Secondary/Safeties Coach David Merritt Sr.
November 16, 2016
Q: How do you think Landon Collins has done this year and to what do you credit his significant improvement?
A: I think I said it earlier but number one, the kid is committed, film studying, he's coming into meetings with good questions and doing a great job at accepting his role and any role we put him into. That's the first thing. The next thing is, the kid is working hard; he's kept his weight down, he's hovering right around the 215 mark, which has been great, and therefore he can continue to run and play fast the entire game. And again, he's trusting the system. That's what I attribute it to. He's done a good job as a first safety for us.
Q: He's been here for 25 games now; to play with six different guys in that safety tandem, is it a commitment to the system and not necessarily the guy next to him that you would consider to praise what he's been able to do?
A: It's not easy and that's the one thing that Landon and I talk about quite often is the number of guys that he's had to line up beside. He's committing to the players beside him because, one, you better have some trust in the man that's beside you. At the same time, he's also trusting in and believing in the system. Last year he played over 1,100 snaps as a rookie, so coming into this year, he's a vet and he was the vet in my room at the beginning of the year and I told him that as far as games and the number of starts that he's had, he's done a good job and I know he will continue because that's the type of player he is.
Q: When Nat Berhe and Darian Thompson went down, could you have envisioned Andrew Adams stepping in the way that he has?
A: It's funny that you ask that because when all the rookies come in, I explain to all the rookies that, 'I'm going to treat you guys as if you're starters.' I said, 'I'm going to coach you guys as if you're starters.' And, I gave them past stories, being that I've been here a little while, so I've had experience with guys that come in as free agents, whatever it may be. But, from day one, what Andrew showed was a commitment to taking excellent notes; with that being said, we all know that if you write things down, just as you all are doing right now, it's a little bit easier for you to remember it as you go back and look at it again and put it all together. That kid, you look at his notebook, he's done a heck of a job at taking notes. And then, not only taking the notes but applying it when he goes out on the practice field and of course that has translated as well over there in MetLife stadium. I told the kid, as well as the other guys, when you come in here as a rookie free agent, you're a starter and you have to think that way. I think we all remember Geoffrey Pope, the corner that played in the Dallas playoff game back in 2007; that kid was on the practice squad most of the year and then he had to go in and play some snaps. You never know when your number is going to be called and you have to be ready.
Q: Was it tough for you, maybe selfishly for your position, when he got cut?
A: I'm actually okay with the fact that they released him because I knew he was going to be back with us on the practice squad. Having to be able to continue to mold a young man who has that intellect, that's what you want as a coach. He may not be the biggest, the fastest, the most glamorous looking guy (quite sure my mom said that same thing when she married me), but the thing is that there's something about this kid that I saw in him and is showing up on Sundays and one of the things that I tell all the guys is that, 'I'm not going to praise you,' because once you start praising someone, just like my golf swing, once you give me praise, 'oh man, that's a great shot,' next thing you know I shank it in the woods. So, I'm not sitting here praising these guys. I tell them all the time, 'Until we're on that float and see the confetti coming down, right now guys, we haven't accomplished anything.' And I gave them a good outlook this morning. Everyone wants to talk about the playoffs; that's great, that's fine and dandy but you know what, you need to win one game a week. You need to go 1-0 each week because there are teams in the past that have gone 10-6, 11-5, who have not made the playoffs. So as far as playoffs, I'm not even concerned about any of that talk. I let these guys know, win one game a week and the most important game is the next one on our schedule, which is the Chicago Bears.
Q: How difficult is that for young players who haven't been to the playoffs?
A: Again, to me, to be honest with you, for me to sit up here and start talking about going for a playoff run, I'm not going to do that if you don't mind. My thing is focusing on the Chicago Bears. But I've heard the buzz around and I'm just trying to hone them back in to being focused and the one thing I say on the sideline to guys, I give them a couple of buzz words, 'technique, technique, discipline, discipline, hands, hands.' So with that being said, they at least can come back into the game and say, 'okay, let me make sure I get my hands ready, let me make sure I play with proper technique.'
Q: Back in week three, it seemed like Nat Berhe was really coming into his own. He had the concussion, how much has that derailed him and do you still have confidence that he can get back and be a factor in the secondary?
A: Absolutely he's a factor. Nat, the thing is that, again, he's a starter just as Andrew, just as Landon and so if Nat has to go in and play 70 snaps, I feel very confident because I know where he is mentally because I'm with him every day. So with that being said, the fact that Nat is in the room, and he is actually applying himself and he's going out to practice and he's accepting his role, which I think is a big thing for a young man like that. You have a kid that was a starter at the beginning of the year, because of Darian Thompson being hurt, he played a lot, then all of the sudden he was derailed because of an injury and now he's coming back as a guy that is accepting the role as a back yet, I'm constantly talking to these guys, you're all starters. So if you have to go out there and play, you're going to play as a starter and that's what he's done, he's accepted that role.