Defensive Coordinator Steve Spagnuolo
October 5, 2017
Opening Statement: Just got done with a good practice. Iíll open it up.
Q: How concerned are you about your defensive end situation?
A: Yeah. Well, we have to be concerned. I mean, our two top guys are ailing a little, but this is the NFL. Guys are going to get hurt, so we have to have other people step up.
Q: What have you seen from your other defensive ends so far?
A: We got them in there in these games because we were trying to take the plays off of OV (Olivier Vernon) and JPP (Jason Pierre-Paul). Some solid play. Some guys do need to play better. I think we all need to do that. Everybody needs to play better and coach better. But, whoever is in there has to get it done. They need to do a little bit better job. So, weíll see who ends up playing on Sunday.
Q: Would you use LB Devon Kennard at defensive end if you have to?
A: When you really say that, youíre talking about like first and second down? He plays some of that in our sub-packages now. So, that wouldnít really change. When you ask that question, youíre really talking about base defense. I donít know that Ė I think sometimes he does a pretty good job as the SAM in base defense and I really wouldnít want to weaken one spot to try and strengthen another. So, the guys that we have playing defensive end will be the guys that we play.
Q: Have you resigned to not having DE Jason Pierre-Paul and DE Olivier Vernon this week?
A: I donít like to do that on a Thursday. But, I would say this Ė we have to prepare if we donít have them. Iím hopeful that we get both or if not both, at least one.
Q: Is it possible DE Avery Moss could dress?
A: Yeah. I mean, thatís a distinct possibility.
Q: How has DE Avery Moss performed on an increased workload?
A: You know what, I will say this Ė it must have been last week. Thereís a number of times during the meetings after practice that I will put things on that I see guys doing really good and it might be an individual drill. It might be Ė Ross Cockrell had a one-on-one where he got an interception. I saw the whole team there. In the past two weeks, Avery has showed up on those tapes. So, what Iím saying to you is heís done some things, heís progressed and I think heís gotten better as a football player. Now, he hasnít been in a game yet, regular season, so weíll see what happens, but I do think he has gotten better as a player.
Q: What does simplifying mean to you?
A: I feel you. To me, defensive football when itís simplified is simply running to the football and tackling. Running to the football and tackling. Now tackling takes a little bit of talent, but running to the football, being 11 getting there, being hungry and aggressive Ė that doesnít. Thatís just desire. So, to me, that would be the simplifying part.
Q: Is there anything you take out of your defense when you simplify?
A: We did a little bit, but we did that two weeks ago. We did do that two weeks ago. Itís kind of been getting chopped down and, quite honestly, what weíve been doing in the last four weeks is the same. There may be a wrinkle here or there, but I would venture to say 85% of what we do is the same every week. We just have to get better at doing it.
Q: Did we underestimate DE Johnathan Hankins value and ability?
A: It canít be one player. Hankís a good football player, but I mean, one player doesnít make or break a run defense. Itís 11 guys, in my opinion. It begins up front. In our situation, itís four because weíre a four-down front. Three linebackers behind or two depending on what weíre in and it has to start there. Everybody else has to make plays on the back end. The ones that skew things a lot and itís always this way when you start looking at stats is the explosive plays and it only takes one or two explosive runs to all the sudden make the stats look as crappy as they look right now. There are still plenty of good run defensive plays, but in this league, you give up explosive plays, it ends up turning into points and we canít afford to be giving up points.
Q: How do you evaluate S Landon Collinsí play so far since he set the bar so high last year?
A: Expectations were certainly higher. You should ask him. But, from my opinion because we talk about it, heís been solid. I think he and I both want him to bet better. I think he will be better. He works at it every day. He doesnít flinch in terms of passion and hunger and how he works at it. The one thing I do talk to him about is, donít press, let the game come to you. And, there might have been a little bit of that early.
Q: Can you explain the missed tackles and how theyíre almost an epidemic?
A: A little bit of a disease. I was very, very disappointed in our tackling this past game and itís been like that the last three. The guys know that Iím not a believer in block tackling when you try to get a guy on the ground by just blocking him. We believe in wrap tackling. You see us every day. Itís called the tackle ring and it makes you wrap and thatís the reason for it and when you donít go out there and do that, thatís disappointing to me. The guys know I feel that way and they have responded greatly out here on the field. Now, we canít do that here because we donít tackle people. Thatís whatís kind of a lost out in this game right now, but we have to find a way to make sure that we tackle better or the defense wonít change.
Q: Talk more about the block tackling and missed tackles?
A: There were a number of guys. There were a number of guys that did it and they would tell you. They know, look it, they know. And, I have all the faith in the world theyíll get it ironed out, squared away.
Q: Why did you let the guys run the film review?
A: Itís just like I told them. I told them what I saw on film. I shared that with them, but I told them how I felt we could fix it and I was willing to do anything to fix it. The important thing wasnít what I saw or what I was willing to do. It was what they saw and what they were willing to do and the only way I knew whether we were on the same page or not was to let them run it and hear what they said. It was a great meeting and I think we got a lot out of it.
Q: What did you take from the film review meeting?
A: Exactly that. That I know that they see things exactly like I do, which is a good thing. Itís a good thing. I took it as a positive.
Q: Have you ever let the guys run the film review before?
A: In different ways. In different ways. Itís not a bad idea to change it up once in a while anyway. They get sick of me talking. Iíd get sick of me talking. I mean, look it, thatís human nature, right? The same person telling you over and over. So, I think sometimes itís good to change it up.
Q: How surprised are you with how honest the guys were after running the film review?
A: It was great. I wasnít that surprised because I know we have those kinds of men.
Q: Did you expect the honestly from the guys after the film review?
A: Yeah, because I believe in the men we have and the character they have and I think theyíre accountable guys. I hope it pays off. We donít know that. Still have to show up on Sunday and play.
Q: Is block tackling an effort thing?
A: No. Itís not effort. Just a technique thing. In my opinion, itís just the technique.
Q: Can the problem be guys just trying to make big plays as opposed to just tackling?
A: Thatís a good point. Thatís a good point. And, I think there is a little bit of that and look, we allow them Ė allow is not a good word Ė but I can see it on the sideline if you knock a guy out. But, for the most part, running backs in this league, wide receivers in this league, if you donít wrap theyíre getting extra yards that leads to the leaky yardage and our guys understand that. I just wish we could do it for real in practice, but it doesnít make a lot of sense right now.
Q: Whatís your take on CB Eli Apple?
A: Eli has had some up and down plays. I say it all the time, thereís plays in there that people probably donít notice that he does real well and he knows on the ones that they get a big play on, he has to play better. Thatís the life of a corner in the NFL, really.