View Full Version : Vermil Q and A 10/12

10-12-2004, 01:37 PM
Opening Monologue
“Good morning. We got back to work yesterday after our bye and it was an abbreviated day in terms of meetings and practice. The players responded very well and appear to be very fresh and quick and excited about going back to work.

“First time we’ve had all our wide receivers on a practice field at the same time…”

“First time we’ve had all our wide receivers on a practice field at the same time, healthy and practicing, since the third day of training camp. Now, if we can stay that way the rest of the week it’ll be the first time we’ve played a ball game with everybody 100% which would be nice. Now, we’re never a 100% because we don’t have Boerigter. Other than that, it’s sort of exciting and it gives our practice a little lift. We’re able to work more receivers within the starting unit and not wear them down at the tempo that we work.

“We’ve got a great deal of respect for Jacksonville. Why shouldn’t we? They’ve won three games, beaten two playoff teams within those three wins, both very strong wins. When they’ve won they’ve given up very, very few points.

“They’re one of three teams that have faced three playoff teams within the first four games…and beat two of them.”

“They’re one of three teams that have faced three playoff teams within the first four games of their schedule and they beat two of them. We and Indianapolis are the other two teams that have done that and we only beat one of them. Indianapolis beat two of them. So, Jacksonville has started out with a tough schedule.

“Right now, their strength has been their defense. They’re led by two great big defensive tackles in Henderson and Stroud. In their wins they’ve only given up 34 points in those three wins. You know they can play. In their two losses the last two weeks they’ve given up 58 points to Indianapolis who is probably the best offensive team in football and then to San Diego on the road this weekend.

“But when you look at their team in general you know they have skill people. We all know what Smith can do – most of you do – he’s averaging over 18 yards a catch right now, he’s number four all time receiver. He’s going to go to the Hall of Fame and we just don’t want to make him a Hall of Famer this Sunday in Jacksonville. He has had great games against the Chiefs in the past.

“Freddie Taylor is a very skilled running back who has four seasons over 1200 yards and had over 1500 yards last year. Got over 300 right now. He’s a quality player. So they have a talented football team. Yes, they’re very young at quarterback and they have missed Kyle Brady, the very big strong – probably the best overall blocking tight end in football as a starter. We’d like to think Jason Dunn ranks right up there with the best but he’s not normally in a starting unit unless we start out with two tight ends.

“He can throw it, like they say, through a car wash without getting it wet.”

“Leftwich in his second year has started out real strong. He came out of a situation in college where they threw the ball all the time – a lot of it out of the shotgun which he’s very poised and polished in right now. Last year he threw 12 touchdowns, 14 interceptions. Right now he’s ahead in touchdowns over interceptions. His quarterback efficiency rating is up over 80 already and was 73 last year. He’s completing 63% of his passes.

“Strong armed guy. I mean he can throw it, like they say, through a car wash without getting it wet. When he bears down to throw that thing it whistles. You can see it on the video tape. There is velocity there and sometimes the balls are dropped because they’re traveling so fast and so hard. But I think he’s got a chance to be something special. We’re going to have to play a very good game against him to prevent that from happening. You don’t see many guys that strong. Of course, he’s so big. It seems like the college quarterback coming out is the big strong guy.

“I think we’re improving in everything we’re doing. I’d like to believe that except kick and punt coverage. I think our problems are defined and I think we can improve. At least we’d better or we won’t meet expectations or our desires from here on out.

“…we’re averaging exactly the same in total yards in offense.”

“Offensively, we’re off 10 points after four games than last year, though we’re averaging exactly the same in total yards in offense (340.8 yards a game). Exactly the same. Our running game is up almost 10 yards a game on average. We’re second in the NFL in running the ball. Atlanta is number one.

“We’re down in pass offense in yards per game but equal in touchdowns. We’ve got to get more production out of our passing game, especially on first down and especially on passes going beyond 20 yards or more. Hopefully, with Eddie Kennison coming back and Al (Saunders) feeling comfortable with the things we do we can start creating more plays down field.

“We were plus eight last time and this time are plus two. We’re off a little bit in giveaway-takeaway but better to be plus than minus, believe me. I think that will gradually change as we keep playing smart. We had the opportunity to recover seven fumbles and only recovered one of them. The odds should sooner or later start going in our favor.

“Defensively, we’ve really improved in the last two weeks.”

“Defensively, we’ve really improved in the last two weeks. We’ve given up 14.5 points fewer a game over the last two weeks, three fewer pass touchdowns, two fewer rushing touchdowns, 16 fewer first downs, 134 total yards per game less, 109 yards a game rushing less over the last two from the first two (games). And, we have played in Baltimore a really fine running team and Houston is ranked pretty high offensively, too. We’ve got five more sacks over the last two games than we got the first two.

“We’re number two in the NFL in first down efficiency on defense. We’re number one in opponent’s average yards to go on second down. We’re number one in forcing third and six plus situations. What we’re not doing a good job defensively is once we get ‘em in third and six plus we’re not doing a good job in defensing that situation. But it does define our areas for improvement and we plan and practice.

“I am very much aware that some of the improvement could be due to we played two very different teams than we played over the first two. We played the Denver Broncos in Denver and we played a Super Bowl team in Carolina. But Houston is ranked seventh in total offense overall. Baltimore is one of the top two running teams. So, we’ve taken on some good competition and shown improvement. Hopefully, it’s not just a glimmer.

“(Dante Hall) is a marked man.”

“We haven’t been able to break Dante (Hall) on a TD return. Right now after four games he’s only returned four punts. He’s a marked man. But with patience and consistent work they eventually will come. Last year this time he had two kickoff returns for touchdowns. He had 11 return attempts last year and 11 this year. People are doing a better job of defensing Dante Hall. He has a lot of credibility and prestige in the league and in preparation during the week (the opposition) is hearing about Dante and it makes it a little bit tougher. That means we have to continue to do a better job.

“Will the returns come? I think they will. Will we get four in a row? No. It’s only happened one other time. But I do believe we’ll get a return (for a TD) before it’s all over.

“Our first quarter (of the season)…is the toughest phase of our schedule.”

“I break the season down quarter by quarter. As we enter the second quarter I believe we can continue to grow as a team. First off, our first quarter based on last year’s performance by our opponents is the toughest phase of our schedule. We played three playoff teams and based on last year’s performance we don’t face that kind of schedule in any quarter of the remaining part of the season. That doesn’t mean some of those teams that weren’t playoff teams last year won’t start playing like playoff teams this year, ala Jacksonville which is 3-2 and Atlanta who has only lost one ball game. Things change as the season goes on, but as you evaluate a schedule as you get going and plan…we knew going into the season and based on last year that those first four games would create a real challenge for us and we didn’t do a great job of handling that challenge.

“By only winning one game I think we’ve left ourselves very little room for error. As I told the team yesterday, if we’re going to end up being one of the seven teams that have gone from 1-3 into the playoffs and to a Super Bowl and AFC championship game then we’re going to have to play like the team that played (last) Monday night consistently starting in Jacksonville. We won’t be able to take a weekend off. If we’re going to get beat we’re going to have to get beat playing our best football against a very good football team.

“If we can think about nothing other than in winning this coming ballgame and prepare accordingly then we’ll have a shot. If we can’t do it and aren’t disciplined or coached well enough to do it then we won’t get it done.

“You hear those clichés: ‘one week at a time,’ but when you put yourself down 1-3 and have aspirations and believe you’re a pretty good football team but only proved it once you’d better stop talking and start playing. That’s the position we’re in right now.”

Q: Do you think it’ll be easier for Dante now on kick returns that he doesn’t have to concentrate as much on wide receiver duties?

DICK VERMEIL: “No, I don’t think it’ll make any difference. I really don’t. We’ve done a good job of rotating him in ball games and keeping him fresh for the kick returns but I really think we’ve got to find a punter and place kicker that’ll provide the kind of ball it takes to return ‘em. Number two, we in the front group have got to do a good job. His best returns have been called back because of penalties. The best punt return has been called back. But sooner or later as the season goes, on his own innate ability when we don’t block anybody, it might be the one he returns.”

Q: Did San Diego give you a game plan as to how to rush the ball against Jacksonville?

VERMEIL: “No, not really. I’ve studied the game twice, been through their offense twice. Their scheme is run by somebody that’s out of this scheme. They run it differently and I think (Jacksonville) did a pretty good job on Tomlinson. He had 59 yards rushing, I think. He broke a big screen. The other young man broke a dive play – the simplest play we all have in our offense. No sophistication. Just man-on-man and he broke it 40-something yards for a touchdown. But that was the extent of the running game. They did a good job on play action going down field and screens. And they got takeaways.”

Q: Have they done the same things in the past or is that new for San Diego?

VERMEIL: “No, it’s the same. Cam Cameron is their offensive coordinator who was at the Redskins and learned the scheme from Norv Turner. He replaced Mike Martz (in Washington) when Mike came with me. He knew the scheme and Marty (Schottenheimer) wanted someone who knew our scheme and I recommended Cam to him.”

Q: Recovering fumbles would seem to be more the product of instinct and aggressiveness than anything else.

VERMEIL: “First off, you have to be conscious of creating them. You can knock them out. You’ve got to be aware of opportunities to knock them out. We coach it and talk about it, sell it and preach it. But when the ball gets on the ground the more guys you have coming to make the play the better opportunity you have of getting that football. Right now there have been seven balls on the turf and we’ve only recovered one of them. The league right now is 48% recovery of all the balls on the turf. Normally by the end of the year you’re somewhere around there. You can have a year at 60% and have one much lower.”

Q: Fred Taylor really hurt Jacksonville in that Colts game with fumbling. Do you approach backs differently knowing that?

VERMEIL: “We always emphasize taking the ball away. Marty Schottenheimer established that tradition here and Gun and I have carried it on. It’s an easy tradition to carry over because they know the positive results of it. I go in tomorrow and the first thing I present (to the players) is the giveaway-takeaway ratio.

“Right now, for example, of the 61 games played in the league minus turnovers (teams) won 11 of them. Doesn’t take much in the way of Masters degrees to figure out you’d better play the game smart.”

Q: You need Dan Saleaumua to come back and give a clinic. He was always good at recovering fumbles.

VERMEIL: “There are some guys who have a knack and an instinct and awareness to poke and knock. It’s always good to have one set it up and one to knock it out. We have been the best in the league in not fumbling the ball, knock on wood, over the last three years. If you watch Priest Holmes run he protects that ball and sometimes for the sake of an extra yard or two. He’s always concerned about the guy he can’t see.”

Q: During the bye week you said you were going to study the coverage deficiencies. What did you see?

VERMEIL: “Most of it is not so much scheme but the technical execution of the scheme, especially on the third and longer situations. When we go into our variations of double zones, how different people reroute or don’t reroute a receiver leaving the line of scrimmage. Linebacker drop being six or seven yards out of where you’re supposed to be ideally. You’re never going to get perfect all of the time. But you should be within range of a specific area in zone drops. Sometime you just get beat man-to-man. Give the other guy some credit.

“But the bigger third down conversions have come from breakdowns in the technical execution of the scheme.”

Q: What about breakdowns in punt coverage?

VERMEIL: “Punt coverage, number one, is poor punt. Number two, not getting off the line of scrimmage clean and aggressively enough. Not breaking free. We’re staying with our protection a little too long and not breaking clean. We really worked on that hard yesterday. You can make people so aware of protection that they forget the ball being gone in 2.1 seconds and coming back. We’ve got to be gone and running.

“The other thing that has happened is people have tried and have eliminated our best coverage people. Everybody goes after Gary Stills. Not single but double. You start eliminating your best and then someone else has to pick it up and they’ve got him blocked too. That’s a problem.

“Kickoff coverage is no hang time. No hang time. We kept our kicker, Lawrence Tynes, because we thought he had a great future and could kick off well. We weren’t going to keep Jason Baker, it didn’t look like, and he was our kickoff guy. Lawrence had been kicking off better than he did in the ball game the other night. I think, like any of us who understand the game of golf, when you swing too hard at something you don’t hit it as well. I think he was trying to hit the ball too hard the other night. Hopefully, we can solve the problem.”

Q: Do you prefer a quarterback who lines up under center to those like Leftwich who do it from the shotgun?

VERMEIL: “He’s a great big guy so the ball can get back there faster than he can get back there. The snap will travel faster to seven yards or five yards than he can take the ball and get it back there. He’s used to doing that in college; he’s used to doing it a ton of time in college. Most of his offense was that. Remember the year he had the injury and they put him back there all the time.

“I can remember a long time ago Carl and I went to the shotgun (in Philadelphia) because of Dallas. Their two defensive ends, Too Tall Jones and Harvey Martin, got back as deep and as fast as the quarterback did. So, we went to the shotgun because the ball could get back faster to the quarterback than those ends could. There are a lot of different reasons and I don’t know why they do what they do. I know he’s growing and getting better doing what they do.”

Q: They look like they have a couple of impressive young receivers.

VERMEIL: “Williams is a first round pick and we liked him in Washington. I’m sure he will be.”

Q: These receivers like Andre Johnson are getting bigger and stronger.

VERMEIL: “I don’t know if it’s a trend, but the trouble is you have to lose all your games to draft them. How about Williams coming out of Texas? How could you miss? You just watch him run. He has feet like skis. You watch him cut and break down and catch and leap and speed. But they don’t make many of those. You have to fail to win to get that kind of guy. So, you have to develop your own and it’s fun to develop your own. Sometimes it takes long and sometimes you never get that same kind of guy but you get one good enough to win.”

Q: Do you have a theory on why so many injuries or is there just more media coverage of injuries?

VERMEIL: “Every year I’m in this position that same question is asked. There always appears to be more injuries. I don’t know if there’s anyone who has documented how many more guys are on true IR right now than last year at the same time. Usually it’s magnified by someone of significance, a quality athlete going down. A big name guy not being able to play, a quarterback being knocked out.

“But I do believe this: the guys are bigger, faster, stronger and hit each other harder and we keep demanding that they do that as coaches. Younger players having watched all the great hits on television over and over again…heck, you can go to a Pop Warner game right now and watch kids hit each other and it will shock you. The game has swelled and grown to a violent, violent game. We do everything to play within the rules but sometimes we go too far.

“I think it’s the bigger, faster body flying through the air that created that feeling.”

10-12-2004, 01:45 PM
I can't wait for Sunday. Bye weeks suck.

10-13-2004, 10:38 AM
I can't wait for Sunday. Bye weeks suck.

I agree with you.

10-13-2004, 12:47 PM
Any news on Warfield?