On Wednesday morning, at the owners meetings in Arizona, NFL coaches fielded questions from the media at the coaches breakfast. Here’s what St. Louis Rams’ head coach Jeff Fisher had to say about the Rams, free agency, drafting a quarterback, and a whole lot more...
[the following Q&A is courtesy of SportsXchange, as transcribed by Jim Thomas]
On the Browns Offer for Sam Bradford
It was over the course of that weekend that we had discussions. I think we executed the trade on Tuesday. I think it was late over the weekend that there was some discussion. Discussions weren't ongoing from the combine through trade. Well after the combine.
On Potentially Moving the Team
I've been saying. I don't see controversy. I see us playing in 2015 in St. Louis. And as I've said numerous times when I want to know more information I'll ask. Right now I don't. I'm focused on this team. Having gone through it however, I don't think it'd be fair to compare both situations. But the end result was good (in Tennesee) I'm looking forward to this year in St. Louis and hoping that we can get things worked out. It makes no sense for me or the players to spend time concerned about it worried about it. If it happens it happens. But going back '95 or '96 and early '97, we focused on our job. I remember back them telling them don't worry about it. It's out of our control.
On Kendall Langford
They're getting a great teammate, No. 1. He's a hard worker. He's loyal. He understands that the game. He plays hard. I wished him well. He called after he agreed to terms, he texted, and said thanks for the opportunity. That's kind of the young man he is.
On Entertaining a Trade That Didn’t Include a QB
Yes and no. I really depends on the value. I think it would've made it a little more difficult. But again, all along before this thing came together we were behind Sam. We felt like Sam was gonna give us an opportunity. He was gonna come back. He was gonna be healthy. But once Nick got involved, and compensation got involved, it was a deal that was hard to pass up..
On Nick Foles Fit With the Team
Nick for us is the perfect fit I have talked with Chip where he thinks Sam's the perfect fit. So this was a good deal. But for us, we get a younger quarterback that's won a lot of games in this league, can make all the throws, and is somewhat durable. I know he's had shoulder issues but I guess everybody does.
On If He Was Surprised There Was So Much Interest in Bradford
No. Because if you looked at his body of work when he did play, it's special. He can throw the football, good decision-maker. So no, I wasn't surprised. And they're obviously betting on the same thing we were _ that he was gonna be successful. Healthy and successful.
On if Sam Bradford Was Rushed Back Last Season
There was no second-guessing He had an outstanding offseason. Participated in the OTAs. And took the month off (before camp) and threw to receivers during vacation time in Oklahoma. And came back and was practicing every day. He wasn't limited in practice. He was fully cleared. So there was no reason to second-guess anything.
On the Impact on Fans With Possible Relocation Looming
We're hoping and expecting fans to come out and watch us because we're a much-improved football team. We're gonna be here this year. That's where our focus should all be on, what our approach is, and how much success we have this season. So it makes no sense to look behind this season.
On Keeping the Players from Focusing on Possible Relocation
You know, I've had some discussion with the players. And they're actually more excited right now about what we've done in free agency and looking forward to what we're doing in the draft and looking forward to coming back to work than they are talking about any potential to relocate.
On Free Agency Thus Far
First of all we're excited just to keep our own. To be able to get Lance (Kendricks) and Kenny (Britt) back, that was really important to us. And then we actually targeted both Akeem (Ayers) and Nick (Fairley). From a fit standpoint and a need standpoint, those were our top two defensive players. Nick was injured last year, was in his view ready to come back and play the final game. He did not. So since then he's been doing nothing but working out. Changed his diet, his eating habits. His weight's under control. He's in great shape right now. He will admit that he probably didn't buy into it as best as he could have early on in his career. There's not doubt in my mind he's buying into it now. He's serious about his football.
On Nick Fairley
He was excited about, you know, one coming into the building, two meeting Coach Waufle. And then three, watching and seeing what we're doing. Now they had watched a lot of tape of ours as we did them. They had an outstanding pass rush as well.
On Kenny Britt’s Emergence As Top Receiver
It didn't surprise me because obviously I know Kenny. The production didn't surprise me. We think he can do better. I think he can do better. He thinks he can better. He thinks he can be more productive. He's looking forward to the change _ the offensive changes. And to Nick (Foles). So yeah, we should see a lot more out of Kenny this year.
On Akeem Ayers' Fit
He's versatile. Early in his career he played for Coach Bush. He can play behind the line of scrimmage, and not entirely on the line of scrimmage. He can play outside linebacker and rush. He runs well. And he did a great job for New England, just as a stand-up rusher. He gives us another guy that hopefully he can create mismatches with, from a collapsing the pocket standpoint.
On Ayers as a Potential Starter
He'll be competing with Jo-Lonn (Dunbar).
On When Bradford Trade Talks Began
The misconception is that it started at the combine. It didn't. . .It came well after.
On Bringing Back Case Keenum
We really like Case. He was making progress, but didn't get the opportunity I think he would've liked from a practice standpoint. Because he was our third, and usually the third doesn't get (much work). But would stay out after every practice and work. Obviously (Houston) needed a quarterback. The injury thing really became difficult on them. He knew the system. Case was really the only guy out there that was familiar with the offensive system that you could plug in and play right away. So when the season was over we gave (Texans) a call.
On Garrett Reynolds and Where He’ll Play On Offensive Line
Garrett can play both. Garrett played some right tackle in a few games at Detroit. I thought he played pretty well. He's a big strong physical guard or right tackle. He was at North Carolina when Cignetti was at North Carolina. And Boo had him in Atlanta. He's physical. He's healthy. He's one of those guys that just brings you good depth.
On Work Still Needing to Be Done
Yeah, there's still some spots available if you will. (jokes)
More on the Offensive Line [Could be Very Young]
Our preference obviously is to develop players. This draft in particular is outstanding as far as the offensive line is concerned. There's still several free agents out there that we're in discussions with. But we're looking towards drafting. It's not one of those things that we're gonna panic about, particularly because of who we've got lined up. Barrett (Jones) showed in a brief appearance that he can play. We have confidence in Demetrius Rhaney that he can come in and compete at the spot as well. And then we've got Greg (Robinson) and Rog (Rodger Safflold). So I'm kind of excited about what direction we're headed with it.
On Re-Signing Joseph Barksdale
We'd like to have him back. There's been discussions.
On If He’s Surprised Barksdale Is Still Available
Yes and no. I was a little surprised at their asking price initially. I think things have settled down a little bit so we'd love to have Joe. Joe played, he played well at times. He had some outstanding games. Had some difficult matchups as well. But Joe knows us. And Joe knows Coach Boudreau. And it makes sense to get Joe back.
On Singing More Free Agents
Well it's other money or ideal fit. Because there's some players out there that still have value at a number of positions. Once we get back from the meetings, things tend to pick up again. So we may have another visit or two.
On Being Open to Draft Day Trades
Even since last year's trade we've been doing some wheeling and dealing. With the Mark Barron trade and the Nick Foles trade. But we feel good. We got a compensatory pick back. Like we've always said, there's options there. To go up, stay put, or move back and gather picks.
More on the Bradford Trade
At the end, it was a great situation for both clubs, both teams were excited about the outcome.
On Still Drafting a Quarterback
No. It's our intention to draft one. The Nick trade has no bearing over what we do in the draft.
On Jameis Winston, Marcus Mariota
They're unique. They're rare. They've clearly proven they can win games. Marcus obviously is a little bit more mobile than Winston is. But Winston makes all of the throws. They're both very impressive to watch.
On Whether Going from Spread to Pro Style Offense Will Be Difficult for Mariota
I don't think it's going to be difficult. He's been working under those circumstances now in training situations. I think it just adds to the intrigue. He tested out so well as an athlete.
On Whether or Not He’d Trade up for Mariota
Well, you know how I am with respect to hypotheticals. (laughs)
On Being Known for Being Active on Draft Day
We'll see. I think it's highly unlikely that either one of them gets to us. They're both very talented players.
On Other QB’s in the Draft
There's some outstanding players. Once you get beyond (Winston and Mariota). We're just starting the process. My understanding's based on our first wave draft meetings that there's some young quarterbacks that can play.
On Bryce Petty
Good combine. Got a very strong arm. Good athlete. You don't see him do things that we're gonna ask him to do so I think you have to see him actually work out, private workout, things like that.
On Bringing a QB Along Slowly [like Steve McNair]
I still think it's an individual thing. The progression relates directly to the individual player. Some players can come in and should and will play sooner than others. We stuck to our plan with Steve. We got him experience over the first couple years. He didn't start until his third year. . . .But I think you'll see players play a little sooner now but again so much of it has to do with the individual player.
On Andy Reid’s Offense
Well, he's come a long ways since his punt, pass, and kick days. I say that because we played against each other in high school.
On Austin Davis
Austin's still in our plans. He's still gonna come in and compete. We're gonna let Austin and Case compete for that 2 spot. That's our plan.
On Whether Or Not Austin Davis Can Get Back to Mistake Free Football
Yeah. One factor to consider is the offensive change. We're gonna be doing different things. . . that we asked Austin to do. I think Austin has a chance. You can see, he's got a quick release. He's got mobility.
On What He’s Doing Differently
We're gonna throw it quicker.
On Lance Kendricks
Coach Boras I think had a lot to do with him coming back. They talked throughout the process. I think when we sat down, we made the offensive change, the offense sat down there and started reviewing our run game and our passing game, it became apparent to them that Lance was very important to us moving the football. And so, as an organization, we recognized that and so i was important to get him back.
On Flexibility with Picking at 10 Overall
There's flexibility. There's no doubt we're gonna get an outstanding player at 10. It depends on who's there as always. And if somebody sees value in another player that works for us, we can back out and still get a nice player.
On Taking a Pass Rusher at 10
It would not be inconceivable to take another defensive end. We like defensive ends and tackles.
On Having Two Defensive Ends Whose Contracts Are Up in 2015
That's exactly it. It's not out of the realm of possibilities.
On Picking Up Where They Left Off Defensively
Gregg (Williams) going into his second year with the players and the system, and just the normal changes that you go through during the offseason, our expectations are much higher earlier in the year than they were. Not that the expectations weren't high.
On Whether It Took Williams a While to Realize What He Had
Yeah, I believe so. We did an awful lot, we may have done too much at camp from an install standpoint. I think now that he has a good feel for what we have, and we have a better feel for what we have that we can prune things down a little bit. And get good a few things rather than be involved in too much defense.
On Frank Cignetti Simplifying the Playbook, Terminology
That process started really as soon as he took over. Was promoted. They're spending a lot of time, behind closed doors, going back and reviewing what happened last year, and making changes and those kind of things. And that's no different than any other offense right now. So they're doing it they feel good about it. They're excited to get in front of the players, unfortunately in this day and age you have to wait till April.
On Rob Boras’ Expanded Role
Rob really does an outstanding job, particularly in our running game, and creation of the running game, and then pairing the running game up with the play-action passing. That's where Rob, I think his value is. So he's expanded that. He's working closely with Cigs and the rest of the staff. It's a collective effort. And I would say they're probably getting close to moving on to personnel. Stay a little more focused on pre-draft stuff because it looks like on offense, the book's just about done, which is impressive.
On What He Likes About Nick Foles
I think we liked what everybody else liked about Nick. He's just a great young man. It starts there. Nothing but compliments from anybody that's been around him. Even prior to coming to Philly. So outstanding young man. He's got mobility. Makes good decisions. Likes to put the ball down the field. From everything we can tell because it's just been a couple weeks...great teammate. Everybody says he's a great teammate. He loves the building. He comes early, stays late. We're excited to have him as I'm sure Chip and his staff and the Eagles are excited to have Sam.
On Giving Up on Sam Bradford
I've been on record many times. There's two reasons that I came to this organization. One was our owner and second was Sam. It's been difficult on Sam and been difficult on us because he's not been available. This is a good situation for us. We got a quarterback. We got compensation. And it's a deal that both clubs ended up being very excited about. This just happens to be one of those things that happens in sports that's good for both sides.
On 2013 Nick Foles
What Nick did in 13 was real impressive. And even the things that he did in '12 with Andy (Reid). Yes, people are gonna get a little bit banged up. He got a little bit banged up last year. We felt like he could do the things we need him to do to get where we needed to get to.
More On 2013 Foles
When you have those kind of numbers, it's about making decisions, getting rid of the football quickly, throwing with accuracy. A lot has to do with the scheme, too. It was a new scheme in '13. It took some people time to adjust to that. He makes good decisions.
On 2014 Nick Foles and Interceptions
They happen. I wasn't concerned about that. He was a little banged up. People may have adjusted a little bit to the tempo. But no concerns about it.