NFL Scouting Combine

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NFC NORTH: What the head coaches are saying

INDIANAPOLIS – All of the NFL coaches and general manager interviews are completed here at the NFL Scouting Combine as the focus now shifts to the 300-plus players taking part in the most important job interview of their lives.

It's worth a look back at what the four coaches in the NFC North had to say about their rosters, some decisions they have ahead of free agency, and their opinions about this draft class.

Here are the highlights from each of the four coaches in the division:


Q. Does he need more physical players to beat San Francisco in the NFC?

A. "I don't think the physicality had a whole lot to do with it. They had a great game plan and ultimately they went out and executed their plan a lot better than we did. I think there's a lot of facets we can improve upon moving forward, but I'm confident in the guys we have on our roster and certainly throughout this process in the offseason we're always trying to add to that."

Q. What does he expect from quarterback Aaron Rodgers in Year 2 in his system?

A. "I'm really excited about that. Here's a veteran guy that plays at the highest level of anybody. He's a future Hall of Famer. The foundation has been laid for us. He knows exactly what to expect going into Year 2. Certainly we're going to refine some of the things we do offensively, but just really excited to get him back in the building and work through that process."

Q. What's the difference this offseason heading into his second season as head coach?

A. "A year ago, it's just like scramble mode. You're trying to get everybody on the same page and implement your offense, defense and special-teams systems. Now, it really gives you a chance ... the foundation's been laid, the systems are in place. It's how do we refine those in order to get the most out of our players. And also, anytime you get to add to your roster, that's an exciting time."


Q. Has he filled some vacancies on his coaching staff?

A. "I think we've talked about kind of just in general guys that have been brought on board. We'll probably get that out pretty soon with everybody's titles and all the rest of that here coming up. But adding kind of a couple more pieces and still in the process of finalizing all that. Like Tyrone McKenzie is somebody that we've hired. Hank Fraley we moved to offensive line with Jeff (Davidson) leaving. We moved Billy Yates over back to the offensive side of the ball. He played O-line back in the day so he's familiar with that. Ben Johnson was with us last year, he'll probably move into that tight end role so we kind of just have some of the moving pieces and we'll get that all out."

Q. How much does interior disruption matter on defense?

A. "I think it depends on the run style that you play. I think if you're an attacking, penetrating style of defensive front, you know everything else has to fit in behind it. The run fits of the linebackers, the secondary support, things like that, that go into it. I don't think anybody on defense in general doesn't attack. Kind of their nature in general, they like to be aggressive. You're going to attack the line of scrimmage, it just depends on how far you move upfield in the run game.

"I think in the pass game, obviously, it's one goal and it's try to get to the quarterback so you're going to have to have some sort of complementary rush both inside and outside. Whether it's just a straight rush on the edge or you're working different types of games or different types of stunts from that standpoint, but certainly to have the ability to push the middle of the pocket is really important."

Q. What does he think of the new format at the Combine and some of the new drills?

A. "I'm excited about it. Excited to see what it looks like and obviously I think everyone's just trying to do everything they can to get better. And I think one of the things that's great about the Combine is that they're taking a look at it from the same standpoint, how can we improve the information or the time or the schedule so that everybody gets as much as possible. So it'll be fun to watch."


Q. What does quarterback Mitchell Trubisky need to do to take next step?

A. "One thing that he is able to do is get onto the film on his own and really hammer through what he's looking at. Now, for him, I think the processing part is what ... it has to get to a point where you're so obsessed, no matter what you're doing, you're always watching film. We're at a point now where, hey, in these next several months before they get back in here, April 20th or whatever it is, he's a complete expert at knowing ... he needs to know it better than me. And that's the goal. He'll tell you that that wasn't the case last year. That's not a slight on him – he's in Year 2 of it – but I want him to make sure that's where he gets to in the future."

Q. How do you blend together the input of all the new voices to the offensive coaching staff this offseason?

A. "Yeah well we're doing that now in the offseason with the blend. We're thick in ... matter of fact, we're getting together in a few hours to even get at it more. Scheme wise, what did we do well last year as a team? We know offensively we struggled in a lot of different areas, but we're about fixing it. If we're OK with what we did last year, then we're in the wrong place. And we're not. So we gotta fix things. And so how do we do that?

"We get good minds together that talk it through. We're real with each other. This wasn't a good play. This wasn't about the player, this was about the coaches. And when you can do that and show accountability, you continue to build that trust. And so our goal is to be a lot better offensively, and if that's less is more, then great. Whatever that is, we'll work that way all the way to training camp with all of those coaches."

Q. What does he need to see from the tight end position this year?

A. "With the guys that we had last year, with the guys this year, with Trey (Burton) and (Adam) Shaheen, is just the availability. It was a struggle for them. We want to make that U tight end, we like looking for a guy with mismatches. That's the word that everybody uses with that U tight end. But having the ability to do some blocking as well. So that's a point of emphasis for us. You saw we signed Demetrius (Harris) the other day. He's well rounded, can do a lot of different things at the same time. He knows this offense, the terminology, the verbiage. So he's excited, we're excited. But that's certainly an area that we want to get better statistically, for sure. It's big for us."


Q. What is his opinion about this year's offensive line class?

A. "I think the tackles are pretty good. I think the guards maybe dropped off a little bit from last year. But again, we're just starting the process. We're going to try and figure out what's the best fit for us. It's important that the players, whoever we end up drafting, fit our culture and the way we like to do things, they fit great in the locker room and the way we practice, the way we do things."

Q. Could free agent defensive end Everson Griffen return to Minnesota next season?

A. "We met with his agent, yesterday I think it was. Everson's a terrific person for us. I think our situation is the right one for him, and we expect him to be back. I think he wants to be back, so those kinds of things usually work their way out."

Q. Is the secondary among positions he wants to address in the early rounds?

A. "I don't know when we'll address it. I'm sure we'll have to address it. We've got a lot of decisions to make there in that back end, but that's part of the process we have to go through. If there's a great pass rusher there, it doesn't mean we won't take him, or a great offensive guard or something like that, we might take him."

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