Offensive Line Coach Hal Hunter -- September, 6 2019
Q: Iím sure it wasnít too pleasurable to look back to Week Two last year. How do you guys get better against the stunts that you know you are going to see from these guys?
A: Well I think the first thing you do is you study. You watch it on tape (and) you look throughout the entire season. One thing you that have to do at this level, I remember my first coaching job there was always a sign in the weight room that said, Ďchampionships begin in the division,í so in the offseason what you need to do is study your division opponents. You study Dallas, you study Washington, and Philly. You find out what worked against them, what did they hurt you with, and thatís the stuff you work on. They are an athletic, talented team up front. You go back, and you learn from your mistakes. What worked, what didnít work, what do you need to correct, and itís an ongoing process.
Q: Do you have fewer questions to answer with the group of five that you have up front this year? What do you need to see or what are you anticipating seeing from that group on Sunday?
A: You have a lot of new guys out there playing, a couple of new guys. (Jon Halapio) Pio is kind of a new guy because he didnít play last year. I think the one thing about it is you kind of got the chance to know them in the offseason and in the spring. Everybody is different, so you have to learn how to coach those guys within their personalities. There are less things to answer. When you bring in two veteran players on the right side, with Kevin (Zeitler) and Mike (Remmers), you have some veteran guys who are real pros. They know how to study, they know how to practice, they are taking the advanced course. Now itís our job to work together to put them in a position to execute on Sunday. There are a lot less questions. Most of the questions are answered during camp on where weíre needing to go.
Q: What did you see from Eric Smith, maybe when you guys were playing against him and the Jets, that made him somebody you guys wanted to claim? What did you see from (Chad) Slade that makes it easier to move on from (Chad) Wheeler, a guy who started 14 games last year?
A: It wasnít hard to move on from Wheeler. Wheeler was a good, hard-working, developing player. I would say both Slade and Smith have a lot of the same characteristics. They are big, tall, long, athletic guys. They are very good athletes and the game on the edge is a game of athleticism at tackle. The game on the inside three is a brutal, brute force game inside. If youíve got athletes running 4.5 off the edge, you better have athletes that can block them. I think the thing with those guys is they play with athleticism, balance, (and) redirect. They have those type of athletic skills that you develop, that hopefully in the future will be able to handle those speed edge rushers that you have coming and have to deal with every week.
Q: What can people expect from this group? What do you think youíll be able to hang your hat on?
A: The one thing with this group is I think theyíll play tough, (and) I think theyíll play sound technically. No, I donít thinkó they will play tough, they will play sound technically, they will be dependable. Remember, you have to make sure you have dependable players who are doing the right thing at the right time. You canít have mental errors, you canít have pre-snap errors, you have to be doing all of the right things. You basically are playing against guys who are better athletes than you, so you need to make sure you are better technically than they are. I think thatís itó weíll get some good, hard, solid, tough play that will be dependable, physical, and guys that are pros who you can count on week to week.
Q: You talked about going back and studying. What do you think was the biggest issue in Week Two last year?
A: There were a lot of things. It was a new line. They were all coming together. It was their second game. Iíve played at (AT& T Stadium) a bunch of times. Thatís a really difficult place to play. Itís loud, itís crazy. When you play on a Sunday night game, itís the closest thing to playoff-like experience. Sunday night football is like a playoff game. Thatís just the atmosphere. I just think the guys are coming back having a year playing with each other. All of a sudden, now you have a left guard and left tackle that have a year under their belt. You have a center thatís back healthy. You have two pros playing on the right side that have both been in big games before. (Mike) Remmers played in a Super Bowl before. Playing in Dallas isnít going to faze him. Heís played in the biggest arena there is. You have some veteran experience that I really think is going to help. Anytime you play away, it doesnít matter if itís Dallas, anytime you play away, itís a tough environment in the NFL. Itís hard to win on the road. Youíre out of your element a little bit. We have to make sure we can play with a lot of composure come Sunday.
Q: You talked about there being a competition at center in the past when weíve talked to you. What did (Jon Halapio) do to win that job?
A: It was hard. Spencer Pulley has done a great job. I think Pio did a good job of bridging the line together. He plays physical, he plays tough, and he plays with leverage. I think we could go beat any opponent we play this year with either one of these guys at center. That was the toughest situation right there, because both of those guys, like I said, we feel like we can win with either one of those guys at center. We really look at them both as starters. But we went with Pio based on his ability to play a little bit stronger and a little bit more leveraged.
Q: The way you talk about Remmers, it doesnít sound like thereís any concern about his availability for Sunday?
A: No. He had a little bit of a bug or virus. He practiced yesterday. He wanted to practice the whole practice but I wouldnít let him. He wanted to take every rep yesterday and I didnít let him. But he says he feels fine today. I donít know. Do you ever wake up one morning and you have a presentation to make and youíre like, ĎOf all days for me to get sick?í But again, you fight through it and you go through it. He fought through it. He feels good today. I would say heíll be ready to go.
Q: If thereís a necessity, who moves to guard, Pio or Spencer?
A: Iím not really sure on that right now. Weíve got about four or five different scenarios. Both of them have the ability to do that, so weíve gone through all of the different (scenarios). When you only dress seven guys up, you have to be (able to play) multiple spots. We have some (linemen who can play) multiple spots, but I canít really say where we would go with that.
Q: What do you make of the increased emphasis by the officials on these holding calls on the interior?
A: Did you see that game last night? Wow. Well, what theyíre trying to do is, there were some players in the NFL that were literally tackling guys on every snap. (The officials) decided to get out of that. Again, thatís bad fundamentals. If you coach bad fundamentals and you play with bad fundamentals, itís going to catch up to you. One thing that weíve never tried, weíve never taught holding. We donít teach that type of stuff. Theyíre trying to get that out of football. Again, I think weíre a little bit ahead of the curve because weíve never tried to engulf or grab or hold. We donít teach that. Weíve always taught hands inside the framework. They say if you get hands inside the framework, theyíre not going to call it. I would hope that we will be ahead of the curve on that.
Q: So theyíre watching for a guysí arms going outside?
A: If youíre restricting the guyís movement, theyíre going to call (a penalty on) you. As they should. But again, to me, itís more of a technical issue. Everybody else is going to have to try to catch up. They said they were going to call it. They said it was going to be a point of emphasis. Everybody thinks itís just going to be in the preseason and then go away. I watched that game last night. It didnít go away. So, you better play fundamentally sound with your hands inside, or that flag is going to come out a bunch and itís going to negate a lot of good offensive plays.