Defensive Coordinator James Bettcher -- December 27, 2018
Opening Remarks: I know there’s probably some questions about end-of-the-year wrap up, your thoughts, and I’ll be quite honest with you – the only thought I have is what we’re about to go into, the next meeting, the next work, finding a way to beat the Cowboys, finding a way for our guys to finish strong and keep playing hard, keep playing fast. Last week I was probably as proud as you could be coming out of the early part of that game where our guys stepped on that field with a playoff team in an atmosphere where they were playing to make it in, and our guys stood toe-to-toe with them for the duration of the game. First two drives, to come out and force a three-and-out, three-and-out from an offense that had really been playing well, I was proud of that; but make no mistake, we play the game to win the game. We just didn’t make enough plays through the course of the game and toward the end of the game there were some situations where we’d create a turnover, we’d have a penalty, we’re in proximity to a few other balls and we just don’t make plays late in the game. That’s something that, I don’t know if you want to say it’s maturity, it’s just continuing to play the game. We’ve talked about that with turnovers, they come in bunches and you learn how and you find a way to win those games as you mature as a team. The thing that’s redeeming is that our guys compete, and I think anybody that plays against our players on defense, they’ll say our guys compete and they play hard and they play with a purpose, and I think that’s the foundation, building blocks. Then the other things come after that. Winning comes after that. That’s the truth. Making plays comes after that. In terms of year-end wrap up, we want to find a way to beat the Cowboys this week and finish the year on that note.
Q: Regardless of what (Cowboys Head Coach Jason Garrett) says the Cowboys are going to do with their personnel, is it harder for you to game plan not really knowing how they’re going to approach the game?
A: There’s a couple years ago that you can go back and look at maybe a case in point where they were in (playoffs) and their guys played for a while, then came out. Whether you look at that as the blueprint, you certainly look at some of the other guys you might face during the course of the game, but to start the game, we game plan for the guy that we expect to start the game, their starters, and some of the things we feel like we need to take away. It’s important for us to play well early and get a fast start defensively. We know the run game is a huge part of what they do, and some of the play action passes off of it, some of the boots, some of the perimeter stuff that’ll come off of the run game. No, to be honest with you, no. We’re just ready to go play the game. Whoever it is, we’re going to line up across from them and play the game.
Q: What’d you think of the rookies? Lorenzo (Carter) and then B.J. (Hill) played almost the whole game, there really wasn’t much of a rotation in the middle, you were kind of short-handed.
A: Both of those guys, they’re growing and there’s been parts of their game that has gotten better each and every week, and I think for young players and inexperienced players – whether you’re young in years or young in experience – it’s just finding a level of consistency in your play. Finding a way to each and every week, find a little piece of your game that you’ve got to improve, and I think that’s something in spurts that they’ve done. Hopefully that’s the foundation of what they have as they move into their second year for us, that they’ll be able to be more consistent with some of their, not work ethic, but the purposeful work that they need to improve each and every week.
Q: You talk about the building blocks a lot. Do you feel like they are in place here?
A: Yeah, I think being tough and playing hard are the cores of playing good defense in this league. Playing tough and playing hard. Then after that is execution in the moment, is those things that come with playing more snaps. Ball gets thrown to you, catch it. Ball on the ground, find a way to get it. Finishing tackles. Knocking guys back. Those two-yard gains that need to be zero, or the one-yard gains that need to be minus-two – those are the things that come after.
Q: Obviously in Arizona, you put in a defense, you built your defense schematically from the ground up, and then you got a certain point where I would imagine it was just, ‘here’s our defense, let’s go.’ When you look at from when you got here this spring until now, where is this defense in terms of the system you put in schematically, and do you feel like there’s something to bring into next season that you’ve built?
A: Yeah, I think the cores of the scheme are in place and I think each and every year what you do is dictated by who you have and what their strengths and weaknesses are. There’s no perfect scheme, there’s no scheme that you put players in. It goes just the opposite – you have players, and you put your scheme to your players. There will certainly be things that as we end the season, we actually get to sit down and really do a quality control look at what we did well and what we didn’t do well, and look at some of the things we want to carry over into next year. There’s going to be the core of what we do. Then there’s going to be once we go through player acquisition or keeping players on the roster, however that works out, you look at what those guys do well and kind of build the other pieces around that.
Q: When you go into an offseason, do you have to wait for Dave (Gettleman) to decide who he wants on the roster, or can you say, ‘keep this guy’. How does that work?
A: Number one, the personnel decisions start and stop with our ownership and Dave, and Coach (Shurmur). That’s the core of who makes our personnel decisions. We work at a great place where we do have a voice, where Dave comes to us (coaches) and asks us questions about guys, and we’re going to watch tape and we’re going to do evaluations, and you love to be able to be fortunate enough to be at a place where you’re part of the process. I love that about here, that we’re going to be involved in that, and that will be really the next phase when the season’s over.
Q: What do you see as the defense’s greatest need, personnel-wise?
A: To be honest with you, that’s something I couldn’t even 100 percent jump on the table and answer right now. I think that would be a thing as we sit down after the season and evaluate everything fully, otherwise I’m going to shoot from the hip and shoot from something that, ‘hey, this flashes as a need or that flashes as a need’. But to make good judgement, sound statements, I wouldn’t be able to give you a great statement other than shooting from the hip. I don’t want to do that.
Q: How challenging has this season been for you? You had a top 10 defense every year you were coordinator in Arizona, not going to finish there this year. What’s it been like for you, this whole experience here?
A: Number one, I want to win – whether you’re top 20, top 10, to me, that’s secondary. I want to win. Just like our players that we have in our building, just like Coach Shurmur, just like our ownership, just like our fans, I’m a competitor. I want to win, and whatever it takes to win by any means necessary to get the job done. That’s first and foremost. Then secondly, you want to play defense that contributes to winning. I think there are certainly points in time of the year where we felt that way, and there’s certainly points in the time of the year where that didn’t get done. We certainly have to go look at those things and find a way to be part of the solution and part of the other side of that more often than not.