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QBs: Offense vs. Defense ‘a Bit of a Chess Match’

Posted Aug 5, 2013

Transcript of quarterbacks Mark Sanchez's and Geno Smith's news conferences following Monday's morning training camp practice at SUNY Cortland:

QB MARK SANCHEZ

On practice today…

I think it went well. There were some high points, I think red zone 7-on-7 looked all right. I felt good. We did a little backed-up four-minute stuff working on coming out from our own territory when a team pins you in, or after some sort of crazy swing in the game, some sort of turnover or something, we get the ball in our own territory, our own 5, minus-5 and in, so we worked on a lot of those drills. I thought our move-the-ball period was pretty good at the end with our first group, was exactly what we wanted to do. We got in, we converted a couple of third downs, we should have had a touchdown earlier but we ended up punching it in late.

On if he feels like the offense has caught up with the defense and gained momentum…

I feel like, this year’s been a little bit different but we’ve kind of gone back and forth, it’s been a little bit of a chess match. That’s the way it felt, I think, my second year more, where we really fought back as an offense, and not just catchup, OK, now we’re on top, but every day is kind of a battle. There’s swing plays here and there that get momentum going, but you know it’s been a good competition the entire time offense vs. defense.

On what he saw on film from the scrimmage…

What I thought about the play to Clyde [Gates], I just missed him there. He tried to get up and climb the ladder for me, and it was a little too tall. Other than that, I thought things went more or less pretty well, and we’re about where we want to be. We’ll just keep improving.

On if he's been told when a starter will be declared…

I have no idea. Ask Marty [Mornhinweg], I have no idea.

On if he feels like today was one of his strongest practices of camp…

I felt good, I felt good. In 7-on-7 and team drills, the backed-up drill, and the move-the-ball, you know, I thought we were pretty sharp there, that first group. Calls came in quick, we got in and out of the huddle, had great tempo, good pace, good mix of runs and passes, screens, everything. It was kind of the way that we want to run things, you know, in a nutshell in one drive, and that looked pretty good.

On the play of the first unit's offensive line and how they are opening holes…

They looked good, especially in the running game. I thought in the scrimmage too, we ran the ball really well. The running backs got extra yards, but the offensive line opened some holes for them and gave them a chance to get on that second, third-level defender, and it really helped our run game.

On what has stood out to him about Stephen Hill compared to last year...

He looks just a little more grown up, a little thicker, a little bigger, and he’s going after the ball. He’s just getting more and more confidence, and that comes with time, that comes with experience, that comes with being 100 percent healthy. You know he’s coming off that injury in OTA’s, and people were starting to worry, is he going to be OK, is he going to come back. He’s going to be fine. You know he’s a big, strong kid, and as soon as he realizes it, you know the sky is the limit for that guy. He’s going to be a real good player for us.

On Hill’s performance playing against Buffalo last year…

It can go two ways, just like my rookie year. We come out on fire for three games and then things go a little south, and then we pick things back up and make it in the playoffs and look what happened, so just to remember it’s a marathon not a sprint, this whole thing. And I think Stephen’s got a real good idea of that, he’s got a better grasp of that now. But he’s a heck of a ball player, he’s always smiling, always working hard, so just have to make sure he keeps on eating, doesn’t get too skinny.

On how much of the playbook the offense has installed…

We’re getting pretty close to the end. We’re going at a good pace. You know, stuff like that, talk to Marty.

On if all the motion and substitutions with this type of offense keep the defense off-balance…

It can. I think that, that one drive we had today looked about the way we want it to I’m sure. It looked pretty good to me, I think we mixed in a bunch of different personnel, whether it was three tight ends, two tight ends, two running backs, five wide receivers, receivers in the backfield, running backs that lined up out at receiver, that’s the kind of stuff we want to be able to do. And as time goes on, as we practice more and more together, we get this stuff down and we can do all that at a quick pace, keep guys off balance, and play well, hopefully stay sharp.

On what the false starts can be attributed to…

It’s a little bit of everything, but we have to be sharper on that. We just have to remind those guys in the huddle like we do and trust those guys to remember the cadence, remember their assignment, get off the ball, use that cadence as a weapon.

On the quarterback competition between Greg McElroy and Matt Simms

I think they’re playing well. I think they have both shown some flashes of doing some great things putting the ball down the field, and then checking the ball down at times, being smart with the football, being able to move, both of them can move around pretty well, so it’s a good competition there, too. And they’re both great guys, they both work really hard.

On being able to move the ball in practice without Braylon Edwards and Kellen Winslow

It’s huge for us, that we've been able to do that and we have to be able to do that on successive drives, one after another, and just keep rolling. But as soon as we get those guys in a full-game mode, in a full-game week, hopefully during the season those guys will be ready to roll.

On the running game…

I thought the scrimmage was the best we’ve run the ball. Today looked pretty good, too. We have different kinds of backs and we haven’t even had Chris Ivory much yet, and he's a bruiser, that guy will run you right over, so that will be a good changeup for us. I think Bilal [Powell] is probably one of the most underrated players in the league. He’s a heck of a player and he’s just coming into his own, just trying to get comfortable, and he’s lighting this camp on fire. So I’m proud of him. We get Joe [McKnight] back hopefully soon, and those other guys competing. John Griffin has a couple sweet moves that will make you look silly on film. So I think it’s a good stable of backs and Marty is excited about them, too.

QB GENO SMITH

On if practicing felt different after playing in the Green and White scrimmage…

No, not at all. This week is pretty much the same. We’re still in camp, still in the mode to just try to get better every single day in practice, still competing out there. We know we have a game coming up Friday so we’ll probably put a little more emphasis on some sort of game plan coming up in the next few days but today was just a normal practice.

On how he evaluates his scrimmage play on tape…

I think our first drive we did some pretty good things. We were able to move the ball [down the field], I was pretty accurate. I had a few drives after that that happened to stall, we weren’t able to get in the rhythm of things. Overall, I think I did a pretty decent job but like I said there’s always room for improvement and tons of room for me to improve. Just learn, just got to continue to plug at it, just keep guys motivated, keep in high spirits and continue to move the ball.

On if this was one of his tougher practices…

I wouldn’t say so. Down in the red zone I think I need to do a better job at taking care of the ball. I know it’s seven-on-seven and you kind of want to force the emphasis and try to get the ball to the end zone but still be mindful of we’re still working game reps and that drill is made for us to kind of pretend that we’re in the game and we’re down there in the red zone and we’re passing the ball and you’ve always got to be mindful of not turning it over and that’s something that I did today and that can be fixed and now I’ll improve on that.

On how he has compartmentalized newly installed plays…

Well, I just study it. Coach Lee does a great job of quizzing us and testing us and I try my best to study as much as I can in any free time that I have I find myself in the playbook and I just study it. I’ve been able to just pick it up quickly. Things have kind of come easy to me and that’s kind of the way the game of football is. I pick things up very quickly and I just study it a lot and I try to come out here and just remember all of my keys and my reads and then execute.

On if he feels that time is his enemy as a rookie adapting to the NFL…

No, I can’t say that. I wouldn’t say that. I think the position that I’m in I think I’m in a great position. I think the time that I’ve been here has been great. I’ve gotten acclimated to the system, acclimated to the players. We’re developing a really good chemistry on offense and that’s something that we need to continue to improve on. I think the more that we rep things, the more practices we get, the better we’ll be.

On the challenges for the quarterbacks with the injures to the running backs…

Well, obviously we’d love to have those guys out there but we’ve got to work with the guys that we have and Bilal [Powell] has been doing a great job. Chad Spann is a guy who’s really opening eyes. All those guys do a great job, a tremendous job when they get a chance to get reps to go out there and execute. Tommy Bohanon has been playing fullback and running back and he’s a rookie as well. He’s picked it up very well. He’s made some plays for us so I think everyone’s just going out there with the mindset that whoever’s in the game has got to perform, has got to step up and do the job.

On if he has been told not to try to run in practice…

Marty [Mornhinweg] preaches to treat practice like a game. So if I have to run, whatever it takes to finish a play is what we need to do.

On if there is an understanding among the rookies that they could have an impact…

Well, yeah, we all want to help and contribute to the team and just help the guys around us. We have veterans, we have rookies, we’ve got some first [and] second year guys. Every single guy has got to go out there and do their job and we’ve all got to work on one accord and that’s what we’re trying to do. I don’t think age plays a major difference aside from the fact that, hey, you may have a guy who’s older than you that you can go to for a bit of advice. But other than that, we’re all out here competing and this class is just like any other, everyone has an equal opportunity and everyone’s got to work hard.

On why mistakes don’t worry him…

Well, I mean, you’ve got to look at it in a positive manner. I don’t see it as a setback. I see it as a learning experience. I see it as something that I can improve on. Just as I stated earlier, it’s a drill, there’s no rush but still, you’ve got to be mindful of taking care of the ball and the two interceptions that I had down there in the red zone were forced balls and it’s just a mindset. If I'm a little more cautious with the ball then we don’t have those turnovers and then we at least walk away with three points. That’s something that I’m pretty sure I’ll be drilled hard on once we get into the film room and I’ve just got to go back in and improve on it.

On what he should have done on his interceptions…

Check it down, throw it away, something. Don’t throw an interception. That’s never good.

On if quarterbacks have certain throws they feel most comfortable with…

Well, I can’t speak for everyone else but in my particular case I think I feel pretty comfortable making every single throw. If there’s something that I don’t think I can do, I’ll work it as hard as I can until I feel that I have it down. There’s always, like I said, room for improvement. I think every single pass isn’t going to be perfect but at least you aim for it. I think I have the ability to make every single one.

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