LB Jonathan Casillas
January 3, 2017
Q: How unique is Aaron Rodgers?
A: Very unique. Inside the pocket he can shred you, he can make all the throws. To think that such a good passer, you would think they'd get him out of the pocket, damper him, or put some type of uneasiness about him, but no, he's very comfortable outside the pocket. The way the scheme is built, those receivers take off vertically towards the end zone and he becomes a lot more dangerous when he does that.
Q: Do you have to rush him differently because you don't want to let him out of the pocket?
A: Yeah for sure. What I just said about his escape-ability and his ability to scramble and extend a play, you have to be able to account for that, and you have to cover the receivers for an extra 2-3 seconds, which is a nightmare for DB's.
Q: No one's been able to do it in the past month and a half, do you guys have the type of defense to stop him?
A: I believe so. We're very strong on the back end. We have two Pro Bowl, All-Pro corners, Eli Apple is doing a really good job, Trevin Wade as well. We got guys on the back end that are smart, Landon making a lot of plays. Also, we've got guys upfront who are capable enough to get to the passer and rush the passer as well.
Q: You guys don't have a lot of playoff experience on defense. Is that going to be a factor you think?
A: Maybe, we'll see Sunday night, we'll see after the game. I feel like the character that we have in the locker room, especially on the defensive side of the ball, the guys that I see day in and day out. The guys I see away from the facility, there's no question about it. Are the guys going to be prepared, are the guys going to be ready, are the guys going to be ready for the speed? There's no question in my mind about it.
Q: What would be your message to those guys?
A: Work as hard as you can this week, leave no stone un-turned. If you've got to cut communication off between your family and you, then so be it. This is it, we've got one week, or five weeks that's how I look at it. You put everything into it because this what we all wanted to do in the beginning, this is why we play the game, to get to the Super Bowl.
Q: The last time you played the Packers, they were effective against you on the ground. Is there something you can do to make sure you stayed disciplined when he does extend those plays, or not overcommit to the pass?
A: I know for sure we're going to be having scramble drills in practice, where receivers will take off after 3-4 seconds, the quarterback breaks the pocket and takes off vertically, and also run an additional route after the route that they originally ran after these scrambles. That's something that I feel like should definitely be practiced. I think we're going to do a good job at that, we did it the first time. And then, be a little more detailed on it, because it's almost a second play when he breaks a scramble, it's almost a second play during the play, it's like an audible almost and that has to be accounted for.
Q: When it comes to the run game, Ty Montgomery has been really effective for them as of late, how do you deal with that additional threat?
A: Well we've got to be detailed. Last time we played those guys, Eddie Lacey had a good cutback game against us where several times he cut the ball back, we set the edge, but he cut the ball back, guys missed a couple tackles and same thing with Montgomery; he did a really good job running against Chicago, he broke a lot of tackles, people want to call him a receiver, he's a receiver; but he's a running back the way he's built, the way he runs the ball. The only thing that says receiver about him is his number, that's it.
Q: Do they look any different to you as a team? Obviously their offense is playing at a much higher level it seems.
A: I believe so. When you have potentially the best player in the NFL in Aaron Rodgers for the last five-six years, playing the way he's playing, you know he's going to present problems. They're definitely a better team because I feel like he's playing at a better level, he's playing at a higher level than he did at the beginning of the season.
Q: You've been around a lot of talented guys and you were with Landon Collins last year. Can you describe the jump he's made as a player and where he is now?
A: It's a huge leap for him, it was all mental. I feel like last year, it wasn't that he didn't have a high football IQ because he does, but it was that we gave him everything, we gave him the whole playbook and you got to call the defense, you've got to be the one doing it, you've got to be the one calling it; that's very tough for anybody, first year on any defense. Now, you've got a first year player, coming into the league with a complicated defense, I would say in Spagnuolo's defense and him getting the reins of it. It was very difficult for him to do, and we've seen a maybe slower development than we wanted to see because it was so much on his plate. Then you come in this year and you see what type of person, what type of player he is, because he has it down pat and he's not thinking once or twice about it and that's a tribute to him. He's studied the game, he studied not only the defense, but he studied the game of football and watched a lot of film. Brandon Meriweather and Craig Dahl, they helped him a lot last year, and then also this year as well, coming into this game, Darian Thompson and Nat Berhe, the younger safeties, they all got together and put a lot of OT in.
Q: How would you describe the impact of Damon Harrison in the run defense from this year to last year?
A: I mean phenomenal. The guy's a beast, he's a one-man show. I bust my butt off, and I think I ended with 90-something tackles, and I think he's right behind me at defensive tackle. I've never seen a defensive tackle have more than 50 tackles in a year and he's done it several times in his career where he's had over 80 tackles.
Q: Did you know much about him before he got here?
A: I knew he was a run-stopper. I knew of the nickname, 'Snacks', but I didn't know that he doesn't just eat popcorn and chips but he eats running backs and offensive linemen and quarterbacks. I didn't know that. He eats players during the game, it's crazy.
Q: If you guys make a run to the Super Bowl you're going to have to do it on the road. Giants have done that before, have you guys come together and talked about how you're going to make that run?
A: That's a good question. It was a good game for us against Washington to go out there and play a team like that, fighting for their whole season that's on the line and their playoff destiny. We got their shot. It was a little one-sided in the beginning, and then it came up to be a game like everybody would have thought it would have been. It ended up being a one or two possession game at the end of it, and that right there is going to help us and give us some momentum and prepare us for what we're going to face. You can't replicate 10 degrees, you can't do that, you can't replicate playing against a guy like Aaron Rodgers as well. Good thing that we've played up there before this year and we've had some experience against them. It's going to a road, it's going to be a long journey to get to where we want to get to and it's going to be away from MetLife, away from New Jersey, but I think we're ready for it.
Q: Jared Cook was not there when you guys played them in Green Bay, he's an important tight end to their offense, how much of a factor can he be?
A: When you have a tight end that can stretch the field out, it adds an extra element for the quarterback and a guy like that, we've seen it, the different teams; Tom Brady having Gronkowski, guys that can help them out, then the other tight end, Bennett as well. Tight ends create problems for the people inside, like myself, and safeties and Landon. He's a vertical threat, he's been a good receiver since he's been in the NFL and having him back adds an extra element. I'm sure we'll have somewhere where we can help take care of him.
Q: When you turn on the film in the meeting room and you have that Rodgers scramble play against Detroit, what's the reaction like when you watch that?
A: I've watched a lot of football, I've watched Aaron Rodgers play, I've seen him do it; I've seen him do the Hail Mary, I've seen him scramble to the left and scramble back to the right then throw a 60-yard dart down the field. I've seen it all, and you've got to be prepared for everything with this guy. He's the best of the best, a top tier guy. He's going to come ready to play no matter what type of scheme we have for him, what type of plays we have, we hit him, we sack him, whatever it is. End of the game, 4th quarter, he's going to try to make that play and win the game whether it's a scramble, getting out of a sack, extend a play, a flip, a behind the back pass, I don't know. The guy has it all, he can do it all, and we really have to be on our ‘A’ game, especially when he extends a play.
Q: You're a leader on this team, how much do you care when you see guys on the Monday of a playoff game in Miami?
A: Is that the last question? You waited to the last question? I'm so happy and proud of you guys that you waited to the last question to ask me this.
Q: It took a lot to wait this long.
A: Well you know what, to be honest, it was an off day. They had the luxury of going to another state to enjoy and celebrate, and we just made the playoffs. There's no one saying that no one cannot travel anywhere. I'm pretty sure, probably somebody else, other people that were, about the same time, just in another state. It just sucks, those guys get so much attention for negative things, and I don't see nothing wrong with it. They didn't break any rules.
Q: Would you do it then?
A: I wouldn't do it, but everybody is different. If I got an invite, maybe, but I didn't get an invite. I like Justin Bieber, he's cool. But it is what it is, those guys are here at work today and ready to go, full of energy. Touché to them!