Jaguars Press Pass: Mike Shula


(what do you think of your quarterbacks?)
"I think all three of them have been working hard. What we're doing offensively is obviously different from last year. There are some things that are the same, some things that are different, but they've all picked it up very quick. They're like a lot of other guys on offense; they're just working each day to get better and looking forward to the season."

(what kind of things are you working with the quarterbacks on this time of year?)
"More mechanics than anything else, footwork. I think playing the quarterback position, you have to be real balanced every time you're throwing the football. Now your chances of accuracy go way up, so the quicker you can get yourself set up and balanced and get the ball out, obviously the better and the better chance you have of being accurate."

(on working on Byron Leftwich's mechanics)
"Mainly it's the footwork and the drops, and again, staying balanced. A lot of quarterbacks throw the ball a lot of different ways, but as we all know there are really three things for a quarterback: Go to the right guy with the football, get the ball there on time and get the ball there accurately, and if he can do those three things then we're going to be doing real well. It doesn't matter how it gets there, whatever, in my opinion that's based on what I know, what I've been taught and my experiences. The whole thing is, is it on time, is it accurate and is it going to the right guy? But there are a lot of things we can do to help with that and the thing that we feel is best is kind of working on the footwork."

(Jack Del Rio said yesterday that he thinks Byron Leftwich is in for a big year this year. What have you seen in Leftwich so far that makes you think he may be ready to make a big step?)
"Like I said at the start, I think he's very smart, he's very aware and he's probably more so than, and I felt like I've coached some guys who have been very knowledgeable at the position, and he's probably at top at that list. Again, this is still early. He thinks quick. I think he's got a strong arm. He can make a lot of throws. You get a guy that has a good understanding of what you want to do in the passing game and of our offense and that can get the ball there, chances of productivity, we think, are going to be real good. Again, it's still early and Byron's working just like a lot of other guys - David (Garrard) and Quinn (Gray) and a lot of other positions."

(how much of a difference is there between a college game and a pro game from both a playing and coaching perspective?)
"It's the speed of the game really, playing-wise. The quarterback can't be late with the football and the accuracy has to be much better because if it's not, there's not as much cushion from those corners. All best guys that you've coached or that you've played against in college are now the guys that you're going to play against the NFL. So there are always two or three guys that you had to make sure, 'hey, this guy is one of the best guys in college.' They're all that way now in the NFL. That's why it's all those little things…We have to understand that some things don't change. Doing all the little things right is going to equal to doing big things right and I think that's the same for college or pro football."

(has the gap gotten smaller in the style of game between college and pro?)
"I've been out of the NFL for four years and I haven't been back through my first season yet, but just kind of looking at the tapes in the offseason of last year, some of the defenses, yeah, there are still some different things. You see a wider variety of things I would think in the NFL right now. Of course, in the NFL you've got a little more time to prepare. You don't have school in the morning so there are more things you can do meeting-wise, and guys get good at it. So there are a lot of things that I've seen so far that have changed in my four years of being out."

(David Garrard commented that you have brought a 'rah-rah' style of coaching from the college ranks)
"I don't know about that. I don't think my style has really changed at all. I think it's important for anybody and for all of us, especially the quarterback position as a leadership position, you've got to make sure you understand how important it is to do things right all the time. Being positive I think is contagious. I wouldn't necessarily describe that as being 'rah-rah.' You have to be yourself, that's the number one thing. If you're not yourself, then anybody sees through that. If you want to be a good leader, you have to be yourself, you have to be productive but I think it's also important to be positive especially in support of your team."

(do you try to change or fix Byron's delivery?)
"I think if they're saying, whether or not it's Byron or anybody I've coached in the past, if there are things you think you can change that aren't going to affect him or where you can help him and not hinder him, whether or not it's physically or mentally…sometimes you can do that and it gets in a guy's mind, you have to look at that. But the number one thing like you said, a lot of guys, Byron and some of the other guys, these guys are here for a reason. If their mechanics were that bad, they wouldn't be here. Again, it goes back to going to the right guy, getting the ball in on time and getting the ball there accurately. If what he is doing affects that, then he would have to change but in our opinion, we can work things in that area as well as other areas to accomplish those three things."

(in your NFL experience, is this group of wide receivers good enough to make this one of the more prolific passing attacks in the NFL?)
"I'm coaching quarterbacks and I'm concerned with those guys, but I may be speaking for our quarterbacks a little bit, I think they're excited about the group that we have. We all know we have to pick things up in the passing game area. It's going to start with the quarterbacks. Obviously, the guys they're throwing to know that, too. We also feel like we have a good group of young guys that are going to come in and compete for jobs and help make us better."

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