Q: Is today more of a focus on ourselves kind of day or will you look forward to Carolina on the practice field?
BB: I don't think we're quite ready for Carolina yet. I think there are certainly some things we'll do that will have some application. I think this is kind of a day we can just work on some things we need to work on.
Q: Is there a situation with the bye week where because you've had injuries that you'll have to tweak and make adjustments to your defense and how it handles certain things?
BB: Yeah, I think that's true in every area of the game: offensively, defensively, special teams. We'll look at kind of what we have left, what our challenges are going to be, just taking a general look at the schedule. Obviously Carolina is next, but we'll be able to take a little bit of a view of what the next seven games look like, what things we know we're going to need. We may make some modifications. We may do some things based on how we've done and look at what our production's been and if we feel like we need to change them or modify them a little bit or maybe eliminate them. I think there could be some of that too.
Q: Is this the only realistic time you can do it, because of the bye?
BB: Well, it's harder to do during a game week, sure. It's harder to make those decisions because you're into the game plan, you're trying to get ready for the game. We don't have a game that's pressing on us tomorrow or the next day so it gives us a little more time to sit back, think about it, take stock of it and try to make the best decision. I think you can do it during the week but it's definitely harder. Yeah, no question.
Q: Do you reach a point with injuries where you can't do the schemes you'd like to?
BB: I mean, what are you going to do? You have all the other guys that have practiced those. We have a couple new people in there, are you going to teach the 15 or 18 or however many that have been doing them all year [and say] ‘We're going to do something else.' I don't think you can really do that. You have to try to get the new players up to speed the best you can. You may have to condense a little bit of what you're doing or change it a little bit or whatever. I don't think we want to go in here and try to put in a new playbook because a couple people got injured. It's hard. You don't want to lose anybody but it's reality. It's not the first time anybody has gotten hurt.
Q: How would you assess
BB: You know, some good, some things need to be improved. He's made a couple plays on the ball, which has been good. There are a lot of other things he needs to work on too.
Q: What are some of the messages you want to get across to the rookies as you guys prepare for the bye week?
BB: I'd say it's pretty much the same message for everybody. I don't think they're in any different category than anybody else. Pretty much what I said: we've played nine games, but seven wins is not enough in this league. You're not going to win anything with seven wins, you need more than that. So, we have a lot of football left, there are a lot of things we can improve in. I think that goes for every position, each position. We'll try to focus on that. What things can we do better in the last seven games that we didn't do quite as well in the first nine games? If we do that collectively, if each player can make a little bit of incremental improvement in his game and we do it across the board with all 53 players as well as the coaching staff, that will raise our game up collectively. That's really the objective.
Q: How important is it from them to get away? For their mental health more than anything else.
BB: Yeah, I think it's kind of the same for everybody. Like I said, we've played 13 games plus weeks of training camp plus we practiced against Philadelphia and Tampa. We've played a lot of football, a lot of consecutive football. There's nobody in that locker room that's been playing that's 100 percent, I'm sure of that. It gives us a chance to kind of clear our mind a little bit. We don't have a game plan and a scouting report and a whole bunch of adjustments to deal with this week. It's like studying for a test every week. It's hard mentally, it's hard physically. It's nice to have a few days where you're not preparing for a final exam. I think that's really the situation we're in. There's another one coming, but at least it's good to have a couple days where you don't have to bear down with that same intensity every single day and get a chance to relax a little bit to get a little bit more rest, get away from football a little bit and then come back to it with more energy and a real purpose for the next seven regular season games. That's what we need to do.
Q: How has Patrick Graham handled things this year? He's been without some guys and brought some rookies into the field.
BB: Great, great. He does a great job. He has a lot of energy, works really hard. He's coached linebackers; he has a good understanding of everything on the defense, not just the defensive line play. He does a good job with the fundamentals, does a good job with the schemes, has a good understanding of what the offenses are doing. He did that for two years of breaking down film and doing the quality control type things and all that. He has a real good understanding of the overall picture and specifically what his group does and how it relates to the adjacent players. He's a good on-the-field coach, he's a good preparation coach. He does a good job.
Q: How did you become acquainted with him? Where was he before?
BB: He was actually at Notre Dame. He had left Notre Dame and was kind of in between jobs. Then we interviewed him and ended up hiring him.
BB: Well, really as a safety you kind of control your side of the field and the other side controls his side of the field but you have to work together with your other safety. Of course, he and Duron [Harmon], they work together as well. All three of those guys – Steve, Duron and Devin – any two of them could be in there. They've practiced together a lot, been in there. I think their communication is good. That's what it needs to be. Safeties need to be on the same page and they need to really that to the nickel or corners. The Pittsburgh game, obviously it was a nickel and dime game almost the whole second half. It's always communicating with the other guys on their side of the field but then they have to be on the same page initially. I don't think one person can do all that. Like, if you're on one side of the field, you can't really control the other side of the field. That has to be the other job but those two guys have to be together. Devin is a good decision maker and if he needs to be decisive about what we're going to do then he can trigger it and we can all take it from there.
Q: When you see what happened with John Fox and Gary Kubiak, does that cause you to take a step back and make sure you taking care of yourself and take some extra time?
BB: No, I don't feel that way.
Q: There's only one way to do it?
BB: I'm comfortable with the schedule that I'm on and what I'm doing. I feel about what I feel normally at this time of the season which is good but it's not like you feel on July 28 when you start the year or whenever it is. I feel good. I'm planning on making it through the rest of the year. I don't really see, I don't really plan on doing anything differently.
Q: Are there specific things you can track regarding how well your offense is playing, like completion percentage or is it just an overall eye test?
BB: Well, it starts with points. That's what they go out there for, is to score points. Unless sit's the end of the game where you're trying to run out the clock, all the other possessions we're going out there to score points. If we score points, then that's probably a good thing on the drive. If we don't get in the end zone, then what's the reason we didn't get in the end zone? If we don't score points, then why didn't we score points? Was it plays that created long-yardage? Was it our inability to convert on third down? Was it missed assignments? Whatever it is, we break it down from there. Scoring points is about being consistent. You have to be able to string good plays together. When you have a bad play in a drive, usually hat puts you in long-yardage and that knocks you out of the drive. You could have six, seven, eight good plays but a sack, a penalty, a negative run, whatever, now you're in second-and-long, you're in third-and-long and you're giving the ball up. I'd say it's eliminating negative plays, that's a big part of it. Making sure you that you're moving the ball closer to the goal line when you snap it, that's objective number one. Well, objective number one is not to lose it, objective number two is to move it closer to the goal line. Number three is to stay on the field and move the field into scoring position and put points on the board, so all the things that lead into that. I would say that's kind of how we look at it. All those other statistics have some relevance, I'm not saying that, but in the end, it's points. That's the same thing on defense. If you're not giving up points, then you're probably winning. If you're giving up points, you can have whatever other stats you want and I doubt you're going to get the results you want. This game is about scoring.
Q: Do you always have an idea about how good your offense could play? Looking at Sunday, some would say that's maybe as good as your offense can play.
BB: Look, I don't want to state the obvious but when our offense goes on the field, the reason we're sending them out there is to score. If we want to punt the ball, we'd send the punt team out there. We're not trying to put pressure on them, but that's what their job is, to go out here and score. When we send the defense out there, their job is to keep the other team from scoring: every possession, every game, from the first quarter to the fourth quarter. When we accomplish the goal on that series, then I'd say overall we've done a good job. If we don't accomplish it, then what are the problems and how do we fix them? If that happens too many more times, then we're not going to have good results. If we go out there and can't score, that's not good. Or if we go out there and give up a score every time they get the ball, we can't live with that either. That's the way we look at it. If that's putting too much pressure on those units, then we need to find somebody else because that's what it is. That's their job. Offensively our job is to score, defensively our job is to stop them. In the kicking game, our job is to either get the ball or give it up with the maximum amount of field position. That's what we gauge it by.
Q: When you hear about what happened in Miami, does it make you appreciate what you have here in terms of the leaders in the locker room?
BB: I definitely appreciate our players. Look, they work hard. They put the team first. They've done what we've asked them to do all year. We've been demanding but they've been responsive. I have a lot of appreciation for our players, no question.