Q: Did you see a lot that you liked from the running game in the first half this past week?
Coach Downing: "Yeah. We really ran the ball efficiently in the first half. It was something that we were hoping to be able to stick with and the game situation just took us out of it."
Q: What do you think has been the key in Marshawn Lynch's success in the last few quarters?
Coach Downing: "He's really been reenergized and refocused. He's running the ball well. I think he had something like 11 carries in the first half or something like that. We were trying to get him rocking and rolling. I'm pleased with where he's at. Hoping to be able to feed him a little bit more."
Q: Have you looked to manage his carries this season?
Coach Downing: "No. I️ haven't really put a rep count or anything like that. We just have a rotation with the backs. Try to feed who's producing."
Q: He had 18 carries in the first game and hasn't ran it that much since.
Coach Downing: "Yeah we've had a pretty good split in carries and some of the rotation games that we've had. Then we've had some game situations that's taken us out of the run game a little bit earlier than we wanted, so we haven't had the run count that we've been hoping for."
Q: How would you assess how the offensive line has been playing this season?
Coach Downing: "I️ think that they've continue to improve. I️ think they've gotten a little more comfortable with some of the schemes that we're asking them to execute, a little bit better in adjustments throughout the course of the season. I think they're trending upwards and excited about riding them in the second half."
Q: How do you fix receiver drops?
Coach Downing: "I've had that question a lot. It's something that is a little bit of a fine line. There's a confidence element that's involved with drops and catching the football. It's certainly something that we want to continue to look for ways to improve on. We've identified, [wide receivers] coach [Rob] Moore has identified and myself, the problematic areas or maybe routes that have multiple drops with the concepts. So, we're really harping on those. Then just getting extra work with the jugs machine. As many balls as you can catch as a wide receiver, that is your craft. That's your trade so you constantly need to be working on it and look to improve it."
Q: Do you think drops get in a receivers' head?
Coach Downing: "I️ think that can happen. I️ think that can happen. I️ know that when I play golf and I'm pushing the ball right off the tee a lot, I tend to think about it every time I stand over the ball. It's something that you have to continually work to remind yourself that you're a professional ball catcher, that you're here for a reason, and I think that those guys are getting their problematic areas fixed."
Q: What are some of the things that you picked up from working with Bill Musgrave for two years? What is it that you learned from him that you admire?
Coach Downing: "He's a very detailed guy. He likes to simplify and let the guys go execute. That was certainly something that I respected about the way he went through a game plan process. If there was something that wasn't working itself out through the course of the practice week, we'd eliminate it or not run it on Sunday. Definitely picked that up. He has a broad scope understanding of offense. Being a quarterback as he is, or a former quarterback as he is, he's not just a pass game guy. He has a good understand of the run game and a good respect for the guys upfront being able to move the line of scrimmage. Definitely something that I️ admire and wanted to emulate."
Q: Is his knowledge of your offense a help to their defense or is it a little overrated?
Coach Downing: "I️ think it's a little overrated. With how quick the ball gets snapped, even if you hear a term, you have to react in a moment with the ball being snapped. Certainly, signals and co-words and things like that we have to be very cognizant of, but in terms of line calls or cadence, things like that don't really play in as much of a factor as I think some people make it out to be."
Q: In what area have you seen the most growth over the season for the offensive line?
Coach Downing: "I️ think we're getting a little more comfortable with our aiming points and double teams. Really moving the line of scrimmage. Really moving the down lineman. Getting up to that second level through the double team as opposed to coming off a little bit earlier. Some of the outside schemes we're running, we're running more. So, they're getting more consistency and that's something I hope to do is provide them opportunities to get better at a scheme as opposed to getting chased out of something. They really have been doing a nice job with their combination blocks and understanding that placement and footwork and all that stuff, so it's been good."
Q: The game really flipped last week after half time. What does that do to your call sheet?
Coach Downing: "It really was a tough turn and change in dynamic. We're driving down and it's 14-0 and we have chance to make it 14-7. I think Seth [Roberts] caught that ball on the 2- or 3-yard line. You're kind of staying in phase. I️ think we had more runs than we did passes in the first half. We were really moving that line of scrimmage and pounding that rock and staying efficient in the pass game. Then next time we possess the ball, you're looking at the clock thinking, 'Alright I️ might get five, maybe six more possessions out of this game and we need at least three scores.' It certainly changes the approach. It limits the call sheet a little bit in terms of what you can run and what will be affective. Running a hard playaction pass in the fourth quarter of that game wouldn't make a whole lot of sense because you're not going to get much movement from the linebackers or down safeties. It definitely affects the way you call the game a little bit, but we have to do our best with every opportunity that we get offensively. We look forward to improving that in the last six games."
Q: On the fourth-and-1 play, it seemed like an opportunity to get Lynch involved.
Coach Downing: "Yeah that's my fault. I️ should've gotten Marshawn in there. I️ should've tagged him in the personnel grouping. In that situation, we would normally have him in there. I think he had run it a couple of times previously to that and was getting a little bit of a breather, so we plugged 'Maze' [Jamize Olawale] who's our second short yardage back in there. But you can pin that on me, I️ should've had him in there."
Q: Does Musgrave's play calling philosophy kind of rub off on you when you worked under him for so long?
Coach Downing: "I️ think there are elements of it. I️ won't say personality traits but maybe nuances of the game that you naturally talk to through as a coordinator and quarterback coach. So, those experiences are kind of lived through the other coordinator. We were together for two years. I have some other influences that probably shape my play calling more than that."
Q: Seth Roberts had a rough game on Sunday. What have you seen from him in terms of a rebound?
Coach Downing: "Through your coaching career, you run into players that you know are giving it everything they got. Seth is a professional and works his tail off. Yeah, he had a rough day at the office, but it wasn't for lack of trying or focus or preparation. I don't mean to simplify it for those that are as frustrated as we are about it, but sometimes bad days happen. Seth is an extremely hard worker who will bounce back from it. He's focused and purposely working hard this week so that he can bounce back with a strong performance against Denver. We have all the faith in the world in Seth."