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Ron Rivera | 'I've seen the improvements'


Opening Statement:
"Well, listen, I want to open up with this pretty much. I realized my comments yesterday took on a different life than I intended yesterday, and that's on me for not being as clear as I needed to be. I'll own that. At the end of the day, we know that we're trying to build here and we're all aligned. As I've said many times since I've hired [Assistant Head Coach/Offensive Coordinator] Eric [Bieniemy], I love the overall message that he gave to the team his first day. That was basically, we got to learn to be comfortable when we're uncomfortable. And I think what's happened is for those guys on that side of the ball, things are uncomfortable. There's been a lot of change and the entire way of doing things has changed on the offensive side. Change is hard and I've always encouraged our players to have great dialogue and build relationships with our staff. Since those conversations took place with Eric and the players, I've seen the improvements. I can honestly say that the last couple of practices probably have been the best of training camp, which I think is great. To me, that displays a team is beginning to embrace the message and approach to how he does things and how we want things done. I also want to clear up the evidence I made about [Defensive Coordinator] Jack [Del Rio] in comparison to Eric. I did not communicate that correctly and I met with Eric. We had a great conversation and that was cool. I think the biggest thing is that we're all on the same page. Everybody. I'm fortunate to have an experienced staff, guys like Eric and Jack, and a roster of players who want to help this franchise take the next step. We're all working to build a culture where players and staff can respect each other's point of views and the way that we do things and continue to be very professional with one another. At the end of the day, we're all a family and we're working towards the same goal, and that's to win. I just wanted to get that out there so everybody understands. I wasn't as clear as I probably needed to be, and I own that and that's on me."

On why he would mention his comments from yesterday:
"I think just to show the difference in who they are. You know, one guy's experience is different from the other guy's experience, but we all do things our way and we all have the same goal in mind and that's to win. I think the best thing about it too is our players have learned their communications with our coaches. I think that has been a big part of why you're starting to see the improvement because everybody understands why, why we're doing these things, what we're trying to get accomplished and that's important."

On clarification regarding comments about the coordinators style of coaching:
"I was just trying to convey that we all have our own way of doing things, you know, and neither one's better than the other. I mean, I had [Former NFL Head Coach] Buddy Ryan riding me for two years, I had [Former NFL Head Coach] Mike Ditka riding me for nine, and it's the way they did things. You know, their approach is completely different from mine. I'm not saying one's better than the other, I'm just saying that we're all different. We all have our ways."

On his comments regarding player concerns with Eric Bieniemy:
"I think the biggest thing more than anything else is everybody just wanted to know why, you know, what's he trying to get out of it? And when you understand why, why people do the things the way they do 'em, and you look at the end result, that's the important thing. The best part is we're seeing them, you can't deny yesterday was a good practice. Can you? I mean, from my perspective, when I watched practice yesterday, I was very pleased. I think a lot of it is because guys understand what we're trying to do and that's what I think is important. They understand it because they've had open dialogue with them and that's the thing. I mean, honestly, the articles that were written yesterday, and I saw a couple of the headlines, the headlines could say, oh, the players understand, the players are getting it. You know what I'm saying? Instead of what they said and if you sit there and you read it and you go, wow. But it's the same thing for you guys. You get a new editor, comes in and he's going to be different and you got to go, oh wow, why does he do that? But then all of a sudden you see why and you go, whoa, I get it. Well, that's what's happening. We're having these aha moments and it's because there's been open dialogue, it's because guys have come to him and talked to him about it and that's what is really appreciative is that guys are willing to talk and Eric's very honest and very blunt and very upfront, which I think is great. Because we all know where we stand, and that's the most important thing."

On Eric Bieniemy's reception of his guidance and advice:
"Absolutely. I mean, it's been great. He knows who he is and he knows how he's going to do things and that's great. I mean, we all do things differently and that's all he's done is just do it his way, do things the way that he knows how to do 'em best and I have an appreciation of that. Because I said, I've probably played for two of the toughest throwback type guys that you could have and to me, Eric is a little bit of a throwback."

On QB Sam Howell's consistent play and growth:
Well, I think probably the last few practices, last couple of practices have really emphasized that you start to see the consistency in the decision making. You start to see the consistency in the throws on where they need to be placed, you see the handling of the calls. You know, it's that type of growth that you look for and we're starting to see that.

On QB Sam Howell translating practice into Friday's preseason game:
"I think the biggest thing is when we get on the field, more so than anything else is going to be his command in the huddle and then his command at the line of scrimmage and then his decision making once the ball snapped. That's what we're looking for, is to see how he handles all those unique situations."

On if the comments from yesterday created a perception of softness:
"Well, I think the biggest thing more than anything else is just the perception, you know, and that's the thing that we all deal with. As I said, no, I think what it is trying to understand why, more so than anything else and that's why, to me, it was important. I just tell them, hey, just go talk to him and Eric has an open door. Guys came in, guys talk with them and you're starting to see the results when you look on the field, guys understand they get it. Guys aren't fighting it, guys just kind of want to know why."

On if he addressed his comments yesterday with the team:


On the expectations of hiring Eric Bieniemy:
"I didn't expect anything other than what we've gotten and that's the guy that who he is, true to his personality. That was one of the things that drew me to him. I mean, I waited till the end of the Super Bowl to interview him and hire him. He's been everything that people have told me who he is, they told me he's going to hold people accountable, he's going to be the kind of guy that's going to go out there and do the things that he does and knows how to do and he's been that, and the players are getting that. I mean, again, like I said, the last couple of practices have all pointed to one thing and that is the growth of this football team and not just on the offense, but overall. I mean, his impact is being felt by our offensive guys. His impact is being felt by everybody."

On players coming to him about Eric Bieniemy and his practices:
"No, just different things. They just wanted to understand him and I think the biggest thing is guys go talk to him, find out who he is and that's really what's happened. I think that's, to me, has been a really good thing that's helped him and helping the players."

On his evolution as a coach:

"I think the biggest thing more so is when you do become a head coach, you have a whole different approach to everything. You see things on a global scale. You're not just on the offensive side or the defensive side or the special teams side and it gives you a different perspective. And to your question, you know, as a position coach, yeah, I was different because I only cared about my position and then all of a sudden you begin to realize, I got to worry about the whole defense. Then you become a coordinator and you see only the defensive perspective. So, each step you take is just part of the evolution and growth of you as a head coach."

On changing his approach as a head coach:
"I think it was just a learning experience more than anything else and that's really what this is about, you know, I'm different. I got a different personality than you and Nicki [Jhabvala], and it's about who you are and it's about conveying your message and at the same time it can be confusing to some people. What are you trying to get at? What do you want me to do? What do you need? Give me the direction. Tell me what, you know what I'm saying? Those are probably all the questions that guys asked. I'm not saying that's what they asked, I'm just saying that's probably what they asked."

On if players have come out to say they needed these types of practices:
"Oh yeah, you got to talk to them about that. I've been very pleased and like I said, yesterday's practice, the practice before that, I thought have all been really good. They've been up-tempo. Yesterday we had a practice scheduled for two and a half hours and we got done in two hours and 15 minutes. The guys are doing the things that they need to do to give themselves a chance to be a good team and Eric's had a big impact on that."

On discussing yesterday's press conference with Eric Bieniemy:
"We did. We talked about it, and I basically told him I put my foot in my mouth. I think what I said wasn't as clear as it needed to be, and I think the understanding of it is just the fact that I think everybody's making, in my opinion, a little bit more than needs to be made of this. Because again, the results are what you're looking for on the field and so far, the last couple days have been outstanding. I think Eric has done a great job of communicating his message. Now that guys, you know, have opened up, talk with him, he's opened up to them, it's been a great bit of growth the last couple of days that guys are starting to have the aha moments. That's why we do this. That's why we want that. You know, we had a guy come out of a break one time and just really burst out of it and the ball was right on time. You sit there and go, that's what we're talking about, that's what we're looking for. Those are those aha moments that when you see those things and it now becomes clear to you as to why. I think that's what's happening. Guys are seeing the reason why, as things happen in a positive fashion."

On determining playing time for the starters for Friday's preseason game against the Browns:

"We have."

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