Defensive Coordinator Steve Spagnuolo
November 27, 2015
Happy Thanksgiving, by the way; hope everybody had a great day yesterday. Last game was a while ago so we’re on to something else now right, on to the Redskins, guys have done a good job all week. I’ll just open up for questions but we’re looking forward to obviously getting back and playing a game. It feels like forever that we’ve played one and with that, I’ll let you fire away.
Q: What does Price [Amukamara] do for you?
A: We know he’s a good football player. I really thought right before he got hurt, I thought he was really coming along and playing real well for us. Look, if there’s a sense of security, I think Jayron [Hosley] did a really good job coming in. When Trumaine McBride went out there, I thought he did a good job for us, and when Trevin Wade came in. Anytime you lose a player of Prince’s caliber, it makes it a challenge. I think the guys have done a good job to this point. We’re glad we have him back, he was practicing without playing in games a couple weeks ago, because he was still getting in the groove. Hopefully he can knock the rust off really quick in the game and he can help us.
Q: What kind of difference can he make for you guys?
A: Again, I didn’t call anything differently when he wasn’t there, I probably won’t call anything differently now that he is in there. He’s played in this league a long time, he’s a solid pro, we rely on him as one of our real good football players, and to have one on either side, that being DRC [Dominque Rodgers-Cromartie], I think there is a sense of security there for us.
Q: What do you need to see from your safeties to improve? Coach [Coughlin] said it’s been a weak spot at times, what do you need to see at that spot?
A: We’ve talked as a group of safeties, I think Dave Merritt does a great job, but the tackling, I think if you asked every safety, they wish they were tackling better. I think they all wish that they would make a few more plays in the pass game, we’ve talked about that, and I think they would all want to do better with the communication part of it. We worked a lot on that this past bye week in terms of watching tape and doing communication calls. I will say this about the safeties group, I walked off the practice field yesterday, and I went and got something to eat, and when I came back through the meeting rooms, all four of them -- Cooper [Taylor] and Craig [Dahl], Landon [Collins] and Brandon [Meriweather] -- were in the meeting room by themselves, just the four of them, working on getting all those things squared away, so that’s encouraging.
Q: Not going back to the Patriots to ask you X’s and O’s but you mentioned Craig Dahl. He at least opened my eyes, the idea that you had him one up with [Rob] Gronkowski. Facing a guy like Jordan Reed this week, what did you like about the matchup with Dahl and is that something you would like to be part of your…?
A: Yeah, Craig made that really good play over on the sideline and, truth be told, it was supposed to be a little something different to help him over there, but he did a nice job on his own. Craig is a competitive guy who knows exactly what he’s doing. We know that no matter who he goes against, he’s going to battle. Some of those situations where he ended up there was not exactly how we had drawn it up, but because he can unwind things in the middle of the game, that’s a nice safety valve for us. It doesn’t go exactly the way you draw it up, and he gets it corrected, so that was good and we’ll need that again this week. I think Reed is one of the quality tight ends in this league. He runs like a wide receiver, and he has a great catch radius because he’s so big, and I think the quarterback is not afraid to throw him the 9 route, back shoulder fades, slants, I think he has a real comfort level with throwing to him. Whoever covers him over there, whether we’re all by ourselves covering him, doubling him, whatever we do, we have to find a way to keep him from wrecking the football game.
Q: Any concerns about Landon Collins and his confidence level at this point?
A: No, he’s a confident guy, he’s an Alabama guy, they’re all confident. I get where you’re going, I get why you’re asking, look we all would have -- I know him as much as anybody would have -- liked to make that play. He bounced right back and he’ll play football. We worked…on it this week and he realizes what’s at stake.
Q: Do you have to take anything off his shoulders though? There’s been some talk, I think coach Merritt said, “There’s a lot on his shoulders and there’s a lot of responsibility” for a rookie.
A: I think it feels that way because we’re talking about a guy who’s only played 10 games in the league. After you get ten games under your belt, and you’ve been in the same position, and it’s been relatively the same things for 10 weeks, I think Landon will tell you he feels comfortable with the game plan. Somebody is always going to show you something different, like I just got done talking about Craig with unwinding, now Craig has had, help me out, eight years under his belt or whatever it’s been. It’s a little bit different for Landon where he hasn’t seen all those things. He’s a confident guy, we have a lot of trust in him, he is still a rookie, but I think he’s playing a little bit better than that. We need him to play well to win.
Q: What have you seen in JPP….?
A: I think he’s just battling the comfort level. I know you guys have probably talked to him and it’s getting used to a lot of different things every game. With him, it is a brand scheme, he wasn’t here in the spring, but I tell you what, he and Robert Nunn have been knocking out, they’ve put extra time in, I think he obviously feels more comfortable this week than he did last week and hopefully that’ll pay off.
Q: He says he would like to get rid of that club at some point and get to a glove. Is that limiting him in terms of certain specific things he can do? Shedding blocks or anything?
A: He’d probably be a better guy to ask than me. My guess would be yeah, you would want use of your fingers. I know they’re working on it all the time, even during the game he’s over there trying to get it better, and I would imagine that would be frustrating to somebody in this particular business where you need that. My guess is that if he can get something, I think it would help him a little bit. I thought he made some, going back to the Patriots game, a couple plays there. I thought he looked like the old JPP. I would like to get that every play.
Q: Do you see offenses blocking or attacking differently now that he’s back, if that’s the right way to ask?
A: You can see on film that in obvious passing situations, they’ll use a guy to chip and I think that’s something that you’re going to see when you’ve got somebody of his caliber out there rushing the passer. They have to decide where they think he is, whether he’s like he was a year ago, or two years ago, or if he’s different because of the injury he’s dealing with. I think he’s always going to face that, I really do.
Q: Do you see a significant difference from game one to two for him? What areas does he maybe have to even get better?
A: The first game, I remember he was even flipping trying to get comfortable on which side should he be on. He doesn’t put his right hand down now, he puts his left hand down, so I think it took a little bit of time to get adjusted to that. I think the second game we saw a little bit more of him, especially in the passing situations, but I think the run game. I think he’s been okay there, we always preach in terms of defense of using your hands, and even when you’re out here in practice and he’s got it wrapped up, it’s a little tougher to do, but I do see him using it more and more. That’s encouraging and I think that’s good.
Q: Does Kirk Cousins look like a different guy when you watch him now as opposed to Week 3?
A: Confident, I mean I just think their offense, especially the New Orleans game, is pretty efficient. They’re a very efficient offense in my opinion when they’re very balanced. They’re very balanced when they’re running the ball effectively and he’s the best, I know our people here that research, Jon Berger and his crew, he’s the best play-action pass quarterback in the league in terms of quarterback rating. That’s a challenge for us and I think that all opens up when they run the football. It always goes back to stopping the run first and getting the thing to be one dimensional. I think he’s really good when they’re really balanced. It’s our challenge to make sure that doesn’t happen.
Q: How much better can your defense be? You’re getting a bunch of guys back.
A: I didn’t mention that, that’s funny. Of course, we’ve played once already with the guys who were there or not there, but DRC didn’t play the last time, Markus Kuhn didn’t, JPP wasn’t here, and I’m missing one other. It’s good to have those guys and I’m hoping that’s an advantage for us.
Q: Can I ask one other JPP question?
Q: His mindset and the way he’s come back, thankful to be alive, and everything that trickles down from that. In your experience with players, not with this injury in particular, but with players, can that mental approach help him as he makes strides in the physical part of the game?
A: I do. I think it helps anybody when you’re faced with that kind of situation and all of a sudden you’re glad to be, whether you put the term alive there, or glad to be able to be back doing what you love. I think we all tend to get a little bit more humble and more appreciative of what we’re doing. I think what it tends to do is make you value each day, and every rep, or every time you’re out on the field in this case. I do think it does make a difference in players and I’m trying to think of another example like that but I can’t right now. There are a number of them around the league where guys get into situations like that and they basically get a second chance. It’s nice to see when guys take advantage of them.