Defensive Coordinator James Bettcher
September 6, 2018
Opening Remarks: Our guys are really excited to get started. You can see it when we came in the building on Monday and then when we had practice yesterday, guys are really locked in, clued in, and excited to go play football. We’ve got a great opponent this week, a team that can run the football, as we all know – 141-ish yards a game a year ago, a team that will max protect and take some shots down the field. They’re going to get (Blake Bortles) on the perimeter with some boots and some movement passes. Then, the thing we’ve got to do a great job of is the screen game. We’ve got to be aware of when the screens are coming, whether it’s first (down), second down, third down, and be aware of some of the set-ups for some of those things. With the receiver (Marquis Lee) out, it’s going to be – whether it’s (Dede Westbrook), (Donte Moncrief), whoever it is that’s their guy that they’re going to try to hit down the field, those are the guys that we’re going to have to be aware of and just adjust during the first part of the game. I think our guys have had two really good days of practice, this morning’s walk-thru and yesterday’s practice and the work we did on Monday. I think they’re excited to go out there and play this Sunday.
Q: With so many new faces on the defense in the last week alone, how do you get them all ready?
A: One of the things is we’ve got some great ownership in the room, and we’ve got some guys that are really taking a hold of what we’ve been trying to do over the last five-six months as a defense. We’ve really tried to teach it as concepts, so the guys that are here understand the concepts, then you just feed those guys as they come in pieces and they learn on the way. Then they hear it from the other guys that are in the room having a conversation, then they spend some time outside the building with the guys that have been here, and you just take it day by day and you keep growing. I love what we’re doing about just searching and finding and working guys through. I’m excited about some of the guys that have come in, and I’m excited to work with anybody we bring in, because all we’re going to ask them to is to get their hand on the pylon and go to work.
Q: A lot of those new faces are in the secondary. Is there something the guys who were here before weren’t doing that you needed more of, or anything specific on why the secondary went through such a change?
A: All along, we’ve been looking for guys that are going to be as we’ve talked, the third corner, the third/fourth/fifth safety, the next nickel in the game, and I think we’re always in search of trying to find who is the backup at some of those positions. I love cycling through and I think our guys in the room as coaches have loved it, and I think our players that are here are loving the fact that all we’re trying to do is get better each day.
Q: The last time we spoke to you the free safety was pretty unsettled. What made (Curtis Riley) stand out as the guy there?
A: Curtis really from the beginning has been playing pretty well for a guy that doesn’t have a lot of time on the job at the position. Obviously an outside guy converted inside, I think when you go look at little things like how much time he’s spending on his iPad watching tape, how engaged he is in meetings and the conversation he’s having in the classroom, then when you go out and watch the tape and he’s running around, some of the plays he’s made, obviously missed a little time with the injury, but has come off of that and really picked up where he left off. He’s a guy that his arrow is really up and I’ll be excited to watch him play this Sunday.
Q: Do you monitor how much time the guys (spend watching film)? Can you see that?
A: We’re always aware of what our guys are able to do in terms of studying tape. We talk about it a lot on defense. There’s never enough time during an eight-nine hour day to get everything in and there’s always study that you have to do. To be honest with you, that’s one of the things I learned from the players I’ve been around. I’ve seen players, they just go watch so much tape. They come in before you provide the answers, they’re asking the questions that the answers are about to be for. Those guys are really important in the room, in the secondary room, in the linebacker room to have guys that are really engaged and leading the charge in their position groups on awareness of what’s going to happen before it happens.
Q: Can you talk about the two young guys, (Lorenzo Carter) and (B.J. Hill) and the growth you’ve seen from them since day one and where they are now?
A: (Lorenzo) is a guy that, the longer it goes with him, I think the thing I see the most is the faster he plays. He’s starting to really understand what we’re doing and what we’re asking of him, number one, then two, just as a rusher, he’s really learning how to rush. To me, as young players in this league, that’s a yearlong process that might be into year two with a lot of guys. Then with B.J., he’s just a guy that came in, he’s probably one of the most professional rookies I’ve ever been around. When he came in the building, he was business and he understood how we needed to work, a guy that takes care of his body – he’s just really ahead of his age in terms of years in the league. Both of those guys, they’re going to play very meaningful snaps in this game, play a lot of snaps in this game, and I’ll be excited to watch some of these young guys fly around and play.
Q: I would think you have probably made Olivier Vernon as one of your irreplaceable players. If so, how do you replace him?
A: I think one thing we always do, if you don’t end up having a guy – and injury questions are always going to go to Coach Shurmur, I don’t ever want to answer injury questions – but if you ever were to have to play without someone, then it’s just the other guys at that position have to step up, and it’s going to be multiple guys handling whatever that job was, whether it’s OV outside if he doesn’t end up playing, or linebacker inside, or a guy at safety. There will be different guys sharing some of that responsibility.