General Manager Reggie McKenzie and Head Coach Dennis Allen. Photo by Tony Gonzales
Q: What do you think? After the OTAs and the cap is over, do you have any general impressions of the team at this point?
Reggie McKenzie: I think we upgraded some depth in some areas. I’m glad there were no major injuries. Those are the kind of things that when you come into off-season, the newness and the competitiveness, everybody wanting to show the coaches what they’ve got. You have a tendency to lose one or two guys in those type of situations. Seems like everybody will be reporting to training camp, so that’s good. That’s a positive from an injury standpoint. From a talent, I liked the tempo of the practices. I thought there was a lot of great communication with coaches and players. It seemed like a lot of good responses. It seemed like people were responding to what was being coached and asked of them. That all looked good. I thought [QB]
Q: At the end of camp in August or so, how much different do you think the roster is going to look than it does right now? And the guys who are out there with the first teams?
Reggie McKenzie: With the first teams, hopefully we can get some continuity. With everybody staying healthy, hopefully it’s not a whole lot different as far as starters are concerned. But I do think there is going to be some competition. People are going to be pushed. To say people who started in these OTAs and this mini-camp are going to be the starters come Week 1 on Monday night, I couldn’t tell you that. It’s hopeful that the competition raises the level of the current starters, and if not, the guys will be pushing them. Hopefully they win the job. To me, it’s all about playing the best man. I think the coaches are looking at that also. I don’t want to predict, but I do like some of the backup guys that are pushing some of these guys.
Q: You’ve been involved with Green Bay teams for years, especially for the last several years that have a lot of continuity – coaches, systems. Down here, you’ve totally rebuilt it in terms of systems of football and that sort of thing. With that in mind, do you look at the end of this camp and say ‘man, we’re farther along than I thought’ or ‘about where I thought we’d be’ or where do you think you guys are?
Reggie McKenzie: I personally think we’re further along than I thought we would. I knew they were going to throw in a lot on both sides of the ball. But, it was good to see things going right a whole lot more than wrong, as far as coaches yelling and screaming, running the plays over and over again every day. You didn’t hear a lot of that. That’s a good indication that players are getting it, and coaches are coaching it. Hopefully in training camp, they digest it even more and we become more complete. It’s still year one. I don’t think we’re looking for a situation where players are going to act like they’ve been here for five years and one system, knowing each other like the back of their hand. I don’t see that, but I do see guys working very well together and getting it right. I feel good about it.
Q: What’s been your overall thoughts and impressions with QB
Reggie McKenzie: That’s one thing that kind of jumps out. The guy wants to be good. He wants to do well. He wants to play. His effort and how he’s going about his business has been great. He’s improved with his technique and all, with his fundamentals and idiosyncrasy of what they want from a quarterback. He’s improved since April when they first got him on the field, so they’ve seen some progress there. So now it’s going to be up to him to dive into that playbook and know it when he comes back so he don’t have to think plays, technique work. It’s a whole lot going through, because of his style of quarterback and his history has not been as in-depth as the other guys. So he’s learning the whole gamut. I’m ecstatic on how he’s going about his business here. Time will tell when we put him in preseason games, see how he does.
Q: Without a first round draft pick, or second, I would assume you would not anticipate any trouble at all having everybody signed and ready to go by the time camp starts.
Reggie McKenzie: No, we do not. We feel good about everybody showing up at training camp.
Q: What do you think about your rookies - rookie class? Any chance to watch them a few times?
Reggie McKenzie: Yeah. Most. They are what we thought, which is good, some better. Maybe a couple that need more practice, like all rookies. But we feel good about it. We didn’t feel like anyone was out of place, which is a good thing. But we like our rookie class.
Q: Do you still need a bigger running back to replace Michael Bush, or is that guy on the roster right now?
Reggie McKenzie: No, we don’t have that big back, but we’ve got a couple of backs that are playing fullback for us that can be that guy. We feel good about the versatility of Marcel [Reece]. About all of our fullbacks have the ability to run it. [Owen] Schmitt can run it short yardage. We’ve got some guys that I’m kind of anxious to see them during preseason. But like I said, we’ll continue to beat down the doors and see if we can bring guys in. We won’t stop that until it’s time to play our Monday night game in September. So we’ll continue. Nothing’s on the horizon, though.
Q: What have you learned about Dennis [Allen] just from the few months now, working with him and seeing him on the field with the players?
Reggie McKenzie: I think he’s, from the standpoint of big picture, he gets it. He’s always a step ahead, which is good. I like the way that the players are responding, and his assistant coaches. He’s all over that defense, which I like. So that’s good. He’s talking to the offense too, he’s just not all defense. But he’s acting like a real head coach. Can’t tell he hadn’t been a head coach before.
Q: With the changes that have been made with the infrastructure, personnel, that kind of thing; can you just sort of describe how your approach to making those changes and how it fits in with the organization?
Reggie McKenzie: Well, I want to make sure that we have football guys. When I say football guys; guys who’ve been around football. These guys don’t have to have played in the NFL or coached in the NFL, but I do like guys who like football and been around it, whether they played in high school or they were involved in college in some kind of way. When you interview them or talk to them or intern them, you can tell they understand the game. When they talk it, or when they write it. When you’re watching tape, they can get you stuff back. The guys that we’ve got in here can do that. I think it was important to get a group that meshed together. I wanted to put in my system, so it was important to get somebody who understood what I wanted. A lot of that when you’re talking about reorganizing and restructuring in a way, those are some of the things that I looked at, and putting people in the right place. Whether it be in area scouts or pro-scouting, trying to figure out which area. You put people in the right place and give them the chance to do what they do.
Q: Does it help you to get things implemented in that so many of the people you hired have a background with you. They already know, probably already, what you want. Going back to [Joey] Clinkscales and [Larry] Marmie and putting your brother on staff and [Shaun] Herock. It’s a big list of people you’ve had a lot of dealings with before. When you first took this job, is that something you envisioned?
Reggie McKenzie: Getting people that I know and trust? And believe in? Absolutely. That’s all a part of it. You kind of prepare for possible roles like this, so the thought process went into it way before I made the decision. You want guys who have a feel for you. When they’re coming on board, they know what they’re getting in to. So, yes, that played a part, absolutely.
Q: Has the newness of this situation worn off yet? Or is every day something positive, negative? Because since 1963, this organization has had one name, one face that has represented it. And now, you’re that guy.
Reggie McKenzie: The newness has started to dwindle. But, every day is something. I think that’s going to be for a little while, at least into the season. Because, what you just said, things have been done a certain way for so long. It’s just the way it is. Still stuff with the building, trying to adjust. To me, change is going to be continue to made throughout this time next year because you can’t build Rome overnight. Certain things will stay status-quo until we can jump on it during the off-season. But, yes, it’s starting to sink in but there’s still stuff that goes on daily that needs to be addressed.
Q: Which training camp battles are you looking forward to?
Reggie McKenzie: I’m looking at the linebacker position because we added so many numbers there. I want to see who jumps out, makes plays. I want to see some of these young receivers in live action, see how they jump out. As well as some of these young offensive linemen. These DBs, I want to see what shakes itself out, especially out of the cornerback group. I’m kind of looking for all these positional competitions. Even the tight end position, those guys are all competing their tails off. I think all those guys have shown well, all five of them really. Kind of excited to see, just from the competitive standpoint, who steps out.