Defensive Coordinator James Bettcher
August 6, 2018
Opening Remarks: How’s everybody doing today? Make sure you hydrate. We’ve got some Arizona summer humidity. No one gets the fallout. I don’t put IVs in myself, so I thought that’s what you were going to ask. Who wants to start?
Q: You get into training camp, this is obviously the first time we’re seeing you out there – your philosophy in training camp just doesn’t seem like you’re taking the foot off the gas at all with your blitzes and stuff like that, trying to get your guys ready. Is there a fine line when you’re going against your own team, or is it just kind of spill it all out there and let’s see if you can block it?
A: Well, number one, practicing smart is one of the things that we talk about on a daily basis. Coach Shurmur talks about it, we talk about it on defense – to be able to practice at full speed and to do some of the stuff we do, we have to practice the right way and work the right way. We’re working against our teammates, and our guys are aware of that. That’s just building good practice habits so we can do the things that we do on defense on a daily basis. But in terms of keeping our foot on the gas, absolutely. We are full speed ahead in terms of the process, both installation, how will we do what we do more importantly than what the scheme is, how we work on a daily basis, how our meetings are, what the expectation is, jogging on and off the field, getting in and out of the huddle, breaking the huddle – all these little things, because the little things are the big things. That’s one thing that I really love about this group, is that they’re building an identity and it’s not like it’s an identity of next year’s team or last year’s team or any other team, they’re building their identity as of right now, and that is taking care of the details, being assignment-sound, having their eyes in the right place, communicating well pre-snap and post-snap, and I really like that about this group and the direction in regards to that stuff that we’re doing.
Q: Is that your identity, too? You seem like a guy that is living and dying [by] every rep out there.
A: You have to be. I can’t ask my guys to bring energy if I’m not, and it’s the same thing with our position coaches that are doing such a great job. We’ve got such a great group of coaches that Coach Shurmur has assembled here on the defense, each of the positions. I can’t ask them to bring energy if I’m not going to bring it, and I learned a long time ago what you emphasize is what you get, and that seems so elementary but it’s the truth. And we’re just going to emphasize the details, emphasize the energy and physicality it takes to play this game, and if it’s not good enough, we’re going to be honest about it in the room, talking to ourselves, and if it is great, we’re going to recognize that as well.
Q: When we were here in the spring, you had one guy that had over 3.5 sacks in a season. I was just curious what you thought now that you’ve seen all your pass rushers here, what’s been your impression of what’s there at your disposal?
A: I think it’s a group of guys that are really working their craft. I think to be a really good pass rusher in this league, see I’ve been so lucky – I’ve been around some of the best in the last decade, from Dwight [Freeney], to John Abraham, to Chandler [Jones], to Marcus [Golden], Robert Mathis, and now OV [Olivier Vernon] – I’ve been lucky. I’ve learned more from them than they’ve learned from me. And just one of the things I’ve learned is each guy is different and each guy’s toolbox of a rusher is different, and it doesn’t need to be a huge repertoire of moves and all those things. We’ve just really tried to talk to each guy individually and focus on, hey, what’s the two things you’re trying to work, and keep them on track on working on those things. So, to answer your question, I love the direction it’s heading. We still have work to do, we still have another two to three weeks of really good work to find out who our best guys are going to be, whether it’s four guys rushing or guys rushing from different angles in those one-on-ones. We’ve got to identify that. I don’t want to be too quick to identify who those four guys are, because I want them to grow. I want them to every day just go out there [inaudible].
Q: Have any young guys stood out to you so far?
A: Yeah. I’ll tell you a guy that’s had a couple good practices is [Lorenzo Carter]. Lorenzo’s really had a couple of good practices and as in any rookie, the challenge is to stack them – it’s not to have one day in flash, it’s to have two days and, OK, let’s go correct what we’ve got to correct, then as a young guy, do we see when you go to the field, do we see those corrections happen and do we see it continue to get better? So, we’re looking for a third day in a row from him. He’s had some on and off days, he’s had two pretty good days in a row, and we’re looking for a third good day today.
Q: How do you feel about your cornerback depth right now? A couple guys have been banged up and obviously you brought in Leonard [Johnson]. How do you feel about where you guys are right now, behind Apple and Jenkins?
A: I love the competition that’s going on. There’s two positions where – I think there’s great competition going on a lot of places – but two positions being the safety spot and outside at corner being the third corner, maybe even the starting nickel, and that could be a safety nickel, that could be a corner nickel, so however that works out. I think there’s just great competition at it. Not worried, not excited, just staying level with that – the same thing as we talk about the rushers. We’re in a process mode right now. We’re in each and every day, we’re trying to get better. We’re not judging, we’re just looking at, hey, how much individual improvement are you making versus the next guy? And at the end of the day, we’ll sort those things out.
Q: Even though he’s a rookie, does having a running back with the versatility of Saquon [Barkley] help prepare your defense?
A: There’s no question. I dealt with a guy that’s of that nature and we’ve talked about it here at this stand before is [David Johnson], an Arizona guy that can split out and try to create mismatches, a guy that can run the ball extremely well between the tackles, and coordinators are going to have a fun time figuring out how they’re going to get their matchups right.
Q: Are you going to have a fun time with Landon Collins and all the things that Landon can do that he’s not necessarily just like a deep safety?
A: There’s no question. There’s no question of that. You know, but I think the thing that Landon really does well, is Landon has embraced anything we’ve thrown at him. You’ve probably seen by now he’s been in the box a little bit, he’s been up high a little bit, he’s been down low and outside a little bit, he’s been on the line of scrimmage, coming from the line of scrimmage at times, so he’s really embraced those things and he’s detailed each of those places and what the job is that he needs to do to be successful, and as much as anything, if you’re going to be able to do those things, that’s the approach you have to take and he’s taken it.
Q: What are you seeing from B.J. Hill down on the line there?
A: Number one is point physicality. He’s been really physical at the point. I think one thing he really does well for a young guy is plays well with his hands at the line of scrimmage, and I think some of the guys you get coming in, their hands aren’t well enough but they’re not fast enough or they’re not strong enough to be able to handle the blockers that they have to play against in this league, and he’s done well with that. We’ve moved him around in the line too, you’ve seen him lining up as a nose, as a three technique, as a five technique, a guy that’ll have some position flexibility and some things for us.
Q: You’ve rotated your safeties alongside Landon every day. What do you see out of that competition and is anybody starting to separate themselves?
A: I’d say there’s four guys that are in that role right now. There’s none that’s separated themselves, we’re just going to keep letting the process work and there’s always something you’ll appreciate about competition. Those guys are all in, and they’re helping each other and they’re helping grow, and that’s kind of leads to the collective of this defense as these guys are trying to take care of each other, encourage each other, push each other, and those individual competitions within position groups, if we have that mindset, it leads to the group and these next three weeks, there’s going to be a lot to be determined at that position as well as some other places.