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Quotes: Defensive Coordinator Bill Davis

Posted Aug 21, 2013

Got any starters you want to name at any positions?

COACH DAVIS: No, not yet. This is a big preseason game for us. In the evaluation process, every game weighs a little heavier than the practices, obviously, because of the speed at which you play and the tackles and all that. But this is a big preseason game to help us determine who the starters will be and the back ups.

Who is going to start at safety?

COACH DAVIS: We have the rotation going, so we'll start with Nate [Allen] and Patrick [Chung], but it will roll in. There is still a good competition going on there. We'll try to get everybody some plays. Probably roll some of the other safeties in the first half. So it's not in stone. We really want to get a good look at all the guys and see where we are at the end of the three preseason games that we play.

Where are the other positions where the competition still needs to be played out? Is it cornerback, safety? Are there any others?

COACH DAVIS: It's all playing itself out, but we are moving closer and closer to the starting rotation and lineup. Some guys are separating themselves. We still have different packages. The guys are cross training in. So there is still a little bit of an evaluation process going on. Again, this preseason game will be kind of the finishing touches on who we probably settle in as starters. Then the next preseason game, we'll show you more of who the backups and roster spots end up being.

How far behind is Kenny Phillips at this point because of timing?

COACH DAVIS: Nobody wants to be on the field more than Kenny right now with those injuries. He's an experienced vet, which helps, but not experienced in this system. So there is some carryover there, and he's got a good understanding of concepts. But Kenny would like to be out there, we'd like to see him out there and help in the evaluation of the guys.

Didn’t he do some things at practice yesterday?

COACH DAVIS: Partially, and I think he went back into rehab mode.

Do you expect him to play?

COACH DAVIS: I'm not sure at this point. I'm really not. Today is a big test for him. He's going to see where it is. If he can go, he will. Nobody wants to go more than he does, but we'll see after today.

If he can't play against the Jaguars, is that very difficult for you or tough for you to evaluate?

COACH DAVIS: It's anybody that goes through the injury process that doesn't get into the games or even into practices. It does make it harder to evaluate when you get less looks at a guy. I think that goes without saying. But Kenny's got a lot of film and lot of tape out there of him playing. So we'll have a good feel for Kenny, and hopefully he can play in this preseason game.

How about the defensive line, do you see the same thing with Fletcher Cox starting and Isaac Sopoaga?

COACH DAVIS: Yeah, that will be pretty much the same thing that we've done. The young guys are coming on. Really, you get the young guys out there to continue to evaluate them versus the opponents starters in the top echelon of the league. When you're young rookies, you don't know how they match up against the best of the best. Well, the preseason in the first quarter, the first half of the preseason game will give us a good evaluation of where some of those young guys are too. So there will be the rotation of the D line. You'll see all different kind of groups in there.

Is Bennie Logan pushing into that starting lineup? It looks like he's played well in the first two games?

COACH DAVIS: Bennie has had two good games. Like all of them, they're pushing and we'll see where this game  this is a big determining factor. This will help to see where Bennie is. He's taken each step and done everything we've asked him to do and played very solid in the two preseason games he's played.

What do you see of Nate Allen that's keeping him, at least for right now at the top of the depth charts?

COACH DAVIS: Nate's a phenomenal athlete and good football player. Nobody works harder at it than Nate. The first game he struggled a little bit, and second game, he played well. It's like all of them. That first game we all struggled a little bit. In the second game, we came back and played better.
I think all of us collectively settled down in that second preseason game and kind of went back to the fundamentals of playing our technique we've been working on and relaxing in the system and not trying to make big plays, just letting the plays come to them, and I think Nate falls into that same category.

You've consistently had Bradley Fletcher in first team at cornerback. What's he done to stay there and what does Brandon Boykin need to do to play?

COACH DAVIS: We're getting a look at all of them. We really are. Brandon, we truly want to see him at the nickel spot. Because this day and age, and the way the NFL is right now, your nickel defensive back plays more than some of your inside backers. There are more three wide receiver sets and you end up playing nickel just as much, if not more, I think it's about 60% of the NFL snaps are three wide receivers or more. So that nickel position is like a starting corner. So it's not like you lost out as a starting corner and now you're just playing the nickel.
That is a huge job that gets a lot of attention and really is a unique skill set. It's not that he's not challenging outside, but if we can get the best guys on the field and we've been taking a hard look at Brandon in there and Patrick and some other guys.

Who are the nickel options besides Brandon?

COACH DAVIS: Patrick Chung is in there, Brandon Hughes in there playing a little bit, Eddie Whitley has taken some reps in there. It's one of those situations where you have to have a contingency plan to play in there because it is such a big part of the package of the NFL. You have the three wide receiver sets.

I'm sure you heard what Cary Williams said a week and a half or so ago. After playing against Carolina and going forward, do you feel like you have enough talent on this roster in this room to be a defense that people do fear, and a defense like Brian Dawkins had when he was here?

COACH DAVIS: I think we're at the beginning stages of building the defense. The foundations of the fundamentals and of the learning of the scheme, of the way we communicate and establishing that is what,
again, we've said this before, but every defense wants to be that feared, intimidating defense. I think the foundation is being laid, but there is so much work to be done yet. The words don't get that done. Those are things that happen on Sundays with the way we play, the way we hit, the way we tackle, the way we fly to the ball. Those are things that we took a step forward last week, but there are so many steps left to be taken. I'm not going to  we took a baby step forward last week with a lot of work left, and a lot of major tests coming.

Do you like that mentality? I know actions speak louder than words, but do you like that mentality of the guy coming in that's won a Super Bowl and setting the tone for a defense like that?

COACH DAVIS: I think there are a lot of guys on this team that have won a lot of games in the NFL, and they have that mentality. I don't think there is one particular man that is bringing it or not bringing it. It's a collective effort by the guys. Again, there are a lot of players on this defense that have won some games, especially here under Andy and the group. So they've won a lot of games, and everybody is bringing as much of that attitude to the table as they can. The collective chemistry and mindset of the defense is where we'll be. Washington will be our biggest test. Washington will tell us exactly where we are on that timeline.

In the game against Carolina, it looked like you rotated about six defensive linemen with the first team, you had the three starters and then you brought in Square and Geathers and Logan. You didn't get Vinny Curry in, I think it's in the second half. Will that be similar again?

COACH DAVIS: The week before Vinny got in earlier, I believe. And it will continue to roll. Some of it is situational. Some of it is what we're being presented with. How much three wide receiver packages are we being presented with? How many bigger tight end packages are we being presented with?
I can't tell you concretely how many [reps] early on they'll get because, again, we don't know what's coming at us, and we have to react to the deployment of the offense and how we do it. So that will vary a little bit, but Vinny's definitely in the early rotations.

Is he in the mix to start?

COACH DAVIS: Absolutely. Absolutely. Again, nothing has been determined yet as far as starters, and we're continuing to evaluate all of them. And Vinny is absolutely in the mix.

Do you see Boykin more in the nickel corner?

COACH DAVIS: He can play [outside] corner too. He's being evaluated as both. Brandon is pushing the other two and competing for that starting corner spot. Right now we have two preseason games under our belt. So, yes, Brandon can play outside at corner and fight for that starting position.

Is it challenging for a guy to play outside in the base, and then when you move to nickel, move inside? Or is that something you'd be comfortable with?

COACH DAVIS: I do think that is challenging. That's why the first week we did it the way we did it. With Brandon being an inside nickel player, because we were anticipating three wide receiver sets. Especially in the same series. Now in preseason, we can play them at corner and two quarters, and we can play him nickel in two quarters and get the two looks. When you play the season to start at corner or start at nickel, it becomes more challenging. It's something that the older veterans can pull off, guys that played a lot of nickel or outside corner. Early on it's a little challenging.

In working with Chip, he calls the offensive plays and it's known as his offense. In terms of the defense, what's his day to day involvement?

COACH DAVIS: Chip and I meet at least once a day. He's got a great understanding of what we're doing defensively. We spent a lot of time in the off season talking about building and what structure he likes and what structure I like. At the end of the day, what Chip wants, I will give him. We talk often. He's very easy to work with and understand. A very clear communicator. You know exactly where he stands and what he wants and you give it to him. So far, the real tests haven't come yet. The real games, when they start coming, we’ll collectively solve problems.

How do you feel the depth behind Isaac at nose tackle?

COACH DAVIS: We've got a bunch of young guys. Now we cross train a lot of our defensive linemen and players, and that helps you have more depth in those different positions because we have almost all of the defensive linemen that have taken shots at nose or taken shots at end. You see the rotation we have in practice, and we cross train them. So we do feel that we've got some young depth at the defensive line.

Who would be the guy, if Isaac is out?

COACH DAVIS: You've got big Clifton Geathers could get in there, Bennie Logan has done well, Damion has done well. We have a multitude of guys that can go in there with those being the first ones that come to mind.

Bradley Fletcher hasn't been talked about a whole lot, what's your analysis of him?

COACH DAVIS: He's steady. He's steady, consistent, every day he shows up to work, it's not flashy. He's been very consistent, I guess, is the best way to put it. A real pro.

Talk about Cole and Graham, how are they progressing?

COACH DAVIS: They're doing a nice job. We keep putting them in drop situations, and, again, we're evaluating what this package can do and who can do it. We try to put them in as many drops and arrows as we can. They're working hard at it, they're looking good. More comfortable moving backwards. The biggest thing that has to change when you take an outside lineman, how comfortable does he feel going backwards? And we had the whole off season, and we majored in that. We kept them going backwards, and they're getting the field of the little nuances of how to play I'm dropping, no, I'm rushing game with quarterbacks and it's really coming along well.

Can you talk about the challenges of the corner starting from the outside and moving to the inside against three wide. Is that more in game in your mindset or during the week preparing for the different roles?

COACH DAVIS: I think at the end of the day, you have to put your best 11 on the field, so you start with that premise. Then you from there say how close are the nickel corner relationships? If you can make it easier without deteriorating from the best 11 on the field, then you can have a guy do one, not both. If there is clear separation, you try to get a guy to do both. So right now, it's pretty close in the competition. So we feel like we have a little bit of leeway there and flexibility that we can play both in order.

Can you be clear on Kenny Phillips that he has a shot to compete for a starting job?

COACH DAVIS: Absolutely. Everybody's in the competition right now. As we go forward with the preseason games as they play out and get on the field, everybody has a fair shot at it.

When you said you were going to roll some of those safeties in, you meant with the first team on Saturday night?

COACH DAVIS: Yes, with the second quarter. Really what happens is how many  it's tough to specifically say this is how many these guys are getting, because you don't know the numbers that will come at you. How many defensive snaps do we have in the first quarter? Maybe we have six. It's not enough to evaluate the guys. Maybe we have 20 and then you start rolling.
So it's a little bit of flexibility, it's moving. It's a moving target I'm trying to hit here at the same time getting as many guys the evaluations as I can. The double edged sword you want to get out there and play great defense, three and out, three and out, three and out. On the flip side of that, you don't get to evaluate the guys like you'd like to. So it's a moving target we're trying to hit with how many snaps everybody gets versus who.

You don't want to take a guy out mid series?

COACH DAVIS: That's the other thing. You have to get a rhythm of the players and you truly want to evaluate them. So the preseason gets tricky with trying to give a guy rhythm, evaluate them, get a guy against their best. So it's a challenge, and every game is a moving target.

In the next ten to 14 days at what point will you start putting in a game plan for the Redskins?

COACH DAVIS: I think it will happen  we've been nipping away at it and chipping away at it, but it will probably be after the last preseason game where we really specifically hit the details of what we'll do. This week we put our emphasis on Jacksonville, and we go through a little mini game plan and talk about them and get the players used to how we approach the opponents. Then the next week, we'll do a similar plan. But we've got a little time there after the last preseason game and the Monday night. It's a Thursday and all the way to the next Monday. So we'll have plenty of time to really get the specifics of that.

You've been here a long time, how different is it that Chip Kelly is using signs? Is that different for you being a guy in the league a long time?

COACH DAVIS: It is different. But really it's a function of how we communicate our defense non verbally. We have different systems in place so nobody can go and take that's his signal, that's his signal. One day the active signal caller is live. Some days the signal caller is live. We keep the moving target. Sometimes the microphone's live. So we're in and out of all the different ways to communicate to our defense so nobody can get a beat on what we're doing.

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