Defensive Backs Coach Lou Anarumo
July 30, 2018
Q: How are the DBs shaping up?
A: What are we, through practice 4? Got number 5 coming up. So far, so good. The guys are working hard, doing what we ask, and I’m happy with where they’re at from a competition standpoint. As a coach, that’s one of your biggest attributes is having competitions so the guys don’t get comfortable, and we’ve got it pretty much all over the field. So, I’m happy with where we’re at so far.
Q: The way I count how many practices you have had is how many different guys are playing free safety. Have you ever done anything like that before, where you have first team reps for four different guys rotating by the day?
A: Yeah, and then just the definition of competition, we’re gonna give those guys an opportunity to go out there with the first group and see how they do, and really it’s a rotation. As we get deeper into camp, it’ll be more merit-based on, hey, we’re playing in some games and we’re actually tackling people and we’ll see how it goes, but we won’t find out who the best ones are unless we give them a chance, so that’s how we’re doing it.
Q: So right now, it’s not necessarily merit-based? Whether you do well or not, the next day the next guy is still going to get his opportunity?
A: Yeah. We’re still so early that we want to give everybody a chance to show what they can do one way or the other, and we’ve got such young guys there, to be honest with you, so it’s going to be something that we’re gonna go day by day.
Q: Speaking of tackling, with the change in the helmet rule, defensive backs tend to fly in a little bit more because they’re dealing with guys who are shiftier, so how are you addressing that in your teaching so that they’re properly tackling according to the rule?
A: Good question. Obviously it’s a hot topic and for me as a coach, we’ve never talked about using our head. It’s always been shoulder, so we’re always gonna try to put ourselves in position where our head is up, we’re seeing, we gotta see what we hit, but we’re gonna overemphasize it even more and focus on the shoulder tackles and wrapping up, and keep the head totally out of it.
Q: Can you drill that?
A: Yeah, absolutely, and we do. We do it every day, and tackling is a big part. You still gotta be able to tackle. It’s football, they’re not gonna blow the whistle until the guy’s on the ground, so we do it every day and we’re obviously stressing that.
Q: Do you intend to use Michael Thomas possibly in the slot as well, or do you see him as a safety?
A: I think Mike has played that for me. We’ve won games in Miami with Mike starting at [nickel], and so one of the attributes that he brings is that he is a multiple position guy, so I want him to get the safety stuff down here and then knowing that he can move around and maybe do some other things in a pinch, that’s been one of his trademarks. We go back, I got him on a Tuesday in 2013, we got to pick him up off of waivers from the 49ers on a practice squad. It was probably week 13 or 14 and I said, ‘hey, Mike, you’re probably not gonna play this game, but we gotta get ready to play,’ and he ends up coming in the last drive of the game picking off Tom Brady to win the game, on the last play of the game, in the end zone, at nickel. So he’s played it at a high level and done it against the best.
Q: With losing Sam Beal, who else is in that nickel conversation right now?
A: I think again, it’s kind of like the free safety, we’re just gonna keep evaluating every day and see who’s making strides. Donte Deayon had a heck of a pick yesterday and he’s gotten his hands on some balls, B.W. Webb and Will Gay, all those guys are in the mix until we kind of figure it out.
Q: How much has Grant Haley grown from when you first got him here until now?
A: Yeah, I think he’s like a lot of rookies that you’re going to see the ups and the downs, and the inconsistencies in their play, but the thing I love about Grant is he’s a competitor, he works his butt off, he’s a true professional already, you don’t have to talk to him about that stuff. So, while he’ll have a day where it’s pretty good, then he’ll kind of slop back to being a rookie, and that’s the biggest thing is we’ve gotta get those guys to be consistent.
Q: When you say slopping back to being a rookie, what do you see that you say that, you know what, we’ve gotta get on him?
A: For the most part with those guys, with anybody, they’re focused on ‘what’s my job, what do I have to do’, right? And the good players in this league, they know what they have to do, now they can focus on what the offense is trying to do to them, and until they get to that point, they’ll always struggle a little bit. That’s when I say, hey, you may be going back to a little rookie mindset, where, ‘am I supposed to be outside, am I supposed to be inside’ – not, ‘hey, who’s that guy, how’s he lining up, and how’s he gonna try to beat me?’ Those are the veteran nickel players that I’ve had or outside guys, that’s what they’re thinking. They’re not worried about what their job is.
Q: Do you see that on install days, when you’re bringing in an install?
A: Yeah, and that’s no different than anyone else I’ve ever coached.
Q: What makes Janoris a special corner? I know you haven’t been around him before this year, but do you notice kind of a chip on his shoulder, because he was certainly outspoken about wanting high goals – I think he said 8 interceptions, he was angry that he wasn’t listed in the top-10 cornerbacks in the NFL – all that stuff that doesn’t matter to you as a coach, but to him, do you sense a chip on his shoulder?
A: I just think that, first and foremost, he is a fierce competitor. You ask what made him so good, he’s an elite athlete, and so when you have those two things together – he doesn’t want to lose Jacks in the locker room, you know? He’s that guy. So, I think, does he have a chip on his shoulder? I’m sure – I don’t want to speak for him, but he’s looking to put his best foot forward, he feels like he’s one hundred percent healthy, and I know he said the other day. He’s a true professional, a true football player in the time that I’ve been here. He’s been great.
Q: You obviously had a relationship with Michael Thomas from Miami. Did they consult you at all when it came time to sign him?
A: Obviously, yeah, for sure. Mike’s a great human being, first and foremost. We were talking earlier, told a long-winded story, but I’ve had him for a long time. Michael’s a great guy, and can do so many different things, and I think the stat that I didn’t even realize is he leads the NFL in special teams tackles since 2014-15, so he’s gonna bring that immediate impact to us, and then he brings some position flex on defense.
Q: Pretty much every player says Bettcher’s defense is aggressive. That seems kind of obvious, but is anything different? You’ve been with different coordinators – is there anything different about his?
A: When you think of aggressive, you’re thinking about pressuring, you’re thinking about dictating to the offense, and I think so maybe the uptick in a number of pressures, potentially. But I think every game plan dictates how you’re going to call it or what you’re gonna have in a game plan anyway, but by nature, it’s a pressure scheme, for sure.
Q: How much can Donte Deayon do to negate the size that teams will pick on in game, but he’s always been a guy that’s gone after the ball like this, so at what point does he cross the threshold of not only can he make plays in practice, but we want him on the field on Sunday?
A: Well, you just hit the nail on the head – staying on the field, right? He’s gotta stay on the field. He had a good day yesterday, but now, a little bit of a nick up yesterday, so we’ll see how it goes, but I think to me, that’s the biggest thing is for him, staying healthy, being out there in a consistent manner because ball skills, that’s high on the list of things that he’s gonna have to do. I just think staying healthy, taking care of himself. He’s trying. He’s a great kid and working really hard, so hoping that just stays for him.
Q: The other day, I want to say it was Lewis-Harris and I may be wrong – had coverage on Roger Lewis, but then je drops the interception. Does he get a plus or a minus on that play?
A: He gets a plus with a ‘hey, by the way, catch the ones they throw to you’, right? Because it’s very rare in this league. That’s how you get interceptions – you get interceptions in this league on tips and overthrows, first and foremost, bad decisions by the quarterback is third, and then guys making great plays, that’s probably third or fourth on the list. That’s the nature of how interceptions come in this league.
Q: Kind of had that the other day when Landon got his pick, it was just in the right place at that point?
A: Yeah, it was little overthrown, he stepped in front and made the play.
Q: With Eli Apple, do you try to be more hands-on as a young guy who’s trying to come back, or do you try to be more hands-off?
A: No, he’s a young player that needs to be coached every [second] of every [minute], like any other young guy. That’s how I’ve always approached it, even with my veteran guys that I’ve had, the Cortland Finnegan’s at the end of their career, the Louis Delmas’, Brent Grimes – I got Brent I think after six/seven years, and he went to three straight Pro Bowls, and he just wanted to be coached every day. So I think the good ones, they want to know what’s going on. The day you think you got it as a player or as a coach, that’s the day you’re probably on the way out the door. I’ll stay on him, but just like anybody else.