Q: It seemed like there were some good individual performances on James White's long reception off of the screen pass. I'm curious what you saw on the play from the blocking to the throw to James' run after the catch?
BB: Yeah, I think those things you mentioned, I definitely agree with those. Jimmy [Garoppolo] did a good job of getting the ball off. They were in a blitz and [Roman] Harper was coming off of the edge, so we did a good job of getting the ball around them. Shaq [Mason] got out in front and made a good block, [Bryan] Stork made the defender – the linebacker sort of ran around him – and that opened up a little space, but I'd say really the key block on the play was by [Aaron] Dobson, who got the linebacker that was in coverage on White. It was certainly one of our better executed plays of the night, offensively.
Q: What did you see from Jimmy Garoppolo in terms of him shaking himself off after taking a few tough hits last night?
BB: I think that's always been a strength of Jimmy. He's a tough kid and he's, I think, responded well from those in the past. I can't remember too many quarterbacks getting hit harder or more often than he did against Buffalo a couple of years ago. I don't think that's an issue. He's been resilient and has good toughness.
Q: In using the new tablets on the sideline, did that provide any sort of new feedback or enhancement in the sideline coaching experience?
BB: So, the first home preseason game for each team they use the video component of the Surface tablets, so since this was our first home game we used those last night. Coincidentally, as it works out, we'll also use them in the Carolina game because that will be Carolina's first home preseason game, too. So, we'll actually get to use them twice. I'd say it's probably like a lot of things that are new. The concept is good, when it works it's good, when it doesn't work then it doesn't work. It's not something that we're going to use during the season. It's more of an experimental thing that you're probably looking for feedback and how to improve it or how to, I don't know, I mean it's not approved for use this year, but it's approved for use in just that one preseason game situation that I just mentioned. That's what it is. It's probably a concept that may have some possibilities if the functionality is good or can be improved or whatever.
Q: The end of the line defensive players such as Chris Long, Trey Flowers, Shea McClellin and Jabaal Sheard all seemed pretty active last night. What did you see from that group?
BB: We had our moments. I think there were times where we did some good things. There are some things we need to work on. Sometimes those guys played inside, like for example, Trey was inside on the strip - sack that he had, so he actually did it from the tackle position. McClellin's primarily an end; he also played some outside linebacker for us. But in any case, that whole group of guys that you mentioned, they did have some production. They did some good things. Again, some other things we need to improve on. I think New Orleans does a good job of attacking the edge, the end of the line of scrimmage, in a variety of ways. They got us on a couple of things last night, but it's probably good that we saw them, and again, New Orleans is very good at them. The degree of difficulty is high, but it's good experience. Those guys, it's a good group. They all work hard, they've given us production in various positions, not just end but inside or outside of the linebacker. A lot of those guys were involved in the kicking game, too, so an overall good group.
Q: What does Chris Long bring to that group from a skillset standpoint that the other guys may not have?
BB: Chris has good experience and instinctiveness and I think that showed up on a few plays last night; some of the bootlegs and the screen play that you mentioned probably go into that category, too. I think there are some players in that group, like [Shea] McClellin, like [Rob] Ninkovich that are closer to linebackers than some of the other players, and then you have some of the other players, [Jabaal] Sheard, or [Trey] Flowers that are maybe not really linebackers at all, but could go inside more than you would want to put a player like McClellin or Ninkovich inside. I'm not saying they wouldn't go in there from time to time, but in any case I would say Chris is the type of player that would fall somewhere in the middle. I wouldn't put him with McClellin, but I wouldn't put him with Sheard, but he's somewhere in the middle there of we could use him in more coverage situations than some other guys. Maybe not quite like I said at the linebacker level, could use him inside, maybe not quite as big or have quite as much length as some other players, but the fact that he can do a lot of different things and has a good motor and a lot of experience and really good instincts. Your right, they're all a little bit different and we're kind of having to learn and adjust and figure that out. It's, in a way, kind of similar to the defensive tackle position, too. They're working hard, they're all really trying to do what we ask them to do but they have some different skill sets and I think it's part of our job to figure out how to best utilize those skills.
Q: You have referred to the evaluation process as a mosaic. Is there more weight put on the preseason games for a position like running back because in practice you don't necessarily see the yards gained after contact or the ability to break tackles?
BB: Yeah, it's the same thing for the defensive backs. The actual tackling, contacting, tackling the runners, getting them on the ground is something that we don't do a lot of in practice. We have some specific drills for it but not like you do in the game, and so the runner or the receiver, those guys' ability to make yards on their own with the ball in their hand and the defenders, linebackers, and defensive backs in particular that their job is to stop them from making those yards and to make tackles and to make open field tackles in space and things like that. That part of the evaluation is something that you see more of in the game than you see in practice. I'd 100 percent agree with that. But if a guy plays 15, 20 plays in the game then there's certainly something to look at there. But you know, we probably have 300 to 400 plays on that player through the course of just the training camp practices – forget about OTAs and all of that – just the training camp practices. I wouldn't say that we would weight 20 plays over, let's say 300. I think it's all part of it. Some of the things that you see in those 300 plays you don't see in those 20 plays, but some of the things you see in the 20 plays you don't see in the 300, or whatever the numbers are. I'm going to stick with my saying that it's a mosaic and that everything is important.
Q: What did you think of AJ Derby's performance overall and specifically his blocking on Tyler Gaffney's touchdown run?
BB: I think it was great to see him out there. AJ really didn't get too far last year even before that first preseason game, if I remember correctly, that he was on injured reserve or right around that time anyways – I'm not going to say that he was on IR, but he was out – and so he has worked really hard, kind of like Gaffney, kind of like Trey Flowers in a way because his injury happened so early in the season last year he was able to get through the rehab part of it or the bulk of it during the season and then so when we got to the offseason he was really ready to start in and have a great offseason, which he has, but AJ's opportunities came some in the passing game, some in the running game, and some in the kicking game and I thought there were definitely positive plays in all three areas. He was productive, he showed some versatility, made a couple of tackles on special teams, and as you said, made some good blocks and caught the ball a couple of times in tight coverage. That being said, I think there is still a number of things that he needs to continue to work on, but he showed up positively with production in those areas.
Q: First off, is there any update on Malcolm Mitchell's injury? And secondly, is there a fine line to balance from a quarterback being aggressive like Jimmy Garoppolo was on his fourth-down scramble to preserving his body and making sure to get down and not get injured in a preseason game?
BB: Well, first question, no I don't have anything new to add. On the scrambling question, we talk to the quarterbacks all the time about different situations with that being one of many, many that we discuss. So, they've been taught about kind of what the guidelines are. Every play is different and every situation could be a little bit different. There is not necessarily, I would say, one rule that fits every situation, but again there are some general guidelines so that's how we try to coach it and I think they understand that. I'm saying all of the quarterbacks, Tom [Brady], Jacoby [Brissett], Jimmy and they're trying to do the right thing or the best thing for the team, as they should, and like I said, I think there are sometimes a number of things to consider in that conversation and we've talked about that at length.