What was the vantage point like coaching up there?
BILL DAVIS: You know, you really couldn't see. You couldn't see the jersey numbers. The personnel groupings was a little bit challenging, who was running on the field because you couldn't see jersey numbers.
Are you relying on the guys that you have on the field that are communicating with you, did they have better visibility?
BILL DAVIS: Yes, they did. You could see better down there. They weren't doing a whole lot of different personnel groupings because of the severity of the weather, so it wasn't a challenge, but we could not see from up there.
At what point could you see?
BILL DAVIS: Probably the end of the second quarter, early third, when it slowed down a little bit. Then you could tell what was happening.
When you were looking at the photos of different personnel groupings and plays, was that hazy, as well?
BILL DAVIS: Yes, it was. The still shots were almost impossible to look at because it was whited out. You could see a little bit, you could see alignments, but you weren't positive what was happening.
There's a theory on a slippery field that the offense has the advantage because they know where they're going, the defense has to react. What did you do in the second half to neutralize that?
BILL DAVIS: Well, I think it really comes back to our equipment staff did a great job, and I think they're kind of overlooked. They did a great job of helping the players get the right cleats. It's not necessarily the longest cleats, it's the right cleats as that ‑‑ as inches were piling up, things were changing constantly, then it wasn't coming down on us, and how were the conditions changing. And our equipment guys did a tremendous job helping the players, and then the players adjusted.
We did a lot of communication with the secondary in particular about what's the footing like, what coverages are you feeling more comfortable with, who was pressing them, how do you feel when you press them, how do you feel when you're off. So all those things factor in when the weather is like that.
How proud are you of the defensive line for using their base techniques and not getting pushed off the line and allowing the linebackers to make plays? Can you talk a little bit about how important that is in this scheme for those guys to hold up blockers and to free up those linebackers?
BILL DAVIS: You know, one of the things I think we were most proud of as a staff was that our players didn't focus on the conditions. They kind of went back to their training, and that's what Chip [Kelly] is talking about. Our D‑line did a great job using technique with their feet underneath them, with their cleats in the ground, and the linebackers did, also. Everybody kind of went back to the fundamentals and said, okay, we know the footing isn't great, let's see if we can make the most out of it, and the linebackers used good footwork and the DBs were playing out of their ‑‑ everybody kind of fell back to the technique and the training when the weather went like that on us, and I think it showed. It helped us stop the big plays. Every now and then they're going to make a play, we're going to make a play, but we lessened how many big plays happens.
I'm sure the elements played a role, but the Lions still moved the football, and even so, Calvin Johnson only had 49 yards. What did you guys do to take him out of the game?
BILL DAVIS: Well, our corners, we didn't do as much as we would have had the weather been better. We felt the weather was going to kind of help a little bit there. Throwing it downfield, as you saw early, was a little bit challenging because you had a little bit of wind with the snow. Our corners did a great job playing them. I think the rush was good. We had a little bit of pressure on the quarterback. So there wasn't one thing. I think the players playing ‑‑ stepping up and playing the technique and handling him with limited ‑‑ they didn't throw at him a whole lot, either, and their game plan was a little bit different.
Since that Denver game, it's been nine games of 21 or fewer points, longest streak in the league, and that was when you said, trust me, this is going to work out. What did you see that was not evident to everyone else?
BILL DAVIS: All I meant, and we as a staff ‑‑ we continually do it, and we are nowhere near where we want to be yet as a defense, but all we were talking about was the techniques that we're talking on a play‑in‑and‑play‑out basis, the footwork, the alignment, the hand placement, are they improving each week.
Now, the results come out different every game. It's such a collective team game. But as defensive coaches we're looking at what we're teaching and what we're coaching, is it growing, is it getting better, and what we saw in that Denver game is it was, although we weren't playing the overall defense we wanted to play at that point.
But there was enough little things that were moving forward that we were encouraged by.
Does the health of Adrian Peterson play into your game planning?
BILL DAVIS: We prepare like everybody is healthy. We prepare that all people that are in question, if we don't know if they are healthy, we're going to get their best, all of them are up, and we're going to prepare that way. And then we'll adjust as the week goes on and we get more information, just like we would during a game. If something happens to one of those guys during a game, we would adjust accordingly, like we did in this game where all of a sudden at the last minute Reggie Bush wasn't up.You just kind of prepare for all of them and then adjust as you go.
You said you used
BILL DAVIS: You know, every game presents different challenges for what they present and how they're trying to use their weapons. That is just one tool that we have, and some of the calls that we have where we can detach an outside backer. That's the beauty of a 3‑4; every now and then you can take those guys that at this point in time they're comfortable out there, they're in a space earlier in the season and weren't as comfortable. Now their comfort level helps you do that more.
Again, it's what challenges is the opponent facing us with their star either receivers or running backs and what we can do, and that's part of why we like the 3‑4 is the versatility of those outside guys.
Where did that idea come from? Is it something you did in the past or just something that you wanted to do?
BILL DAVIS: With the 3‑4, we've done it in the past a little bit, but it's kind of the scheme that we've put together here as a defensive staff, and we've talked early on about putting them out there wide. Jerry Azzinaro and the Oregon staff did it quite often when they were at Oregon, so it was part of an element that some of the guys have been part of, and it's a different concept. You're not putting them in harm's way. He's not carrying it vertical in any way, but he gets a reroute, and it's still challenging for them to run that side, also.
What is your message to your team or your defensive players to try to turn the page and move off of Sunday's game to the task at hand?
BILL DAVIS: The message, and we just got done with the guys, is all about Tuesday, and that's been the mantra all the way through is Tuesday, can we out‑prepare and outwork and out‑meet and out‑train and out‑recover the Vikings on this Tuesday. And if we do that one day at a time, focusing on our corrections from last Sunday's game and moving on to the introduction of the Vikings and just throw everything into that one day and the things we can control. We say it over and over again, let's control what we can and forget about the rest.
Do you emphasize that you're the only team working on Tuesday, that this is a day where you can get ahead of everybody else?
BILL DAVIS: Yes, we have. And we think that is an advantage to us because I think we get a little bit of a head start on getting in here Tuesday and getting some of the kinks out of the Sunday soreness.
If nothing else, it's a psychological advantage they're working and everybody else is ‑‑
BILL DAVIS: Absolutely, absolutely.
What made you think that
BILL DAVIS: You know, everyone thinks the 3‑4 inside backers have to be these monsters, and they really don't. There's different ways you can protect by simply moving techniques of your D‑line. Good football players will fit into any scheme, and Mychal is a good football player. He's a very good athlete. We knew that we could move him around a little bit inside, be playing both to the tight end and away. We do that a lot with our defense. Mychal is a good football player first, and then we find ways to use him and make him benefit us.
At what point did you see it start to click, with the scheme and the personnel lined up where you wanted?
BILL DAVIS: I think each week it's grown a little bit. It hasn't grown a lot in any one week. We're staying the course as a defensive staff with what we're asking them to do, the way we're asking them to practice and the techniques in the individual period, from how we meet, for when we meet, and how long we meet, the little things that we demand of them, and that is really what's showing up on Sunday game tape.
So we're just staying the course, and we're getting a little bit better at a time, and we're nowhere close to where we want to be or need to be.
Do you expect to have
BILL DAVIS: Earl is day‑to‑day, so we're just kind of taking that as it comes. We'll continue the reps that ‑‑ I believe Earl gets to go try a little bit today, and we'll see his response to the injury and the recovery. It's day‑to‑day. I really can't answer that for Sunday.
You said a couple times that you guys are nowhere near where you want to be defensively. The stats have been very good over the last nine games. What do you see in terms of what needs to continue to improve?
BILL DAVIS: Well, I think our 3rd down has to improve, our red zone. I know the red zone is solid right now, but it can be better. Disappointed we gave up the touchdown after the turnover the other night. There's so many little things that we can communicate better in our fundamentals. There's just so much growth out there. Our run defense is getting better and better each week. Keeping the deep balls and the big extra yardage plays off of us is getting better as we go.
But we're nowhere near the top of the NFL with a lot of those statistics, so you can always grow. The points allowed is the number one thing we're focused on, and we'll continue to drive that down lower and lower in the next three weeks. We've got some of the top offenses in the NFL right now as far as scoring coming our way, so we've got a heck of a challenge in the Minnesota Vikings and that scoring offense.
You mentioned Reggie Bush and finding out that he wasn't going to play. Did that alter what you expected to do against them, and if so, how?
BILL DAVIS: Well, the first part, had the conditions been normal, it would have been a big change for us. But the weather conditions dominated our conversation at that point. Yeah, Reggie was out, but how much were they going to be able to use Reggie in the blizzard‑like conditions. So it did affect some of the calls that we had up if Reggie was going to be there. We just kind of dropped a couple tools we were going to use and said, okay, we don't need those tools because Reggie is not in, and then the weather condition kind of dominated.
BILL DAVIS: He's having a great year. I really don't know that in those conditions that he ‑‑ it's tough to answer that question, but I think he's a great player, and any time you lose a great player, obviously your plan is going to adjust a little bit.
You guys haven't given up a score on an opening possession in like the last eight games. How important is that to establish confidence early in the game and make a stop on that first possession?
BILL DAVIS: The first possession is very important. I think it does help the confidence. I think you're right there. But every possession ‑‑ there's about 12 possessions per game on average that we know we have to stop, and we're working hard at all 12 of them, trying to stop one of them at a time, knowing that 12 is the number. The first one helps get the confidence and the momentum going, especially against these teams that have all these weapons that you have to defend.