Q. Looking at your safety situation, it looks like S Nate Allen has a hamstring issue and S Earl Wolff has knee problems. Is there any thought about what you are going to do this week? Maybe active S Ed Reynolds off of the practice squad? BILL DAVIS: Right now it looks like they'll be okay. There really shouldn't be an issue this week.
Q. CB Nolan Carroll II looked quicker on Sunday than he has been in the past. At the start of the season, maybe he wasn't a hundred percent sound. Do you see him getting more snaps now?
BILL DAVIS: Like we talk about often, a lot of times a player plays faster when he understands things more thoroughly. I think what you're seeing in our dime package, because of the fact that [LB] Mychal Kendricks had been out for so long, we really got an opportunity to grow that at probably a faster rate than we would have. I think with Nolan right now, what you're seeing, is he's got a very clear understanding of what his responsibilities are down in there and he's playing faster because of it.
Q. You guys have done a really good job against tight ends this year. Is Carroll a part of that success or what do you attribute that to?
BILL DAVIS: I would say they all [are]. I don't see one way or another. I think we have a better understanding of scheme. I think all the guys that have been asked to cover the tight ends, whether it's our safeties or [S] Malcolm [Jenkins] that comes down, which he gets the tight end a lot in our nickel and dime packages. Or it's the dime package itself that covers them. I think the guys are playing better leverage, I think they are playing with a better or a clearer understanding of that leverage and where their help is, and I think that's helping cover those tight ends.
Q. When the Texans traded LB DeMeco Ryans to the Eagles there were questions about how much he had left. Now that you've been with him for a year and a half, what do you see from him behind the scenes and on the field.
BILL DAVIS: I've been around a little ‑‑ a couple of players. DeMeco is one of the finest men I've been around. He's a relentless worker; you can't out work him. He's a great leader. He's a very calm leader.
During the game everybody gets amped up and it takes all that you have, every ounce of what you have, to play every snap. Tempers get going and emotions get going, and that's the way you have to play the game. DeMeco is a calming influence. He plays at that level, he plays with that intensity, but the way he talks to his teammates, the way he coaches them out there, is a very calming effect on the defense. He makes good, quick decisions that set our defense up. We have a lot of checks and he gets us in and out of calls based on formation or the quarterback audibling. Without DeMeco, I don't know if we could do as much as we do.
Q. Some wonder how the 1,100 snaps he took last year would impact him this year. There seems to be no drop off. Does that surprise you at all?
BILL DAVIS: It doesn't surprise me, because behind the scenes you know how much he puts into the recovery phase. Every tool that Chip [Head Coach Chip Kelly] allows these players to have in the recovery phase, DeMeco takes advantage of. And I think the veterans understand the amount that we give the players as far as from a recovery standpoint, the amount of tools, the amount of things that they can use to recover their bodies. DeMeco gets it and he uses all of it. I think his body is in a good place, even though he has all those snaps, because of the way he dives into his recovery.
Q. Had Carroll not gotten hurt, would you have gone dime on that last play on Sunday?
BILL DAVIS: Probably. I knew he was up for the fourth down that we knew was coming. Had we stopped them on that third down, we knew a fourth down was coming and he would have been in. But Nolan played a lot more snaps than he had been playing up to that point and he was cramping about every third play.
Q. How does that change the coverage when you have to go nickel there? Is it just a different player playing corner?
BILL DAVIS: I've got more options. I've got more man-options. At that point they were really backed up and I thought I'd stay in the zone. We were protecting a field goal. So it wasn't a big deal, but it did change the thought process, having dime or nickel in there.
Q. How close is Kendricks to being full strength?
BILL DAVIS: He's getting real close. Our target was about 20 snaps for him and we kept him in the nickel and dime package so we would limit the amount -- the volume -- that he would have to play and the volume of reps. And it turned out okay. We didn't go backwards in the game with his injuries.
So we're moving forward. Doesn't mean he's healed all the way yet, but we're closer and closer to getting that 100 percent.
Q. Do you know how much you can get out of him in practice this week?
BILL DAVIS: I don't know, but we'll see day‑by‑day. Again, day‑by‑day after a game with 20 reps under his belt is a good sign, and I think we're inching towards a lot more reps for Mychal.
Q. What have you seen from Texans RB Arian Foster this year?
BILL DAVIS: He's one of the best backs in the League and he [always] has been. Been against him a couple of times and he really was one of the top rushers -- and still is -- before his back injury and now he's healed and he's showing all the signs. He really makes that offensive go. He is the bell cow for that offense. They feed it to him and he makes things happen.
Q. How does the amount of penalties being called, particularly illegal contact, influence you as a play-caller?
BILL DAVIS: As a play-caller, zero. It's the technique that we coach day in and day out. And you run into different referee groups that call that more than others. The goal of every game is, 'Early on, men, let's talk on the sideline, and let's talk to the referees that are calling them about what they're calling. When we do get a couple of penalties early let's have discussions.' The guys are doing a great job of saying, 'Hey, what did I do wrong there?' Then you get a feel. If any touch is a penalty, then we don't touch anything. Some guys let you get away with some, so we get away with it.
It's a week‑to‑week, game‑to‑game thing with the officiating crew we're dealing with.
Q. As you met with the defense today, how did you close the book on the Arizona game?
BILL DAVIS: Well, like every game, wins or losses, when we go into that film room, they're on every game, win or lose, there are mistakes, there are good plays, there are bad plays, there is communication that we had confusion on. Every game has all those elements to it.
We try to go in every game of the 16-game schedule and say, 'Let's put our emotions, let's put our feelings aside and let's be pros and let's solve problems. Let's answer questions. Let's get it right in your head so you can play faster and the mistakes that we made in that game don't show themselves again.' That's really what we do every week, and that's what we did today.
Q. How tough is it for you against multiple wide receiver sets when everyone runs picks? If they're not calling them, is there a way to defend that? BILL DAVIS: We've got different tools that we go in and out of that stop picks. In man coverage you have different tools. In zones you're zoning off areas. There's different tools we can apply if we get a big pick game. The blitz that we ran where they got the touchdown on us, we knew they had that pick route, they'd shown it probably three or four times in that game, some after the touchdown, some before, but we'd practiced that. We knew what was coming.
Q. How could you guys have defended that play differently?
BILL DAVIS: We have different tools. We have a couple of tools, but at the end of the day we really just need to get to the up-field shoulder and tackle it. We didn't touch him and we should have. We had two-on-two and the first guy was inside ‑‑ the ball was out before the contact with Malcolm [Jenkins] hit, so I can see why they didn't call it. We just have to get a tackle.
Q. As you look at S Nate Allen, what gives you the confidence you have in him?
BILL DAVIS: I watch every play Nate had. Nate had a very good game; he had one bad play. But he wasn't the only one. The pass rush wasn't the way it was supposed to be, and the quarterback had a step-up lane. [CB] Cary [Williams] could have got higher quicker for the insurance, if you do take the wrong step. He took one false step and got beat big. What we talk about in the defensive room is, 'Yeah, Nate took a bad step. And Nate had a bad play. And Cary could have had a better play, and our pass rush could have -- ' But the same mistake that was made in the pass rush, nobody is blaming them. The same mistake in underneath coverage, where we might be in a wrong leverage, you overcome it and it's not a touchdown. When a safety or a corner makes that same minor mistake, it's a major mistake because it ends up in points. We could have all played that better. The Philadelphia Eagle defense got beat on that play, not just Nate. Now Nate, in the game, you [can] talk about his turnover, you can talk about the seven-route in the corner of the end zone. There was a play that we had mass confusion underneath and there was a huge argument going on. Nate came out of the post and solved the problem and we got off the field with an incompletion. Over and over again, Nate was in the right spot, the right leverage, making the plays, and at the end of the game he had one bad play. The spotlight is on you, and that's part of being in the secondary, but Nate has thick skin and we as a defense, collectively, blew it at the end. I could have had a better call – there are a lot of things.
Q. So you're confident with Allen in that spot?
BILL DAVIS: Absolutely confident in Nate Allen. No question.
Q. There has been a reoccurrence of those deep plays though. There was the play by WR DeSean Jackson against Washington where he bit on the underneath route. Then there was the Jacksonville game against WR Allen Hurns, I'm wondering if that's a trend you're seeing?
BILL DAVIS: It's not a trend I'm seeing. Has he played the perfect season? No. But let's go to other players. I can point out on film Malcolm Jenkins' mistakes, on Cary [Williams], on [CB Bradley] Fletcher. I can go to other teams and show you. Mistakes are made. You've got to sit there and say, 'Okay, how many are we making? Where are they?' And, yes, in the Washington game he did; it was a post and there's a deep crossing route element to it that sometimes we cut it out and sometimes we don't.
Knowing all the things I ask him to do, all the things within the defense, watching all the mistakes that DeMeco makes, that Mychal Kendricks makes, all of them, you really can't say or make an argument, with the mistakes that are made, 'Well let's switch this guy out.' And at the end of the day, I've got nothing but confidence in the group we have -- knowing they're going to make mistakes, knowing we'll fix them, knowing we'll correct them.
And all the plays they make ‑‑ I think part of the issue is that when you win, all of the big plays are celebrated. But when you lose, the bad plays are really over analyzed. But at the end of the day I try to look at the collection of it, whether it was a win or loss and when the play happened. I know it was magnified on Nate because of the situation in the game where it was. But at the end of the day, they made a play and we didn't. Earlier in the season at the end of games, we made plays and the other team didn't.
Q. Is Allen's hamstring okay?
BILL DAVIS: I believe it's a minor. He's, again, we'll go to the day‑to‑day phase with him. But I think he's going to be okay.
Q. Can you talk about Houston's pass-receiving group?
BILL DAVIS: They've got a good group. They really do. They're growing. They're really a 50-50 balanced running attack with Foster in there and he's kind of setting up their play action. They've got a good, consistent, accurate, timing-rhythm offense. It's a lot like New England's where [Texans Head Coach Bill] O'Brien is from. We're at the beginning phases of studying that and putting our plan together. But it's a pretty efficient passing game with big receivers that can catch and have big catch radiuses.
Q. Your defense has seemingly improved from the time where you said, 'We're going to play more aggressively and we're going to go after them.' There have been big, X-plays in the span since you said that. Do you see any correlation between the philosophy in going after it and that?
BILL DAVIS: Well, I think what you're going after, does a blitz mean you're playing aggressive, or is playing a technique being aggressive? The two big plays that we gave up in that game for touchdowns, one was an all-out blitz and one was a four-man rush with four-deep zone coverage. So both extremes gave up big plays. At the end of the day, the defense that we call, 11 guys with the correct technique, correct eyes, correct alignment and the execution of it, is what gets the defense better and better. And unfortunately, we lost on the play like we lost.
We are really growing. There are so many techniques and little things that are getting better and better every week. I have nothing but confidence in this group to be the defense we all want it to be. But we've got to go through the process. We've got to learn and we've got to make some of those mistakes. I've second‑guessed my call on that 50 different times. We all learn, we all grow from it and I think we'll be a better team. Q. How much of an advantage is it for you guys to be able to use the dime package as much as you have been using it?
BILL DAVIS: It's a huge advantage when you face a team like we just did that has four or five wide receivers on the field. Because at the end of the day, you're looking at matchups. Who can take who and what kind of tools you use. When you have a bunch of corners and nickels and safeties on the field, there's more tools available than when you put a big linebacker that maybe has to cover a receiver. That guy almost always has to get help.
There's different things that you can do, and probably more of a defensive ‑‑ from a schematic point, when you go to dime.
Q. Last year, obviously you didn't have the luxury of doing that.
BILL DAVIS: Correct.
Q. That seems to be a big advantage this year?
BILL DAVIS: It is. It is.
Q. Just to follow up on that last play, you said there was a mistake in the pass rush. Can you explain what you could have done to not let the quarterback step up there?
BILL DAVIS: At the end I could have called ‑‑ We let a step-up quarterback step up into a vertical throw. We had one man – [DE] Fletcher Cox was the only one in front of him and we had three behind. What you'd like is more in front. You've got to take that step-up away, especially in a situation like that. I wish I would have stunted in a way that would have had somebody inside. I still like the coverage we were in for the time, but when things go wrong, you tend to second‑guess yourself. Like everybody second-guesses you. You've got to try to consistently make a good, sound decision, and everybody play the technique. We'll come out more with wins if we do.
Q. Is CB Brandon Boykin OK? He mentioned a hamstring after the game.
BILL DAVIS: I think we're going to give Boyk' a break today, but I think he's got a day‑to‑day thing going on, too. I think he'll be fine. I really do think we're OK.
Q. Has Kendricks absence impacted what you've asked Ryans to do?
BILL DAVIS: No, we just ask more people. We have more bodies replacing Mychal Kendricks. DeMeco's role has pretty much stayed the same. You saw that in our dime. We have all kinds of different versions when Mychal is back. It's been the other guys that are filling in for Mychal that have changed.