Defensive Coordinator Steve Spagnuolo
September 21, 2017
Q: Why hasn’t the run defense been as good?
A: That one play at the end they [Detroit] went for 34 yards. All of the sudden we go from holding them under 100 to one play and, you know, look at the time that you’re supposed to be able to stop the run and not get anything is when we know they’re going to run. They know we know they’re going to run. So, we didn’t get that done in the four minute drill, but that one play is kind of bought. The other stuff is – I keep saying – it’s a little leaky. It’s not we’re that far off. A guy gets off a block a little bit quicker, somebody plays downhill a little bit quicker, you know, maybe those six-yard gains are three-yard gains and then all of the sudden it’s second and seven instead second and short.
Q: Are they running away from DT Damon Harrison more than in the past?
A: I’m sure the teams when they game plan during the week, they look inside there and say do we want to try that, do we want to venture. I think some teams will try to find ways to influence Snacks a little bit, traps, influence some pulls. This team has some of that, so we’ll expect to see that this week. If that is happening, then we should realize that and understand that as players and coaches and guys on the other side that are good enough at making plays. If we’re pushing the ball outside and running east to west, that’s a good thing.
Q: In what area has Carson Wentz made the most improvement?
A: I thought he was good last year. I remember going into the game and saying that I saw a really poised quarterback for a guy that hadn’t played much football. I can’t remember – we didn’t play them for the first time until later. I think it was November. So, we had a chunk of film on him and I really thought he was pretty good then. He’s matured in a lot of ways. Although, I thought he was mature last year. I see a confident guy there running the show. He feels comfortable. He doesn’t panic. He scrambles. His eyes are downfield. He can run with it and get first downs. He did it last week against Kansas City. He did it against Washington. He can keep his eyes downfield and throw the ball. He throws it on the right. He throws it on the left. I think he’s a really good football player. He’s a really good player.
Q: How much did you have to scramble to replace CB Janoris Jenkins last week? It seems like he was trying to go.
A: He certainly was and it didn’t work out. We missed him like we miss any of our players not out there. But, when that happened, we had a plan. We knew if it didn’t happen, we were going to go with guys we did. Ross (Cockrell) jumped in there. I thought Ross did really well on plays downfield. He had some run support issues that we have to get ironed out. We talked about that. If he has to go again, he has to go again. We’ll see on Sunday.
Q: How do you think LB Calvin Munson did?
A: Admirable. It was his first time, big time for Calvin. He certainly wasn’t planning on that. He was happy with the opportunity. For a young guy to go in there, there were very minimal mental errors as a group and that begins with the MIKE linebacker. That doesn’t mean we didn’t make mistakes because we did, but from a mental standpoint as far as getting guys lined up, getting the call, I thought that operation was pretty good. It didn’t drop off at all. So, we were encouraged by that.
Q: Did Golden Tate playing in the slot impact how you can use CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie?
A: He’s [DRC] in both spots. We’ll do that. He’ll be in both spots. It just depends on what we’ve called, but you’ll probably see him in both areas.
Q: If CB Janoris Jenkins can’t go, does CB Eli Apple have the ability to take a receiver out of the game?
A: Yeah, I’ll tell you – I keep saying this – I know Eli had the one play. He wants to play it better and get an incomplete and pick it off. Eli had five tackles, he had a quarterback hit. There were at least, I can think of five or six times when they weren’t able to throw the ball to his guy because he had him covered and I’m talking about some man things that he did. So I think he’s doing a solid job over there. Life of a corner, when they’re going to throw it up there a couple of times, if they get one, you just have to be able to rebound and keep playing. I’m hopeful we can get Janoris back and do what we normally do, but Eli is doing a good job.
Q: What does linebacker Keenan Robinson give you, if he is able to play this week?
A: Keenan’s a guy that understands what we’re doing, he’s got some games under his belt. He gets in there in sub-packages. We’ll have to decide which way we’ll go, overall game plan wise. Who’s going to be the MIKE and what different packages we have and we’re doing that right now. But it’s good to have another option.
Q: Do you need more from your pass rush?
A: I’ll tell you what, I thought that JPP [defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul] and OV [defensive end Olivier Vernon], all day long against Detroit were bringing it. They were knocking those guys back. Now, had an athletic quarterback that snuck out. I remember one play in particular, a third-and-nine, that we had somebody ready there for the scramble, we didn’t get it done. But those guys, I thought were knocking back the tackles all day long. Pressure is not necessarily sacks, it’s not necessarily quarterback hits, it’s when you get the quarterback off the spot and make him move his feet, they’re doing their job. And I thought they did a good job of it.
Q: With the way the season has started, do you have to pump up the troops sometimes?
A: I think we’ve got a veteran enough group that they understand what the deal is. I mean, we’ve got to find a way to win a football game. Winning can be contagious and so can losing. So when this happens, all you do is focus on winning the next game. You flush the last one out and worry about winning the football game and this one’s not going to be easy. Going down to Philadelphia, it’s not an easy win there, but we’ve been down this road before and I think we’ve got enough guys on the whole team and on defense that understand what we’re up against.
Q: What sort of lessons can you take from the 2007 Super Bowl team that also started 0-2 and bring to this team?
A: Well, just you don’t give up on what you’re doing. If you believe in what you’re doing and the way you do it, you don’t all of a sudden bail on it because you failed to win two football games. So, the old cliché – stick to the process, stick to what you’re doing, believe in it, trust in it, trust in each other and move on.
Q: What have you seen from safety Darian Thompson in the first two games?
A: Good, solid control of what we’re doing. I think he can play better, I think he knows that. But he did have a couple of really good tackles and he had a couple that weren’t so great. What would be really nice is if somewhere along the way the ball fell right into his hands and he has an interception. That makes everybody’s confidence better. So, hopefully we’ll get that sooner rather than later.
Q: Do you worry that guys might be pressing too much sometimes?
A: Well, I thought from a defensive standpoint, I know [Detroit last week] got the punt return, but I look at us and say we didn’t do our job. It should’ve been 10-9 or 10-6, that what we should’ve won by. That’s how we look at it. We’re never worried about what happens in the other two phases, other than when you look at the scoreboard at the end. But we don’t want guys pressing, we want guys playing. Let the game come to us, do what we do and hopefully do it real well.
Q: What do you have to do to try and contain Philadelphia tight end Zach Ertz this week, after struggling covering the tight end the past two weeks?
A: Cover him better. Knock him around a little bit at the line of scrimmage. Hope he drops a couple of balls. Look, we do have some certain calls in there to take away the tight end, but this team’s no different than the last two that we’ve played. You can’t just concentrate on that one positon because if you commit too many people to one spot, other things open up and we make a conscience decision of what we’re going to take away. Two weeks ago, we weren’t going to let 88 [Dallas wide receiver Dez Bryant] wreck the football game. So, 82 [Dallas tight end Jason Witten] gets a couple of catches. This past week, same thing. But we’ll change it up and hopefully when we decide to take it away, I call it at the right time when they’re trying to throw it to him. It doesn’t always work out that way.