Defensive Coordinator Steve Spagnuolo
May 12, 2017
Good to see all of the familiar faces back here again. I appreciate you being here. I know that it is going to be washout tomorrow, so we have to get all our work in today. I will just open it up. Fire away.
Q: How do you feel about the middle linebacker position and where that stands right now?
A: Well, we have a bunch of guys. Look, it is early. We have got out here in phase two with some walkthroughs. B.J. (Goodson), Keenan (Robinson) those guys are doing a good job and Mark (Herzlich) plays a bunch of different positions, so we will see how it shakes out.
Q: Does B.J. get the first shot at taking over Kelvin (Sheppardís) old role?
A: I donít know who will get the first crack. Everybody is going to get reps. In practice, some days you will probably see B.J. out there first, some days you will see Keenan out there first, you might see Mark and a bunch of other guys. The same thing really happened last year if you think about it. Jasper Brinkley was here, Kelvin was here, B.J. was a rookie.
Q: What kind of leap has B.J. taken since last season?
A: Yeah, good. I mean look, anytime you come in and all of these guys will tell you that the second time through, all of the little things that you couldnít remember the first year are just natural now. He looks a lot more comfortable.
Q: What do you think about the defensive lineman from Montreal?
A: We have a lot of new faces in that room right now. If you give me a couple of days, then I might have an idea. Right now they are out there. I told them this morning because I like to address men by their first name, but I am not going to know them all. So if I say, ĎHey, 23.,í it is not disrespect.
Q: (Dalvin) Tomlinson has an interesting background. Where do you see him fitting in?
A: Well, there are a bunch of guys that are going to work together. Jay (Bromley), Robert Thomas and Tomlinson will fill in there and then some other young guys coming in. It is probably no different than the MIKE linebacker position and we will just let it unwind. Then somebody is going to line up there next to Snacks. Between now and the time that we play Dallas, we will figure it out. But we are excited about Dalvin. All the things that you read and heard and I know that Jerry and Ben addressed it. He was a very impressive young man at the combine. He has a great story, like you said, and I think that he is a pretty good football player.
Q: How does it feel that besides losing Johnathan Hankins, you pretty much have the same unit as last year?
A: Yeah, I mean we are missing a couple guys. But what we feel good about are a number of things. When you go back three years ago and it was new to everybody. A year ago, when we did this thing, there were a lot of new faces, so it was still new and now the biggest thing to me is the continuity of the coaching staff is huge. Then like you said, there are a lot of guys that we have worked with before. So look, does that mean that you automatically go out there and play again? I donít think so. We have a lot of work to do.
Q: Owa had some tweets that made people wonder where his head was. Have you talked with him?
A: Yeah, he is in there working with the same group. There are guys fighting for the whole defensive end position as the backup and he is just one of those guys. I think that we will be fine. Guys go through things in the offseason and they plug on.
Q: Where do you feel your pass rush is? Did re-signing JPP do anything in terms of how things ended in Green Bay and needing that pass rush?
A: Well, I have to go back to Green Bay. Let me refocus here. Any time you lose a pass rusher of JPPís quality, I think it makes a big difference. But prior to that, I forget what game Ė I think we had won four or five games after that. I thought that the guys really came on. Look, if you lose one of your best players, then everyone else needs to step up. I thought that our guys did that. In that game, against that quarterback, yeah, we could have used him. But I thought that the guys out there were fighting their butts off and we hung in there for a while and none of us liked the way it ended, but that just gives us something to be hungry for.
Q: What kind of a matchup problem does Engram present for defenses?
A: I am glad that he is only our problem in practice. Look, I donít know a lot about him and I certainly didnít study the offensive side of the ball with the college prospects, but everything that I hear about him sounds like it is similar to what we have to do when we play Washington or some of these other teams that have tight ends that can flex out and be like big wide receivers. There will be a learning curve for him, but it will challenge our guys, which is good. I think that we need that at the tight end position and it will make our guys better, so that is what I look for.
Q: Jerry Reese talked about Avery Moss and called him a true defensive end. What do you like about Avery?
A: He is a pretty explosive guy. I think that Jerry talked about that. When you watch him on tapeÖI donít know if anyone knows Hugh Douglas from down in Philadelphia and he was the first guy that was just thick and powerful from (the waist) down. Avery is not quite as thick as that, but I thought of him when I watched Avery on tape and he has played that 4-3 defensive end position, which we do a lot of. We still play some under where they have to move down and he looks comfortable doing it, so hopefully put him in the mix with the other guys that we have -- Kerry (Wynn), Owa (Odighizuwa) and Romeo (Okwara) -- and hopefully he will come up with some good ones.
Q: Do you envision him being able to cause some damage in the middle?
A: We will see. I donít know if he did as much of that in college. I would call him more of an outside rusher.
Q: Does he have a bigger jump to take because he was out of college for a year?
A: Well, we will see. In 2010 when I was in St. Louis we drafted Robert Quinn who didnít play a whole year in Carolina. It did take him a while to get back to speed, so we will see what he is. But he did play last year and we are anxious to get him in here and thank God we can get out there and do some football or kind of like football without pads on.
Q: How comfortable are you guys with your depth at corner right now?
A: We can always use more. You can never have enough corners. But we have some guys like (Donte Deayon), but he was on IR so he didnít play a lot in practice, so he comes back. In the secondary, it is good to get a couple guys back. Darian Thompson, I know he is not a corner, but there will be some guys there. (Valentino) Blake is here who is new, so you get some guys out there, let them compete and see how it all unwinds.
Q: How do you approach the safety position?
A: It is an interesting question. Look, this time of year, all jobs are open. Now when I say that, there are some obvious ones that come out. But I think that at that particular position, I think the guys realize that they have to come in and somebody has to surface. Whoever that is will start at the beginning and like every year, you need probably more than three. Nowadays, you probably need four, so we will see how it plays out.
Q: During the offseason, Owa said that he was thinking of retiring. Have you talked to him?
A: No, again, that is not my Ė I donít get involved in private matters. But again, there are a bunch of guys battling at that spot and he is one of them. He has done some good things for us.
Q: A year ago you were so successful with challenging your guys. This time around, how do you approach them?
A: Yeah, the challenge is to keep them hungry. There are a couple of things. Look, I would like to start better. It was kind of slow, if I can remember back to all the games, especially dominating and being the reason why we won. We won the two games coming out of the blocks, but I would have liked to have played better defense and then we came on. The goal here is to pick up where we left off. If we get hung up on what we did last year Ė that worked both ways. At this time last year, everyone was asking how do you overcome how bad it was? You donít even think about it. You move on. You do the same thing when you do real well, but it will be a challenge. I look forward to you asking me again.