Lynn on Activating Hunter Henry, Beating Ravens, and Preparing for Patriots

Coach Anthony Lynn addresses the media on Victory Monday following the Bolts Wild Card victory over the Baltimore Ravens

Opening Statement:

“Good afternoon. Well I guess I'll start off with [TE] Hunter Henry — we activated him today. He's really excited about that. He's been with us all along and has been in meetings all year. He's been very much engaged, so I feel he's ready to play. We'll wait until the end of the week to see where he is and [whether] he can help us this weekend or not.”

On TE Hunter Henry:

“Well, I think he's one of the better combo tight ends in the game — as far as blocking and route-running. I think he can definitely help us there and pick up where he left off [last season], hopefully.”

On Henry’s availability:

“We still need to see him play more football. He hasn't played football since last December [2017] and he hurt himself in May [2018]. So, he's been out for a while. You don't want to throw a player back in [action] before he's ready, so we're still evaluating him.”

On whether Henry suffered any setbacks in the past week:

“No. As a matter of fact, he's ahead of schedule. He's way ahead of schedule.”

On if there is anything that can expedite Henry’s return to the field:

“No, you just get him more involved. His conditioning and that whole aspect of going multiple plays in a row [is important]. Just getting him involved with cutting, running, blocking and more football things.”

On whether Henry was in serious consideration to play on Sunday:

“It was something we were definitely considering. The player is really confident he can go, but like I said, we're trying to protect him. We don't want to put him out there too soon.”

On facing New England:

“You know, we're finishing up [reviewing] our game from last night right now. We're doing some self-evaluations and writing those reports, but, we have looked at the Patriots some. I mean, they're the Patriots — they have one of the best quarterbacks ever to play the game. He's going to present a hell of a challenge for us, but we will have a plan and our guys will go in and execute. Hopefully, we'll play fast, physical and see what happens. We're still looking at that tape.”

On any advantage for the Patriots extra time to prepare for Sunday:

“I'm sure they'll have a few tricks, something a little different than what they've put on tape, but we're going to have to make those adjustments.”

On whether there is an advantage for the Patriots' extensive playoff experience:

“Well really, it's about us — not them. We're going to have to play our best ball and not beat ourselves. That's something they do well — they don't beat themselves — and they have one of the better quarterbacks to ever play the game. That makes them hard to beat alone. Like I said, it's about us more than it is about them.”

On the challenge to face the adverse offensive schemes between Baltimore and New England back-to-back:

“Well, it's night-and-day. There's no doubt about it, but we've faced more [Patriots QB Tom] Brady types than we have [Ravens QB] Lamar [Jackson]. So our defense has had reps at this all year — not to say that we've seen a Tom Brady because we haven't. There is only Tom Brady. Like I said, it's about us being in the positions that we're supposed to be in, [executing] the details of our assignments and playing fast, and make plays.”

On the defensive strategy for the upcoming game:

“That's what we're working through now. We're figuring out the best way to attack New England in all three phases. We're putting that together right now.”

On whether film from the 2017 game against the Patriots will be used to game plan:

“You can go back last year, as yes, we're definitely looking at that game. We're just trying to see what we can take from that game. Sometimes though, New England is a specific game planning team. They may play you differently than they did another team or they will play you differently than they played you last year. I played in that division for eight years and I never saw the same plan. So, that's just something you have to wait and see and make those adjustments.”

On Baltimore kicking a field goal on fourth-and-one rather than going for it:

“Well, they made that decision. On fourth-and-one, normally [they] go for it, but our defense was playing pretty well. I think sometimes you have to make those decisions based on how you're performing on the field.”

On the defensive approach:

“We believe in our guys. We wouldn't put those guys out there if we didn't think it would work.”

On how the defensive scheme was strategized:

“There were some conversations there. I trust our coaches and we believe in the personnel that we have. We lost two starting Will linebackers and so we thought that was the best move to make for this week. We were prepared to go the other direction if it didn't work, but it worked just fine.”

On how the conversations about the scheme was conducted:

“We just brainstormed and, like I said, our defensive staff knows that personnel as good as anyone. As well as myself. We have those conversations. We may not always agree, we will disagree sometimes, but that was a tough one that worked.”

On the adjustments made by the offensive line heading into the game against Baltimore:

“Last time, they came at us with some big stunts and we weren't prepared for them. They created two sacks and pressured a hit on the quarterback. We were prepared for that this time. Our offensive line won their one-on-one [matchups]. They strained and showed their effort. They protected well up front. It's no different than our defensive line. You can't put two little guys in the box if the defensive line doesn't show up. We put more stress on our defensive line yesterday than we ever have. Those young men — they won their one-on-ones. They won their gap [assignments] and sometimes they won their double-teams. They did a heck of a job. That's the best I've seen our defensive line play all season.”

On what is meant by placing more stress on the defensive line:

“Well, they have to get off their blocks and play two gaps or play a gap and a half. I thought they did a good job at that. We watched the first game and we struggled to get off the double-team [matchups], but yesterday they did a heck of a job.”

On DE Joey Bosa and DE Melvin Ingram III:

“They've always stepped up. We've asked for those guys to play different techniques to help stop the run. Unselfishly, they've done that and have done a really good job. We wanted to get [the opponent] behind the sticks early so we could turn the pass rushers loose, and it worked.”

On the best approach to pressure Patriots QB Tom Brady:

“We'll see. We'll have a few things, so we'll see.”

On the practice of running backs reaching to extend the ball at the goal line:

“That's not something that we teach. The ball came out [on RB Melvin Gordon III's act to extend] and it could've cost us, but it's definitely not something that we teach. In a 'gotta have it' situation on fourth down? Yes, go for it, but on the early downs, no we don't do that.”

On LB Uchenna Nwosu:

“He ended the game earlier in the year on the last play [similar to yesterday]. He has some unique pass rush ability. He's strong at the point of attack and setting the edge against the run. He's had some good production this year and is playing his best ball now. That's unusual for a lot of rookies because usually around Week 8 or 9, they hit that rookie wall. They've played all of the football that they're used to playing [in college] and sometimes fade out on you [over the remainder of the season] — but these guys have really stepped. Not just Uchenna, but [DT] Justin Jones, [RB] Justin Jackson and [S Derwin] DJ [James]. Those guys are major contributors right now on our football team.”

On the special teams performance:

“Well, our coverage units are outstanding. I think our coverage units right now are one of the best in the National Football League. We cover a lot of kicks. The operation on the [blocked] field goal was off. The snap was a little inside and didn't get the snap down as we juggled it a little bit, and we didn't hit it well. It happens every now and then, but that operation has been really good. It was good enough yesterday to help us win the game. On the punt block and deflection, it was just pressure up the middle [from Baltimore]. We have to do a better job winning our one-on-one matchup. We have a guy trying to do too much and then try to take care of his man. [Baltimore] did a good job with that. Nothing scheme-wise — we just need to do our job.”

On P Donnie Jones:

“Donnie's done an outstanding job. I thought he's brought in some confidence and stability to the holder position. The snapper has confidence in him. The kicker has confidence in him. He's done an outstanding job. He's a veteran — that's why we brought him in.”

On Wide Receivers Coach Phil McGeoghan:

“He’s been in [the wide receivers] shoes. He's been there and done that, and can relate to those guys really well. At the same time, he's very demanding. He teaches fundamentals and techniques. He's done a heck of a job with that [wide receiver] room to get the most out of what he has.”

On any advantage to have two former head coaches on staff as coordinators:

“Well, I think it's a huge benefit. That's why I brought those guys on staff. I wanted guys with experience. Not just the coordinators, but I have assistant coaches with a lot of experience as well. [Special Teams Coordinator/Assistant Head Coach] George Stewart, [Linebackers Coach] Richard Smith and those guys. [Defensive Backs Coach] Ron Milus [as well]. I've known those guys for a long time. It couldn't do [anything] but help me — I can tell you that.”

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