Defensive Line Coach Gary Emanuel -- July 28, 2019
Q: Can you tell us what you’ve seen from the young guys? RJ McIntosh, Dexter Lawrence II, B.J. Hill … the progress they’ve made?
A: Well, all the young guys are working extremely hard, they all are learning their NFL game. A couple of the guys that have experience of playing last year are a little bit ahead of the guys just coming in and learning their NFL game. So they're all working extremely hard and trying to improve in all areas.
Q: In terms of (RJ) McIntosh, he got a late start last year. Has he really taken a big leap forward in your mind?
A: Well anytime you have a chance to have a whole offseason, it helps you take a leap forward, so yes he has improved.
Q: Where have you specifically seen the biggest jump from him?
A: Just overall, his footwork, his technique, his hand and his eyes and feet, just things you look for in a defensive lineman.
Q: With Dexter Lawrence, how is he doing as far as coming in and working?
A: Dexter is a great physical specimen, he has some great tools to work with, so his size helps him tremendously. He's a good student of the game, he plays extremely hard, he loves football, he's a great young man. But he's improved in all the areas. He's getting better technique. For all players, particularly in the defensive line area, the biggest difference is playing with some technique because all the guys in this league are big and strong and the player with the best technique usually wins the game, and Dexter is improving his technique.
Q: Did you watch him in college, when he played at Clemson?
A: Obviously I watched him a lot because we drafted him, so yeah. Yeah, I watched him a lot in college.
Q: What did you notice about him when he played in college that stood out to you?
A: He has ability to play against the run and the pass. He has a passion for the game, he can play with some technique, he's more athletic than you think for a big guy his size, and he's just a smart football player. Being down there for the pro day, I'm spending time down there with him and people have gotten to really love him at Clemson, and we can see why and you guys will learn why.
Q: Are you guys asking him to do some things that he wasn't doing? Wasn't he more of a nose tackle at Clemson or a middle of the line kind of guy?
A: My standard answer is going to be as a defensive lineman who played in a bunch of different spots, whether he was playing nose guard, playing three technique, playing five technique, a little defensive end, so he played all over the line in terms of down there at Clemson as well. So we're just asking him to play defensive line.
Q I think (James) Bettcher said back in Spring that what he likes about the three young guys that you have running with the first team, Dexter, Dalvin (Tomlinson) and B.J. (Hill) is they can play every position. Do you like that about this group and does that give you things you can do with them collectively?
A: I think as a defensive line coach and as a coach in general, you want guys to have the versatility to play a number of positions and these guys are certainly able to do that. We really like that a lot. Sometimes they can line up and play nose tackle, they can play the 3-technique, they can play defensive end within this series or for a series. So that gives them a great opportunity to exploit some matchups that we might have and it just helps them where offenses can't say this guy's only playing this. It creates some problems for the offense.
Q: So you can see a situation where you're in a series and those three guys from play to play could be in different spots depending on what you see on the other side of the ball?
A: We'll see how it goes, but there's a possibility of that, that can happen
Q: Are there different skillsets that the defensive lineman needs when he plays further away from the ball?
A:Yes, you know probably the further you are away from the ball, probably the more athletic you need to be because things is a lot more spaced and the closer you are to the ball, there's probably more of a physical game where you can see different blocks and, as you know, in the interior you're probably getting a little bit more double-teamed, a little bit more scoop blocking schemes like that. Whereas when you're playing the edge of the defense, you might only get a reach block inside.
Q: We understand that the outside linebackers do a lot of the pressure in the 3-4 defense but can those three guys (B.J.) Hill, (Dexter) Lawrence, (Dalvin) Tomlinson get enough pressure on the quarterback. Dalvin has one sack in two years. B.J., most of his sacks came in one game last year. Can your three starters up front get enough pressure on the quarterback?
A: Well, we certainly hope so. It all works together. People get hung up on numbers of sacks and stuff like that, but things happen because the interior guys force them to step out. The outside guys force them to step up, so they all work together, so we're hoping that we can get some good pressure in the pocket. Sometimes you might not have to sack the quarterback if we get him off the spot and make him move his feet and hold the ball a little bit longer, that helps out tremendously.
Q: As a defense, one of the things that you guys had problems doing last year was finishing games, how much has that been an emphasis on you guys for this year?
A: It's been a big emphasis for the whole team, so it's not only the defense. It's everybody, the offense, the defense, the special teams, everybody's doing things. It's all we talk about is finishing and making sure we finish the play, we finish the drive, finish the quarter, finish the game, so that's a big emphasis all the way around.
Q: One of the veteran guys that came in here is Olsen Pierre, what does he bring?
A: OP, as we call him. Olsen Pierre obviously has some experience in the defense, in the scheme he played out there with Bettch (James Bettcher) in Arizona for four years, so he has a lot of knowledge of the defense. He has a skillset that gives a lot of versatility where he can play anywhere on the line the scrimmage. He does well against the run and he has some pass rush abilities, so we’re expecting some really good things out of OP.
Q: What about Chris Slayton, 7th round pick, I don't think anybody has heard much about him. Can he play a role depth-wise for the defense?
A: We certainly hope so. We think Chris is, as all the young players are, they’re looking to improve and work their technique and continue to get better week in and week out and day in and day out. Chris has the ability and has some skill, so he can do some good things and hopefully we're expecting some good things out of Chris.