Defensive Coordinator James Bettcher -- May 9, 2019
Opening Statement: Iím excited. You have to speak about where we are at right now. Right now, we are into phase two of the offseason program and I am excited to get to work every day. You come in and there is young guys and a great mix of veteran players in meeting rooms. These guys have been just outstanding through phase one and phase two. Meetings, on the field, the work that we can get in. It is a voluntary time.
I think it speaks a lot to the attentiveness, but more importantly, we use the phrase in our meeting room to be where your feet are. It is so important that we are not just here working. Everyone is working. It is what we are doing and when we are doing it. I have a lot of excitement when I come to work with how this group is working. The how they are doing the what. The how to the what. It has been really fun these last few weeks. We are going to continue to stack days, meetings and individual periods. We will add them all up when we go play someone this fall and see where we are at this first week. You come into this phase coming out of the acquisition phase. I am sure there will be some questions in regards to that. We go through the free agent process and I donít think it is ever through true intent that we were able to sign two Arizona guys. We have a chance to add Antoine Bethea, a guy who is one of the highest character players I have ever been around, smart, intelligent and an unbelievable leader. As you have an opportunity to wrap your hands around him and embrace him a little bit, you will see what I am talking about with him. I was talking to him the other day and I was joking with him telling him that as time goes on, I get more gray hair. As time goes on, he gets younger. That is just when you see his play, that is what it has been. The years in the league have progressed for him. He has played fast and played young. That what impresses me about him.
We had a chance to get Markus Golden in here and Markus unfortunately somewhere around 18ish months ago had a pretty significant knee injury. Donít ever forget that before that he was one of the best pass rushers in this league. People had to plan for him. I know that because I was one of the guys calling the plays for him on defense. I saw what he was able to do when he was healthy and running around. I love how he is moving right now and I love his work. He is a guy that is going to play exceptionally hard. As I sat here a year ago and talked to you about one of the identifying qualities we needed our defense to look like was it took relentless, work relentless and play relentless. I think that is probably the epitome of Markus.
Through trades and other things that happen, you get other players, including Jabrill Peppers. Jabrill is a highly talented and ascending player in this league. A guy that has the flexibility to play strong safety and could come down in the box and play some money. He is a really talented blitzer and when you watched his tape in Cleveland, you saw all the different roles he played. You saw snaps where he plays nickel, high in the middle of the field, high and outside, where he plays down low. A guy that has a lot of versatility. A guy that when he learns this system, he is going to have a lot of fun playing in this system. You start stacking up those guys and you get into the draft. When we talk about the draft, the question probably will be and is about six. I am really excited about the guy we brought in at six. If you want to ask me if I would have love to have Josh Allen or Ed Oliver, I think if you lined up 32 coordinators and however many hundreds of defensive coordinators there are that have ever coordinated and said hey, you get picks one through five in the draft and you get to draft anyone that you want, I have a feeling they would take all defensive players. You canít talk about team and not be about team. You canít talk about building culture and not be about that. You canít preach to your players as a coach and not be about that life, right? Whoever we have, we are excited to have. That is not a company line, it is personal opinion.
Look at the two guys that we were fortunate to get. One of the biggest humans that I have ever seen, moves as quick as he can move. A 330-pound guy that is going to come in and compete, help us be the type of run defense that we want to be. Also, donít forget the guy ran about five flat at 345 pounds. That does not happen very often. A lot of people got to see him move at rookie minicamp. We are excited to have him. Then, Dave and our ownership, they work a deal and get us back in the first round and get a corner in DeAndre. The thing I would say about Baker is that he played in a very, very tough league. We all know how long it was before he gave up a touchdown pass. He competed and covered some of the best players that have come out of that league on offense. His tape speaks for itself. One of the best, if not the best, tackling corner in the draft, period. Excited to have him. He did an outstanding job at camp this past week.
You start there and then you go through the steps. Those are the guys that we brought in. We brought in ascending, young, talented players to add to the mix of guys that we have here. At this point in time, once you get past the draft guys and go into year two, no one is a rookie anymore. There are two jobs at hand. The number one job as a coach is to get your players better. That is my job and our position coachesí jobs, get guys better. Number two, you are not a young player anymore and you still need to get better so our players have a job, they need to come to work and work every day. We are going to have that mindset. We are going to back that mindset as a defense day after day and that is how we are going to continue to build something special on defense.
Q: When you look at this defense and see the new faces, what can this defense be if it all fits in the way you want it to?
A: I am hoping it can be an aggressive, attacking defense that dictates. As I look at where it is at today and moving to tomorrow, I believe that is what it can be.
Q: Can it be better than last year? You donít have Landon, Vernon or Snacks.
A: All those guys, I love them, I do. Those guys know that. Part of the NFL is that sometimes guys move on. We all know that. I wish those guys the best except for when they are playing us. The truth is that OV did not have a resume until he built it. Lorenzo Carter has to build his resume, Markus Golden has to continue building his resume. That is the only way that happens. OV was not just day one, came into the league and was a dynamic pass rusher, he had to build that. The only way the guys get a chance to do that is on the field getting snaps. Getting their butt coached off and taking it.
Q: Janoris is kind of the elder statesman in the secondary. As a coordinator, what is it that he can pass on and teach these kids?
A: That is a great question and Iíll say this from coach Shurmur: Hope is not a strategy. Iíll say that because this: as I have watched through phase two work, Janoris has been not great but unbelievable with our young guys. He has had great, teachable moments where as a coach you just have to let it go. You are starting to go coach the young guys and he is already on it. I see the ownership in year two that he is starting to take with those guys. It is outstanding and it is going to help us be a better defense and not just those guys be better players themselves.
Q: Where does Dexter fit in on the defensive line?
A: He is going to come in, compete and try and be a starter. We have a young room with some flexible players. A year ago when Snacks left and Dalvin was playing a little more nose, we ended up really at times playing some right and left with B.J. One was a three technique and one was a nose in our sub stuff. All those guys have had the flexibility and they do have the flexibility to play three. It will be competing each week to see who gets the most snaps, who will be the starter in different packages. I love that part about it. You go sit in that room and they are sitting in there watching some tape from our phase two work the other day, they care about each other. You can sense that in the room. That is exciting because they donít just want their success but they want success for us. There is going to be something different because of that.
Q: What was your experience like on draft night? Were you in a position to argue for a defensive player?
A: First thing is, Dave Gettleman does a great job, and this does not happen everywhere, but through the process, he wants to hear your opinion. He cares about what coachesí opinions are. He wants to hear about how you are going to use guys. Those decisions in terms of hearing my voice, that is not a draft night. We have had those conversations and meetings to set it up. You know that when you get to draft night because you have been through it before, you know that whoever we pick, he is our guy, whether he is an offensive guy or defensive guy. The emotion gets taken out of it at that point in time. You have had the conversations and given your opinion on the player, the individual player as we would talk about them. The emotion gets taken out of it. There is great communication and it is clear communication.
Q: You knew when the sixth pick came up that you werenít getting a defensive guy?
A: At any pick as they come, you donít sit there and say I know I am not getting this guy and I am getting this guy. You know the conversations that you have had, so you are good with it. You have had the opportunity to have the conversations and that is what is great about here.
Q: First impressions on Jones?
A: A guy that was very decisive on where he wanted to go with the ball. He took great command. Things get hairy on defense in minicamp because guys are still learning, so there were defensive looks that he was getting that arenít real defensive looks. There is that because guys are learning things. You never saw the guy get flustered. You saw him handle everything with poise. I have been some places and have seen some good quarterbacks between Indy and Arizona. You see a guy that is in that mold.
Q: Where do Chandler and Haley fit right now?
A: Right now, Sean is working with the safeties and Grant is working with the nickels and corners in terms of positions. That is one of the unique things in terms of where we are at. There is a lot of competition in a lot of rooms. There is more competition in more rooms than there was a year ago. That is a good thing. Competition brings success. As you donít have it, some guys might not be crossing their Tís or dotting their Iís the way we need them done. The nickel spot is going to have a lot of competition. The corner spot, obviously, will have great competition. At each of those levels, we can go through it and there will be competition. That is what is unique coming out this offseason even through training camp, as opposed to last year.
Q: Is Love a guy that you have to determine where to fit him in during training camp or is he one of those guys that you can bounce around?
A: Initially, you will get him in and teach him a spot. Early on, it is a really good opportunity for us to get a look at him at a few different places and see maybe where we feel his natural fit is as we move forward. Naturally, he is a nickel. What is the second position, is he a safety or a corner? Time tells with that and more reps tell us that. You have to be smart and pretty intelligent like he is to be able to handle that.
Q: What does the competition say in terms of the talent level in terms of building now compared to last year?
A: I donít know if it speaks to talent level, I just think it speaks to competition. I donít know if that means you are super talented or not talented or the reason you have competition is because you are not talented or vice versa. I donít think it has anything to do with that. I donít think that is a narrative at all. I think that is a great thing, not a good thing.
Q: Do you see Peppers as a Collins-like player that does not come off the field often? What was your sense of him?
A: My evaluation is two things. I flew from Arizona to Michigan and spent a bunch of time with him when he was coming out. I thought he was a dynamic kid and the people that were around him loved him. I got multiple texts from coaches that worked with him in Cleveland and it was not something I asked for, this was after we traded for him and they said that we were going to love him. He is going to work exceptionally hard and is going to be about what it is supposed to be about. You see him out here, we are doing stuff against the air and he is moving, sliding and running around. He is in a stance and sometimes you want to be like, slow down, this is on air. He is exciting.
Q: Is Sam Beal full go?
A: Yes. We are in phase two so if he had pads on, I donít know where he would be, but he has done everything here at phase two at this point.
Q: X-man and Connelly?
A: X-man coming off the tape, I loved the way he played. Saw a guy that could flip and had athleticism to move in space. If you are picking a prototypical outside linebacker, he has some of both of those skills. He has the rush skills and has skills in his hips to open, change in space and change who the rusher is. Connelly is really smart. It is funny because today I was showing a cut-up to the vets and you try not to do that. You try not to show a rookie to the vets too early, but I was showing the cut-up to the vets. This is a guy from the rookie minicamp and it was a concept and a route and he played it exactly the right way. It was a great example. Smart and tough.