GREEN BAY – The Packers' coordinators and defensive assistant coaches met with the media on Thursday. Here's a sampling of their key comments.
Offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett
On working to get Davante Adams open vs. double teams:
We always expect that. We're always understanding that they're either going to cloud him or they're going to double him. We have those plays that we think we can move him around, put him in different spots. The more we can do that, the more difficult it is (for the defense) to get those things done. We just have to do a great job of continually motioning him and continually putting him at the one spot, the two spot, the three spot, backside, inside, everywhere we can put him. As long as we do that, it just makes it more difficult and we could potentially take some of those doubles off.
On using Aaron Jones split out wide as a receiver:
Aaron Jones has done a great job of expanding his route tree from those alignments as a wide receiver. You saw this past game the things that we were able to do. As Davante was attracting a lot of attention, it opened up some things for him. I think that definitely is hard on defenses. Again, who are they going to take away? Who are they going to double? I think the more you can put people in different spots so they're just not always in that same original alignment, it's just something we don't want them to be able to plan for. So, I think it definitely stresses out a defense.
Defensive coordinator Joe Barry
On Bengals QB Joe Burrow:
He burst onto the scene in such a positive way last year. Son of a coach, gym rat, all those things. The makeup that he has, I think has allowed him to be the quarterback he is in the league at such a young age. His pocket savviness, his awareness, I think those are all things that to play quarterback in this league at a high level you have to have, and he's shown in a small sample size, 13 or 14 games, however many games he's played, it's been pretty impressive.
On losing Jaire Alexander:
He's in a very select group in this league. It's a loss. He's not only one of the best corners in the National Football League, he's one of our captains. He's one of our leaders. He is all ball, all juice, all day long. People are going to have to step up in his absence, because not only the playmaking ability, but the leadership, just the passion and the energy he brings every single day, someone else is going to have to match that.
Special teams coordinator Maurice Drayton
On the field-goal protection issue:
It was a teachable moment, a learnable moment for everyone on that unit, so it was kind of an awe moment, where the guys were like, 'Wow. This is what coach was talking about,' and it's fixed. Oh, they're going to test our temperature to make sure it is fixed. But the beauty of it is from Week 1, Week 2, Week 3 as we were able to show the progression and show them how, 'Hey this is what people saw on film leading up to it. This is how they set us up for that.' It really was eye-opening for our guys and we'll be fine. Once again, the block came from the D-gap. It did not come off the edge. The operation was fine.
On Amari Rodgers' punt return that was called back:
First of all, let's talk about the unit as whole, all the units. We're playing a more aggressive style of football. So we may have some combative penalties. That is not OK, but we do understand it's a process to get where we want to be and we may get some of those. Amari was very good catching the ball, securing it and getting vertical right now. There was no hesitation. So, it was very positive and we're going take these baby steps and just keep going on it, making it bigger. And by the end of the season, we'll be where we need to be, when it really counts.
Defensive backs coach/passing game coordinator Jerry Gray
On limiting explosive plays:
One of the things that we stressed last year, me and (assistant Ryan Downard) going in, was getting the safeties to understand, getting the corners to understand that in the NFL, teams want to throw the ball over your head. They're not satisfied with 5, 6, 10 yards. I've been coaching for 24 years and played for nine. They design plays to throw shots, so if you make 'em be patient, you're gonna have a chance to make a play.
On Eric Stokes giving up some short completions:
I told Stokes, 5-yard routes don't beat you in the NFL. There are certain situations you gotta go up and challenge a guy, but then don't miss tackles. He made two or three good plays and then all of a sudden he tried to shoot his gun, he missed a tackle. He's still learning how to play in this league on what you can give up and what you can't give up. I'm not one of them sticklers where you gotta stop a 2-yard route every time because you're gonna get beat on a double cut and then you're gonna give up a 60-yarder and then you're gonna be madder than (heck). So you try to calm him down on little stuff to where he understands the whole game.
Defensive line coach Jerry Montgomery
On Kenny Clark's play:
He's playing well, he's playing hard. I can't compare from one year to the next, I just know that he's affecting the game. There were times in years past when I felt like people's game plans were, 'All right, we're going to double this guy, not single block him and let him affect the game.' And I think right now people are just running their offense and Kenny's playing fast, physical, playing with his hands, being disruptive, affecting the quarterback. So just hope he continues doing what he's doing.
On Kingsley Keke's strip-sack vs. Steelers:
It's been a slow start. We've been begging him, begging and pleading to be more physical, and what was nice was he had a couple power rushes in that game. Super athletic and quick and twitchy, but we've got to get him to start being more direct and he did that. The result of that was a huge play which was awesome because as a coach, you're like, 'I told you so.' So yeah, the more he can continue to do those things, the more it's going to help him out all around in his game.
Inside linebackers coach Kirk Olivadotti
On getting Jaylon Smith up to speed like De'Vondre Campbell previously:
He had training camp to get through most of it. Game plans are usually a little bit easier to digest because it's not the whole playbook. At a certain point, you play the whole playbook during the season – that's why you have it, right? You can focus a little bit easier during the season because game plans, the whole playbook's not open. The little things that can fall through the cracks when you don't have an offseason, that's where you really have to be diligent.
Outside linebackers coach Mike Smith
On Rashan Gary roaming to the middle like Za'Darius Smith has in the past:
Stuff like that just takes a lot of practice and reps. The thing with Z, that part came really natural to him. Rashan's picking that up. I thought on that run there was – I think it was a draw – he got in there pretty quick. Had a good pressure, he put the center on his butt on the first one. So he's starting to get a feel for it. There's a lot that goes into it. He's getting a good knack for it, and it's going to be a good thing for him and a good thing for our defense.