Defensive Coordinator James Bettcher -- December 13, 2018
Opening Remarks: Itís great to go to a practice like today and see our guys flying around, breaking up balls, highly competitive at practice and I think that speaks to how weíve been playing as of late and what Coach Shurmur has done to keep this going with our team overall. With that being said, weíve got a great opponent this week, an opponent that will run the ball, they love to run the ball and I know thatís a mindset of Mike (Vrabel), their head coach. Mikeís mindset is he wants to be able to run the ball and you can see thatís a point of emphasis with him. Had a really explosive game in the run game a week ago and I think itís going to be a great test of where we are as a run defense. The quarterback scrambling and creating plays that are off-schedule is certainly something weíre going to have to be great with, the perimeter passing game, the screens, and the shots down the field. Again, weíve stacked two really good days, Iím excited to go to meetings with this group. I love coaching these guys, I love working with them, and I canít say that enough about this group right now. Theyíve just been resilient and kept working. Canít wait to see these guys go play Sunday.
Q: (Derrick) Henryís run Ė is that a coachís dream, the next week just put that up on the screen and say, Ďdo you want that to happen to you?í
A: Yeah, I donít know if you luck out when you say you get to see that the week before but weíve been fortunate two weeks in a row. Adrian (Peterson) had one of those runs the week before we played him in Washington, and had one against us the first time we played, so when that stuffís on tape, itís certainly a great example about maintaining gap integrity, playing with great leverage, and finding a way to get someone on the ground when youíve got to tackle him in space.
Q: Is that about going low? Because it seems like a lot of guys were trying to tackle a big guy high.
A: Sure, one thing with him is heís a great stiff-armer, and youíve got to be able to handle that. Heís going to stiff-arm on the perimeter, heís going to stiff-arm in open space. Sure, some of those guys went high on him but at the end of the day, getting down and donít finish the down blocked, and itís going to take 11 guys in the run game to be successful.
Q: What has Kareem Martin done the last couple of weeks? Seems like heís made more of an impact.
A: I think itís the same thing. Heís working, heís disruptive, heís playing fast. Probably about three or four weeks ago, Kareem and I had a conversation just, hey, letís start cutting loose, letís start disrupting, getting off the ball, playing vertical, and I think weíve been doing that better as an overall defensive front seven. Weíve played more vertical both in the run game and in the pass game, You see some of that leads to disruption. Itís not just the third down disruption in the pass game, itís the first and second down where weíre kind of disrupting the quarterback a little bit now and I think Kareemís following that with the rest of the guys up front.
Q: When Snacks was traded, was there a sense of urgency amongst the guys that weíve got to step up? How has that sort of evolved?
A: I donít know if I would say a sense of urgency. These are really good players, but at the same time, just like when guys get hurt, itís opportunities for other guys. Itís unfortunate like we talked about a week ago with Landon (Collins) Ė I love Landon and Landon knows that, but itís an opportunity for the next guy. So itís (the Snacks trade) been an opportunity not just for Dalvin (Tomlinson) but opportunity for about three or four other guys that were maybe playing eight snaps or five snaps or 10 snaps a game. All those guys are getting more and getting more opportunities. With RJ (McIntosh) coming back now, RJís getting more and more opportunities and heís getting better each week. Whether itís Mario (Edwards) or whoever it is in that room, itís just opportunity for other guys.
Q: When you talk about making plays off-schedule, whatís the key for a defense playing against a quarterback who likes to make plays off-schedule?
A: Number one is integrity of the rushes, and thatís first and second down, thatís third down. It happened to us in the game Sunday, we lost the edge and the quarterback scrambles in, and we really got a third down stop. Great coverage, but the rushes have to have great integrity and thatís both on the edges and the perimeter, because heís going to scramble both places. Really, the second thing is those off-schedule downs, youíve got to cover a few more seconds longer. It might be, we use the word Ďplasterí like a lot of people do, weíve got to plaster in coverages, downs, extend themselves, and understand how and where different receivers are going to break. Everybody has a scramble thought process to them, where they want to break and how receivers want to break, and weíve got to be aware of where those guys are going to break.
Q: You talked about Kareem kind of cutting loose. What makes that the right time to say Ďgo for ití?
A: I just think, overall, this group is playing with great energy, playing hard, and we keep talking about that with them. Sometimes conversations are just drive-bys and sometimes theyíre, Ďhey, itís time for you to play betterí. With Kareem, Iím always in his ear because Iíve been around him so long. Iím always trying to push him. I probably may be in his ear more than some other guys.