Offensive Coordinator Mike Sullivan
November 25, 2016
Q: On Adam Gettis.
A: A lot of the young guys have had to step up over the course of the past few weeks. We'll see where he's at. He's working hard, as much as he could this week.
Q: A lot of guys have had to rise up from the practice squad, particularly on the offensive line. How do you think they've responded to being contributors on an immediate basis?
A: I think, like you mentioned, it's a challenge. I think Coach Solari and Coach Wells do a great job getting those guys ready, getting as many reps as they can get; whether it's in our feet meets, or jog thru's and so forth. They'll be prepared and we do have great confidence.
Q: What have you seen from Gettis in the few snaps he's gotten in the games the last couple of weeks?
A: In the past couple of weeks, when he's had his opportunities, he has a finish mentality. He's a tough guy, he's a strong guy, and also very smart. He has good versatility, in terms of being able to snap the ball if necessary, or play on the inside. Confident that if he's given his opportunities, he'll make the most of them.
Q: It seemed like you guys had a nice run there with the continuity up front with the five guys, then all of a sudden the last couple of weeks there have been a lot of rotations. Has that affected what you guys are trying to do?
A: I think they've adjusted well. There are always insistences where you may have to adjust and take a look at it from a catching standpoint, particularly if there's a certain rusher who's presenting some problems, in terms of directing protection and so forth. In terms of any major adjustments or shifts, it has really caused those types of problems. As you mentioned, it would be great to have the same five and get that continuity, communication, awareness that comes into play when you have continuity, but the situation is what it is. It's the hand we're dealt and we'll make the most of it.
Q: In your mind, what has kept the offense from scoring at the level it did a year ago?
A: That's a great question. We've had opportunities throughout the season, whether it's been some of the turnovers that we've had, or early on we had some penalties that put us out of field position. Fortunately, the pass game the last few weeks, we've been able to be successful, to be able to get the ball in the end zone. It's hard to pinpoint one particular area as we've been able to get some more of the continuity, guys getting more comfortable with their roles and trying to find the matchups that we need. Obviously, we want to get the ball to our playmakers, but then, whenever we can get the run game going, that should certainly help. We've had a little more success the past couple of weeks. It's really hard to put my finger on specifically one thing, other than just instances where we had a negative play or there's a turnover or just aren't quite on the same page. Hopefully, we can continue with some of the momentum we've had, particularly when we get down on that 30-yard line, 20-yard line, trying to get those touchdowns instead of field goals.
Q: In your experience, can an offense find it in the final six games of the season?
A: Certainly hope so. I think the most important football, the best football that any team needs to be playing is in late November, it's in December, so that they get a chance to play into January. We feel really good about the week that we had, in terms of preparation and the execution and the plan, and so forth. Hopefully we'll be headed in the right direction after Sunday.
Q: In your mind, where do you view the progression of the offense? Where are you now, and how much have you improved?
A: We still have yet to play that complete game or anything close to a complete game. Week nine was our first game of the year where we didn't have a turnover. It's hard to have the consistency to do the things you want to do on offense when we're turning the ball over, which we have, unfortunately, in those first eight, nine games of the year. It's also a matter of getting a consistency where we have the balance that we want, and we're able to go ahead and run the football, take some pressure off the line and then have passes occur on our terms, some of the play actions, which can do some more than explosive plays. As we go back and look at every game, it just seems there's always a play here, and play there, where we're not quite as sharp from the details that we need to have execution wise, whether it's run or pass. I think there's great potential. I think we're far from playing our best football yet and so hopefully, based upon the week that we had, we can put it all together and can get things going in the right direction on Sunday.
Q: How do you think Will Tye has handled being the main guy at tight end?
A: Will has done a great job. He's a smart football player, he's competitive and one of the things that he's done a great job for us, is the production after the catch. It's not always flashy, but it seems like he'll catch that four or five-yard short route and next thing you know, it's a gain of 12 or 13. He does a good job separating. I think if he continues to work hard on the blocking aspect of things, and he's showing some improvement there, but I think he's responded well.
Q: Are you okay with seven touches in a game for Odell, or is your goal to try and give him more than that?
A: When it comes to Odell, obviously we all know he is a dynamic play maker. It doesn't take a genius to figure out that the more we give him the ball, the higher our chances are of winning. He is seventh in the NFL right now, I mean, heís got 98 targets, so we're trying, and that's always a big part of our plan. I think the thing that is important to realize when it comes to that is really two things; number one, based upon where he's aligned, in formation, often times that can create some other opportunities in terms of the run game; shifting the front, getting some things that have created some openings that have helped us the past two weeks. Secondly, opportunities for other guys. There is no more revealing clip or picture to have all of you guys take a look at, than the touchdown of Sterling Shepard. We put Odell in a specific spot and if you go back and look at that clip, the safety who was aligned to his side, it was a two high configuration, his eyes are right on Odell. Had he not done that, then it's one-on-one and he's got a touchdown in the end zone, and we can all see him enjoy the celebration. But, because of his commitment to him and the corners commitment to him, that opens up the middle of the field and that created a touchdown for Sterling. There are certain by-products, if you will, based upon his alignment. While he may be not getting the ball, it certainly creates those opportunities. We definitely would like to get the ball in his hands as much as possible and want to be good coaches and know that what makes us good coaches is getting the ball and what helps us win.
Q: I remember asking in week one, two, three if you were seeing defenses change their coverages for Odell so that you can take advantage of it. You just mentioned that play. Is that something you knew going in that they would do, or you anticipated it after the fact?
A: You never know, but we had a pretty good hunch. Our specific thought process that landed him right there on that play was; A) they singled up, he's matched up, he's got leverage, he's got a lot of room, we're going to throw him the touchdown pass or B) they commit those two guys that could then open up the middle of the field, and based upon some adjustment that Eli can make, which he did, give us a chance to go ahead and score the touchdown. So to answer your question, it is something, especially once you get into week nine, ten, eleven, you get a sense of how teams are going to play premier receivers. We look at Pittsburgh tape, you look at Atlanta tape, how are they playing the Julio Jones', the Antonio Brown's, the Dez Bryantís, and see if it fits, if that have they have that in their arsenal. We can try to project as best we can how they will play us because that's obviously how they're going want to try and take away Odell.