Defensive Coordinator James Bettcher -- June 5, 2019
Opening Statement: Coming off really, you can say it has been six OTA practices, two mini camp practices or you could say we have been working really seven, eight weeks with this group of guys. However you look at it and slice it up, the thing that has been, for me, really redeeming of all the things is the classroom work. It has been really great for us. Everyone wants to talk about on the field, but the truth is, we are not in pads right now. A lot of that is going to be determined when we put pads on and things start happening live, fast and physical. The things that are going on in the classroom, those are all the building blocks. That is where you address the fundamentals where guys need to improve. That is where you address effort, execution, being on the same page, communication, whatever that might be. That is where all those building blocks happen. I love how this group meets. It might be a crazy thing for you to hear, but I love how they meet. Guys ask questions and are highly engaged. They are not just talking about scheme, but they are talking about what the opponent is going to do to the scheme. We are having some of those conversations right now, which is really important to build those blocks now as we head into the summer and into training camp. Really excited about that. I think these last two days of mini camp have been really competitive. Guys have been jawing, but it has been great conversation. Guys have been challenging each other to get better. I am not talking about offense and defense, I am talking about on the defensive side of the ball. Anything that is coach driven is not going to be nearly as successful as things that are player driven. Our guys are driving it right now. They are the driving force of the work and the driving force of ownership. They are the driving force of accountability on defense and, to me, that is another part that has been exciting. Other than that, we have one more tomorrow and then a week next week of four days. We have to stack good meetings and good practices. When we get back and put pads on, we will really see where we are at.
Q: Are the meetings and the attention to that a product of the youth and trying to soak it all in?
A: I think it is a product of a great mesh of young and old. Wise, smart guys that mesh really well. For the guys that are returning, this is the second year in the system, so it is not really just what to do, it is how to do it. It is young guys asking good questions, coming prepared and being challenged in their position rooms by their coaches to know more than just A, B and C and move past that. That was an emphasis for us as a staff as we went along. We really wanted to push things as much as we could. We knew we were going to have some younger players on the field. We need those guys when they come out of this phase of the season, they need to be further ahead than maybe a year ago or at other places that I have been. I think it is a good combination of both.
Q: Impressions of the young guys up front?
A: They are working extremely hard and doing everything they are asked to do. Very aware of things they need to improve on. I think I said it before, we are really big on writing prescriptions for our players. The thing they individually need to improve on, we include our players in those conversations as well. We need to be on the same page position coach to player. That group is one of the epitomes to that. When you talk about two or three of those guys that are young but not young anymore, they are veteran players. B.J. is a veteran player now. He played a full season and he started games, he is a veteran player now. Those guys are really aware. For D-linemen and front guys, individual fundamentals and techniques are really what you can work on during this phase then just knowing why you are doing what you are doing. The action of it, there is nothing like putting pads on and getting pad on to pad.
Q: Do you think you can be more interchangeable upfront?
A: I think you have to be the way the league is now. I think there is enough motions, adjustments and offensive guys are good enough now. For the most part, they are not going to let a nose just sit there and play nose the whole game. They are going to make him slide and extend the play on guards and edges of guards. They are going to motion and do enough to have to be interchangeable enough to defend what we see from an offensive standpoint. Number two, I think they all have enough position flex to do that. We want guys to have the flexibility to play up and down the line. A really good NFL defensive line room has a great rotation. The four, five and six hole spots, whoever those guys are, gaining reps, 15 snaps, 12 snaps, 20 snaps depending on the game, those are important snaps just like the other snaps.
Q: Progress from Lorenzo Carter?
A: He is rushing with a plan. When you see him rush, a year ago he was trying to get off the ball as quick as he could and use his hands when he could. Now, you see a guy that is aware of how he wants to rush, aware of techniques that he wants to rush with. Guys that get in there as pass rushers, I have been in there and have coached them before personally, you see their best growth in the two and three years. You start to figure out what they are as rushers. Whether you are Chandler Jones and a really bloody rusher or a speed counter guy. He is really starting to figure that out. He is building his pass rush toolbox right now. The second thing, he is practicing as hard as anyone on the field right now. He is running around and has been a great example that we have been able to show defensively of just straining and effort, finish.
Q: Are you confident you will have a pass rush that is good enough to help your back end?
A: I do. I believe we can and that will reveal itself when we get to training camp. When we get pads on and things start happening live and there are 50-50 downs. Everyone wants to rush well on third down. It is all those 50-50 downs that are 50 percent run, 50 percent pass. That makes up the larger portions of the game. That is when you have to find out how good guys are as rushers. You wonít know that until you put pads on. It is run one snap, then it is the play-action pass. The ability to disrupt the pocket on those downs will be important.
Q: DeAndre Baker?
A: Like all those young guys, he is working and coming with good questions. Him, Grant and Beal, all those guys are competing their butts off to be the guy opposite Jack.
Q: Alec Ogletree?
A: This is his second year in the system. You get a guy like AB (Antoine Bethea) who has been in the system before who really can get in the conversations of how we are doing it and what we should expect in certain coverages, that is where Tree is at now. He is in his second year. He is really working on his core fundamentals, but the other side of it, how are we going to attack this coverage? Where is the soft spot in coverage and how can we defend it? I think that is really what happens when guys come into the second year.
Q: Are you managing Markus Goldenís workload?
A: With anyone that has been injured, you find when you push him, pull him back and push him. At the end of the day, all of us are shooting for training camp and everyone being ready to go. That is not to say he is not 100 percent today, but we want all of our guys ready to go when we go to training camp.