COURTESY OF NEW YORK JETS MEDIA RELATIONS DEPARTMENT
Opening statement… I just wanted to tell everyone how excited we are to be back on the field, hope all you guys are doing well. Been a long time since we have gotten to get on the grass and coach our guys. Today was the first day we had the offense and it was just exciting to get back on the field and work with these guys and work with the quarterbacks and see all the energy. These guys have been waiting a long time to get out on the field.
Rich Cimini, ESPN: Without the offseason Dowell, did it feel like April today, based on the stuff you were installing and talking about even though it’s almost in the middle of August already? That is exactly what it felt like, it felt like the first day of phase two, when you are out there on the practice field for the first time and you are teaching drills and it’s the first time we’ve ever gotten to coach James Morgan on the field, all the virtual meetings, all the things we’ve talked about with improvement with the quarterbacks, with Sam (Darnold), the technique things that we needed to work on and today is the first time you get out there and get to do it, you can definitely feel from the equipment guys to the coaches, to the players, everyone is just excited to be out there and it was like the first day of school.
Ralph Vacchiano, SNY: Dowell knowing that, I’m sure you spent the offseason trying to think of new ways to use everybody, new things to your offense. Are 14 practices even close to enough time to get some of that done by opening day? I’m from Texas and we have a saying there, “We’re fixing to find out”, and we’re fixing to find out, because I know this, we got better today and that’s all we can really control and that’s been the message of Coach Gase is to take this thing one day at a time and be where your feet are and be in the moment and that we have an awful lot of improvement that we need to make especially in the quarterback room and offensively, but we took a step in the right direction today.
Mark Cannizzaro, New York Post: Can you talk about what you are seeing in just a short period of time now from Le’Veon (Bell) compared to last year? It seems from all reports that he’s in crazy good shape and I just kind of wonder, one more year in the system, obviously last year he was coming off the year where he hadn’t played all year, what kind of expectation do you have of him? What difference are you seeing in him right now? I would say that Lev is coming in great shape and I don’t want to compare last year to this year because there are so many variables, sometimes for a player that you can’t control. Lev definitely took advantage of the offseason, he took advantage of the down time, his body, he is in great shape, he’s excited, you can feel the difference for a lot of these players, not just Lev, Sam Darnold, Jamison Crowder, these guys, Alex Lewis, that are in the second year of the offense. The first year you are spending so much time trying to learn everything and our offense isn’t simple, it challenges guys, and that’s what you have to have. You have to have all the pitches. And for these guys now, they know what these terms are and the nomenclature and what play calls mean and now they can really hone in on how to do it. We know their skill set, especially like Le’Veon, we know his skill set, we are a year in with him, which is a huge advantage for us especially with a short amount of time.
J.P. Pelzman, Forbes: Dowell, to follow up on Ralph’s question before, how can you in practice simulate the gameday mechanics, even for the veterans, especially like Sam, without having any preseason games. What can you do, even a scrimmage or something? How can you get that feel, that gameday feel in a practice? That’s a great question, going to be a great challenge and Coach Gase is definitely up for the challenge of being able to have unscripted periods and be able to use the coach-quarterback communicator with Sam and the other quarterbacks and just going through those unscripted looks because you don’t have those four preseason games to get ready but you have more practice time and you have more meeting time, so there are some advantages in some ways that normally you have to say, ‘Hey, we have to start getting ready for a game,’ and now it’s, ‘Hey we can focus on our practice before and watch that tape and grind the technique.’ And I’m sure Adam will get really creative on if he decides to have scrimmages and tackles in practice, all those things that head coaches get to choose to do.
Brian Costello, New York Post: How does Chris Herndon look and what kind of difference can he make for this offense after you only had him for one game last year? Chris, like Lev, came in great shape and you can tell he spent a lot of time in the offseason getting ready. He obviously had a disappointing year from the fact that he wasn’t out there. He’s the type of kid, he’s a good kid and he wants to be out there with Sam, his teammates and there were things that he couldn’t control that caused him to be off the field and you can definitely tell that he has spent his time getting ready, preparing the right way and he is a guy that Sam Darnold has a lot of confidence in and they had a good connection his first year and obviously he was a guy we missed last year and we are really excited to have him back, not only because he is a good player, he is a great kid and he’s a great teammate and he’s definitely spent the time in the offseason training and doing the right stuff.
Al Iannazzone, Newsday: Dowell, do you notice any significant change in Sam, obviously you’ve talked about his familiarity now with the offense, but do you notice anything different? The biggest thing I see with him is command, he can speak with more confidence. I saw it the last eight games of the season. When you go back, he watched the cutups, you look at our first eight games, there were things that were good, but there were a lot of disappointing moments for us obviously and our record said that and we missed Sam those three games. But the last eight games of the season you could see Sam taking strides and doing things the right way and starting to learn the protection, starting to learn, he had a great check versus the Steelers later in the year that he wasn’t going to make early in the season. I see him have confidence in his ability to communicate with myself, with Coach Gase and his teammates and that’s what you hope to see in the second year of a system, is the command of the offense. Last year he learned it, we need to see command from him now and become an extension of the coaching staff, be able to get guys. We’re going to have some new wide receivers in this thing, and he is responsible for them, just like the coaches, to make sure that they know what to do and they’re prepared when we play Week One.
Charles McDonald, New York Daily News: How specifically can you guys use Le’Veon’s skill set to help him be a more productive player for your offense this year? There are a lot of different things. Le’Veon obviously has a unique skill set because he is a three-down back, there are lot of things he can do. Number one, we need to play better around him. We need the other 10 guys to do their jobs and play well. Lev is a guy in the second year of the system, if you talk to him about this, we know his skill set better, whether it be in the passing or running game. There’s always pressure when you have a player of Lev Bell status to give him the ball, and understanding that sometimes Lev creates attention that is going to get someone else open and you can’t lose sight of that. Sometimes as coaches we spend so much time saying hey this player is a really good player and has a great skill set, that you are worried about getting him the ball and trying to get him his touches. Sometimes it may be nine touches, sometimes it may be 30 and if it’s a nine touch game, maybe (Breshad) Perriman and (Chris) Herndon and Frank Gore and all these other players are contributing in different ways. Lev is a three-down player that has a very good skill set, he can pass protect, he can carry the football obviously and it’s on tape, like he’s a good receiver and we are going to continue to use that skillset. I am not going to make any predictions on how many touches he is going to have or how many he is not, we are going to do what is best for the team and Lev understands that, he is the ultimate team player, he came in great shape like we talked about before and he’s ready to go and ready to fulfill his role, whatever that role is.
Mark Cannizzaro, New York Post: Dowell, you guys have got obviously the second year in the system, everybody together, you got all your coordinators back, there are teams in the league that have new coaches, new quarterbacks, etc. Given these unique circumstances that everybody is in right now with no preseason games and many less practices, is this something that you guys can use to your advantage because you are all together, you have your quarterback, you have your coaching staff, all your coordinators together? How much of an advantage could that potentially be if you seize on that? I do think that every team that has their returning staff has a little advantage. That won’t be though the difference though for us, it will help and it’s going to help having our quarterback in the second year more so than anything. Obviously there is going to be a lot of challenges offensively because we had a lot of turnover in the offensive personnel and it is our job as coaches to get these guys up to speed quickly and there’s going to be a lot of excuses for every team out there, whether it be COVID, no preseason, practice regulations and no one really cares about that, it’s about taking advantage of the time you have, everyone has the same set of schedules, everyone has the same set of rules. It is how fast can we get (Darnold) playing up to his potential, how fast can we get this offensive line to gel. Does it help that Adam Gase, our play-caller is returning, our offensive line coach is returning, myself, the rest of the staff, it helps from us being able to communicate with our players and we need to do a better job than we did last year. We need our players to understand the why of what we are trying to do things. Last year they learned what we are doing, now they can understand the why. I don’t know if it is an advantage or not, but we are going to take advantage of everyday and every practice we get.
Brian Costello, New York Post: Dowell what have your impressions been of Joe Flacco so far and how can he help Sam? He is Joe Cool. He is a guy that’s done a lot in this league, being in the meeting room with a guy and it helps Sam and he had the experience early with Josh McCown being in the room and you guys all know Josh, what special person he is. Flacco’s experiences, it helps you know sometimes when you are the backup and you come in and he’s learned multiple offenses, he’s played in the NFL for a long time, Super Bowl MVP, and just for him to be able to be another set of eyes for Sam, another voice for Sam. And Joe’s a really talented player as well and that’s the thing you can’t forget about with Joe. He’s been an asset in the room and he’s not afraid to speak his mind and he is extremely intelligent, and he’s extremely experienced which always helps. But his skill set as a player, the things he’s experienced, just getting another set of eyes and ears for Sam is going to be invaluable.