Q: Are you guys where you wanted to be at this point?
Coach Knapp: Yeah, I am pleased. It may not show up on the scoreboard right now we need to improve our scoring production. But there has been quite a few changeable parts on offense along with learning a new system. I did see, as I told the offense after the second game, good improvement from game one to game two, we're moving the ball well, we just have to do a better job of finishing.
Q: There has been a lot of discussion about the goal line where you used [RB Darren] McFadden for a few plays instead of a goal-line back, can you explain that?
Coach Knapp: I have always had a belief that a number one back can still be the goal-line back. It doesn't necessarily have to be a bigger, stronger guy. My experience tells me so, last couple of years with Arian Foster, had a lot of success. Warren Dunn was one of the best inside tackle runners that has ever been around as a coach. It is not just the back that requires the execution of the play so it didn't bother me having him in there. We just didn't get it executed across the board to get it done.
Q: It was pretty clear in your actions regarding McFadden that whatever injury problems he has had, they are separate things, they are freak things, we are just going to run him because he is a football player and we are just going to keep running him?
Coach Knapp: We knew last week that we would have limited time to play with him. He is going to play a limited amount of time. I want to make sure he got some touches so that he is ready for the season. It is a fine line, how much do you play him, many touches you get. And when we got down in that situation, it was just part of he wants to be a football player too. He wants to score touchdowns, and he had a chance to score a touchdown there. To me it was just the ebb and flow of the game. I never second guessed who we would play at that position. I am fine with that right now at training camp. As we assess the preseason and evaluate our personnel with our scheme then we may make a decision for the regular season to change it up, but right now I have no regrets about doing that.
Q: How different is he from when you were here before? And how excited are you to have him to work with?
Coach Knapp: His ability to see the hole is exciting. I have seen the growth in his vision in the run game where he identifies, okay here is my chance to do the one cut downhill or the one cut bounce move. That part has been exciting as well as his blitz pickups. He has got a better understanding of seeing the safety rotation identifying blitzes. That has made him a more well-rounded running back so that we can play him on all downs.
Q: How has Carson [Palmer] picked up the offense? And how has he played so far?
Coach Knapp: He has done well. I was very impressed with the first game. He was three of six but we had two drops and we took a shot down the field. In the second game, we moved the ball very well and he had a couple of very critical third down conversions. So I will look at third downs and red zones to kind of get a feel for progress with a quarterback. I saw improvement in our third down decision making. There was less indecision, the ball was out quicker. I told the offense from day one -- because I have been through a few of these startups if you will, it's like a startup company for me, it is a brand new offense to these guys -- the hardest part in my opinion to coach an offense that takes the most time is the red zone. That is because there is less field for the defense to cover so things happen faster. That is just something we need a lot of reps at. In my experience before, it is a yearlong process to really get efficient down in the red zone.
Q: Is the play calling in the preseason all that much different from what you might do in the regular season?
Coach Knapp: Oh definitely. Remember last week now, we played on a Monday and came back and played on a Friday. Did you watch the Monday night game this week? Tom Brady and those guys didn't play. When you play a short week it is hard to game plan and have a lot of new information go at guy and then all of a sudden have to play a game three days later. Our first two games have been pretty much training camp stuff, not how do you beat Dallas and how do you beat Arizona. It is not fair for the young guys. Part of our process is to evaluate these young players. It is pretty much tradition in the league that on the first game you just do training camp stuff. It just so happens that our second game was three days, four days later. So we didn't want to go ahead, okay, how can we evaluate a guy and give him a brand new playbook, and give an honest evaluation of a young player which is really important here. So we didn't game plan at all for that game.
Q: [QB Matt] Leinart said that when camp first opened the thing Carson is going to love the most is that they have been coached like this before. There is a process to the way you coach that was different for him. Carson has confirmed and said I have never been coached like this before. What do you think they mean?
Coach Knapp: I will take it as a compliment. I hope it is good. I take great pride in teaching the quarterback proper decision making, timing, and accuracy. Those are the three qualities I will look for. And how do we do that? Well part of it is footwork. Part of it is upper body mechanics, and ultimately is how you teach the mind to work. How do you hardwire a quarterback's brain? I got lucky as a young coach in the NFL. When I started out I was with Steve Young back in San Francisco. He was at the end of his career, so he gave me some good advice as a young quarterback coach. 'Greg, don't show me all your knowledge, just cut the fat out, cut to the chase and tell me what I really need to know.' So I have learned to apply that with the coaches that talk to the quarterbacks, and with myself and the quarterbacks coach John DeFilippo. There is a process to teach third downs. There is a process to teach red zones, there is a process to teach first and second downs. Let's not give him everything we know, let's just give him what he needs to know. And he is feeling that from the way we present things and teach things.
Q: You are kind of in the regular season routine, because you are preparing for Detroit, have you noticed a big difference in the play in practice? In everything in general?
Coach Knapp: What has been good this week, for us to evaluate as coaches, we are game planning a little bit this week. Not full on, but we are doing more than we did the first two games. We are seeing what our offense can handle from a scheme standpoint. How much can we give them that is new? That maybe hasn't been in training camp the last four weeks. Some new ideas, some new thoughts to see how the handle it in practice and in the classroom. We are going through that process right now. We don't have any answers for you but it has been good to also teach our guys here's how we do it during a regular season. Coach Allen did a good job from a planning standpoint. We are doing this week like it is a mock in-season week. The way we teach our third down presentation this morning, red zone. Tomorrow is short yardage and goal line so there is a growth going on with the players and with the coaches. We are not just coaching the players here we are coaching the coaches because it is new staff being worked together and this is really the first time we have prepared for a game. Everything else has been sunshine and out here in grass, and there is no win-loss record. Now we are preparing for a game and it is good practice for all of us to go through.
Q: Carson said he would make throws in a preseason game in which he wouldn't normally make. He would test things out and see how they are working. Is it easy to flip the switch?
Coach Knapp: With a veteran guy it is. And I have encouraged it. I have encouraged from day one my belief for a quarterback to run a new offense you have got to try some stuff. I will sacrifice some of the ups and downs that go with that. It is like all of our professions, isn't it? If you make mistakes you usually grow from it. That is what I want him to do in the preseason since the games are not held accountable so to speak. You still want to win, you still want to have that taste of it. But he has got to test himself. I don't want to ever train a guy to be conservative from day one. He won't know his limits then. I think it is very important that the quarterbacks new to the system, him and Terrelle [Pryor] primarily here, take some chances. Get a feel for, what can I do? And what can't I do, while it is preseason. Then what I do typically after this third game, we harness it down, we have some information, i.e. the tape, to say here is why we won't do that as much. And maybe it is dictated because our personnel at wideout, or our tight end or our running back, or maybe just our own ability at quarterback.
Q: You have been without who you thought was going to be your starting center for the entire off-season. The last week [C Alex] Parsons has played a ton there. How comfortable are you with him?
Coach Knapp: Both those guys, we have told them from day one it has been a good competition. Even when Wiz wasn't practicing in the spring it was a competition to start because Wiz had played guard before and didn't play center. I am comfortable because from day one we treated it as a competition. Both guys are into it mentally and it just has been unfortunate that Wiz hasn't had as many reps.
Q: Are you looking for any position in particular on Saturday?
Coach Knapp: We are going to, because of the injury situation, some of these young receivers are getting a lot of reps. More than I anticipated to start training camp. We are going to have a good chance to evaluate that position with some of the younger guys. Also the tight end position because of the injury factor. It has been very good to see that competition. Fortunately for us with an experienced quarterback he has been very patient watching that growth happen out here on the field and in the games.
Q: Is it safe to say that the rest offensive line is pretty much set as far as starters go?
Coach Knapp: I think they have done a good job. I feel very comfortable with both guards and tackles. They are communicating well. They are seeing the game from the zone blocking scheme and the play-pass stuff very well. They are doing real well together.