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Quotes: Defensive Coordinator Bill Davis

Posted Aug 18, 2014

Q. Last week you said in terms of third down defense you picked up some steam. Is that the case in the second preseason game?

BILL DAVIS: Yes, that won't change. There is really a preseason template that we're running on, that we're going to run our base defenses. And this is an evaluation phase. Sometimes evaluation looks painful, but sometimes it looks promising. I think we had both of those the other night. But we are rushing four for the most part on third downs and playing coverage. Trying to tighten our coverage up and evaluate who can cover, who can't, evaluate who can rush, who can't, grow pass rushers and cover guys. The only way you're going to get better at it is at that speed practicing our coverage, our leverage, our finish at the ball. That's what preseason is about, and that's what we're grinding through right now.

Q. It looked like there were some missed assignments. Was it missed assignments or was it guys that were trying new things?

BILL DAVIS: We had a couple in the second half that were missed alignments. We were structurally unsound as hell. It was guys lining up on the wrong side that hadn't happened previously. So that was disappointing in the second half, particularly in the third quarter, we had some missed alignments and you saw guys walking in the end zone because of our mistakes. Now, take nothing away from them. We've got to clean it up, but that was one of the issues that we've got to get fixed, and there is no excuse for it.

Q. Four preseason games is often thought of as way too many. Do you feel that you need four games to make accurate evaluations of both starters and back-ups?

BILL DAVIS: Absolutely. I think these preseason games are so valuable to us. The only time you could grow a young guy is in the preseason because once the season starts, your ones get the reps, your ones play every snap, and the twos, it may be six weeks before they actually get in with the ones. So right now we need every practice and every preseason game, and that is part of the reason we play so many young guys so many snaps. That is the only way you grow them. It's the only way you evaluate them. Sometimes it's painful. Sometimes those growing pains that you’re looking at hurt, you don't want them to happen, but they happen. The goal is that every day we're punching through and we continually move forward with getting better in both growing assignments and techniques of the young guys and the back ups and some of the older guys that are new to the scheme.

Q. This is an evaluation primarily right now and individual player evaluation. What is your thought right now after two preseason games?

BILL DAVIS: There is a lot of good in the evaluations. There are a lot of places where you see growth and you say, ‘Wow, we have somebody there.’ We have a player here. Well, he's really going. Then there are some places that are ugly. And right now we have to take the good with the bad and again, continue to move forward through the evaluation progress. Now this week the ones will get a lot more, so we'll have more continuity with who is in what position and practicing together and playing together. We're moving closer and closer to the season, so the evaluations, we've got a pretty good bucket of plays that we can look at and evaluate, and now we'll start grabbing guys and working together more and that whole process of the end of the preseason will start looking more like what the regular season defensive units will look like.

Q. You gave Travis Long a lot of work early on in the first half Friday. What are your impressions of him and how he's coming along?

BILL DAVIS: Travis had a really good game. He was impressive with how he played. That outside backer position, we have a couple roles for him. They’re outside in coverage, outside rushers. We put them down and play some four ‘I’ on the tackle. And we got a good look him versus their ones. He was very productive and did his job on a consistent basis. So we were happy with Travis’ play.

Q. Head coach Chip Kelly talked about LB Marcus Smith and how he showed some things and played about 70 snaps, but that he needed to see more production. Where are you with him? Where do you see him?

BILL DAVIS: Marcus played a lot of reps the other night and had his share of mistakes and struggled a little bit. Going forward, he's going to get a lot of reps. The game is moving too fast in his brain right now in my opinion. As soon as it slows down for him and he can settle down and play with little more confidence, I think he'll continue to grow. He's got the skill set. It is part of growing pains that you have with young guys. I think Marcus is fine. He's going to be fine. He's got to relax, settle down and trust his technique and those plays instead of going and trying to make plays, which I think he's in that mode. He needs to just do his job and let the plays come to him.

Q. Are the issues more technique with Smith right now or as you mentioned processing information?

BILL DAVIS: It's a combination. I think they're tied together. When you're not positive of your alignment and positive of your responsibility, you're thinking about that part of it and then technique breaks down. You're not playing in your stance, you're not playing with your technique. Marcus had some good snaps the other night, things that make you say he's all right. We've just got to keep dumping the reps on him and keep growing him. On his side of it, he just has to relax and trust that he is the player that we believe he is.

Q. DE Vinny Curry and LB Brandon Graham are two of your more natural pass rushers. Is there a level of frustration that both of them appear to be part-time players because they’re not scheme fits?

BILL DAVIS: The frustration comes from where?

Q. The fact that they can't be full time players on the field because of the scheme.

BILL DAVIS: Yeah, I don't think anybody's a full time player. When you're talking d line to me, I don't view full time and part time players. There are different two gap schemes and gap-penetrate schemes where we're rushing, they all fit. Those pass rushers fit. They're all under a rotation, so I don't look at them as part time just like I don't look at the nose (tackle) that I pull out is part time. Okay, the nose is a full time player and we don't talk about his reps, but on third down, he comes out. We go nickel and he comes out. The guys who come in, I don't look at it as part time just like I don't look at the nose. It's just different sections of the scheme that we use. I'm very impressed. Those are two good pass rushers you're talking about.

Q. As far as the penalty calls, how is that affecting the way you guys play? Is there a way you can adjust to eliminate the penalties?

BILL DAVIS: Yeah, those penalties, we have to adjust to. It’s on us to adjust. We had way too many penalties. That second drive that (New England QB Tom) Brady had, we're off the field on third down and his two series are pick six and three and out. But we get flagged for grabbing cloth, and we had four penalties on that drive. So we're hurting ourselves. It's nobody but us that has to fix that. We know what they're calling, they told us how they’re going to call it. We have to stop breaking the rule, basically.

Q. Did you change anything from practice yesterday because of all the penalties?

BILL DAVIS: Since the officials were here, we have been harping on it. You cannot grab cloth. Once the receiver is beyond five yards, you can't reach your arm out and even graze him. That's what they're calling. We know it. We have to stop it in practice and stop it in the game. It's a hundred percent on us as players and coaches to continue to get that fixture. We'll continue to keep ourselves on the field when in essence we made plays to get off.

Q. Did you get an explanation for why these specific rules are being emphasized this year?

BILL DAVIS: Point of emphasis. Too much grabbing and holding. It wasn’t clean enough for the offense last year, so they've adjusted it. It's always been the rule, it's just how strict they're going to enforce it, and they're showing us how strict they're going to enforce it.

Q. It seemed like a leniency in that role helped out Cary Williams, Bradley Fletcher and the bigger corners. The fact that they're calling it tighter, do you think that will reverse on them?

BILL DAVIS: I don't think it matters with size. All corners have to benefit from it, and all corners have to adjust their play this year no matter who you are. You can't grab. You can't grab cloth and you can't touch.

Q. How do you see the safety position?

BILL DAVIS: It's still a very heated competition right now. I think they're both bringing different things to the party, and I think they're both playing pretty well right now. I mean, Nate (Allen) is making a lot of good tackles for us and saving some plays, and I'm impressed with that. And Earl's (Wolff) throwing his body around and playing physical. It's a good competition.

Q. How do you see it affecting the play call on both sides? As a coordinator, do you send more at the quarterback to get there a little quicker?

BILL DAVIS: No, we won't change. We'll just change the technique in which we cover. We'll have to be cleaner. The touching down field can't happen, we know that. But the play call will stay exactly the same. Depending on game plan, what our plan of attack is. But the way they call it, it won't change the calls, no.

Q. The pass rush was not what you wanted, and personnel wise, it's almost exactly the same. Why did you expect it to be different this year? Why do you think it will be different this year?

BILL DAVIS: I think the guys’ comfort zone in the defense and in familiarity with it will help them cut it loose more. I know we have good pass rushers, and some of the techniques, we've kind of dummied it down for them, and a lot of them, (former NFL DE/LB) Kevin Greene came in and we said, hey, we're trying too many different random moves. Let's dummy it down. Be real simple with our approach and be great at our approach. I think our guys will shine this year. I think the people we have in the building will up their pass rush this year. I do.

Q. When you game plan, you game plan for the other team?

BILL DAVIS: Are you talking about preseason? Right now it's about us. It's about us. Now this game we'll have a little more about them, but it's still going to stay in the same wheelhouse of we've got to evaluate and grow the skill sets in every player that we need. We need to grow the two gap techniques, we have to grow the four man pass rush technique. So it's about us getting better more so than it's about the Pittsburgh Steelers or the Jets or those two games we're about to play.

Q. Is it as simple as that? No matter how talented somebody is, if they can't adjust and get it down, they're not going to play?

BILL DAVIS: You can't play. If a guy can't adjust his game and you're off the field on third down but on the other side, the play is over here, but over there you grab cloth and you won't adjust to the rule, you can't play. We'll never get off the field. If we continually do the wrong thing and get penalized, even though we're making plays, we have to lay another down. The drive is extended, and we can't have it. If you can't adapt to the rules, you can't play.

Q. Do the guys understand the seriousness of that?

BILL DAVIS: Absolutely. We talked about every single penalty and how it affected us. I think the guys have a very clear picture of how it's going to be called.

Q. How far has Joe Kruger come?

BILL DAVIS: Joe's come a long way. It's a shame he didn't have the whole season. He was on IR. But he's had training camp. Now you see a different Joey. He's more in tune, and what we expect of him and he's making progress.

Q. Do you see signs from Mychal Kendricks that he's making improvement and progress from where he was last year?

BILL DAVIS: Yes, he is. And Mychal being a young player in the second year of this defense, I think it's a real benefit to Mychal. He's understanding the bigger picture, the bigger concepts. He's already a fast player, but when you allow his mind to slow down like Marcus and his growth. When the mind slows down or the game slows down and you're more sure of what to do, all that athleticism and quickness and bursts shows itself more.

Q. What's been the biggest adjustment for Fletcher Cox as he transitions to the new scheme?

BILL DAVIS: Fletcher's a very talented defensive linemen. He can play in any scheme. He can be a gap penetrator or a two gaper. He's gotten much better in his two gap than he has in the other part of it. So we're excited about Fletcher and his game and where it's going.

Q. Brandon Graham did not play in the first game. Why was that?

BILL DAVIS: It was because of the rotation that we had. Right now this week we'll flip that rotation a little bit. We still have our guys that are playing. We'll roll them. In the evaluation process, you've seen Brandon against their ones a lot. He's played a lot. Now we didn't see Travis Long. Now we saw Travis Long against ones. That is one of the difficulties talking to New England coaches, they were trying to get some of their back up offensive players on the field before our defensive starters got out. Because, again, you're playing this game with how long you keep them in, how long you don't. When you want to evaluate one of your back ups against their ones, you have to get in there relatively quick. Sometimes it's a good sign and you see good things, and sometimes you get in trouble for it.

Q. This time last year you were trying to find inside linebackers. This year are you trying to find the outside guys with the inside guys?

BILL DAVIS: That's not a conscious effort you ever do. But as you look at players you see who might have the ability to do both in a 3-4 system. If you have the guys that can do both on game day actives it makes a huge difference. He can play special teams to either injury to either spot, because they're two different worlds. The outside backer on the line is a completely different world. Guys that can do both have a great skill set. That is hard to do.

Q. Talk about the ones a little bit. How many guys were there?

BILL DAVIS: There are three in the preseason. There can only be one on the field at one time. But we have three guys that are rotating sometimes. Nobody's in with head set, we signal. We try to get playing time with whoever is in there with a helmet. But Najee (Goode) did good.

Q. Bryan Braman was brought in to help with the special teams prowess. Has he shown you enough as an outside linebacker to use him for that role?

BILL DAVIS: Yeah, Bryan's a tremendous athlete. He's got some strength to deploy. He's got good speed rush when you have him in the nickel package and he's rushing off the edge. He's got the ability to run and change direction, so his cover skills are up there, and it's about him learning our scheme. He's another one that the mind has to slow down. But it takes time. It takes reps. You have to keep putting him out there and going through the growing pains with them.

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