(On the challenge of playing last week without their defensive coaches) "Yeah, I mean, obviously, it was a challenging week. Just not—I mean, not having Todd [Wash] but not having any coaches at practice on the defensive side of the ball all week. Being able to work, the older guys at each position kind of lead the position through the practice, keep the expectations high, keep the work tempo high. Obviously, on game day, we had a couple coaches, Joe Danna, calling the plays. But it was a skeleton crew at best and I think, obviously, not getting a win—that's what you're in this league to do, is you have to win. We put all the work in to get a win on the field on Sundays. But the way that we did play, obviously, we have to clean some things up, but [we] still had explosive plays and accountability in certain—and just gap accountability. That's what some of those run plays in the second half got through. But in spite of all that, I do think, given the challenges that hit the defense last week, that a lot of guys stepped up and played to the best of their abilities and it was good to see."
(On the organization of the defense last week) "Yeah, I think everything went well and smoothly. I mean, in practice, Coach [Doug] Marrone was just—he had the script, was calling the plays, he didn't know what they meant, but he was calling them. And then on Sunday, I had good communication with Coach Danna upstairs. And we had people, like our [Director of Team Administration] Tyler Wolf was upstairs counting the personnel, giving us—making sure we knew what the other team's personnel was in the game the whole time. And I can't remember, I think it was one time when they came out with two running backs that we had the wrong personnel initially. But everything went smoothly from that aspect and it was a team effort right there, I'd say."
(On the impact of Vikings WR Adam Thielen and WR Justin Jefferson) "Yeah, I mean, I played against Minnesota a couple years ago, against Thielen and when [Stefon] Diggs was there. And I think they're both when—Thielen and Jefferson kind of have the same feel as when it was Thielen and Stefon Diggs. And they're very good route runners, they have the top-end speed to be able to take it over the top and they've got hands to make the [consistent] catches. I think they're both two of the top guys at their positions for sure in the league. I think Thielen might be leading the league in touchdowns, or he's close to it, even with missing a game or a couple games. But he provides, I think, a safety blanket, a security blanket for [Kirk] Cousins. I mean, he knows he can throw it up to those guys that can go up and make some plays and make some [consistent] catches. And we've really got to bring our A-game to be able to challenge those."
(On the challenges of facing Vikings RB Dalvin Cook) "Yeah, I think he might be one of the most explosive backs in the NFL, just in terms of when he gets to the open field, the speed, he can take it the distance and he couples that with great vision and he's got enough power that breaks some arm tackles, breaks some tackles and gets out in that space. But I think he's probably one of the most dangerous backs running in space. Obviously, there's a couple guys around the league, like [Christian] McCaffrey when he's fully healthy, [Aaron] Jones from Green Bay who we played a couple weeks ago. But I think [Dalvin] Cook is right up there, if not at the top of the list with his production this year, in terms of being able to make space plays, make his speed count when he gets outside the tackle box."
(On slowing down Vikings RB Dalvin Cook) "I think, I mean, he's a different runner than, I'd say Derrick Henry from Tennessee—obviously, two totally different body types. But I think the philosophy should be kind of the same, where you've got to stop him before he can get going, battle him up, where he can't get out into the open field, make the people miss some space. If you're able to contain him inside the box and get hits on him before he gets going, I think that's the best way to be able to stop him. I think that's we were doing against Henry earlier this year and had a good game against him. So, if we're able to replicate that, then I think that could be a formula for success for us."
(On how it would feel to get a win after 10 weeks of losing) "Yeah, I mean, as an athlete, as a competitor, that's what you play the game for, is to get wins in your game, whenever that game may be, against whoever it may be. And that's why we put all the time and effort in and it's [hard]. I think the NFL, it's just, when you hit a slide like this, it's tough because you're working every day during the week, putting all the time in, watching the film, studying, getting game plans ready, understanding what you need to do to win the game. And I think especially in our situation, we've had so many close games, that it's just—a couple plays here and there, if we could've just flipped our way, get a win, it would've been so much better. So, I think we've been in games and if we're able to get a win, it would just go a long way, just for the overall morale of the whole locker room. I mean, guys are bought in, working hard, playing hard, but a win always feels great."
(On whether the topic of Head Coach Doug Marrone's job safety has come up in the locker room) "I wouldn't say it's come up in that aspect. Everybody in the NFL understands how the NFL is. It's a 'results now' league. You don't get time to recover from mistakes normally. It's you either get results or you move on to the next person—that's players, coaches, front office, not owners obviously, but everybody down from the ownership. It's a quick turnover league. And you understand, if you're not winning, everybody's jobs are at stake. And I think so—from the bottom to the top and from the top-down, everybody understands that and is working hard just for the man next to him. Because there is a sense of camaraderie in the locker room between the coaches and the players. People genuinely do like each other and want the best for their teammates or their coaches. So, I think you see that on Sundays, people going out and playing hard, doing their best. There's been a lot of mitigating circumstances this year that have affected us negatively. But at the end of the day, I don't think the effort or want has done that."
(On whether the team was surprised about the termination of former General Manager Dave Caldwell) "I mean, it's always a little shocking when it happens. But I mean, looking back in the history of teams I've played on, other places, it's kind of in line with the NFL. If something's not going right, they're going to try to make a change with whoever it may be. And I think, obviously, I'm not in the owner's boxes. Those decisions are above my pay grade. But coming from my level, it was a little bit of a surprise. Obviously, with the whole COVID thing, I spoke to him briefly a few times this season, but I really didn't get to know him very well. So, it's kind of weird, just a weird situation. But it caught me by surprise a little bit, yeah."
(On RB James Robinson not giving opposing defenders much to get a hold of for hits) "Yeah, I mean, he's a big back, he's a big body guy. I think he's like short, stout—he's not Maurice Jones-Drew in terms of short, stockiness. But he does have some weight behind his pads and he knows how to use it. I think he does a good job of understanding where defenders are going to try to tackle him, and then being able to be elusive to get away from that. You see him hurdling people, you see him stepping over tackles, stiff-arming, ducking under guys. But at the end of the day, you see him also put his head down and run behind his pads and grind out a couple extra yards at the end of runs all the time. So, I think that physicality starts the whole thing when defenders know they've got to really bring it, that's when you can start making some juke moves and be able to get them off-balance and make a mess. And he does that exceptionally well."
(On whether that's what everyone was talking about when they raved about RB James Robinson's vision) "I'm assuming so, I mean, he caught me by surprise, I think, just coming into the season. Because I mean, training camp is training camp. You see people work hard, people like plays in training camp. But then when you actually get to the games, that stuff usually falls off. And I think he just took it to another step. Not saying he's a gamer, because he practices very well, too. But you don't see a lot of that stuff, other than people are actually—there's live bullets flying, there's contact, people are trying to take you down. That doesn't happen very often in training camp, just a couple of times. But when that actually starts going on game day and he was able to just break tackles, keep running, I think he took everybody by surprise with how well he was able to step up, step up to the plate."