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Transcript: Offensive Coordinator Mike Kafka

Eric from BBI : Admin : 8/23/2023 3:46 pm
Offensive Coordinator Mike Kafka

August 23, 2023

Q: What’s your approach to calling plays in the preseason? You always hear how you don’t want to show too much, but also, you want to see things.

A: There’s a good combination of that. Just giving the guys enough stuff that they can execute that fits whatever the defense is presenting, but then there’s also those plays that you want to be able to evaluate starting really at every level. The O-line, the blocking, pass pro(tection), the finish, all the fundamental things that we talk about. All the route running and decision making at the quarterback level, running backs, tight ends, blocking, all those things on the perimeter. So, there's definitely an evaluation aspect of it, and also allowing the players to play fast, just like we would do really for any game plan. We go through all those details and then say, ‘Okay, we can put these guys in this spot, because they can play fast and go execute.’

Q: Along those lines, you went into a lot of different formations with the first-team O in there, exclusively passing plays. What was the motivation behind going that way?

A: Yeah, I think that's just kind of how the game unfolded early, based on what the defense was presenting. So, we maintained kind of some flexibility with those openers to kind of jump into that kind of stuff. We had a plan going in, they adjusted, we adjusted and so I thought our guys did a nice job of jumping into that and executing.

Q: When you see success like that, is there a part your mind also saying, ‘At some point, we're going to unleash (running back) Saquon (Barkley) on this too?’ Does that go through your mind at all?

A: I just thought that first drive was a really good, clean drive. I think the guys, again, executed and communicated. We had personnels in and out off the field and they communicated all those things. I think as we get going, and guys get intermixed into the offense, and we’re continuing to game plan stuff, I think that'll grow and develop. But it was a good week, we won the game. We’ve got to be able to turn the page and learn from that and then we have a game this week that we're solely focused on.

Q: What did you learn from (quarterback) Daniel Jones’ performance in that quick opening drive?

A: I thought Daniel did a nice job executing. He was in there, he was really decisive. I thought he got the guys in and out of the huddle quickly, we played with some tempo. So, those are things that I think he's been doing really all offseason and training camp, just having a really good tempo with the guys. Again, it was a nice drive.

Q: Are you comfortable this season running with Daniel as much or maybe more compared to last year? Or would you guys rather see this become more of a drop-back, pass-heavier downfield offense?

A: Yeah, I don't know if I could say one way or the other. Each week seems to be a little bit different. Each week, we’re going to have to decide how we want to handle that, based on how they present their defensive structure. So, some weeks, maybe a little bit more. Some weeks, maybe a little bit less. Then depending on how the game goes and what their adjustments are in-game, then we have to be able to adjust. On offense, there's a lot of fluidity to it. So, you’ve got to make sure you go through all these things in training camp so you have stuff in your back pocket that you can pull from and guys that can adjust to it and go and execute in the game.

Q: You obviously don’t go into this game with heavy game planning, but because you’re playing the Jets this season, is there some stuff that you can almost put in there that you will use, or you won’t use? When you play them, will you look back at this game, or it’s a preseason game, you won’t deal with it?

A: You’ll try and take any bit of information you can get, whether it was a matchup, whether it was a formation, a front, a look. You take all that information, and I don't know exactly when we play them, but it's later in the season, but you'll definitely want to look back at that just like any of the teams in our division that we’ll want to look back at and see how they played certain things. So, you’re trying to constantly learn from the past and learn if there's things you can do for the future matchups. That’s something you hit down the road. We’ve certainly thought about it as we’re putting together the game plan for this week.

Q: Sometimes, can you put something in there just because you're playing them this season? Just because maybe that’s something you would never do in a game?

A: I don't know if I would think of it that way. I think you always want to put the players in the best position to be successful. So, you never want to put them in a bad position. We think we put together a really good plan, so we’ve got to go out and give ourselves an opportunity to go execute it well.

Q: You guys threw a little wrinkle into the guard thing this week by playing (guard Mark) Glowinski at left guard. What was the motivation behind that and how has he looked at that position?

A: Yeah, it's all part of really the eval process. Dabs (head coach Brian Daboll) and (general manager) Joe (Schoen), we're all working together and evaluating all the guys, not just the guards, but the receivers playing inside in the slot and outside, running backs playing out on the perimeter. So, there's a lot of things that we're evaluating to try and find each player’s strengths and weakness. So, I think when you look at all those things, whether it's the interior linemen, whether it's the tackles, whether it's the receivers, running backs, quarterbacks, all those guys, it's just another evaluation tool.

Q: How did he look doing it?

A: I thought (guard Mark) Glo(winski) did a nice job. It's something that he's done in his past, prior teams. So, it was just another look and another opportunity to see what he had there.

Q: As a quarterback yourself, what does (Jets quarterback Aaron) Rodgers do that’s just so different and so elite compared to the other greats?

A: I think his resume speaks for himself. Super Bowl winner, multiple MVPs, he does a nice job getting the ball out, blitzes very rarely hit him. I think he knows where his outlets are, he can get himself in and out of a good play or get him out of a bad play into a good play. I mean, he's just a really high level, elite quarterback. He’s one of those guys that you look at as kind of the pinnacle of what quarterback play looks like. He's one of those type of guys.

Q: Last year you were going into your first time as a play caller. This is your second time; you've been through it. Did you do anything different this offseason? Any studies or anything based on the experience you had last year, compared to where you are?

A: Yeah, I did a lot of self eval. You look back at the things that maybe you want back from a call perspective, or you look back at some of the situations that you were in and maybe you would do something a little bit differently. So, definitely a lot of self eval, definitely a lot of work through with the players that we have, and the players that we're building around and players that we have on the current offense and figuring out their strengths. It was a constant process this summer and working through all that, but it was good. I think we came out with a good plan for the spring and came up with a good plan for the training camp. So, we're working through that right now and hopefully it sets us up for the season.

Q: It’s always talked about how players are more comfortable in year two in the system. Does it work the other way, you’re more comfortable because you have a lot of these guys back?

A: Oh, yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. The communications, the language, I think just your normal routine is also so familiar, too. All those things, really, I think match up.

Q: Rodgers is 39 years old. He’s older than you; you’re very young. How impressive is it that he could still sling it like that and has that arm strength at 39 years old?

A: It's impressive. It’s impressive and it’s not something I'm shocked about. It's why he's still playing. He hasn’t had much action this offseason, or in the preseason, but I'm sure he's going to be playing at a high level. So, he's a great quarterback.

Q: With (wide receiver) Jalin Hyatt, I was talking to him yesterday because there were a couple of times where it almost looked like he had pulled up. Not that he stopped running a route, but kind of was… He explained to me that that's just how he is on the practice field. Are there times, with a player like that, are you also learning a little bit about a guy like that who you've coached now for a while, but not a long while?

A: Yeah, I think each player is different. You’re trying to find a connection with these guys on the field, off the field, and then you're trying to also get them to get on the same page of what we expect, and what our standards are on offense. That’s just part of the process. You’ve got young players who come from all different parts of the country, all different types of teams. So, you try to get them integrated into our program and help them understand what it looks like to be a pro, and all those guys are doing a really nice job of learning from the vets, and we have great vets around that help with that.

Q: Where is he kind of on the learning curve on his way to being a really complete and good receiver?

A: He's right on schedule where he’s at. Again, he's growing. He's a young player, he's learning every single day. I think that's been his mindset. For young players, you don't want to ever think it's got to be perfect every single day. Obviously, you want to have an excellence-type mindset, but it's not going to be perfect. It’s not going to be clean every single day. It's just the reality of football. It's too fluid. So, I think what you do is you take some of the good things that happen, you build on that and then all the things that maybe aren't as clean, that's our job as coaches to make sure we get him the right information so he can improve.

Q: Some of the guys have said in a good way that Daniel has been more vocal this year, this camp. Do you see that same thing, him kind of taking charge, taking command in a different way?

A: Yeah, I'd agree. I'd agree with that. I think he's voicing his opinions. That’s a good thing because that means he's more comfortable with not only just the offense, but just with the guys around him. So, I think that's all a plus.

Q: Obviously, Saquon is a known commodity. You know it; you’ve coached him. You guys know what he is, or at least what he was last year in your offense. Presumably you're not going to see him in a game on Saturday, and then it's going to be on opening night. Do you envision what this new offense is going to look like with Saquon in there? How easy is it to look at it and imagine him being the one that's on the field versus, no slight to any of the other guys, but we know he's a special talent?

A: I think, again, that's probably a little bit too far down the road. Pretty much just focused on this game right now. All those thoughts and things that we've been building throughout the offseason will eventually come together, but our main focus is on this week.
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