Offensive Coordinator Mike Kafka
Q: What did you see from (quarterback) Daniel Jones on that 18-play drive?
A: Daniel did a nice job on that drive. There were some really big conversions, but I think overall the offense just executed really well. We had to overcome a couple of second and longs, a couple of third and longs, and those guys hung in there and executed when we needed them to.
Q: Something (head coach Brian) Daboll has said a lot about him and you probably have as well, is that he's doing what we ask him to do. What does that mean? What are you asking him to do?
A: Execute his job to the best of his ability. Execute the offense, manage what we ask him to do in the run game, in the pass game, protections, all the things cerebrally that we ask him to do; then go and being tough.
Q: You're not asking him to throw for 400 yards, it feels like you're asking him not to turn the ball over. Is that challenging as a quarterback to play on that line where it seems like any mistake can really derail you guys?
A: Every game is different. Every game's different and some games we may ask him to do that and some games we might not at all. It's just how the nature of the game goes and where we're at in the game. I've been around teams that have done that, who've had to do that. Daniel's doing a great job of managing the offense, executing and then leading our guys down to score.
Q: You obviously have a lot of plays to choose from. I'd imagine the list gets a little narrower when it's 4*th* and 9. It's a situation you don't want to be in. How do you kind of come up with that and where was that on your list?
A: Yeah, so we watch it as a staff together and go through those plays, go through the thoughts on how we want to attack them on really all those fourth downs, those critical 'got to have it' plays. So, we have our thoughts, we have our lists early in the week and then as we get closer to the game, obviously we're talking with the quarterbacks about what they like in those situations as well. It's a collaborative effort and talk about when we get to those situations, what's our go to. So that's what we did.
Q: So that was number one on the list and that was the first opportunity to call it?
A: That was the first opportunity to call it there, yeah, absolutely.
Q: Going back to Daniel for one second, when you he's doing what you're asking him to do, you have the fewest 20+ yard passing plays in the league. Is that because in your mind you're not really asking him to do that? Based on situation, personnel, etcetera.
A: I'd say just every game's just different as far as how you want to attack a defense. Some games you want to do that, some games you want to do something else. So, I think when you're evaluating the defensive structure and how they do things, you've got to ask yourself, 'alright, where are our shots at? Where are our plays that we can get chunks? Completion plays? What are the kind of runs we like?' All those things we talk about and evaluate and based on how the game goes, that's what we choose to call.
Q: Washington's interior defensive line wrecked the first game for a lot of the game. Did playing them that game help you guys in this game? Just to know what you could do, what you couldn't do against them? Was that kind of what we saw in the second half where your guys upfront really prevented them from doing any of what they did?
A: Our guys up front did a really nice job all game. I think they played within themselves, they executed, they were fundamentally sound for the most part and I felt really good about how they just attacked the week of practice, the week of prep. As far as those guys in Washington, they're a really talented front. We see talented fronts every week. So, it's one of those things where this week's no different. It's a great challenge, so we've got to continue to have a good week of work.
Q: When you put something into a game plan that you know is going to work, like for example, late in the game against Washington you have those duo blocking schemes on that drive where (running back) Saquon's (Barkley) running up the middle. Is it tempting as a play caller not to use it early? It seems like you guys save those plays sometimes for key moments.
A: I don't know if I would say that we save them for those moments, but those are plays that we like throughout the game and maybe we get to them earlier. I think sometimes you just find a groove as an offense and you get a play that guys are feeling it at that point; whether it's players, running game. We get the corrections, maybe they had an adjustment in game early on that we made an adjustment on, on the sideline, so now we want to go back to something. It could be any scheme really. I think our guys have done a great job of adjusting. They did a great job of going down there and executing when we needed to. Those were big plays for us.
Q: You potentially have time with Daniel down the road, do you think there are steps he can take to become even better? In a second year hypothetically, you can explore more than maybe you are this year?
A: Everyday, Daniel, he comes to work. Whether it's in the classroom, he just sat in there with the install, asking questions, and then on the field he's working his butt off, too. It's great for him, he's always looking for ways to improve, no matter what day it is. Whether it's future, past, whatever, he's always looking for ways to improve his game. Asking on how certain people did certain ways and bouncing ideas off of Dabs, (quarterbacks coach) Shea (Tierney), myself, and the other quarterbacks. So, he's always looking for ways to learn and grow. That's one of the things I love about him.
Q: How much did you see Saquon sort of having a little extra juice in that game? It seemed like he was a significantly different runner than the week before.
A: Yeah, Saquon, he played hard. He did a nice job and I think those are all things we can learn from and grow from. I hate living in the past on that type of stuff, but he did a really nice job and gave us an opportunity to win the game. We've got to find a way to get back to that again this week and have another good week of practice.
Q: Is it too simple to trace (guard Ben) Bredeson coming back in the lineup and the run game kind of getting back on track?
A: Yeah, I've said this numerous times, I think the o-line, they've done a great job of just next man up. Whether it's Bredeson getting back in and playing well, (center Nick) Gates has done a nice job. All those guys have done a great job. They're battling and that's what I love about that group. They stick together, they communicate, and they battle. No matter if it's good or bad, they're kind of the same. When you look at it, that's one thing you can rely on, you can lean on those guys a little bit from the front.
Q: Does Daniel ever ask about (Chiefs quarterback Patrick) Mahomes and (Bills quarterback Josh) Allen given obvious ties here now? I'm not suggesting that would be a bad thing if he did, just curiosity.
A: Absolutely, I ask the same thing with Daniel. We talk about offenses and how you may have run it and I talk about the same thing with our staff, whether you've been in Baltimore, Houston, or Indianapolis. All those teams have something they can bring. So, I'm always looking to learn and grow and Daniel's the same way. He's asking questions about how we did things in other places I've been and how Dabs has done things in other ways. I think that's good, that's the cool part about this profession is you get a lot of guys who are from a bunch of different spots, you bring them together, you get the ideas down and you can grow an offense and kind of develop it.
Q: Daniel seems to have a natural humility about him.
A: Absolutely, yes.
Q: The play call on Saquon's touchdown run, how often did you guys practice that and what was the genesis of that play call? Where did you get it from?
A: We've had it up for several weeks in several different situations. It was an opportunity right there to call it, give him an opportunity on the perimeter, but yeah, we practice it every week.
Q: When you look at an opposing defense, what's the first thing you look at? Is it they have 40 sacks; they're going to bring pressure? How do you go into a gameplan?
A: Sure, just like anything, I think it starts up front. You evaluate their front, that typically tells the story of the defense and Minnesota has a really talented front. You look at the second level, you look at the third level; you start at the front, then you work your way back and kind of figure out what kind of defensive structure they're going to be. What kind of front structure they want to be, and how those things tie together. That's really kind of my process, start at the front, second level, deal with the pressures and how they cover there, and then third level, what kind of coverages they show, what kind of structures they show and if there's any indicators, we can build off of that.
Q: I know Dabs always says coaches have been everywhere so you all have former places, but you take any time to pick (defensive line coach) Andre Patterson's brain about what you may see in Minnesota this weekend?
A: Yeah, any opportunity. We've had some carry over on some of the teams with our coaching staff, so it's been good. Dre, he's helpful in areas that he can, and we've picked the brains of all our coaches.
Q: Does the potential of playing this team in the playoffs impact how you call this game at all?
A: No. We're not looking at that. We're focused on this week and trying to put the best gameplan together that we can.