Offensive Coordinator: Mike Kafka
Q: This is the first time that we've spoken to you. Can you take us through that last play on Sunday night in the first half (quarterback) when Tyrod (Taylor) checked out of the play call. Obviously, we know (Head Coach Brian Daboll) Dabs was upset. Can you take us through exactly what happened there? Was that a situation where you had a pass called and then Tyrod checked it out?
A: I just think at the end of the day – there was communication at the end of day, I've just got to do a better job of making sure that it's crystal clear. We'll go out there and execute it better the next time.
Q: If you don't mind, when you say crystal clear, did you want to pass on that play? Then Tyrod checked out?
A: Again, it just kind of goes back to coach-to-quarterback communication. I've got to do a better job there.
Q: When are you able to talk to them? I believe – the play before was pass interference, right? So, while they're settling that out, when do you actually get to start talking to the quarterback and how does that usually go?
A: In between those two plays is when we typically talk through it.
Q: Do they have to set the ball first or is it while they're getting the penalty?
A: Kind of during the penalty. During that penalty communication. That's when it happens.
Q: How about the play at the end of the game? What made you go into a bunch formation there? We've seen other times, the Tennessee game comes to mind where you spread them out last year and you did the shovel pass. What made a bunch formation there with just one option to (tight end Darren) Waller the right play?
A: That's what we thought was the best given the opportunity. Obviously, disappointed we didn't complete on it, but that was the play that was in the plan. The one we liked.
Q: In the bigger picture with Tyrod last week. Obviously, he didn't get the ball into the endzone when he wanted to but what was your impression of his night?
A: I thought Tyrod did a really nice job. I thought he did a nice job in and out the huddle, it's a loud environment. I thought he managed that really well, did a nice job on third down with his legs. He executed at a high level, so I was happy with how he did.
Q: Now 205 minutes without an offensive touchdown. What do you sort of attribute to that? What do you think is the biggest contributing factor to that?
A: That's a part of emphasis for us, we need to work to improve that. It's really everything. You look at our fundamentals, our techniques, look at some of the drives that we're running there. What's stopping us from getting points? Is it penalties? Is it execution? Is it play calling? So, you evaluate that. I'm really critical of myself on all those things, too. We practice it, we talk about it, we had some opportunities. We had five opportunities down there; we weren't able to get into the endzone, but I think it's a step in the right direction. We got some opportunities, now we've got to capitalize on them. That's what we're doing today in practice.
Q: What was the conclusion you came to when you listed all those possibilities?
A: Amongst the staff, we kind of talked about some of the strengths and weaknesses and things that we want to do, and we'll emphasize the strengths this week and try to put together the best possible plan we can.
Q: It seems you've gone with the younger receivers. Are you going to go with that the rest of the year?
A: I'd say every week is different and you want to put the players in the best position to be successful, so this week is no different. We're looking through that and trying to look at the matchups and the personnel groupings and things we can present to the defense.
Q: I know it's just a natural development and maturation for (wide receiver) Jalin (Hyatt) but can you do more with him now than you could have a month ago just because of his knowledge and his feel for the game at this level now?
A: Yeah, Jalin's growing. I think he's learning each and every day, each and every week. You've seen him getting a little bit better and better and better, so that's good. It's a step in the right direction and again, as a young player, it's all about building confidence, so he's going through that right now. I think he's in a good spot mentally, so again just working him and the others throughout the game plan. That's what we're looking to build on.
Q: (Defensive Coordinator) Wink (Martindale) was just out here talking about how his guys are starting to gel as a whole unit (and) being able to play together with some consistency. When you look at what you've dealt with and are dealing with on the offensive line, how difficult is that to try and learn each other and try and build that chemistry each week when everybody's being shuffled so much?
A: I think (offensive line) Coach Bobby Johnson does a great – I mean, he's had to deal with that group and work with them and obviously when new guys step in, you've got to get them up to speed as fast as you can. So, he's spends a ton of time and a ton of energy getting those guys caught up and getting them to do their assignments the right way and get them in the fundamental, right positions there as well. Bobby's doing a great job, (assistant offensive line coach Chris Smith) Smitty's doing a great job and those guys are all just rallying together to get this thing right.
Q: In that situation with all the fluctuation on the offensive line, as you game plan, how difficult is it to say, 'we know we can count on this or that?' or to know what you're able to do?
A: I think when you evaluate the players, you try to find their strengths and their weaknesses, and you build a game plan around those things. Then, if something happens to where one of the guys is out and you've got to insert another guy in there, then you've got to adjust. That's part of our job as a coaching staff is to make sure that we adjust and have enough stuff in the game plan to get that accomplished.
Q: With (running back) Saquon (Barkley), I think he had like 15 carries for 25 at some point. Is it easier to stick with the run when it's him because you know he's going to break one eventually than it is otherwise with maybe another running back?
A: No, I've got confidence in all of our running backs to make sure they're hitting the hole the right way. Obviously, Saquon's a big piece of our running game, but I have complete confidence in all the other guys as well to do the job.
Q: Knowing that he's going to hit one though, is that why you stick with him? Because he has that big play ability?
A: Yeah, Saquon has big play ability. All of our backs have big play ability, so making sure we get them the right runs versus the right defenses.
Q: How would you describe your mood or your coaching staff's mood about the lack of touchdowns? Not just the x's and o's but just in this day and age of the NFL to go this long without a touchdown.
A: There's definitely a sense of urgency amongst the group and we're all working to get that fixed.
Q: Is there anything that you're doing different? In terms of your self-analysis or self-review like calling more people or watching other film from last year? Or anything different at all to handle the adversity that maybe you didn't have when it went a little smoother last year.
A: We're evaluating everything. We're trying to look at our offense from different points of view. From all the different position groups and figure out how we can fix it and get it right. Again, we had five opportunities, we didn't capitalize on them. It's one thing to have that many opportunities. Now, we've got to get it fixed and go capitalize on those.
Q: With (offensive lineman) Justin Pugh, has anything surprised you about his acclamation back into this building when a few of us actually covered him way back when. Has any of that surprised you a little bit?
A: He's jumped right in. He's been a pro and from the people that have been around him in the past, that was definitely one of the things that they said about him. It was great that he came to jump right in, fell right into the offensive kind of culture in the offensive line room and he's been a great addition.
Q: Do you feel like you can count on him right now for whatever you need him to do almost?
A: Yeah, he's a smart, tough, dependable guy that's been doing a great job.
Q: When you look at the struggles that you've had in the redzone, is that conscious when you're making the decision when you're trailing to kick the field goal when you're down 7-6 and take the lead and get the points on the board rather than be aggressive the way you guys have been? As you go back to last year in the Tennessee the game, the decision to go for two and push it there.
A: Sorry, say that again.
Q: Do the struggles you've had punching it in for a touchdown impact the aggressiveness with which you call plays at other points in the game?
A: No, I'd say it's situation-by-situation. I think you just evaluate what's best for the team right then and there, and whatever decision we end up going with, with Dabs, I fully support.
Q: Do you kind of go in with more of a bigger game plan or a bigger book just given the offensive struggles that you've had or how is the actual game plan?
A: Each week, it's kind of a delicate balance of having too much or not enough, so you want to make sure you have your based covered as far as attacking certain things that the defense can present. Whether it's inside, outside, things vertically, horizontally, attacking the middle of the field, so you want to have enough stuff in the game plan again to make sure you cover all those things.