Q: What are the biggest improvements you’ve seen from
BB: His rookie year he missed over half the year and just kind of started in the middle of the year. Last year, he had a much better start to the season and it carried over. This year, he’s improved on his versatility. He’s played inside as well as tackle and also some other goal-line situations, things like that, he’s done some of that; getting involved in the kickoff return and the wedge and those types of things. I think his game has expanded from a versatility standpoint and also just from experience.
Q: When you say versatility, do you mean pass and run blocking?
BB: Pass and run blocking, guard and tackle, left tackle, both guards, right tackle. I mean, he really played right tackle only his first year and a lot of that his second year. Last year for Sebastian [Vollmer] a little bit more; his rookie year at the end of the season, right tackle. He’s also worked for us some at left tackle: when Nate [Solder] went to tight end very early in the season, some of those packages. He’s done a lot of different things for us. I don’t think he could have done those his first year. He’s come a long way since then.
Q: In college, he played primarily…
BB: They flipped him so he started off at right tackle and then his senior year, if I’m right on that, I think they moved him to left tackle. Which is kind of what they did, they always put their senior, most experienced guy and put him on the left side, sort of go from right to left, like a lot of college teams do.
Q: Do you chart explosive plays? The term has become more prevalent recently. How do the explosive plays allowed by you defensively this year compare to the last couple years?
BB: We gave up a ton of them last year. I don’t know, I don’t really think it’s that big of a thing. Thirty yards, 40 yards, 45 yards, 35 yards, however you cut it up, it’s probably going to be about the same. A couple plays are going to fall short of being explosive plays but they’re really big pretty big plays. There are going to be other plays that aren’t. I don’t know. We obviously, any play that’s significant defensively, we’re aware of that as a potential repeat play for somebody else to look at it and even if they miss it, we still look at it at as a big play. Say he overthrew it or something but it’s open, we look at it and say, ‘Well, if the next team sees that, they might feel like that’s a good opportunity.’ We look at that as a big play as far as trying to correct it and do a better job with ourselves. The plays are what they are. That’s a matter of record, wherever you want to break it off, you can break it off. But there are a lot of plays that aren’t big plays and there are honestly sometimes a couple big plays where you’re kind of right there and you feel like you should make the play, like we had a couple last year where a ball went off our hands and went for a 40-yard catch and it really could have been an interception. So if you’re the other team looking at that, saying is that really the kind of play you really want to run, or did they just have a fortunate result to it? I think it’s a little more by the actual play.
Q: Have you had many plays defensively this year, which were swings and misses by the other offense but were open?
BB: There are always plays like that, that you feel like you might be a little light on and you don’t want to be light in the deep part of the field. If you’re light, you want to be light in the flat or something underneath or that kind of thing where you have a lot of guys that can still make the tackle. You don’t want to be light on stuff over your head, 20, 25, 30 yards down the field. Yeah, there are plays that we’ve had like that, sure. I mean, every team has them. We want to make sure that those get pointed out and corrected or eventually it’s going to come back and get you. You have to cover the concepts – whatever the concept is, whether it’s a man-to-man technique, or whether it’s some kind of pattern concept which gives whatever coverage you were in, there’s a void down there and they had a guy standing there.
Q: Is that a worry with Atlanta?
BB: Any team could do it, yeah, sure.
Q: Maybe more this week because of the skill of the quarterback?
BB: I think you have to respect every team’s ability to do it. I wouldn’t want to go up against any team and say, ‘Well, let’s leave a guy open 35 yards downfield, they won’t hit him.’ I couldn’t coach like that.
Q: Why has efficiency in the red zone been a struggle and what have you worked on to try to improve it?
BB: Because we haven’t performed well enough. We have to coach and play better down there. What are we going to do? Coach and play better.
Q: You guys have been in the red zone more than any other AFC team, just to point that out.
BB: Offensively and defensively, we just need to perform better down there. We need to coach better, we need to execute better. We have to do a better job; it’s an important part of the field. Certainly, when you look at a team like Atlanta that’s been in three real tight games, you have to think that could potentially be the difference in this game, as it was in their other games. It’s a big area of emphasis for us.
Q: Does the fact you’ve started 3-0 allow you to be more conservative with
BB: We look at every week as pretty much a one-week season. We do what we can do that week to try to win. That’s what we try to do. I mean, sometimes there’s a point, like later on in the season, where things change a little bit, but we’re certainly not there yet. We’re going to try to go down there and play well against Atlanta. We’ll try to go out there and play well next week.
Q: When do you recall silent snap counts and offensive nonverbal communication becoming such a big deal in the NFL?
BB: I’d say it’s really a shotgun formation. I think you could operate with the quarterback under center. It’s loud, but you can still do it. As the stadiums have gotten bigger, we’ve gotten away from the baseball stadiums where there might be 70 or 80,000 people but in a lot of those stadiums, the fans at midfield were 40 yards from the sideline because they were pushed so far back and the majority of the people were in the end zone so a lot of times it just got loud in the end zone. I think there are a lot of circumstances. You have a lot of artificial crowd noise that there are different regulations on and so forth. Over the years, that’s changed. Some of that was pumped in, now there’s different rules on that. There are a lot of different forces at work here. Certainly being in the shotgun, not under center, pistol, gun, whatever you want to call it, the crowd noise situation, the stadium configuration, all that, I think, all played into it.
Q: Any idea who started it?
BB: No. I think Seattle has always been one of the nosiest places but you get stadiums like RFK or old Mile High, where the seats where aluminum seats and they would beat on those and it was like 60,000 sets of cymbals going off at the same time. Literally the whole stadium was sort of reverberating, particularly in Denver where they had the Mile High, they brought the third baseline in, kind of like they do in Candlestick where they bring that in to put it next to the field and so it’s not real stable to begin with. But those were some loud ones.
Q: A lot of people talk about the offense’s difficulty communicating on the road, but when you’re at home and the defense –
BB: Yeah, it’s the reverse problem; it’s the exact reverse problem. It’s the same thing in the kicking game. On the road, it’s your punt team and your field goal team and at home it’s your punt return team and your field goal rush team getting the communication, the call. Like your punt return team comes in there and you have a couple guys that are probably still on the defensive unit that are part of that team and then, are you going to rush, are you going to return. What’s the call? You’ve got gunners that you have to go out and cover and getting the communication to them, that’s the reverse of the playing on the road. Playing at home, I mean hopefully, if you have crowd noise at home then that could be a problem. If you don’t have crowd noise at home, then it’s not a problem. If you have it at home, then it’s a problem, especially in the red area and on the goal line, where everything is closer and closer to the fans and all that.
Q: It’s a near identical number of touches for LeGarrete Blount,
BB: Honestly, I think it’s just worked out that way. It could easily be different than that but it is what it is so I’m not going to dispute that. But it’s not, ‘This guy has 20, the other guy has 15, the other has 10, let’s give it to the guy who has 10, let’s not give it to the guy who has 20.’ It doesn’t work like that. We use them the way we feel like is the best and it’s turned out balanced but that may or may not be the way it is going forward. I think whoever our backs are, we have confidence in all of them. They’ve all been productive, so Shane [Vereen], Leon [Washington], Brandon [Bolden], Stevan [Ridley], LeGarrette [Blount], they’ve all been productive. So, I don’t think it’s a big concern, like ‘Oh, this guy is in the game, we can’t do this, we can’t do that.’ but whichever guy is in there, we feel confident in, we think he’ll do well with whatever ask him to do, they all have.