How easy for you, you tell me, can you guys get past this loss easily?
COACH DAVIS: Absolutely, we can, and we will. We're one month down. Four weeks into it. We took a whooping. That's what happened. We did not play good enough to win, obviously. Those games are tough to swallow. But you move on from them. I mean, you're running into some of those games sometimes, and you have to learn from your mistakes and move forward, and right now we're at a stage of four weeks of live football that we've tested the defense in. We are not where we want to be. But believe it or not, I know the results are not there, but behind the scenes, I've watched that game probably ten times now on tape along with every other game we've played. The fundamentals, the techniques, the understanding, the players playing with each other, it is moving forward. The results did not show in that game obviously, so I'm asking to you trust me even though there are not the results. But the guys know through the daily work that the techniques, it will turn. It will turn. It hasn't turned yet. It's not where we want it to be, but we'll continue to put our heads down and work, and I really believe it will turn.
You were caught with the nickel defense in the first two drives. Started nickel in the third drive, and they had two tight ends. Brandon Boykin seemed like he was almost in at outside linebacker.
COACH DAVIS: Yeah, that was my mistake. I believe they were in three wide receiver personnel grouping, so I got caught in a personnel I didn't want to be in versus the no huddle. So you can't fix it in one play. I think they ran a sweep to the sideline and I fixed it. So that was my fault. Then we went base, and that was one of those deals where sometimes their personnel, they run a tight end and receiver route. I've got mine out there, they're on the ball, they're playing. That's an element of the no‑huddle you can get caught in. I got caught in it. Brandon did not hurt us in the run game. It was a big run, but it had nothing to do with Brandon being in that role. There were other reason that's play broke down.
The team has had a lot of success throwing underneath against your linebackers and short passes. Do you need to make changes to your nickel formation or do you think that that could be fixed with the personnel that you have out there?
COACH DAVIS: We've got to get tighter in our zones first of all. But when we took this project on of putting the new techniques and the new defense in, the first thing we said was we were going to run to the ball. We were going to fly the ball to our effort. Next thing we were going to stop the big plays. We were going to play deep to short. Stop the extra yardage plays from happening so we can play a tighter defense. Now the understanding of the zones that we're playing and some of the mans, the guys are getting a good feel. We're deep to short, and we can tighten some of those zones down a little bit if needed without sacrifice of the deep ball or the bigger plays.
What is Mychal Kendricks working on now that's leading into consistency?
COACH DAVIS: I think Mychal is like a lot of our players. We're very inconsistent now in applying the techniques and understanding of the overall scheme. So we have days and stretches of plays where all of them are very exciting to watch them as they're getting it. Then we have these lulls where it's not where you want it to be, and they're a little bit out of whack. And I think Mychal just fights through that as we do a lot of our other players.
Can you talk about not sacrificing the deep ball. You look at a guy like Victor Cruz who has had a lot of success in passing against other teams. What kind of challenge does that present? How do you get caught and not fall in behind it?
COACH DAVIS: It's a big challenge because Eli [Manning] is one of the best deep ball throwers. He catches a beautiful fade ball or deep ball down the sideline, and Victor Cruz, that's part of what they do well. So I think we have a huge challenge in keeping, again, it's a matter of staying on the top shoulder of the receivers and making sure we're in need of the advantageous position on the deep ball.
Is your personnel better suited to the 3-4 or the 4-3?
COACH DAVIS: I believe we're the 3‑4. We're moving in the direction, and right now I stand in front of you and I've got the 3‑4 that we've installed. We're taking some punches on it right now as we're pushing through to the other side. We, as a staff believe we're going to push you to the other side. We just have to get through the transition part and the hard part that we're living right now and the 3‑4 is definitely where we've decided to be. We still have elements of the 4‑3 that are out there often. Each week gives you some different challenges. Like Peyton [Manning] and that whole offense where he's checking in and out of his runs and passes at the line. We needed to have a little bit of a different scheme and more of a disguise scheme so he can't just obviously put them in the best play. We made him read it as he dropped back. He did a great job, but still that was the element.
After four games, what are your thoughts on the level of talent on the defense?
COACH DAVIS: We've got the talent. We just have to get them playing together within the scheme. I don't care what you run. A wide nine or a 3‑4‑two gap. Every player playing his technique, they're all attached to each other. The defensive linemen's technique are attached to the linebacker's technique or attached to the safeties. When you have inconsistency in any one spot, the defense breaks down. It doesn't matter the scheme, it matters the techniques within the call, within the scheme are played as 11 as 1 we always talk about. That's what we have to get to, and we're not there yet. That's probably what shows up more than anything else is an inconsistent spot here or there where the technique didn't fit the other one and somebody's got to make up for the person that's not in their gap or assignment. It is moving in the right direction. It is better each week. As far as that goes.
How do you explain the lack of production from Trent Cole? Do you think we might see a little bit more of Brandon Graham?
COACH DAVIS: When you talk about production, you're talking about pass rush?
COACH DAVIS: In the pass rush area we have faced two offenses where the ball is out about as quick as it can be in San Diego and Denver. So some of it is a product of who we're playing and how quick it's coming out. I think both of them are doing a lot of ‑‑ there is a lot of disruption when you watch Trent on every play. Now he hasn't had the sacks. But the disruption the quarterback gets getting there has been up there. Now the other element here against Denver, we're rushing from a two‑gap alignment. I'm well aware that's harder to pass‑rush, obviously, than when you're wide in an edge and cutting it loose. Part of that in Denver again was about the disguise of what we were doing for Peyton. So we didn't line up and say here comes our pass rush. You do what you have to do. So there were elements that I put them in some techniques that are always advantageous to pass rush, and there are other times they are. The production, I think, is going in the right direction. Again, we have to continue to try to put them in those positions.
Is that why we didn't see a lot of Vinny Curry out of the two gap scheme?
COACH DAVIS: Yes, basically, in a nut shell. We weren't wide and cutting it loose and ripping. And part of that was so that we could try to keep them on their heels with our disguise of how many rushes were coming and where they were coming from. Everything in these schemes and game plans is a give and take. When you face these guys like Peyton, what are you giving up and what are you taking away? What are you weakening on your own defense, what are you strengthening? We played that game and threw the best plan that we believed would help throw them off and slow them down, and it didn't.
Talk about Eli in terms of change of pace at the line?
COACH DAVIS: I think he has the ability to change plays and he does. I don't know, because I'm not in their playbooks. But Peyton runs the offense and calls the game from the line of scrimmage. He's in and out. There is no play called, he tells everybody after he gets his look. I think in New York it's a little different. I think there are play calls that are called in with a couple of options for Eli to switch in and out of, I believe.
You played deep to short and that opens up the underneath a little bit if you're not getting that pressure?
COACH DAVIS: Yes, it does.
So do you have to adjust? Are you looking down field and saying I may have to adjust and not play deep to short in some certain situations? Obviously, you do some. But playing against a guy like Peyton who obviously is supremely talented at getting the ball out.
COACH DAVIS: It does adjust each week. I know it's frustrating. No one's more frustrated than me in watching first downs happen. But when you give up, for instance, the first play of the game, we were not deep to short in the zone, and it ended up being a 30‑yard gain. That is not what we want. There was an open checkdown there for him, and if he had taken that at five, it would have been more advantageous in the zones. Now mans and zones, you move in and out of. In our zones, we don't want to get the deep one. We want them to check it down. If I want to take away the low checkdowns, I man them up, then everybody's low on the man, and it's man on man, and you go for match‑ups from there.
But you get pressure in that situation?
COACH DAVIS: Absolutely. Either zone or man, pressure is what you're looking for. I held the guys back a little bit in our odd front as far as rushing the passer. The ball is coming out so quick anyway, we blitzed a limited number of times, and when we did blitz, we got the bubbles and all the stuff that you don't want. It's a numbers game. How many are you bringing? If he does his bubble, they've got more blockers than we have defenders. So there is that game going on, and that's kind of where that game took us.
Do you expect to have Patrick Chung back this weekend and if he's not back is Earl Wolff still the guy that will fill in?
COACH DAVIS: Earl Wolff is going in a positive direction. He's still making his rookie mistakes. Patrick Chung is day to day. I don't know with the injuries he's dealing with, it's a wildcard. We're preparing not to have him. He's preparing to play. We have to prepare with all injured players, schematically, you prepare for not having them. And at the same time, they're preparing to be there.
There hasn't been an interception since the opening game, is that just a product of everything else not being quite there?
COACH DAVIS: We have to be a turnover team. Our turnovers are not high enough right now. We've got to work on that. We talk about it a lot. We try to get our hands on as many balls in practice as we can. But it's not ‑‑ we've got to increase our turnovers and give our offense more possessions, just like the three‑and‑outs and getting off the field. The defense has to increase its production for the team to succeed. I really believe that, because we've got to get the ball in our offense's hands more often than we are doing right now.
*There were some plays in the second quarter against the Broncos when there was a pretty large gap between Fletcher Cox and Trent Cole where Cole is standing up pretty far outside. Is that Kendricks's responsibility there? *
COACH DAVIS: I'm not positive of the exact play. I think I know what you're talking about. Trent got up field too high and widened the hole. It shouldn't be up that high. We have to tighten and squeeze that down. There are some little technique things like that that you're talking about that puts Mychal in a huge bind. Some of that was the pass call. One of the dilemmas that you're running, you play Peyton, he checks to his run. You make a run call, he checks to his pass. You disguise it, and you're farther away from your work. That was one of those where he saw us in a two-deep shell and a pass‑rush element and he checked to a run that put us a little bit in harm's way.
Do you expect more to be coming from the outside linebacker?
COACH DAVIS: I think it's going to be spread around. I really do. In this scheme, the way we pressure different ways, different people, bring different alignments and run all the fronts we run, I think it will be spread around equally. I really do. The way it spreads out at the season, the D‑line sometimes has more. The outside backers have the share.
It seems like quarterbacks are passing at 70% rate against you guys. It's a lot of underneath stuff: It seems that teams are going to force you to try to tackle better. Is that part of doing the low‑risk stuff, underneath stuff, and trying to get the yards after the catch? Is your answer to that just tackling better?
COACH DAVIS: It's two-fold. All of the above. You have to have better angles and tackle better. Our tackling is getting better. It's not good enough yet. Some individual players are tackling better. We have to collectively tackle better. If I want to take away the shorter ones, I can play more man. Like I said earlier, I can play more man concepts. Everybody's on a man, and now you just work your one‑on‑one battles and matches that you have. So I'm moving in and out of zones, and mans, and again against Peyton, we believe the zones and disguise was the way to go. We did play our share of mans. A lot of those mans got some runs to it. You're going back and forth on it. I still want to ‑‑ I don't want to give up the deep plays. We can make a team do a lot of the short ones. We just came up against the best in the business at driving the field with taking what you give them, and that's what he did. We needed plays and tackle and turnovers and it's a patient game that, again, he played better than we did.
Is that why the interceptions haven't been there if they're throwing underneath?
COACH DAVIS: It could be. It could be. They do come in bunches. The interceptions come in bunches. When you mix your mans and zones, I think that it will rise. But right now, it hasn't.
Is Earl Wolff still your top option if Patrick can't go? Would you consider some of the other guys?
COACH DAVIS: It always has been a very close race. I have no problem with Colt [Anderson] or Kurt [Coleman] or any of them. Right now Earl is a young man we wanted to see out there and grow him. One of the biggest things with rookies is they're going to make their mistakes. Somebody has to grow. Every player out there, somebody grew them at one point. Somebody grew his rookie mistakes and watched him develop and get better. That's what we're doing with Earl. We're developing. He's all in, he works his tail off. We just have to grow him through these mistakes. I have no problem with the other guys either.
With Kendricks, he lunges a lot. I've seen guys with a lot of athleticism and that's been hard. Is that difficult for a guy to coach out of that?
COACH DAVIS: The tackling is something we work over day. There is not a day that goes by that we don't work on tackling. That is the point we make with Mychal all the time and all the guys. Running your feet and wrap tackling with your helmet in between the ball carrier and the end line. A lot of times what we were doing earlier is our head was on the wrong side. We were behind the ball carrier and the end line, and it turns into an arm tackle and you miss it. But now we're working hard on getting our head in front of the body, running our legs through and wrap-tackling all of the fundamentals that all of them worked on since pee wee football. And we've continued to work on it every day and it's slowly improving.