Defensive Coordinator Steve Spagnuolo
September 15, 2017
Q: Did B.J. (Goodson) play as well as his numbers looked?
A: Yeah, I mean B.J. ran around. I mean I know the stats say he made a lot of plays, which he did and look thatís what you expect the MIKE linebacker to do. In some regards, I donít know what all of the stats were, but you want to see your defensive linemen to make a few more of those, so the ball is not that far down field, but look heís in the middle of the defense and hopefully he continues to make plays like that.
Q: What is your concern about 70 plays?
A: My concern is getting better on third down. That was the message. When I sat down with the team on Monday or Tuesday, whenever it was, you try to figure out what happened, right? I thought it was a first down issue. Nah, not really. If it was a second down issue, a couple maybe, but not totally. And all I could come up with was third down and a couple of explosive plays and some leaky yards. What we call leaky yards are some of those 6 yard runs to be 3 yard runs because the third downs turned into 3rd and 2, 3rd and 4 and 3rd and 5. Probably the most disappointing play was we had a 3rd and 12 and we didnít stop them. They would have kicked a field goal anyway, but to your point, we played four more plays. So, there is four there. Another third down stop could have been another five plays and then all of a sudden, youíre in the 60-play area. As defensive players and coaches, we donít blame anybody, but ourselves for too many plays. Thatís just the way we feel.
Q: You said you would have liked the defensive line to make a couple more plays
A: Donít misinterpret what I am saying. When you asked me about B.J. and all of the tackles, you hope on some of those, the d-linemen make them. Our d-line I thought played pretty good, but as a group run defense wise, I know our guys feel like we need to get better.
Q: If a defense plays that many snaps, is it harder for the defensive linemen or the secondary that is running around?
A: I think it was hard on everybody. Hereís what I felt because we were concerned. We talked about it going into the game about being tired. When we went down there last year, we played in the day and I thought they were really tired in the fourth quarter. This is two years ago now and we won that two-minute drill. So, we talked about it going in. Now, a night game down there helped a little bit, but at the end of the first half is when I thought we were tired most. When we came out in the second half, I didnít think it was an issue. Now, we played less plays. The offense kept the ball for a while. We had caught them in a couple of 3 and outs. So, you got to get off the field on third down to make sure youíre not tired at the end of the game.
Q: Looking at the matchup with Detroit, a couple of your guys said that their running backs are a little different. They are more cutback and shiftier. Is that a different kind of challenge?
A: Little bit, yeah. Theyíll tend to bounce it and take it to the edge. Last week I think we dealt more with what we call stretch to puncture. That one cut and you get north to south. Not that these guys canít do that, but both of these guys are quick, shifty, agile, can make you miss, still spin out of tackles. So, in that regard it is, yeah.
Q: A couple of guys said they we could have gotten a turnover that could have changed that game. I would guess you like that mentality?
A: Yeah, thatís how we feel. We had a mission today to make sure we got two and I think we got it. Thatís what we talked about. The guys take a lot of pride in that. Okay what was the final score? 19-3? We had to hold them to two points. Thatís the bottom line. Find a way to get a safety and win the game and not let them score, but I am glad they feel that way. I think we should all feel that.
Q: What do you say to the unit in that situation? You held them to under 20 points, that should probably win you the game.
A: Yeah, we go look at it and say what could we have done to have less points to keep us in the game and make it a one possession game, so maybe Eli (Manning) gets the ball at the end of the game and who knows, right? Anytime you keep it within a two-possession game, which we did all the way through, a 16-point difference, you can win the game in four plays. Touchdown, two-point play, onside kick, get the ball back, and then another touchdown. So, we talk about that defensively, we are never going to shut it down and think we won a game if itís two possessions, but going back to your original question, find a way. That was a good football team. That was a good offense we played. I would have felt better and still lost the game, thatís the bottom line, right? So, if I say, I would have felt better if we held them to 6 or 9, we still would have lost. So, we got to do better than that, but weíll find a way to do that this week hopefully.
Q: When you played Matthew Stafford last year he had that finger or hand injury.
A: He didnít look too hurt last year though either. He flung the ball around pretty good.
Q: Do you see a difference? Are you going to face something different than you did last year?
A: I donít think so. We didnít attack the game differently because of what we thought might have been an injury. I mean after we saw him warmup, and throw a couple of balls early last year.
Q: You didnít really think it would be much of a difference?
A: I didnít really think so and heís flinging it around. He has a real strong arm. Tim Walton, one of our secondary coaches was with him in Detroit and he knows him inside and out. Practiced against him and he says heís very intelligent, he can make all the throws, and now that he has been in the system there for 2-3 years and heís been a quarterback in this league for help me out maybe 8. Thatís an experienced quarterback that knows how to win. Heís really dangerous. When we played them last year, they led the league in end of the half offense and they did it last week against Arizona. He got them down in 39 seconds. He got them from his own donít quote me on this, but I think their own 34 or 25-yard line got them down and kicked a field goal.
Q: How much is that something you stress to them?
A: Oh yeah. I mean at the end of the half defense, end of the game defense is huge no matter we are trying to get the ball back because we are behind or we are trying to prevent a lead, or secure one.
Q: What does the three-safety look do for you as a defense?
A: I think in that package that youíre talking about, I am on to a different game plan, so I canít remember, but I think last week Andrew (Adams) was back there with DT (Darian Thompson) and Landon (Collins) was our third safety. Thatís something we will do. We will change it up a little bit. Thereís different reasons for doing it. We wonít always have it. Just depends on the matchups really.
Q: Will you allow yourself a moment to observe the celebrations of the 10th anniversary of Super Bowl XLII?
A: I did today just before practice because Freddy Robbins came wondering into my office, which was great. He picked me up from my thought of having lost the game.
Q: Did he physically pick you up?
A: No. Emotionally. Yeah, with one hand! I have thought about it because the guys have been around. The only really time we get out as coaches is on Friday afternoon, which is tomorrow. Coach Coughlinís event tonight, I would love to go to, but itís a Thursday night, not a Friday night for us. So, it is going to be hard. Maria [Spagnuolo] is going to go to represent us because we have so much respect for Tom and Judy. But we canít get to the Yankee game [tomorrow] and canít get to that on Sunday, I think they have something at Ellis Island, right? Which I would love to go to, but we have our meetings over at the hotel, so Iím hoping that at practice on Sunday morning, that a bunch of the guys will come over and to me, itís about seeing them more than anything and I hope they have a great time. They should enjoy it. It was a great accomplishment. It really is all about the players.
Q: Is there one memory for you that stands out?
A: I couldnít find Maria. When the game was over, I could not find here. I must have spent the first 15 minutes, I missed all of that. I never got to hold the Lombardi trophy and then finally I found her, which was to me the greatest moment.
Q: Wasnít that part of Tomís speech the night before? If we win, everybody wins?
A: Yeah, it was about the family. He talked deeply about what it was like and how your family is so involved in all of it. The ups and downs and they do. They share the pain and the glory and then when you accomplish that, how much you feel that it was for them. How much they feel a part of it. I got to stop talking and thinking about that. I got to be thinking about Detroit, you took me right back there where I was trying not to go, but it was great.
Q: Apple was rated pretty low by PFF, what do you think of justÖ
A: Hereís what I think about other people rating our players, they donít really know what we are asking them to do and so I really donít put any onus in it. Eli knows whether heís done well or not, the coaches do, we do, we evaluate.
Q: How do you think he played?
A: I thought he played a pretty solid game. The thing that gets unnoticed about a corner and particularly the way we play our corners is the times that they donít throw the ball over because the corner has them covered and so, we have a lot of confidence in Eli.
Q: Whatís the difference between preparing for a quarterback like Matthew Stafford and Dak Prescott?
A: They are pretty similar with regards to escapability and athletic ability. Both of them have strong arms, so in that standpoint, I mean their offenses are a little bit different, but from the standpoint of can the quarterback get himself in and out of trouble and extend the down, they both can do that. As a quarterback that has a strong arm and can make all of the throws, they both can do that. So, I see them very similar in that regard. They orchestrate it differently. Matt does a little bit more at the line. I canít even say that because Dak did a lot of that last week too. Pretty similar. Good quarterbacks. Challenge.