Defensive Coordinator Steve Spagnuolo
October 13, 2016
Q: You look at the sack numbers, is it concerning or what are your thoughts?
A: I only really know the sack numbers when somebody tells me. Sacks are great, they're effective, they make a huge difference. It is not the telltale, in my opinion. It's not one of the statistics that we use that has a great correlation between points allowed and points not scored. To us, we take the most important that correlate most to points allowed.
Q: What are those?
A: Quarterback rating, 1st and 2nd down rushing stats. There's like 10 of them that we use, explosive plays. Sacks is not one of them. Some people do use it though, I will tell you that. I will say this. Would we like to have more? Yes. We would like to have more pressure on the quarterback? Yes. I do think that there are moments in there where we are hitting and getting pressure on the quarterback that don't show up on a stat sheet. But, we need more.
Q: You don't have anything along those lines or pressure?
A: We do. We have quarterback hits.
Q: How are you doing in general?
A: I don't know that. We do have a production sheet on every guy. I have not focused on it. What I evaluate more of is the effectiveness of pressure, whether to keep the blitz in or not. We evaluate players obviously, individually every day. I don't know what the total is.
Q: I would assume it's nothing that's amazingly alarming.
A: I can feel that, even in the course of the game, that I would like to have the quarterback either pressured sooner or hit earlier, more times. I can feel that in the game. But, I'm evaluating the scheme. Look, I think we got the right guys. We got some guys that are banged-up, dinged-up, can't use certain parts of their body so that makes it a little bit difficult. But, the guys are fighting through that. My hope is that it will get better and we'll continue to improve. Can't do anything about the past five games.
Q: How about the challenge of Flacco and that he might take some downfield shots with the coordinator change?
A: That was the immediate that we had. I know Joe, I think he's a terrific quarterback. That guy is one of the toughest football players, not just quarterbacks. He gets hit a lot but he always bounces back up; it doesn't faze him. He's got a big arm. He's a smart football player. Loved being around him for two years. Knowing him and what you read, I believe that one of the emphasis will be to get the ball downfield. We're planning on that being one of the focuses.
Q: How much of that is him and how much of that is Marty Mornhinweg?
A: I think it'll be a little bit of both. Look, Marty's been doing this thing for a long time. I got a lot of respect for Marty. Juan Castillo, the O line coach, he was with us in Philadelphia. Knowing John Harbaugh, I still think it will begin where John always wants it to begin and that's running the football. I don't think that would change. But, I do know that they believe in explosive plays and one of the ways they get them is to throw the ball downfield. They've got some weapons on the outside that can give you a concern. Joe, he makes all of the throws now. He can go all the way on one side of the field and get it all the way across in a hurry.
Q: If he does throw downfield like that, would it give you guys more of a chance to get to the quarterback?
A: In theory you'd say he would hold on to the ball a little bit longer to get his receivers down there. But, I will say this, all those receivers can go. So they get down there in a hurry. We try to slow that down a little bit on some of our coverages, we'll press and what not. But, in theory what you're saying is true. If the ball is deep and there is 7-step drop, he should be sitting back a little bit longer.
Q: Have you studied overall quarterbacks in terms of the time getting rid of the ball? Is it faster in todayís...?
A: That's a great statement. Because of the way the offenses are structured now and theyíre spread out and what not, I would say that's true. A lot of your good football teams have stressed getting the ball out quicker. It's all spread out and the routes are shorter. Whereas, days prior, going back a few it was play action, keep seven in, seven step drop. It's true.
Q: Rodgers is a little different in the scrambles and the way he extends plays. It seems like theyíre getting it out quick?
A: Tom Brady, Peyton when he was playing. Eli does it. Thereís a bunch of teams. Drew Brees. You saw it with New Orleans. Itís more of an underneath contained pass game. Now all of a sudden theyíll block it up and throw it deep. You have to be prepared for that. The game has gotten more wide open. There are more receivers out there. Empty sets, four wide sets. Thereís not as many people in there protecting. You figure they have to get it out a little bit quicker. The pressures become a little bit faster and bigger. Thatís a good observation.
Having DRC out here at practice todayÖ?
A: Heís getting there. Heís not 100 percent right now. Weíre hoping to get him and or both him and Eli (Apple) back to 100 percent but we donít have that right now. Todayís Thursday so we still have a few days.
Q: Does DRC gutting out the game last week say something about where heís at right now?
A: Yes. I think so. We talked about it earlier. Heís terrific to work with. I think he wishes he was completely healthy too. I think the role that he accepted and excelled at when he moved inside a little bit at training camp. That helped us tremendously. We havenít been able to do that lately because we lost two guys on the outside. Weíve been pleased with what DRC has been able to do. We would like to get him out there a little bit more. Weíll see this week.
Q: Does the familiarity with Marty help?
A: Interesting question. No. Iíll tell you when this happens we have no, ok Martyís been there. Heís going in his second year. Heís been in the system. I donít think theyíll stray too far from that. Thereís some things Iím sure Marty wants to do. Heís done it a lot in this league. I did go back and watch some Jets 2014 situational film. When I was watching it, the Philadelphia was coming back. All those years of working with and against him in practice. Itís hard to say which of those things weíre looking at is going to be part of what he does. Itís a little bit of a challenge. We have to go out there and worry about us instead of the scheme weíre looking at or the tips. It might all change. I think weíre going to have to adjust in the middle of the game. They have some issues in their offensive line. Again, theyíre a run built first football team. Being there, I enjoyed the two years there. Itís evident they built it from the inside out. Itís all about lineman. It starts on defense. Certainly their offensive line in terms of running the football and protecting the quarterback is really important. I expect them to come out here and run the ball. I respect Marty. Itíll be interesting to see what he does. Hopefully we can adjust really quick.
Q: You have a lot of moving parts on that defensive backfield. Does it limit you at all these past couple of weeks?
A: Yes, a little bit. We certainly want to play fast but we donít want to scramble up their brains. Andrew Adams has done a nice job. Landon has been the rock back there. Leon Hall really stepping in there being a safety when heís really a corner. Theyíve done a nice job. Would be nice to get some of these guys back. It would really help. All the guys that have had all the reps at safety in training camp and in OTAís. you would like to get those guys back out there. Itís part of what happens in the league.
Q: Last week you were asked if Ben could provide some insight on the Packers offense. Could you do the same on this defense?
A: A little bit. We talked a little bit defensively. I have a book of notes of when we were there. I didnít spend a lot of time going back and seeing if their defense has remained the same. My guess is because theyíve been built that way for 15, 18 years that they havenít changed very much. We did have conversations. I canít tell you what they were though. You donít want me to expose all of that.
Q: How would you describe their defense?
A: Stout. They all look the same. Thick, big, nasty. Iíll tell you whoís a joy to be around and work with and thatís Terrell Suggs. When heís not on the practice field, something is not right. Heís a joy. He loves football and is a really smart guy. Heís a great football player. I havenít been able to watch a lot of their defense and know how heís doing. Elvis Dumervil was great to be around and work with. That C.J. Mosley is a good football player. I was just with him for that rookie year. I know heís hurt a little bit but theyíre good. Jimmy Smith, good football players. They all love ball. They do it right. Itís a great organization. Theyíll come in here. They lost two games. In their past, theyíve always been able to bounce back. Hopefully itís not bounce back to another week. We expect them to come in here like their hair is on fire.
Q: When you went to St. Louis did you call the defensive plays?
A: I did but I gradually turned it over. Always involved in the game plan. I always liked to be around with the calls. Managing the game.
Q: Just out of curiosity has Ben asked you about the transition? Can you give him any advice?
A: He did. Iíll tell you whatís great about Ben. Heís a great listener. Always looking to learn. Thatís one thing that I respect a great deal of. Heís always asking. Heís not one of those people that has all the answers or thinks he has all the answers. Weíve had a lot of conversations. I hope Iíve been able to help. Itís not easy. First time doing anything. You can have all the books and education that you want but you have to go through it.
Q: Was that a challenge as a head coach having to manage the game?
A: A little bit. I tell you what as a defensive coach, clock management and all those other things, I think I couldíve been better. Itís a challenge for a defensive coach to cope with clock management initially. Now having done it, it feels more comfortable. Offensive coaches by nature get the clock management part of it. Defensively it was a little bit of an adjustment. I had plenty of help. I didnít want to stray too far from the defensive side because I enjoy that. I wish it wouldíve worked out a little bit better.
Q: What are these basketball games with John?
A: Back in Philly? When I used to dunk on him? Heís a good man. Good football coach. I love the guy. His wife and his daughter are good people. He was very good to me in a tough time. I went down there and worked for two years. I owe him a lot. Iím not going to give him anything on Sunday. Heís a great man and heís good for this league. Heís been really successful.