When do you and Brady talk over things and how much time do you spend doing this?"Today after practice when the whole offense is going to meet, he and I will meet. I can't push him to another level when I'm with everybody else. It has to be more like one-on-one instruction and film study and sitting around talking. You might not get very far on the film because something might come up that turns into the theme of what you're talking about on that given day. I try never to spend more than an hour, as there comes a time frame where it becomes counterproductive. You are watching more and you're not saying enough and you end up not doing any teaching."
How is the battle to be Brady's backup progressing?"I would still have to say it's uncertain. I can't say that either of these or any have separated themselves from the pack. My philosophy, when it comes to quarterbacks, is if you have two guys for one spot then you don't have one. So if you have two guys fighting for the second spot and one guy hasn't won it yet and neither one of them hasn't done enough at this point for me to tell you that he's number two. If they had I would be telling you."
Will you be going outside for practice today and will time be spent on special teams?"First of all, we are not going outside today because there is a 20-mile-per-hour wind and we are only working on special situations in the kicking game. We are working on all the situations that most teams fail to work on - hands team - onside kick - all the type of things that you take for granted that teams practice these things all the time and very often they don't even put them in. Realistically being outside today is irrelevant. Of all the things on special teams, and I'm just going on what I've seen at this time, the thing I've been most pleased about is Geoff Price's punts. With the exception of a couple of bad kicks on the scrimmage day, he is averaging over 43 yards a punt and his hang time has been good. The biggest problem is that a couple of times he has out-kicked the coverage. The jury is still out on this one because right now it's not live rush and there are not 80,000 people there and we're not playing in Atlanta under the lights on September 2nd. That concern, which was one of my biggest concerns, right now at this point, is not as much of a concern as it was at the start of the spring."
How are things developing with the place kickers?"Right now Carl [Gioia] is clearly our number one guy, and we have this young leg coming around here pretty soon and he is going to get a chance to beat him out."
What leadership qualities does Travis Thomas have?"Travis Thomas is one of those guys that is all-day tough and never says a word. So there is a fine line there when you are dealing with guys, that you say you have a leader that doesn't talk too much. Believe it or not, Zibby doesn't talk too much either. Everybody has this impression that Zibby is this wild man; he really doesn't talk that much. What the players see with these guys is they practice hard, they play hard, they play through injuries, they're always out there, and they make plays. Players look at those guys and they turn to those guys and they say that's how we want to play."
With McKnight missing so much, has there been a learning curve for him?"There has been no learning curve for him; in fact, he is a lot better right now than he was this time last year. I think because he was able to stand on the sideline, as agonizing as it is for a competitor to stand on the sidelines, it is also a great learning tool because you get to watch all those things that happen. He got to watch the offense be put in and watch how those plays that you put in practice are now called into games and watch the production that comes from it. For people who are students of the game, you can benefit greatly by studying the game from the sidelines. The only real downside to that is emotionally, it's the pits because you want to be out there playing."
Who are the guys that are playing behind Rhema McKnight and Jeff Samardzija?"I like a lot of what I have seen of David Grimes. Chase (Anastasio) has been banged up some. Grimes missed a day when he was out there limping around. But he has been out there most of the time and I like him some. And the rest of the guys, just like we talked about the quarterbacks, just haven't done enough for me to sit there and anoint them the second coming. Other than David Grimes who I think is a step above everybody else, I think everyone else is just kind of in a pack."
Are you happy with the way the right tackle situation is developing?"Right now we have rolled three guys through there, Brian Mattes missed some time and both (Paul) Duncan and (Mike) Turkovich were in there. To be honest with you, going off of just one practice, the guy who stepped up in that one practice was Duncan. That position is going to be wide open. Somebody is going to have to take that position; whether it is Duncan, Mattes, Turkovich, or whether it's that player who's not here yet, which is a possibility too. That player might be one of these guys that are coming in the door, but not here yet. Because as I have said before, I am not going to be afraid to play a guy walking in the door if he's the best guy. One of the biggest problems coaches have is playing guys as security blankets. By that, you play a guy just because he knows what to do. But if he's no good at doing it, what difference does it make. So realistically, I want the guy in there that is the best guy at doing it. It's pretty obvious to me that four of our five guys starting on offense are pretty much clear that they are returners from last year. I don't see Ryan Harris, Bob Morton, John Sullivan, and Dan Santucci being beat out; not with the experience they have. When they are as experienced and play solid like they do, I think it's going to be tough to replace those guys. So the first job that is eminent is right tackle, and it is wide open."
Do the captains take over in the summer when the coaches can't be with the players?"The captains run their own practices. We cannot give them scripts and we cannot be affiliated with them; we really have to stay away until training camp starts. And you have to stick by the rules. Now Brady can be out there with all the skilled guys and call plays all day. We just can't be there and we can't give them the script to do it. My guess is that he will probably be doing that. And while he's doing that, Zibby could be out there calling a front and a coverage. And I'll bet you they're out there too."
In an earlier press conference, you talked about raising the expectations. How is this affecting the team?"First of all, because of the preseason hype that began in January, that normally doesn't start until August, it has given me plenty of ammo to hammer these guys relentlessly about reading the papers. I like that. I like having free shots to keep people humble and I've done that and for the most part, we've been level-headed. From that end, so far so good. On the second end, what I always do is challenge myself to work harder than I did the year before. In regards to recruiting, last year, I wasn't ready to go out the first week after spring ball. I needed a week to regroup and get ready to go. We play on Saturday, and that Monday morning at 7:00, I will be walking into that first school. I would have been there earlier if they had been available. I'll be going to one school and then driving to another school and then hopping on a plane and going to another state and another school. And after that school, flying to another state; and that's Day One. As most people would slack off and feel happy about themselves and pat themselves on the back, I challenge myself to work harder because if I'm going to make them work hard, and I'm not working harder myself, then I'm truly being a hypocrite."
Are you happy with the way the pass-rush is developing this spring?"I think the thing is, we have some experienced guys up front playing but I would still like to see someone step forward as a dynamic pass-rusher. I think we have a bunch of good pass-rushers, I just don't know if we have a great pass-rusher. I would like someone to step forward so teams that we are playing would go into a game saying, ‘This guy is a pain in the butt, we need to take him out of the game.' like I would. There are certain games we go into where I say, This guy is not going to beat us, it's going to have to be somebody else.' You can't take everybody out of the game; that other guy might have a field day, but that one guy is not going to beat you. Whether it's Victor (Abiamiri) or whoever it ends up being, I would like one guy to be thought of by the offensive coordinators, we go against, thinking like that because that opens the floodgates for everybody else."
You talk about working closely with NFL teams; do you share things with other college coaches?"No, I don't talk to college coaches. I just talk to pro coaches. It's not that I'm not friends with college coaches, but I'm not into passing out information, I'm into collecting it."