Defensive Coordinator Perry Fewell
December 18, 2014
Q: What have you seen from Jason Pierre-Paul and Jonathan Hankins over the past few weeks?
A: I think Jonathan Hankins is really coming into his own right now. He’s playing with good strength and power. He’s playing more snaps for us. He’s playing about 35 to 45 more snaps a game and so with he and JPP working together over there, I think that they feel very comfortable in what they’re doing and how they’re communicating and I just think JPP has turned it up a notch this second half of the season, with the last three, four ball games. He’s setting the edge of our defense. That’s what we’ve asked him to do. He’s been setting the edge of our defense and has been solid over on the left side. Now we’ve moved him around, both left and right, but he’s doing a good job of setting the edge our defense.
Q: With regards to Hankins, I think people presumed he was a capable run-stopper, but has he surpassed even what you guys had expected in terms of his pass-rushing?
A: I would say yeah. He may be surpassing what we felt. He showed flashes of being able to play each position on the defensive line in his college tape. We saw flashes of him being able to have power and rush the quarterback. We didn’t know how that would transfer over. We thought he was capable. He wanted the opportunity to do that and so we’ve been giving him the opportunity. He’s telling us that he can play first, second and third down, so I think Jonathan is playing to his capability right now.
Q: How much of Hankins’ improvement as a rusher is technique? Or how much of it is playing with a high motor and playing until the whistle?
A: I think Coach (Robert) Nunn has done a good job with just developing his technique – how to use his hands, when to use his hands, vulnerable positions with the offensive lineman that he’s getting them in, setting up different moves for him. I think that’s just the maturation process.
Q: How do you look at JPP’s sudden increase in sacks these past three weeks?
A: I think he’s kind of taken it upon himself with the other defensive linemen to apply more pressure. We’ve always emphasized it. It’s always been a stress point. I think he’s just cranked it up a notch to try to do better and to do more.
Q: What’s changed about the defense over the past three weeks? Are you calling anything differently?
A: If I told you that, I’d have to kill you.
Q: You had 19 sacks in the first 11 games of the season and now 22 in your last three games. Do you look at those numbers and marvel at what the difference is?
A: We’ve had to do some different things. Obviously we’re happy with the numbers. We’re happy with the pressure that we’re getting from the defensive line and we’re happy with some of the production that we’re getting from Devon Kennard. He’s helped a lot in that pass rush resurgence, so I think it’s a combination of both.
Q: What are a couple of things that stand out about Kennard?
A: For a rookie, he’s very mature. He’s very serious about his work and his business. He has a very professional attitude every single day in the classroom and on the field about his work and how he can improve for a rookie. We always talk about the rookie wall or what have you. It doesn’t seem to faze him. We’re giving him more in the classroom and he’s able to take it on the field. He loves to talk football and he loves to visualize what he’s doing and how he’s doing it. He takes the critiquing not personally, but he takes it as a learning experience and for a rookie, that’s very mature.
Q: Has he ever asked you a question in the meeting room where you’ve had to pause because it was such an intelligent question?
A: Yes, because he’s an intelligent man. He thinks about football. When you say, ‘Did you pause?’ You would like for them to be that way because they think through what you’re asking them to do and he does that on the field sometimes. He’ll come off after a particular session… We were critiquing him today and he said, ‘I did it twice today. I’m not very good at that. I’ve got to learn how to do that.’ You kind of step back and go ‘wow.’ He’s not taking it personally. He’s saying, ‘help me with this. I need to improve.’
Q: What’s his ideal position? He played all over the place at USC.
A: He was a defensive end at USC.
Q: Where do you see him ideally?
A: That’s really a good question. It’s kind of tough from that standpoint. He’s a powerful man that can play at defensive end and rush and do that type of thing. He’s also skillful enough to play a linebacker position. He’s not as fleet-footed as you would like for him to be and so we put that in the term of a tweener. I think after the season and over the next training period, if he works on his burst and his explosion, that he can be an ideal linebacker. We call him a SAM linebacker. That would be his ideal position and he can also transition and put his hand on the dirt and rush, but I think linebacker would be his natural position.
Q: How would you describe JPP’s play when he caught Robert Griffin III at the pylon?
A: Amazing. Absolutely amazing, because RG3 is a 4.4, 4.5 guy. JPP was on the right side of the defensive line. It just showed you his desire to want to make that football play and I think that’s what he has done over the last three or four weeks. He’s turned up his desire to make plays. That was really a game-changing play in my mind because he wasn’t going to fumble that ball unless he had an obstacle in his way and I was in awe. I really was. It was like wow. The guy continues to amaze you.
Q: When the defense was going through early season struggles, how did you tune out the criticism around you to focus on the task at hand?
A: I have an obligation to the guys in that room. I have an obligation to the Giants. No matter what goes on, I have to be focused because if I’m not focused, they’re not focused. We have an obligation to improve every day, to be professional in what we do and how we do it. That’s easy for me. I have to tune that out and improve those guys because I have to look at those guys in that room every day and try to get them to improve every day. You just have to have mental focus.
Q: Over the past few games, have you as a coach and defensive unit kind of proven something?
A: I wouldn’t say proven anything. All we’re trying to do is one day at a time, improve each day. We’re trying to win as many ball games as we can win. We’re trying to be a better unit than we were the week before. We’re just trying to improve.
Q: Over the last few games, have you seen the Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie you thought you were going to have?
A: He is a guy that I would say he flashes his talent at us. I would like to see a healthier DRC, but yes, he is. That’s the guy we went after in free agency.