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Defensive Coordinator Bill Davis

Posted Aug 24, 2014

It looked like you guys got better pressure Thursday night. You still don't have any sacks from your first group. Is that a concern or is that vanilla at this point?

BILL DAVIS: It's not a concern at all. We talk about it often, but are we moving the quarterback off the spot? The interception, for instance the other night, we had two guys move him off his spot. He was on the move. He tried to make a big throw, the ball went high, we had a turnover. It wasn't a sack, but it was a turnover. So when you study the tape over and over again and you see who is moving the quarterback off his spot, that is more important to us than the sacks are, because other things happen when you move them off the spot, the rhythm of the offense is broken down, incomplete passes, turnovers, all those things are tied to it.

In that play, in general, how did CB Nolan Carroll II grade out?

BILL DAVIS: Real well. Nolan had a nice grasp of the defense. You saw we put the dime package out there and he was part of the dime. So we wanted to take a look at that and see how that played out, and we were happy with it. Stayed real basic with it. It was a four man rush, and we played coverage. But the pass rush improved. I think we've seen a steady incline in the production of the four man rush. Guys are working more moves and getting better at the moves they're working. I think it showed in that game a little bit.

What are you thinking here, do you definitively say starter?

BILL DAVIS: Nothing's in stone yet. I don't want to go ahead with another game left and say who is the starter and who is not. A lot of it is pretty much there. I would say it's still all penciled in. Anything can happen. We've got another two weeks of practice and another game. So it's getting closer and closer.

Is CB Bradley Fletcher going to play on Thursday night?

BILL DAVIS: I don't know. We haven't decided everybody yet. There are certain guys that are and are not. Probably not. But I don't want to say definitively because we're not positive. We have to get through practices, when injuries happen. Who gets tweaked, who doesn't get tweaked, everything that goes with it. So we're still discussing exactly who is up and who is not. It can change with availability of players and injuries, it could happen. So nothing's in stone yet.

You mentioned the dime package a minute ago. Do you have an idea for how you want to use that? Use it a lot on third down? What are your plans?

BILL DAVIS: It's really another tool that the coaching staff now has to defend multiple receiver personnel groups if we have a tight end, it's always releasing, and you can go to that package. Lot of teams have the tight end that is still intact and still can run the ball. So you move in and out of nickel dime, you see who they are, who you are, what your match ups are like. It's great to have that other tool in place to activate and help us get off the field on third down.

You have a lot of interesting decisions to make at linebacker. Josh Kaddu, Travis Long and is there a third that was cross training?

BILL DAVIS: That was cross training?

Inside and out?

BILL DAVIS: Yeah, we've got a handful of inside, outside backers that are cross training. Those are the threes, Casey [Matthews], Josh and Travis.

Looks like the first three linebackers are set. How do you see them if there are going to be four, how do you see that playing out?

BILL DAVIS: It's all up for grabs still. We still have another week of evaluating, so I don't want to cut the team right now or make any decisions. They're all in the mix. They're all neck and neck. So we'll just pick the best 53 that we can pick, and how those numbers pan out will be dictated on this preseason game and the rest of practice. But it's  they were hard cuts yesterday, and we'll have even harder cuts next week, which is a great feeling. They're really hard decisions. You agonize over which way you go, and that means that the roster is growing and we're getting stronger and stronger in our depth. It's hard on us, but it's a positive for the organization.

At the start of camp, did you see DE Brandon Bair having the role he's had in his preseason? What have you seen in particular?

BILL DAVIS: Brandon Bair you saw him on the practice squad last year. He's really what a two gaper mostly looks like. I know in my career along the years, the big bodies, the guys that can really hold the point and set a wall there. Brandon has just steadily gotten better. He's a hard worker, highly intelligent guy. So he's a great addition. Am I surprised? No, I'm not surprised. It's about what I expected from watching him from last year.

Bradley Fletcher's had a few penalties in the secondary. Has the transition to contact been especially challenging for him?

BILL DAVIS: No, I wouldn't single him out because the penalties are across the board. Some of the way they're calling it is difficult. We're continually trying to figure out how to teach them and how to work it in practice. These receivers are running right up on their toes. And if someone's going to run right into you, you naturally put your hands out to stop, and they veer off and you've got your hand out and we get called. So we're getting better about the easier calls. We didn't get flagged as often. But there is still work we need as a group to figure out how to make sure we're doing it the right way and not getting these called on us.

Did you trace S Nate Allen, where he was when you came in and where he is now and why there is such a difference?

BILL DAVIS: I would put Nate in the same category as [LB] Mychal Kendricks and some of the other guys. Now that we are in year two in a scheme and the words haven't changed on them, we did not change the scheme on them, the structure's in place, I think they're big concept learners. With some people when you learn the concept and understand the concept, now the details become easier. I think we've seen Nate grow because his understanding is now letting him calm his mind to slow down and he's seeing more because he understands his landmarks. He understands where his eyes need to be placed. He understands the two gap system of not having a safety be a primary run defender. All those things are growing and you see Nate play better and better.

You're talking a second ago, how much you were  if you can add a package if you're really comfortable. How much more comfortable do you feel being able to call different things in situations where you have more stuff at your disposal that you believe in?

BILL DAVIS: I think it makes it easier for us defensively and harder on opposing offenses. They have to now say here's this other package they have, and let's identify who is who, and where they blitz from and what coverages and formation structures are coming at us defensively? So it's another tool for us that grows our package. You can't put it all in and have it all in year one. That is the hardest part of year one is that you have to just have a foundation. Your foundation's usually small, but you need it sturdy so you can start stacking these other things on top of them. In year two we're slowly starting to stack some other defensive tools that we can use to stop the offenses coming at us.

Is S Ed Reynolds pulling up?

BILL DAVIS: Yeah, that's a big obstacle to overcome to being gone in the off season. We're getting a lot of those reps that are vital to rookies. I think he's done a great job of picking up the system and not having a lot of mental errors, which is really the tough part about not being here in the off season.

I know the game's Thursday, but the fact that the Jaguars have named QB Chad Henne the starter, has that allowed you to start working on the D?

BILL DAVIS: Right now we're looking at all of them. We're looking at both quarterbacks. We're looking at their offense in general, the structures. They're very similar quarterbacks. They really are. I've watched a lot of both of them. And the young kid [QB Blake] Bortles is making some beautiful throws. He's hanging in there and doing a nice job. So I still think he could be the one thrown at you. Henne starts the game, that's great. But it's not like you're playing one drop back or one movement guy or vice versa. They're really similar. I don't think the offense changes with whoever is in there. So whoever they throw at us, we'll be ready for. And I don't think it's going to drastically make you have two different type game plans.

Seems like the other night it was the defense that we saw a little more representation of.

BILL DAVIS: Well, I've worked off the same call sheet for all the preseason games and they're base calls that we have, and we did run a couple more. Some of it was due to I had to play some safeties at corner in order to get the ball out of hand a little bit so they wouldn't have to cover as long. I tried to blitz a little more to help benefit that. Then there were some opportunities that we saw in protection to run a base pressure and we did it. I don't think it was a whole lot more when we looked at the numbers, but they were coming unblocked a couple times.

Would you say Nate Allen has taken that job away?

BILL DAVIS: It's not over yet. I think Nate has the lead. But it's not over. We'll continue to watch this preseason game and see how it goes. I hate, like I said, cutting the team right now or even saying who is in the lineup. The one thing about this roster is you make the 53 and you're active, you're going to play and we rotate, we rotate all of them. They're all playing. They all count. We hate saying 11 starters. We've got different packages now just because we start with dime, does that mean the nose isn't a starter? You start and base. So it's picking the 53 best and using the packages within that and starter back up is really not that important.

Head coach Chip Kelly mentioned that S Earl Wolff needs all the reps he can get right now. What kind of progress are you seeing from him?

BILL DAVIS: I think it's a lot like the Nate Allen conversation from a minute ago. Earl was a rookie last year. Now he's in his second year, and as he understands his assignments better, they play faster. It's all players. The more clear understanding, not I think I know, but I know I know what to do. Your eyes are in the right spot. Now you're running and playing, and you're the football player that we really saw in college because in college the senior, junior year, that's where they are in those systems. They're really sure what they're supposed to do and they do it fast. When you come here, you give them all new words. They slow down, they don't look that athletic sometimes and then lights go on, they pick their speed up and athleticism looks cleaner. It's just a growth he's going through.

S Malcolm Jenkins broke up a pass in open field. How significant is that? When you watched the film and saw that play, what did it tell you?

BILL DAVIS: Well, not only Malcolm, we're all tied together. The pass rush was very good on that play, and we moved the quarterback off the spot, so then it was kind of a backyard football play and everybody was scrambling to stay attached. Malcolm did a great job of staying attached to his coverage and making a play underneath, and really the thing that impressed me more than that is if he had missed that, it could have been a big play. But Bradley Fletcher was coming over the top. One of his concepts that he understands now if he had been there to make that play had Malcolm not. I love the growth of the defense. I love the understanding of the players and Malcolm's a great addition in that area.

Do you like CB Jaylen Watkins inside or out?

BILL DAVIS: Right now we've got Jaylen inside competing for a back up nickel position or the nickel position. He's grown as a corner. He's done everything. The neat part about Jaylen is the fact that he can play outside at corner. He can play inside at nickel and in college he played safety. Now I don't think he's got the understanding of safety yet, but he's a three-position potential player for us. Right now as young as he is, we're growing corner and nickel and see where that takes us.

Dime package aside, there were some other things you stacked on top of the foundation that you've already shown in the preseason games.

BILL DAVIS: Well, I think we've grown in some coverage concepts. We've added three or four coverage concepts that we've worked a lot on in the preseason that we didn't have last year. They were routes that were beating the coverages we had in place last year and these coverages take away those routes. Every coverage can be big and attacked and you're weak in some places. You move the coverage around and it's tough for him to beat the pattern that beats that coverage. We were lacking a couple coverage concepts last year because of what I talked about earlier it just would have been too much too early. So we took what we had last year and we built on and filled in the holes that we needed.

What were you getting beat on last year?

BILL DAVIS: Oh, they were different. There is not one route. We gave up obviously way too many passing yards last year. So in general, you could say this will help tighten our coverage down and not give up the yards that we gave up last year.

In LB Brandon Graham’s case, what could he do in that situation?

BILL DAVIS: There are only 11 guys that can start. Brandon's a good pass rusher and good outside backer. But you're competing and he's rotating in. It's a great problem to say why can't all these guys play? Why can't [DE] Vinny [Curry] be in every play, why can't Brandon? Well, there are other good players in there, too. And we're trying to get a great mix of reps during games that they all play, like I talked about earlier. If you're active for us, you're playing. The more production you have, the more we'll give you. But there are different packages. Every player has different strengths and weaknesses. It's our job as a staff to make sure we have the most guys playing to their strengths, but within that, you're going to have some guys not playing to their strengths. So you just try to balance that as a defensive staff and get the players out there as often as you can in the positions of strength for them. But there are 11 of them you're trying to work through it with. More than 11 really.

You talk about going forward, but the going backwards, was he better at it at the end of last year?

BILL DAVIS: Absolutely. And I said that after the game. The outside backer world, you're built to go forward and you have the great pass rushers that usually struggle to drop and you have to work hard to get the great pass rushers to learn how to drop. The flip end of that, you have the great athlete that can cover anybody in space, but maybe not the skilled pass rusher. So you're working with them on pass rush. I think our guys that were better pass rushers at moving forward, [LB] Trent Cole, Brandon, they are now dropping much better than they did a year ago. And Brandon particularly is.

So in your mind, Trent did it all last year so you have a little more advantage. Is he still ahead of Brandon as far as being able to get a complete package?

BILL DAVIS: I think they're pretty close. They're pretty close. But Trent is still in it, and that's why he's out there more. At the end of the day, we have to pick one or make a decision who is going to dominate, and that falls in our lap. Right now, that's where that is.

DE Joe Kruger is the guy you brought in from years ago. He had to make a decision to come in. Can you talk about what went into the decision process?

BILL DAVIS: Really what happened, at the end of the day, was it was another hard decision, and we've got a lot of young, big, two gapping competition going on. That's a hard defensive line decision to make because there are so many good young ones. At the end of the day, we've got to just finally make a final decision, and that's what we did with Joe. But Joe was coming along. It's a shame he missed all of last year due to injury, but that hurt. From there, Joe did everything we asked him when he was here in this off season. Just got beat out by some other young players.

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