Defensive Coordinator James Bettcher -- December 20, 2018
Opening Remarks: Coming off a game where we really didn’t tackle as well as we need to tackle and you can talk about a lot of things in the game and maybe some particular plays, but just overall we have to tackle better. Something we knew going into the game, it was going to be important and that’s execution in the moment and we got to coach it better, we got to tackle better. There’s over 100 yards rushing in last week’s game after the missed tackles and if you take those plays into consideration and you just cut it in half, then you just really change the situations we’re able to put them in on defense and we’re able to force them into doing some things that maybe we wanted them to do and to use some other tools in our box. That being said about last week, the thing that’s great about this group of guys on defense is they’re tough, they’re resilient, they play hard, they work exceptionally hard, they run to things, they own their tape, they own their mistakes, they take great ownership in their jobs and you love working with guys like that because that’s the kind of guys that you build something that is, what I’ve said before, that stands the test of time that you can put a solid foundation on and you can build from there. These guys have had two really good days of practice this week, good meetings, they’re engaged, and they’re excited to go to Indianapolis and play. Really for us, defense, it’s like a playoff game. This is a team that’s playing to get into playoffs and we’re playing and it’ll be a playoff atmosphere for us. Hopefully we’ll be able to get two of those these next two weeks. We’re going to try to go to Indy and take care of this one.
Q: Off a performance like that in practice this week, do you go back to basics as far as tackling is concerned? Like do you re-teach some things to reinforce them or do you just say no, these guys are professionals, we show them on tape, it’ll come after that?
A: Some of the core beliefs we have on defense here, one of those core beliefs that the game is won based on playing fundamentals. Every day in individual – I should say every Wednesday in individual, we do specific tackling drills in each individual period and we do that whether we miss four tackles in a game or 20 tackles, that’s part of the process to build a good tackling team. You certainly show those plays and you teach off of tape, but you have to take the teaching from the tape onto the field and work the fundamentals it takes to correct those things.
Q: I think Andrew Luck’s only been sacked 16 times so far, which is the lowest in his career. Is there something that he’s doing with Frank Reich in terms of his mechanics or is it just a product of their improved offensive line?
A: I think it’s two things. I think their O-Line is improved from a year ago. We played them a year ago in Arizona and they have improved, and I think the other thing you see with Andrew is getting the ball out of his hand. Those first and second down throwing opportunities, the pass game matches that kind of philosophy where the ball’s going to come out quick, they’re going to find ways to get the ball to their guys in space and rely on yards after catch, as I would assume extra added rush yards, so to speak.
Q: If Alec (Ogletree) isn’t available on Sunday, I know you’ve been moving guys in and out at linebacker, but does it put more on B.J.’s (Goodson) plate as the guy who’s going to call the defense or you kind of put someone else in that spot?
A: It’ll be similar to what we saw earlier in the season when Alec missed a game. B.J. will be our core guy in there, but there’s going to be a collective group. There’s going to be a lot of guys getting the opportunity to get on the field and play if Tree doesn’t play.
Q: Since Frank Reich took over, are they more balanced than they were under the previous coach?
A: I don’t know if they’re more balanced. I think they have their philosophy and their scheme and the way they are attacking people in the passing game. Might be a little bit different, but I wouldn’t say they’re more or less balanced. I didn’t look at it that way.
Q: (Tae) Davis was a free agent linebacker coming here, didn’t have a lot of experience at the position. What was it that kind of caught your eye to give him a shot?
A: I think when you put his college tape on, you saw a guy that ran around and could tackle in space and such an important part of this league right now is how horizontal formations are and how open field tackling, how important it is to tackle in space and really to be able to match in coverage space whether you want to play zone defenses or man defenses. That is really a premium right now with kind of the way people put two tight ends on the field, but really spread you out, put one tight end on the field and make it look like four wides and I think that’s one of the things that really stuck out to me is this a guy that can run around a little bit and hit. He was a raw player and you have really seen each and every week with Tae is just a guy that as he’s learning to play the position, little things like being in a great stance on every play and you can stand behind, you can watch where his eyes are and how his eyes progress during a down as a linebackers eyes need to so he can play as fast as his foot speed is and those are the things he’s grown at.
Q: What is it about Josh Mauro that he’s really seemed to make a much bigger impact the second half of the season?
A: I think one thing is being out for a little while, like he was to begin the season, to be able to get back in and start playing, that really was a big part of those four weeks that he was gone and just snaps playing the game. I love Josh. I love how tough he is, I love how physical he is, I love how he loves to play the game and if you’re going to go somewhere and build something, he’s a guy that when I came here and found out he was going to be available, he’s someone you want with you building something. Whatever you’re building, whatever you’re doing in life, you want a guy like Josh Mauro with you.
Q: Are you guys heavy enough up front as far as – I know they’re young like (RJ) McIntosh, B.J. (Hill), but do you have the personnel to be able to kind of plug those holes and not get pushed out of gaps or are you just watching guys who are kind of learning on the job?
A: I hadn’t thought about it from the standpoint of heavy enough, but I will say this – I hear what you’re saying. I think with those guys is you see snaps where they’re playing really good football and as young players grow, consistency is like one of the key words that would come to all of our minds and as those guys grow, whether it’s RJ or whether it’s B.J., even Dalvin (Tomlinson) is still a young player in this league, and consistency is the word for those guys. The more snaps they play, the more we get to approach them, the more we get to push them, the more they improve themselves, the more tape they watch, all those things collective – it’s just a consistency of the game that will come for those guys. The second thing is just awareness that they’ll build formationally. What I’m going to get in this formation, what I’m going to get recognizing what’s coming before it comes. Just like you would talk to a safety at a different level, you talk to those guys about backfield sets, quarterback underneath center, splits of offensive linemen, three-point, two-point stance, heavy stance. Like all those things, they become kind of second nature the more snaps they play, which helps them play more consistent and better in certain spurts of the game.