GH: How do you see that for Joe Burrow? This is his first camp that isn’t delayed by COVID protocols or his rehab. What do you see different for him?
ZT: There are things he can help besides attacking. We have new offensive linemen that we need to upgrade, and communication and relationships with those guys. With Tee (Higgins) he’s coming off the shoulder (surgery) so we’re going to protect him early in camp and so it’s an opportunity to continue to develop some of that receiving body and Joe is definitely a big part help bring this. Hayden Hurst, the new tight end, to build that chemistry with.
There are always changes happening year to year for the quarterback and we rely on him to help bring people along and make sure our offense keeps humming.
GH: How can Burrow and offense be better?
ZT: You’re really talking about the entirety of the offense at this point. Score more points in the red zone. We certainly didn’t always start some games the way we wanted. We did a very good finishing job. We had a lot of production at the end of the first half, but I think the next step for this full offense is to really create leads early and score points early in the game. The best football brand is playing with a lead. This is an area where we can definitely improve.
GH: Are the red zone and the short film the priorities in this camp?
ZT: Those will be key areas that we will focus on. We plan boot camp and make sure we hit all of our areas and spend time there and talk about our weaknesses from a year ago and our strengths from a year ago and that’s been part of what we present to our players. We feel good about our plan for training camp.
GH: You always look at trends and trends. Do you think the defenses will challenge you to run the ball this year?
ZT: It’s hard to put blanket coverage on every team we play with. We know that each team can offer you something a little different. Teams have shown that over the years. You just have to prepare for each game as an individual game and see what the defense has in store for you and adjust next week. That’s part of it in this league. There are usually no two identical teams when you prepare for it.
GH: After getting the contract extension, did you change anything knowing that you are five years old?
ZT: I think in this business, you always approach things from year to year. That’s what you did for me lately. Of course, there were great things that happened here last year. Expectations and standards continue to be raised each year. This is what you want. This is why you are in this profession. If you don’t have this mentality, that you need to improve on the past, you’re probably there for the wrong reasons. That’s just the mentality we’ve all taken here.