Q. There was a report about LB Nakobe Dean expected to miss multiple weeks. I just wanted to see if you could confirm that, and then what’s the plan – you have LB Nick Morrow on the practice squad, you’re obviously light there – what’s the plan moving forward now? (Reuben Frank)
NICK SIRIANNI: That report is accurate. We’re expecting him to be out for a couple weeks. Just thankful that it’s not longer than that because these things can be worse. Just thankful that it’s not a season-ending injury.
We feel like we have some good options there at linebacker. Don’t have to make any of those decisions yet on what we need to do. Obviously, there’s a competitive advantage of not saying anything about that at this particular time, but we feel like we have some good options to go to.
Q. You talked about TE Dallas Goedert not getting a catch, very familiar to Detroit with WR DeVonta Smith last season, and WR D’Andre Swift, you said you never wanted to come out of a game with him getting two touches. When you step back and look at that as a coach, how do you end in that position? Is it a matter of not being disciplined enough to get to those guys, or is it just – (John McMullen)
NICK SIRIANNI: Sometimes it’s what the defense is doing. Yeah, you never want it to happen, but it does. I said to our coaches, ‘not like we were throwing it to some bums on the outside.’ We were throwing it to [WR] A.J. Brown and [WR] DeVonta Smith.
You want to, you want it part of your plan to get to them, but sometimes defense takes it away. Sometimes it’s just the way the flow of the game is going. And again, like I said, I know how those touches worked out for those guys yesterday, but we were also getting it to guys that we felt like could change the game, as well, and prove over time that they can change the game also in A.J. and DeVonta.
Q. The Vikings have a different defensive coordinator heading into this game than the one that was last year. What differences do you expect from them and to throw at you guys, and also if you could quickly answer this one, too, how would you assess how G/C Cam Jurgens did? (Chris Franklin)
NICK SIRIANNI: Thought Cam played a good game. I thought it was a really good game for his first go about starting. Really pleased with how he played.
As far as the Vikings, I have a lot of respect for Vikings Defensive Coordinator Brian Flores and a Brian Flores-led defense. They create a lot of issues with the pressures that they bring at you, and so we see that they’re aggressive, well-coached, tackle well. All the different things that not only are you looking at with the Minnesota Vikings, but you’re also looking at the past of what he’s done at different places like Miami and also New England.
We’ll turn over every stone, and we’ve turned over a lot of stones so far. We obviously have more time to work. But aggressiveness is what I’d say from his defense, and I just, like I said, have a lot of respect for him as a coach and the style of defense that he plays.
Q. I know WR A.J. Brown had the big play downfield called back, but just one play over 20 yards. He said, A.J. did, that they were changing up a bunch of coverages in the back end. Was that the case? Was that why there were no big plays or were there some opportunities? (Bo Wulf)
NICK SIRIANNI: They tried to stay in front of everything, and they did a good job of doing so, whether that was by changing the coverages or just by playing soft zones and getting underneath our receivers’ routes and forcing us to check the ball down underneath.
We’ve been a team that’s been high in the NFL in explosive plays the last two years and hats off to them that they limited us by our count to I think three or four. Which again, you’ve got to try to create ways — I think that’s where a little bit of the sputter was on offense is we weren’t able to create big plays, whether that’s the position we put them in as coaches or whether that’s the execution or whether that’s what the defense did, and I think it was a little bit of all three.
We know how important it is to create explosives. Credit to the New England Patriots by taking those away last night.
Q. How did you think you guys handled the blitz from the Patriots, and with that Vikings Defensive Coordinator Brian Flores defense coming up, what do you need to do on Thursday to prevent that from hurting you? (Dave Zangaro)
NICK SIRIANNI: Obviously not going to get into what our adjustments are or anything like that for obvious reasons, but yeah, I thought that there were ups and downs with that. Again, both as coaches and with execution, we’ve got to always have better answers for them when it’s not going the right way, and we’ve got to always execute. It’s always going to be those two things.
But I thought especially in the second half, after we got out of our — I didn’t think we were great in that first rut of the game, but in the second half I thought we were better handling that.
Sometimes that’s the situation that you’re in. 3rd and 10, it’s a lot harder to handle that than it is in 3rd and 3. That also goes down to winning on 1st and 2nd down, which during that rut, I didn’t think we did a great job of. We were in a rut, but I think the guys really responded and handled adversity that we faced yesterday in a positive way, and that’s the way a season is. There are ups and downs through a season, and it’s all about how you respond to the adversity that you get.
Q. If I could sneak two questions in. First, CB James Bradberry’s status, and second, before the Thursday game last year you guys had the players on the bikes in the locker room. What did you do in these past 24 hours for the quick turnaround? (Zach Berman)
NICK SIRIANNI: Obviously a little different that we’re not at home. We’ll take the home game on Thursday night, but we were away yesterday.
The team lift that we had this morning, similar things to flush out some of the soreness, to get the right nutrition and the massage therapists, all those different things. A lot of similarities, but there’s a little bit of tweaks because we were away yesterday and home last year.
But we felt like the guys’ bodies were as ready as they could be last year on Thursday night to play, so you’re always trying to perfect the process, what can you do a little bit better. But to do that, you have to know exactly what the process is, so a lot of the things that we did last year are the same things that we’re doing this week.
Your other question was James. James is in protocol, and obviously you know once they go into that world, I can’t comment on that or say anything about that, so we’ll see how that goes.
Q. Last year, it seemed like you guys really perfected the D-line rotation, especially after you made those late additions of former Eagles DT Ndamukong Suh and former Eagles DT Linval Joseph. How do you think it played out last night in managing kind of the veterans? When DT Fletcher Cox went in, he had two good back-to-back stops, but also managing the expectations of rookies like DT Jalen Carter and even younger players like DT Jordan Davis? (Gabriella Galati)
NICK SIRIANNI: We went in with a plan of what we wanted both at D-tackle and at defensive end of kind of the rotation that we wanted in there. I think that the coaches did a good job of getting to that and getting the numbers kind of where we wanted them. The guys were in great shape, and Fletch was able to play the amount of plays that he played in because he’s worked really hard to put his body in the shape that it’s in now to be ready to go.
Same thing with Jordan and Jalen. I thought [DT] Milton [Williams] played an excellent game with a good rotation, and I just really thought that the rotation, the way the coaches handled the rotation was really good, and obviously the same thing with the way the players were ready to go and handled their role within that rotation.
Q. Sticking with that defensive line or defensive tackle theme, I was wondering if you could comment on the way DT Jalen Carter played. I saw a stat where he tied for the most pressures for a rookie in the last five years and everything, and you guys obviously relied on him in the fourth quarter. How do you think he played in his first game? (Martin Frank)
NICK SIRIANNI: I thought that the guys — we were able to get some pressure on the quarterback. They did a good job of getting the ball out. Jalen, when we were able to get pressure, even when they got the ball out and there was pressure, I just kept seeing Jalen in those scenarios of where he was. Cool stat. I always like those types of stats, the most pressures in the last five years. That’s a cool stat and one that I’ll remember there.
But I thought he did a really nice job. It was his first game, and we’ve got a lot more. So we were pleased with where he was in the off-season, we were pleased where he was throughout training camp, and we’re pleased with how he performed in that first game.
But it’s a long season. He has to keep doing it over and over and over again.
Q. If CB James Bradberry can’t clear that protocol, you probably have CB Josh Jobe in there. Where has he grown the most over the last year, and how cognizant of that are you if you have CB Darius Slay on one side and a relatively unproven corner on the other that teams will try to target him quite a bit? (Dave Zangaro)
NICK SIRIANNI: We’ve got a lot of confidence in Josh. That’s why he’s made our roster the last two years. I think he’s a really physical corner who is long, strong, is able to just — when he gets his hands on you, he’s able to control you.
We’ve got a lot of faith in Josh, and regardless of who’s in there, we know we can play the schemes that we want to play because Josh is our third corner, and your third corner has to play. There are times when he’s going to have to play some.
I think [Defensive Backs Coach] D.K. [McDonald] and [Nickels Coach] Ronell [Williams] and [Assistant Defensive Backs Coach] Taver [Johnson], our coaches, have done a great job of continuing to develop Josh. Did a great job of developing him last year, with [former Defensive Backs Coach] Dennard [Wilson] and with D.K., and then Josh has just done a great job of getting himself ready to go, as well.
You get really excited about that when an undrafted free agent comes in and performs like Josh has, both on special teams, and gives you the confidence that you have in him on defense.
Q. I know you don’t want to give away any competitive advantage and all that stuff, but LB Nicholas Morrow, if he does have to play, what did you see from him over the summer? How comfortable are you with him? How well did he acclimate to the defense and all that? (Reuben Frank)
NICK SIRIANNI: Really confident in him. That’s why he’s on our 69-man roster. It’s because we believe in him. We believe in the things that he can do. We believe in his style of play, his physicality, being able to line up the defense. A lot of confidence in Nick, and if he has to go in that role, we’re excited, I’m excited to watch him roll and for his opportunity.