Falcons coach talks about the pending offseason
OPENING STATEMENT: “It’s good to be here with you today. Over the last 12 months, it’s been awesome with (owner) Arthur (Blank), (general manager) Thomas (Dimitroff), the players and staff, promoting and building a culture, one where we constantly push each other to see how good we can get. That part has been exactly how I hoped. I’ve leaved (in Atlanta) a year. Before moving down to the South, I knew we were going to go to a football city. For that part of the country (football) is so important. What I learned was how hungry our fans are for a championship and that fired me up. Our fans have swagger and I love that. The people from Atlanta are tough and competitive and I want our team to represent that. I hope that together, as we go together in creating an environment, even at our home stadium that brings our fans and teams together like no other place. So loud that when opposing teams have to come there that false starts are a factor and we’re getting in the quarterback’s head. Together, that’s what we are aiming for. I can not wait to get rolling with 2015. I learned a lot and over my first year I learned that the learning never stops. We’ll continue to try to improve, learn and grow. That’s really where our focus is heading into the offseason. It’s about 100 or so days left before the players come back. The draft will be here. So, we’re ready to get rolling. Q: Has the team made a final decision on Roddy White’s future? A: “Not yet. He’s somebody that we certainly know that we have a lot of respect and admiration for. As we are building this team together, he and some other players go on to that line. We’re not into that decision yet. When we do regarding team building processes, we’ll fill you guys in. Q: Is it safe to assume that he’s staying since some other moves have been made already? A: We’re still in the process of everything that we’re going through. Not, just with Rod. Every year, we’re going through this team finding ways that we are going to do it and build it all together. I would read into it one way or another. We are just going through the process. Q: How much did rookie wide receiver Justin Hardy improve last season? A: Justin Hardy made a significant impact. One of the things that I most respect about him was that he was a guy who was really working to develop himself. When you walked past one of the meeting rooms and you see he and Juilo watching tape together, talking about separation and beating man to man (coverage). That’s a guy who was digging to find it. He’s made a huge impact on us already. The toughness that he displayed on special teams was certainly evident for a guy who had no special teams experience. For him to come in and contribute in that way. His run through the catch ability is exactly what we hoped for. We are expecting big things form Justin in 2016. Q: How do you think your friend Will Muschamp will do at South Carolina? A: I’m certainly not surprised. I know the relentless recruiter that Will is and I know how important that part of the game is to him. I know for he and his staff, he is absolutely going to put the work in. In the college game, that’s where it starts in terms of the relationships that you build recruiting. I’m not surprised. I think a number of the coaches in the SEC I have some connection with. Will being one of those. He’ll get off to a great start. Q: On the tweets from Bruce Irvin saying he wants to play for the Falcons? A: I have read them and I know a number of guys across the league. It’s one of the fun parts of being a coach where you get to meet different guys along the way whether if they were on a team that you were with or like experiences like this where you’ve meet guys and kept up with them through the years. I’m not surprise by that. Bruce and I have always had a great connection. But as far as free agency and where we are with that, that’s a lot of speculation. Q: What about (Titans OC) Terry Robiskie impressed you during his time as the Falcons wide receivers coach? A: One of the things that always impressed me the most about Terry and his group was how hard his unit plays. That’s certainly been try through the time in Atlanta and through the teams he’s been with. For him, now to have that kind of calling card on an entire offense, I think speaks volumes for Terry. It just always the group that he’s been a part of, for one reason or another, he was able to pull out the competitors in them. Whether if it’s been a receiver or running back. I’m really looking forward to see what he can do as a whole group and apart of one umbrella. Q: How important is the combine for a kid like Robert Nkemdiche, who’s had some issues off the field? A: That part, for some guys that have some questions that they’d like to have answer and be in front of some guys, I think it’s really important. As we got through this interview process with the players, that’s part of the one where you connect and find out whether if it’s 15 minutes or you schedule some time afterwards to find out more about one another and if it’s a good fit. Those interviews that take place are really important. Q: Why did you move Raheem Morris to the wide receivers coach position? A: I think the background of him defensively and his background as a head coach, where he was involved with the offense gives him a unique perspective. His ability to teach is almost like no other. It was the teacher first and I know what type of coach he is. Then from the scheme stand point, that part, we’ll get that across. I wanted to hire the very best coach. It just so happened that he was already on the staff. So, for his humility, to say ‘Q, whatever we need to make this the best move for us, if that’s what you want, I’ll do it.’ It’s guys like that make my job… I’ve got a lot of appreciation and admiration for Rah. I just had this feeling. I know what kind of teach that he is. I know the energy that he brings and having that defensive perspective I thought would be really valuable. Q: Has Devonta Freeman evolved into a full-time running back? A: I think what makes him so unique is the catchability. He’s a factor on third down for sure. We want to make sure that we give him the touches not just on first and second down, but on third down as well. What makes him unique is that he’s not just a receiver out of the backfield. You can line him up in an empty set. You can motion him in, motion him back out. He’s almost like a slot receiver. I’ve said before, he’s short, but he’s not small. He brings a lot of toughness and energy to our team. Kind of the future for him is really bright. Q: How can quarterback Matt Ryan bounce back from a tough year? A: Sometimes when a new coach comes in and you’re still part of the same program it can almost be like being traded to the same city. New faces, new scheme, new ideas, new culture to some degree, so I think any time that he’s been in it a year, he has down the things that he does really well in it. How can we tweak it to make it better? That’s where we are at. I think naturally there are some things going from year-one to year-two that you can improve upon and I’m fully anticipating that. Q: How can the Falcons improve on defense? A: I think it’s the speed. If that part of our defense can get right, we can have a chance to effect the quarterback and create turnovers. That part of our game, we’re not there yet. When we add that speed to the club, the foundation, the principles and the tackling, the mindset is firmly established. Now, if we can continue to add the speed and attitude to the club, to that side of the ball, that’s when some of the other things will take place. That’s when more of the turnovers come. That’s when the hits on the quarterback come. I want it to be in our building where it’s so loud, our guys will absolutely be flying off the ball, going after that. That’s what I’m looking to create for our defense. Q: What’s the state of the tight end position? A: The first thing, I thought Jacob Tamme came in and had a terrific year. From his standpoint, it might have been his second most career catches that he had. Behind him with(Levine) Toilolo, (Tony) Moeaki, in that role we are trying to find which each guy can do and the unique stuff they have. Tamme is the pass catcher in our group and we use Toilolo and Moeaki in the running game. It’s a really important part of what we do in the run game and the pass game. We’ll continue to keep pushing in the evolution of the position, too. Q: What’s the plan to catch the three-time NFC South champion Carolina Panthers? A: The first thing is that we’re going to make it about us. How our attitude and style… if we just keep comparing ourselves to them, I don’t think that’s how you go about it. You do it in your own way. It’s our speed, our attitude that we’ll play with. We certainly tip our hats to them for the job they’ve done. But by the same token, we’re coming too. I want to make sure that it comes down to us and mindset and our attitude. But, I have to give them create. For three years straight, they’ve played the best in the division and we’re excited about 2016.
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