General Manager John Lynch Press Conference
General Manager John Lynch
Press Conference – November 1, 2023
San Francisco 49ers
Can you just kind of take us through the timeline of when first contact was made with the Commanders and just kind of how it went throughout and what was kind of the thing that pushed it over the goal line?
“Yeah. So, [Washington Commanders general manager] Martin [Mayhew] and I had touched base quite a while ago, maybe two weeks ago. And just the likelihood, I was gauging the likelihood that he would be available and Martin thought that there was a good chance it would be in play. We’d been tracking [DL] Chase [Young] for some time. Martin did a really good job. I’m very appreciative. He and I are great friends. I mean, he was a mentor of mine when I arrived in Tampa. We played in the same secondary, so we go way back, one of the first calls when I got here to see if he would come join me. I think relationships matter in these things, and I’m very appreciative, he kept us in the loop, you know, because we were looking at a variety of things. And he just kind of kept coming back saying, ‘Here’s where it’s at.’ And ultimately, when did this, in terms of timeline, when did it break? About 11:30? Yeah, so it was fairly late in the game. I mean, this wasn’t something I went to bed Monday night knowing that we were going to do this deal. We were talking about a few and it, I don’t know, I had this feeling going to bed and I didn’t sleep very well and waking up that nothing was going to come to fruition just because it, I don’t know, the more people do these it seems like the comp is getting higher and higher. And you know, we probably got spoiled a little bit last year in getting [RB] Christian [McCaffrey], but not only such a great player but getting a player who you had for years to come. And so, that’s a little more attractive than somebody who’s on an expiring deal. But ultimately we felt like this would give us a boost. We really like Chase’s film. We liked where he was, you know, seemingly from a health standpoint. Obviously, as with any player, all these deals which are agreed in principle are contingent upon passing a physical so he’s got to clear that hurdle today, but he’s been playing. So, that’s kind of how it went down.”
Was it Chase from the outset in your conversations with Martin? Or was Chicago Bears DL Montez Sweat a consideration, other defensive ends around the league in consideration?
“Early on in the game, it’s not in the game, in mine and Martin’s conversations, it was just Chase. At some point, Martin said, ‘Hey, listen for the right price, Sweat could likely be had as well.’ And so, that’s kind of where it was.”
Back to Chase’s health status, I mean, obviously he missed about a year and a half of games, but the Commanders have been playing him a bunch this year. He played 75 snaps against Atlanta. Are you seeing that he looks fully healthy or just healthy enough to where he’s kind of a rotational guy?
“I’m like you Cam, I kept turning on the tape and you know, like 75, 64, those are a lot of snaps. And so, I think the proof is in what’s translating on the field. He’s been playing a lot and looking really good. So, there’s preliminary medical stuff where they send medical files and all that and then the last step is him flying out here today and doing the actual physical. So, we hope that all goes well, but it sure looks like he’s been healthy based upon what he’s been doing on the field.”
Were you close to getting anything else done deal-wise yesterday before the deadline?
“We were in a lot of discussions and like I said there was a point going into last night, you know, you can’t just, I’ve always heard from people, sometimes the best deals are the ones that you don’t do. And we didn’t want to do it just to do it. We feel like we have, independent of Chase, it’s something we talked a lot about coming off the tough stretch that we’re on. Everyone needs to look inward not outward because there’s no magic pill. The answers are right here in this building. And so, we didn’t feel like we necessarily needed to go do something. And we weren’t going to be reactionary to our recent streak, but all along we just felt like if the right thing transpired and ultimately we thought that this was something that would really help us. And again, like when you have wholesale conviction as a building, obviously [head coach] Kyle [Shanahan] and I have to make final decisions, but the support of your ownership, give [assistant general manager] Adam Peters and [director of pro personnel] RJ Gillen and their crew, a ton of, they did a ton of work that sometimes can amount to nothing and sometimes it can amount with the addition of a player that can really help us. And so, to our R&D who weighed in on all these guys. And so, I think it was a good team effort and hopefully Chase can give us a lift the rest of the way. I know we had some excited people around here. We had some excited players and we needed a little lift after our recent stretch.”
Why did you trade for a pass rusher instead of a corner considering you’ve added DL Javon Hargrave and DL Randy Gregory already this year?
“Because I felt like it was the best deal to be had. We had a number of conversations and we’ve always been of the philosophy that it starts up front and that was the deal that made the most sense for us.”
As far as some of the guys coming back, DB Samuel Womack III, DL Robert Beal Jr., WR Danny Gray, maybe even DB Darrell Luter Jr., are you expecting contributions from those guys, and if so, when?
“Yeah, these guys, I think we’re on the verge of we’ve got to make that decision. Kyle and I will have some conversations and obviously, with the council of our health and performance staff, but these guys are ready to have their windows open. But, you also have to have roster spots available. But, I do believe a couple, if not a few, are on the verge of having their windows open. At some point we’ve got to see what they can provide us.”
Just given the investments you’ve made in the defensive line before this trade, just looking at the pass rush pressure, I’m sure it’s less than you were expecting. Have you been able to pinpoint what’s been going on and why it has not been that kind of dominant pass rush we’ve seen in the past?
“We’ve spent a lot of time obviously looking into that because that’s our expectation and we know we have a group that is capable. But as we’ve said, it all works together. Rush and coverage have to be coordinated. I thought the Dallas game, it all came together and I was hopeful that, man, okay, we’re onto something and we’re going to get back to our ways because I think, in my mind we’re really good up there and now we’re hopefully even better if this thing comes to fruition with Chase. That’s the question I think we all go into the Bye week and like I said, everyone has to look inward. We’ve got to figure this out. We know we have a requisite talent not just to be good, but to be really good. And that’s incumbent upon everyone to bring that to the table. And there’s many times I’ve got no problem because those guys know it. We put a lot of resources there. Those guys need to be not just good, they need to be really good and dominant and wreak havoc and all those things. And I feel like it’s on its way and we need to do that. And that takes everybody.”
How big of a part of the equation has the poor run defense been this year and where you try to slot Chase in? Did you feel that he still has juice in that regard to be able to help that other edge, which has obviously been problematic?
“Yeah, we think Chase is a complete player, but you bring up a great point. My old D-Line coach [former NFL coach] Rod Marinelli and all those guys that played for him, [former NFL DT] Warren Sapp, you often hear him say, it’s something I grew up with in football in the NFL, ‘you have to earn the right to rush the passer.’ And you do that by playing the run well and we’ve not been good enough there. So, I think when we start doing the little things right, that gives you the opportunities and ultimately I think we’re going to get this thing right and all those things. But that definitely is true. We’ve got to shore that up. It starts with stopping the run and we haven’t been doing that well enough, so we’ve got to do that. And then, we’ve got ample ability and options as pass rushers to start to pull this together.”
When you started this process, were you looking specifically to bolster the defensive line or was it just a matter of who can help us the most at the price that fits us?
“Yeah, you obviously have some areas where you’re like, if we could get something here, I think we could improve our team and our chances. And that’s all you’re trying to do this time of the year without handicapping us. I mean, it really is starting with [New York Jets head coach Robert] Saleh, onto Martin, [Houston Texans head coach] DeMeco [Ryans], [Tennessee Titans GM] Ran [Carthon], I mean, having those comp picks has really helped us in a variety of ways. When you’ve got your own third-round pick, you’ve got a comp pick, I call it the Ran-Meco because I don’t know which one it is, it’s both of them. Because when you have two guys go the same year, I think you get the third-round picks in the next three years. So, that’s helpful to be able to have that asset at your disposal. And it’s just a reflection, I think, of being surrounded by quality people and them going on having success here being rewarded in a program that the league has in place to incentivize it. And that allowed us to make that happen knowing we’re likely having a comp three coming back as well. So, I think we’ll still have a third, we’re expecting that we have another comp three. And those things are valuable, but if you can add a player who can help you, I think it’s boosted our team before. [Former NFL WR] Emmanuel Sanders did it, I think [Kansas City Chiefs DL] Charles Omenihu made a lot of contributions, Christian, obviously. So, we’ve had a nice track record, but it’s tough because it’s become an expectation that we’re going to do something and everyone’s kind of looking at you close to the trade deadline when you haven’t done something yet and you’re saying, hold on, Randy Gregory, we did that and I’m glad we did Chase for the right reasons, not because we just felt like, hey, we’ve got to do something. I believe wholeheartedly that all the answers are right here in the building. We didn’t have to go do this. We just saw an opportunity and we felt like we could stay true to who we want to be in terms of building through the draft, with also adding a player who we felt could help us the rest of this year.”