Assistant Head Coach/Defensive Coordinator Patrick Graham
October 8, 2020
Q: As a defensive coordinator, how much do you enjoy the chess game of trying to outsmart the offensive coordinator on the other side? Obviously, you guys are changing things up week to week and I’m sure that’s hard to prepare for. How much do you enjoy that aspect of being a play caller?
A: I enjoy the competitive part of it. I don’t know about outsmart. If that was the case, I would lose every time. These guys are a lot smarter than me. I enjoy the competitive nature of the job. Trying to prepare and compete against another team, again there is only 32 of these teams. You’re dealing with some real elite people in those positions. The thing I enjoy the most in my job is figuring out ways to put our players in the best position to really try to highlight their talents and what they do well. That’s the thing I enjoy the most. That and the relationships you build with the players. It all comes back to our guys and the players. Again, it’s not me outwitting anybody, it’s our guys outplaying the other team. Obviously, we have a ways to go with that, we have to do a better job. If anything, I can screw it up as opposed to having anything to do with it being successful.
Q: What has Tae Crowder shown you that you have been confident enough to put him on the field like you did last week?
A: Any young player you have and just how we see the process here as we work through it with the players, everything is a process. The thing that shows up first for me is his diligence in terms of his work ethic off the field. I go to get breakfast and he was here when I was here this morning. I’m sitting here like, what are you doing here? You start seeing stuff like that, that means he’s dialed in, locked in, trying to get his body right, his mind right to practice. I think the thing that shows up with him, he’s instinctual, good football player, comes from a good background of football. He’s just been really working hard. He’s a rookie, he doesn’t know what he doesn’t know. He’s trying his best to improve every day.
Q: How early was breakfast if you don’t mind me asking?
A: I can’t tell you that. I don’t want to say anything. It’s always early, we’re football coaches.
Q: I know last week you said, talking about the secondary and some of the young guys, it wasn’t a matter of them not trusting you. It was almost like once they could actually see what you were trying to do defensively, it would almost click for them. It would almost be like, “now we get it.” Do you give them a blueprint to see how to get it?
A: Here’s the bottom line really moving forward with Dallas, last week we didn’t win, we didn’t do enough to win. To me, that’s not the best blueprint. I think in terms of them understanding exactly what I want to get done, it comes back to me and trying to explain it better. I think I talked about that last week. I really took a look back at myself and evaluated the first three weeks and said how I can I teach this better. No different than last week, I’m trying to figure out how I can teach it better this week. How to get the information to them. I think, as always, if they have some success and it’s something that you told them and kind of pointed them in the right direction, that builds trust naturally. I’m just looking to try to build that naturally with those guys. I don’t know if there is a blueprint. Every week is so different. Dallas, we’re dealing with another top notch offense. They score ten billion points a game I think or something like that and about 30 billion yards a game. We have a challenge right there and then they have great players. From the O-line to the skill players, starting with the quarterback. The coordinator, this guy is calling it at a high level. On top of that, you have Coach McCarthy, who in my opinion is one of the best offensive minds in the league from my time here in the NFL. I have a lot of respect for him. We have a daunting task in front of us. Whatever blueprint we had the last three weeks, we have to have a different blueprint right now. We’re going to go out there and practice today and try to convey to the guys what we need to do and what we need to take away from them. Highlight what we do well and see how it goes on Sunday. I’m not dismissing the question, we have to get a win. Right now, we are going to start with trying to win today.
Q: You mentioned McCarthy, as a quick follow up, you spent one year with him. Do you need to be careful about some of the things because of his familiarity with you?
A: Each team is different, each year is different. I have a lot of respect for him. He knows my personality and he’s going to watch the tape just like we’re going to watch the tape. I don’t think you have to be careful or anything like that. You have to be careful because of those players over there, yes. You have to be very careful. Any one play can be a touchdown with those guys.
Q: Speaking of getting there early, Logan Ryan was saying that him and Daniel Jones are the first two in the building every day. What has Logan brought to you guys in terms of leadership? What do you expect from him in his role moving forward from here?
A: The thing that stands out to me about Logan, and I have always loved this about Logan, he is a very consistent player. He has a very consistent attitude and approach to the game. He’s there early, he’s working hard, he’s asking the right questions. He’s going to ask the questions that maybe somebody else didn’t want to ask. He’s been like that the whole time I have known him. From the days in New England to now. He makes you a better coach because he asks the right questions. He wants to know about the situations and sometimes he makes you think about it and you’re like, ‘you know what, I might have forgotten that and I need to hit that point.’ It’s our responsibility to be on top of everything. It’s those unique players that make you good as a coach. He makes you better as a coach because of his insight. You can see the leadership skills with the players. They gravitate to him. I get the championships, but Logan is a day to day guy. I can’t speak for him, but that’s how he appears to me, he’s a day to day guy. He carries himself like that every day. I haven’t seen him not carry himself like that. Even when he was a rookie or second year player, he carried himself like that. It’s pretty impressive.
Q: If he makes you better as a coach, how much better does he make the players around him? You guys are pretty young in the secondary. Is he a guy that you can kind of lean on in terms of helping to translate the scheme to these guys in meetings and then take that out on the field?
A: I would think so. Again, you have to ask those guys, but I think so. This guy has a wealth of knowledge and he’s been in big games. He’s been in the system before, he’s been in multiple systems. I think it’s his playing experience. Here I am, I’m a coach, I have a remote in my hand, I have a whistle out there on the field. Actually, I have to get my whistle. I forgot it. The guys that have played, the guys that are playing, those are the guys that provide the insight for the players. Just like as a coach, I learned a lot from Bill (Belichick), I learned a lot from McCarthy, Brian Flores, I learned a lot from those guys. The most I’ve learned in this league has been from former players like Pepper Johnson and Carl Banks, Jerod Mayo when I was in New England, Vince Wilfork. It’s the guys that played that teach you the game and how to convey it to the players. I would be remiss to think that my knowledge I have right now, I would say probably over 50 percent of it is because of players or former players and learning how to maneuver through the NFL, this game. Of course, he provides some insight.
Q: Obviously Jason Garrett and Marc Colombo are most familiar with the personnel on the other team. How much have they been able to help you this week?
A: A ton, that’s the simple answer to it. We go back to what we talk about, it’s a people game. The X’s and O’s, everybody has that. Everybody can look at the tape, so and so is blocking this guy, so and so is doing this, he passes to this guy. It’s about the people, what affects this receiver? You have some insight there, that’s what I’m more interested in. What affects this receiver, what affects this offensive lineman? What are his weaknesses? Mentally, what’s his makeup? Can he handle if we blah, blah, blah put three guys over top of him and spin them out of there or something like that. If we press right here, is that going to affect him? Those are the questions I want to get answers to. They have the insight, it’s a people game. They know the people intimately, so we’re able to get some information right there. The film is the film, you go off the film. Those are some of the things I’m interested in.
Q: Jason Garrett’s fingerprints are obviously all over that offense. How similar is their offense to what you guys are running and what you guys face in practice every day?
A: You definitely see some of the similarities. I would say when you get to their big people, some of the run game from that. They have been mostly 11 personnel this whole season because of being behind a little bit. When they get into their big people, you can see some similarities there. Some of the passing game shows up pretty similar, stuff we have seen. Again, it’s the NFL, how many different ways can you run D-slant, I don’t know, everybody runs it. There’s some patterns that show up in terms of okay whether it’s something they like to do on P and 10, first play of the possessions. There’s some common threads there that you see. It’s interesting to see. You’re able to go back with the players and say, ‘hey, remember this route from training camp, here it is.’ It helps out right there.