STC Mike Priefer (12.26.19)

Special teams coordinator Mike Priefer:

Opening statement:

“Good morning. I hope everybody had a great Christmas. Thursday morning, a normal Thursday – a little bit longer meetings this morning to catch up from yesterday. Work on kickoff, kickoff return and field goal today. Install that and get ready to go against Cincinnati, a good football team. Special teams wise, they have been good all year. They are well coached. They play hard. The mark of a really good team in terms of how hard they play is what the Cincinnati Bengals did with Miami last week, which was unbelievable. You do not see that from many teams, let alone a team that has won one game, they are on the road and it is late in the season – they are down by 23 points with 11 minutes to go in the game, and they tie the thing and send it to overtime. Special teams played a big part in that. They did a really good job on their must-onside. They did a good job punting the ball and limiting the opportunities that Miami had in overtime. It was a well fought battle. It just shows me how hard those guys are playing. I may mention that to our players this week that we have to show up because these guys are not just going to let us win this game. We have to go take it from them. Like I said, they are well coached and they are playing hard, and we have to go play our best game.”


On if he feels like he has to play a larger role in keeping players heads in the game, given the holiday week and the team having ‘nothing to play for’:

“I have never thought that we never had anything to play for ever. This is the National Football League, and I am paid to coach and these guys are paid to play. We are going to show up every week and with the expectation of going out and winning a football game, whether that is on special teams, offense, defense, complementary football or whatever the case may be. I prepared this week like I have always prepared every week. We did have a little bit of time, which was great. (Head) Coach (Freddie) Kitchens gave us some time yesterday to be with our families. Monday and Tuesday, we got a lot of work done to prepare. I knew Wednesday we were going to have a little bit of time, and then today, we are back to normal. I am coaching and preparing our guys. Our guys are going to prepare all week long like we are going to go win this game on special teams. Although, it will be difficult to do. I thought we played pretty well the last time we played them. We have to show up again and put our best foot forward, and it will help our team win this game.”


On if NFL teams are figuring out new ways to be successful with the onside kick and new kickoff rules or if it comes down to a lucky bounce:

“The kick (Bengals K) Randy (Bullock) had against Miami last week was a phenomenal bounce. It went about 10-11 yards. It was a scrum and the ball bounced in their way. It was a really good play – a great kick, great job, great execution by Cincinnati. That is something we will work on today. They did a good job against us the first time hitting ricochet kick. Quite frankly, (WR) KhaDarel Hodge has to get out of the way. I told him right before the play what they were going to do, and they did it. If he just side steps it, we have a guy 20 yards behind him that is going to scoop it up and end the game that way. (CB) T.J. Carrie did a great job and fortunate we did that. I think with the different schemes people are using, they are trying to figure out different ways to kick the ball. The standard pop-up onside is not always going to be there – although, Randy had a good one the other day – it just depends on how teams are defending it. We take a lot of pride in defending every type of kick. Freddie allowed us to call timeout prior to that hands team play against Cincinnati a few weeks ago and that got us in the right formation because they showed something that they had not shown before.”


On the number of successful onside kicks this year across the NFL and if that total is around six:

“It may be less than that to be honest with you. I know somebody had two against New Orleans in one game. Atlanta had two against New Orleans in one game. Cincinnati had the one. It may have been four or five at the most. It is tough.”


On K Austin Seibert’s missed PAT last week:

“Plant foot was wrong. He came across his body too early. I told him it is the worst kick I have seen from here since he got here, including practice. It is just was not him. That is the good thing. The good thing is OK, we know how to fix it. Just slow everything down in terms of the speed of his plant foot. His get-off time still needs to be the same, but that has a lot to do with how you start the whole evolution of that kick. For some reason, he just rushed it at the end and just turned on it too early. It did not make sense to me. He had a good day yesterday. We went outside yesterday, and we will go outside again today. Of course, it is nice out, too, which makes it easier. He will get that fixed.”


On who will be the primary returners with RB Dontrell Hilliard on IR:

“We have (WR) Jarvis Landry and (WR) Odell Beckham Jr. Those guy can be punt returners. We can use probably (RB) D’Ernest Johnson, we can use (WR) Damion Ratley, (WR) Rashard Higgins – we have other options back there on kickoff return, as well.”


On if it tough to see Hilliard’s season end with the knee injury last week:

“Yeah, it was tough. He is a great kick. I know we have not been as explosive as we wanted to in the return game this year, and that is going to get better – I promise you that. He has done a phenomenal job on kickoff and punt coverage. He is a great teammate, a great locker room guy. He is becoming more and more of a leader as a young player like a lot of special teams guys have to be. Their younger players have to be leaders. It was tough. It was tough.”


On if the first punt of last week’s game was close to getting blocked:

“Yeah, they ran a good scheme. We had a new right guard, (DE) Porter Gustin, that was his first live rep in the NFL on punt team, and he got width. After that, they ran something similar rush and he blocked it perfect. It is just one of those things, it was new to him, they ran a good scheme and they got him. If he does not get width, we are fine. Then the second one, it was fine. That is what we are preparing for that type of rush again this week or any type of rush. Cincinnati does a good job with their crosser and their inside guys twisting and stuff like that. We just have to get our depth and do our job.”


On if P Jamie Gillan’s get-off time being consistent all season:

“Actually, it has improved in some regard. In some situations, it is even better. He knows when to speed it up. It is funny because when he got here, it was really slow. Everything was slow. He has turned himself into a very short-jab, two-step punter and sometimes a true two-step punter, which is hard to do with a rookie. He has embraced it. He has gotten better. His get-offs have gotten better throughout the year and he has really helped our protection because he gets the ball out so quickly.”


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