Assistant Head Coach/Defensive Coordinator Patrick Graham
Q: You said last week we'll see how the guys respond, so how'd you feel like they responded?
A: Again, our guys competed to the very end, no question. You wish the result was different. They're a good team. But still stuff to clean up, still stuff to clean up. Whether it's the run game, the pass game, all that stuff in all facets – coaching as well, in terms of on me. I'm never complaining about the effort. I thought there were flashes. There were flashes and we've got to build on that for this week. They were able to capitalize more than we were able to, and we had some good plays. There was some good football out there. There was some good football in certain spots. You've just got to get the consistency going and just try to build on that and hopefully it comes together this week. That's the plan. That's the plan.
Q: When you see that opposing quarterbacks are completing 74 percent of their passes, what's your reaction to that? How do you change that?
A: I think you've got to do a better job of me personally just mixing up probably a little bit, whether it's the disguise part of it and just mixing in the different types of coverages and change it up a little bit on them right there. Again, I think a combination of that will help with the pass rush, too. As we go into this week with (Panthers Quarterback) Sam (Darnold), Sam's playing pretty good in terms of like for the first six weeks in terms of what they've done. Forget what happened with the Jets, but just with this new offense. We've got to find ways to just affect the quarterback more effectively and it's a combination of the rush. It's a combination of the coverage. It's a combination of a variety and mixing it up on them. But that's the plan to do it and then we've got to win our individual battles, whether it's the rush or the coverage. We've got to try to execute from there.
Q: Carolina's coming in, they've got a player second in the NFL in rushing touchdowns, but it's not (Panthers Running Back) Christian McCaffrey. So how do you account for what Sam Darnold can do with his legs?
A: I haven't coached in college in a long time, and I know there's other quarterbacks in the league we've had to deal with over the years, but we rely heavily on our coaches who have dealt with this for a lot of their career. What you've got to do is schematically you've just got to make sure it's assignment football. I'm not saying it's triple option, but I remember coaching in college and saying, 'OK, assignment football when you're dealing with the triple option.' I'm not saying that's what it is, but you've got to make sure someone's accountable for the quarterback every time, especially down there in the red area where it seems to come up, whether it's quarterback draws, zone read or him just making a play in the scrambles. So it's a combination of assignment football in the run game, making sure your gaps are sound, things of that nature and then in the pass rush, making sure we're disciplined. Because whether it's him or (Bucs Quarterback) Tom Brady, down there in the red area when points are at stake, all quarterbacks are more likely to run. That's what we talk about, so whether it's (Former Quarterback) Peyton Manning, once they get down there in the red area where points are at stake, everybody's likely to run. You've got to have some discipline with the pass rush. It's not just the design runs, it's also the pass rush as well.
Q: When you say assignment football, does that mean like a spy or an extra guy?
A: It can be a spy or just like in terms of how you use the safeties in terms of the run game. Just different schemes and how you use the safeties when you have to account for the extra gap created by the quarterback keeping the ball, like college stuff you're dealing with. You're dealing with college stuff.
Q: You talked about needing to create more pressure and disrupting opposing quarterbacks, how realistic do you think it is for this defense to turn it around if you don't get more off the edge? I mean, that's a position that generally is a pass rushing position and quite frankly, you're not getting much pressure or sacks in regard to that position the last few weeks.
A: Well, I think you saw glimpses of what happened last week early in the game. Again, no excuses, but like some of the stuff on third down where we had contain and they did their job on the edge and we worked our matchups on the inside. (Defensive Lineman) Leo (Williams) came free on a couple of them, him and (Defensive Lineman) Dex (Lawrence II), to make a play, so obviously –
Q: Is that sustainable? Because like we saw, that's a tough way to live in this league if you're relying totally on the interior and your edge, you're just asking them to contain.
A: I think it's going to come down to matchups. We're going to try to generate the pass rush on the edge and stuff and work those guys. They're working diligently on it, but again, whether it's me figuring out where to put them in the right spot to work those edge guys, it always comes down to the matchups for the pass rush. That starts with me putting them in the right spot. I think as we move forward, we're working on it. We're working on improving. I think we've got guys in those spots that can help us with it. Again, like we talked about last week, hopefully it comes in bunches. It comes in bunches and I thought Leo did a good job last week and then hopefully now we can start to get some more off the edge. Maybe it's with pressure too to help them with some movement stuff. You've just got to be creative and find ways to put them in the right matchup and try to execute and see if we can maximize their abilities because we've got guys that can rush on the edge.
Q: On (Rams Wide Receiver) Cooper Kupp's second touchdown, what do you view as the reason for why (Cornerback James) Bradberry and (Defensive Back) Logan (Ryan) didn't get over there?
A: I'm trying to think which one was that. Was that from the 15?
Q: On the left sideline on (Rams Quarterback Matthew) Stafford's no-look.
A: Oh, I think just looking back at that one, the call right there, as he came across – there's a few factors that come into it, whether with the rush getting there with the pressure, trying to work the pressure. It's just a matter of there's a lot of traffic as we work through there. Again, I think it probably could've been a better call right there. It could've been a better call right there. He's a good player. He worked his way through. I think he avoided a defensive end. He avoided a linebacker as he went through there and there was a lot of traffic in there and he ended up making a play. We've just got to work through that traffic when we're in man coverage. But it probably could've been a better call by me right there. We're working on it because we're going to be dealing with that same misdirection this week from Carolina. Once you get down in the red area and the offenses do a great job. Carolina this week – the misdirection down there in the red area, it's tough. It's tough. It's a tough task when you're in man coverage and sometimes we've got to call the man to get on them. Sometimes you're thinking run right there. They got us. They just got us right there and he did a good job. He's a good player.
Q: How is (Head Coach) Joe (Judge) handling the losing and the adversity?
A: You would have to ask Joe. I think the beauty of Joe is this, it's how we learn – consistency. The emotional consistency, the stamina, the emotional stamina to be the same every day. I think Joe – that's why he's a good leader. Whether we win, lose, whatever, Joe's going to correct us and there's a standard he has. If we won by three touchdowns or lost by three touchdowns, Joe is consistent in terms of how he's handling, trying to improve the football team as we move through the season. The goals still remain the same to be playing your best football again, once you get to Thanksgiving and obviously, we've got to start winning some games, but Joe is as consistent as I've ever seen him. Never too up, never too down. You'd have to ask him exactly how he's dealing with it. But to me, I've got so much respect for Joe in terms of the ability to be consistent over time whether win, lose or draw. I think that's the big thing that he's displayed so far.
Q: When an opponent calls out – (Panthers Head Coach) Matt Rhule said the other day that he wants to see his team run the ball 30 to 35 times a game. When a coach says that out loud like that, is that misdirection? Is that a challenge?
A: Hell no, it's not misdirection. A head coach does that, he's letting you know. He's letting everybody in that building know, giddy up, let's go, we're running the ball. I can't blame him. I think I've read the quote and I heard the press conference, 'The first three games, two turnovers running the ball, blah, blah, blah. Last three games, eight turnovers. We've got to protect the quarterback. We've got to protect the o-line, blah, blah, blah by running the ball.' He's letting everybody know – I'm so bad with sayings – everybody is on notice that we've got to run the ball. I take him for his word. Again, I don't know the man personally, but I've heard about him and how people talk about him. I take him for his word. They're going to come in here with the intent to run the football. He put the challenge down for those guys and I'm sure it was a motivating thing for his team. I mean, I like for a head coach to say something like that. That was pretty good. He's like, 'hey, we're going to run the ball.' It kind of displays the toughness that you can see from their team. I think the running backs run hard. I think the wide receivers, they run hard after catch, they block. He's trying to instill a toughness into the team, so he's letting everybody know what we need to do, and I respect him for that.
Q: Do you play that clip or read it to your guys?
A: I mean, they're aware of it (laughs). They aware of it. They can't be. You guys are going to be writing about it and Twitter and tweets. I almost sound like (Patriots Head Coach) Bill (Belichick) because I don't have any of that stuff.
Q: But you presented it to them as well?
A: They're aware of it. They're aware of it. I don't know how much I'm reading right now in the papers and stuff. I did see it. I did see it. I'll say that right now.