Q: Fridays have always been a big situational day for you and the team. How important are Fridays and Saturdays for you to stress end-of-game situations?
BB: Not just at the end of games, all through the games. Yeah, absolutely, we kind of start with a basic progression, early downs, first and second downs, build into third-downs, red area, goal line, short yardage, end-of-the-game situations. There are situations that come up and same thing in the kicking game – punt, punt return, kickoff, kickoff return, sprinkling in the field goal, field goal rush and then towards the end of the week get into specific kicking game situations. It's all just part of the progression each week. I certainly think it's an important part obviously of the game, but that's how we handle it. We try to get through all the basic stuff first and then move to more situations, whether it be third-down, red area, goal line and then some kind of one-play-type situations, like an onside kick or fourth-and-goal or whatever it happens to be.
Q: The onside kick in the Rams-Seahawks game, I think the rule is if the ball hits the ground first you can't fair catch it, but if it doesn't you can fair catch it. How much do you rely on your players' instincts in those situations?
BB: I think those are things that you start with in training camp. You go over first of all, basic fundamentals, then you go over rules, and then you go over situations, which sometimes rules are part the situation, sometimes they're not – whether to stay in bounds, whether to go out of bounds – that type of thing. That's all part of it. It's all part of the conversation – knowing the rules and playing within the rules and knowing the situation and playing the situation to our best advantage. And that starts back at training camp. We go through a period of training camp where we don't really get into a lot of detail on that, and we gradually build on it, but then as we get into the last couple weeks of training camp – like the Saints was a good opportunity for us to get a lot of situation work down there against them. The following week against Carolina, we were able to build on that, so we build into those situational plays, and a lot of them came up in those games actually. The halftime and end-of-the-game situations in our preseason games, there were some good learning situations there that we were able to talk about and build on – not just what we faced, but had we been on the other side of the ball how we would have played them, what we would be thinking, what our calls would be. Look, you go out there, you can play for 59-plus minutes and it all comes down to one play or one situation, and whoever handles that situation better could end up being the victor. They're critical, you just don't know which ones are going to come up, you don't know the exact circumstances of it, but you try to cover your bases the best you can.
Q: You guys acquired Keshawn Martin in a trade. What does he have going for him as a player?
BB: He has some experience. He's played, I'd say multiple positions in an offense similar to ours – inside, outside, returned kickoffs, gets involved in the kicking game. We'll see how it goes.
Q: How much was his punt-return experience part of that picture that had you guys interested?
BB: We'll see. We've had pretty good production from our returners, our punt returners. We'll see how it goes. He returned kickoffs well against us, whatever it was, a couple years ago, and in other games as we get ready for them. I know he hasn't done as much of that lately, but, I mean, we'll see. I don't know.
Q: When you're evaluating a guy like Geneo Grissom coming out of college, how much stock do you put in his performance at a position you don't plan on playing him at? If you decide you're going to play him as a lineman, how much weight does his senior year at linebacker carry?
BB: Those are good questions, and they're the questions that we have to answer. That's the reality of it. You take what you have and then you try to figure it out the best you can. In Geneo's case, really he played four-technique his junior year, and then he played some as an edge rusher in passing situations as a defensive end. In his senior year, he played more as an outside linebacker, and then he played both inside and outside because they have two other good pass rushers there, so he was kind of the guy that got kicked inside on a lot of those sub-situations and played actually over the guard or in a three-technique. He's done a lot of different things. I think when you look at a player like that, you think, 'OK what do we want him to do, how does he do that?' Maybe the other things you can use, maybe you can't, but how's he going to do on the things that we want him to do. It goes back to a guy we talked about a little earlier this year – [Willie] McGinest. When you watched Willie play his senior year at USC, he played defensive end, he played defensive tackle, he played up, he played down, he played middle linebacker one game. I can remember him being the Mike linebacker. We didn't really envision him in that position, but it spoke to his versatility and his athleticism to be able to do that. But they were trying to move him around to create different matchups, not let the offense key on him and so forth. Coach [John] Robinson used him in a lot of different spots. I think some of those for us – I mean, I was in Cleveland at the time – but we would kind of discard and say we're not going to use him there. But there are things you see a player do at a different position that you recognize athletically, he can run or he can take on blocks or he can cover a seam route or whatever it is, and maybe there is some application for that to other positions. Sometimes you look at a guy play a position and it's totally different, like [Julian] Edelman – the position he played in college is not one that we would want to play him at, so it's almost a total projection. And they're all in between.
Q: When a defense shows what it's trying to do or lines up late in the play clock, is there a way to combat that as an offense, or do you have to wait to see where they're going to be first before you decide what to do?
BB: I think it becomes a cat and mouse game. If you go quick, then if they wait to stem, sometimes they wait too long, and the ball is already snapped. If you go late, then they have time to do that. If you mix it up, then it's a cat and mouse game. Do you want to stem late but they might go quick or do you want to show it early but now they go on a longer count? And that's where good, instinctive players can, whether it be on the offensive side of the ball or the defensive side of the ball or it could be the punt team or the punt rush team, it's all the same really. It's just kind of that timing element. There are some players that have a real good feel for that – guys like [Troy] Polamalu, Rodney Harrison. There would be times where those guys would line up on the line of scrimmage like they're going to safety blitz and they'd be in the deep half on the other side of the field. But if the quarterback was going to run a quick count, they could kind of sense that and get out of there, and if the quarterback was going to try to read it out, they'd stay there and then right at the end bail. They would be checking into a play for one defense but they were actually in a totally different defense. There are some guys that are really good at that. Quarterback, same thing – they can see whatever the key is and they don't really care where some guys are, or maybe they get fooled by somebody that's really out of position, but it shouldn't matter. But the cadence and the disguise and all that, it's all part of it. Just like shifting and motion and defensive stemming and disguising, it's all just part of keeping the other side of the ball off balance, but being able to do it in a way that you can actually execute what you're trying to do. It doesn't do any good to disguise something and not be able to get to the guy you're supposed to cover or get to the gap you're responsible for or block the guy you're supposed to block. You fool them, but you can't execute your assignment, so there's that balance.
Q: How much does the return of LeGarrette Blount help the offense?
BB: It's good to have him back. I don't know, we'll see.
Q: What kind of wrinkles does he add with his style?
BB: He's been a productive back for us. We've all seen him run. He's got good size, good speed, can make people miss, he's a productive guy, can catch the ball. He has a lot of skills.
Q: Is this defensive line, if not the best, one of the better units in the NFL?
BB: Yeah, one of the best and one of the highest paid. I mean, a lot of big contracts on that – all four guys. It's kind of unusual to see that all on one line on one team. But they're really good players.
Q: When you have several young guys on the offensive line, would you say a matchup like this is a good measuring stick for them at this point in the season?
BB: Look, we see good players every week. We saw good players last week, we'll see good players this week, we'll see good players next week. This isn't like college, where you play down a couple levels in your schedule. This is every week – good players, good coaches, good teams, good schemes – every week. There are good players out there every week.
Q: Is Marcell Dareus as good at rushing the passer as he is at stopping the run and clogging up space in the middle?
BB: Yeah, very athletic, got good quickness, good playing strength. He's a smart player, too. He's instinctive, makes a lot of plays on reading blocks, anticipating blocks or anticipating a certain set – that type of thing. He has it all. He's big, he's strong, he's explosive, he's powerful, he runs well, he's athletic, he's got good balance, good quickness, and he's a smart player. So, you put it all together, that's why he's one of the best players in the league.
Q: And one of the best paid…
BB: They've invested a lot in that defensive line, and they have a good one – probably as good as any in the league. I wouldn't argue that.
Q: In acquiring Keshawn Martin, how much did you weigh your scouting report on him coming out of Michigan State versus what you've seen in the NFL and feedback from the relationships you have in Houston?
BB: I'd say in this particular case, it's all been pretty consistent. I think what we've seen from Keshawn over the last, call it maybe six years from college to his pro career – it's all been pretty consistent. It isn't like it's been a big roller coaster ride in any area. I think what he was in college and how he's performed in the NFL has all been pretty consistent. I think that makes it a relatively easy evaluation of a player. And he's young, so age isn't really a big factor here, or injuries for that matter. The way he's played has been … You go back to last year's preseason games, last year's regular season games, this year's preseason, kind of the comments we had coming out of Michigan State, it's all I'd say pretty consistent.
Q: Is his speed one of his best assets?
BB: Yeah, I think he has a lot of good skills. I wouldn't say necessarily that he's going to be the fastest player in the league – I'm not saying that – but yeah, I'd say he runs well.
Q: I know injuries are unpredictable, but is it possible to measure injury risk?
BB: I mean, I wish I knew the answer to that question. If I did, I'd be a lot better off. We see guys coming out of college that have never been hurt and they're hurt. We've seen guys coming out of college that had injuries in college and don't get hurt. We've seen guys that have played for a team and been injured and go somewhere else in free agency and never get [injured] and vice versa. I don't know. Are some guys more prone than others? I mean, yes. But can you really quantify that? No. Some guys you think do everything they can, every indicator you have says that they're as healthy as they're going to be – they have good flexibility, they have good strength, they have good balance, they have good everything and sometimes they end up … I don't know. You can't take out insurance, so you've just got to go out there and play, and whatever happens, happens. I think you can measure how players deal with injuries. I think you can measure that. Some guys deal with things differently than others do. I'm not saying that. But can you predict who's going to get a high ankle, who's going to get a shoulder, who's going to break a bone? I don't know how you measure that. I wish I did.