Q. How tough is it to change punters? P Arryn Siposs has been here three plus years. How difficult a decision is that to make? (Reuben Frank)
MICHAEL CLAY: Any time you spend so much time with someone and create that relationship outside of the building, it’s always going to be tough. Like we’ve always alluded to, we’re just looking at every avenue to get this team to the goal we want, which is to be better each and every day.
It’s always tough. You have to take the human aspect into it, but we appreciate everything Arryn has done for us. Unfortunately, or fortunately, it’s not our first time having to do an in-season punter change. When Sip [Arryn Siposs] got hurt last year and [Former Eagles Punter] Brett [Kern] came in, so we’re kind of well-versed in that. So having [P] Braden [Mann] in here we kind of understand what the whole process is and they’ve been great so far.
[K] Jake [Elliott], [LS] Rick [Lovato], Braden coming in, I think they did a little work yesterday, so just getting into this change will hopefully be as seamless as possible.
Q. What is it about P Braden Mann that stood out when you were evaluating the other punters? (Chris Franklin)
MICHAEL CLAY: He’s done it in this league for a few years. It’s always nice knowing that he wasn’t coming from a different climate, being in New York. It’s tough playing in the northeast in the wintertime, especially MetLife for a punter.
It’s pretty tough, so for Braden to be able to do that and understanding these late games and everything like that, but we’re excited about him. I’ve obviously followed him coming out of college, Texas A&M, so just very excited to work with him both as a punter and a holder.
Q. Obviously the operation with the hold is affected. How could that impact K Jake Elliott? He’s kicking the ball so well. Is that something you guys talk about with him? (Ed Kracz)
MICHAEL CLAY: Oh, yeah, we always value Jake’s input, especially when it comes to field goals and everything of that matter.
In terms of with Braden, obviously done it before. It’s pretty cool that in the off-season Jake’s worked with Braden at times or just worked out together, so he’s very familiar with him.
But outside of just the holder, it’s always nice knowing that Rick and Jake will be able to do it. It all starts with Rick. If Rick is throwing a pearl back there every time it makes the holder’s and kicker’s job a lot easier. He is the catalyst for the operation, so as long as Rick stays who Rick is and be on point, it should be pretty seamless.
Q. Did he work out with him in terms of holding, or is it just like they’re just out there on the field? (Jeff McLane)
MICHAEL CLAY: Just the off-season, guys go out to a summit, or they’re just out there. If someone can’t be out there, they’re just holding and everything like that.
Q. He’s had some experience? (Jeff McLane)
MICHAEL CLAY: He’s had some experience just in the off-season as they get away from the building and everything like that. It’s nice not having the first time them interacting be on the practice field.
Q. As far as the timing, did the mini bye, did it have any effect on it to have that little bit of an extra time to make the change? (John McMullen)
MICHAEL CLAY: I think it helps to have that extra time. You get that extra day where the guys get more acclimated, more familiar. Braden can come in and get a crash course on the operation, stuff outside of just the holding and punting stuff situated with [Special Teams Assistant] Tyler [Brown]. So, it’s nice to have that extra day.
Q. Why do it after two weeks as opposed to at the start of the season? (Tim McManus)
MICHAEL CLAY: [Head] Coach [Nick Sirianni] alluded to this earlier in his press conference. We thought Sip was progressing well, giving him the opportunity to do it in the regular season. Came out strong in New England. Like we talked about, just trying to — any avenue to get this team better, we just felt like it was the right time.
Again, what Sip did for us, his contributions will [always] be unmatched and not taken for granted.
Q. We saw WR Britain Covey got promoted to the active roster. What makes you confident in him as a punt returner? (Zach Berman)
MICHAEL CLAY: Just having the familiarity with Covey. Obviously, people are going to allude to put one on the ground against Minnesota. But it’s one of those things where we never want to have the ball on the ground, but we still have full confidence in him to do that.
I actually just spent probably an hour and we watched every return that he’s had here and talked about different situations. Went around a group and everything like that.
So just to have the confidence in Covey to do it. He still could gash you for a few yards, and you saw in the New England game he had that 25-yard return.
So, he still can be very — people do have to worry about him back there. It’s always nice having Covey. He’s a little on the quirky side with his personality, but he’s great for the team.
Q. Where have you seen growth from WR Britain Covey in the last year? (E.J. Smith)
MICHAEL CLAY: It’s really just understanding the speed of the NFL. In college you can outrun — you know, how everyone does the spread shield, you can outrun a lineman. That’s easy.
Here in the NFL, you can make one horizontal move for three yards, and you thought you had 15 yards and now it’s six yards, now it’s four yards. Him just understanding the speed of the game and understanding how can I dent the coverage, how can I get that first down for the offense.
Just understanding where we are on the ball, what type of punter we have. So just like anything else, the more time on task, the better you’ll get at it and the more familiar you’re going to get at it.
Q. The role of a holder, how easy is it to transition? How big of a deal is it in the professional field goal setup, the role of the holder, and how important is that role and how hard is the transition or not? (Tim McManus)
MICHAEL CLAY: It’s just like anything else in any trade. It’s a specialty trade. It’s not like anybody can just go out there and put the ball down. There are so many factors when it comes to kicking. If it’s a perfect day or a dome, you really don’t have to deal with any of the lean.
When it comes to the field goal kicker, some people like it leaning forward, some like it leaned back, to the right, to the left, it comes in — you know, spinning the laces before the ball gets on the ground. How can I put it down as quick as possible so the kicker can see it. It’s a very unique trade that takes a lot of time to get really good at it. I’ve been fortunate enough to be around some really good holders in my career. In terms of the holder, it helps a lot to ease the mind of the kicker. Jake has been outstanding. Jake is great. Rick has been really good with it. In terms of the holder, he is part of the cog that makes that thing go.
Q. What have you noticed about CB Kelee Ringo’s approach to special teams? (Josh Tolentino)
MICHAEL CLAY: Coach [Head Coach Nick Sirianni] does an unbelievable job of just telling the team your role on this team early on. It’s a really good meeting he has. [CB] Kelee [Ringo], it’s just keeping that confidence of himself making plays. It’s really cool to see him make a big play as a gunner. He has these tools that you really can’t teach. He’s fast, strong, he wants to know. He asks questions during the game.
So just keep his confidence going and keep that momentum being the best he possibly can to help this team. He’s been outstanding thus far, and there is still a long way to go in terms of getting him to where we want him to be, but I think he’s done a really good job thus far.
Q. When you were talking about P Braden Mann, and you mentioned Met-Life Stadium. How notorious is that place among special teams circles, and what makes it so tough? (Dave Zangaro)
MICHAEL CLAY: Just the wind. It’s coming off — it swirls on the punters and everything, but when you go into the NFC East and AFC East you go through some battles in terms of the stadiums. You get out of Met-Life and then you have to go up to Buffalo. You get that treat. Maybe it’s late in December. You get the treat of Miami, which is cool. But him being able to be in the northeast, punting there, it allows him to understand what he has to go through outside of if you’re punting in a dome or on the west coast.
Q. We didn’t get to talk to you after the first game, but what happened on the personal issues that led to the timeouts? (Jeff McLane)
MICHAEL CLAY: The communication more than anything else, making sure we got 11 in and communicating all the way down, making sure there is no panic if we do have 11 out there? That just falls on me of making sure, reminding these guys it may not be reminding them on third down, it is reminding them on second down as we’re driving, ‘hey, this is a possible unit that’s up’ and just let them know.
Q. With K Jake Elliott and the 61-yarder, how is that conversation? How far out will you go? I saw they had a returner back, so you always got to be careful, if it’s going to be short. When do you make that decision that, all right, we can try from 61 and how far out? (John McMullen)
MICHAEL CLAY: The communication starts in the pre-game warmup, how we feel, which end we would like to go. It could dictate the coin toss if we do end up winning that, which way we like.
Sometimes you don’t get to dictate that. Again, goes back to communication, how Jake is feeling. If Jake’s feeling good about it and it comes up to that situation like you alluded to with the returner down there, it’s alerting the offensive lineman, hey, there is somebody down there. We have to make sure we spread the field and get them down just in case if that does fall short.
Kudos to Jake and everybody on that operation. That was a huge swing, going up 13-7 going into the half. And the momentum of it, you could see it kind of trickled going with the defense getting the strip sack coming out of the half, so it’s a thing that gets lost in the shuffle. They work on it very much in terms of the situation with offensive linemen covering down, and Jake I can’t say enough good things about Jake. He’s got ice in his veins regardless of the situation.
Q. On Sunday night in the Patriots-Dolphins game there was a blocked field goal where the Patriots defender got a running start and ended up blocking it. Is that something you see becoming more commonplace throughout the league? (Shamus Clancy)
MICHAEL CLAY: It all depends. It was a heck of a job schemed up by the guys in New England, with [Patriots Assistant Head Coach] Joe [Judge] and [Patriots Special Teams Coordinator] Cam [Achord] and [Patriots Head Coach] Coach Belichick, but you also got to kind of also factor in they had [Dolphins P] Jake Bailey for five years. They kind of understood what was going on, the operation and anything like that.
It goes on everybody else in terms of myself understanding what can happen to us. Maybe that’s switching something up with our rhythmic and everything like that.
Kudos to them. Heck of a playing by [Patriots DB] Brenden Schooler. Him to time it up just like that and come off the edge clean, it was a heck of a play. We’ll see.
Obviously, it depends on who you’re facing, what is your personnel. It was just a pretty cool thing to watch at least live.
Q. You said you can’t say enough nice things about K Jake Elliott. He had four field goals week one; his second 61-yarder in his career in Week 2. I guess what kind of value do you think K Jake Elliott brings to be so reliable in those situations? (Dave Uram)
MICHAEL CLAY: I think it’s very valuable. Any time you get points on the board you’re going to be pretty happy about it. I think it’s just an added confidence for the entire team knowing when 4 [Jake Elliott] trots out there, you have a pretty high probability of getting some points on the board. He doesn’t let anything faze him regardless of the situation, which I really commend.
But, again, when he jogs out there you feel really good about it. It’s not just him just jogging out there. He puts as much time as anybody I’ve been around in terms of taking care of his body, working on field goals, the operation, things of that nature that probably goes unnoticed on separate fields. It’s really cool to be around someone that calm, cool, and collected.
Q. With S Justin Evans, he got it on the ground. You were talking about WR Britain Covey can’t put it on the ground. The Vikings had a good return but S Justin Evans got it out. What does that do for the coverage units and being able to make that play? (John McMullen)
MICHAEL CLAY: I think the couple returns that have gone out on us we’ve had poor tackling, which we never want to happen. When you get into the coverage phase you turn from an offensive player in terms of blocking for the punter into a defensive player all in two seconds. Just any hustle play on a coverage play could change the dynamic of the game.
When it comes to punt coverage, you have to switch your mind to a defensive player. You can have a blown coverage on defense, but if you hustle to the ball, good things usually happen. Justin did a heck of a job punching at the ball and getting the ball out, and then [LB] Nick [Morrow] being there to jump on it in a closed-quarter situation to at least give our offense another opportunity in the possession game.
Any time we get a turnover — I think we’ve caused two fumbles the last two games, which is nice, but we also have to tighten up our coverages. That’s more missed tackles more than anything else.