Offensive Coordinator Mike Kafka
Q: The success you guys had throwing the ball on Saturday, does that encourage you that you can do more of that going forward or is that strictly – that was just the game plan?
A: I think every week's different. I think every week you just got to go through and evaluate what you think the defense is going to present you and put together the best plan you can do in both the pass and the run game.
Q: The analytics say that you have the second most efficient red zone offense. What is your redzone approach generally that you've been able to be so efficient in the red zone?
A: I think first and foremost the players have done a good job executing down there. Executing their assignments with great attention to detail and fundamentals and techniques. As far as putting the plan together, we look at it each week and find out how we can put our best players in those spots. Whether it's the run game – find an indicator and find an advantage there as best we can.
Q: A lot of teams say that it gets harder there because the field gets smaller. Do you emphasize creativity there? Is it more about balance? Just generally speaking.
A: Generally speaking, you want to try and find a tendency on what they do in a coverage standpoint and then trying to find a way to create an advantage there in the run game and the pass game, whether it's shifting, motioning, influencing the defense to maybe expand a little bit more. It's just like you said, it's condensed. They're not defending the depth of the field, now you got to use the width of it. You try to maybe expand it to run inside or to condense it to run outside. We'll run guys back and forth across the formation to create some space. There's a lot of things that we look at but those are some.
Q: After the game and even yesterday, I think, (running back) Saquon (Barkley) was highly complimentary of (center Jon) Feliciano on that touchdown run. Other than the fact that you obviously scored and everyone celebrates, what was the best part overall of that entire play?
A: Yeah, I think the guys they worked on (it) – they executed the play well. It started with the o-line and getting to their blocks and creating some nice double teams. The way that we had that play, (quarterback) Daniel (Jones), it was kind of like an RPO, zone-read style play. Daniel made the right read and trusted his rules and the guys made a great play. Saquon, obviously, read through his reads and his landmarks and got through the line of scrimmage and made a play on kind of a broken tackle there and made a great play down the field. That was big for us.
Q: How about the Feliciano part? Again, Saquon went out of his way to say Jon recognized an unseen look I believe.
A: It was a look we had talked about. It was just one of those looks that's down the line, not as a primary look. They did a great job really in the huddle identifying the personnel and so they were able to get the communication done beforehand on how they were going to block up that look.
Q: That's a big play in the game. I'm curious what's the thought process for you of calling a play that could have been a run or pass according to what you said but that could be in a run in that spot there?
A: Yeah, that's the design that we have. It's flexible. It could be a run, could be a pass. You kind of take the best look that you get from whatever the defense wants to present. You kind of get the best of both worlds and maybe you get an opportunity to hand it to Saquon, you get an opportunity to get it out on the perimeter with Daniel, throw it to one of the receivers. We kind of got three options there, that's why we like the play.
Q: You don't worry about potentially running the ball on fourth down there in that spot? Your mindset as a play caller.
A: It's part of the play. It gives you those options, so you bank on the guys going in there and executing like they did.
Q: With Saquon, why is it that he seems to be so effective in that third and fourth quarter? When the defense gets tired, he doesn't and it's really when he seems to break more.
A: I think he's doing a great job of staying patient with it, trusting his reads. I think sometimes the run game, in general – generally speaking – the run game's not just a bunch of eight-and nine-yard gains, right? There's a couple two's and three's in there and you get working and you get a feel for how the flow of the game works out and the o-line sticking with it and they're running off the football, stressing all the things that we talk about in practice. I think as the game goes on, it kind of declares a little bit – you kind of get a good feel in that second half of the adjustments you want to make and the guys have done a great job really communicating through those.
Q: How have you seen Daniel grow more comfortable in the read versus maybe running and throwing the ball as the season has gone on?
A: I think he's done a really good job with that. I think he's trusting himself with those reads. He's doing a good job stepping up in the pocket when there's lanes. Stepping up and running, I think you saw that last week. Those are things that I think make, from the quarterback position, make it difficult for defenses to defend when you have a quarterback that's mobile that can step up and do those things. He's done a great job of making those right decisions; when to get the ball out, when to step up. He's done a good job.
Q: What are the benefits of (guard) Ben (Bredeson) and (guard) Nick (Gates) rotating? What's the biggest benefit of that for you guys?
A: Yeah, I think it keeps both of those guys fresh. They do a great job, really, throughout the week of practice too of communicating. Make sure they see the looks and talking about the looks. The rotation, I think, has benefited both of those guys.
Q: What's the difficulty of it? How do you decide that this is working?
A: Yeah, I think we talk about it – and again, every week is different, it doesn't say we may or may not do this week and it's something we talk about with (head coach Brian Daboll) Dabs and (offensive line coach) Bobby (Johnson) and how we want to roll those guys. It worked last week, and I think they did a nice job with it and kind of getting into the flow of the game. We'll continue to evaluate this week.
Q: What did you think of how your offensive line pass protected?
A: I thought they did a nice job. I think they stayed within themselves, protected the depth and width of the pocket, inside out. Those are things that we work on. Obviously, it's never going to be perfect, but these guys battle and that's what I'm really proud of from that group.
Q: If they have a game where they're struggling early, does that impact how you call the game or would you rather keep giving them another shot at like deeper drop backs.
A: Yeah, I think what you want to show is – first off, build a plan that has the flexibility to adjust for whatever the situation might be. I have a ton of confidence in those guys. I know they're going to fight. I know they're going to work. I trust not only the o-line but the quarterback position, the running backs getting in to block and their responsibilities. The receivers separating, getting open. Tight ends separating, getting open and doing their assignments in the pass game. It's all encompassing. We're all in it together and I think as the game goes on, you adjust as the game goes.
Q: When you're rotating those guards, like you guys are, how have you been able to find the chemistry with the group? I think the cliché around the league is you need to find five and stick with the five so they can learn to play together. You guys seemed to have found some of that camaraderie despite the fact that you're rotating.
A: It's been good to have those guys around all through OTAs and all through training camp. They're all speaking the same language. They've done a great job. Next man up, stepping up and then communicating across the line like we talked about. Feliciano, he's the main guy. He's got to get everyone going the right direction, set the point, confirming that with the quarterback. Those guys work together a lot, they talk a lot, they spend a lot of time in the meeting room, after each practice set, talking about the looks they say and how they saw and how they can make it better or cleaner and then tying that in with how Bobby and (assistant offensive line coach) Tony (Sparano Jr.) and (quarterbacks coach) Shea (Tierney) and how those guys communicate. That's a huge part of it. Hats off to them for getting it done and we got to continue to do that this week.
Q: (Defensive Coordinator) Wink (Martindale) has made no secret of the fact that he wants to be a head coach. When the Colts job opened, your name was thrown around right away. We haven't asked you about this, is that an ambition of yours? To become a head coach.
A: Absolutely. You aspire to want to be a head coach. But really, that's not really at the front of my mind at all. I'm focused on this week. All that stuff will take care of itself.
Q: I don't know how many times Kansas City has made the playoffs in a row but to join this group and to see whatever you're seeing that we don't from the group now that you're on the cusp with a win – what has that part of it been like with this new team for you?
A: I think it's just been a great journey to go through this season. The ups and the downs – you're always trying to improve on things you've done in the past. This week is really no different. Last week, didn't get an opportunity to get it done so we got to go back to the drawing board and figure out ways how we can tighten up things that we didn't do so well and continue to build on all the good that we did last week.
Q: Philosophically when you're putting together a game plan every week, I know there are great players across the NFL, but when you face a defense that has a corner with a pedigree like (Minnesota cornerback Patrick) Peterson last week and now you have (Indianapolis cornerback Stephon) Gilmore this week – from your perspective when you're putting that together there is a tendency to shy away from those guys, you kind of just focus on the rest of the field but do you look at it as a situation where we're going to do what we do and we need to attack the way we attack and if it's against that player, so be it, we'll take our shots?
A: Yeah, and they have a lot of really talented players on that defense. You have to, when you're developing the plan, you try and figure out how you can use your players strengths against their weaknesses and understand what they're really good at from a defensive standpoint and figure out ways of how you can manipulate that. You definitely think about the matchups, their personnel versus our personnel, our personnel versus theirs. You look at all those type of things and figure out the best schemes and best ways to get our guys in those spots.