"Just got off of our first day of voluntary minicamp. A lot of positive things. First off, everybody was here. I think we had 74 total guys participate today. Three guys not fully participating,
"What they've done so far on the first day was impressive to us as a coaching staff. It's just exciting. There is an energy around here. I think our players and coaching staff are excited. It was fun for all of us to get back out on the field and do some football again. We're not preparing for a game; we're just trying to see if we can implement our offensive schemes, defensive schemes and special teams. After day one, we felt like so far, so good. Long way to go, but after day one, we're excited about our attitudes more than anything. So with that, we'll open it up to some questions."
When the first team offense was out, who was the quarterback?
"Nick (Foles) was, Mike (Vick) was, and I think Dennis (Dixon) actually got reps with them, so. We're just rolling. Billy's (Lazor) got those guys. I think the first snap of seven, I think Mike took, the first snap of team Nick may have taken. I don't know. We had three team periods, two seven on periods. It rotated. So through five different periods, that rotated.
"So there wasn't one set guy that just went with the ones the entire day. All those guys got an opportunity to roll through."
In early minicamp, what do you look for from the players?
"First and foremost, can we get lined up? What have they grasped so far? We've had the ability to meet with them several times here and just kind of have what we call instillation meetings and how do they take it from the classroom to the field? So, more than anything, we know guys are going to make mistakes early in this process. But are we making things full speed? What kind of energy are they playing with? Are they coachable? At the same time, we know that there are 74 guys here, but next year in September, we're going to have to have 53 guys here. So we're still making for the first time for our coaching staff, some athletic evaluations of guys. It's a constant ongoing process of where they are. There are a lot of things we're looking for on the first day."
How is the pace of these practices compared to the pace of what did you in Oregon?
"I think it's a little bit slower. We don't have the number that's we had. And it's also day one. If I go back to day one in Oregon, it was probably similar, to be honest with you. Certainly it won't be the pace that we play out there in the season. During the season, our numbers are drastically down. At the college level you have 105 players for practice. After the first game, that actually goes up. In the National Football League, you have 53 on your roster, and you have eight other practice guys, you have 61 guys available to practice. At this time, it's offense going against the defense. We're not preparing to play against an opponent. So we're not breaking things down from a real schematic standpoint and who your scout players are and that. We're just trying to implement our offense and our defense. I thought for an off season pace, it was pretty good."
We've heard a lot about your practices out in Eugene. The tempo and pace, if people are watching, what are they seeing? How has that manifested? Is it between the drills? Are guys going from one session to another? Is there time between snaps how does that all break down?
"I think it's a combination of all of that. What we want to do is get our work done. We're not going to be out there for a long time, so I would argue that we don't practice as long as other teams. It's just we try to eliminate and be as efficient as possible. But we also go from really basically in football the real common concept is there are two speeds in football, there is game speed and teach speed. If you're going to do something else at any other speed, why do it?
"We segment our practices in a certain manner that if we're going to have a full team speed period, the next period after that is a teach period because we know we can't continue to 35 minutes straight of all team. Even though you change what the situation is, there needs to be a break in there. So if we want our guys to understand how to play at game tempo, we have to kind of gear it like game tempo. So really, it's short bursts, get in, get out, get your work done, and let's go back to teach mode. Get in, get out, get your work done and get back to teach mode."
You talked about the quarterbacks splitting reps today. Those three guys. What is the plan going forward then in regards to reps? How do you plan to dig that up?
"Same thing. It's April 16th, so we're not playing until next September. We're going to use the full available time for us to make a full evaluation of what it is. I think it fosters competition. I think those guys love competition. That's why they're in that position, and they know it. I think our guys really understand and I think everybody right now knows where they stand, and that's a big thing for us. There's not a lot of gray area. It's everybody knows we're all going to get a lot of reps. We want to get film on tape so we can teach. Really sometimes the only way you can teach somebody is they've got to make a mistake. You can coach off of it. What did you see here? What was going on in your mind when you made this decision. Do you understand we have to make this decision, and our coverage dictates us going one way as opposed to another way? You can talk about that all you want, but until they do it, that is the biggest thing for us.
"Our whole philosophical, educational deal with the things is I hear and I forget, I see and I remember, and then I do, and I understand. So really it's us telling them what the concept is, showing it on film what the concept is, and actually going on the film and implementing it. If you never get to the point of I do, and you can't get them in and get reps, they're not going to get any better. So it's our job to put those guys in that situation so when something manifests itself in the game, we've gone over this. We've practiced this, you've actually taken reps doing that in the game."
You said the players know where they stand. Do you mean that in terms of the depth chart?
At this point, how much of the offense is in place?
I mean playbook?
"Day one. It's very, very limited, from a percentage stand point, it's probably 15 percent."
How much have the players been told film room wise?
"Good question. I think we did three days of installs, so we doubled them. So we took two days to do one day in the last couple of weeks, and then we started back on day one again today. So, again, going philosophically is we've talked about it, and we've shown them it on film. But instead of moving so fast, without having them do that on the field. We can put in 25 plays in a classroom typesetting, but are we going to get 25 different plays running in practice? It's a matter of getting reps. And now going back and teaching off those reps. Now that they've had a chance to do them and we've got
"We're really cautious in this first time out, because we've got three days. It's not how much offense we get in at this point in time because we're not play eight game. But it's can we get them out there so they can execute? We're not going to overload them because we're not getting any plays run both offensively and defensively. We're giving them enough where they can execute, enough where we can vary and handle the situations they're in. But not so much that we've just overloaded ourselves."
It's so early, obviously. But athletically how did
"Yeah, Jason looked like what I had hoped he was going to look like. First off, he's a very big human being that moves extremely well. But he participated through the full practice. So I think one of those deals when it's probably a good sign when you never looked over and said, Geez, he doesn't look like he's himself right now. He was moving around and looked really at home at left tackle. So when you have someone that's got that type of talent at that type of size, it's encouraging to see him get through that practice."
"Danny was at right guard today, Todd (Herremans) I think was at right tackle."
Was Watkins with the first team?
"Yeah, I don't mean this as first team means nothing to us. It's how many reps can we get? I don't care if you were in first team reps, second team reps, third team reps. We don't grade you any differently. So I think Danny got first reps, second reps, and Stout's (Jeff Stoutland) just rolling them. We don't have 15 exactly. So when we put a first group in there, when that person doubles up, he's not going back with the ones. Our whole mantra right now is I don't care who is in with the ones, who is in with the twos, we've just got to make sure we've got 11. So let's roll, get some reps, and get some film we can teach off of.
"That whole concept of who ran with the ones, who didn't run with the ones, I don't think they put a thing over their bed and say I ran with the ones today. That really doesn't matter. It's when I was in there, did I know what I was doing? Did I understand my assignment? Did I use the proper technique and did I execute? They all rolled. But position wise, Danny was on the right side at guard and Todd was at tackle."
Coming off injuries, how did they look?
"Everybody at practice looked good to me. So all those guys, the only three guys that didn't fully practice... So Kelce participated in a couple of things, Evan Moore and Chris McCoy. The other 71 guys were full go. They weren't in and out. They were all full go in practice."
Do you feel like the upcoming draft is a signature moment, do you feel like you have to come out of that with something that defines your starting forward here?
"Honestly, I'm not that philosophical. I want to come out of it with the best players. Hopefully my goal is we have a lot more drafts. So you could say it's your signature draft if it's your only draft. I plan on being here more than one year, so our whole goal is can we improve this football team, and that's it. But I don't look at it as this is a defining moment of what we're doing. When people look back ten years, 20 years, who was the pick and all those other things? I'm not that deep. I can tell you that. We're just trying to get the best player we can."
Who starts off atop the depth chart at quarterback?
"It's even. They both took reps with the ones. So the depth chart for us is not a big deal. I know I think in the first seven on reps, I think Mike took it. In the first teams rep Nick took it. Billy's just rolling them. I don't look over there and say the ones are in, how come he's in. We talked about it as a staff. The depth chart is more of a seating chart than it is a depth chart."
Yesterday you released Trent Edwards. The moves at quarterback so far have been you decided to keep
"You're reading way too much into that, if I can jump ahead of you on your question. The best quarterbacks are the best quarterbacks. We'll find a way no matter who our quarterbacks are to put a game plan in where they can be successful."
So it's just coincidence?
"What's coincidence? No, Trent actually asked us could he get an opportunity, could he fit in somewhere else, and we helped him out with that, more than anything."
I'm saying the players you acquired and that you retained Michael Vick?
"No, I think they're good quarterbacks. I think people are putting too much into does this guy run, does this guy not run? We've had guys at Oregon, Darron Thomas took us to a National Championship and a Rose Bowl and rushed for 200 yards during a 14 game season. Sometimes there's a misconception of what I'm looking for in a quarterback. I'm looking for a quarterback that can help us score points and win games. If we have to throw it 50 times, we'll throw it 50 times, so ..."
What is the feedback from players on the fast-paced temp of practice? How else do you plan to take that into account and start scaling that back as the numbers start going down?
"Yeah, obviously you have to take into account the numbers that are available to you. But I can't speak for those guys. I think they understand it. The opportunity for us is to get more snaps in practice. So if you get more snaps in practice, you feel a lot more confident in what you're doing and how you're executing it. Sometimes there is a volume of offense that you have in. But we ran that play once on a Tuesday in a walk through. Then you have to call that a critical point in the game and a critical point in time during the game. I'm just not that confident calling a play that we practiced seven days ago in a walk through at a critical point in time, and we called it and turn around and say I can't believe we didn't execute it. Well, that's probably on us as a coaching staff because we didn't get it in. But if you want X amount of offense in a game plan, you have to practice a certain style to get X amount of plays in in practice during the week.
"So there is a fine balance in that. How much is in your offense? How many plays do you run? Do you get a chance to execute them in practice? Shame on us if we said, hey, we covered that in the meeting and I talked about that route once. But we never actually had an opportunity to run that in practice because you only had X amount of reps. So I think our players have bought in. Just the attitude since I've been here is they've been outstanding. They want to win. There is an energy about them. If they feel like this philosophy and culture we've brought here is going to help them win, they'll do whatever we ask them to do. But they also know we wouldn't ask them to do anything if it wasn't going to help them win. We're not just doing things for the sake of doing it. We're doing it because to me and philosophically it's proven it helps you win.
"I think it's a real efficient way to practice. For us, we practice a lot shorter than other people. We get our work done in a quicker amount of time. And that is part of the whole process that we're doing. Does that mean we're going to play the games like that? No. We certainly understand that. But it's a tool in our toolbox that if we have to dial it up, we feel comfortable in doing that."
Coach, how did the quarterbacks look so far?
"You know, you've got to go in and watch film and kind of nitpick and all those things. But their command and their presence out there was certainly evident to me. All of them. The ball can kind of come off their hand. There is not a guy in there like, wow, he's a little bit behind. So from day one, I was really happy with that position. I'm obviously going to go back and turn on the film and say, hey, could have done this better, could have done that better."
"I think DeMeco's a natural linebacker, doesn't matter if you have three down spacing or four down spacing. He's played in both concepts with the Texans and here. So I think he can adapt. Trying to see if Brandon is a guy that can drop and play good in coverage. Or is he more of a natural defensive end? That is more of what this process for us is about. Finally getting the chance to identify our talent on the defensive side of the ball and then put them in positions to make plays. If we really feel that Brandon can, then that's another weapon that Billy (Davis) has to use in terms of what he can use defensively. But if we don't think Brandon's a great drop guy, then shame on us if we're making him do that.
"That's what this process for us in terms of evaluating those guys from an athletic standpoint and knowledge standpoint is part of that. And we did some three down spacing today, some four down spacing today. But we're by no means dialed into this is what we're going to do, because, again, it's day one."
I was going to follow up on that. We're all kind of assuming your base is going to be some form of a front and Billy has coached both at some point. In your mind, what are the pluses and negatives and do you anticipate that that will be your primary base defense?
"No. 1, it hinges on the players that we have. Then number two, it hinges on the situation of the game. There are no purists. No one runs a 3 4 defense every single down. No one runs a 4-3 every single down. People have elements of both in there. It's the same thing offensively.
"So our job is to identify what are the strengths of our players on our roster and play to those strengths. It's still way too early to tell. But there are obviously advantages to both of those.
"In nickel, you may be in a four down operation, but who are you playing? A team that throws the ball a lot. So we're going to be a more four down this week. So 65% of our snaps will be four down defense. Other teams are going to be a little bit more three down. But if you're going to play three down, you better make sure you got a nose that can two gap and defensive end that can two gap and those things, because if you don't have them, it doesn't matter how you deploy yourself defensively, you're not going to be able to hold up.
"So that's what this evaluation process for us is. Our minicamp, our OTAs, and our minicamp in June, before we get to preseason camp and figuring out what is the best situation to put those guys in."
The adaptability of the team, and the defensive situation, what is your overall assessment of this draft? What is your view?
"I think the draft has depth. I don't think there is not an Andrew Luck or RG3 or someone that you say that guy's going to be a ten year all pro, one of the best. I had the opportunity fortunately or unfortunately to coach against Andrew Luck in our league. So he was as close as there was to a can't miss guy. I don't see that type of guy in this draft at any position, to be honest with you.
"But I think depth wise there are a lot of quality players there, and it's the same thing. It's funny. You try to analyze the draft from this end, and you look at it, and everybody says hindsight. But you ask anybody out there, and I knew Russell Wilson was going to be a player. Well, y'all drafted him in the third round, so everybody had a shot at him and they all passed on him. People missed on that Tom Brady. Well, everybody had six shots at Tom Brady. They didn't take him at the right point in time.
"So it's easy to go hindsight and say we knew this draft was this. But you really don't know. It's the same process that we went through in college. If you look at what are the top 5 or six players in the draft, they weren't the top 5 or six high school players five years ago. Dion Jordan is one of the top players out there, and we were smart enough at Oregon to recruit him as a wide receiver. Now he's going to play outside linebacker, defensive end in the NFL. You look at Lane Johnson, who was a high school quarterback, and now he's an offensive tackle who is a top pick, the list goes on and on. And Ziggy Ansah was playing basketball and went to BYU to play basketball, and now he may be a Top 10 pick.
"It varies. I don't know. I think there are some quality players in this draft, and that's our job to kind of figure that out. I don't think by any stretch of the imagination there is a slam dunk anywhere."
Can you give us a thumbnail sketch of three players, Geno Smith, EJ Manuel, and Ryan Nassib?
"Thumbnail? All really good quarterbacks."
So you say you can't miss a prospect in this year's draft?
"I'm going to ask you, is there a can't-miss prospect? You tell me today, April 16. Because five years from now I'm going to say on April 16th, you said who do you have, Jeff?"
I don't know.
"I don't know either."
Well, you said last year about Andrew Luck?
"I knew Luck was because I coached against him. I wasn't analyzing the draft."
But you had the fourth pick, so you probably wouldn't draft a quarterback?
"There is not a can't miss player, is what I'm saying. So no matter who you take."
But it’s probably easier to risk taking an offensive lineman with the fourth pick than a quarterback, right?
"(Jokingly) I would like to take a risk on a placekicker at the fourth pick. You can pin me down, but that's not going to happen right now. I'm trying to pin you down. Who would you take? I'm going to hold you to it."
"Okay. I'm going to hold you to it. Okay. Mark it down."
As a new coach and everything, how valuable is it to be able to have this minicamp, especially leading into the draft? Can what happens this week affect what you guys do in the draft?
"Yeah, I think it's invaluable. It's difficult at times to make an evaluation on some guys just watching film. Because you don't know what the play call was or you don't know how they were instructed on what they were supposed to do on that play. You're just kind of watching athletic ability and going through it. But when you get to see them on the field for three straight days, running around doing things, it gives you a better understanding of what your team is and kind of where they are. There are going to be some guys that maybe they were looked at as a guy that wasn't as highly touted, but really fits into what we do, and maybe some other guys that are highly touted that aren't exactly the right fit. I'm not saying that that's the case. But I think this whole operation, these three days that we get an opportunity, with it falling before the draft, there is a reason for that. That all first year staffs get a chance to practice with their guys a little bit before they get in the draft to give us a better understanding of our team."
Earlier you released a statement. Did Oregon ask you to not say anything about the investigation?
"No, the NCAA has asked us about that since day one. They just asked us to respect the process, and we fully cooperated with them and we'll continue if they need us to. They were the ones that asked us to do that. So I respect them and will continue to do that until they have a final resolution."
With your evaluation of the players this week, how much in these three days will that lead to decisions on what you're going to do in the draft? How much do you think it could lead to making some decisions on positions?
"It has to because we can't ask if we can get more practices. So I can't go back on Friday and ask Commissioner Goodell, if you give us two more days, this would really help us next week. It's all part of the process. We knew it going in that we'll get three days to evaluate the players that we have on the current roster. We'll sit down again. Our scouts are out at practice too. They're watching practice. We're all getting feedback. As we said since day one, it's a real collaborative effort. But they're understanding what we want and what we've kind of in terms of what we're looking for. They're seeing that and now we can see on film, hey, did you see such and such do this in practice? This is what we're looking for."
Even if you asked Roger Goodell, I don't think he'd give you the answer you wanted?
"Yeah, I don't think we'd get a couple extra days."
Is that why we can't watch (the media)?
"(Jokingly) No, they told me you couldn't watch. I just follow the rules. Talk to them. No. It's closed."
No, I thought you didn't want us to give anything away?
"They told us which ones have to be open, so we keep them open."
You can open them up. You're allowed to open all of them?
"(Jokingly) Yeah, but then I have to answer more questions. I've got to get to film."
A lot of these guys drop weight and have never practiced at the tempo that you practice at?
"Not all of them have dropped weight, let me tell you that."
That's what I was going to ask you. After the first practice, what were the guys looking like? How were they responding to go what they've just gone through?
"It was not, there were some guys that did an outstanding job. Then there were some guys that, wow, he's going to need some work. But also, they've been off and we understand that. Through the CBA, they weren't allowed to be in this building until April 1st. So it wasn't, in our minds, January, February, March, they were out running hills everywhere. But there are some guys that are in really good shape right now, and there are some guys that have to work. Overall I'd say I'm pleased. But there are a couple guys that need to get a little bit better. But, again, it's the middle of April. It's not September. We'll have a better understanding of where they are when they leave here in June after the mandatory minicamp. Then this is the prescribed weight you have to get back at when we get to camp because there is more of a sense of urgency."
Is that true for you because you said you need to use this draft a little bit I mean this camp to impact decisions in the draft. Now some guys may not be ready yet.
"Yeah, but you can tell if a guy's just not ready. Like in the beginning of practice he looked really good, as practice wore on, he started to slow down. There was no one after stretch that was gassed so we couldn't make an evaluation. But there were some guys when we got to the third team period weren't as fresh as in the first team period. But we expect that going in."
In terms of setting the board, what specifically is your role in setting the board?
"We're all in there together. I've met extensively with Howie (Roseman) and his group and our coaches collaborated with the scouting department in terms of their opinions. I think it's a collaborative effort. It's not one side or another side. It's all of us sitting down, putting our heads together and making the right decisions."
So if you like player X and Howie or someone likes player Y, how does that work?
"I don't answer hypotheticals for that reason. We get into a million different things, because player Z from Mars I love better. You can take the hypothetical into next week."
But all scenarios are hypotheticals, aren't they?
"That's why I don't answer scenarios."
You work on scenarios up there.
"(Jokingly) Yeah, and I get bored. To be honest with you, when they give you a million different scenarios, I think the same thing in the back of my mind. What if one team will trade 17 picks for us. You would say that would never happen. But the New Orleans Saints did it for Ricky Williams, so you have to talk about it. So we talk about it."
Is this a scenario that could come up?
"(Jokingly) Player X or player Y? I'll take player Y."
Michael Vick, he's not your traditional you're used to coaching younger guys?
"Everybody I've coached is younger. I've never been in the NFL. I haven't coached anyone over 21, except for Kyle Long and a couple kids on missions. But besides that, everybody has been 22 or 23 or younger."
Can you talk about the challenge of he's one of the veterans, he's been here for a while, and he seems to do it a certain way. What is the challenge of teaching him your system?
"I think that's a misconception. The first time I met Michael and just got a chance to visit with him and watching him on the field and what he's been like in the classroom is Michael just wants to win, and Michael just wants to get better. So I think sometimes the age thing is overblown. I know in his situation it's overblown. He's thirsty for knowledge. He's here early every day, wants to learn in the classroom, he's always asking questions. I think sometimes people want to stereotype and say as they get older, they're not as receptive. But I think that's a personal decision in terms of where you are.
"I'm older than Michael and I'm always trying to learn, I can learn from him, he can learn from me. He's fantastic. He's been great, Herremans has been great. All the older players here,
"So for the two weeks and two days that we've been here with these guys since the off season program started, they've all been like that. Whether it's been the new guys jumping into the mix like (Patrick) Chung, and (Bradley) Fletcher and Soap (
Getting back to the 3-4, 4-3 question, when you're going back and fourth, does that really put a premium on versatility and guys that can do different things in different fronts how hard is it to find a player who can function at both?
"It does. Decisions, if you're going to nickel or if you're a 3 4 team, who are you taking off the field if you're bringing in that extra defensive back. But someone that has that versatility that can play in a three down front or four down front, that really helps. Can you be an outside linebacker and drop into coverage on first and second down and be a defensive end that rushes quarterback on third down? So versatility is kind of the key to that.
"We think we have some guys like that, but we're not going to make that determination today. We'll continue to put them in situations and see how they operate."
The NCAA investigation that is out there, did what happened in Oregon or what's happening there weigh in on your decision to leave Oregon and college for the Eagles?
"No, it had absolutely no impact on my decision to leave."