Defensive Coordinator James Bettcher -- October 3, 2019
Opening Statement: Coming off of, obviously to date, our best performance on defense, the message does not change. It is staying focused in meetings, it is working on individual, fundamental skill improvement. We did the same thing we did after the week before. We went in the room and we identified things that guys need to work on and guys need to improve on. Very specific, very detailed and Iíve said this all along with this group, this group loves to work. They do not run away from a challenge and they do not run away from work and I love that about them. Itís similar to if you go out and try to chop a tree down and you just swing the axe as hard as you can, you are going to waste a lot of movement and youíre going to take a lot of chunks out of the tree and itís going to take forever to chop it down. The analogy for our players is, we can work really hard, but we have work the right way and the right way being a very detailed and focused (approach) on whatever those improvements are. We are going to swing the axe the right way and we are going to swing the hell out of it, but we are going to swing it the right way. Thatís been how weíve worked the last few weeks leading up to this week and thatís how we are going to work this week. We have a great challenge this week, some really talented skill players, tight end, talented back. A team that, as weíve seen, can run the heck out of the football. They will play action and boot you. I think our guys have built two really good days and our guys are anxious to go have a good meeting and finish the day.
Q: Last week Jackrabbit said one of the changes you guys made was instead of him following a receiver, he stayed on one side and Baker stayed on one side. What went into that and what does that say about Jackrabbit? He takes a lot of pride in being that number one guy and he was willing to change how he plays?
A: I think Jack went into the week with the same mentality that our other guys have, find some things you need to improve on and letís go work to fix them. I think I said last week, thatís on me as a coordinator, thatís on the position coaches to identify those things and put our players in position to improve them. Then itís on our players to maintain a focused presence when theyíre in individual working on, if itís back pedal, if itís eye discipline at the top of routes, if itís not getting your shoulders turned, if itís three technique pad level if we are talking about a different guy. I told you all along he has been competing, he practices his butt off and we just need to continue to work in a way that every player, whether you are year one or year nine or year twelve, we are working to get better.
Q: Is Dexter where you thought he would be four games into the season, is his improvement because he has played four games or is it something else?
A: One, I think he is like the other guys, heís very detailed in his work, heís very focused in his work. I think there is a couple things we challenged him on that he needed to improve and get better at and you see him working in individual, staying after a little bit, out at practice early. During special teams period, you will see him working on some of those things and heís made it a point to improve in what those areas were. The second piece of that is I think any young player, the more they play, the better they get. Whether thatís the speed of the game at this level, the size of the players, the athleticism of offensive linemen overall in this league. The reality is, itís very different, on a consistent basis, itís very different than college.
Q: Do you see the size and strength that you guys were so taken with showing through now?
A: Yeah, I think in the last couple of weeks youíve seen him have some knock backs and snap some heads, separate on some people and for him, itís just continuing to work some very specific things that he needs to get better at now. Then first things first, when we get better at those things, so now whatís next.
Q: You kind of alluded to things that a rookie needs to get used to when he is thrown in there playing immediately. Four games in, do you view these young guys as they should be past that or does it take more time?
A: I think that, one, itís by position. I think sometimes interior defensive linemen versus guys that play further away from the ball that have maybe more things going on, a motion, all of the sudden a split, my eyes, fits in the run game, from off versus press. Some of those things, it takes a little, I donít want to say it takes longer, but there is a little more to it from that standpoint. All young players just need reps, sometimes that goes into year two. I think weíve all seen guys that in their third year in the league they break out. Why is that? Because they have developed. They understand things and the game slows down for them, or their fundamentals and techniques get better. It takes some players longer than others. That doesnít mean that a player is a bust, that just means the guys needs to develop. I think every player is going to be a little bit different as young players.
Q: It looked like you finished the game with Jabrill playing a little linebacker, is that something viable going forward with the injuries at that position?
A: Thatís what I love about him, we all know he is highly versatile. I think he is going to be a really outstanding safety in the National Football League, the more he plays the position. We just have to manage when those moments are he can go fill some of those other roles. Whether itís matching up on tight ends or backs, blitzing, doing some of that stuff. Itís just having a good balance, and he is certainly willing to do anything he is asked to do.
Q: What do you like about that package when itís one defensive lineman, three edge rushers and a couple extra safeties?
A: I think that just goes back to the history of kind of what I believe in, thereís certain moments in the game where you want speed on the field. You want guys that can tackle in space, that can cover. Also, whether itís a pressure scheme or something, those are guys that they are coming at the ball pretty fast, making offensive linemen or guys that are in protection make decisions. Some of that goes into that, and then at the end of the day, you are trying to find roles for guys that deserve to be on the field.
Q: What has been the biggest improvement you have seen out of DeAndre Baker the past two weeks?
A: All of it, for me, goes back to finding what the small areas of improvement are. Then we continue just to focus on them. The question was already asked of young players, when do they not become young players. I think there are second year players, third year players, weíre defining what they need to get better at. The great thing about it is our players are taking ownership of that and you see it in individual. Yesterday in practice and also one day last week, specifically in practice, I was able to tag out a couple plays in individual where we are working a specific fundamental for a specific position. If you can go tag a play from a team period in practice and you see that fundamental show up and I can show the players and our players are aware, then thatís purposeful work and thatís how you improve and thatís how you stack and get better. Thatís a joint thing, thatís coaching and thatís on the players as well and thatís us working together. Thatís what we are tying to continue to do, we have a ways to go and we just have to keep working and keep building.
Q: Where are you with the inside linebacker position?
A: I think David (Mayo) came in and I will give him some props because he came in and he played very fast. For a guy thatís only been with us for really a week and half to two weeks at the time, he played very fast at the position. Made some plays that really stood out on tape when we watched it as a complete defense together. He earned a lot of respect from his teammates. After that, some of the plan will reveal itself on Sunday of who will be in what role and who will play where. I think all of those guys, they are working really hard, but I was really pleased with how David played.