Q: At this point in the season, how much do you scale back your preparation for a specific team, as opposed to what you might do in the regular season?
BB: It’s, I don’t know, a third maybe. It’s a lot less, significantly. And they’re going to be playing a lot of people, just like we are so it’s really more about having a basic understanding of what they do and more of us going out and seeing if we can do what we’ve been practicing.
Q: With your practice time cut down with three games in 10 days, is there almost an urgency for you and your staff in your minds to have a lineup of where you’re going to be?
BB: I think what is the unusual thing about this situation is just our ability to install anything, to actually put in plays or cover things. I’d say this week is pretty much about it. I think we’ll have good practices next week against Tampa like we had against New Orleans and the preseason games will be beneficial to us. But in terms of actually being able to go out there and talk about something in the morning, walk through it, practice it in the afternoon, watch the film at night, correct it, go through some of the little things that didn’t come up or that did come up that we need to kind of go back over again or fine tune again, that’s what you lose. After this, this is it. We’re just out on the practice field against Tampa and then we turn right around and play the Giants. So there’s no real time to install or work on anything; it’s just try to get ready for a game in a couple days.
Q: Is there a danger that it’s going to hurt your player evaluation?
BB: This certainly isn’t the ideal way to set it up but we’ll do the best we can with what opportunities we have.
Q: We’re coming to the close of training camp, how would you assess the progress that you’ve made in camp and are you on schedule?
BB: Again, the schedule is only for a short period of time. After that, you’re kind of adjusting to where you’re at on that. Some things you might be ahead on, some things you might be behind on, other things will come up that you have to manage relative to injuries or practice situations, things like that. We have a little more time to get done what we need to get done before we play these three games. I think there are some things that we’re OK on; there are other things we need a lot of work on. We always have to evaluate the team, the players – not just the individual players but how they work together collectively as a unit. That really is more coming up, I would say, with the three games and the practice against Tampa. We’ve had some, but there will be a lot more here.
Q: Can you recall a camp where you haven’t had to practice inside?
BB: We try never to go in there but we have been; I can’t remember. We try to play pretty much through everything except for lightning; we’re not going to play through that. The rain and all that, I don’t care about that. If it rains, it rains. If it’s hot, it’s hot.
Q: Overall have you been happy with the level of play from the wide receivers?
BB: Again, I think there’s always plenty of room for improvement. I’d say that about every position and every player. But overall, I think the group has worked hard, that they overall know what to do and they’ve tried to do it. There are things that we’ve gotten better at; there are other things that we need to continue to work on. We saw some things from New Orleans coverage-wise, technique-wise that we don’t do exactly that way. I’m sure we’ll see that in the next three weeks from Philadelphia and Tampa and the Giants so those will be good learning situations for us. But overall I think the group has competed well. We do a lot of things offensively. They’ve had to learn a lot and they’ve done overall a pretty good job.
Q: Do you have a relationship with Jeff Demps at all from your time in Florida?
BB: We scout all the players that come out in the draft. He wasn’t at the combine and he didn’t do a spring workout so we didn’t have that interaction with him. Other than that, we’re not allowed to scout him except for to watch practice when we’re allowed in, that kind of thing. But you can’t have the same kind of interaction with him during the season that you can once they’ve declared for the draft.
Q: Could you give me your scouting report on him? Obviously he’s a world class speed guy but football-wise.
BB: I mean I think it’s pretty well documented.
Q: In terms of what he could be in the NFL though? Obviously he was a running back.
BB: I don’t know. Yeah, he’s a running back, he’s returned kicks, he’s fast. I’m sure you can dig that out.
Q: Have you talked to
BB: Day-to-day. We’ll see how it goes today. I don’t think this is life threatening.
Q: You’ve changed
BB: Rob’s always played at the end of the line of scrimmage so that’s still where he plays. Some things he’s doing this year he’s done in the past, maybe in different frequencies or percentages but he’s still fundamentally an end-of-the-line player.
Q: So we don’t worry about labels – he’s not a linebacker or defensive end?
BB: You can do whatever you want. I see him as an end-of-the-line player – that’s the way I would classify him. You can call him whatever you want, it doesn’t matter to me.
Q: On the kickoff returns, what did the statistics show you last year in terms of the ball being moved up? Was the number of returns dramatically reduced? What are your thoughts on how that affects the value of the returner?
BB: The number of returns was down and there was a higher percentage of those [touchbacks] earlier in the year than later in the year when the weather wasn’t as warm, conditions weren’t quite as favorable, then percentage-wise there were more balls returned but still less than in the past. We didn’t return them very well in any conditions at any time and still haven’t based on the New Orleans game. That’s obviously an area that we can improve in, that we have worked hard in but based on the results still need to do a lot more work on. Important area in the game, it’s a big momentum play, it’s a way of answering the opponent’s score or start of the half, whatever the situation is there. It’s a big play in the game and an important play so we put a lot of stock in that just like we do every other play.
Q: So it still is an important play. Some might have thought that the rule change might have made the play irrelevant.
BB: That was, you look at a team like Denver, they went through the whole first half of the season, I don’t think they had five kickoffs returned, it was a ridiculously low number. But still, every once in awhile a good kicker will mishit one or the conditions will be such that he can’t touch back and then the ball will be in play. There are other teams that didn’t do as well as they did but there were plenty of teams that based on their kicker, took themselves out of some of coverage situations or vice versa, didn’t have many return opportunities against certain kickers and favorable kicking conditions.
Q: How much did you see opponents try to actually not kick it through the end zone or into the end zone to try to pin you deeper?
BB: I’d say not much, unless it was after a penalty. If there was a personal foul on the extra point or something like that and they’re kicking off from midfield. But normal kickoff situations I would say not much. They would try to kick it away and if it touched back, it touched back. One thing you did see last year was a lot of returners ran the ball out from deep in the end zone – six, seven, eight yards deep sometimes. You definitely saw more of that. Sometimes there is a tendency for the kicking team to let up a little bit when they see the ball that deep in the end zone. Sometimes they assume that it’s going to be downed and then the returner brings it out so that’s not a statistical thing, you just have to be a little more aware of it. That happened a few times, especially early in the year. The returners didn’t get many chances and if they caught it, even if they were seven, eight yards deep, they were still coming.
Q: Did you do a statistical breakdown on how much of an impact the score had to do with returners running kicks out?
BB: I haven’t done that, no.
Q: Has anybody said anything about new footballs for this weekend?
BB: Not to me.
Q: Can you see yourself living on a space station for six months?
BB: I don’t like heights [laughter]. But it has to be pretty interesting; floating around there.