OL Coach Hal Hunter
September 7, 2018
Q: Whereís your unit at?
A: I think my unit is very focused. Theyíre anxious to show what they can do. I think they feel like theyíve all got something to prove. Everybodyís got their own story with some Ė everybody comes from a different place and theyíve got a story to prove and what they want to try and show the NFL and the people that are going to be watching them play. Everybodyís got their own unique story. Am I a rookie and playing for the first time? Am I playing in a different position? Did I leave one zip code and come to another? Everybodyís got something theyíre trying to establish and so you establish it by signing your work on game day. I think theyíre focused, theyíre together, theyíre anxious to get out there and get some rhythm and play and play together as a unit and be productive, thatís the bottom line. They got two jobs, itís real simple: they got to protect the quarterback and play good run football. The offensive line plays real simple. Thatís all theyíve got to do and if they do that, you have a good chance to win. If you donít, probably not going to win. Thatís what you got to do.
Q: The first team unit running the ball in the preseason didnít go too terrifically. What gives you confidence that you guys can establish it and move the line of scrimmage this weekend?
A: First of all, itís all about establishing Ė you got to establish some rhythm and the one thing a really good football coach told me 30 years ago was the most important element in the running game, first of all, is the runner and then the runner has got to be in sync with the offensive line and the tight end, the people that are the blockers because basically in offensive football if you donít have the ball in your hand, you are a blocker, no matter what number jersey you wear. Itís all nine guys working together and so as they continue to establish, it has to be the line in sync with the back having a good feel. The backís got to have confidence in the line. The lineís got to have confidence in the back. Weíve got to be on the right angles and blocking the right guys and the backís got to feel. Itís all getting in sync and the back and the line are working together as one. Coming out of the preseason, is it an overloaded box? They got one more guy in the box than you can block, are you making all the blocks that you need to make? Are you making the right cut? Everybodyís involved in it, so the bottom line itís all about execution. The hardest thing to do in the game of football is run the football. Thatís the hardest thing you do. You look at special teams, offense, defense, throwing, pass protection. Running the football is five times tougher than pass pro. Itís the hardest thing to do in the game of football, so thatís why you got to work on that and continue to develop that.
Q: With the way the game is now, you hear it all the time, how much work you get in practice through the season, but really Pat (Shurmur) has talked about this first team offensive line hasnít really played a full game yet together. Can you know that you have that rhythm with what youíre seeing now?
A: You can. You establish the rhythm, but it goes all the way when you start back in phase two and phase three (in the spring) and what your limitations are as youíre developing young guys, your limitations on practice time, youíre correct. Itís just a matter, itís not something thatís either going to be Ė itís not going to be a final process come Sunday. Itís going to be a process that builds through the season. Itís like anything Ė wherever youíre at on this Sunday doesnít mean thatís where youíre going to be at for the season. Itís going to grow and progress week by week, day by day, week by week, week by week as the season goes on because thatís how the run game works, thatís how football works. No matter how we Ė Iím anticipating weíre going to have a great performance because the guys are focused and ready to execute. We had a great practice yesterday, but as we continue, we talked about it before, we will be in a continual process of development week one, week two through 17 weeks. Thatís what weíll be continuing to do, trying to Ė whether itís our pass protection or our run blocking, continue to develop and move in the right direction.
Q: Chadís (Wheeler) basically the next guy up at both tackle spots. Whatís your confidence level in him? What have you seen from him this offseason?
A: Heís got more natural left than he does right, thatís just where his wheel house is. Heís played more left so basically what you do is you work on your weakness, right. Weíve played him a lot at right trying to get him a lot of reps so he has more confidence. Moving one guy from left to right, you can concentrate on right, but when you have to be able to do everything both ways, itís hard. Mentally heís really in tune to what weíre doing. Physically heís made a lot of progress in terms of what weíre doing, but again the proof will be in how performs on Sunday. But heís making progress and we do have a lot of confidence in him.
Q: When you look at Jacksonville, theyíre ranked one against the pass and something in 20s against the run. Is the pass defense that good because of what they get upfront or is itÖ?
A: Itís a combination. They got two unbelievable corners. They got two really good corners, but if you look at the stats where the most of their sacks come from, four-man rush, right? So we saw it last night against Atlanta when Atlanta was driving the ball down and Philadelphia was hitting the quarterback with a four-man rush, did you see all those guys dropping? When youíre rushing four and dropping seven and getting pressure on the quarterback, itís a long day, so if they rush four, you got to keep the quarterback clean. I think itís a combination. They got four defensive linemen that could start for anybody in the NFL. I mean, theyíre really, really good and they put pressure on the quarterback with four guys and that means theyíre dropping seven guys into coverage. Itís like throwing into a parking lot after a game and thereís people everywhere. To be able to open up the passing game, you got to be able to protect. You got to make them add a fifth guy, add a sixth guy. Go from zone coverage to man coverage. If they rush four guys, you got to protect longer to give guys a chance to get open on their routes. I watched their defensive front and Iíve watched it evolve and when I was in Indy, we played them twice a year and they were stout back then, but itís the same formula, the same defense. Theyíre going to put pressure on you with four guys and theyíre going to keep bringing it and those are four really talented guys. In terms of that, we got our hands full on Sunday. Those are guys who are really talented.
Q: Whatís made Evan Brown make this team because you have centers: (Jon) Halapio, (John) Greco, Spencer Pulley, I believe. What made Evan Brown worth having?
A: When youíre trying to make a decision, we talk about Ė you kind of look at, kind of go back to what the basics are. Who are the best players? Best players are the guys that play the best so how you know Ė You look at the tape and see who the best players are. Hereís what I like about Evan Brown and not to take anything away from Brett Jones because I love Brett Jones, tough, hard working. Evan Brown: strong, physical, smart, plays with leverage, plays with balance, bigger than people think. Heís pushing 6í3Ē and he weighs 310. I mean heís a good size and so he did a lot of the right things that I like in terms of the center that not just I liked in terms of the center, but everybodyís thatís in the decision process likes as a center. He checked all the right boxes and when he got into the game, that last game against New England and played 56 snaps, he did a really good job.
I was always under the impression that linemen much prefer to run block than try to move backward/laterally to pass protect, and that as a result they found it much "easier."