(Opening Statement) "Well first off, I think a lot of us have heard of the diagnosis of Coach [Ron] Rivera for the Washington Football Team. I've known Ron for a while, I got to meet him and spend a lot of time with him at the coaches meetings and things of that nature. So, I just know our organization we're thinking about Ron and his family and the team. Ron is tough as hell and we're hoping for a speedy recovery. It's just unfortunate, but he's got a lot of people behind him [and] a lot of people pulling for him. I think as far as the team, I like to give you guys an update [as to] what's going on. C.J. Henderson will be back, so he'll be on the field today which is good coming from that sickness or illness. And then the other thing is we made a move, obviously, [releasing] Charles Jones and we brought in Matt Flanagan for tight end. So, that move is there, we replaced that. And then we have, from an injury standpoint, you see Quincy [Williams] he'll start to work soon, we'll take it week by week. And then the other two, nothing crazy, they'll be week to week, nothing surgical or anything like that. We have Dede [Westbrook] who has a shoulder, he's got a bruise there, and Taven [Bryan] has got a bruise on his knee, so we're just going to take it easy and really watch those guys and go week to week. So, that's really where we are from a standpoint of injuries. Which is—I think we're really healthy right now. Then other thing is today is a day—maintenance is a term that we just use for the day. But I just want to make sure that kind of everyone understands that we started to do the live work where [we're] monitoring everyone's reps, live reps, strain, things of that nature. Even though that you guys aren't able to see them, I want to try to give you some insight to what they do. A lot of those guys are, for medical reasons in the past that they've had issues with—were in the past have had times struggling through a season for odds and ends. But what we do, is we try to take the amount—the workload that they would have in a normal practice and try to simulate that—which we can do because it's all monitored. So, basically what's happening is you have a team out there on the field that's practicing and the guys that are on the field they just want to—one, I think obviously they're going to get better, I may not know a lot about them, so I want to look for the consistency of what they're doing. I'm also looking at a lot of matchups out there, we kind of talk about who we want to see go against everyone so that we get different types of individuals. And then the players that are inside, they're doing—they're just having the same amount of tax on their body, it's just not going through—you know, they're not getting hit. But they are pushing, pulling, lifting, doing all those things. So, just trying to give you guys a little bit of insight to that. Obviously, it's been a very challenging situation, what we're doing. I think that a lot of times we're coming up—I don't want to say it's been a lot of things that are negative. Obviously, this pandemic is very difficult and there's a lot of things that have changed. But I think you see some positives that are coming out of this. I think we were talking the other day and I told the team this. Last year at this time, we pretty much diagnosed about 29 colds, where guys have had colds and illnesses. We had to be able to take care of that. Whereas compared to this year, there's only three. So, you start looking around, and you're like, is it the masks? Is it the hand sanitizer? Is it because we have the building clean? Same thing with IVs. I think with kind of fell into something that I think is important that we all take a look at. We haven't had any IV's and it's a credit to—I believe it's the ramp-up period. What you do and the acclimation period that has gotten guys used to the heat down here because it is very difficult when you just come back in and right away we put those players out on the field and tax their bodies in a way that you're always trying to recover. So, I think those things have gone well. I think the same for the maintenance of the players and what we've been doing. It's been much less than it's been in the past and I believe it's not because the practices are easy or anything like that. We're getting the amount of plays that we would normally get in during the preseason game as far as live work, but I think it all goes back to this ramp-up period and what we're doing. I think you look at the soft tissue injuries, they're down. So, I think there's a lot of things that maybe aren't coming out because our concentration so much is on wearing masks, being tested every day, whatever it is with COVID. You know, we have one player still on the COVID list and that's Ryan Pope and you'll see him around, hopefully we'll be able to get him off. But other than that, I feel good about the way things are going. I've talked to the players about a couple things. I'm not going to make any mistakes of what I think someone can do. What I'm doing is I'm going off of all the stuff that we've seen on the field and so I tell them, whoever's consistent, whoever does the best job on the field, that's what we're going to judge you by. Whatever's been done in the past, we're not judging that. We're going to judge what we see with our eyes right now. I'm also looking for guys that can get people better around them. I'm looking for guys that can communicate well and guys that are responsible, not just here in the building, obviously, but [also] outside of the building. So, there's a lot of things that we're looking for just outside, to create this chemistry that we want on this football team to give us an opportunity to win."
(On impression of Saturday's scrimmage) "Yeah, I thought it was a good start. I looked at it like a combination of really the first and second preseason games. I think that we saw some things that we were probably—that come out. I think a lot of times when you practice or you scrimmage, what I usually do is I make some notes of what we may be behind on. So, we made some notes of things that we needed to do more of and more teaching, more progression. And try to change some of the drills that we did to simulate some of the things that I think we have to do a better job of. So, there were about four major things that we needed to work on, and we've adjusted our schedule to work on those things. And I've already seen the benefits of it in these last couple days. So, I think that was important. I think that's why you have to do those things because what you don't want to do is create a false sense of security; whether it be tackling, whether it be being in a good position where you don't have penalties, whether it be ball security. So, all these things that you look at once everything goes live, you want to make sure that you're able to work on those things and don't take them for granted. And I think those things will come out. Obviously, this Saturday will be a bigger scrimmage for us, because it's really a combination of—you know, the first scrimmage was a combination of Week 1 and 2 in preseason, this scrimmage will be a combination of really of the third preseason game and the fourth one. So, there will be a lot of reps this Saturday."
(On whether this upcoming scrimmage will be the last high-contact practice) "Well, I think the one thing that I've looked at and kind of understand from my perspective as someone who's gone through everything and think of things in a lot of different ways is that it'll probably be the last real true team type thing. What we need to do is we still need to put that—the one thing when you scrimmage, different from maybe when you practice, is that outside of the tackling part, there's a strain. And when you're playing games, and with guys up front, there's a huge strain on your body that you have to maintain for a longer period of time than maybe when you're practicing with the quick whistle or you're tagging off or whatever it may be. So, we've started to work on those things and started to drill them, so now we can get that work done without putting players in jeopardy of being on the ground and someone falling on them and things of that nature. So, we're starting to ramp that part of it up right now."
(On assessment of DE/LB K'Lavon Chaisson) "Yeah, I think in the beginning, I think he was frustrated, like anyone is, and which that's what you want to see, a guy that wants to be out there. And then you start thinking to yourself—because, again, this is the first time you've worked with a lot of these players—you start thinking, 'Okay is he one of those guys that needs to be 100 percent before he gets back on the field?' Knowing that, in the back of my mind my thought process is, it's very difficult to play this game feeling 100 percent, especially once the season comes. So, he's been able to get to a point where we've felt we could put him out there and he wanted to be out there. And it's pretty impressive now, I mean again, we've got a long way to go, but you're talking about strength, speed. He's probably faster than I thought when I watched the film. He's definitely—it's been impressive. So, I don't want to jump the gun and anoint someone already, I think there's still a lot of work to do, but as far as the physical tools, you get a good sense of what you've seen and this happens sometimes and it happens in a lot of different ways. Now you get the player and you see him live and you see him every day. I'm probably, I would say that I'm more impressed with him now and his ability and his talent than I was when we actually took him. And even though we took him in the first round, I know you guys are probably going 'Oh I mean gosh, obviously you knew what you were getting.' But a little bit different now, I mean, the guy is extremely fast and he covers a lot of ground in a short period of time. He takes these strides, these long strides and just closes quickly. So, I'm excited about where he is as far as his talent. We've still got a lot of technical work to get done."
(On the concern of the COVID technology and the possibility of having false positives on a game day or right before) "I mean, obviously, I heard about it. I didn't really get deep into the details of everything. But what I heard about it was exactly what you said. The one thing that I never really—I guess, for me, there's so many people, so many smart people, meaning whether that be on the PA side or the league side, outside consultants and things like that. When things like this happen now, I really feel very comfortable that they'll be able to figure something out and get things done the right way. I look at it as these things happen now, it's unfortunate for the teams that it happens to, because it does throw a little wrench in their schedule. But at the same time, this stuff happening now gives us a great opportunity to work things out for the season and I think—I have full confidence that the league will work something out and we'll have different types of protocols or different types of testing, or whatever it is that might come forward. So, I'm not really concerned about that."
(On the incredible amount of cleaning in the building day after day) "I kind of think, why the [heck] weren't we doing that before? You know? I mean, to a certain extent, when I got that report the other day about just the colds—what I told you guys before. I was like 'Wow' and know I'm trying to figure out okay why is that? [Is it] because we're washing our hands more? Everything's sanitized, the building, the filters, the circulation of air and all that stuff. I'm thinking of all the colds I've had in the past and it pisses me off. So, to say that—I'm not surprised, I think whatever you find in life and anything that you do, if you put an emphasis on something, usually you can get things done. And again, I think there are things that we're finding out and learning in a positive way. I think we could all look at the negative stuff, but there's things that we're looking at a positive way that I think is going to be beneficial for us moving forward in the future for years to come."
(On finding a spark for the return game) "I think we've got a couple of guys. I think that, obviously, [Chris] Claybrooks is a guy that we're banking on and he is not—he hasn't given us any indication that he would not be able to do it and I think he has to earn it. But again, you're talking about quick, powerful, inside, outside, one cut, I mean he has all that ability. I think, the guy that's probably a little bit under the radar with it and he had been a really good returner in the past, is you have Chris Thompson, who has really done a great job there. I don't have any issue of putting anyone back there as a returner. I think that's—I look at that as a play or an opportunity to get something done. So it really, doesn't matter. If you're a starter or not a starter, if you're worried about this or not worried about that, you know, Chris can get back there. And I think we've had— Dede [Westbrook] has been back there, he's been there before, [WR] Michael Walker has been there before. So, we have a lot of guys that have done it, but we also have some guys that I think have the talent to be different. And then, your point, that was one of the things that we looked at when I got together with [Jaguars Special Teams Coordinator] Joe DeCamillis and [Jaguars Assistant Special Teams Coordinator] Mike Mallory. We're looking to say okay; we're constantly looking to improve our special teams and we've done well these last two years. You know, what's the one area that we need to
Really look at that we can make a big jump? We've finished top 10 in special teams these last two years because we've worked extremely hard. Special teams are a little bit more fluid, a lot of times, than other areas of your team, what you're looking for. And we went out there and said we can really help ourselves if we can get to this returner going. And I think that—I know for me, and I can't speak for Joe [DeCamillis] or Mall [Mike Mallory], but I've been involved with special teams, obviously, for a long time myself. And the one thing that you look at when you go and study these teams that are very good at returning, is you say 'Why are they so good? Why do they average this amount?' It usually comes back to the returner. And I don't want to take anything away from the guys that are blocking or anything of that nature, but the returner is usually the guy that is special and makes everybody else look good. So, we think we have a couple guys, and we're still working through, that have that ability. So, we made an effort to better that and we'll see if that effort comes to fruition or with results when we start playing. Because, the one thing that's tough right now, without the preseason games, is that part of it. Where now you've got 11 people running down full speed and they can't let loose and get after you. So, those are some of the things that we're trying to simulate, but at the end of the day, how do you simulate that? You used to say, 'Full go, here we go.' And we're going to get some of those just to make sure that we're right on it. We'll probably get some within the next four or fivedays and I think that'll give us a good indication of where we are. But as far as what they can do and what they've shown so far, we have some guys that, we feel, are going to help us in the return game."
(On the evaluation of players between practice, scrimmage and preseason games) "I think that's why we're mixing it up. I look at it as in college, meaning that I want to mix the matchups up. So, a lot of the one-on-ones, we're able to see. And I've always been—my philosophy has always been, you have to be able to win the one-on-ones first, before you can do anything else. You know, the one-on-ones, then the combinations, then all the other things that take point. If you can't win the one-on-ones, then really the rest of it is not going to count. I mean, you're not going to be as good as you should be. So, when you do it, that's why it's so critical for us if we look at what the matchups are. So, we want to make sure that we're—I guess the best example or, I'll stay in my wheelhouse with this one. You look at, let's say I'm coaching the offensive line, one of my interior linemen, well I want to make sure he can go against that smaller, stouter player; maybe he's got some quickness to him. Then, I want to see him against a big, strong, maybe a guy that doesn't move as well. Then I want to see him go in there and pass protection and face a guy that they're going to put in there and nickel, that's going to move inside. So, you can see the different type of players and how he can adjust to it. No different than you take your corner and he's maybe covering a smaller, quicker receiver. Then he covers a physical receiver, a better route runner. So, you want to see the type of things that you would see if you were practicing against teams and you're in the preseason. So, we've got to manage that and create those situations to help us get a better evaluation."
(On the progress of younger players) "I tell you, you know what's been interesting is that this has been unlike anything that I've gone through as a player or a coach. Meaning, for some reason, and I don't know if it's because we weren't on the field and we had so many virtual meetings. The other thing I think helped, is that we had these young guys in here for quite a bit of—a long time, a long period before the veterans came in. And what happened was, and I try to explain this, someone had asked me this question, not from a reporter, but I guess I was in a discussion. Really, I thought when we started, it was probably the closest I've seen a young group, from a standpoint of knowing what to do, to the guys that have been here already. And then, what usually happens when you start to practice, is you, kind of, you get in here and you go right away, and you tend to overload the installs early on. And what happens is you see this gap start to widen, where your veteran players are going—they've done it before and then all of a sudden, these younger players are swimming. And I said this to myself, or I said this to the coaches the other day, it's interesting, I said, there's a point in camp when we should start seeing that, and we're really not. Which is a good thing for the younger guys, because these youngers guys now have stayed up here—is there still things? Yeah there are. But this is the closest gap that I've seen from a coaching standpoint. Is the amount of young players, where we are with the older players as far as assignments, knowing what to do, not being overwhelmed. And I think a lot of that is, again, the ramp-up period gave everyone a chance to understand things and go. And they've been able to process the information and have been able to go on the field and compete. So, I think we have more competition due to the fact of how we presented the material. It gave everyone an equal opportunity. Where I think, I feel, I feel that has to be it. I don't know, I don't want to say something stupid like 'Well I don't know if these guys—all of a sudden we've got a bunch of geniuses.' But you know what I mean, I think it was the way it was installed and where we are that has put it close. And I haven't seen, and I won't see it now, I won't see that separation that usually occurs with the older players and the younger players and you're trying to catch those guys up. What I have seen, is I have seen an unbelievable commitment of these younger guys to make sure they understand things. The one thing about this class of guys that we brought in, that I will say, of all—you know, the New Orleans team in '06, those young guys we brought in, really had good communication skills. Meaning, I think they'd ask questions, they had a confidence about them. I kind of see the same thing these younger guys that we brought in here today. They're not like 'Oh [shoot], here comes the head coach.' They're like, 'Hey coach, what's going on?' I mean, they're very open, they're very—they have a hell of a lot more personality than I ever had and hope to have as we go forward."
(On assessment of the defensive line after DL Josh Mauro's suspension) "Yeah, it's—here's one of the things that, I'm going to try to give you guys a visual of how this thing is going. So, when I talked to the team, like I said earlier today, I want—I'm looking for guys that are going to make people better around them, being a good teammate. I think I'm going to explain two rooms that I've been watching, obviously, closely. Well, one is the tight end room and I want to take that because the tight end room is an interesting dynamic. It has Tyler Eifert, he has been a guy that has had some success in this league, has been injured, healthy for the first time, has played a lot of football. James O'Shaughnessy who is really overcome a lot of things, who's overcoming an injury [and] that worked extremely hard to be where he is. And then you have the two younger guys that we have, Tyler Davis and Ben [Ellefson] coming in that have gone through a lot of stuff and then we just brought in Mike Flanagan. Now, a lot of times—the one thing about that room, is you see Tyler and James helping the younger guys, the younger guys communicating. I mean, they all root for each other, they work with each other, they push each other. And right now, as a coach, you love the way that room is working. Now, the reason why I brought up that room is because I'm going to talk about the defensive linemen. Alright, you've got these guys now that all this stuff may be written, and whether it's true or not, we're not going to know until we start playing. But I will say that from an effort standpoint and guys working together to get better, it's the same thing. I mean, the effort that we're getting out of our defensive line, talking about turning, running for the football, straining, doing all those things, really working, the communication between everyone is good. And I think that I've been pleasantly surprised that I think a lot of guys have stepped up and have performed maybe better than what people on the outside would see. But I think when you watch the practice, if you close your eyes and watch it, you'd be like 'Hey these guys are doing a really good job.' So, I think a lot remains to be seen. Again, we're trying to do all of the matchups and everything. I think we've got guys that can go ahead and stop the run, I think we've got guys that can rush the passer. I think that we might not have as many of those dual threats on the inside, that can do both, which is fine. So, it's going to be interesting, but I think the same thing. When people always say, we're not actively like 'Oh shoot we've got to go out and we've got to get this guy for this position. But I always want to make sure that everyone understands that if something does become available [and] we feel that it's going to help our football team and we're going to get better; we're going to be able to do that. Because we, along with everyone else in this league, have a list of guys that potentially can help us in case someone gets injured or not. And I think that before [DL] Taven [Bryan] bruised his knee, he's a guy that's really picked it up. I think we saw a little bit of it last year, but this year, he's practicing and performing as well as I've ever seen. That's a plus. [DE/LB] Josh [Allen] is back and it's his second year and you can see some things that he's working on and it's going to be better. A lot of these inside guys that not many people know about, on the outside they may be like 'Well, this guy's a two-down.' You keep hearing this stuff about two-down player, two-down player, and at the end of the day if he can perform well in those two downs to get us to third down, then what the [heck] is wrong with that? And I think we have a lot of guys that do take a lot of pride. Yes, they all want to rush the passer and get sacks, but they have to understand that—Let's make sure we can get to a point where we can get people in third downs. And kind of how Gene [Frenette] brought up earlier, maybe a week ago or so, we can't win football games if we don't stop the run. And as we're doing everything [that] we possibly can to make sure we can get that covered."
(On confidence on this team) "I say this, my responsibility for the organization and more importantly for the team is to make sure that, whoever I put on that field, I have complete confidence that they can do it. Is your question, do I feel confident going out and playing football with the group we have right now? I do, I really do. And I think that I've seen a lot, I've seen them getting better, I've seen— And I think the thing that's most encouraging, we do have some talent but the one thing that they all do have is an unbelievable work ethic. And I've always believed this: Hard work beats talent when talent doesn't work hard. And our group has some talent and they're working their butts off."
(On relationship with QB Coach Ben McAdoo and OC Jay Gruden and trust with this offense) "I have trust in everyone. I think that Ben I've known for a long time. I knew Ben when he was out in San Francisco. And Jay I had met, but I didn't have as close of a relationship with him. I think it's—for me, I'm constantly trying to get better. Personally, how I handle my responsibility is I'm always trying to get better, I'm one of those guys that I always have a reason for something, so I'm always going to be able to explain it. But if there's something that we could do better, or we could do better, or I can help them with, I want that. And I think that not only just from Ben and from Jay, but from everyone. I think both of those guys are doing a great job. I think offensively, I feel the communication within the staff is outstanding. I feel that the communication from the staff to the players have been great. So, there's a lot of guys that we have that have a lot of experience in all different areas. And I think that you're not—if you're one of those guys that think you know everything and all that other stuff, you're going to get yourself in trouble. It might look great in the press, oh here's this guy, he's confident, look at him. But, you know, I'm confident in what I do, but I'm always looking to get better. And those guys—I've had help from everyone. I rely on whether it's [Jaguars Wide Receivers Coach] Keenan [McCardell] whether it's [Jaguars Tight Ends Coach] Ron [Middleton], whether it's [Jaguars Running Backs Coach] Terry Robiskie, who probably has the most experience out of everyone on our staff. But I'll also rely on some of the younger guys and what they see. I like to get people's opinion. And the only thing I can't stand, is I can't stand people that they're going to tell me what I want to hear. I want people to be honest, I want people to be upfront. At the end of the day, that's what's going to give us a chance. I've never been worried, I think if you become paranoid or worried, or anything like that, you never have a chance to grow. So, I feel really good about where we are from that standpoint."