Defensive Coordinator James Bettcher
September 27, 2018
Opening: Great challenge this week. One of top offenses in the National Football League and really an offense that collectively has been one of the top five offenses for a while. Theyíve been together for over a decade and they called a lot of plays and run a lot of plays together and you can see that. Before the snap some of the things Drew (Brees) is able to get up and do and change protections, change routes, change formations at the line of scrimmage so itís going to be a great challenge. The running back is a really special player. A guy that they use in the backfield to carry the ball, heavily in the screen game or they split him out and use him as a slot-type receiver. Theyíre going to find ways to target him and get him touches and (Michael) Thomas is another really, really talented receiver on the perimeter. Has really strong hands at the point when balls are up and some of those 50/50 balls heís a really good player in those scenarios. I think itís been really the same as the last three weeks weíve had really good Wednesday practices, we had good meetings and we just have to stay with that process. Really looking forward to getting back home and playing here on defense this weekend and having our crowd in the game and part of it. We just got to go in, have a good meeting in here and come out and have a great practice this afternoon.
Q: Does it help that you have a running back kind of similar to (Alvin) Kamara? You saw (Saquon) Barkley all summer, does that help prepare?
A: I think to a degree, Iíd say yes. I think each and every week whether itís the same type of player, the systemís a little bit different and some of the things are a little bit different that he does and that he does well. Yeah, Iíd say if youíre defending our offense, you got to be really aware of the matchups you create with our running back and Iíd say the same with the Saints.
Q: How much of a challenge is it when they take Thomas and put him in the slot to see guys that size play there?
A: Theyíre going to move him, put him all over the field and thereís special plays that are designed to get him touches just like Kamara and it might be in the slot, it might be the X in the back side of the three-by-one, a few times itís the Z outside to the three receiver side. I think anywhere they put him you got to be aware heís a focal point and thereís some things designed for him that are going to come in the game.
Q: Does defending the middle of the field a real challenge against this team because of the multitude of drop-offs, screens, all the looks to the middle?
A: We were talking about this last night as a staff watching tape and you see receivers that are coming through the middle of the field whether itís a screen game in the underneath passing game or even in man coverage where if youíre covered on your guy, you got to still expect the ball to come there and heís going to try to put it on your back shoulders the defender, heís going to put it over the top of you as a defender and thatís why heís a special player that he is and his accuracy speaks for itself.
Q: They targeted Kamara 20 times this past week in the passing game. Like you said, they move him around a little bit. How difficult is it for you then to get the matchup that you want against him without moving him either from the backfield or the slot?
A: I think the first thing, and we talked to the defense about this yesterday when we started to install first and second down is at the end of the day we have to play fundamentally sound football. Thereís no perfect world where you have one guy in terms of running backs, you can do it on the perimeter with a receiver and you match guys up, but in terms of running backs because the multitude of places he can align and motion to and shift to, thereís no perfect call to get one guy on him every snap of the game. Whoeverís on him got to play fundamentally sound, got to understand the routes youíre going to get from the places heís aligned and get your eyes in the right place and play fast.
Q: How do you make sense of Brees and Thomas connecting on 95-percent of their targets so far this year?
A: I think thatís a unbelievable number and I think the other number is the 80-percent completion percentage in the National Football League, thatís a pretty rare and special thing.
Q Why are they so good together? What do you see in them?
A: Timing. I think the quarterback gets the ball out fast and itís not about throwing the ball vertically down the field, which they will do at times, but itís about precision and timing. Guy thatís a great route runner, guy that has really strong hands at the point of catch and a quarterback that puts it in there so he can catch it.
Q: You had the Texans offense pretty confused in the first half, it looked like. When they started moving the ball, how encouraging was it that your defense forces those two turnovers as Houston is gaining those chunk yards?
A: One thing I love about this group is that weíre kind of starting to work ourselves intoa† one-play mentality as a defense. Whether you give up a play or you make a great play that cannot determine the success or failure of the next play. Every play is independent of itself and if we do that for 60 minutes, at the end of the day weíll have a chance to play good defense at the end of the game and I think weíre starting to build that confidence and that identity in the room. I think putting a defense together is a process and when thereís new guys in the system with a new system with some guys that havenít played a lot of snaps, those guys are all growing out on the field and itís like both the two-minute scenarios in the game. We have to play better in those scenarios, but to play better, sometimes we need to be in those scenarios where we got to go out and get a stop and got to be stressed out and have to communicate when itís going fast and have to get aligned. I have to know when we can play more off or when we need to challenge receivers more. You can meet on that, you can talk about it in the meeting room and you can coach it and go out walk it through and all that stuff, but when things are really happening on Sundayís thatís when you kind of start to build your resume as a defense and I really like the direction our guys are going with that.
Q: How much help do you need from your offense in the sense of all control, scoring points because theyíre averaging 34 a game?
A: Iíll tell you what, the only thing we worry about is on the defensive side of the ball is getting stops.† We got to get some three and outs, we got to create some turnovers. Doesnít matter where the ballís put down on the field, doesnít matter what the score is in the game whether youíre up three or down three, in my mind it doesnít matter, we play. Itís kind of that identity I was talking about that weíve been working the build as a defense and itís one play at a time and nothing else matters, we donít judge.
Q: How did OV (Olivier Vernon) look yesterday and what does he give you if he comes back this week?
A: I think OVís trending and weíll see if at the end of the week where heís at. Coach Shurmur always answers questions about injuries, but I think youíre talking about a very special player playing on the edge and we would love to have him and when we do end up getting him back, whether thatís this week or the future, weíll be excited to have him back.