Head Coach Kevin Stefanski (1.5.24)

Opening statement:

“Good practice out there. It was crisp. Just how it needed to be in this final preparation, getting ready for this game. So, looking forward to getting on the airplane and finishing strong. With that, I’ll take any questions.”


I see Elijah’s (Moore) questionable. Is he out of protocol? 

“Not yet, but he’s trending the right way.”


With Corey (Bojorquez) being questionable. What would you do if he doesn’t play?

“We have options.”


How is (Dustin) Hopkins) coming along?
“He’s coming along. He’s not ready yet, but we’re treating it and he’s progressing.”


Do you feel optimistic that he would be ready? 

“It’s hard to say. Yeah, we’ll see how he does. Yeah, for sure.”


Myles (Garrett), we didn’t see Myles out there in the part of practice we were out there.

“Yeah, he was sore. So, didn’t practice.”


Juan (Thornhill) popped up on the injury report yesterday with a calf injury. Is that anything to be concerned about? 

“You know, still dealing with that injury. We’ll see how it goes over the next few days, but it does not look good for this weekend.”


Is it a re-aggravation of the same calf? 

“I don’t know if I’d characterize it that other than to say it’s a calf injury.”


Where do things stand with Ogbo (Okoronkwo)? 

“He’s trending in the right direction. Practiced this week. There’s a good chance he makes it to the game. Give him some playing time, but really need to see how he responds over the next 48 hours.”


Is there a chance he plays Sunday?



Will Dustin Hopkins come back in the playoffs?

“Yeah. It’s so hard to say, Jake (Trotter). Honestly, every single one of these injuries are different and we just got to treat them as such and make smart decisions based on where the guys are.”


It looks like they’re going to play Ja’Maar Chase and Trey Hendrickson and some of their guys. Do you feel good about the plan that you have? 

“Without a doubt, yeah. I mean, they have their plan. Obviously, that’s up to coach and what he does. But for us, we feel really strong about the guys that we’re putting on the field and we’re excited about the opportunity and it’s football, so you want to win.”


I know you don’t want to go through the list, but do you know if Myles is going to play Sunday? 

“This Sunday? Unlikely.”


Yes, he’s going to play?

Yes, he’s going to sit out. Yeah, I’m giving you one, Scott (Petrak).”


David Njoku making his first Pro-Bowl, how do you feel about that?

“Excited for Dave. We’ve talked a lot about Dave off the field and the person he’s become, really the teammate he’s become, I’m tired of talking about him [joking]. But the player he’s grown – just talking about from pass blocking, run blocking, the route running, obviously, the YAC has been off the charts this season and just has a really violent style to how he plays. Especially when that ball is in his hands, has effort plays on the field. So, I’m excited that he got recognized for that in this regard.”


Hey, Kevin, a year ago, you were getting ready to interview Jim (Schwartz), and now you’re finishing this season number one defense in many categories. So what would you say about how your relationship has evolved in his role? 

“Yeah, Coach (Schwartz) has done a great job, really, from day one with him to now. He’s done everything that I’ve asked of him. He’s been a great confidant for me, somebody I can walk in and talk to and bounce a lot of things off of him. Just with history, he’s been a head coach, he’s been a coordinator, he’s won a Super Bowl. So, he’s just been invaluable to me. And then obviously, you look at our defense and the way we’ve played, that’s a big part of Jim and this coaching staff. I think those guys have done a great job, but Jim’s right there leading the way. It’s been so impressive, but I’m excited that I just get to work with him every day.”


Kevin, how do you think that you’ve grown as a head coach from your first season to now? 

“I don’t know. Yeah, better question for somebody else.”


Hey, what have you seen out of Jeff Driskel in these practices this week? 

“Yeah, he’s done a nice job. Very good understanding of the offense. Seamless in that regard. Does a good job calling the plays, has a good understanding of all the concepts that we’re calling, run game, pass game, that type of thing. So, been impressed.”


I guess because he’s new will you have to change the game plan much from what you’ve been doing? 

“Not really.”


Is there a chance that you change it drastically just given that it’s the last game, no playoff implications? 

“Of course, you’re taking everything into account when you’re putting a game plan together and when you’re calling plays and that type of thing and trying to play to the strengths of your players. So, in that regard, it changes. But in terms of the system, the scheme, things that we’re doing doesn’t change.”


For some of the guys maybe that are looking to get more playing time this Sunday. Have you noticed a little bit more kind of pep in the step this week? 

“Not necessarily. I think you’ve noticed more reps for a lot of guys. You’re getting certain guys, maybe go through a week and only get so many reps when the offense is up or when the defense is up. A lot of those reps are coming off a scout team, so you see more reps for guys getting all those opportunities, which I think is good. But in terms of the preparation, how guys are handling the week, it feels very normal.”


How does that help with the development of a guy like maybe Cedric Tillman or some of the younger guys when they get more reps and they have those moments? 

“Yeah, it’s just turns, it’s just opportunities, it’s reps. It’s however you want to phrase that word. I think the more the better, because so much of this game is making mistakes and it helps to have a lot of reps because then you can make a mistake, you can correct it. So, I think for all those young guys, it’s really helpful to just get more turns at it, more at bets.”


Does (Joe) Flacco’s poise stand out even for an older veteran quarterback? His coolness.

“He’s just – I don’t know, he’s just himself. I don’t know that it stands out from anybody, Jake. I would tell you, I mean Joe is pretty fiery on game. He’s excitable and he does a great know leading that offense when they’re on the field, does a great job on the sideline, but he’s excitable. On game day he’s fun to be around.”


Let me rephrase then, like his poise in big moments, we’ve already seen that. Bears fourth quarter in particular. What is it about him that allows him throughout his career and even for you guys this year to play that way in those moments? And what kind of advantage is that for you? You’re going to be playing a lot of big games. 

“I think we’ve kind of talked about it before. Joe, it’s the been there, done that. I mean, he’s been to the Super Bowl –won the Super Bowl. He’s been in those big moments. So, I think he carries that with him. He doesn’t tell anybody that. I mean, the players know that. But in these games, when you’re in the huddle and you have a guy that you trust in those moments, I think it resonates with the offense, certainly, and probably with the team as well.”


Jim Schwartz said yesterday that you’re Coach of the Year, and it’s not even close, you’ve had a ton of support for Coach of the Year. Have you had a chance to reflect on this season and what does this season for you in particular mean to you? 

“Yeah, I mean, as you guys can imagine, I’m not one to talk about individual accolades and definitely not about myself. I would just tell you I’ve been so impressed by this coaching staff. Offense, defense, special teams. I think our coaches have done an outstanding job with their positions, with their units. They’ve done a great job and I’ve challenged them to be problem solvers and they’ve done that. So that’s where I take great pride in that staff and what our staff has been able to do this season.”


Are you prepared to possibly lose Jim? I mean, he did say he would welcome the opportunity to become a head coach.

“I mean, that’s part of the NFL. You have success and then you may lose coaches, but in a lot of ways, that’s a great thing for that coach and for an organization. I really like a lot of our coaches – I like all of our coaches, so they’re doing a great job. But when it comes to those opportunities, if that’s something that comes about, I’ll be excited for any of our coaches, including Jim.”


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