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Eric Bieniemy | 'The kid has some stuff to him'


Opening statement:
"Good afternoon, hope all is well with everyone. Coming off a tough loss, but we're back at it. Today is situational football day, we work all third down short-yardage goal line. So, we're just getting ready to get in our minds, bodies, and souls to go out there and play and prepare for hell of a game this weekend. With that said, I'm all ears."

On if QB Sam Howell quickly applies coaching points:
"Oh yeah. I mean, there's been growth every single week throughout the entire season. I know sometimes things look bad, but the thing that he does, he makes sure that he corrects the mistakes that he's making. I thought the kid, he's doing a heck of a job, he's competing, he's finding ways to make plays, but on top of that, he's taking coaching. He's fine tuning all the little detailed things that's helping him to become a better football player, and we just hope that he continues to grow with that arrow moving in the right direction."

On what Howell and his conversations are like throughout the week:
"You know what, throughout the course of the week, it's me dealing with everyone. I try and let the coaches coach because I want them to have their input. I'm pretty much overseeing everything. But every Friday we spend an enormous amount of time going through the call sheet and just talking about situations and what do we like in this particular situation, what if this happens? That's always a great conversation that we have. So, that's when I get to really spend that intimate time. Now throughout the course of the week, if there's something that that needs to be discussed, we're always open to talking. Obviously, we spend a lot of time, we sit next to each other, in the install room, when I'm not installing. On top of that, I'm always talking to him on the headset so there's constant communication. The kid is a great kid. I'll keep saying that. Obviously, he's done a tremendous job so far, but, we still got a lot of season left and we want to continue to grow in the right direction."

On what he has learned about Howell from going through call sheets:

"[Laughs] I know he likes to throw the ball deep. [Laughs] I joke and I laugh about that because I know at some point in time somebody's going to ask me a question about running the football. I always receive my annual text message from Brad Childress about running the ball. So, if you guys don't know him, Brad Childress, former coach. He was the head coach in Minnesota when I was there coaching the running backs. We also coached in Kansas City for a number of years. Great man, great coach. He made me a personalized hat that says, 'Run the damn ball.' Because I used to wear him out and I used to wear Coach Reid out and so now I've become a product of what they've made me into. [Sigh] I just shake my head. The thing that I've learned just working with [Howell] him is just watching the growth. The thing that I love about him, he's a quiet, humble, resilient kid. He never lets and I've said this before, he never gets too high, he never gets too down. He's more even keel than what you can ever imagine. He hates to lose, he hates to be wrong, but he's never going to let you see that frustration come out in him. In fact, he'd be a great poker player. I'm enjoying the kid and like I said, the kid, and I keep calling him a kid, I know he's a young man, but the kid has some stuff to him. I love what he brings to the table on and off the field."

On how to coach if he can't see Howell's frustrations:
"Well, it ain't so much that I can't tell. I know how he's feeling. He just facial expression wise, it's not going to show. There's sometimes when I'm getting on him, but he's a good kid and like I said, anytime something bad happens, I have to remind myself, I got to stop and pause and say, 'You know what, this is probably the first time that it's happened to him.' I mean, I thought he did a hell of a job of breaking that run. He's out in the middle of the field, he's running, I mean, he's doing everything he can to help us to win. Poor kid gets held up and they take the ball from him. Obviously, I'm hot, I'm upset, but I realize, you know what, this is the first time that it's happened to him. So, do you want him to stop making plays? Nah, you want to encourage him to be himself and to continue bringing out that competitor in him, because that's the fire and that's the passion that we want. But now he just needs to learn how to finish it without the turnover. I mean, the kid's doing a hell of a job."

On if RB Brian Robinson Jr.'s touchdown pass in Seattle was an example of Howell's growth:
"That's purely an example. Not only growth from him, but also growth from Brian. Because first and foremost, when things go wrong, we got to find a way to make a play. We're always telling Sam to keep his eyes down field and then there's hot spots that we're trying to hit when those scramble drills are taking place. I thought they both did a great job of connecting. I mean, that's just the chemistry that they're starting to develop. Now, it's just not us talking about it, it's them making it happen and seeing it come to light. Those are the things that you love because there's growth, but now we got to take it to another level. We have to learn to sustain, we have to learn to finish when it's all said and done with."

On why the number of sacks Howell has taken has decreased:
"I'll keep saying this, we're growing together as an offense. I think the communication has been outstanding. I love sitting behind the O-line and watching these guys talk about the different things that come up. I absolutely love that because, and I'll say this, and I know sound like a broken record, but communication is the key to any successful relationship. The O-line, they have to stay in constant communication. So, when they're in communication, I know things are changing because now they're talking about certain issues that need to be fixed and how we going to do it. When they're doing that, that becomes infectious behavior, because now it ain't just the O-Line talking, now these guys are talking to the quarterback, now these guys are talking to the backs and the tight ends and the receivers. That's paying off. Like I said, those are the things that help build the chemistry that is needed to become a great team and so, like I said, we're growing, we're growing, we just need to take the next step."

On if he has seen growth with how Howell can identify defenses:
"Oh, yeah. I think each and every week, his play has been better, his overall communication has been better. I think everything is settling down for him and not to say he's there, but he's slowing the game down. He's learning how to process the information and translate exactly what he's seeing in the classroom and allowing that process to translate over to the field. You can see that growth. Now, you can always tell, I know I can't, when something is quite not right. There's something that he does and I'm not going to share with you guys, but you can see it. So, then you talk him through it, and then he hits the reset button, and he autocorrects. But he's doing a great job of communicating. He's doing a great job of processing the information and he's doing a great job of leading the guys. He just needs to continue being himself and you know what, if he continues, obviously, the sky can be the limit."

On if he wants to elaborate on what Howell does when something is not right:

"No, not at all. [laughs]"

On how the offensive line is performing:
"I think the new group is doing a great, they're doing a great job. Obviously, sometimes without no bad luck, you wouldn't have any good luck at all. Sometimes unfortunate things happen, you know, that experience in New York happened for a reason, it's made us a better team, a better unit. Now, obviously we haven't shown it in the win-loss column, but we're growing. Like I said, the things that we're taking the necessary steps, it's the communication aspect. I'm seeing these guys hanging together in the locker room talking about all the little things that can take place on game day. When guys are coaching each other and talking about different things, that's when you know that you're coming together as a unit. The chemistry is developing and it's translating onto the field. We just need to make sure that we can create our own luck by learning how to strain throughout the course of a 60-minute game. On top of that, making sure that we understand the importance of finishing. Once we can get over that hump, I think, like I said, we can do whatever we choose and decide to, because first and foremost, we got a great group of young men. Second of all, there is talent, and everybody has talent, but now we just need to turn that light on and find a way to drag ourselves across the finish line when it's all said and done with."

On if there are times he looks back and wonders whether he could have leaned on something else in-game:
"First of all, just like we evaluate every player, I'm always evaluating myself.  One of the hardest things that you do as an offensive coordinator is go back and watch the game. Not just from a standpoint of who did what assignment the right way. Well, did I put us in the right situation in this particular moment? What could I have called different? What are some of the things that could have helped change the outcome of the game? So, you're always taking note on self, first. You want to make sure that you're looking internally and making sure that you are doing the right thing and then making sure if there are mistakes that you can improve upon, what are those things. Each and every week, I always have our guys write up, if we had to play this team again, 'What are the three things as a positional coach that you would do differently?' I do that myself as an offensive coordinator. What are the three things that I would do differently as a coordinator to put us in the best situations?"

On if facing the Giants Defensive Coordinator Don "Wink" Martindale's defense twice will be a measuring stick for Howell:
"You know what, I think Sam has done a great job. Obviously, he played against a team with the New England Patriots who presented a lot of the issues. Obviously, Philly presents a lot of issues. There's been a number of teams that he's faced that's presented different challenges. Now, obviously with Wink, I've known Wink for a long time, he is who he is. Obviously, our guys need to respond, and more than anything, our guys just need to remain poised under pressure because Wink is not going to change who he is. We need to make sure that the communication is in line. Then on top of that, when called upon to execute, do your job to the best of your ability. If we're doing that, we'll give ourselves a chance. It's not necessarily about what Wink's doing, okay. It's about how we're going to attack, how we respond, and how we handle by calming the noise."

On how Robinson has improved as a pass catcher in the offense:
"First of all, [Senior Offensive Assistant/Running Backs] Coach Randy [Jordan] and [Assistant Running Backs] Coach JK [Jennifer King], they do a great job with those guys. B-Rob and [RB Antonio Gibson] AG, they're just dynamic football players that happen to play the running back position. Those guys do a great job as runners. They do a great job, obviously, running routes. Obviously they're still learning all the different nuances about protections. They do a great job of picking up blitzes. And so, I love what those guys bring to the table. And then, like I said, you're seeing the growth and comfort level grow. Which now these guys are feeling more and more confident about executing with great attention to detail. So, they're allowing their personalities to show. That's the beauty of the growth process that we've taken, but we got to make sure that we can get over that hump."

On what he seen from Howell that shows he can be the QB of the future:

"You know what, and I'll make sure I answer this the right way. Every day is a new day. Every day I'm more impressed by the person, I'm impressed by the kid. My job is to make sure I'm living in this moment. I can't tell you what's going to take place, just like you said, down the line, but I do know this, the kid has the work ethic. He has the attitude and the mindset that's taken him in the right direction. He just needs to stay who he is, remain who he is, humble, a hardworking kid that doesn't take anything for granted, that understands that every little thing that he learns is by far the most important to help him to be the best player and person that he can be on the field and off the field. So I think if he's utilizing this same work ethic and his family values, he'll be all right when it's all said and done with."

On if Howell was a first-round pick would there be less questions about his future:

"Let me just say this, we've watched the kid for years and I'm talking about when I was in Kansas City because our offensive line coach, Andy Heck, his sons played there. On top of that, you guys have heard me say this before, [University of North Carolina Offensive Analyst] Natrone Means, who's one of my best friends, he coaches there. The defensive line coach, Tim Cross, he coaches there. All those guys have known Sam. So when I came here, they had nothing but great things to say. And so once they put that stamp of approval on him, I knew exactly what type of person I'll be working with, what type of competitor that I would be working with. The kid is a great kid. The kid is doing all the little things the right way. Like I said, we just need to continue to grow and find ways to put wins in the win-loss column."

On Howell's reaction to the interception against the New England Patriots:

"You know what, I kind of blacked out then [laughs]. I got to think about it. I'm just joking. I don't know if he necessarily had a reaction, but he knew he made a mistake and the kid knew and there was nothing else that needed to be said because not only did he have to face me, but more importantly he had to face his teammates. He's a better player than that. He made a mistake. It's unfortunate, but those are the things that are needed to help the growth process."

*On if he said anything to him: *"I just looked at him and he knew, sometimes a facial expression can say a whole lot."

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