he brought a guy in on Wednesday night when we were in Detroit to try to get his body right and he's doing everything humanly possible to get back and to get healthy.
On whether the players have his back:
You know what? I've never felt anything but that group of men that I get to coach every single day not coming in and giving me every single thing that they have. I've never, ever felt that for one minute. At no point during the game, or going back and watching it, have I ever questioned any of our guys' desire or our heart or the play style that they play with. That's something that we demand every single day is the play style that we go out and practice with and play with. I've never seen anything to question that from our group of guys.
Offensive coordinator Adam Stenavich
On Jayden Reed:
He is just such a tough, hard-working kid that has so much potential and so much skill set that, we're very lucky to have him here for sure. He has a long way to go and he's got so much he can improve on, but I think the future is super bright for him, and I'm really excited for him.
The silver lining of the whole Luke Musgrave injury has been Tucker Kraft getting all these reps and all these opportunities, and he's done a phenomenal job. He really has. We just kept giving a little bit more, a little bit more, a little bit more every week, and then all of a sudden, bang, Luke went down. All right, now you're the man, let's see how you react, and he's responded very well. Looking at once we get those two on the field together, we'll have something pretty cool.
On Rasheed Walker's progress:
At the beginning of the year, there was always a false start penalty or just some mental lapse, and he's done a lot better job recently controlling those, and I think as you become a more veteran player, you just become more dialed in to the certain situations that are happening. I'm fired up about Rasheed and what he's been doing on the field. He plays hard. He's got really good athleticism. All he just needs is just the game reps to go be a left tackle in the NFL.
Offensive line coach Luke Butkus
On handling the blitz in recent weeks:
We've seen a lot of fronts, a lot of pressures, a lot of unique structures over the past few weeks. Now with Carolina, it's hey, win our one-on-one battles. We know what they're going to do, we know what they're going to line up as. They'll have a wrinkle or two, but we have to challenge these guys and it's going to be one-on-one the majority of the game, and we've got to win them.
On how Sean Rhyan is doing with the rotation at RG:
He's a big, strong kid. He's tough, and he's got strong and heavy hands. Now we just have to put it together every single play. We've got to lock in, refocus and go out there and play the next play, not let whatever happened the play before affect us, good or bad.
On offensive coordinator Adam Stenavich saying previously that C Josh Myers his playing his best:
I agree with Steno. Josh is playing his best football right now. Again, is he doing it consistently? Not enough right now. Last game, he would probably tell you the same. But he is taking charge. That room, with Elgton (Jenkins), it's becoming theirs and you see it. He's talking more, he's standing up, he's taking it. That's the plan for him and Elgton, to take over that room and ultimately take over this team just by their work. Both those guys aren't really vocal, but they come into work every single day, they do their job, and they put their head down and go forward. That's what I love about both those guys.
Tight ends coach John Dunn
On Tucker Kraft filling in for Luke Musgrave:
It really goes to the mindset of you never know, and you work and work and work, and here it is, your chance, your opportunity, and it's up to you to take advantage of it, and he certainly has. It's been great for him, building confidence. There's nothing like doing it, right? We talk about it in the meeting room, you practice. All those things are critically important, but going out there, doing it, in a game, when it counts, keeping score, and just what it does for your confidence. Happy for him and the way he's going about his business.
The biggest compliment I can give them is how much they learn from something that's happened, and then being able to correct it and move on to where it's corrected and now let's attack the next issue. I can't say how hard he works. What you do in the dark eventually will come out in the light, right? That's how he's attacked it.
Passing game coordinator/receivers coach Jason Vrable
On Malik Heath's miss and then TD vs. Giants:
He had two-and-a-half steps; you've got to have three. I think he was so excited – first touchdown of his career. He'll learn from that. That was a great play by that DB, as well; great finish by him. Malik has really, really strong hands. I think watching him coming out, I actually thought he was probably the top three of this entire draft class. I was like, 'This kid can run through a football with strong, aggressive hands.' Jordan's seen that all camp. He had a drop in preseason and one earlier in the year, so he's three out of how many targets, right? Jordan's seen it and he's trusting him and came back to him and made a big-time play and it was awesome.
Jordan was like 'Man, this kid's pretty special with his hands and how physical he is.' Malik is probably the most infectious energetic personality out on the field. You just see him. That's him all the time. When he goes out to practice, he told me in the draft process, 'I literally love football so much that I think of all the guys in the draft class, that's what you're going to get from me is a guy who's just obsessed with football.' He's done a tremendous job for us so far.
Quarterbacks coach Tom Clements
On Jordan Love bouncing back from the Giants game:
First on the New York game, things didn't work out the way we would've liked, but we still at the end of the game were able to come back and get a touchdown there. We finished offensively well. But the next week, as a team, as an offense, we knew we didn't play the way we wanted to play, and just focused on that week. I think Jordan had a good game against Tampa. He bounced back and over the last little while, he's played well, so it's been good.
On the trust progressing between Love and his teammates:
I can see that. We're playing a lot of young guys, and they've gotten better over the course of the year. Now it's to the point where maybe they've seen things two or three or four times during the course of the game or during the course of the season, where earlier in the year, that's the first time they've ever experienced a situation. So they've gotten a little bit more experience, they know what they're doing more, they're more refined in their techniques. On the offense, everyone has to do their job and play well, and be in the position they're supposed to be in when they're supposed to be there. So the more experienced we've become, and obviously had a little bit more success, everyone gets a little bit more confident and you have a little bit more trust.
Running backs coach Ben Sirmans
On whether RB Aaron Jones can handle 70-80% of the snaps:
This last game, we'd really have been forcing the issue in playing him that much, especially with all the time that he had off and just coming back. We still have to be cautious as opposed to if it was the beginning of the season and you're just throwing him in there and letting him play. Even from that standpoint, it's very rare even when he was 100% healthy that we played him at 75%, 70% of the reps.
On how Jones has handled this season:
He's been extremely frustrated with it, especially now that he's taken on a role as one of the primary leaders of the team. As a leader a lot of times you want to be out there with your guys, and competing and helping them win. More than just his individual accolades or opportunities, it's also him feeling that leadership pressure of not being out there.
On Patrick Taylor's improvement:
You've seen some of the opportunities he's had where he's actually made guys miss in space, doing a good job of finishing his runs. He's totally comfortable being out there, so I think that's a big part of it, and he's really, really focused to get the job done. We talk about all the time, when you're out on the field, you have to win your matchups, whether it's running the ball, in pass protection, going out for routes. You win your matchup, it helps the team. He's taking that full tilt, and you can see it just the way he competes.