Offensive Line Coach Mike Solari
December 16, 2016
Q: There's been a lot of focus on your left tackle, how do you feel Ereck has been playing lately?
A: He's coming along. He had a tough game last week and he goes, usually, against the best pass rushers on the team. Whether it was a couple of weeks ago with Harrison or last week and this week we've got another big challenge with Ezekiel Ansah, really an outstanding pass rusher. Again, it's a work in progress, Ereck's working hard in practice, trying to develop the techniques, it's just a matter of taking the techniques he's working on in practice and taking it to take the game.
Q: Is getting Pugh back something that could help Ereck?
A: The most important thing is that Ereck's got to keep working on his fundamentals and improving that asset. Obviously Justin has experience and so forth but again, the other young men that have stepped in for Justin to Ereck have done a good job with communication and so forth. It's just a matter of continuing to grow and keep developing and Ereck's working hard at it.
Q: How has Justin Pugh looked in practice this week?
A: Well again, he's working hard. We didn't mix him into the reps, he's been splitting reps and we're getting close to the decision and Ben will make that decision. He's coming along until it gets to the wire. Just like anything else, you get rusty with your technique but he's working hard to get better at that.
Q: What does he bring to your offense?
A: Just the continuity, the experience, that knowledge, that experienced players have, just a soothing effect. Marshall Newhouse was thrown in there at left guard and he did a nice job and he got better as he got more reps at guard. Whereas that first week, all the sudden he got thrown in there and he didn't have reps and so forth so again, Justin's got that experience, that knowledge and that helps obviously with communication and us being able to execute better as an offensive line.
Q: With Flowers, is it essentially about breaking old habits?
A: Yeah, it takes time. As a coach you never have time but the thing is, it's a matter of trusting your techniques and what happens is, when you're going against a real outstanding defensive end, sometimes you don't trust your techniques so you don't rely on it, you don't have that confidence in it. That's what Ereckís working hard at and it's coming along. It's just a matter of him trusting it and he's going to do a great job this week for us, no doubt in my mind.
Q: He doesn't say a whole lot to us which may not surprise you. Can you tell he's prideful, that this matters to him, that the penalties bother him?
A: It's important to him, absolutely. It's very important to Ereck. He works on the sideline, he's communicating and he wants to look at the IPad and see where he can get better. It is important to Ereck. He's come along as a young player. I truly believe we'll see Ereck Flowers get better. He's got another big challenge this week, this young man coming in is a very talented pass rusher.
Q: As often as holding can get called and is not, do you sometimes think that a guy has knock because he seems to get an early holding call in most games?
A: We just have to be better with our hands. We have no influence on that whatsoever. I got to do better coaching on doing a better job using our hands. It's something that we emphasis in practice and I got to put more of an exclamation point on it. It's my job to make sure that their hands on are inside and in the NFL or any collegiate level, you've got to keep body in front of your hands, you've got to keep your hands covered up and that's something we have to do better.
Q: You mentioned that he's a young guy and he's had some struggles. Has there ever been a time where you thought taking him out for a series would help him?
A: I have no thought on that in the sense that, no I don't believe in that. I believe, again, he's got to keep rolling, he's got to gain confidence and he's got to trust his techniques and that's what I believe.
Q: Would you like to give him more help?
A: I think we give him help. Ben does a great job, Sullivan does a great job in us giving help when the play calling and so forth with what we need to do and run the ball, what we need to do. We just have to improve our techniques, that's the key thing. I know it sounds, 'you keep saying that,' but it's the truth. You have to rely on your techniques and fundamentals to achieve what you need to achieve on the offensive line. We need to work better as a unit and we need to improve the run game that we're working at to achieve. We'll get better, we will get better.
Q: He was obviously a really high draft pick, because of that and his size and talent, does it surprise you that he's developed this slowly?
A: Again, he's developing, he's getting better. It's not as quickly as we'd like but again, he just has to trust his techniques and fundamentals and apply that in a game environment and he will.
Q: What gives you hope that the run game can improve in these final three weeks?
A: I think these last few weeks, I see glimpses of us being more consistent throughout the offensive line and it's coming together and you kind of need that continuity on the offensive line, no excuses, you got to get the job done. It's a part of the process but I think we're getting better, getting better coming off the ball. So I'm excited about this week against Detroit.