Defensive Coordinator James Bettcher
October 4, 2018
Opening Remarks: Coming off of last week, I think there’s some parts in that game where our guys played their tails off. They played with a bunch of passion, a bunch of energy, they executed, we just have to keep stacking weeks, stacking preparation, stacking snaps, playing together as a defense to clean up the plays that we can all point out when we watch the tape where it’s either, heck I’ve got to have a better call, or we have a breakdown, or we don’t execute well. Those are the things we’ve just got to keep playing and we’ve got to play through those downs. We can’t let one of those downs affect the next snap for us, but proud of the effort of the guys. Make no mistake, we lost the game and we gave up over 30 points. I think our guys came in yesterday, they did the same thing they’ve done the last two weeks. We got in after the game, we made some corrections, guys were locked in, we’ve had two days of work up to this point, and I expect us to come and play a little bit better this week, and we’ve got to keep doing that through the course of this year. This offense, they create a lot of run-pass conflict, use the quarterback a ton in the run game, he is a heck of a load to bring down whether it’s quarterback design runs, whether it’s option plays, or whether it’s just him underneath center handing the ball off to a really explosive running back. We’ve got some guys on the perimeter who can catch the ball, who are sure-handed, couple guys that can take the top off of it, and a couple guys are getting back off of injury. It’ll be another great challenge, I think our guys are used to each and every week, we’ve been playing some teams that are pretty good offenses. Look forward to the challenge, look forward to going down there and scrapping, finding a way to get a win.
Q: It seems like they’ve gotten (Christian) McCaffrey more involved in the running game early than maybe they did all of last year. What makes him, both as a receiver and runner, so difficult of a matchup?
A: One thing about him, when I turn the tape on, I see an explosive guy who’s not afraid. He’s shifty, he can do all those things in space, but he’s not afraid to put his foot down, lower his pads, and he’s going to try and run someone over. Those are the kinds of backs that as a defensive coach you have a lot of respect for, that when it’s time to put your pads down and get those tough two yards, this is a guy who’s going to put his pads down and get the tough two yards.
Q: Does it cause a problem for you in coverage, having a guy who can run it from the backfield like that then wind up splitting outside?
A: Sure. The same kind of things that we had to deal with last week with the back we played against, a guy that, they’ll split out empty, they’ll motion him, they’ll use him as a slot receiver and bring another back to put in the backfield, all those kinds of things that we dealt with last week, we’re going to have to be good with this week in terms of where he’s at.
Q: Does it help having multiple weeks against similar types of guys where you can install that stuff?
A: Yeah, I think it does to a degree, but I think each and every week, teams have their own things that they do with those guys, whether it’s him in the backfield with a zone read, with option stuff, with Cam (Newton) and the run game, or splitting out on the perimeter. Each week is a little bit different in terms of what they’re doing with the guys, but where the O line, sure, that is similar.
Q: Are turnovers and sacks things that come in bunches, because it seems like that’s the thing you’re lacking?
A: Yeah, I absolutely think they do, and how do you improve those things? You keep playing hard. If you don’t play hard, you don’t get to the ball, you don’t get out of the stacks, I think back to Kerry Wynn’s turnover in Houston where he gets out of the stack, gets a hit on the back downfield, we force a fumble – those are the kinds of plays we’re just going to continue to grind our way out and, shoot, there’s no strips without strip attempts, too. We’ve got to be a little bit better in that department. Balls, they get tipped and they come to you, and they do come in bunches, and you just have to keep playing hard.
Q: What do you think of Ray-Ray Armstrong in pass coverage, and why is B.J. Goodson playing so little?
A: One of the things with Ray-Ray is, I love the ability and flexibility that guys have as whether they can come cover back, whether they can blitz off the edge, whether they can cover in space. I think the way the game has changed is we’ve all seen a change over the last few years, is the game has become so horizontal, so spread out, that you have to be able to do those things in space and I think Ray-Ray is getting an opportunity to play right now. For B.J., he’s just got to keep playing, keep working. I love his mindset, I love his work ethic, (he’s a) physical guy. We’re not down on B.J., I think Ray-Ray has played a little bit better to this point, and he’s going to continue to get his chances. It’s just like anyone else, whether it’s 10 snaps, four snaps, 25 snaps, make the most of each and every snap, one snap at a time.
Q: You thought (Armstrong) played well Sunday?
A: I think there were some times in the game he played well, and I think there were some times in the game where just like other guys on the field, didn’t play as well as he would’ve hoped and I would hope. I’m not down on him, we didn’t lose the game because of anything he did particularly. I think all of us need to play better and I need to coach better.
Q: How much more time do you have to spend in a week like this on preparing for the quarterback’s running? He does it more than anybody.
A: Sure. Each week, one of the first things we game plan for is the run game. We haven’t played as well as I would’ve liked to at this point in the run game, I think that’s evident, but I take a lot of pride and our staff takes a lot of pride that that’s the first thing we do. To your question, yeah, you’re going to spend a little bit more when there’s motions, shifts, there’s receivers lining the backfield, there’s some of those things that either work against your eyes, or just work against being sound and responsive in terms of what your job is on every down.
Q: The quarterback run game kinds of just blends into the regular run game? Is that what you’re saying?
A: It does a little bit.
Q: With your time preparation?
A: Yeah, with your time preparation, absolutely. Quarterback run game, that’s part of the run game, so when you’re game planning for the run game overall, whether it’s a quarterback run series, zone option, whether it’s a team that’s going to get underneath center and try to run the ball downhill at you or gap scheme you, you’re spending time. That’s the first thing you’re looking at each and every week.
Q: You faced a couple quarterbacks who do that to various levels of success as I’m sure you know. What makes (Cam Newton) different? Is there an X’s and O’s component to it that they do it differently, or is just his athleticism?
A: One thing, he is a very physical, big guy who at times in the zone option scheme, will take the matchup. You will be in the right spot, you’ll have the guy that’s supposed to be on the quarterback on the quarterback, and he will take the matchup at times whether that’s just pulling the ball, or maybe that’s giving the ball and taking the matchup. He’s really smart with those kinds of things and they do a nice job putting him in some of those kinds of situations.
Q: Where has B.J. Hill made the most progress from Week 1 as a rookie to Week 5 now?
A: I say for him, when he first came in the thing I think I talked to everyone about was his maturity level. When he walked in, the way he studied the game, the way he prepared, the way he took care of his body and the way he worked on a daily basis in practice, just getting snaps – and they may sound really simply – just getting live game snaps, where the zone scheme is going fast, or where we’re in pads and we’re tackling people and really playing off of blocks, I think just getting more snaps has been one of the biggest parts to him getting a little better each week.