GREEN BAY – The Packers’ coordinators spoke to the media on Thursday afternoon. Here are highlights from their news conferences:
Offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett
On how things change without Roquan Smith:
I don’t think it’s going to be all that different. He runs the show there. … But they do a great job with their scheme. We have to be ready for anything and everything.
On finishing against the NFC North:
This is a really unique situation because when we first went into the Chicago game, there were a lot of questions. Now you can look back at the whole season and see what they’ve done, and it clarifies what we hadn’t seen. It allows us to zero in on certain things.
As you see, just talking to some of the linemen, you can see them getting an understanding of the angles and the zoom scheme we run. I think there were a couple really good examples of that. The outside zone world is unique. Once you get it rolling, it forces the defense to cover the whole field. I think we’re starting to make them stretch the entire field. … We’ve gotten outside zone rolling a little bit and that’s something we want to be about because it gets the play-action going. That’s something we want to keep rolling with.
On the receiver blocking:
There was a great clip of Jake Kumerow motioning down and getting on a safety. We ran between Kumerow and Marcedes, and it was cool to see Davante going crazy. It takes all 11. Those are the things that make those big plays down the field. Anything over 12 yards, those receivers have to participate.
Defensive coordinator Mike Pettine
He’s been solid for them. He’s who they expected when they drafted him. I think we saw signs of it opening night. They had a couple nice runs. He’s really matured. You look at him now – he doesn’t look like a rookie back anymore. He’s been a significant part of their success.
I think he’s handled it well. It’s not a surprise he’s playing at the level he is. He’s seeing the film and asking the right questions. He wants the challenge. You see him on the practice field – he’s not worried about staying warm. He’s out there to get better. It’s been really nice to see his progression from a year ago and playing at such a high level.
On Josh Jackson playing through his father’s passing:
That’s such a credit to him. He’s a prideful guy. You can tell something was off but he was a professional and handled his business. Your heart goes out to him. You see how he stepped into the game and performed at a high level. He did his job. He’s a guy who the year hasn’t gone the way he wants it to go but he works his tail off and he answered the bell.
On Za’Darius Smith getting double-teamed:
It doesn’t surprise me. I know Kenny Clark gets a lot of attention inside. It doesn’t surprise me because of how disruptive he is. He can get quarterbacks off the spot. … Za, for the most part, is throwing fastballs and that can be very disruptive. You don’t want them to build up their power so you try to mute that at the snap. That’s why we try to move him around.
On why he uses Pro Football Focus:
Sometimes if something jumps out and (we) want to explore it further. The amount of information that’s available, it saves so much time to readily pull those clips up. It allows us to narrow our focus very quickly.
Special-teams coordinator Shawn Mennenga
On punt returner Tyler Ervin:
He’s aggressive. He’s the definition of a north-south returner. He truly wants to hit it north and south and isn’t afraid. You can tell he runs behind his pads and runs through contact. He gets the maximum yards that are there.
On how he fields the ball:
He does a good job judging it. He has a good feel for who’s around him. He has good vision.
I think it was a combination of both. The defense did a great job of holding them down there. We blocked well on the outside and inside and Tyler did a great job fielding the ball.
On whether it’s gratifying to see punt-return unit come together:
I think anytime you work hard at something, you want to see the fruits of your labor. Our guys have bought in and done a good job with that. It wasn’t showing up on game days but I’ve seen us fundamentally improve. It’s always good when you have positive results and see good things happen.
On special teams turning a corner:
I feel like we’re improving in all areas. You want to continue to see the growth. To me, it’s 16 one-game seasons. You can build confidence based on improvement but you still have to do it on Sunday.
On Cordarrelle Patterson and Tarik Cohen on returns:
Their resumes speak for themselves. Two Pro Bowl returners. Coradarelle is a big guy who hits it and Cohen is dangerous every time he touches it. It’s definitely the best duo of returners we’ve seen.