Washington Commanders assistant head coach/offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy addressed the media after practice on Aug. 23. Here is a full transcript of his press conference.
"Good afternoon. Hope all is well with everyone. Feels good having an opportunity to get back on the grass today. Looking back just a few days, it seemed like it was just yesterday, I thought our guys did a heck of a job, but just finishing the game and the thing that I love that stood out, our guys are learning how to strain the finish. That was impressive. Now it's on to the next one. With that said, I'm all ears."
On where the offense is currently:
"I think we're taking the necessary steps, but we still have a long way to go. There's a lot of things that we can clean up and continue coaching through. First of all, our staff is doing a hell of a job. They're doing a great job of getting these guys aligned. They're doing a great job of getting these guys to gain the complete confidence in what we're doing. But, when it's all said and done with, our guys are finding ways, creative ways, to drag themselves across the finish line. And like I said, when you have that resilience, it's something that you can build upon. I'm starting to see the second effort. On top of that, I'm seeing guys playing faster, you know, so all those things are just coming to light. Now, we just got to continue cleaning up all the little stuff that's going to help us to become the better team."
On QB Sam Howell's preseason performance:
"You know what I thought Sam's progression has been right where you would like it to be. I thought he's just stayed the course, you know, he's learned a lot just being out there each and every day. I think watching [QB] Jacoby [Brissett] go out there and sling it around, making all the throws and just letting everything, you know, go free, that has helped him because Jacoby is a outspoken individual in that room, and he's helped Sam tremendously. The thing I also like is that Sam, he auto-corrects and you love that about him, and he takes it personal. He takes work home and he loves to talk through all the little detailed nuances of the game. So, I think he's right where he needs to be. He's done a heck of a job. I thought he did a good job as well in the practices and he did a heck of a job in the game this past, whenever it was just a day or two ago."
On the risk versus reward of having starters play in the preseason:
"Well, I think anytime when you play this game, there's always a risk involved, right? But one thing that we're taking pride in is that, hey, we fear nothing, we attack everything. So, we have to stay on course with our progression and our growth process. We're trying to make sure that we can collectively grow together as a unit and as a team. So, the thing that I want is that our guys, they want to play, they want to be out there, which gives us a chance. And so sometimes, players get hurt. You'd never want anyone ever to get hurt, but at the end of the day, sometimes you come out with the results like we did this past weekend. I understand it's preseason, but all those little things matter and it helps to build the confidence, and on top of that, it's helping to establish a foundation in which we're building."
On the confidence of starters having enough reps:
"Well, our starters are still working and we got a lot of work to do, so we'll see exactly what we need to do moving forward."
On Howell's mental progression in year two:
"Every day is a new day and so there's certain things that click for him right away and then there's certain nuances of what we're doing that kind of put him in that situation where he's slightly hesitant. And the thing, like I say to our coaching staff all the time, and I have to remind myself of is, you know, every time he does something, it's probably the first time that it's ever happened, and so you have to remind yourself of that. And then you just got to temper your expectations and just understand that he may not know what he don't know. So it's our job to collectively keep coaching and teaching through that process. I just love the kid's demeanor and I will say this, okay, Jacoby's been an outstanding leader in that room. He's been an outstanding, outspoken individual in that room and then just the relationships that have been formulated in that room between himself, [QB] Jake [Fromm] and Sam, it's a unique collective group and they all feed off of one another."
On adjusting to coaching a new team:
"It's always an adjustment because you got to understand, we just flipped the script from going from training camp to now we're in the in-season type schedule. And so, just making sure I can adapt to the new times in which we're doing things. You always got to be willing to adapt. It's just a part of what we do and if you can, everything just seems to make it just a little bit more easier. So, the adapting to the situation has not been a problem at all. I'm just enjoying having an opportunity to take it one step at a time. One play at a time and one day at a time."
On the mentality when a player like WR Terry McLaurin is injured mid-game:
"You look at him, you stare at him. Okay, he's okay. You just keep it moving. So that's a part of our business. Terry's a unique and special individual, but one thing we understand the game must continue to go on. Terry wouldn't want us, to be overtly concerned about what is going on and what's taking place with him because that's the competitor that he is."
On how he has helped WR Jahan Dotson grow since minicamp:
"I love all our guys. I think you can see the difference in how they're playing. They're playing faster, they're understanding all the little things where they fit within our concept and within our offense, they're being accountable to one another. The things that you guys are seeing on the field is not necessarily the things that you're not seeing in the classroom. I love the dialogue and the things that take place. Just hearing those guys talk about the different things that could have taken place throughout the course of practice or throughout the course of game or something that they did or they felt that they could've done better. I love it. That's when you know that you're growing together. I am very happy, first and foremost I have that opportunity to work with [WR] Terry [McLaurin], but just on top of that, having an opportunity to work with this group. This is a good, talented young group. We just got to keep working and we got to keep putting it together."
On if RB Brian Robinson's improved receiving ability has made it easier to disguise packages:
"Brian's a football player and don't get me wrong, he's a hell of a runner. But just like we talked about when we first got here, we got to get comfortable being uncomfortable. Let's go out there and show people what you can do. Not only can he run it, but he for sure can catch it and on top of that, he does a heck of a job stepping up in protection. We want the most complete football player to happen to play at every position to be their best. It helps tremendously when you have a player and a person like that that's willing to do it all, because now that just helps diversify your offense and what you do."
On the running backs blitz pickups and chipping:
"You know what, I thought they put on a clinic this past weekend. Whenever the hell we played, I'm sorry, but I thought they did a great job of picking up blitzes. Sometimes it's not always about the right technique, but it's always about identifying, having that pre-snap awareness and post snap awareness, the ability to react, and then on top of that, taking the charge. There's nothing more exciting for a quarterback to know that those guys are doing those things. When those guys are doing it, everybody else is seeing what they're doing. You talk about being accountable, those guys are doing everything under the sun in the pass game to make it successful for our offense where we can make the downfield throws. In return you see receivers now lining up and starting to make blocks, downfield. Those are the little unique things that are helping us. Now, is it perfect all the time? No, we still have to learn how to make second effort a habit. But you're starting to see it more and then you're seeing the conversations taking place where you don't necessarily have to hear me say, "Hey, finish or go find work." Now those guys are repeating everything that we've discussed over the past few months."
On when he starts to focus on the Arizona Cardinals:
"Saturday, when the game is done. I'm a little partly cloudy now. I forget what day it is. We just played and it's like a Thursday night game for us coming up."
On if he had heard about McLaurin being deemed underrated:
"Here's the thing, I don't know when Terry has ever been underrated. We loved him coming out. We did a lot of work watching him when he came out in the draft his year. I have known all about him. There's no hidden secret and there's no surprise to his mental ability, his physical capabilities. I just love the person. I love the role model, and I love the leader, and I love the things that he brings to this organization and to our locker room."
On what makes McLaurin stand out:
"You can always compare people, but he's his own unique individual and that's what stands out. At times he's very quiet. At times he can be very outspoken. He brings a lot of energy. He's very intelligent, he plays hard, he plays fast. He cares, he's not afraid of being vulnerable and asking tough questions. Those are the things that you like about him, because the only thing he does is help others around him to be better. That's what you want when you have role models like that in your locker room. You have a chance. You have a chance because those young guys get to learn from such an ultimate professional on what it's like to be a professional at this level."
On his message to guys that are fighting for a roster spot on Saturday:
"It's always tough because there's relationships that are always established and you're watching some of the growth process that these guys have made throughout offseason and up until this point. I will say this, you wouldn't want it no other way. You want it to be hard. You want the decisions to be tough, because if the decisions are hard and tough, that means we've done our job. If we've done our job, then guess what? There's 31 other teams that are watching as well. Maybe at some point those guys will get picked up and they'll remember everything that they learned here. All the work ethics on the field and off the field, and just the understanding of how we do things. It's tough, but it's also rewarding."