COACH KELLY: There's some size advantages in there. Obviously a lot of corners that play slot corner in this league are a little bit smaller. Create some mismatches from that standpoint. If you're going to leave a linebacker in the game, obviously there's some athletic mismatches that we think we can exploit there.
Also in the run game for us, our slot receivers have to block and that's one thing Jason [Avant] was outstanding at last year, one of the best in the league in terms of his ability to get us going in the run game, and that's where having a bigger body in there helps us in terms of being able to run the football. So there's an advantage in the run game and obviously looking for some of those mismatches in the passing game.
How does it feel to be back inside of the stadium for a practice?
COACH KELLY: It's fun. Last time we were here was obviously the Saints game. So that wasn't a lot of fun. Hopefully this outcome today will be a lot better than that one.
One theory is that a lot of
COACH KELLY: I think most people played us in single high coverage and they played man across the board on anybody and no one was getting any help. Riley was getting man on his side. DeSean was getting man on his side. Jason Avant was getting man in the slot.
No one is going to play us in two deep because if you play us in two deep, we can run the heck out of the ball. We had everybody as close to the line of scrimmage as possible and nobody was helping anybody. They were trying to stop the run game.
Did you find these practices at the stadium as efficient last year?
COACH KELLY: Yeah, I mean, sometimes you need a little bit more space from a drill standpoint but once we get together for team and seven-on-seven, it doesn't really change. The fact that we, for a couple times, we can get out in front of our fans it's actually good I think for our players to get a different venue. Shakes it up for them a little bit. We were efficient when we were over here.
Are there specific situations where is using tempo is most effective for your offense?
COACH KELLY: Yes.
Can you share any of those?
COACH KELLY: I don't recall any right now.
Two minute offense; obviously playing catch up; trying to get back into the game; trying to take advantage of an opportunity maybe after a turnover, things like that.
After a big play, is that an area where you can work?
COACH KELLY: I mean, I wouldn't I'd have to look at statistically to say yes or no but I think obviously sometimes after a big play, but it just depends. Sometimes a tempo thing is you're trying to keep the same personnel on the field defensively because you're not allowing them to substitute.
By the same token you're not allowed to substitute either so you have to stay with the same package that was just in the game. That's why we really cross train a lot of our guys so that they can play multiple positions so we don't always have to line up in the same formation we lined up the play before to be able to run a fast play.
For whatever reason, rookie wide receivers don't come in the first year, or even first rounders don't put up huge numbers, judging by your comments I assume we're making too much of Jordan Matthews, etc. But do you have a theory or reasoning why you think it's hard for receivers at that position to come in right away and be productive as maybe some of the other positions that can start right away and be pretty good players?
COACH KELLY: I just think the coverages they face in college are different than the coverages you face in the National Football League. There's a lot more man, a lot more press man. And at times, when you have three and four wide receivers you have to match up to, maybe the teams at the college level don't have three and four defensive backs that can match up to all those guys.
So I think you see more zone at the college level than you do here and so really being able to combat press man I think is the biggest challenge for a young receiver coming into the league because it's different than what they face when they were at the college level.
Did you have to talk to
COACH KELLY: Yeah, their emotions got the better part of them. Those things happen. It's no different than sometimes little kids don't get along very well and throw Tonka trucks at each other. I don't think the fact that it made SportsCenter must have meant it's the world's slowest sports day, I can tell you that. That two kids push each other in practice somewhere. It’s not a real big deal.
Your offensive numbers in terms of rushing, passing and points were all near the front of the NFL. However, your third down converting is closer to the middle of the pack. Is that something that this year needs to improve to get to where to take the next step to where the offense can be?
COACH KELLY: We are looking to improve at everything, so I don't think that anything even if we led the league in whatever, we're not content that that's where we need to be. We are always trying to be more efficient on the offensive side of the ball, and obviously executing on third down is part of that.
But sometimes the third down stats are misleading because if you're getting first downs and on first and second downs, you're not getting into third downs. So you're not trying to say, ‘Hey, let's get to a third down here and see if we can convert it.’ I'd rather get the first down on first and second down.
Any time you can increase your percentage on third down, you're playing from a more efficient standpoint but we need to improve in every category on the offensive side of the ball.
Does it help to have the same guys in the huddle each year, especially at the quarterback position?
COACH KELLY: It does but we don't huddle, so to have the same guy leading the huddle I know what you're saying. Having
But when you have guys that were close, like Mike [Vick] and Nick [Foles] were last year, I don't think it's fair to say to anybody that we are going to name this guy the starter just because we want to get to that comfort level because you don't know who actually is going to be the quarterback.
But there is, going into year two, knowing who that guy is, I think makes it a little bit easier in terms of what we are running and how we are devising things.
As far as Nick's personal growth, having more snaps with the same guys, is it more the relationships that he has with the guys around him than the timing?
COACH KELLY: It's a combination of both. I think obviously there's still a lot of open positions in terms of who we are going to fit with whom. But you know, him getting back on the same page, the one thing we didn't have
So it wasn't Mike [Vick] or Nick that really got a chance to work with Mac. We have some new faces with Jordan [Matthews] and Josh [Huff] getting in the mix there; having
The ball seems to be coming out of
COACH KELLY: I don't agree with that. I think Matt threw the ball well last spring. B, I just think a lot of times, I think people make misconceptions walking into practice where they say, ‘Hey, the receiver missed that one.’ The receiver ran the wrong route. ‘The quarterback, boy, he threw a ball when nobody was there, so it's always the quarterback's fault.’
Well, a lot of times it's the receiver's fault. They are not where they are supposed to be. You think the guy is running a corner route, he breaks on a post and quarterback throws the ball to the corner, and you're saying, ‘He didn't throw the ball in the right spot.’ Well, the receiver may not have run the right route.
In terms of getting reps, we are going to day three in preseason camp and we are just trying to roll guys through, and again, not really concerned with who is getting what right now. Just get out there and rip it. They are all getting a chance to get out there, get on film and tape and get experiences.
Your comments to Peter King surrounding rookies and the hype they receive -- specifically with Jordan Matthews, what do you make of or are you aware of the hype that's been around him or are you concerned about how it could affect him?
COACH KELLY: No, I'm not concerned with that. He just asked me if there was one thing about the NFL that surprised me and I said the hype in general with the draft. I think the draft is integral obviously with putting together your team but literally from the day the Super Bowl ends until the draft, at the ending of May, or the beginning of June or maybe push it to July at some point in time; that's all everybody talks about.
I felt the same way in college. You devote everything to the signing day. Well, how many of those guys on the signing day are actually going to contribute? You may have one or two of your rookies that have an impact on your team but the rest of them it's a part of having them develop.
It's just that was the only ... he asked me what was surprising me and I just think the hype that surrounds the draft in general. The fact that people would watch the Combine; there's times at the Combine where I fall asleep. So I don't know why people watch it on television. They are running 40 yard dashes.
I just think the hype was the point I was talking about, and it's like anything else, I don't care who it is, as I said, you guys are in the newspaper business. If someone is a rookie coming into the newspaper thing, I don't think you all just start applauding and saying, ‘Oh my God, the savior is here and our paper is safe because we just signed a kid out of Northwestern because the kid has really good prose.’
But in football it seems to be the biggest deal in the world and if a guy is not an All Pro in his first year but he was drafted in the first five picks, obviously he's a bust. But I don't think that's the case.
How has Jeremy Maclin looked the first couple of days as you said this was the point last year when you lost him?
COACH KELLY: He's been good. I don't know if he surprised us.
I think because of how he rehabbed in the off season, we were confident with him going into the off season program. He was out there every day in the off season program and it's just a matter of him getting his timing back.
From a physical standpoint, the strength and flexibility and conditioning is there. Now it's just him getting his timing back. He was better in these first two practices, made some improvements from what he had last spring. So we're excited to move forward with him.
COACH KELLY: I think a lot of it depends on who we're playing and how do they defend certain sets, and sometimes the personnel groups that we selected to go with have really nothing to do with our personnel. Just depends, what do we want their defense in.
If we can present them with 11 personnel and they are giving us this; if we present them with 12, they give us this. You know, what's a better matchup for us? We have great confidence in James. I think as the season went along, he really contributed and he can play multiple positions for us. I'm excited about where James is headed.
Your practice has not changed much from this year to last year. But starting in the spring, the formations, the entire defense is out there. Is that new?
COACH KELLY: No. We did that last year.
Where have you seen the greatest improvement in Zach Ertz?
COACH KELLY: Just general knowledge in what we are doing. He obviously was behind. There are six schools that guys are not allowed to come, Stanford, Oregon, Oregon State, Washington, Northwestern for any of you guys that are going to add a Northwestern writer to your stuff, won't be available till June, and I think UCLA. He missed the spring.
Preseason camp last year was really our first chance to really start to work with him. So I just think he was behind a little bit but not by any fault of his own. Real smart kid. Understands exactly what we are trying to do but then you have to go out and do it and it's just he missed reps, which was the most important thing and now I think he's just a lot more comfortable in terms of what we're doing there.
What do you expect to see from
COACH KELLY: Over the next few weeks? To not get hurt. To not get hurt, number one. I think I've seen he's really done a great job of stepping in at that other safety spot opposite Nate [Allen] and being real decisive in terms of what he's doing. He's been a great leader in the locker room and meeting rooms, has a really, really good football knowledge.
I think he's done a great job with our staff of asking a lot of interesting questions in terms of, ‘Hey, maybe we can fit it this way,’ as opposed to the way we are fitting it. I think he's really fit in, I think maybe better than anybody on our staff thought he was going to fit in just because we were not familiar with him. But he's a football player and he adds a lot of stability to the back end out there.
What progress have you seen out of
COACH KELLY: I've known Mark since high school. Went to Mission Viejo High School. Saw him compete out there. I was at New Hampshire at the time and used to recruit out there on the West Coast. We actually recruited the quarterback who came after him to go to New Hampshire, R.J. Toman who had a great career.
So I've known Mark for a long time. I think he's healthy now. I thought he really you know, for him, he had I think three coordinators when he was with the Jets, from Schotty [Brian Schottenheimer] to [Tony] Sparano to Marty [Mornhinweg]. And then coming into here learning his fourth system, he picked things up very quickly.
And again, like I said with some other guys, it's just a matter of getting him reps. I think he's been sharp the last few days and really came on towards the end of the spring and been really impressed with him as a teammate. The guys in the locker room will tell you that; what a great person Mark is and how well he's fit in with that group.
We are really excited to have him because as I said before, you need to have a couple quarterbacks in this league, because very rarely does your number one make it through the entire season.