Q. You had just said that you're excited about having Michael Vick and Nick Foles on the roster. So both of those guys will be with the team for the season opener?
"I hope so. In case one of them gets hurt between now and tomorrow. But there is an open competition. Michael knows that. Nick knows that. Nick knew every step of the way what we were doing. I wanted to make sure Nick was included in the plans, and I think both of them have outstanding qualities in terms of being quarterbacks in this league. Both of them have started in this league.
So I also know in this league, you better have two, so I'm excited about the two of them. They're both going to compete. And who the starting quarterback is to start the season off is going to be won on the practice field."
Q: You hired a "sports science coordinator." What does that job entail?
"Yeah, the game of football has evolved. I think we as coaches have to evolve with it. And to always harken back to, well, we did it because that's the way it's always been done, I just never bought into that theory in my mind.
I want to know why we do things and everything we do. Whether it's the athletic training room, the strength and conditioning room, to anything that touches this football team. And the only answer I won't accept is because we've always done it that way.
If you look back 50 years ago, people trained in football, and they weren't allowed to have water during the game. There was a bucket on the sideline, and you had a ladle and you scooped it out and had a sip, but if you drank water, you were soft. Obviously, we've evolved from a science standpoint.
There are a lot of other sports that have evolved faster than football has evolved from a science standpoint, and we want to be on the cutting edge of that."
Q. If there is an open competition at quarterback and Nick Foles maybe is more suited for a west coast as opposed to, I don't know what the plans are with Michael Vick and possibly running more of a spread option. How would you do an open competition while having two different systems?
"I don't think it's two different systems. Again, people try to look at what we've done in the past and where I've been and kind of paint it with one brush because everybody wants a sound bite to say your offense is this.
I don't think what we do offensively can be said in one or two words that we're either this or we're this. We're an equal opportunity scoring operation.
Whether we run the ball over the goal line or throw the ball over the goal line really doesn't bother me, it's how do we move the football. There have been games we've had to throw it in our league 50 times and there are games we have to run it 50 times. You need to be built for the long haul.
There is a skill set that Nick has that really excites me about him. And I had the opportunity to see him up close and personal for three years and I know what he can do.
So I'm excited to work with him. I think we've got an older quarterback in Michael who is 32 now, and have a younger guy in Nick who is going into his second year, and I think it's the ideal situation for us moving forward this season."
Q. Can you tell me what went into the decision to pick Pat Shurmur? And who will call the plays?
"(Jokingly) First off, on the play calling, I'll call all the good plays. He'll call all the bad. That was first and foremost. The first question was will you take credit for all the bad plays and he said yes, and he jumped right to the top of the list.
No, I made a real conscious decision moving from the college level to here that I wanted to hire coordinators that had NFL experience, that was very important to me, and pretty thorough in my investigation from that. And I think with Billy Davis and Pat Shurmur and [special teams coordinator] David Fipp we got that.
And meeting with Pat, to be honest, it was is this too good to be true? And the longer our meeting went on, it was a two‑day meeting and when I met with Pat it was that's a great point. We agree on that, and how do you feel about this? And when I looked at our assistants after Pat left, and I was like what do you guys think? We were all on the same page.
And I was excited that Pat told me the bottom line is I said, Where do you see yourself? And he said, I just want to win. And that's exactly what I want to do and what we want to do. So that put us on the same page. But the fact that he was here for ten years as a quarterback coach is icing on the cake to me.
He has a great understanding of this building. And the reputation he left when he left this building, when I mentioned to people that we were interviewing him, you could see their eyes light up. After spending time with him, I could see why. I think he's a great addition.
I also had thought about it. Sometimes it works out to have a guy on staff that's been a head coach in this league. Pat's office is connected to mine, and I know the door's usually open because I can walk in and say what did do you in this situation when you were a head coach? There are so many bonuses, besides his football knowledge, after meeting him and getting on the board with him is just outstanding, just his personality, his mindset, it was kind of a slam‑dunk for me after getting a chance to sit down and visit with him."
Q. Can you talk about the process with Billy Davis? Because you interviewed him and it was about 11 or 12‑days before formally announcing him as the defensive coordinator. What went on during that timeframe? Was there ever any wavering?
"No, there wasn't. For me, it was just being thorough. I think, I can't remember exactly what day, it was one of those Sundays. Every day runs together for us because we've been here every day. But Billy came in and did an unbelievable job. Really sometimes when you interview people, sometimes it's like you're pulling teeth. There is not a great rapport.
But there was a great rapport. We kept going over different situations, different scenarios and just talking football. It felt like what I want our meeting rooms to feel like, because it wasn't an interview. It was just a bunch of guys talking football, and some really intelligent questions, and really intelligent answers.
I felt like after interviewing him, he was the guy I wanted to work with. And I also knew instead of jumping at the first thing, to make sure we had an opportunity to look around.
I explained that to Billy. We're pretty transparent as a group. I thought you did an outstanding job. I'd love to work with you, but I wouldn't be doing my due diligence if I didn't get a chance to talk to some other people.
When I did talk to other people, it just reaffirmed that Billy was the guy. Was a great fit again. And I know I keep saying great fit, but that was the most important thing of putting anybody together here on this staff."
Q. You brought five guys that you had with you on various levels. Can you talk about what those guys, Matt [Harper], Jerry [Azzinaro], and Eric [Chinander] and those guys kind of give you in that comfort level and who are here with you now?
"Yeah, that was really important to me to get a bunch of guys in here that understood me and really kind of built it from the bottom up. And Eric and Todd [Lyght], Matt Harper and Greg Austin are guys that are young coaches at Oregon that have been with me a couple of years and understood how I wanted things done and what my vision was.
I knew I was going to hire coordinators that were NFL guys that haven't had the opportunity to work with me before. I have a meeting and have a tendency to talk really fast and I want things to be efficient. But I also know that I may forget to say something, and Pat Shurmur can go to Greg Austin and say what did he mean by that? Or the same thing with Dave Fipp and Matt Harper for those young guys, now I can put together guys with NFL experience coming here, and those guys can say this is what coach means, this is how we operate. Kind of get in that fit that I talked about again. But it was integral.
Plus I think those guys are outstanding coaches and they're going to be rising stars in this profession, and they're smart, they're intelligent. I don't have to worry about what time you're supposed to be in the office, because we all challenge each other and compete with each other to who can get in first in the morning and who can leave last.
When you have to worry about guys doing clock watching, you hired the wrong guys, and I didn't with those guys."
Q. Billy Davis's background, are you going to be switching to the 3-4? And what was your thinking behind that? Is it because of facing the 3-4 in college?
"That's one of the things about Billy's background is his versatility because he's coached in both. What direction we end up ultimately heading in, I like the 3-4 better. When I first started at Oregon, I think from a special teams standpoint philosophically, if you carry more linebackers on your roster than you do defensive linemen, you help your team from a special teams standpoint, but you just didn't do that in a day.
It's a situation we're evaluating all the personnel on our team, and we'll see where we are.
But I think anybody that runs a 3-4 defense has elements of being a four‑down scheme, no matter what it is. It may not be on first and second down, but it could be on third down.
One of the things that really attracted me to Billy was his versatility and being able to coach in both systems. He's a 21‑year veteran of this league, and has coached under guys like Dick LeBeau, Bill Cowher, Wade Phillips and Vic Fangio and just spent time in Cleveland with Dick Jauron. So he's got a good background. And that's what I wanted in a coordinator, is a coordinator with versatility. Then it's our job as coaches to figure out what is the best scheme for the guys we have in place.
Everybody has a wish list of how they want to do things and what they want to do. But everything we do offensively, defensively, and special teams‑wise will be driven by personnel."
Q. You mentioned the versatility of the staff and how you're not done looking at and evaluating the terms of capability. Ran the scheme in Arizona, last time the defensive coordinator had a 4-3 under, though it looked like the 3-4. The Seahawks used something similar. Is it safe to say that that could be something that you would want to implement because that was Bill's scheme?
"Sure. I don't know. I don't know until we get all the pieces in place. What we're going to do is put our guys in the best position for them to make plays. I don't know if that's being a 3-4 team, a 4-3 team, a 5-2, a 6-1 team. I know we could add up at the numbers to see where we are.
We're also not caught up in that. It's about making sure we play sound defense on first, second and third down. We could look drastically different on first and second downs than third downs. And that's going to be entirely personnel driven for us. Could it be a 4-3 under defense? Yeah, or it could be a 3-4 under defense.
I'm not caught up with labels. Because I don't think it's going to be a ladies and gentlemen defense. I think it's hopefully going to be a defense that creates a lot of turnovers and gets the ball back to our offense so we can be productive on our offensive side of the ball."
Q. If you look at Billy Davis's track record as defensive coordinator, he's certainly had his struggles. What is it about this fit here that makes you think he'll have more success?
"Meet him, you'll make that determination and understand why I hired him. I think sometimes coaches get labeled. You have no idea really what goes on. And sometimes it's kind of like being the quarterback, because the quarterback gets probably too much credit and too much blame. It's the same thing for the defensive coordinator, too much credit, too much blame. I know when I talk to him in terms of him being a teacher and understanding the game of football, he's outstanding.
It's our job as a group to make a collaborative effort that we put the best look out there on the field. But everybody is involved in it. One thing I love about this game is it's a quintessential team game. Everybody has a hand in it. Everybody from the personnel department, to the President of this corporation, to Jeffrey [Lurie], to Howie [Roseman], everybody, our coaching staff, our players, everybody.
When you win or lose a game, and you single out one person, it goes against the whole tenet of what the game is all about. If it's the quintessential team game, we're going to win as a team or lose as a team, and nobody's going to shoulder that blame more than anybody else. The important thing is he's an outstanding teacher. He's got some really, really good ideas, and I'm excited to get going with him."