IND Post-Game Quotes (Week Nine)
Head Coach Frank Reich
“Injuries; Braden Smith had a tricep, Xavier (Rhodes) had a calf injury. Obviously, a good win coming on a short week. Really proud of how the guys prepared just really getting dialed in on the plan, really taking care of their bodies, coming out and focusing and getting started right. I thought obviously offensively – we came out good in all three phases, came out good in all three phases. Scored a bunch early on offense, had a few good drives. Defensively started out well then – obviously, what we just talked about in there is, hey, we’re happy we played well on a short week but in all three phases, we need to finish better. So, we’ll get back to work and try to get better.”
With Braden Smith, do you know how serious it is?
“I don’t know. I talked to the doctor on the side, he said they took an x-ray, they saw a little something, but didn’t know if it was old or new or whatever. Just kind of have to wait and see.”
What is your level of concern with the pass defense?
“That’s what we talked about in there, and really, offensively, we need to make some first downs there at the end too. Obviously, we need to get better. We need to get better. Pass defense needs to get better, we need to get better in all three phases in the fourth quarter.”
250 rushing, 250 passing. Can you speak to the balance?
“It was really a good performance. The o-line, tight ends played great. Obviously, the backs played great. Carson (Wentz) was really on point. I mean, really on point. A couple of checks, he did some things that weren’t in the game plan to get us in some run checks. Got out of some plays, I think they gave us a couple different looks that once we got going, they were trying to make some adjustments to what we were doing, and Carson (Wentz) made a couple good checks there in the run game. Then we get the big runs as well, so it was a good job by them.”
How long was the Danny Pinter play in your back pocket?
“Actually, it was just in this week. They were laughing about it all week, or, a couple of days, hoping that he’d get that chance. He was the last option, obviously, didn’t think it was going to go there but good job by Carson (Wentz) to find him.”
When you say checks that weren’t in the game plan, was he seeing something and then checking into a play that you guys isn’t necessarily in this week’s scheme?
“Yeah, so, we might have a run check, it might be a pass-run, it might be a run-pass and based on certain criteria. Then they suddenly come out in a totally different scheme than what we – the criteria that we gave him for the checks weren’t there because they were playing a totally different deal and that happened three or four times. I remember one of them, turned out to be big play, I can’t remember what it was. He did a really great job. Kept his poise, knew what to get to, it was very good.”
Is this the type of balance you envisioned when you talk about run-pass balance?
“Yeah it takes a lot of pressure off the pass game when you can run like that. Hit some big chunks in the pass game, but you could just feel it early. You could just feel us dominating the line of scrimmage early, I could feel that. So, we just were efficient. We talked about being really efficient on first and second down. We really respected the Jets defense, we respected their third down defense. They really do some good stuff on third down when you get third-and-long. So, it was a real big emphasis on being efficient on first and second down.”
On the shovel pass, did you call it to stick it to anyone?
“Yeah, no. A thought went through my mind to say something but I’m not going to say it. No, it was executed well.”
Have you sensed that Carson Wentz really needed this type of game after last week’s performance?
“He’s been playing a lot of good football this year. He had a couple of things at the end of the last game. He was flawless today. He was stinkin’ flawless. Except for the pass to Nyheim (Hines), which he should have hit that one, that was a bad throw.”
When Jonathan Taylor gets to the second level, are you thinking it’s another big chunk run?
“When he gets to the second level, I feel like it’s going to the house. He’s just fast, strong and elusive. Playing really good. Our receivers really work hard down the field so they’re going to get him all the help he can have down there.”
Are the checks you mentioned for Carson Wentz another sign of his confidence and the chemistry he’s building with the offense?
“No doubt. Complete command of the offense, played with a lot of confidence today from the very start and really played good football.”
Can you kind of split the game perspective all four quarters? You had some hot moments there and then maybe want to finish a little stronger?
“Yeah, I was encouraged by the way we came out. Short week, lot of emotions, obviously from last week and come out swinging the way we did, that was encouraging. In all three phases we have to finish better, but to get up early and I think those first four drives, I think we scored. Offensively, that was definitely encouraging and something we needed.”
As a quarterback, when you have 260 yards on the ground, do you just sit back and say, wow that makes my life easier, because the defense has to account?
“100-percent. 100-percent. I can turn around, one play drive, I think JT (Jonathan Taylor) took it 75 or something like that. It is the best drive in football for a quarterback. When you can just turn around and give it to a guy. Whatever the total number was 200-plus rushing yards today, JT, both him and Nyheim (Hines), had some screens out of the back field. Big guys up front, I don’t think JT got touched on the long run so those big guys up front, they had their work cut out for them today and they did a tremendous job.”
When you think about it, the way you guys run the ball, it’s not 15 plays, seven-minute drives you know weaving and driving, it’s big chunk runs between those two, Nyheim and JT.
“Those chunk routes are huge. It’s tough on defense. They come off and play their zone coverage, soft one coverage, make it hard for us in the passing game, to get chunk plays and so when we can get chunk plays on the ground, that’s huge for us.”
Michael Pittman Jr. gets tackled by four Jets, pops up in like a split second, what goes through your head?
“I mean it doesn’t surprise me anymore. That’s Pitt (Michael Pittman Jr.) I’m just hoping he doesn’t get up in front of someone’s face and comes back to the huddle in one piece. That’s just Pitt, he’s a competitor. He’s going to compete all day long in the run game, passing game. He’s going to be blocking for his buddies on the perimeter, that’s just who he is, and he’s fun to play with.”
Carson, were you able to flush last week’s game pretty quickly or did it take a little while to get through it?
“Yeah, I mean we talked about it, seems like yesterday. Had no choice. Had no choice when you play a Thursday night game. Washed it that night, woke up Monday morning and said it’s on to the Jets. That’s the same mindset that I had and everybody else had. We know that it was a big emotional loss last week, but we had to flush it quick, and turn around and happy with the way we played today.”
Frank Reich said you were able to make play calls that weren’t necessary in the game plan because the Jets were giving you unscouted looks, is that just a sign of how much you know you can pull out stuff in the play book?
“I think some of that is continuity with the offensive. I have to give credit to my coaches. They prepare me – prepare this offense so well. They haven’t talked about it this week necessarily but it’s something that is just kind of stapled to who we are. They want to come out and give us certain looks, we’re going to take advantage of it with some different checks and stuff. I credit the coaches for making sure I’m always dialed in and ready.”
What goes through your mind when you see Danny Pinter wide open in the end zone?
“I thought I short hopped it to him. I like the way he got down and fielded it like a punt. I didn’t know what the heck was going on there, but that was a pretty cool moment. I don’t know about that touchdown celebration, I have to give him some hard time about that one.”
Do you just except Jonathan Taylor to score every time you give him the ball?
“I mean I expect something big. I mean he is so consistent. Thinking back to it, I think that sequence he had that run where he had that nasty stiff arm, to get us down there near the red zone. I think it was just a couple plays later he busted out for almost 80 and that’s just who he is. He can do it between tackles, he’s physical, he’s downhill, he can slash. Then you get him out in space, nobody’s catching him. Nobody’s catching him. We already talked about it, it makes my life so much easier when he can do that.”
What have you learned about this team and what does it mean to do, generally to become the team that it wants to be?
“Yeah, the continuity has been great. Guys just really come together and really knowing our roles and kind of everybody’s skills set. Coaches getting everybody in the best chance to succeed. I think the one thing from this game and all the games we just have to finish a little better in all three phases. We have to continue to emphasize finishing a little bit better. I am so encouraged as what I am seeing offensively and how we’re able to move the ball in so many different ways. Coach does a tremendous job keeping defenses on their toes, and I look forward to more of that he second half of the season.”
What is Jonathan Taylor doing right now? He’s getting better every week, and he was already really good.
“What is ‘JT’ (Jonathan Taylor) doing? He’s going crazy (laughs).”
Do you see this in practice?
“I see this all the time. It’s nothing that is surprising to us. He’s been doing well. (I was) happy that I was on the field to see some of those runs and celebrate. JT (Jonathan Taylor) is a remarkable player. Like I said earlier this year, he’s a transcendent talent. He’s one of the top-five backs in the league, so that’s a great thing. We don’t tweet, “Run the damn ball” for nothing (laughs). You’ve got 28, you’ve got that racehorse back there wearing 28, give him the ball.”
Is Jonathan Taylor getting faster five, 10, 15 yards into the run? It seems like once he gets to the second level where a lot of guys’ runs end, he’s taking off.
“That’s the most deceptive thing for JT (Jonathan Taylor). For JT to be like 230, he’s very, very quick. He’s probably quicker than me. At his weight, I think there’s probably – him and Derrick Henry are both really, really fast. Some of those guys, they may catch those guys, but JT is puling away from those guys. So, like I said, for him to be 230 and that fast, he’s special.”
Jonathan Taylor has an 83-yard run and a 78-yard run this year. Those are the two longest of anybody in the league.
“Well, hopefully I get one. I’m coming for him (laughs). But you now, we have a great line, a quarterback that gets us in the right runs, tight ends who are willing to block, receivers – like I said, ‘Pitt’ (Michael Pittman) and (Zach) Pascal, Ashton Dulin – we have guys who are willing to help us out. So, it’s not just us.”
Even though you’re one game under .500 and you had the loss to the Titans, do you feel like this team is getting better?
“We’re getting better every week, every week. We just have to work on finishing games, but every week we’re getting better. The offense is cooking. Each week we’re scoring points, so we just have to be the best at getting better and keep going 1-0 every week.”
When your offense gets a start like that, what kind of energy does that give you on the other side of the ball in that first half?
“We want to give the ball back to the offense as many times as you can. Seeing the success they’re having offensively so you want to make sure they can try to get the ball back so you can put more points on the scoreboard.”
How good does this feel after what happened last Sunday?
“It’s good to come out here and get a victory. We still have some stuff to clean up, but it’s always fun to leave this thing with a W.”
How do you take this time that you have, the extended break to kind of get together, clean it up and be able to finish when Jacksonville comes to town next Sunday?
“Just got to relax for a second. Take care of the body. Study the tape and see what Jacksonville does. See what plays they like and see what we can do to stop what they are doing. Just come out Sunday and hopefully come out with the same performance and get a W.”
You guys have scored five touchdowns off your takeaways this season, what does that tell you about this team?
“That we are just taking full advantage of all our opportunities. Just trying to score after each takeaway. Make sure that the other team at least takes some of the beating after they turn the ball over.”
Re: Touchdown catch
“It was pretty cool. It’s hard to put into words really. My mind kind of went blank there for a little bit, but just cool. We’ve got awesome teammates here. Everyone was fired up. It was a cool moment for sure.”
Carson Wentz was worried he one hopped it to you. Then he was making fun of whatever celebration you had. What was the celebration?
“It was really more lack of celebration (laughs). Honestly, I didn’t have anything planned. They gave me a hard time about that.”
Coach Reich was saying that this was a play that was drawn up this week. What was your reaction when he was like, ‘Hey, you’re the guy. If we throw, you’re eligible, you’re getting the ball.’?
“Well, what’s actually funny is I was kind of one of the last options, but Carson (Wentz) came up to me after walk through and he said, ‘Hey, if nobody goes with you, yell my name.’ And he reiterated that there better be nobody and sure enough it worked out well. Can’t complain.”
Did you get banged up a little bit there at the end of the first half?
“Yeah somebody hit the little patch that I have on my knee. I had an open wound and it was bleeding a little bit, so I had to get it patched back up again.”
You went 78 yards and we’ve seen it a hand full of times now. What was different about that one tonight?
“You saw the hole. When you get a hole like that, you’ve got to take it the distance. The o-line has been working their tails off all year. When you get those opportunities – you never know when they are going to come, but that’s why you’ve got to stay ready. So when you see the opportunity, I mean the hole can close like that, so you’ve got to be able to hit it and make it count. Who doesn’t like a one-play drive?”
What does it feel like to go 22 miles an hour? They clocked you at 22.05 on the 78-yard run.
“I’ve been chasing 23 (mph) for a long time. Ever since Isaac Guerendo, running back at Wisconsin, he came in and hit 23 miles per hour in the summer. Ever since then I’ve been trying to turn and hit 23 (laughing).”
Did you start this season with any specific goals? Obviously team goals, but personally?
“I was going to say, definitely winning it all. But I wanted to be a player that was available and ready at any and all times. If a coach needed me, we needed one yard like, “Hey JT game is on the line. We need one yard.” I wanted to be that reliable player this year. Know that coach, I have your back. Teammates, I have your back. If you guys need to lean on me, I’m your guy.”
Nyheim Hines said that when either you or him get to that second level, you guys don’t expect anybody to catch you. And if they do catch you, they are probably going to be exhausted trying to chase you from behind.
“Nyheim (Hines) kind of got it started. Once he took off on that one run, I was like ‘All right, we’re off to the races now.” It’s just fun when you got a guy like that. Especially because Nyheim is a track guy, I was a track guy, so whenever one of us gets into the open field we get to talk to each other about our form and how we were running. It’s definitely great to have another track guy.”
Are there nights when the offensive line is on it? Was this one of those nights?
“This definitely was one of those nights. There are times when a defense tries to do different things in order to counteract what they put on film. These guys did a little bit, but most of the things were true to their tendencies in the film. We were able to capitalize on that, let the o-line be able to go out there and play with their fundamentals and technique and not have to worry about anything counteracting what we watched all week.”
Can you sense what explosive runs do to an opposing defense?
“It kind of drains them. I would think it drains them. It’s like, ‘Man, he just scored in one play and we didn’t make them work for it.’ It kind of takes the life out of them I would say. That’s my perspective at least. You just try to get as many of those as you can in order to try and break their will. This game is about who’s the toughest the longest.”
When you think about what you’ve done in your career, and when you find out that you’ve rushed for more 150-yard games and two touchdown games than Eric Dickerson and Edgerrin James in their Hall of Fame careers, what is your reaction to that?
“Wow. The first reaction is it’s actually crazy. That’s a testament to the o-line and the receivers. I don’t think the receivers get a lot of love. You guys saw it a little bit in the Baltimore game on that screen pass. The receivers are the guys who really get those explosive plays. The line gets it going and they get you started, but the receivers are the guys who really spring you. It’s a big testament to the type of receivers we have. You guys see them making plays down the field, through the air, but not a lot of people are noticing what they are doing on the run-game side.”