Defensive Coordinator James Bettcher -- September 19, 2019
Opening Statement: Good afternoon. Just looking back on the game, I think thereísÖ Each and every week, whether you play well overall, whether you play well in spurts, whether you play poor, whether you play poor overall, the process remains the same. You identify and you work to correct. Each day, we do the same thing. Our players, theyíve been unbelievable about this core point about having very, very intentional work. We treat it like a prescription. We write down the things that each player needs to get better at and we go attack those things. We donít try to attack 20 things. We look at two, three things, whatever it is for that player and we work intentionally to correct those things. The takeaway from the game is I love how we played in the second half. I loved the energy, I loved the way we challenged. Coming out of the second quarter, the two-minute drive, I think that kind of carried a little bit into the locker room. That kind of got us going. We had a couple of good conversations in there and our players played better. We just need to be able to take the first three plays of the game where we played really well, we had a three and out and we need to get that to carry over into the next drive. Then we need to get the first quarter to carry into the second. We need to go into half in a different situation than being down two to three scores defensively. We had really good prep, really good meetings, and I expect us to keep improving and play better this weekend.
Q: Quarterbacks have a perfect quarterback rating against DeAndre (Baker), and against Janoris (Jenkins), their quarterback rating is around 95. How do you get those guys some help, or what do you do there to try to get better at the back end?
A: As a coordinator, you change up the windows when you have the opportunity to. In some situations, call for tighter coverage than other situations. We need to help ourselves be in better on third downs. We need to help ourselves be in better second downs by playing better on first down. Thatís something that we talked about coming out of the game and coming out of the first week as well. I think thatís what leads to being able to put those guys in some calls that might help them a little bit. Not that youíre looking saying ĎI need to help them,í but just so theyíre not locked on people. Then just execution of the small things. So, some are the calls and we just have to execute on the small things. That might be how you play a cut split. That might be your footwork. That might be your eyes. Those small things that weíre talking about earlier, those prescriptions, thatís what weíve identified with our players.
Q: To follow up on that, we heard a lot when you guys drafted DeAndre about tight, man-to-man coverage. Even during OTAs, he wasnít able to play to his strength because he couldnít bump and run. It seemed like in the first half, he was playing seven, 10 yards off receivers. Is that game plan specific or is he not ready to play that kind of tight coverage yet?
A: I think as the game went on, you saw him probably challenge people more. I think thatís what he does best. He has to just believe in what he does best and go do it. At the same time, position coaches in the room, myself as the coordinator, we have to challenge him to go do the things that he does best as well.
Q: Is it psychological? Is it a confidence thing right now for him?
A: I think as a young player in this league, whether youíre a first, second, some third-year players as well, thereís certainly a confidence thing. But itís knowing when to do what. Third and three is different than third and eight. Cut split is different than a wide split. You have to be able to do that in the National Football League. You have to have some of that recognition. Some of that is just experience and some of it is confidence. Some of it is experience and using the techniques and tools that you have at your disposal to go be able to play on whatever those situational downs are.
Q: Janoris was pretty critical after the game. He said that he canít cover guys for 10 seconds on his own, critical of the pass rush. Whatís your reaction when you hear guys kind of finger pointing like that in public, and how do you fix the pass rush to help those guys?
A: Thatís not indicative of Jack, number one. This guy has worked his tail off. He cares, heís committed. Again, heís worked his butt off. I think that was highly taken out of context. I donít think for one minute he was pointing the finger at anyone else. He wants to win and he wants to play better. Again, thatís not a comment thatís indicative of anything about that man and his preparation. We need to coach better, we need to cover better and we have to rush better.
Q: Did you have to address that in the room at all though between the defensive backs and the defensive linemen?
A: We always talk about everything. We have a great room where we can close the door and have conversations about real important things, the critical things, whether itís that comment or anything else. Weíre always going to be honest. Weíre always going to be very direct. Thatís how weíre going to coach and thatís how our players are going to play and our guys respond.
Q: Obviously, you guys want to perform well as a defense every week, but with you guys starting Daniel (Jones) this week, do you feel more of an onus as a defense to kind of help him out a little bit?
A: Every week. It doesnít matter who the quarterback is, we want to be part of the solution, not part of the problem. Thatís how I look at it. Period.
Q: Is there some validity to what Jackrabbit said in terms of the pass rush?
A: Again, we need to cover better, we need to rush better and we need to coach better.
Q: Corey Ballentine had a pretty decent preseason. He didnít play a snap last week. Whatís his progress, and do you plan on getting him in (Sunday)?
A: Each and every week, I wonít talk about the plan to play guys. Thatíll reveal itself on Sunday. I respect the question, but that will reveal itself on Sundays. But (Corey is) another young guy thatís still learning. Learning how to play, learning when he can do things and improving his skillset. Heís been very intentional with his work and heís progressing. All of those guys, each and every week, we evaluate every snap of practice. They evaluate every snap of their practice. We watch every snap, and they are accountable to watch every snap of their individual practice tape and of their team drills. Itís a competition, each and every week.
Q: The numbers would say that nine touchdowns through two games, you guys have not played very well at all as a defense. How would you assess how you guys have played as a defense, because you see it beyond the numbers?
A: I see spurts of the game where weíre playing good football and I see spurts of the game thatís costing us as a team to be in some bad situations.
Q: Going up against Bruce Arians, with the familiarity there, do you think of things going into this weekend a little differently? Because from the outside in, he would know your defense extremely well and maybe even vice versa for their offense.
A: Sure. They practiced against a similar scheme during training camp and OTAs with Todd (Bowles) being the coordinator there. Itís certainly not me versus him. Heís someone I respect more than I can probably put into words. Personally, Iím very close with him and his wife Chris and their family (is close) with my family. I owe him a ton. I do. Again, I couldnít put it into words. But this isnít about him or me and all that stuff. Itís about us lining up, having our eyes right, playing with good fundamentals and techniques, communicating on downs and playing fast.
Q: Schematically though? I mean, you know them very well. I would assume he knows what youíre going to try to do very well. Is it a chess match?
A: For me, again, itís about getting good alignments and getting in good eyes. Iím not trying to not answer your question, but thatís how I look at it. Thatís truly how I look at it.
Q: Jabrill (Peppers) is a young guy, but heís not a rookie. Heís in his third year. You guys were expecting big things from him. We havenít really seen the difference-making plays from him yet. How much more do you need from him?
A: I wouldnít put it on one guy. Period. Our next step to become a better defense is not on one guy. Do we want Jabrill to play better? Probably not as much as Jabrill wants to play better. Probably not as much as AB (Antoine Bethea) wants to play better. Probably not as much as I want to coach better. Itís on all of us. Heck, I want to put him in the best position possible so he can be disruptive and can make plays. Then whatever it is, when weíre in those situations, if you have an opportunity to make a play, we have to make them. Thatís how weíll play better.
Q: What did you think of your inside linebacker combination? You made a change putting (Ryan) Connelly in.
A: I thought Ryan did some really nice things in the game. There are certainly things to clean up and keep growing and improving on. Iím encouraged with where heís at, but more importantly, the direction heís heading in.