Defensive Coordinator James Bettcher -- November 29, 2018
Opening Remarks: Just came out of walk-thru and practice. Like many similar weeks, weíve stacked two good days. The guys came in after a hard-fought loss and Iíve said it repeatedly, the thing I love about this group is they take great ownership of the work. I love about this group that no matter what is flying at them, these guys have not flinched and theyíve continued to come to work, continued to work for corrections, but more importantly, theyíve continued to work their craft, continued to work the things that individually we need to improve at so collectively we can play better. This group, whatever quarterback ends up playing, even last week, you see the same components of their offense Ė lots of motions, lots of ways to try to create matchups or what maybe theyíre looking at as mismatches, and weíre going to have to play great with our eyes. Weíre going to have to play better in the run game than we played, and get them in situations where we can dictate them throwing the ball. Weíve got to get in less third-and-four, weíve got to get in less of those downs for ourselves on defense. Itís going to be a great challenge, our guys continue to be excited to play, continue to work the process, and look forward to this Sunday, a chance to go play.
Q: The Eagles had that seven-play scoring drive at the beginning of the fourth quarter, five of those plays were runs. Is that an effort thing with the run defense? How do you avoid that happening again?
A: I havenít seen where we have an effort problem, I really havenít. Iíve just seen where at times in critical situations, weíre trying to press, and I canít press as a play caller and we canít press as a defense. That might be the three technique, that might be the shade, that might be a linebacker, that might be a safety Ė thereís not one moment where you turn on the tape and itís the same guy repeatedly. Thatís the thing you see, and we continue to work that and talk about that. Some of that is youth at positions. Some of that is just maybe a vet trying to do too much, and we just canít try to press. Just do our jobs. Weíre in a single gap defense, win your gap, win your responsibility and there was certainly not good enough run defense late in the ball game.
Q: Was there something in the film that maybe you saw that maybe tipped them off to commit to the running game in that spot because of something you were or were not doing?
A: No, I think thatís just a commitment they had coming into the game and a commitment we knew they were going to make. That was probably something they even had talked about in the media that they wanted to have a commitment to running the ball. Same this week. I donít think thereís many offenses or offensive coordinators that donít want to be able to run the ball and donít want to have some type of commitment to running the ball, and we have to play better run defense. That starts with each of us doing our jobs individually a little bit better.
Q: Have you noticed that teams are attacking the run differently than earlier in the season, more so up the middle as opposed to on the edges?
A: Thereís probably statistics that thereís been more runs inside or outside. One thing Iíd say is people are trying to zone cut us. Theyíre trying to zone and then cut down the gaps, Iíd probably say Iíve seen that a little more. Weíve seen a lot of pull plays in terms of the run game, whether thatís gap scheme runs or zone scheme with pullers, but all of those Ė whatever the scheme is Ė weíve just got to execute a little bit better. You can see at times how close we are to being very good and correct in our run fits, and then some of those are weíre there, then itís a last-second because our eyes or our body takes us out of the fit. Weíve got to continue to play better in those moments, and itís all of us. Play better, coach better.
Q: How do you teach these guys to close out games and seal them up?
A: That goes to not pressing. That was a big part of our message this week, and we kind of talked about that for a couple weeks now. We donít have to press, you donít have to do more than your job. If your responsibility is being A-gap, then you need to be in A-gap. Now, thereís obviously more that goes into it than that, thatís very simply stated, but at the end of the day, thatís really what it amounts to. Tough moments where you feel things pressing on you, when you feel the pressure of the game, thatís when you have to fall back on fundamentals and technique. When things feel like theyíre haywire in a game, when a gameís not going good, you have to fall back on something and thatís fundamentals and techniques. We just have to continue to work the process to continue to improve in that way, so in those moments, we play better.
Q: Is that something you can teach? Thatís something you have to experience, right?
A: I think itís both of those. Itís teaching, itís coaching, and itís execution in the moment.
Q: When you prepare for the Bears, you have one game plan, but do you tweak it a little bit depending on whether itís (QB) Mitch (Trubisky) or Chase (Daniels) in there?
A: You certainly have some things that you like versus each of those two quarterbacks, yes.
Q: The numbers say you are blitzing less than you did in the past. Obviously itís two different teams, two different personnel, is that related to that, Giants personnel vs. Cardinals personnel? Or did your beliefs change over the offseason?
A: I have never looked, thatís a great question, but I have never looked at a percentage and said, ĎIíve got to blitz this many percent.í I couldnít tell you if weíre blitzing whatever percentage was there or here, I just know each and every week, we look at what we need to do from a scheme standpoint, what we feel we need to do to give our team the best chance to win and our defense the best chance to play well, and thatís what we try to do and thatís what we try to hang our hat on each and every individual week. To be honest with you, the last place I worked, we did it the same way.
Q: On the pass rush: Youíre getting some pressures but youíre not getting to the quarterback. What do you think is the hump holding them back?
A: It is exactly the same thing thatís in the run game. Thereís four guys in a four-man rush, five guys in a five-man rush, and thereís one-on-ones that are going to be had. Itís just execution in those one-on-ones and thereís calling some calls better. Letís get a free run at the quarterback. When weíve got a one-on-one, letís beat the back. When weíve got a one-on-one, letís beat the tackle. Thereís no one person it falls on, itís collectively the four guys that are rushing the quarterback working together, then it coincides and you have to understand that Ė and I know you do Ė the coverage helps the rush, and the rush helps the coverage, and they have to coincide. You see it on tape with teams, sometimes when the coverage is breaking down, someone up front makes a play and changes it and it doesnít matter if the coverage broke down, you go fix it on the sideline. When the coverages or the rushes get held or are getting blocked, and the coverage holds them up and the quarterback has nowhere to go with the ball and has to throw it away, and thatís where weíve got to play complementary football between our rush and our coverage.
Q: You mentioned asking younger players to do more, youíve been relying on them all year. A guy like Tae Davis has gone from first half (of the season) really just spot duty to now it seems like youíre asking a lot of him. With the lumps heís taken, what are you seeing of his growth as a player?
A: I love the growth that heís had so far. The question was kind of asked previously, does experience matter in getting through those tough moments? Experience definitely matters in that, but experience also matters in ability to grow as a player. Sometimes guys just need to get a chance to go out and play, and youíve seen that with Tae, youíve seen that with Grant (Haley), youíve seen that with Sean Chandler, B.W. Webb is a first-year (here), thereís quite a few guys there that youíre seeing them progress. Some of that progression is their play on the field of making a play, but then a lot of it is just in the classroom, the behind-the-scenes things you donít see with a young player, learning how to watch tape, learning what to look for, being able to eight-nine-ten-eleven weeks into the season, whereís that individual at in terms of, Ďnow I go out onto the field and now I see the formation, I see where the tight end is and I recognize some things, and the game starts to slow down for meí. The experience has a lot to do with all those guysí growth. They need the reps.