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Ron Rivera Presser: We have high expectations for Quan Martin, it's just a matter of time

Ron Rivera speaks to the media after practice

Ron Rivera answered questions after today's "jogthrough" practice. The team is on a short week as they prepare to host the Chicago Bears for Thursday Night Football. He was asked about the lack of playing time for most of the 2023 draft class, including 2nd round pick Quan Martin who hasn't played a snap on defense yet.

Rivera tried to explain that they have vets in front of Martin, and 3rd rounder Ricky Stromberg that have been doing a pretty good job. He also said that 2nd and 3rd rounders aren't automatic starters their rookie season, and they are developing players. One big thing for this coaching staff is showing up on special teams if you're in a backup role early in your career.

Ron Rivera

Importance of the first 15 scripted plays:

Well, first 15 is pretty much what you want to try and get out of your opponent as everything as to how they’re going to react to personnel groupings, to formations, to shifts and motions. And then we’re trying to see what they’re doing as far as the coverages are and personnel groupings and matchups.

Trying to counteract the first 15 as a player:

Well, what was interesting was, as a player, it really wasn’t something that came in vogue until you really started talking about the West Coast offense, until you started talking about what Bill Walsh was doing and his disciples have done and how they’ve taken off with it and then other people use it as well now. But just knowing that they’re trying to gather intel on the defense, as a defensive player, you try to disguise and not show too much too soon. It’s a little bit of a chess match, and sometimes you don’t want to be playing checkers.

Success on offense vs the Eagles:

I think it was a very big – I don’t know – complement to what they were doing. It was a little bit of both. I think some of the game planning stuff was outstanding and we really did take advantage of some things that EB was looking for. But then part of it too was the way it was operated. The execution was really good, I thought at times and so I think that really spoke well to the guys practicing, preparing all week coming off of the Buffalo game. I thought the guys came in and had a really good Wednesday.

Eric Bieniemy’s week-to-week adjustments:

I think a lot of what’s happening is everybody’s kind of still learning. We’re still in that phase. I mean, you can say all you want about having OTAs, minicamp, training camp, preseason games, but now with the actual games itself, now you know exactly what you got, what you’re doing out there and you feel as if everything’s coming together. It’s really kind of cool to watch because especially last week, I thought in EB’s play calling, you could see he’s just routing it off, going from one play to the next, understanding exactly what he wants and how he wants to attack. I mean, it’s been really cool to watch.

New ownership:

Very fortunate. Things have changed and it’s been different. It’s been refreshing. As we talked about this a few weeks back, if you guys remember, when you come in and your biggest concern obviously was the long snapper at that time. I remember that question. When that’s your biggest concern as a player or a position or something on the field, that’s really cool. It’s one of those things that we’re very fortunate to be where we are. What Mr. Harris and his group have brought has been very different and it’s allowed me, it’s allowed us, to keep the focus on football, the players, as it should be and what we do on the field.

Opportunity to start a winning streak vs the Bears:

I do, but to me every week is an opportunity to get started. It really is. I mean, it would’ve been outstanding to come away from the Philly game with the victory because then you have all that momentum validated. That’s what we want to do is continue to have that momentum. Well, we’ve got to build on it now, so we’ve got a big challenge ahead. This is a very hungry team coming in. So, we’ve got a big job ahead of us.

Rallying through team adversity:

I mean, back in the day, and going back to my Chicago days as a player, one of the things that Mike Ditka always used to talk about was just rallying together, circling the wagons, pulling in and taking care of each other. That was really the thing that we tried to do and I try to emphasize to the players, let’s focus on what’s important, not what’s interesting. What we do on the field is important for football, what’s going on off the field, that’s interesting. It’s always been trying to keep that focus on the team, on the players, on what we do on the field and just try to keep going to Sunday, Sunday, Sunday as much as we could.

Quan Martin:

He does, we do have high expectations for him, and it is just a matter of time, but you also got to consider the position he plays. You’ve got DFo and you’ve got Kam Curl and you’ve got Percy Butler who we drafted last year as well. It’s a good group of young guys, and when you’ve got that many guys, the opportunities, they’re not going to come. We’re trying to make sure he’s ready, that when that opportunity is there, that he gets the opportunity to go out and play and perform by being ready to go.

Players on IR returning:

I think it’s just a matter of time and opportunity right now, and we will wait and see how things go. Each game brings something different, and we’ll just see what happens after Thursday night.

Chicago Bears QB Justin Fields last week:

I thought he played faster. I thought he played faster with his eyes in terms of his reads. When you watch him, you try to watch the quarterback’s head on tape and see as he turns it and where’s he going to in terms of his reads and his progression. He looked pretty sure, especially when he tucked the ball to run. I think he was in sync with his guys. It just looked like he played fast.

Being on the competition committee and if the Eagles “Tush Push” is something they would bring up:

I think it is something that we all have to study. There’s a lot more reasons to study it just then everybody says that’s not football. Well, it’s all part of football. There’ll be a lot of issues that’ll come up. There’ll be some safety issues that’ll probably be brought up. There may be some refereeing issues that’ll be brought up, but I can’t speak for anybody else on it. I think it will be a point of conversation.

Would he like to see it removed?:

I think a lot is going to depend on what we study. There’s a lot of things that got to be looked at, and once we get through all that, we’ll see what’s decided.

This year's rookies not playing a lot of snaps early in the season:

I think because we’ve got some pretty good guys in front of them. We really like who Ricky Stromberg is, but Nick and Cosmi and Saahdiq, they’ve been doing a pretty good job. When there’s an opportunity for those guys to play, they’ll be ready to go. That’s just kind of how it is.

When we draft and just because you draft a guy in the second or third round doesn’t necessarily mean he’s an automatic starter. When I came into the league, guys that were drafted in the second, third round weren’t expected to play right away. Usually the only ones that were expected to play right away were first rounders.

That wasn’t even all the time either. In a situation when you feel good about what you have in front, what it does is give you very good depth and you just got to continue to develop those guys and get them ready to go so that when their chance comes, they have a chance. They have an opportunity to go out there and show you what they’re capable of.

We feel really good about who these guys are. Quan had a little bit of a setback after the first game. He went into the concussion protocol and ended up missing a game and had to work himself back into playing shape and actually played very well last week on special teams. He had two tackles.

We were talking about that as a group of us just thinking because when you watch young guys go out there and perform and you see them play on special teams, that’s when they get your attention, especially defensive backs, linebackers, defensive ends, if they perform on special teams and at a high level, you know that kid’s going to make an impact.

As an example, you talk about Kam Curl, you can talk about DFo and Percy. Those three guys, when they had their chances to go out and perform on special teams, they really did. It just kind of told us they were going to be ready. Kam Curl probably accelerated through that faster than anybody I’ve seen as far as a seventh round pick goes. The other two guys performed very well and DFo got on the field right away. Then last year Percy did some stuff and Percy got on the field.

I think this is all part of the growth and development of guys. Again, just because you draft a guy high doesn’t necessarily mean he’s got to play right now if you’ve got a player in front of him that’s doing a pretty good job.

Balance of trying to get Quan Martin defensive snaps in his rookie season:

There is. You do want to play these guys and that’s why you took them. But when somebody’s playing, you’re not going to make changes to make changes or just say, ‘Oh yeah, well we drafted him, we got to play him.’ They got to earn the right to get on the field too. They got to beat out whoever’s in that position. Those guys that are in front of him are all very good football players. At least we believe so.


Logan Thomas