Assistant Head Coach/Defensive Coordinator Patrick Graham
December 3, 2020
Q: Is this one of those weeks where you just kind of wrap a picture of (DK) Metcalf in a present and hand it to (James) Bradberry and say your problem?
A: I wish things could be that simple but no. Aside from Metcalf, they have so many different weapons. The backs (Carlos) Hyde and (Chris) Carson these guys are scary. The quarterback (Russell Wilson) obviously he’s a scary player, a good player. I’ve known him since he was a young kid. His brother played for us at Richmond when I was there. They have so many weapons from the receiver spots, 83 (David Moore), 16 (Tyler Lockett), 14 (Metcalf), they are all making plays. We’re going to try to figure it out. Do what we can do. See what we can do to try to limit their effectiveness. We’re going to need more than just James. We’re going to need everybody, all hands-on deck for this one. They have a lot of weapons out there.
Q: With Russell’s deep balls, it seems like it’s unique with how much air he puts under them. Why is he so effective throwing those?
A: I’m sure you could probably dive into the physics of it. I don’t know but I assume it gives those guys the trajectory. It’s similar to Aaron (Rodgers) when Aaron throws those deep balls, and everybody is like wow Aaron Rodgers. Everybody makes those catches on those hail mary’s. I assume it’s from years of practice, timing with the receivers, giving them a chance to get underneath the ball. They’re all pretty fast, and he has the arm strength to get it down the field. The O-line is doing a good job of blocking for him and giving him time to get it out there. I would assume it’s something to do with the trajectory helps out with it. I’m not smart enough to figure that out.
Q: What’s your philosophy on using a spy on a quarterback like Russell and maybe even next week on another mobile quarterback? What do you look for in the qualities of a player that you might use in that role?
A: Each game plan is so different. I can tell you stories of using a spy before and the spy didn’t tackle the quarterback and the spy wasn’t good enough to get the quarterback. You try to figure the best guys to tackle them. They obviously have to be able to tackle; they have to be able to run. You alternate between the two. You try to teach disciplined pass rush. If you are rushing four or five, just trying to fill up the pass rush lanes. Sometimes you might get specific and have a particular person spy on him. What you’re looking for is somebody who can tackle, somebody that has the speed to stay with him. They have to have some savviness about him too. Sometimes when you talk to a player about what spy is, they just sit back there and now you just gave the quarterback more space. The line of scrimmage changes. In terms of just talking football, as the line of scrimmage changes, certain people have the philosophy that the spy or mirror player has to close the line of scrimmage. Some people stay back there. To me, you have to pick your poison. Are you going to have more space so he can have vison, or do you want to close so he can get to him quicker when it declares? Those are some of things you have to look at when you’re going through it.
Q: Leonard Williams is on track to have a career high in sacks. What’s it been like coaching Leonard and where have you seen him make the most strides since you first got here?
A: I think having watched him from afar, the biggest thing for me any time you are dealing with the big guys, I want to see what he’s doing versus the run. I think that Leo has been doing a solid job against the run. He will be the first one to tell you he can do better in both the run and the pass. The thing that stands out for me with Leo is his personality is infectious. The energy, the way he attacks it. Each day is new, he attacks the day. He’s pretty diligent working through that. He wants to get better. He’s taking the coaching to heart that Spence (Sean Spencer) gives him, that Joe (Judge) gives him. He’s just really being a sponge in terms of trying to learn football. Trying to perfect his craft, trying to become the best NFL defensive linemen he can be. Part of that is if you want to be the best, you have to realize that you’re not there yet. No matter what year you’re in in your career. How many sacks, how many TFL’s (Tackles for loss) you’re not there yet. He’s attacking it like that I believe.
Q: Niko Lalos that came in from the Ivy league like you. What has he done to impress you?
A: (Laughing) Not like me. I did not play.
Q: The other position coaches were talking about how he’s been able to bounce between different positions and he’s been really diligent and all that. What has impressed you about him.
A: Here is the easiest thing and it’s simple. He paid attention when Joe went through the first meeting. The more you can do, the better off you will be. It’s not a surprise. He’s around here because he listened to what the head coach told him. Yeah, did he change his body in the weight room and nutrition and all that stuff as he worked hard with his skill set. Yeah, absolutely. All that stuff, the football stuff. Simply put, he listened to what the head coach said. The head coach said the more you can do the better off you’ll be. Provided value and the chance to stick around. He just listened to Joe, just like I try to listen to Joe. That’s what you have to do. When you have a head coach, you have to listen to the head coach. Make his job easier and try to do what’s best for the team, that’s what he did.
Q: We asked Jerome (Henderson) how you defend DK Metcalf. He basically said you just hope the pass rush gets home. Is it really that simple? Who does Metcalf remind you of in terms of guys you’ve coached against?
A: Who comes to mind? Again, I’m just going to mention big wide receivers and then I’ll go watch the team play and say oh he’s not actually that guy. In terms of being able to catch the ball deep. There’s so many big receives that I’ve gone against. Julio (Jones) Calvin Johnson since I have been in the league. Dez Bryant when he was doing it. I can’t tell you specifically who he reminds me of exactly. He’s such a unique talent in my opinion. The size, the ability to block in the run game. That’s one that stands out for me. He’s actually a point of attack blocker. Like you would say the left side of the line is the point of attack or right side of the line is a point of attack. He’s a point of attack blocker in the run game. That stands out to me. I think what we have to do, we have to make it tough for him. We have to make it tough on him. Whether it’s playing off coverage, press coverage. When he goes to block, get our hands on him. He’s a unique talent. He’s going to find a way to get open. That’s the nature of it. These guys are really good. They get coached too and Russ does a good job of finding them. (Brian) Schottenheimer, they do a good job of scheming it up for him. Is it as simple as the pass rush? I wish, I do hope the pass rush gets there. We’re going to have to play ball to figure out what’s best for that when we get to Sunday.
Q: What’s your philosophy on talking to opposing players before games? I know some guys like to chat, some guys don’t. Jim Schwartz tried to give Metcalf a compliment last week and Metcalf didn’t take it that way. Do you chat up these guys?
A: With the COVID thing, it’s a little bit different. If it’s guys that I’ve coached before, usually those are defensive players. They are on the other side; we’re not even going against them. I’ll say hi and greet them. Usually it starts with a text message before the game or earlier in the week. If you guys were on the field and saw me, I’m not really talking. This is about as much talking as I do all week. I’m not really a talkative person. Before the game I’m barely talking to our guys. I’m not one to chat with the players, that’s not me. I’m not going to talk smack, that’s not me. I’m not a big talker. I’m pretty quiet.
Q: Did you hear about that interplay between Jim Schwartz and Metcalf?
A: No, I’m sorry. When you’re dealing with all these guys we have to deal with, I don’t have time. That, and my wife and kids, that’s about it.
Q: How did Xavier (McKinney) do? How much progress is he making now that he’s back?
A: He’s doing a good job. We just have to be careful. His first game last week and now he’s got an opportunity this week. We’ll see if the role increases. The young man is doing a good job of studying. He’s practicing well. The one thing that stands out for me is his ability to tackle and go through the tackling drills and really execute that. That’s something I told him that even though without that time, you’re doing a good job working on that. He’s doing a good job with that.