Philadelphia Eagles News

Defensive Coordinator Sean McDermott

On the problems with the red-zone defense and how it can be fixed: "Well, any time we've played like we have in the red zone, there is more than one problem and it starts with keeping the players in position to make plays and it goes all the way down to making plays. We're hard at work trying to get that problem fixed right now and if we want to make a stretch run here, we need to do a better job in the red zone."

On whether it concerns him that when the defense starts to play on their heels, they don't play at that level and whether it's a mindset: "Well, that's part of it. The mindset is part of it. At the same time, it's about executing. Like I've said before, we've got some new guys who haven't been in that situation a lot, so that all goes into the equation."

On whether there have been any big differences that Jason Garrett has done as the head coach that he couldn't do as the offensive coordinator: "He's probably running the ball a little bit more than he has in the past and that could be a result of a lot of things. They've done a good job and they've been successful running the ball, so why not stick with it? They've done a great job."

On stopping the run and pass game:"Well, it's about making sure you hold up your end of the deal in your area at your positions. If you're a run player in that specific defense, then you stop the run. If you're a pass player, then you dedicate all your energy and thoughts to stopping the pass. Look, it's easy when teams are one dimensional, but a team like this that is multi-dimensional as they are – run and pass – that's why they are who they are and that's why they've been successful on offense in Dallas."

On the defense being top in the league in interceptions and at the bottom in touchdowns allowed through the air and whether that speaks to the gambling mentality:"Well, I would hope that it doesn't speak to gambling. I would hope it speaks to the fact that we're just missing in some areas; just six inches off. That's paid dividends from a calculated risk standpoint instead of the gambling as you've mentioned with the turnovers that we've gotten. At the same time, we have to be sound in what we do and not give up those big plays when we're going to be aggressive."

On how CB Asante Samuel's absence has affected the defense:"That's huge. He's a very good player, very good player. (He's) a Pro Bowl corner. With Asante, though, comes that leadership, that veteran leadership, that experience. When things get out of kilter as they do in the ups and downs of a game, having a veteran player at that corner certainly helps to nail things down. We look forward to having him back."

On Samuel being limited in practice yesterday:"Day-to-day, we're just going to see how he responds, you know, as any injury you just want to bring him back slowly."

On whether he remembers the last time Cowboys QB Jon Kitna faced the Eagles and how close he is to still being that player:"I always thought having faced him three or four years ago now – maybe it was three years ago – that he's a heck of a quarterback. Any organization would be lucky to have a back-up like Jon Kitna and we've seen that in terms of his performance over the last three or four weeks and what they've done offensively. He put up yards and points against us; I think it was (2007). We've had our eyes on the film and gone back and looked at that. We're aware of what he can do when he's under center. In addition to that, he's a great leader. He seems to me, not knowing, to be a great competitor and a great leader."

On whether he thinks Dallas will go back to using screens:"Well, that's been their philosophy. They are a screen team and a big screen team and they do it extremely well. I wouldn't imagine that would change. We're going to continue to work on it, continue to practice it and any time you pressure like we pressure, sometimes people see that as a compensator for the blitzes."

On the linebacker corps and the experience factor:"(LB) Moise's (Fokou) first start was the first game, I believe, of Dallas last year. Then, he played in the subsequent two after that. The experience factor I would think would help and then having (LB) Stewart (Bradley) and (LB) Ernie (Sims) as well in the mix certainly helps him. Those three have developed a nice relationship as the season has moved forward here."

On the loss of Cowboys WR Dez Bryant:"He's certainly an explosive player. I don't think it changes what they're able to do. There is only one ball to go around. He's an extremely talented individual, so we certainly wish him the best with his injury. At the same time, they're an explosive offense without him as well. They get the ball to (WR Miles) Austin, they get the ball to (WR Roy) Williams and then they've got (TE Jason) Witten. Then you bring in (WR Kevin) Ogletree and (WR) Sam Hurd there. They've got experience and weapons at every position on offense."

On whether Samuel is doing a better job against screens:"I think we're doing a better job overall defensively on that. We've worked on it and we talked about it back in the spring and we've worked on it since the spring. I think we've done a better job with those overall as a defense, whether it's been to Asante's side or the opposite corner side all season long. Just like stopping the run, it's an everyday thing. You have to work on it, you have to continue to work on it and stay diligent in your approach."

On his evaluation of the defense 12 games in:"Just like any defense and any offense, you continue to try to move forward and grow and learn from our mistakes and continue to build. We've got a young defense here and a defense that, by face and name, is extremely different from the one that was here last year. We're going to continue to work hard, coach and players alike, and move this thing forward and help this team win football games."

On what he has done differently against the receiver screens:"Well, I would say awareness, number one. Part of defending screens is building an awareness to the screen itself, whether it's by situation or by formation. Our players have done a nice job of recognizing screen situations. Even (DT) Trevor (Laws) the other night with the play he made."

On DE Juqua Parker and his impact on the run game:"(He's a) strong player. (Parker) does a great job in the run and pass game. It's rare anymore that you can find defensive ends that can play both in the run and pass game. A lot of these defensive ends are strictly pass rushers, but (Parker) does a good job at the line of scrimmage using his hands. He's an extremely strong individual."

On whether it's imperative to start fast this game, psychologically, given the three losses to the Cowboys last season:"Well, last year was last year. Like I said, we've learned from last year and, that said, probably over half of this defense wasn't even here last year. To go back on last year really doesn't do us any good, other than to learn scheme-wise what we can do better."

On DE Brandon Graham's slow start and what he can do to help him out:"Well, he's battling and there's a process as a rookie. You go through the ups and downs of the season for your first time. It's important that he stays after and he's worked very hard with (defensive line) coach (Rory) Segrest and (assistant linebackers) coach (Mike) Caldwell to improve his game. That's not going to stop. He's going to continue to push and push and help us make a run here as we go through the last four games."

On whether technique is an issue:"Just the normal things you see a rookie go through in transitioning his game, if you will, from college to the NFL."

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