For the first time in camp we had a chance to hear from offensive coordinator Shane Steichen on Tuesday, who went through and talked about a lot of individual offensive performances through several practices. He also mentioned that walk-throughs are invaluable for the team because they get so many reps and can give multiple looks, plus they provide a lot of opportunity for problem solving.
Here’s what the OC had to say:
On Jalen Hurts
Steichen admitted things have been up and down so far through camp, but noted that Jalen Hurts has looked really good.
“He is efficient throwing the football right now, he’s getting the ball out on time, and the receivers are making plays.”
He made sure to include that there are always things to correct, but that’s what training camp is for and they’ll look at the tape and make those corrections.
The OC later talked about how they prepare for off-schedule plays with Hurts. He acknowledged that it’s different because in games, scrambling often happens naturally, but they do have to add it into practice, as well. Sometimes they’ll add in a drop-back pass during 7-on-7, and while it can happen organically during practice, they do have to script it in.
“When it’s third and 7-to-10, yeah, we can scramble, but everyone in the world knows we are throwing the football on third and 7-to-10. So when we work those third down periods, we want to work probably a little more 7-10 because if you look around the league, the most third downs are 7-to-10.
We had the most third and 4-to-6s last year. But to convert on third and 7-to-10, the league average was 33 percent, so we want to make it as hard as possible on us in practice so when it comes to game time we’re ready for that situation.”
On the running backs
Steichen talked about the advantages to only having five running backs on the roster and how it allows the guys to get more reps, and allows coaches to switch guys in and out more often.
The OC didn’t mince words when describing what he’s seen from the running back in camp.
“Explosiveness. I mean you see it, right? We know he’s an explosive player, but even in individual, the way he’s running, he’s running hard, he’s taking care of the football, he’s hitting it, he’s seeing it well. He made a few plays the other day where he jump-cut through the line of scrimmage and hit it. I mean, it’s been good to see.”
“Kenny’s done a nice job. I think any time from Year 1 to Year 2 you want to see that jump and that growth, and you can see it on the practice field. Just the understanding of how we want to run things in ball handling, in the run game and in the pass game. Just how to set up defenders coming out of the backfield. He’s learning and he’s doing a good job.”
On the wide receivers
Steichen talked about AJ Brown and said it’s awesome to see the physical play he brings to the team.
“He can run a guy over or make a guy miss, but his play strength is very impressive.”
Quez Watkins said on Monday that he was the fastest player in the NFL, and while Steichen wouldn’t quite give him that title, he admitted that he might be.
As for Jalen Reagor working with the twos, the OC likes what he sees so far from the wideout.
“He’s done a great job. He comes out, he’s a hard worker, he battles every single day. You can still see everything he’s got, the explosiveness. He’s made a whole bunch of plays in training camp so far, so he’s got to continue to keep doing that.”
De Vonta Smith hasn’t seen a lot of targets so far in practice, but Steichen said that he’s really stepped up his explosiveness in and out of breaks heading into Year 2. He’s coming out and sinking his hips, and the way Smith has been creating separation has been really good.
On the other QBs
“Yeah, the thing about Gardner, he can process it really quickly and he gets the ball out of his hands really quickly. He’s played a good chunk of football and he’s had a lot of experience playing in Jacksonville, obviously. But you can see the growth in him in learning our offense too with a year into it, just the decision making and getting the ball out quick.”
“With anything it’s a transition, from college to the NFL. This is his first week of NFL practice, so he’s still learning and going through those things.
Obviously we want to keep it to where, hey, let’s get our base stuff in with him, and then once he gets a real good hang of it, then we can start incorporating a lot more things that we do.”
“Reid is a really smart football player. He understands the game really well. He’s been really good in the meetings. He asks great questions. He’s a big, strong passer with a big arm, and he sees it well. So it’ll be good to see him in the pre-season this year.”
On the offensive linemen
“Isaac looks really good. Isaac’s a really, really smart football player. He understands protections, the run game, the different looks, the different fronts. He sees it before it happens, and he’s a physical player and he’s playing good football right now.”
“Honestly, the way he moves. We saw in college the screen game, but when he works double teams with the guards inside, just the way he gets those double teams off and comes off to the next level is really impressive. So, really excited about Cam.”
“You know what, he’s done a nice job. He basically lives in this building. Every time I’m in here, he’s always in here working out, grinding away getting his body ready. But he’s done a nice job.”