A conversation with Mike Heimerdinger - Part I

Offensive coordinator Mike Heimerdinger had been just as elusive as Chad Pennington since he came aboard to replace Paul Hackett in January.

But Heimerdinger spoke with reporters on the FieldTurf under the practice bubble at the end of one of the practices during the postdraft full-squad minicamp about how all the moving parts in his system are falling together.

Q: Mike, where does your coaching intensity come from?

Heimerdinger: I was a horrible player, so I like to compete and that's the way I compete, through those guys. I've always thought there is a way to do things and there are some little things you've got to do right. Sometimes on the things we've covered a lot and they still aren't doing it close, like getting a snap, staying onside, lining up right, I might get upset on those things. New things we're teaching, I give them some leeway. Sometimes ... I'm a little bit intense.

Q: That doesn't sound like a bad thing.

Heimerdinger: I take it to a point. But what most people don't see is when I get into the locker room, I'm going to go love them, too.

Q: How are your players doing learning the new offense?

Heimerdinger: We've picked up some things really well. We've thrown a ton at them, we've given them a lot of routes. We've got to change a few things they did before technique-wise. But Paul [Hackett] did a heck of a job coaching these guys in the base stuff and a really good job with the quarterbacks, so there's a good base to work with. I don't have to go back and teach a lot of things to those quarterbacks. Sometimes you have to teach coverages, reading the coverages. Paul did a tremendous job of teaching those guys. All I've got to do is take them through what we're trying to do route-wise and where people are supposed to be.

Q: Any concerns about Chad Pennington because he still can't throw or practice?

Heimerdinger: Chad drives me crazy right now. Since the day I got here, he's been in that meeting room every day. I think the guy could live there if he wanted to. I'm not sure how his wife puts up with him. I'm not worried about Chad. He knows what to do mentally.

Q: How are receivers used differently in your scheme than in, say, Paul's scheme?

Heimerdinger: If they're one-on-one, they have a chance to catch the ball. We have some progressions, but if Laveranues Coles is one-on-one and he wasn't in the original progression and he has a go route, we'll probably throw that go route to Laveranues Coles. That would be the difference. There are some techniques maybe that they did different, some things I ask the quarterbacks to do, nothing drastic. But not very often in this league do you get a guy one-on-one, and that's where you score your points. If you've got them one-on-one, you've got to take advantage of it.

Q: Would you say your receivers have more leeway in your offense than in other offenses?

Heimerdinger: There's a little framework, a little leeway. I don't know what Paul asked them to do. We've got some places we have to go, some ways we want to run routes, some specifics of how the routes should be run. Then they get to get open on some other stuff.

Q: How has it gone installing the shotgun?

Heimerdinger: It's really been easy. A lot of times, centers snapping in the shotgun, especially on the road, they peek at the front and then they put their heads down until they snap. Kevin [Mawae] can do it blind, so that's great. We've had less bad snaps in the shotgun than when we've been underneath [at the minicamp].

Q: How do you think Chad will respond to the shotgun?

Heimerdinger: He did in college all the time, so it shouldn't be a big adjustment. I like the shotgun because with all the zone blitzes and all the pressures people give you, it gives you an extra half-second to get the ball downfield, an extra half-second to pick up a blitzer. My first year in the league, [Denver's John] Elway was pretty decent in the shotgun. It should come pretty naturally to Chad.

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