Is there anything you would have done differently in that fourth quarter from a defensive standpoint?
COACH DAVIS: You know, when you go into that fourth quarter, first of all, I thought that the first three quarters, the guyswe really did everything we wanted to do and accomplish. Then we got the three score lead, and you go into a four man rush, three man rush zone coverage. You keep the ball in front of you, you keep it inbounds, you try to bleed the clock, you keep it out of the end zone. If they get a field goal because they move it a little bit, so be it, but you still keep that big lead that you have with one quarter to play. When I first went home Sunday night, I thought, 'Boy, we played awful in that fourth quarter,' and then when I came back in and watched it five times, there's little things. There's a bunch of little things that led to that poor play in the fourth quarter, and it was shared throughout calls, on myself, the secondary, the rush, the underneath coverage, the deep coverage. We all took a little bit of a piece of letting that almost comeback comeback. To the players' credit, they're finding ways to win.
Again, it's a disastrous fourth quarter for us where we have to make a stand in the very last minutes, and the guys stood up and made plays again, and that's what winners do. They find ways to win. Now, what we have to do and what I've got to do is make sure that doesn't happen again. We had a long session this morning about every detail of that fourth quarter and what went wrong and how we're going to fix it.
When you see that four other teams blew double-digit leads at the same time you guys were
COACH DAVIS: Almost did, yeah.
Do you rethink calling off the only three and four man rushes?
COACH DAVIS: Well, I put a couple blitzes in there and I put some man coverage, but the problem with blitzing in that situation is they get a quick score if it goes bad. When you keep it in front of you, they have to take time off the clock if they're going to get one. So you go back to forth honestly, and at the end we blitzed a lot more, but for that, I did what really the training tells you to do, and you make and you keep it in front of you.
You guys talked about eliminating the plays of 20-plus yards, but you got hit for a couple more this week.
COACH DAVIS: Yeah, we did.
What were you seeing on those plays, and what's your level of comfort with the outside corners?
COACH DAVIS: You know, I went back, I know everybody is on the corners, but man, I went back and looked at every play. We did as a staff over and over again. And the corners have their share, but it is not them and them alone. I can break down every play that they had and tell you multiple other people that had a breakdown on that play. For instance, on [CB] Bradley Fletcher, the throw up, it was just really almost a Hail Mary type thing where you threw it up, but we had a half safety that came out of the half, so there should have been two players there. We had a contain element in the pass rush that lost contain that let the quarterback out. So there was a series of breakdowns, and then at the end, Fletch still should have made the play. He still should have finished through the hands like he did in the first half when he had a similar play down their sideline and he made it. So it's just a consistency of play that we've got to get done.
The [S] Nate Allen touchdown was man coverage. He just needed to hold on to his man, as, again, the quarterback scrambled around because we had great coverage for the entire down, scrambled around, threw it up in the air, and Nate took his eyes off his coverage, put it on the quarterback, separation happened, and a touchdown happened.
So over and over again, you look at a series of events on a play that hurt us that led to it, but not one individual player. I have complete confidence in our corners, I really do. And I watch every play of every snap of practice, obviously, and I know everybody wants to pin it on them, but I'm telling you, that's not where the issue is all the time.
With the breakdowns that you were talking about where S Malcolm Jenkins comes down. Was he playing the quarterback running out of the pocket?
COACH DAVIS: He shouldn't have. He's a half defender. A half defender stays in the half, especially with that lead. He knows that. He came out and he shouldn't have. We had a guy that was coming back out to get a contain. But in that situation with that lead, we stay deep and we cover our area.
You're getting a lot of production from your outside linebackers in terms of the pass rush, but it seems like a lot of times they're getting pressure up the "A" gaps with rushes moving all around. Can you tell me what you see in that regard and why it's working?
COACH DAVIS: You know, the outside linebackers got the production in this game, but the thing that's growing is the four man rush, and all four of them together. We can give a lot of different structures to opposing offenses. Sometimes the ends are inside and the tackles are out, sometimes we're in an odd front, sometimes we're in even. We collectively are rushing the passer better together, and a couple of the sacks, somebody else flushed the quarterback and the guys picked up the sacks. Some were unblocked. We had some blitzes that were unblocked. So it's just a combination of things. But overall the four man pass rush is getting better.
Do you expect to have LB DeMeco Ryans today?
COACH DAVIS: I don't know. I don't think so. But he's a day to day guy. I think it's looking good, at least I hope we see him on Sunday, but he's a day to day guy right now.
When you look at the Giants' offense, how does offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo seem different than what former Giants offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride ran?
COACH DAVIS: Ben McAdoo, I was with him in San Francisco along with Mike McCarthy, and Ben McAdoo has been a whole career with Mike McCarthy. It's the same playbook that the Green Bay Packers run, so you see a lot of similarities. So the Ben McAdoo offense is very similar to Green Bay and what we faced last year in Green Bay, and that's what you're seeing on tape now with the Giants. You really are seeing a progress. They're doing a great job every week, those guys are getting better and better and the offense has got a little bit more to it and a little bit more to it.
Is there one guy that worries you with the Giants?
COACH DAVIS: On offense, no, they've got a lot of talent, and it starts with the quarterback. They've got the o line playing as a group. They've all started every game. Receivers are very talented, and they get [WR] Odell Beckham back and he made a difference in the game. The tight end's having a great season. We have a lot of weapons that we have to face to slow this offense down.
For one reason or another LB Casey Matthews and LB Brandon Graham at times during their career have had trouble getting on the field. Right now they're on the field. Some of that is necessity, but tell me what you're seeing from both of them that's earning them the playing time that they're getting.
COACH DAVIS: You see the consistency of play. With a lot of players, first of all, we're in the second year of the scheme, Brandon made the transition. Brandon is getting better and better in his pass coverage. You saw the one they caught on him, that was a phenomenal coverage on his part, we just didn't, again, play the ball at the point of the catch as well as we'd like to, but boy, Brandon was in a great spot. He's getting better in that. He's working hard at the details. Casey Matthews and [LB Emmanuel] Acho are really solid in there for us, they really are. They're real good run defenders, and that's really where they shine, and at pass coverage they're getting better and better at understanding where their help is and where their help isn't. We're real impressed with all the guys that have had to step in and either rotate or take over for starters. It's very impressive the working and the professionalism they've got, and it shows in their play.
Any indication on LB Mychal Kendricks?
COACH DAVIS: No, he's day to day. We've got him and [LB] DeMeco [Ryans] going day to day, and those are muscle issues that are healing that we get back hopefully sooner than later.
It's less stress on the defense, though, isn't it, if you don't have DeMeco and Mychal?
COACH DAVIS: Well, I think any time your starters that you have lined up as your starters aren't in, you can say, well, your starters are there for a reason. But the backups and the way they're coming in and the way they really are taking care of the position until the starters get back is impressive. It goes to those guys and what kind of men and what kind of pros they are.
What are you asking from CB Nolan Carroll II in his current role, and how did he look on Sunday?
COACH DAVIS: You know, Nolan has really grown as a dime linebacker, and that's really what it is. You take a corner, and really what we're doing is making him an inside linebacker in passing situations. At first it was hard, and we only had four or five calls that we could use, but Nolan is such a pro that now I have the whole package that I can run with him in there, and the coverage part of it really is increasing because you have a corner in there, now covering either a slot or a fourth wide or a tight end, and those match ups are in our favor, and he's really understanding the leverage in the eyes. When you go from outside to inside, your vision is what changes, and what you have to key. We had some issues in the fourth quarter with some of the underneath pass offs of shallows, and it just takes reps in there, and we had different guys break down.
Specifically on Casey, can you talk about his progress week to week since all those inside backer injuries started, just what you've seen?
COACH DAVIS: Well, first of all, Casey has playing experience. His first year as a rookie he was thrown in and he played a lot of snaps, so it's not too big for him when he gets out there. He, like DeMeco, is very good at setting our fronts and running the show, so when DeMeco did go out, we really didn't miss a beat with Casey or Acho because they're very intelligent, heady, football savvy players, and that's really what he gives you in there. He's solid, he sets everything up. He's a good leader in there as far as understanding what we're supposed to be in and getting us in those calls.
In those situations when DeMeco was staying in, you had more nickel and dime on the field. Was that the game situation, or was that because he was in the game?
COACH DAVIS: It was game situation. We were in dime for certain reasons and nickel for other reasons. But either way, DeMeco would have been on the field, but Casey was in there or Acho was in there. It was really about what they were doing and passing every down, and it was really a fourth quarter of two minute, and that's why we were in dime almost the whole time.
Have you seen progress from LB Marcus Smith II? I know he's only gotten a handful of snaps the last few games.
COACH DAVIS: He is, he is, and again, it takes time and reps, and the more playing time he gets, the better he'll get. We had a couple blitzes where he was free and the ball came out, but his time is coming. He's moving in the right direction, and Marcus will be fine.
In your evaluation of all the cornerbacks to play this season, what makes you think that Cary Williams and Bradley Fletcher are the two best options on the outside?
COACH DAVIS: Every play that they've made. You take the first half, the first quarter, you take every play that the ball was vertical. Cary made a great play down the sideline on the ball. Time and time again, they both step up and make plays, and they also have times where they don't, and you can't take every position, like for instance, okay, you want me to make a switch, that one on the corner is because a touchdown was given up or two. What about the loss contain guy? What about the half safety that came out? So that's kind of from my perspective where we're looking at it. If you looked at consistent corner play, and at the end of that fourth quarter, how many times are the corners in a position of high shoulder, of inside or outside leverage like I want them to be? They were consistently exactly where I wanted them to be. For instance, Cary's touchdown, the one that they threw the back shoulder fade, we were in an all out blitz, and they took three receivers and put them into the short boundary, leaving Cary the entire field to handle by himself with no safety help, asking to take away inside moves, ask him to take away fades. The last ball that he has to play to because he has the whole field is the back shoulder fade. We had [S] Nate Allen come off the side on a blitz. He jumped. The quarterback made about as perfect a throw as you can make. Cary took away the slant, then he took away the fade, and the back shoulder fade was the last phase of it, and he had the whole field to work with, and they made a good throw and catch to beat the call, and Cary had the whole field, like I said.
On that play, I don't have a coaching point for Cary other than I put you in that position, you did everything I asked of you from inside to deep to the outside fade ball. You can't stop everything. Every call I asked him to play up or off, so there's a leverage of up or back. There's a leverage of inside or outside. Every time you take outside leverage, you're vulnerable to inside routes and vice versa.
As you ask a player to do something, and that's when I look at these corners, are you doing what I'm asking you to do, and that's the first phase, and then can you make the play at the ball, and they do make more than they don't. We didn't play at the ball perfect in the fourth quarter, and that probably was our biggest fault was at the football, how we played it, and we'll continue to work on that and get better at it.
But as far as every snapif there was a change to be made, I promise you, we would make it, but it's got to be for the right reasons. It's got to be are they doing what we're asking them to do and can they get it done, and right now the answer is yes to that, and we'll continue to grow and be the defense that we want to be.
CB Brandon Boykin made a great play on a ball –
COACH DAVIS: Yes, he did. But so did Cary in the first half. So did Fletch in the first half. And there was a couple plays that Boykin wasn't where he was supposed to be. We're not coming down on Boyk or coming down on anybody, but when you watch the game and you know what you've asked of everybody, everybody takes turns having bad downs and good downs, and if there's a change that should be made, I promise you I'd make it, but right now it's not time. There's not a move to make.