Jaguars Head Coach Gus Bradley Conference Call Transcript
(On Blake Bortles maturity of growth in the game both mentally and physically)
"This offseason he put a lot of time and work into coming up with a routine. I think last year he got thrown into the fire a little bit. He made it through and had some good games and some not so good games, but I think he realized the importance of coming up with a routine. He went out in another direction, at Coach Olson's direction, visited Tom House just on some mechanics things to work on but more importantly just to come up with a routine. He visited with quite a few quarterbacks and had that opportunity and came back. I think through his experience last year he gained some confidence and some poise. We're seeing those aspects of his game where it's greatly improved. I think in this short period of time that he has been with Greg Olson and the new offensive system he's gained confidence in protections and knowing some of the answers. We are kind of on a race to maturity with a new offensive coordinator but I think he's responded really well to it."
(How difficult is it to prepare for the Patriots?)
"It's extremely difficult, extremely difficult. You're not sure exactly their philosophy coming into a game, whether it's no huddle or try to establish the run or open up. Really they can do that all within the game as well and that's what makes it so difficult. You know they like matchups and they look for matchups and that's one thing to be aware of as well."
(What have you seen from Gronkowski on film and how tough is it for your defense to prepare for?)
"Well it goes again to the matchups. I think he's been targeted 21 times in the last two games with over 200 yards and they're big plays. He's averaging over 17 yards per reception and so they're explosive plays. They look to him, they completely trust him, there's a good rapport between them and he's a difficult matchup whether it's a linebacker or a safety or even a corner."
(What are the challenges when they line up with 4 tight ends yet also spreading them out?)
"Sure, that's a challenge their versatility that they have. Obviously Tom has been in there 16 years. This is his 16th year in the League. The offense, he has an unbelievable grasp on it and that's stayed consistent throughout the years. He owns it and you see it on tape. He'll make checks at the line; he'll get them in the right formation, right protection, and change routes according to what he sees defensively. I think that's a concern of ours is just matching up personnel-wise and having the flexibility to adjust formations we see."
(On almost having to make two game plans vs. Patriots)
"You do. I think based on personnel that's in the game that's what you do generally every week; you formulate a game plan and try to find out their tendencies and what they like to do and their personality over the years. It's a tough game because you don't study the previous four opponents. It's a game that you study past experiences, you study former games and you try to get a feel that way. That is a challenge and you see it quite a few times where people get misaligned on tape and it causes opportunity for explosive plays. So I think it's got to be something where you've got to understand what you do very, very well against this team. You go out there and have your team have a great understanding of what you're trying to accomplish and keep it very fast."
(On playing simpler on defense)
"I think every team has their own philosophy going into it. I think you want to stay true to who you are. Obviously you're going to have to have some options and things that may present different challenges, but also doing what you do is so important. We always talk about never putting things in that will take us out of playing fast. Again, it comes back that they are an unbelievable opponent and an unbelievable challenge for us, but it comes back to what we do and how we do it. That's really the challenge for us."
(On Patriots changing up their game plan each week. Is that common around the NFL?)
"I think they utilize their personnel. You try to find out the strengths of your personnel, what they do very well and incorporate them in a game plan. And they have a quarterback that can do that and the adjustments it causes you to take on. He just has such a grasp of what they do offensively and it allows for that versatility. Yes it does create a lot of challenges for our defense."
(Is that rare, though? Do you see that with a lot of teams around the league, or are the Patriots a little unique to be able to do that?)
"Well, I think that's it's a precision league, and I think that you see teams try to do it, but where the Patriots are so good is they do it with precision. I think that's always the challenge for offense-defense; you incorporate as much offense and defense as you can without taking away precision. And every team is different, depending on youth and experience, and they've got great experience on that team and it allows for that versatility."
(What do you see out of RB Dion Lewis? Bills Head Coach Rex Ryan said last week he didn't know who he was. I assume you know who he is now.)
"He's averaging over five yards a carry, I know that. You see his speed. They'll put him out, like you saw, in empty sets and try to look for matchups. He's got over 10 passes he's caught [for] over 150 yards – somewhere around there – and has the ability to really stretch you. So, again, they know his strength very well, and they utilize his strength. You can get caught up with the amount of times they pass and try to do some different things coverage-wise, and that's what makes their running game so effective as well."
(Last week the Buffalo Bills made no bones about how big their game was with the Patriots. They talked big all week – this was a huge even in Buffalo. How are you guys handling the game and facing the defending world champions?)
"Well, it's an unbelievable challenge, and our players I think are looking forward to it. We know the challenges that we're facing and we know when you have great challenges like this, you have an opportunity for great growth as a team. I think that's the challenge for us as a team is to go in there and do what we do and do it to the best of our ability, and know that this challenge is exactly what we need. It's an opponent and a coaching staff that we hold in high regard, yet this game, like I said, in our guys' minds and our coaches' minds it's about what we do and our approach and how we go up there and take this challenge on. And our players are excited about it."
(Your players certainly have to feel a bit of confidence coming off last week's game against the Dolphins where you beat them, and you have to feel good about that.)
"Well, yeah, it was really two different games. The first game, although we're a team mixed with youth and veterans, I thought that at times we played anxious and amped up almost. That's what was disappointing – that we didn't really just go in there and perform up to our capabilities. And I think that was a big emphasis this past week, so it was good to see. I thought we responded to adversity much better in the second game than the first game, and you saw some aspects of the game that showed poise building, especially with some of our younger guys. So that was exciting for us, and now we've got another opportunity and we just need to add to that."
(Was that most evident in the two situations late in the first half, and then, of course, the end of the game to get those points and eventually win by a field goal?)
"It was. There was 18 seconds left in the first half and we were bold, and Blake [Bortles] almost threw an interception, and we just stayed true to it. We came back and he quickly recovered. He got a pass to T.J. Yeldon, threw a catchable ball to Marqise [Lee] where he had a penalty called, and there was a great example of adjusting or recovering from some adversity that possibly hit. Rashad Greene dropped a couple passes, came back, [and] had a long punt return. And I think those aspects of our team we want to build on. We want to keep growing those as part of our personality, that we can quickly recover, we can quickly adjust. You have to do that in the NFL at all positions. Sometimes you talk about the corners having a short memory. Well, I really think it's the whole team [that] has to, and we have to move on and those are valuable lessons to learn."
(What have you seen with QB Blake Bortles' development now in his second season?)
"Well, he just seems to have a better command of the whole offense. And he's young. He'll make some mistakes, but overall the progress that he's made and the poise that he's showing … We can't say enough about him as far as his competitiveness and his toughness. Those are attributes that he has and we surely don't want to lose those, and I think he's built on that. But every game is a new experience for him. He continues to grow from everything he sees, and he loves that part of the game."
(Is DL Jared Odrick – a guy who played the Patriots several times when he was with the Dolphins – is he someone that you're leaning on a little bit for leadership this week?)
"Well, I think we lean on all of our guys. But Jared played really well for us last week. I thought it was a good game for him in many aspects. Not only versus the run, but some of his effort plays I thought showed up on tape. There are guys that have some experiences and we always take it from our guys. We have great conversations with them. I think you try to gain as much information as possible."
(Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick was talking this morning how impressed he was with RB T.J. Yeldon's stamina from last week. What has impressed you so far this year?)
"Well, it is. I think he had eight carries in the preseason and then last week he had over sixty plays. So, for a young player, sometimes you look at players like that, you say they're first and second down, and T.J. is developing to where he can play all three downs. And that's a credit to him. [He is a] very sharp player [who] picks things up very quickly. With that limited reps that he's had in the preseason, we like the growth that we're seeing in T.J. Again, though, [he is a] young player and he's still learning. But we like that he plays fast and he accepts all those challenges."
(Any update on OT Luke Joeckel, RB Toby Gerhart, or some of the injured guys you have?)
"Yeah, I think that those guys will be limited today and we'll just take a look at how they're doing in practice. And where they're at, that would be more day-to-day on how they're progressing."
Jaguars Quarterback Blake Bortles Conference Call Transcript
([The Jaguars] usually haven't gotten off to good starts in past seasons. What did it mean to not go into that 0-2 hole instead to get yourself to .500 early in the year?)
"It was good. It was big for us. We have a special group of guys. [Jaguars Head Coach] Gus [Bradley] and [Jaguars General Manager] Dave Caldwell have done a good job of putting the right pieces in place, and this team expects to be successful every time we step on the field with a good week of preparation and going through our process and everything. But it was good for us to start that way and now move on and look forward to the next opportunity."
(What kind of energy did you guys feel just coming back to the facility after that win?)
"[Jaguars Head Coach] Gus [Bradley] preaches all the time, 'Handle both imposters the same, whether it be adversity or prosperity.' But it definitely is. It's consciously easier to come to work and you're more excited and you have a little more juice coming off a victory – that's inevitable. It was cool to see that. It was cool to see the guys excited and celebrating for a little bit, but then be able to have a short-term memory and then move on."
(Where would you say you're at at this point two weeks into the season compared to where you were at at this point last year, same time?)
"I'd say way ahead. I'm kind of night and day from a year ago. [There is] definitely still a long way to go, but I've come a long way from where I was this time last year as far as both mentally and physically. I have to continue to work on both and continue to get better."
(We all know football is a physical game, but for your position it seems like mentally is where it's at. What about your recognition with reading defenses at this point? How comfortable are you?)
"I feel good with it. I've continued to get better and [I'm] working to continue to get even better at it, but that's something you only improve on by going through it and seeing things in game-live reps – being able to recognize fronts and rotations and coverages and all that stuff. That's something that comes with the more you play."
(As a follow up to that, how difficult is it to game plan for [what] the Patriots are going to throw at you? Because there's that element of surprise every week with what they do.)
"Right, that's something that's unique about their system. They want to take what you do well away from you, and you never really have any idea what they're going to throw at you. They can jump in all different kinds of fronts and stuff, and they can switch personnel in and out. They do a really good job of keeping you on your toes. And you have to stay true to your rules as an offense as far as protections and everything, because there are guys that can play all over the place and they can play all different kinds of schemes."
(Just following up on that, last week [the Patriots] had eight sacks, and in several instances they were playing basically four defensive ends across the defensive line. So, what stands out to you about that group, and why is it difficult to diagnose what those guys are going to do?)
"Personnel, because they move guys around. They'll move Chandler Jones around; they'll move Jamie Collins and linebackers inside. Guys can switch positions – they can be four down, they can be three down at any time. They can go nickel; they can go dime; they can bring pressure from everywhere. They have everything in their arsenal, so if they want to get and create mismatches with the guys up front, they have the personnel to be able to do that – get five-on-five and let those guys go to work in the pass rush game. That's what they did a really good job of last week, and that's something we have to be ready for."
(Is that unlike any defense you've seen in your pro career?)
"It's unique because they don't do, I wouldn't say, anything that we haven't seen – they just do a little bit of everything we've seen. I guess that would kind of be the way to put it. They have the personnel and the ability to really get in any kind of defense and play any type of coverage and have any type of front with the personnel and the way they move those guys around."
(I know it's a pass-first league these days, but RB T.J. Yeldon, just kind of wondering what he's brought to the team, what you've seen from him.)
"He's done a really good job. Only playing two games in the NFL, he's been really impressive. It's been fun to watch him play. I'm excited for him. It's cool to see him making plays. He's been good in both the run game and in pass protection, and getting out and catching the ball as well. All aspects of his game have really been good, and I'm excited to watch him grow and continue to get better."
(I know fans would look at his yards per carry, [which is] just a tad over 3.0, and say, 'What's the big deal here?' But I think what we're seeing is he picks up the hard yards.)
"He's definitely a guy that can get hidden yards. When there's nothing really there, he can jump, cut, and put his head down, and the next thing you know it's second-and-six. He's really good at getting those hidden yards, breaking tackles, yards after contact, and all that stuff. He's a strong, powerful guy that also has some quickness to him and some lateral ability."
(Obviously, last week was a big win, but now you're playing the Super Bowl champs and you're on the road. Do you think this week will kind of give you a better idea of where you guys are at right now?)
"Obviously, it's a great opportunity to be able to play the defending world champions in their place in Foxborough, so that'll be a ton of fun. We're excited for that. But we're really going to face it or take this week on like we did the previous two. Not get caught up in who we're playing and where we're playing, but prepare and go through our process just like we did with Miami and Carolina, and then see what happens on Sunday."
(Obviously, you're in your second year, but you have some young receivers you're working with as well. Can you talk about the bond you've developed with those guys and what you've seen from them talent-wise?)
"They've been awesome. It's been fun to … You look around the locker room last year, and I think at one point seven or eight of the 11 starters were rookies on offense. We were super young, but we didn't want to use that as a crutch. It was cool to see guys grow and get better each and every week – Allen Robinson, [Allen] Hurns, Marqise Lee, Brandon Linder – all these guys grow and get better. It's cool to be a part of that and grow and get better as a unit. And then obviously this offseason being able to continue to build the chemistry with the receivers and carry that into this season has been really good."
([You] grew up in Florida, went to college in Florida, and [you are] now playing professional football in Florida. I know it's a big state [and] you've been in different parts, but what's it meant to you to just play at home?)
"It's definitely been special for me. Being able to grow up and go to college in the same town was something that obviously has its pros and cons, but I enjoyed it. And then getting drafted and being able to stay in the state of Florida, besides the no state income tax, my family is close enough, so there are a ton of good things that come from that."
(Just flipping back to the Patriots for a minute: Anything that's impressed you about CB Malcolm Butler thus far, what you've seen on film?)
"Yeah, he's a super talented player. Obviously, making the huge play last year that everybody knows about, and he's had some tough jobs this year – Week 1 [covering] Antonio Brown and then last week going against some good receivers again. But he's done a really good job. He's a guy that is physical, he's really good. [With] the amount of man coverage they play, he's good in man, and he's also good in zone. We're going to have to be aware of him, and the receivers definitely have to do something to get him off of them in man coverage and create separation."