Assistant Special Teams Coach Larry Izzo
November 16, 2015
Re: versatility of Nikita Whitlock
A:ÖHeís [Nikita Whitlock] going right from offense, special teams, defense, so thatís challenging for him and I think heís learning what it takes to kind of put his body in the condition that it needs to be to be able to withstand that type of grind. Thatís one thing I think in the offseason heíll have to address. You donít want him to wear down too much.
Q: What happened with the punt return yesterday with [Danny] Amendola making the call? Dwayne [Harris] said he was looking for the ball instead of looking at the man, is that common for guys to do that?
A: Yeah, that particular area of the field, Dwayne was kind of in a pickle because he is the guy that has to keep it out of the end zone. You look pretty foolish if you stopped right in front and the ball bounces on the five [yard-line] and rolls into the end zone. From that standpoint, the peter signal that he got from the returner might of kind of, not distracted him, but just given him a dirty read on the play, but at the end of the day, I know that heíd like to have played that better, but in no way was not related just to him. Overall the coverage was very poor in general, especially from the backside players, poor angles, and poor adjustments. A peter return, whenever you see them, itís like theyíre giving, Amendola is an experienced returner, he knows what heís doing, heís done it on tape, weíve seen him do it on tape, he did it in Miami, heíll take his chances if he feels thereís cheap yards he can get instead of letting the ball hit and roll. Heís an aggressive player and an experienced returner from that standpoint. Give him credit for making that happen, but I felt that overall there were missed tackles, bad angles, not well played at all.
Q: That isnít something most returners do, is it?
A: I mean, we did it, Dwayne did it in the same game, I mean he did it yesterday. Sometimes returners will see where their coverage is, and the ball is bouncing around, and then theyíll field the mishit. The fake peter, you see that, itís not as uncommon as you think.
Q: Would you coach your guys to do it?
A: We have an experienced returner. Weíre not going to tell him do this and this, but he knows from experience when the opportunity to take advantage of maybe being somewhat deceptive. It was a pressure, so the coverage, there was a lot of separation between the first wave, the gunners, and then the rest of the coverage, and then the rest of the coverage took poor angles and were caught off guard a little bit themselves. At the end of the day, we have to get him tackled. We had opportunities to get him down and weíve got to get him tackled.
Q: What happened to [Mark] Herzlich on that play?
A: I believe that was the play where he got a quad injury for the rest of the game, so he was not available to us most of the remaining part of the game.
Q: He was on the return though?
A: He was. What happened to him was he got blocked. He got blocked in what looked like potentially a low block, so someone above my paygrade would have to determine if that was a legal block or not. At the end of the day, he could have done a better job of leveraging the ball, he was in position to make the tackle, ball got outside of him, and bad things happen when you do that. Again itís not one person you could say, it was a group failure, and it was a big play. Unfortunately it cost a lot of momentum, field position, led to the points, and we have to get it corrected.
Q: Can I just go back to Whitlock for one moment? In todayís NFL, is a guy like that incredibly valuable if he can do a lot of things well?
A: Absolutely. Talking about Whitlock, we were talking about [Dan] Klecko earlier. Dan Klecko is a guy that when we were looking at Whitlock, I saw a lot of similarities to Dan Klecko, who played with New England, and he was a versatile player who played fullback, d-line, had good pass rush skills, and he could contribute in the kicking game. Anytime you can add a versatile player that can wear many hats when youíre building your roster, I think that adds value, and can help you in a number of ways. When you combine that with looking for hardnosed, tough football players, he fits the mold. Those things are valuable and Iíll take more like him.