Here is the interview transcript for Mike LaFleur as he gives updates on the offense.
Brian Costello, New York Post: What’s the adjustment been like since Friday night when you knew Zach (Wilson) was going down for a while?
The show goes on. It is what it is. For him, making the most of this situation. Obviously, he wants to be out on the field, but he can’t be right now. He’s got to get healthy. We’ve been through this thing before. He’s going to bust his butt in the classroom. He’s going to bust his butt in everything he’s going to do to get out there, because he wants to get out there. Obviously, he went down. Joe (Flacco) steps up. Mike (White) steps up. Chris (Streveler) had a great night, weren’t totally planning on playing him, but then obviously he played that whole fourth quarter there, which was really cool to see. Show goes on.
Rich Cimini, ESPN.com: By him missing two preseason games — I’m talking about Zach — and all of the joint practices, how much does that stunt his early season development?
Like I just said, for whatever position it is, if you want to get good at football, you have to play football. You have to practice football. That can’t happen for him, right now, obviously. So, he’s going to go and attack it the best way he knows how. He went through this last year, unfortunately. He knows what to do, what to watch, what to say, what to do in the meetings. So, he’s going to make the most of this situation, just like we all are. So, when he’s back and ready to go, it’s full speed ahead.
Brian Costello, New York Post: The shuffle on the offensive line, Mekhi (Becton) being out. What’s this period like to get those five playing as a unit? They haven’t had OTAs together. They haven’t had a lot of time in training camp together.
Yeah, totally. Getting out there like you just said, starting to gel together. I have all the confidence in the world that the five that we put out there are going to figure it out by the time we get to Baltimore. Again, just like I was saying with the last question, you get good at football by practicing and playing football. So, the more that they’re out there, the more that they’re practicing together, the more they’re figuring out their standard and their style together, the better it’s going to be for everybody.
Zack Rosenblatt, The Athletic: What was your relationship like with Robert Calabrese before he came into your room and how has that grown since you’ve been spending a lot of time together?
I didn’t know Rob too well. I did know of Rob from his time in Denver with a guy that I know well in Rich Scangarello, and he raved about him, so much so he basically gave me the keys to the car because of how well he was speaking about him. When I was still in San Francisco, I had a chance to talk and Zoom with Rob, and it was a no-brainer. Everything that Rich Scangarello, everything that Wade Harman, the tight end coach at Denver at the time, he echoed the same stuff and it’s been so true here. He’s a great dude. He’s a great guy to work with. He’s a great family man. He’s a great coach. I think the sky’s the limit for him.
Zack Rosenblatt, The Athletic: (Follow Up) What’s been the dynamic of that QB room because between you two and you have three quarterbacks that were here last year? I feel like that’s pretty rare in the modern NFL where you have a whole quarterback room returning.
It’s been good. We didn’t have to get to know each other going into this year like you did last year – obviously, Zach being a rookie. I didn’t know Mike, I didn’t know James Morgan, bringing in Joe midseason. So, when we got back here in April, everyone knew each other. You could hit the ground running right there. There’s something to be said about that. It’s just the trust factor. I believe they trust me and that I’m going to do everything I can to help them be the best that they can be. They know Rob is going to do the same thing, and we trust those guys with everything because we know what kind of men they are and what kind of workers they are.
Brian Costello, New York Post: What was the process getting ready for these joint practices in terms of your conversations with Dean Pees and what you want scripted versus unscripted and getting the most out of these practices?
I’ve done this basically almost every single year, and every year is a little bit different. Dean and I spoke a few days ago. It’ll be good because they’re a different front than us. They run a lot more Cover 2 than we do. They bring some Cover 0. From that standpoint, I’m not really that concerned if I call a bad play into a bad coverage, what would be a good play for them, let’s see if we can survive that play. You have to put in the time to make sure you’re giving your guys a chance. The last two days have been a lot of game planning, a lot of practice planning. Like I said, Dean and I spoke and he said the same thing you did. He goes, “If you don’t want to see something on a particular play,” I’m like, “I’m not really concerned about that. I want to see our players play fast and go be the best they can be.”
Ethan Sears, New York Post: With (George) Fant specifically, how’s he handling moving from left to right?
George is a pro, I’ve gotten to know George really well, for these past two years and I can’t say enough good things about him, again. Off the field, he’s a great person, great family guy. He’s been outspoken about how he felt really comfortable at left, I was telling him the other day, I said, “the crazy part about this thing is the reason we feel like you can go from left, to right, to guard if you had to is because you’re that gifted and that versatile and you’ll figure it out.” Yeah, it’s going to be a little bit of an adjustment because he’s been over there for a good part of a year now, but he’s been over at right, he’s got a great offensive line coach in John Benton, and again, he’ll figure it out because he always does.
Andy Vasquez, NJ Advance Media: For Zach, he had an opportunity to go out of bounds on the play when he got hurt and Saleh said he should’ve. Obviously, that was a bit of an issue last year, so as a coach what do you say to him? I’m sure the point was driven home by what happened, but where are you kind of at with that?
It’s a good question because these guys are competitors and what I said to Zach was even if this was the first game in the first quarter you still wouldn’t want to do that. Now you’re in the fourth quarter of a game on a third and five and you’re scrambling to go make a play to go win a football game, that’s a whole different deal. But again, like you just said because of what happened he’s going to learn from that one and we just have to keep reminding.
Brian Costello, New York Post: Where’s Garrett Wilson at in his progression?
Just getting more and more comfortable, hearing the verbiage in the huddle, again I think last time I was up here we were almost in with the offense, and over the last eight, ten, whatever days it’s been we’ve been able to hone in on all the little details and nuances, moving him around a little bit more than he was in those first two weeks. He’s handled it well. Again, I keep saying it, a good dude, a football guy, he sees it really well. He just has a great feel out there on the field.
Rich Cimini, ESPN.com: One of the issue for rookie receivers is being able to handle the physical nature, the bump and run, how much of it did he see on Friday night and how did he handle it?
He didn’t see a ton of it just because he didn’t play a lot, but he’s seen it every day out here. Again, like you just said, that’s the biggest adjustment for receivers, it’s not necessarily the speed of the game, not even really the huddle and the play calls, it’s two totally different games right now, the college game and the pro game because of all the bumps he sees. So, he’s learning every single day, working his feet at the line of scrimmage, because again you still have to get from point A to point B as fast as humanly possible because there is a pass rush, so you can’t take all day and he’s learning that and he’ll figure it out, he’s talented and he understands it.
Zack Rosenblatt, The Athletic: Calvin Jackson, he’s made some plays throughout camp, he had that touchdown in the game, what has he shown you as an undrafted guy?
Very similar to Garrett in terms of just the feel of the game, it’s very natural for him. He does stuff that’s un-coachable in terms of doing a little extra on his routes when it makes sense. He understands every position on the field already, you can just tell he puts a lot of time into it away from the building to make sure that when he’s out there, he’s the most prepared he can be. Obviously, you guys saw it on Friday, making some plays and I’ve been pleased with what he’s been doing out there at practice.
Antwon Staley, New York Daily News: The running back room has a lot of talent, just talk about that, what you’ve see from them and also Breece Hall?
There’s a lot of good runners in there, good football players. Taylor Embree, our running backs coach, does an awesome job with those guys. He learned from one of the best in Bobby Turner, who’s a legend running back coach in this league, has won multiple Super Bowls and that’s what was so fascinating for me, or intriguing and (Coach) Saleh, to be able to bring Taylor in here because he got to learn from Bobby Turner in what it takes to coach running backs in this league. You’ve got to be tight with your words with it, you’ve got to be disciplined, but you’ve also got to let these guys play, particularly when the bullets are live on Sundays. I know he’s done that, the guys feel real free, they’re on it in terms of the scheme and they’re able to go out there and show what they can do. To answer your question with Breece (Hall), it’s like I said a few weeks ago, he’s not really limited in anything he can do, he sneaks up on defenders with that speed and that size combination. For him, it’s just coming to work every single day and try to be the best he can be every single day.
Brian Costello, New York Post: Denzel (Mims) spoke to us and he said he considers himself a starter, but Friday night he gets out there and he has a pre-snap penalty and then a drop right in a row, is that the kind of stuff that has to go away for Denzel?
That’s just anybody. You can’t have pre-snap penalties in this league particularly because you get behind the chains and we know how hard it is to get back on track at times. That’s not just Denzel, that’s everybody, we have a lot of things to still clean up, again, like I’ve stated, he is much further along with the offense, and his body. He put in a lot of time, again I know you guys have heard that a lot but it shows, he’s in great physical shape, he’s learning the offense more and more every single day. You can tell as he’s breaking the huddle how much more comfortable he is, yes he has to clean those two things up and he will.