“I was very proud of our team with the way we came out there. We had a lot of good enthusiasm before the game. This is our first time as coaches being together out on the field. I really like the way we communicated during the course of the game with the trainers, everyone, and the players. Obviously there is still a lot of work to do for us. I had a lot of the young guys out there. Little things that we must get better at obviously are the penalties. I wasn’t very pleased with that and the players understand that. Also the turnovers, we had two turnovers on offense. But I was excited about the turnovers that we created on defense. I think we played very hard. There are a lot of things that we have to get better at, but at the same time there are a lot of good things out there. It’s the first game. I told the players I’m excited that we won. I think that’s important, that’s the goal. Now we need to move forward and make those corrections. Next time we take the field, which is going to be tomorrow, we need to learn from these mistakes and be a better football team.”
What were some good learning experiences you can take away from this game?
“The first time the defense saw a bunch of shifts a little bit within the multiple defensive scheme. We’ve got to move the line, and shift the line. I think that’s something that we haven’t seen much of that we need to do a better job of. I think also our alignments sometimes where we are seeing pressing a guy or working a guy outside. Different techniques that we are seeing from the receivers or the DBs that we have to work on. Little things like pre-snap reads. This is why the guy is lined up out here. This is what you need to look for. You see them noticing it. I’m talking about the younger players especially. You’re able to see on the film them seeing it, but not really getting that leverage or that position. Some of our guys stepped up and made plays. That’s a big time play by Kiko (Alonso) in the back of the end zone to save the seven points. Some of those receivers that we had did a nice job of creating some separation, and I thought the protection was good for the most part.”
Did you think
“To answer your question, the two-minute drill was impressive. We’re on the minus five, we’ve got three timeouts, and there’s a minute-50 left. To do that it’s very impressive no matter who you are so I was excited about that. I don’t like to compare games to scrimmages because the games are a whole lot different for him. Am I surprised that happened? I don’t know. I think that’s happened to a lot of young players when they come in there. What I’m looking for is how they react to things, and are you just going to get better and better as the game went along? Not to say that he settled in and everything was fine, that’s what it looked like. You just have to wonder how it’s going to be going forward but you’re seeing some good things. For a young guy going in there, I was very pleased with both those quarterbacks and what they did.”
Talk about some of the decisions EJ Manuel was making, like the third-and-two at the five where he threw the ball away when there wasn’t anything there.
“Good decision. We called that play. Good job by the defense. Indy did a great job. They were playing the guy inside on the receivers. All of a sudden we go down there and we want to run that play, and the guy was playing outside. Good job by the defense. Smart play, throw it away. Get what you can or run. Again that’s more of a schematics, give it to the defense, than check it for the quarterback.”
And then the throw to
“Nice throw, good play, good route. I like the fact, it’s two man, third down, a critical third down and you see them run it, make a big gain. I think those things are important for what we have to do moving forward.”
The rookies scored four touchdowns total. You had some rookies making plays and being productive.
“We did and that’s a compliment to the coaches and those players. You guys have been at training camp every day. We’ve gotten a lot of reps and those young guys have played a lot. One of the questions yesterday was, “How do you feel going into this thing?” Like I said before with the style of practice that we have, we’re able to get a lot of reps for both the older and younger guys. I think that’s what shows you that the younger guys have the ability to make plays like that. I was excited about that. I think that we all are when we are making plays out there.”
How did the bubble receivers play today?
“I thought they did well. There were a lot of routes that we won and getting out there. (Marcus) Easley really made a couple of nice plays. Da’Rick Rogers really set the guy up nice, pushed him outside, ran the slant and scored the touchdown. I thought those guys did a nice job. It comes to that point where you want to run the ball, and you are trying to see some different things. I thought those guys were winning quite a bit out there. It’s going to be interesting moving forward. The one thing is those guys are going to have some opportunities. When they have those opportunities they are going to be able to separate themselves and we’ll keep evaluating. The good thing about it is that may be a tough decision down the road for us. How does that break up with those receivers, but that’s not a bad thing. All those guys I know can play at this level.”
How does EJ Manuel’s two-minute drill affect his confidence and the team’s confidence in him?
“I think that’s obviously a great question. Here you are right before a half, like I said before it’s a minute-50 and three time outs left. You’re making decisions. Are we going to try to run out the clock or are we going to go two minute? Hey let’s go two minute. We’ve worked on it quite a bit. A couple days we’ve had success on it early on. I think the last time in practice we ran it and the defense got after us pretty good. We didn’t do a good job offensively. When we got out there and we were able to get the first down and make those plays obviously you’re excited about what the quarterback did. I think the other thing is you’ve got to remember there’s a whole football team watching this thing. When you talk about players believing in themselves, the defense is watching it and everyone is watching it. Here’s this guy right out of college, doesn’t really matter what round, and here he comes. One of the hardest things I’ve always found is when nothing’s open deep down the field, let’s go ahead and drop it off to the backs. He did a great job of that. That’s one of the things you don’t see. Give credit to (Tashard) Choice and (Robert) Woods, and when they were catching the ball, and moving up the field vertically to get the clock stopped. We still had a timeout when we scored going down there. Credit to the coaches, and credit to the players. They really did a nice job of the management and the execution.”
Was it part of the game plan to not go too far down the field with EJ Manuel?
“No, no, no, no. We had a go open, and there was a guy in his face early. We tried to do it again. I got on the phones. I told Nathaniel (Hackett) ‘Let’s just make sure we get some go’s. That’s what he does best. Throw some deep balls.’ It was just a matter of the play calls dictating that, not going into the game. I’m surprised that we didn’t throw more go’s. I think we had some other things that we were working, but I would have liked to have seen more go’s.”
“I think that’s exciting. The guys that have been with us through training camp obviously have seen him do some good things, not just as a receiver but also in the return game. He’s one of the fastest guys I’ve ever been with on the field, and it’s documented his speed. It’s not surprising that he was able to get those two big returns and one return for a touchdown.”
Were there any injuries of note?
“(Dorin) Dickerson came out of the game. I think we’re going to be fine there with just the left ankle. (Ron) Brooks, he was fine. He went in there on special teams. It was just a tight hamstring. (Thomas) Welch just had a facial laceration, a cut, so it’s not any contusion symptoms or anything like that. That’s not what it is. (T.J.) Heath just had a right quad contusion, just got a pop in the quad. The other thing if you say to yourself, which I don’t really like talking about before the game with the players or with the coaches about trying to stay healthy, we came out of that game really healthy so I’m excited about that.”
What was your thought process with
“When I was asked that question on Friday, we had talked about that earlier. The decision we thought was when he comes back let’s just see it. But even if he comes back and it’s great for us, and the doctor says yes he’s OK to go, and we clear him, I’m thinking , ‘Gosh he’s been away for so long. How’s he going to be, and he’s been traveling, all those different things?’ I said to myself, ‘We want to get him in there, but we have to be fair and play it safely.’ Probably we were leaning towards sitting him before he even came back. When he came back and he worked out, I said, ‘It’s very difficult for me to put you in that situation. If this was during the season, you felt good, we were able to get you a couple of practices and you had been practicing for a longer period of time, it would be interesting if we would have gone that way.’ But he didn’t have a lot of practices, nor anyone on the team prior to that. So when he came back we said we are going to bring him with us because obviously being at the game, getting him mentally back into it from being away from football too long or for those couple days, Kevin and I spoke about that, be able to help both quarterbacks instead of going in there. I told him ‘If God forbid something happens to the two younger kids, we’re going to put you in there and we’re going to hand the ball off every time.’ That’s exactly how all that went down. That decision was made early on. When I announced it on Friday, I believe that’s exactly how I said we were going to play it out.”
Are you encouraged by
“When you play the first game, preseason game, you don’t want to get too far ahead of yourself from a positive standpoint or a negative standpoint. But there’s no doubt that’s a good thing for Mario, coming back from the injury. He wanted to stay in there and keep playing. I took him out of the game. I just think we need to keep building upon that. You saw that we were moving him around a little bit to create some flexibility, to be in that position to make some plays. He made a play on that one.”
What did you learn from your placekickers today?“We’re going to look again to see how it is. I thought Dustin (Hopkins) with the PATs and field goals did a nice job. The kicking, the first one was great. Then he had two mishits, really. Trying to get him in there again. I thought Rian (Lindell) did a real nice job in there. When Dustin goes in there as a young guy, you just want him to calm down a little bit. It’s no difference between him and like the quarterbacks that come in early in the game first time ever and you want to see where they go. I don’t know if he was nervous. I just told him, ‘Calm down. You don’t need to kick every ball out of the end zone. It’s OK if it’s in the field. Heck, we got 10 other guys out there to cover.’”