Did you do anything differently because we were watching practice today or was this what practice would normally be on Monday? "Yeah, this is just what we did for the voluntary mini camp. We actually repeated what we did just before the draft. So this was same install, day one preparation, went back to where we were. We got into the off season phase two, we added some more things but we knew when we started again with the OTAs we were going to go right back to day one install. So there wasn't a lot of offense, a lot of defense in there, but we started back with punt normally the way we do it. This was a normal day one for us."
Talk about the offense as far as understanding plays and stuff like that. "They're decent. They've been great since we've been here April 1st. We've got a group of guys that are real eager. They want to learn, and they've been attentive in meetings. They've been great. It was weird because we got to phase three first just because we're a new staff, so we had the voluntary mini camp right before we really had anything else, and then we kind of caught back up again with the last couple of weeks of phase two. They've been great, and I'm giving those guys a ton of credit. They've been fantastic in terms of learning, wanting to figure everything out. Really happy with where they are right now."
What do we make of Dennis Kelly getting a lot of first team right tackle snaps? "It's May 13th, so I would make that of it. I don't think we play the Washington Redskins until sometime in September."
Has he met your expectations in this small time? "Yeah, he's been here three days, so for three days he's been the best offensive tackle we've ever drafted."
So you could say that about basically every position? "Yeah."
But at quarterback Michael Vick seems to be getting the majority of plays at first team. What has he done at this point to warrant that? "He hasn't. Count them up. Someone charted them, I would imagine. He and Nick switched to different groups, so that's what we did."
So it was 50/50? "I mean, it could have been 48/52, but we'll count them up. Again, it's May 13th. There's nothing we're doing. There are different guys you look up, Regis was with the ones because (WR DeSean Jackson) was getting his shoe tied. We're just trying to get reps off and trying to get film and look at it. To your original question what would I make of it, it's May 13th and we've got a long ways to go before we ever set a depth chart or do anything like that."
Is there an acclimation process to the whole tempo in practices, and where is the team in that right now? "Yeah, I think there is, and we just want to practice efficiently, so it's the best way for us to practice. You've got 90 guys now, so I know when you hear a lot of guys talk, I didn't get a chance, I didn't get a chance to get my reps. I don't think anybody on our team is going to complain about the amount of reps they got. I think everybody gets a chance to show what they can do on film so therefore we can make some real good evaluations in terms of where we are because at some point in time we're going to have to go from 90 to 75 and then eventually to 53. So we want to make sure that we can use the full time we have. Obviously this isn't how we're going to practice during the season, but in the off season I think it's the best way to practice."
Is it as fast as you had hoped? "Yeah, I think these guys have been really good. They want to learn, they want to play, they're having a lot of fun doing it, and for us it's been fantastic to be around them because they want it."
What's the thinking behind the music? Does that help with the tempo? "There's a lot of science behind it but I've got 12 minutes left in this thing so I can't really get into the details of it but there's some science behind it. We've used it for a while."
We didn't get to see Oregon practice. Where did this start for you? Obviously this is different for us. Where did it start and why? "It started when we were at New Hampshire and then as I moved to Oregon, it was a little different when I was a coordinator and then changed a little bit more when I became the head coach. We want to be efficient in our time, we don't want to be on the field for a long time, want to maximize the time we're on the field, and obviously you see us go from tempo periods to teach periods, there's a rhyme or reason to what we're doing, time on task versus time teaching, and I think there's a good balance of that. We want to get them in and get them out. But we also have to get a certain amount of work in."
Is scientific research part of the way you do certain things here? "Yeah, but there's a lot that goes into that. Obviously we know we can't practice full speed for the entire time we're out there, so it's got to be short bursts, but the game of football is short bursts. It's really an anaerobic sport when you look at it, because you're going hard for five to six seconds and then you're taking a break, and that's what we're trying to get accomplished with these guys."
Are there less mistakes with your evaluation because of that? "No, our evaluation is off the film, so we're going to coach off of that and we'll have film forever. So we're going to run up after this and we'll sit down and really dissect it. That's where all of our evaluation usually is off of that. You'll take in what goes on while you're on the field with them, but then obviously because we film everything we've got a chance to kind of go back through it, what did this drill look like, what did this practice period look like and really kind of get the details out of it, so I don't think it affects you from an evaluation standpoint."
If we're getting more looks at guys, the fifth-team wide receiver for example, are you getting a better feel by the end? "Yeah, you think we are and I think we have to evaluate those guys. You get two or three guys injured at a position and then you're taking a guy off the street that you haven't seen before or somebody that you've had in camp who has a pretty good, thorough understanding and knowledge and we know what he can do. So I think it helps us from an evaluation standpoint because our lower guys get more reps, so the younger guys are going to get more reps in terms of how we practice. I think it helps us in our evaluation."
Is it challenging to make corrections at that pace of practice? "No, I don't think so."
The 11-on-11 plays seem like a lot of defensive front, three-down linemen a lot, are these just a set of plays that you were working on? "Yeah, just depended on what was being installed today, so I wouldn't read totally into it. We'll play some three down, we'll play some four-down. I know the whole last team period was all four down, but that was scripted to be all four down. It just depends on what we're working on; if we're not working on a game, we're working on everything we do is a situation, so we're never just going to put the ball down and play, so it's what are we working on in this situation and what are we going to go against so there's a cooperation between (offensive coordinator) Pat (Shurmur) and (defensive coordinator) Billy (Davis), what are we scripting. In that first period we don't motion, we just line up and they just line up. So there's a lot less scheme deals going on. It's more of a fundamental period for us. So it just depends. That's the first period we ran, so the first period we were more static than we were anything else."
The outside linebackers, it seemed like they almost although they stayed on one particular side, Connor Barwin and Trent Cole let's say in particular, their roles seemed kind of similar in some ways that they would drop, sometimes pass rush. Is that accurate to say? "Yeah, our outside line if we're playing in a three down scheme, our outside linebackers will be asked to do both things. But we have to figure out who that is, and that's part of the whole process. With the outside linebackers, they have to be able to rush the passer, set the edge and drop into coverage, but we need to evaluate them rushing the passer, setting the edge and dropping into coverage, so that's what this whole process is about."
Have you had guys in the past who haven't been able to get up to the tempo and get up to the speed and the quick decision-making that help separate guys when you're going to run this in games? "Yeah, I think it does, but I think the game is about making quick decisions. It's a game of 60 to 70 to 80 four second plays. So once the ball is snapped, it happens at that tempo. We're just trying to force them to everything we do has to kind of be reflect what the mission is, and the mission is to be prepared to play a four second play. You need to have that kind of (snapping fingers) to get that done, so I think that's why we're practicing like that."
How many guys on the sidelines are giving signals in and are those personnel groupings, play calls? "It's everything. There are a lot of guys doing that. Also the difference here that we didn't have in college is we can communicate to the quarterback and there's a lot that's put on him, so there's a whole system involved in that. We can talk to him. Pat was talking to the quarterbacks while we were out there, and you've got up to I think 20 seconds on the play clock to do that. But we also signal if we're going to be in an up tempo practice we just practice this way. It doesn't mean we're going to play every game this way. We think it's the most efficient way to practice when you have 90 guys. Now, we're going to practice totally different when we only have 53 guys."
Is every player on the field getting the information they need by those hand signals? "No."
Cary Williams is not here today? "Cary got married yesterday."
It looked like Curtis Marsh had some plays at first-team cornerback. Can you talk about what you see out of Curtis? "Yeah, I watched the film. Curtis has made some plays. Again, we had three days of voluntary mini camp and then today. All those guys have done a decent job, but we've got a ways to go. The phase two part of it is our defense was going against barrels and our offense was going against air. But our offense killed it against air, so if we could play air we'd be really good, but that's just a matter of developing plays. We're so early to make evaluations of who's who, and again, we keep talking who's first team, who's second team. We're just rolling. Whatever group is out there the next day, it really doesn't matter. But now over the course of time with 10 OTAs and three mini camps, by the time we get to June we've got a pretty good number of snaps where we can start to evaluate and start to slot some guys and see where we are as we move into preseason camps."
When do you expect Cary Williams to be here, and also when do you think Jason Kelce can go at full speed in practice? "I don't know when Jason will be back. He's been fantastic, been there every day working his tail off. He did almost everything in phase two, so he's running around doing a lot of things, and that's obviously a medical decision in terms of what he can get in and get contact, and I think Cary should be back next week. Usually there's a honeymoon after you get married, so I think he hopefully wants it to last more than a couple days. He got married yesterday, so I did not expect him to be here today."
Does the high tempo of practice help even though it sometimes slows down during a real game? Does that help when you get into games? "We think so. We think it proved it out when we were at the last place I was. So I think if you can force yourself to play at a fast tempo, then the game itself kind of slows down a little bit."
You're very involved in practice out there. Will that be standard for you or is that early in the season that you want to be more on the field? "Ironically that's my job, so and I don't think (Chairman/CEO) Jeffrey (Lurie) would be real happy if I came out here and I was sitting in a lounge chair. I get paid to coach, so I'm going to coach. That's why I do it."
How has Matt Barkley been so far?"Matt has been really good. We've had him for three days. Really thought he picked things up quickly. He's an extremely hard worker. He's here every morning at six a.m. working at whatever it is to work on. I mean, I think he's got a great football background first and foremost. He started four years in high school and four years in college and that's kind of rare, so he's been through a lot. It showed up when he got here. He's got a lot of experience even though he's a rookie. I've been real impressed with Matt in the three days now going into the fourth day that we've had him."
In the case of Zach Ertz, what effect will it have on him not being here for these 10 OTAs?"I don't think like that. I mean, I'll see when they get back. I'm not a prognosticator, so I'm not going to tell you that it's going to be this or going to be that. We've never been through it with him, but it's the rule. Those guys were really attentive in the three days that they were here. They took a lot of information back with them. We'll keep in touch with them while they're away but I can't tell you what type of effect it's going to have. We'll see when they get back here."
Are you considering Jeremy Maclin at punts? "No, we'll use Donnie Jones or Brad Wing as the punter. Punt returns, yeah, we'll look at Mac back there. Again, it's May, so we're going to take a look at him and (WR) Damaris (Johnson) and DeSean and (WR) Nick Miller. (WR) Russell Shepard is a guy that's returned punts before, one of the rookies that's out here. So we'll get a bunch of those guys because you never know in a game; all of a sudden two guys are hurt. When you've only got a 46 man roster, someone has got to go back there, and hopefully it's someone that's fielded punts before. He's got some experience at it, but we'll take a look at him, but does that mean he's going to be our starting punt returner? I have absolutely no idea right now."
Matt Barkley spoke the other day about competing for the starting job. Is that a realistic expectation for him?"I hope so. I would hope anybody that came into this place isn't sitting here and saying I think I'm going to be a really good, solid backup. I want our guys to come in here and show us everything that they can do, and our job as a coaching staff is to put the best guys on the field the first game against Washington that will help us win, and if that's Matt, that's Matt, so we'll see how that goes. But if anybody came in here and said they were really vying for a backup job, then they would probably be on the bus down 95 pretty quick."
It sounds like mental conditioning is a big part of the case out there and getting them to think that way. How much are the players going out there not knowing what's coming?"I don't think they are. I think they've been great. We've had the opportunity since April 1st to have meetings with them every day. That's the one thing that really has been impressive with them is how attentive they are, and they want to learn, and they've been great at it. I think there weren't too many mental busts in terms of what they've done. We went back to day one insertion, but really happy where they are from their mental approach to it. That for us has been really refreshing, not knowing what to expect when they come in here because it's a new group and we haven't been around them, but they've been fantastic. These guys love playing football and they love learning football, and that part makes it real enjoyable for us."
Talk about the reaction, they go out there and you've got 20 different periods. How much of that do they know is coming?"This today was the exact mirror image of what we did on our first day of voluntary mini camps, so they went through this whole thing, and then the rookies went through probably an abbreviated version of this because we didn't have as many guys. So everything we did in the rookie mini camp was out of a huddle so that we didn't have to spend any time on trying to do signals and things like that, just get them to play and let them get going so they've learned both starting to learn the second phase of it from a rookie standpoint. But everything we did today wasn't new to these guys. They've already gone through it before."
What is it in the skill sets of Brandon Graham and Trent Cole that makes you think they can be guys that can drop and handle those responsibilities as outside linebackers?"You watch how fast they run, their ability to open their hips, and they just haven't been asked to do it, I think, because they were brought up as defensive ends. But Brandon did it in college. Brandon was an outside linebacker in college, so he's done some of it. But you watch Trent I think it was in 2010, I think he dropped over 100 times into coverage and zone blitz schemes with his hand on the ground. So there's a little bit of basis of film but we can look at that and see what they can do. But again, it's still an evaluation period, so we're going to find out what they do the best and put them in those situations where they can do it."