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Quotes: Defensive Coordinator Bill Davis




Q. After re-watching Washington's 90 yard drive, it struck me that it seemed pretty easy for them. They only had two third downs the whole time. They just moved the ball right down the field. What most disappointed you about that and why weren't you ever able to get them bottled up in any way?

BILL DAVIS: The two runs, if you're asking me specifically about the plays on that drive, I think the two runs hurt us. They had two for about 8-to-12 yards, and they hadn't had those earlier. That was kind of a key point to us, getting them in third down. Now we weren't as good as we need to be and have been on third down. That was one thing that I really wish I could have done better, was third down and how we get ourselves off the field on third down. But specifically on that last drive, I think a couple penalties hurt us, and a couple of the runs hurt us.

Q. Do you think you had the right personnel on for those two long runs?

BILL DAVIS: Oh, yeah, I did. Absolutely. It was the same personnel we were stopping them with early on.

Q. Did guys just get tired?

BILL DAVIS: No, I don't think it was [being] tired. It was technique. We got out of a gap on one of the long runs, and the other one, I wish I had a better call in because that particular structure versus the call I had up isn't our best call. We've made better calls. But I can do that for a lot of times. You make your call, and then the structure they give you is what you have to play. So that run play, I wish I would have had a better call on.

Q. So was it the 10 yard run -- the cut back run -- where the guy was in the wrong gap?

BILL DAVIS: Yeah, we just got out of our gap, which we hadn't done much of the whole night. That is one of the things that our D line and linebackers have been great at: aligning and holding on to their position, and that's why we've been so strong at the run game.

Q. When you run some stunts in order to try to get some pressure or show a different look, do you run the risk of not having as good of lane discipline or gap discipline? Is it possible to get a little out of whack because you're stunting? Is that just a price you have to pay or a risk you have to take in that situation?

BILL DAVIS: Yeah, it is. The stunts -- There are some run stunts, but you have to hit the right run when you run the run stunts. Then there are pass-rush stunts and when you do the pass-rush stunts there are more holes available. What you teach the linebackers when you don't stunt, is there are visual gaps that you have. When you stunt, you have to kind of go to a daylight gap type thing, where the hole that the running back sees is what you use, and you have to fill it depending on the stunt.

Q. Did you play a little softer on that last drive?

BILL DAVIS: No, we didn't. We've been playing those – [the Redskins] are a quick, get-the-ball-out-of-the-hands operation, and they had a lot of short, quick passes. They didn't have a lot of the vertical passes. A couple of them that they did throw, I thought we had a shot at intercepting. But it was what we were expecting. It was quick, methodical, move the chains, west coast offense style, a lot like we're about to face this week [against the Saints], too. But we didn't play any softer coverage; we mixed mans and zones and split the safeties to give as much help to the passing game as we could. Again, there were a couple runs that hurt us, and a couple penalties that hurt us.

Q. Can part of the defensive breakdowns be explained by fatigue? You guys were on the field for close to 79 plays?

BILL DAVIS: I honestly don't see it that way. In talking with the players, we are in great shape. There was nobody talking about being gassed. It's not an excuse that we're going to rely on, even though the question isn't about an excuse. I really believe, guys, that we are in great shape. I've said this before, and I just got done saying it to the guys: 'I hope the next 12 games come down to that same scenario because we'll win the next 12.' This group of guys will make those plays. I said after the game, we didn't make it this time, and it's not taking anything away from Washington. They made the plays, they earned the win and they got it. But going forward, we will make those plays. And I don't think anybody was gassed. Now the hard part of the game, if you ask me, is three first-quarter injuries are hard to absorb, because you don't get those bodies back. A lot of times injuries happen at different parts. But we had each position group lose a player in the first quarter. So that, in and of itself, will put some strain on the reps and we're big at rolling.

Q. How did you think CB Eric Rowe did jumping in for CB Byron Maxwell there? And specifically on the pass interference call, what could he have done differently?

BILL DAVIS: I don't know. That was a hard one for me to watch, because I thought he played that pretty clean. It's a judgment call. He made it, so the penalty is the penalty. But I thought Eric had a pretty clean down going there. There was a little bit of arm-to-arm contact, but that happens almost every time when both [players] are looking for the ball. Eric gave up a couple hitch routes because he was a little bit soft [in coverage]. But if that's the biggest problem, it's a good problem to have, and we'll get it corrected. The ball's not going over his head and it's not going behind him, and that's a good sign.

Q. The three injured defensive linemen, what is their status?

BILL DAVIS: You know, the D linemen -- Ced [DE Cedric Thornton] and Taylor [DE Taylor Hart] are coming along fine; I think they're going to be okay. I think everything is day-to-day, but I think they're going in the right direction. I don't know much on Brandon [DE Brandon Bair], other than I don't really expect him [this weekend]. I don't know the details of it, but it will be hard for him to play this week.

Q. What about Maxwell?

BILL DAVIS: I think Max is okay. I really do. He's day-to-day, but I think he's fine.

Q. DT Bennie Logan played a lot of snaps because you were shorthanded. I think he finished with nine tackles. That looks like a pretty good game?

BILL DAVIS: Bennie Logan is playing at a very high rate right now. The D line, in general, is. I thought [DT] Beau Allen stepped up and had a nice game; Fletcher [DE Fletcher Cox] played his usual solid game; and Bennie jumping out to that end [spot] -- We practice him on that and he gets some reps out there, but Bennie is unselfish and he is tenacious. He's really making a lot of plays. Bennie is taking a huge step this year, and he's playing real good football for us.

Q. Do you expect to have LB Mychal Kendricks this week?

BILL DAVIS: I don't know. He's a day-to-day guy. It's day-to-day. Mychal went out in the first quarter and I don't think it was super severe, but I think he's day-to-day.

Q. What do you worry about most when you are preparing for a future Hall of Fame quarterback like Saints QB Drew Brees?

BILL DAVIS: I think the common theme for all the top five or 10 quarterbacks, however you want to rate them, is that they have the playbook at the line of scrimmage. I think those are the hardest [quarterbacks] to defend. You show a blitz, they run a screen; you don't show a blitz look, you open the box up to where you split the safeties, and they make their best run play. They are constantly moving off what your look is. If you're not ready, [the quarterback] snaps the ball, set hike; if you are ready on the line, he reads what you're in and changes his play. So I think [when you're] facing the Drew Breeses of the world, [it's an] operation where it really is like having a coordinator at quarterback. They can adjust from what you show. That is the biggest challenge. He's very accurate and highly competitive. I mean, he knows this offense as well as Sean [Saints Head Coach Sean Payton] does, and they work well together. It's a challenge.

Q. The draw play that Washington hit you with in the first quarter? Was that similar to what happened against Atlanta or --

BILL DAVIS: No, different. Actually, I was expecting a screen or a draw there, because they were in the hole. Same scenario. So I wasn't going to go with a four-man rush again. It's all about numbers. When you have third-and-20 to defend, you want to have your numbers back, not behind the draw or behind the screen. So we rushed three, we had everybody out and depth should be at the sticks. We should have tackled it with 7 yards short of the [sticks]. We had three guys converging on it and we just missed. Can I change the call? I don't think I would change the concept of the three man rush there. You have to defend the vertical passing game, screens and draws down there. So it's hard to have one call do it all. So what you try to do is make your numbers right, so at least you have the numbers to go ahead and tackle. If we ran that play 10 or 20 times out here, we'd stop it 19-out-of-20 or 9-out-of-10. But we didn't.

Q. Maybe it's the way they designed it, but it looked like your linebackers were all off to the sidelines in coverages and the middle was kind of wide open there?

BILL DAVIS: It is built where the linebackers do buzz out to the sideline. They have the out No. 1, and the safeties drop in to kind of a linebacker play. So that's very observant of you. If I had to do it over again, I would have left the linebackers in and buzzed the safeties out, which could have stopped the draw. But then you talk about, 'What if they ran the screen away from trips? What if they dropped back and ran four verticals? Where do you want the guys?' It's designed to stop, really, the vertical passing game and having the safeties where I had them. But at the end of the day, you'd like to stop a 20-yard run on third down, and we didn't.

Q. How are you going to get better rushing the passer? How are you going to get more penetration because it's just not there right now?

BILL DAVIS: There is more pressure than there are sacks. And again, when you face teams like we just did where the ball is out lightning quick, you always say, 'Well the rush isn't getting there.' So how long is he holding [the ball]? On the ones that he's holding long, if we're not pressuring, then we are in trouble. We had him in our hands probably three times that we did not sack him, and that's frustrating. To get the guys there and the guys are getting themselves [there]. We're running stunts better than we've ever run stunts. We get to the quarterback, and we've just got to get him down now. There were two or three -- We missed one in the end zone. On the holding call -- the penalty we had -- Fletcher Cox had [Redskins QB Kirk Cousins] right in the backfield, and he escaped us. So I don't think it's a pressure problem. The sack numbers aren't where you like them. But we've got to get the pressure on the quarterback and get him down and affect the throws. That has to increase. But we actually aren't horrible right there. The sack numbers are.

Q. Did you see the batted ball play by Seahawks LB K.J. Wright in last night's game?

BILL DAVIS: No, it was too late for me. I didn't see it.

Q. How do you get pass rushers to finish? How do you get guys to finish when they're close and getting penetration and not finishing?

BILL DAVIS: Well, they are finishing, it's just the tackling of the quarterback. I've said this many times: I think the hardest tackle in football is of the quarterback, because he can go backwards, sideways, forwards, he can throw the ball away, he can give up 20 yards and run around and still throw it out. So as you're attacking him, there are also only so many places you can hit him. So you can't tackle them low and you can't tackle them high. So there is a smaller target of what you're allowed to tackle and he's got more options. So it's not an excuse, but we have to get better of getting him down when we get to him.

Q. In the 2013 playoff game against the Saints, we spent so much time asking you about former Saints TE Jimmy Graham. Obviously he's not in New Orleans anymore. How does the offense function differently without the tight end being the focal point?

BILL DAVIS: Yeah, the tight end is not their focal point, but their running backs have taken that role up. And they've got a lot of different ways to get -- They've got a three headed monster at running back. The ball is out quick and they get five out often. The receivers and running backs have taken that roll. Ben Watson, the tight end, is a good tight end; I was with him in Cleveland and I've got a lot of respect for him. But it's gone more to the running backs because that's the role they've taken over.

Q. Going back to the pass rush. When you had DE Brandon Bair in the game against the Jets, he got his hands on three balls. With a three-step drop, isn't that an important part? It didn't seem like anybody had any kind of disruption on Sunday. It seemed like Cousins was looking at a clear field.

BILL DAVIS: Yeah, one of the things that we tried to do both weeks, because the quarterbacks were similar, is the rush should be inside. And some of that, you talk about seeing more bull rushes and everybody says, 'Everybody is going down the middle and they are not working the edges.' Well, there is a reason: we are trying to make the quarterback throw from a 'well,' if you will, where he has to see over people and try to throw over hands. At times we did a real good job of that and at times we did not. But that's when guys start really trying to free rush and say, 'Hey, I've got to go get this sack.' Then all of a sudden you're a little too wide and then the lanes open up. So you've really got to pick your poison if you're going to go all out edge rushing or go down the middle.

Q. With all the adjustments you have had to make on the defensive line because of the injuries to Bair, Hart and Thornton. How do you think Allen and DE Vinny Curry did?

BILL DAVIS: I think they did a really good job. I think they grew a lot. We had a lot of adjustments to make with those injuries to three different positions in the first quarter. On the first goal line [series], we had a goal-line package, but all of a sudden we were out of it [because of injuries]. So we realized at the last second we had to make adjustments on the 1 yard line and we [didn't] have the personnel to go because we were short. Now we fixed it afterwards and moved [LB] Brandon Graham in and we didn't have to use it. But there were all kinds of adjustments going on from the get go and the guys that stepped up, from Eric Rowe, to Beau Allen, to Bennie moving out to end, they did a great job. Our dime alignments were a little bit different from who we had available and the guys stepped in and there were no major errors. There was good, solid play out of them. We put ourselves in a position to win the game at the end, although we didn't. But the position to win it is what you're looking for.

Q. How did that playoff game against New Orleans influence you as a defensive coordinator in terms of your approach moving forward, and how have you gone from then to where you are now?

BILL DAVIS: I think when you face a team like New Orleans and a mind like Sean and a quarterback like Drew Brees, you have to have a lot of flexibility to your defense, because they do so much and they do it so quick. In that particular [playoff] game they had Sprolesy [current Eagles RB Darren Sproles] and Graham at tight end. And there was a big match up issue that you had to talk through and work through. 'How do you get the right guys out there?' I don't know if we had expanded in that Year One. I don't know if we had enough flexibility or if we had enough of the packages that we have now. We have grown a lot because we are in Year Three. It's part of what you can do. You do as much as you can in the first year, and now we're three years ahead of that. So hopefully we have enough to handle this offense, which is a very unique and powerful offense.

Q. You ended up acquiring S Malcolm Jenkins, who used to play for the Saints, after that playoff game. Did you acquire him because of the fact that he can go down in the slot and you guys can stay in base?

BILL DAVIS: Absolutely, yeah.

Q. How influential was that playoff game in signing Jenkins?

BILL DAVIS: It's based off the whole season, but the game kind of put the nail in [to where] you said, 'This is something that we have to make sure that this is who we are.' Because we're a two-gap run front, you can go get those safeties that were corners. You can get the guys that fly around like Walter [DB Walter Thurmond] does. You're not asking him to play that big boy, inside gap. That's part of the structure of who we became with our D line and the two-gap world, and doing that well allows you to go get a different kind of safety. You don't have to have the linebacker-ish safety like I had in Adrian Wilson back in Arizona. You can play with the cover guys and that helps.

Q. As you get healthier here, is Rowe going to be more of a fixture in sub-packages?

BILL DAVIS: He can be, yeah. As we get healthy. And again, Eric's growing every time. We actually repped him a little bit at safety last week. Then boom, right away, he had to go back to that corner spot. So corner is really the home we like him in. But when anybody gets injured, we've got to have the ability of cross-training it. In an NFL game, we lost three guys; you have to be able to adjust quickly, and you need guys that can go out. Like for instance, right now, emergency corners for us are Walt Thurman and Malcolm Jenkins. If we get in a bind out there, those guys go play corner, and the corner can play safety. It's a tribute to the intelligence of the players, and of Cory [defensive backs coach Cory Undlin] and Harp's [assistant defensive backs coach Matthew Harper] teaching. It's just something that – In the NFL, I think the longer I coach and the longer I'm around it, [I realize] you have to have position flexibility and players that have the brain to do it.

Q. On Washington's last touchdown, what was the coverage you were in, and what would you like to see different out of that?

BILL DAVIS: That's a game of inches. They caught that thing in inches. It was all-out blitz to their empty. We checked to a blitz, which we like doing down there. We're either going to max drop or max blitz you. Walt Thurman was in a perfect position and played inside out. Eric Rowe did a great job of knowing that he had a running back and that Pierre [Redskins WR Pierre Garcon] was inside, so he came off his [man] quick to kind of trap that coverage. [LB] Connor Barwin is unblocked off the edge and taking a perfect angle. So Kirk Cousins made a great throw. With a guy breathing down his neck, the ball had to come out, and I'm telling you, it was that close. It was a perfect throw. If he had thrown it behind it, Walt has it. If he throws it too far in front, Eric has it. He throws it right on the money. Then Pierre caught it and held on to it after Eric hit him. That's one of those plays where you have to say, 'Congratulations, Washington. On that play you did exactly what you had to do, and it's a game of inches.' And we've talked about it a lot. We've got to get those inches in our favor now.

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