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Quotes: Defensive Coordinator Jim Schwartz

Posted Sep 22, 2016

Q. Your offense is controlling the ball for nearly 37 minutes per game. How valuable is that for a defense?

JIM SCHWARTZ: Well, that obviously means a lot because the less number of snaps you play, the less opportunity the offense has to get a bead on you. I think there's a combination of a couple of things: the offense has done a good job of keeping drives alive and we've also won a lot of third downs. Sometimes, as a defense, it's easy to complain about an offense keeping you on the field, but if you are out there for 12- and 15-play drives, sometimes you've only got yourself to blame. That's not the offense's fault if you're out there for 12- or 15-play drives. So I think that it's been a combination. The offense has certainly done a good job not turning the ball over and also keeping drives alive. Then we've done a good job of getting off the field on third down or creating turnovers. That combination has worked so far.

Q. It seems like you guys have gotten more and more effective in both games, as the game has gone along. How much of that is wearing people down physically and how much is adjustments and scheme?

JIM SCHWARTZ: I mean, you adjust after every series. I've said this before, [but] people talk about halftime adjustments [and] there's really no such thing in this league. You adjust after every series. Depending on what injuries happen, what an offense is having success with, where they are breaking their tendencies, where they are playing into their tendencies, those things are discussed after every drive. The idea, obviously, as the game goes on, is you have to figure out ways to put out fires and also not go too far away from what you are strong at. [Bears WR] Alshon Jeffrey gave us a couple big plays and we were able to get that fire put out a little bit. I think that some of our coverage stuff had to do with it; some of it had to do with physical play. Tully [LB Stephen Tulloch] put a big hit on him and that tends to take a toll on opponents, also.

Q. How did you evaluate the way CB Jalen Mills played when you watched the film?

JIM SCHWARTZ: You know, he was out there. Again, I'll leave the evaluation stuff -- you guys can reference Pro Football Focus for stuff like that. Here's the one thing I would like -- and I've already told him this, this is no secret -- the only thing I was disappointed in with him is finding the football in the air. That's something he did a really good job of in training camp. That's sort of a calling card for a corner. You can't play with your back to the ball too much. Are you going to get beat on a double move? Yeah. If you are aggressive and you are covering, guess what? That's something that happens and he needs to learn from it. We need to get a little more safety help and everything else. But the whole thing of locating the ball and keeping your technique, I think that's the most important thing to come out of this game. Another thing in general, he showed a short memory in a good way. There's some guys that give up a play or miss a tackle and all of a sudden they become tentative and become conservative out there. He kept his stinger up, so to speak, and we like seeing that.

Q. How difficult is it to scheme for a guy like Steelers WR Antonio Brown, especially given that the Steelers do a good job moving him around?

JIM SCHWARTZ: Yeah, we know what number he wears, so we won’t have a problem finding him. But it's not just him. I mean, they’ve got a track meet of wide receivers. They've got some guys that can fly and that can take the top of a defense. 17 [WR Eli Rogers] is a really shifty guy in the slot. Their tight end [Jesse James] is big. They've got a couple different tight ends they can work in there. A running back [DeAngelo Williams] that's leading the NFL in rushing and a future Hall of Fame quarterback [Ben Roethlisberger]. So if we concentrate too much on 84 [Antonio Brown] -- and he's going to get a lot of our attention, for sure -- there's a lot of other guys that can make us pay. We're going to have to play a good total team game; we're going to have to play total team defense. It's not just going to be about stopping one guy. There are a lot of other match-ups that we need to win in this game.

Q. You mentioned DeAngelo Williams, who is 33 years old. Does he look like a 33-year-old running back?

JIM SCHWARTZ: I can only go by what goes on tape. They don't ask for a birth certificate before the game. They don't give you 9 yards [to gain a first down] if you are over 30. You’ve still got to get 10. He's a patient runner, he's compact and he's strong. He can test every area of your run gaps. If we're nosey or if we get out of our gaps, he's a guy that can make you pay. A lot of that comes from his experience. So I think that's served him well. He's been in the league for a while. He understands the run game and it's not just [about] where the ball is supposed to go. He can test every gap and we have to play sound defense.

Q. What does it mean to get contributions on defense from DT Destiny Vaeao? He was only in for seven snaps, but he got the big sack and the fumble.

JIM SCHWARTZ: Yeah, that was a critical point of the game. We've said this before. We haven't had to rotate as much up front as you would anticipate just because of our snaps being so low. We've been lucky a little bit with the weather hasn't been terribly hot for any of those. We haven't had to rotate those guys enough. But when you are out there, doesn't matter what the situation is – it might be third-and-10, it might be fourth-and-one. You have to be relied on to be able to make the plays come to you. The thing I was proudest of him with that play, he was blocked pretty good on that play. That was really a second-effort play that he made to keep coming. [Bears QB Jay] Cutler extended the play. [DE] Vinny [Curry] sort of got him flushed a little bit, and then he stepped up and finished it. Some players might have a tendency to stop if they got blocked on a play. He played with great effort and we need that from guys. That's one of the reasons we have those guys in there. They have to be relied on to make the play that happens. That might have been the most critical play of the game. They were driving a little bit and that stopped it and shifted momentum to us, for sure.

Q. What goes into your decision when you go three defensive ends by moving Vinny inside? What kind of trouble does that give offenses?

JIM SCHWARTZ: It just goes week by week. Vinny was coming off of the knee the week before. We like him inside. We like him outside. It's just trying to find our best match-ups on weekly basis. There might be some weeks we do it, there might be some we don't. There will be times where you will see three defensive tackles out there. It just depends on what the match-ups are and how they go. But Vinny is a multi-dimensional guy that can rush inside and outside. It hasn't shown on the stat board yet, but he's rushed very effectively for us these first two games.

Q. What’s the reason Tulloch got in there for LB Jordan Hicks, and what did you see from him?

JIM SCHWARTZ: It was a coaching decision. He made a big hit on that play. Just leave it at that.

Q. Will we see his role maybe increase?

JIM SCHWARTZ: I don't know. We'll see. Guys, one thing, I'm not big on who is going to play, who is in which package. We're just trying to do whatever we can that best helps us win that game. You know, I just leave it at that. I try not to talk too much about who is going to be matched up on who or what packages we want to feature and things like that. I'm sorry, it's not that I'm trying to keep stuff from you. I just feel like that's stuff that's best for the opponent to figure out on Sunday.

Q. You didn’t blitz much against the Browns. What went into the decision to send S Malcolm Jenkins on the second play of the game?

JIM SCHWARTZ: Just thought it was best at the time. Can't give you any --

Q. Was it something you saw?

JIM SCHWARTZ: If we sit here and pat ourselves on the back about what a smart move that was, then the opponents know what we were looking at. Again, I don't mean to be coy or anything else. If it worked, it worked, and that’s the proof of the pudding. If he got blocked, y'all would have said what a [bad] call that was to blitz him. The tight end blocked [him] and gave up a big play. What were you thinking? I was thinking the same thing as when he came free and got the sack. Again, I don't like to go too far into reasons behind stuff. Obviously there are reasons behind. But, you know, I think the whole thing is did it work or not. If it worked, it was a good call. If it didn't, it was a crappy guy.

Q. What did you think of DE Brandon Graham before you started seeing him in practice in terms of evaluating his film from last year?

JIM SCHWARTZ: He's always been a good rusher. I don't want to jump ahead of your question there, but he's compact, he's strong, he plays with great effort. Got to coach him at the Senior Bowl. We saw it firsthand. He's a tough match-up for some offensive tackles. Just watching the film last year, he gave some of the offensive linemen or offensive tackles in our own division, he gave those guys a handful. I think his biggest thing is the tempo he plays with, his effort. He's a tough guy and he's one of our tempo setters up front for our whole team. He's been that way since OTAs, since training camp, since preseason games and in the first two games.

Q. Graham’s rush defense has been pretty good.

JIM SCHWARTZ: We've got plenty to run, too. He's not a one-trick pony. All of our guys up front would be expected to do both.

Q. Looking at LB Nigel Bradham, he’s been staying on the field the whole game. What has he been showing you so far?

JIM SCHWARTZ: I mean, that's been a little bit more just the way teams have played and stuff like that. There are some things he's not in there for. A couple plays he was out. He's been good against the run, been good against the pass. Made a big play in the game.

Q. Have you talked to the secondary about sticking to their man since Roethlisberger has that tendency to extend plays so much?

JIM SCHWARTZ: Yeah, we emphasize sticking on our man at all times. But I do get your point. You have to cover longer against Roethlisberger because he is capable of extending plays. He doesn't do it outside of the pocket very much anymore, but he is if not the best, he's one of best in the business at sliding and picking and just working his way around the pocket. He's a giant man, he's not afraid of contact in there. A lot of the plays get extended, and it does put more pressure on coverage. It's not just coverage, our pass rush has to keep going. He doesn't have a clock when he throws. Some guys throw it quick and the ball is delivered on time all the time. He can, but he also has the ability to extend. So we need to keep our rush going. It's not just two seconds you are rushing for. You've got to keep going. He's not coming down on an arm tackle. You can grab the jersey and he's still going to throw it.

Q. You guys have given up three “X” plays in the two games. All three have been on scoring drives. Those are your only scoring drives you've allowed. How much emphasis is there on eliminating those?

JIM SCHWARTZ: I think that you look at this way. Our job is to keep scoring down the best we can. Sometimes you run -- I don't want to call them risky, but more aggressive schemes. They can look really good and you can potentially give up a big play. Big plays do equal scoring in this league. Twenty yard plays equal scoring. We can also overreact the other way and you've seen it a lot of times, guys say, ‘Hey, we can't give up the big play.’ Well, hell, then you just keep giving up first down churners, first down churners and third-down conversions. Well, you go through a drive, you haven't given up a big play, but they still got 80 yards and they still scored a touchdown. The thing with the plays we have given up, I like the fact that we have gotten those guys on the ground and given us a chance to play again. We've held one to a field goal. We got a couple penalties in the end zone that sort of led to our touchdowns. I thought we had a chance to get off the field with those. If we give us a chance to play again, I like that. You have got to balance both of those. You have got to keep your edge. You've got to stay aggressive. I don't think we want to lose that edge. And just be able to know that there are going to be times we're going to be in difficult positions. And as long as it's not very many, again, a touchdown still counts as seven whether they did it on a 12-play drive running it every snap or they did it on one play going 80 yards. Our job is to keep scoring down whatever way we can, we're going to try to do that.

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