Offensive Coordinator Mike Shula
October 19, 2018
Q: How different do the Falcons look defensively, youíre familiar with them, but with the pieces that theyíve lost? Is (Dan Quinn) still trying to do the same thing with new faces?
A: Unfortunately for the NFL, injury is a tough deal for everybody. I think the Falcons are like a lot of other teams, theyíve had some guys hurt. Itís the next man up for everybody and obviously when you lose starters, you lose a little bit, because otherwise they wouldnít be your starters. Other guys have to come in. The one thing Iíd say is each week you see these guys, theyíre getting more and more used to what theyíre being asked to do. They had a big win last week, so theyíve got a little momentum going.
Q: What kind of progress have you seen from Sterling Shepard, especially with that expanded role? How has he responded to that? What does he bring now?
A: I wasnít here last year, but I know this, he brings energy every day. Heís a really good route runner, heís explosive, heís got good hands. I just think with every practice, every game he gets more experience, he gets more knowledge on all the little things that involve his position, and heís playing more than one position now, like you said. Weíre moving him around a little bit, and heís fun to watch with the ball in his hands.†
Q: How much have you missed Evan Engram and how big a boost would it be to the passing offense to get him back?
A: Evan has been a big part of our offense so far and that being said, we still feel like weíre just scratching the surface. I think having him back will be very helpful. We all know that heís an explosive player, he can run, he can stretch the defense, heís good with the ball in his hands, so everybodyís excited to have him back.†
Q: With pretty much every team keying on Odell, what is the challenge to figure out ways to (open him up)? With Atlanta, Julio (Jones) doesnít do a lot in the red zone.†
A: Yeah, it is a challenge. Itís a good challenge, and thatís what is great about this sport, is that itís a great team sport. Thereís 10 other guys on the field other than Odell or Julio. I think the number one thing for us to do, the challenge is to get the ball in the end zone more, whether or not itís in the red zone or wherever. Whether or not thatís getting the ball to Odell or by moving him around, I think everyone knows we move him around a little bit just like Atlanta does with Julio, or if not, then if thereís coverage thatís being taken to him and heís double-covered or theyíre cheating the safety outside so to speak, then other guys have a chance to have a one-on-one or be open in their zone. Thatís the neat thing about football is diagnosing that, and obviously for Eli (Manning), itís just about making good decisions and getting to the right guy with the ball on time and accurately.†
Q: Is there a fine line between trying to force it to him and taking what the defense is giving you?
A: No doubt. Thatís a good question, it is a fine line because heís one of your top players and you want to get your top players the ball, but you also donít want your quarterback forcing it to him where it results in a tipped ball or an interception or whatever. Thatís why getting back to the Evan (Engram) question, Evanís going to be helpful; Shep, we talked about; and obviously Saquon (Barkley). If teams all the sudden want to start playing two deep, which we havenít seen a whole lot of but they do mix it in, then theyíve got Saquon to worry about with two safeties back there and less run support. The whole thing, too, to that, is it goes back to everything else weíve talked about, just staying on pace with the chains, staying out of the long yardage situations, staying out of the third and longs, the second and longs, starting fast. More importantly than that, just staying on pace. Ideally weíd all like to start fast, but if you donít, then youíve just got to keep grinding and get back to where youíre making first downs on first and second down, and not waiting until third down or third and long.
Q: Have defenses changed from the beginning of the season to now in how they cover you in the red zone much?
A: I think everybodyís different. They all do it within their personality. Every now and then, weíll see a team maybe when youíre looking out on tape and theyíre playing this coverage, and thatís kind of their go-to coverage or their defense or blitz or whatever, then all the sudden we donít see it. I donít think itís any more out of the ordinary than any other year.†
Q: Iím sure you did a lot of work when Corey Coleman was coming out of the draft. What did you see then, what do you see now?†
A: Heís just been here briefly, but heís very talented, very explosive, good route runner, good hands. Weíre just anxious to find out more about him.
Q: Behind the scenes, what has Kyle Lauletta shown you as a quarterback that maybe we donít see?†
A: Kyle, like when we last spoke about him -- heís talented, heís got a good arm, heís accurate. I think heís got a lot of poise for a young guy. Heís not just a smart young football player quarterback, but you kind of get a feel for rookies, quarterbacks or whatever position, but does football make sense to him outside of just whatís on the paper? And I think he definitely fits into that category. He works hard, prepares like all the other guys do, and heís learning from obviously two really good guys with Eli (Manning) and Alex (Tanney). Alex is unbelievable in his preparation.