(On his thoughts during the potential "panic" at the beginning of the game) "You don't—obviously I don't want to sit here and say you feel good, I mean, that would be quite ignorant from my standpoint. Like, 'Okay, where are we at? Let's just get settled down. Let's try to see who is going to make a play to change the momentum. Let's not panic. We're going to get better as this game goes along.' Those were kind of the thoughts, Gene, that were going through my mind. 'Hey, listen, we'll be fine, we'll tackle better, we'll be in a better position.' But the—what never crossed my mind was that we weren't going to be able to withstand whatever happened; whether they scored again, or we're able to stop them, or whatever it may be. Because you go back to the type of team that these guys, that we have—and you know, we need to continue to be that way during the course of the season."
(On the penalties on the field) "Yeah, I think there [were] some that I looked at, some obviously. You know, with penalties, some of them you look at and you're like, 'Hmm, I don't really know about that.' And some, you say, 'Hey, that's a good call.' And I look at them as far as the areas of things that you can, in the heat of the moment, that you can correct, especially things that you can control with unforced errors. I mean, that's always the biggest one for me. And the next thing that comes into play is—okay the first thing—our focus now is to make sure we correct them, so a lot of the things that we had. But offensively, we did a good job. We just really had two penalties, only one of them was accepted and I think defensively we had seven. And I think the defensive ones we've talked about, we're going to address with our players, of 'Hey listen, there's more of the position than the technique that put us into that position, than it was anything else.' Outside of the two that you mentioned for [Dawuane] Smoot, which I talked to him on the sideline about. We've just got to be smart. He said he was going to block a ball and you come down with your hand on the helmet, you can't do that. So that's really how I feel about how we address the penalties."
(On the signs of composure and maturity that he saw from the team) "I don't know, you know, it's funny. I think people put a lot of words—and rightfully so at times—they'll talk about maturity or experience, and all those things do come into play, but when you have a young team like we have, I think the best word is probably just trust. I think that they trust each other, they trust that everyone's going to continue to fight, everyone's going to continue to play. I think that's where we'll get better, going on. In other words, when we watch this film, when we watch the effort, when we watch everything, it's of, 'Hey listen, you have to trust that everyone's going to do their job. Make sure you do yours. Don't look for anything else.' I think those are the things that—I keep using this phrase, 'Hey we're going to keep moving forward.' You know, it's the same thing. Today, normally, we're with the coaches, then you go through grades. And my main concern is when we get with our players, what are we going to be able to do to help them to continue to get better? What are we going to do? If we say, 'Oh we're going to get better at everything,' then nothing really gets better. You know, really picking specific things that we can sit down with them, give them specific goals during the week and just keep working to get better, just keep working on moving forward."
(On thoughts on the team's unity staying in the locker room pregame) "I can talk about the decision process. Like I said before, we were—we got started right away trying to open up this communication. I can't, I really can't even put into words really how much I've learned about really a lot of things. And I just credit the players and the coaches, I learn from both of them. They've given me the ability to go home and be able to share some of those stories with my family. And this team has come together and they feel very strongly about what change should be made. I think when you're talking to Chris [Conley] and you look at the statement—we talked about it earlier in the week, trying to kind of—didn't want any last-minute-type decisions. I think I'm speaking for them, I probably shouldn't, but I don't think that's what they wanted, at least that's what was conveyed to me. And this has been well thought out, this wasn't just talked about this week. We had these discussions during the year about things that are coming up, that we've got to be ready for. I think that through all of this and everything that we've worked for or worked to do, you truly have a chance when you see people, you see that locker room and you see everyone coming together, for what I believe is obviously a great cause, and one of humanity, but—and be able to move forward and keep your platform focused and clear of others. And it's like I said before, it's time for people to listen, it's time for people to take action. And I really think that when you're sitting in these meetings, or the meetings that I've been involved with, and you're listening, you feel hopeful that you have that opportunity coming up with the players that we have and the leadership that we have from this team. When it comes to issues of humanity, that's how I put it, or social justice, there's no 5-year player, 10-year player, you know this guy's a captain, this person's a starter, this person's not—we're all in that room, just as men having these discussions. Where we go forward, I don't know. This comes from our leadership council and the players in the locker room. It's their platform and I think those are great questions for them."
(On WR Collin Johnson's backflip in the victory formation) "I've seen him do it once before and he looked pretty good at doing it. I'm not one of those guys that are big on that. All you've got to do is just twist an ankle or get hurt or anything like that. So I don't think he's trying to—I don't know. I saw it, but there [were] other things going through my mind. I'm sure I'll mention something to him when I see him."
(On whether WR Collin Johnson is probably not doing that again) "I've learned in this sport never to assume anything. I was just brought up like 'Assume, make an ass out of you and me.' My line coach John Sandusky used to say that all the time."
(On expectations from the rookies on the team during training camp) "I kind of tried to separate—I tried to do a good job early on in camp, where I was going to try to–my main focus was to give everyone an opportunity. Because if you remember, there was so much talk of, 'Hey this is going to be the hardest year to make a football team. You know what these guys have to go through—and [there were] a lot of articles. And it hit me at home, hearing these guys that have worked their butts off that are going to have an opportunity, but yet we're not going to give them one? And it's something that I'm in a position as a head coach to create that. And I really took a lot of time trying to figure out what was the best way to get them up to speed. What was the best way for them to earn themselves a job? Because, like I've said before and I've said this many times, there's been a lot of great players in this league that have come up as free agents or tryout players and I've seen that. And I just didn't want to make any mistakes and I just didn't want to assume—as [Mike] DiRocco would say—I didn't want to make any assumptions with players and what they may be doing or may not. And so when I put the players on the field, I don't look at it as I'm putting these x—these certain amount of players on the field that lack experience or anything of that nature. I kind of, I look at it as I'm putting the players on the field that have earned these opportunities. And now, what they do with it, then that becomes the next part of the evaluation, that it's consistent and constantly moving. How much better can they get? What mistakes do they make? What plays do they make? Is it too big for them? Too not, of guys that you been with for the first time? But that's not—it's a little bit no different than being with a player that's come from another team. It's different when you go through a game and you want to—you know, like I told the coaches today, we've got to sit back and just kind of evaluate all the players that we're dealing with during the course of the game and how they react and how we can get them quickly focused or onto the next play or move. And I thought that our coaches and our players did a really good job of that on Sunday."
(On the performance of the rookies that played special teams) "Yeah, I thought those guys did a nice job. I think there's times you can see—special teams is very, it's either of two things, it's either you're very instinctual as a football player playing in those large open areas or you're very experienced. I think that when you talk about players that have been highly productive, those are the words that people use. I think for a lot of those players that you just mentioned, they had plays at times and they had plays where maybe the experience that they've gained during this first game is—they're going to be able to build on and help them because there's a lot of different schemes and a lot of different things that go on, I mean it's probably one of the more like—people think x's and o's on offense and defense, but there's a ton of that on special teams. And there's a lot of things going on, there's a lot of different returns, there's a lot of different punt blocks, there's a lot of different kickoff coverage of who people are covering and who's coming back and being safeties and who are the penetrators. So there's a lot that goes on. I would say if I had to talk about the overall group, I would say it's a good start and, 'Hey listen, let's work on this improvement and let's make more plays.'"
(On expectations to have this amount of impact from the rookies in Week 1 and his coaching approach moving forward) "Well, the last part of that question, I'm not going to get too far ahead of myself. We'll see where we are with that. With the rules and the COVID-19, I don't know what the rules will be, as far as what we're going to do. I keep saying the same thing, I don't know if I look at it the same way everyone else does when you talk about the young players, or the guys or the impact. Those guys—I mean, you saw it during practice, you saw what they had, the ability that they can do. And really, and I've said this before, the only thing that may pop into your mind—for me, and I can't speak for the other coaches, they might have a whole different opinion of it. Just like, 'Hey, is he going to poop down his pants when the lights come on?' But if you're going to go by what someone is doing every single day and how they're practicing and expect the experience that you have as a coach, what's going to be able to truly carry over onto the field, then you put them out there. When you say, expect impact or this, I think you have to expect that out of anyone you put on the field. I think how—I just think it would be wrong to put someone out there and go, 'No I don't think this guy is going to make any impact, let's just line him up there.' If that was the case, then I'd sign myself and go back out there and get vested."
(On the defense's performance in stopping the run) "I thought we did some things well and I thought we did some things not so well. I think when you look at it, they did a good job of moving the football—I know that some people have brought up, or I've been asked questions about 'bend don't break.' But they hit us on some of those screen plays, some of the runs, a couple got outside that—we've just got to clean up some things on what we're doing. I thought early on, the tackling wasn't as good as [when] the game went along. I thought we tackled well as the game went along. I thought we were aggressive. I thought our guys up front were battling. I mean, you're talking about—I mean, I've got a ton of respect for Indianapolis. Like I said, a lot have them picked to win the division, [to] go far. They've got an experienced O-line, they've got running backs, they've got great skills, they've got Philip Rivers, defensively, they're big upfront, they're fast, they move. So there were a lot of challenges going into the game. So I think for the most part, when you look at yardage and you look at a lot of the stuff that happened, stopping those guys on the 4th downs and those critical situations, creating two turnovers where we potentially could've had three, but we had two. They stepped up when they needed to step up and make a play. Now there's a lot of things to clean up, a lot of things technically, like just technique stuff and footwork and hand placement, leverage. But some of those guys—there were some good plays out there by those guys."
(On QB Gardner Minshew's performance in comparison to the tape) "Yeah, I don't—very rarely—it's hard for me because like I always tell you guys, I think after the game, I can pretty much answer everything that's going on. I think he's worked extremely hard. I thought that as the game went along, later on in the game, some of those crucial third downs, I thought he had really good footwork, really good timing. I think—so that's positive. But I would say yes, I mean, I thought that he made good decisions, he's not looking for one person or trying to do too much. We're all trying to do it together and be a team. I don't think any one of us needs to feel an extra burden because we think we have to make up for something. I think that we look at the guys on the field, that we have out there, and we look at [them] as guys that are all part of it. Even in the run game, I thought the receivers really did a heck of a job. That's something that doesn't get looked at quite a bit. But they were coming in there—because you don't really know. I mean, during training camp, you're not going to bring your receivers in there and knock the heck out of somebody. But I thought our receivers did a really good job from that aspect of it. So it's really on everyone, every play, to do what they can do. I think Gardner feels that, he feels the support from the team. And I think every one of our players feel that they're supported through their teammates and coaches and I think that's important."
(On Dede Westbrook getting back on the field) "I don't know, I mean, he was hurt for so long, so it's just getting him back. So I don't think it's a matter of, 'Hey here's a guy who was healthy with training camp and who wasn't out.' Here's a guy that has missed a lot of time, so he's working hard on the side and he's working hard in practice, and he's working his way to get back."
(On Gardner Minshew's skills now compared to when he was drafted to what he worked on this offseason) "I didn't know what we had when we drafted him. I've already been on record with that. Like I said, we're moving forward. But anyway, he's done a – I mean, he works extremely hard. Like I said before, I don't know what that personality stuff is that you guys keep talking about, I just know the guy comes in and works hard all the time. I think he's a guy that learns quite quickly. He's going to continue. He'll learn from this game, he always wants to get better, always wants to do better and he doesn't want to let anyone down, his teammates down. I think that's what makes him a great team player. So I mean, he's worked hard this offseason, he's worked hard in camp along with everybody else. So it's not surprising to see the ball security and things of that nature or to see everyone working hard for each other and it's something that we need to just continue to get better. I mean, we can't stay where we are right now, we've got to continue to keep pushing ourselves and get better. And we've got the guys—we have the right mindset of players who want to do that. And a lot of times on offense, it starts with the quarterback and that's exactly where he is. He's always consistently been in here trying to work to get better and I think that that flows through the team. And you have certain guys at certain positions, leaders at each position group that feel the same way. I mean, they want more, they want to be better, they want to be better teammates and I think that's what the key is."
(On the performance of the run defense against the Colts offense) "I think we have a chance to get a lot better, I think we really do. We have the chance to improve. I think just from a standpoint of positioning, and knowing, not trying to do too much—I saw a little bit of that—but as far as holding the point against guys that have knocked us around at times and getting players off blocks, so this way we can free people up, being aggressive, I thought we had good play, with our safeties coming up and making plays. Josh Jones made plays, J-Dubb [Jarrod Wilson] made plays, talking about in the box, in the run game. So, I think there's a lot of positive stuff that went on during the course of the game. But for me, there's a lot of stuff that when we get to [the] players, we'll talk about and we can get them better. And that's what our job is as coaches. So I feel good, I really believe that we'll keep improving as we go along. Because obviously, we have another test coming up this week."