Defensive Coordinator Steve Spagnuolo
September 30, 2016
Well, we dragged you all the way over here, so hopefully I have got something good for you. We are on to Minnesota. We have some things that we have to overcome. We will grind away and try to go get ourselves a win. With that, I will open it up.
Q: How important have Eli Apple and DRC been to your secondary?
A: Those two guys, along with Jackrabbit and the others, have really allowed us to do some things that, quite honestly, you wouldnít be able to do. When you can trust and rely on guys on the edge there, that can get things done that you need to do in this league, it gives you a lot of a lot of versatility inside and makes everyone else better, so we will miss them. We will miss them. We need to get somebody else to step up in there and hopefully they can get healthy quick.
Q: They went down in the middle of last game. Can you schematically do things different going into a new game?
A: That was a challenge. You look at the list and half of it is gone because there were some things that we were going to do with a lot more defensive back bodies and we couldnít do, so we had to get away from that. We had some guys go out there Ė Trev (Wade) has been out there before, but I donít like to leave guys hanging, so we tried to avoid that a little. It changed the game plan a little, it made it a little bit tougher, but somehow, some way we need to find a way to keep them from getting those last few points and winning the football game for our team and really, quite honestly, at the end there it was really more of the run game more than anything and all the other guys felt the same way. We had played real good run defense up until those last five to six plays, so that was disappointing. That is something that we need to get squared away. But, getting back to your point, it made it tough in that game. Does it make it any easier this week? I donít know if it gets any easier. The opponent we are getting ready to play realizes that we are down some guys. We will tweak some things a little bit and hopefully the guys that are going to go in there and play are going to be productive.
Q: What have you seen from Michael Hunter and Andrew Adams?
A: Well, Mike hasnít gotten a lot of work out there, but we are watching him this week. He is a long guy. We always liked his length. He is a bigger, taller corner. Andrew, I remember back in training camp being impressed with Andrew on how assertive he was, so to speak. Sometimes those young safeties donít like to Ė they are supposed to control it and do all the communication and sometimes they think, ĎI donít want to tell that vet to do this or do that.í But I think right from the beginning he has had the confidence to do it, so I will be anxious to see how he does. We will see where we go with whoever is back there, but I think we only have about six of them practicing. We are going to need them all. Maybe Coach Walton, too, from his Ohio State days.
Q: He is hurt, too.
A: That is a good point. We canít put him in there. Is (safeties coach David) Merritt healthy? We can throw Merritt out there. Yeah, he is too big, we canít put him out there. Corry (Rush) is going to go out there.
Q: With the run defense at the end, do you think it was because you guys were on the field too long?
A: No, that was the first thing we watched when we got together on Wednesday. Sometimes when guys try to do too much Ė everybody realizes that look, this is the time we shine and where we stop them. To some of the guysí credit, they try to do a little bit more than they need to and they had a little bit more than they need to and we had a little bit of that instead of doing what the defense called for each of the 11 guys to do. Our eyes kind of went a little astray and it caused some issues.
Q: Is it strange playing the Vikings without Teddy Bridgewater and Adrian Peterson?
A: Yeah, I mean certainly Adrian Peterson and Bridgewater, playing him last year, he is an athletic guy. Now we know a lot about Sam (Bradford) having played him and I think Sam is playing pretty good. We are not going to assume that anyone that goes in there to play running back is anything but a great player. Going to play away at that stadium is going to be a heck of a challenge. They still do a lot of good things. Their tight end is solid. Number 14 (Diggs) is as good as we have seen this year. If you have seen some of the tape, the plays he makes, he catches it and I think Sam is trusting both those guys a lot, so it is a pretty good challenge.
Q: Do you approach Stefon Diggs the same way you would Dez Bryant ?
A: I know Sam Bradford a little bit and I watch and I can tell, you know, he gets confidence in certain guys. I can tell that he's confident in Stefon. He's going to be a guy we're going to have to be concerned with. We always identify the guys that we think can wreck the football game. I think he can because he's a deep threat. Talk about explosive play, I think explosive plays were one of the things that hurt us last week. We really hadn't had that issue, and we give up two explosive pass plays that come back and kind of bit us if you really think about it in the end. I think he's got that ability.
Q: You've always had rotations on defense, especially at defensive end. Now JPP's playing every snap and Olivier Vernon is there...
A: Yeah, we need to take a few snaps off of those guys. Especially with the injuries they're kind of dealing with. It's a good point and it's hard to take those guys out and they don't really want to be out. None of those guys do. But I think you make a really good point because when you get down to the end, we really need to step up and those guys need to be fresh. And we've talked about that because we've looked at the snaps that Kerry Wynn and Owa Odighizuwa and Romero Okwara had and they probably didn't have enough. They're all young and they're going and we know that but I think we can get those other guys...[inaudible].
Q: How about the tackles? Do you like their percentages?
A: We've gone to all three, I believe, which is three tackles on the 46 and you know we have a swing guy that can go in there but that's kind of dictated. With teams that we see in this league, there are not a lot of three wide out. This time we'll have three defensive ends instead of two tackles and two D ends, so it's been okay but we certainly don't want to wear guys out and not be fresh enough at the end of the game.
Q: Is that a hard thing to predict, when you're going to do that?
A: Patrick Graham does have them on a rotation, kind of pick your spots. Once your big horse is in there and itís crunch time and critical situations, red zone, third and short, third down. So Pat, he'll try to get them in and out there. But, I think the point is a good one. Maybe we should take some plays off of those others guys. It's hard to do.
Q: Does Sam Bradford look like a quarterback who just showed up three weeks ago?
A: No. I'll tell you what, though, you put the tape on, the pass game I'm talking about now. It looks like there are a couple of routes in there from Philadelphia last year. It's stuff that I know Sam likes, that he's comfortable with. So, I think that they've done the right thing in putting some things in there that they know he's used to and he's comfortable with. I think with doing that and they run the football and they play really good defense. I think all of that has helped Sam. He looks really comfortable.
Q: Leon Hall has played a little bit of safety but how much of an adjustment would it be if he has to play a big role back there?
A: A little bit. Look, we've had him at nickel and dime, we've had him at outside corner. We have actually been playing him a little bit at safety and we got guys that are going to have to cross-train. Our corners are going to have to be safeties, our safeties are going to have to be corners, we might have to put a linebacker back there, or safety. I don't know, we're going to find somebody. He's a smart enough football player that it's not new to him, it's not foreign. So, if we have to do it, hopefully he can succeed doing it.
Q: Are takeaways something that just happen?
A: We do it all the time. I mean, we haven't done anything differently than we did a year ago and at this time last year, I think we had six. I think we had three in the first game, none in the second, three in the third and that was pretty good. I'm really shocked that we don't have any right now, I am. I don't remember, other than I think Jackrabbit last week had a chance at an interception, but I don't remember many that we dropped. Now, I think there were a couple of balls that have been on the ground that we have to go get, there's one I can think about last week. But, youíve got to be patient. If you force that, you start missing tackles, and you start putting your eyes where they're not supposed to be. So, we'll play good, sound football, rely on relentless and hopefully those will come because we need them.