BB: How we doing? Friday, November, football season. What do you guys got?
Q: I know Duron Harmon missed practice yesterday to have a baby. He’s made some big plays in the secondary for you guys. What are the expectations for him?
BB: Same as for everybody – be ready to go and go out there and do their best.
Q: Is there a policy where players are out for a few days for that?
BB: I’ve coached a lot of players. Every player has their own personal situations that come up from time to time – could be babies, deaths, hospital visits, relatives, so forth and so on. Each one of them is different and each one of them is about that individual person – what their needs are and what their situation is. There is no set rule or anything because we’re all different.
Do you defend a receiving tight end like Jordan Reed differently than you would defend a more traditional tight end like Jason Witten?
BB: Each player has their own individual strengths and weaknesses, whatever those happen to be, and I think you always want to be aware of what the player’s strengths are and take those away. If you can gain an advantage where you feel like you have an advantage in that matchup you want to take advantage of that when you can or if you can. Again on that side of it, sometimes when you’re on offense, you keep players out of situations that you don’t feel are strengths for them. That’s what good offensive coaches do with their players. Reeds’ case, I think he’s obviously one of their best players. They have a lot of confidence in him. They go to him in a lot of critical situations, he comes through. They move him around, he’s all over, he at times plays receiver positons where he’s split out and detached from the formation. That’s fairly common. He’s in close more than he’s split out, but he’s split out more than a lot of tight ends are. When you face guys like that, you’ve got to figure out the matchup that you want to be in that you feel comfortable with. And he’s made plays down the field. He’s a very crafty route runner, knows how to get open in tight coverage. He’s a big target, catches the ball well, has got a big catch radius, so you can kind of put the ball away from the defender where he can get it and the defender can’t, and he can come up with it. He’s good in the red area, good on third down. He has quickness to separate from man coverage. Yeah, it’s just trying to find the best matchup, but again, a lot of times it’s hard to jam him or disrupt his route because he’s extended as opposed to being in-line. But yeah, he does a lot of things well. I’d say in their running game, they use their tight ends but a little differently than say the Dallas offense as an example in the way they block. A lot of times they don’t force players, or extended players, so that’s really compatible with the skills of an athletic tight end. It’s similar to [Tyler] Eifert when Jay was at Cincinnati. I think Reed is kind of Eifert in the Cincinnati offense if you will.
Q: What’s the difference between a West Coast running game and a traditional running game?
BB: I’d say that’s all kind of changed. When you go back to Paul Brown, that is the offense. What the running game was in the 70’s when he was in Cincinnati, late 60’s and 70’s when he was there, what it was throughout the league is a lot different than what it is now. Even in San Francisco when [Bill] Walsh was there, it was a lot of two backs. Now most every team has one primary runner in the game. Very seldom do you see two runners and so that has obviously been a big change. So it just depends on where you want to draw that line. We’re going back call it 30 years of West Coast, Ohio River offense, whatever you want to call it, and that running game has changed. I think what has probably stayed more consistent is the passing game concepts and then whatever running game you have, then you adapt that with that kind of Ohio River passing game, whether it’s zone runs, whether it’s gap runs, whether its 12-personnel runs, whether it’s 21-personnel runs. But the pass concepts I would say there is a lot more carryover. When you go back to what Coach Brown did, Coach Walsh, those are primarily two-back sets with some one-back sprinkled in there. Now you see teams that have West Coast background, even when Mike [Holmgren] and Andy [Reid], but they’ve kind of transitioned as they’ve gotten further into their careers, they’ve kind of transitioned into more one-back offenses as well. But I think in the passing game, I think those core concepts kind of have stayed more constant than the running game.
Q: So do Alfred Morris and Matt Jones split their carries?
BB: Yeah, some version of that. Some games it’s more than others. Maybe it’s a little bit of a who has the hot hand type of thing, but you’re going to see both of them. [Chris] Thompson is more of a third-down sub back, but he’s a good runner, too. They also use Morris and Jones some on third down, especially when Thompson hadn’t been out there, those guys have played in that role, so I think there is a comfort level of using each of those guys on every down, but probably it looks like Morris and Jones are more early-down guys and Thompson is kind of their sub guy, but there is definitely some carryover. It’s not cut and dry. There is some carryover here.
Q: What has been the key to the success of the pass rush this season?
BB: Really it’s all tied into the coverage. If you have the receivers covered, it gives the pass rush more opportunities. If you don’t have the receivers covered then even a good rush isn’t going to result in the quarterback getting tackled probably. The interceptions are a result of pass rush just like sacks are a result of coverage. I think it’s really team defense, so the better team defense we’ve played, the more production we’ve had. When an area of the team defense breaks down, then that affects the production not just in the catching end or the sacking end but the other end, too. I’d say when you look at a lot of our sacks, a lot of them are on three-man rushes. A lot of them are on good coverage situations. And then there are times we come clean and make the play, too. There is a little bit of everything there, but overall you need good coverage to have a good pass rush. You need good pass rush to have good coverage. When those two have been in sync, we’ve been more productive and when they haven’t, we’ve given up some plays.