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Quotes: Defensive Coordinator Bill Davis


Q. What did you see from your guys coming out of that game against Tampa Bay? Obviously, it was not the best day for everyone. What did you see at practice and in the meetings this week?

COACH DAVIS: Well, Monday was a hard day. On Monday, we just got over the emotional and the physical. It's draining to lose like that. It's draining to put all that work in and then not have it show up on Sunday. We were feeling real good about ourselves all the way through the first nine games. We felt we were making progress, and we still do. But to have one game where all of it kind of implodes on you at once, it's humbling. It makes you step back and look at everything again. Not that we don't every week anyway. But the guys are resilient. They're tough. They know what hard work is and how to get through it. We've got to turn around and we've got to make sure that we show up on Thursday with our best effort and put it out there, not what just happened.

Q. Have you been able to make any sense of it?

COACH DAVIS: I've gone over everything. I've watched that game a hundred times now. I'll start with the run game. The run game, there were 38 plays that totaled 97 yards that don't need fixing. They were all right. Then there were -- they say four runs, but one of those was a screen that got counted in the run game. So throw that [screen] out. So there are three runs and those are the problem plays. There are three problem plays that need to be fixed that had multiple issues on each one of them. [Those plays] went for 170 yards, so that's a 50-something-yard average for those three plays that we've got to get fixed. We looked at it and we went over it with a fine-toothed comb. The problem is that some of those same calls against that same run were stopped in those other 38 plays. But on those three plays, we had missed fits, missed tackles and bad angles. When you do that in the run game and you give up an 80, a 50 and a 40, you're going to have a game like we had, which is just ugly. But I guess the good news is that 38 of them don't need fixing, but those three damn well have to be fixed.

Q. Why are guys taking bad angles at this point now in Week 10?

COACH DAVIS: It's a play-by-play thing. I don't think you have a pattern. Every run is a different run as it spits out. The angle that that back goes, they were right down the middle, which is unique. Usually you don't have, with a post safety, one that gets speed anyway. Usually it has to stop and restart. We didn't slow it down and then the angle changes. Unfortunately, the late effort was outstanding. On the one, [LB] Connor Barwin ran 80 yards and stopped it on the 1-yard line. Then it took them four more plays to get it in and we dropped an interception in one of those four [plays]. So the effort is there. It really is. I looked at that hard, too. There are some on the backside angles that we pointed out where the effort wasn't there. [The effort] could have been there to stop an 80 and turn it into a 20 or 30. We'll get that corrected. The guys, they're a prideful group. They own their mistakes. We'll move on and grow from it.

Q. Is LB Kiko Alonso the player you expected him to be?

COACH DAVIS: Yes, he is. Yes, he is. You factor in, no matter how talented you are, you have to have the practices behind you and games. And the more you practice, the better you play on Sunday, and the more games you stack up, the better you play. Is Kiko where he was in his rookie year? No. He hasn't been on the field practicing or playing enough [to be where he was as a rookie]. But there is growth there. Kiko is a good football player that flies around to the ball. There were a couple missed fits for him. On that one touchdown -- I think he's one of the best [linebackers] in the league on tight ends in coverage and they caught a touchdown on him. I think Kiko makes that [play] 9 out of 10 times. Give [the Buccaneers] the credit. He got turned around on his leverage early in the down, which made the down hard for him and they made the play on him. But I have nothing but confidence in Kiko. He will get better as he plays.

Q. What happened on the 80-yard run by Buccaneers RB Doug Martin where Alonso ran up the middle and Barwin had to chase Martin down at the 1-yard line? What happened particular with Alonso on that play?

COACH DAVIS: It just should have been inside the block; he got outside of the block. Then they got the post safety blocked with the receiver, so when you have one little missed fit like that, it happens quick. You've just got to be in the right spot. What it does is if he's on the inside, it kicks it out and [CB Byron] Maxwell is there to make the play. Every run technique by the defensive lineman is attached to the linebacker fit, which is attached to the secondary. It's really that when one guy gets out of whack in the run game, usually you have somebody fix it. But when you have one or two stacked together in that same run play, bad things happen. That's what happened the other day.

Q. I understand why DE Taylor Hart is playing on base downs, but it also seems like he has been out there for a decent amount of pass-rushing downs. At the same time, DE Vinny Curry is getting significantly less snaps. Curry is a guy that I would imagine you view as a good pass rusher. Why is that happening? Why is Hart out there and Curry isn't?

COACH DAVIS: In the first and second down portion of it -- in the 11-personnel groupings where we play a nickel package, or bigger nickel package, to help us in the run or the pass -- Taylor Hart is getting reps in that rotation as an end. So really the base defensive linemen are in there and they're playing run. Now, [the opponent] will throw sometimes in those situations; I cannot predict that always. If I think it's an obvious passing down, I'll put the nickel with Vinny back out there. But if it's a 50-50 shot and it's in the middle of a first or second down, then I'll have the D-line rotation of the run stoppers. Vinny is absolutely an outstanding pass rusher and I love Vinny out there. So if I feel that we're in an obvious passing down, then I will go to nickel and Vinny will get more and more of those. I try to hit it at the right time. There were a couple snaps the other night where I think Fletch [DE Fletcher Cox] was cramping and Taylor got a third down or two – if I'm not mistaken -- with Vinny on the field. So, that's just the rotation. But there's not a, 'Hey, let's keep Vinny off in the pass.' On every passing down, if I knew they were going to throw the ball, I would have Vinny out there pass rushing.

Q. What is Hart doing to earn activation ahead of DE Brandon Bair?

COACH DAVIS: Taylor Hart is playing good football. I love the way he's growing. He's a young guy that's tenacious. He's not a problem in there at all. I love Brandon Bair, too. We have a great group of not only frontline D-linemen, but I like the backups and where they're growing and how they're growing. Brandon Bair is one of them. Every week at the end of the week, we try to figure out what is our best [personnel] fit? With Beau [DT Beau Allen] being the better nose guard to give Bennie a break, is really a piece [of it], and then Brandon and Taylor are the outside ends that we're growing. I've got nothing but confidence in all those guys and I love Vinny as a pass rusher.

Q. Is Curry playing as well as --

COACH DAVIS: Yes, he is. Vinny is a disruptive force now. The other night, we didn't have the pressure. They had some balls out quick. There were some third-and-4-or-less [situations]: more than I would have liked. That was because of their running game. When you get 38 rush attempts, those third downs are shorter. We still have to get off the field on the third-and-shorts. But, Vinny is doing a good job.

Q. In a game like that, you typically have a lot to correct. In a sense, is it good to have a short week because you can focus, move ahead and put it behind you?

COACH DAVIS: Yes. I don't want to dwell on this anymore. I'm glad we're playing Thursday. I'm glad we have a short week because of that performance. Had we had one of our better ones, I probably would have said, 'No, I would like more time.' Trying to get that behind you and put it to bed. Give it the attention it's due, fix it, get it right, but move on. We have a confident group of guys and we'll get it fixed.

Q. How much do you think you're missing LB Jordan Hicks since he went out?

COACH DAVIS: I have faith in the guys that we have, but Jordan Hicks really was coming on and did a nice job in there. I don't want to take anything away from Jordan, but he was playing very good ball for us. But I do have a lot of confidence in the guys we have in there.

Q. On the 58-yarder, looked like LB DeMeco Ryans got blocked down.

COACH DAVIS: The third-and-one.

Q.  Alonso wasn't able to track down Martin once he got into the second level. Was that representative of two linebackers that aren't healthy?

COACH DAVIS: I don't think health had anything to do with it. DeMeco didn't line wide enough. They motioned on the play and built the tight end to the right. We were in a cloud coverage pressure, which I would have loved to have been in had I known they were doing the flip play. But the flip play, it captures DeMeco. If he steps wrong or aligns wrong, they take a jab step with the tailback, and then they do a flip. The tackle comes up and captured DeMeco. That was the problem. They had width out there. We had [CB] Nolan Carroll in a cloud force. So that ball gets all the way to the half safety. Now, that is where we needed the tackle to happen, right? [S Walter Thurmond] Walt was outside in. The tackle should have happened. It didn't get slowed down at all because DeMeco did get captured and it had speed. It took the corners chasing it down to get that thing fixed. They executed that play much better than we did. But it shouldn't have gone for 58. It should be stopped at about 15.

Q. Is the change in nickel something you're sticking with?

COACH DAVIS: No. I'm going to move that around all the time. Right now, because of the dynamic of who we have and where we're at, we felt with who was in the slot that [CB] E.J. [Biggers] was a good matchup there. With the two star receivers at the ones, I wanted the safeties, I wanted [S] Malcolm [Jenkins] back and [S] Walt [Thurmond] to be able to play over the top of the ones and keep the corners on the ones. That was that week. This week will be a different week, there's different matchups. That piece will constantly be moving. We think it's a tactical advantage and matchup advantage if we do it right. I'm not always hitting it exactly right. The neat part is during the course of a game if I feel it's going bad, that I miscalculated, then I can switch.

Q. Detroit has two pretty good wideouts too.

COACH DAVIS: They absolutely do. They've got three. They've got a veteran group of receivers. It's a strength. They've got two running backs that are good. They're starting to grow [Lions RB Ameer] Abdullah. He's kind of the guy they're starting to try to feature more, the rookie, and he's doing a nice job. He's got great speed and quickness. Their big tight ends are all athletic and big receivers that are really getting all the targets. So we've got a nice offense coming at us, so we've got a challenge with [Lions WR] Golden Tate who moves all over the place and then big boy outside, [Lions WR Calvin Johnson] Megatron, he's always who he is. We have to match up and make sure they're accounted for.

Q. The pass defense on third down, you've given up like 21 passing first downs on third down the last three games. What's kind of going on there? Is there a common thread?

COACH DAVIS: I've been studying that hard, too. In that particular game that we were so bad in, I think four of them were redzone third downs and three of those were touchdowns. That's a double whammy on the third down part of it. Not only is it a touchdown, it's red zone, it's third down. They were man-to-man. There were some contested throws that they made some good plays on. Then there are some breakdowns on our part with coverage that we've got to get, especially those ones coming on the shadow crosses. We work on those. We've got to get better at it. I said it a week ago. They actually put a linebacker in that spot that I hadn't had him work out there, so that one got us. I'll take that one. Overall, I think we just have to get tighter coverage, and I'm in and out of mans and zones. I'm about 30% pressure there. Maybe I increase the pressure. Maybe I play more --  

Q. Do you think you're blitzing enough on third down?

COACH DAVIS: The one call I really wanted back in the game was the screen play. It was a third down and I had a blitz called. We beat the protection earlier with that same pressure. They had the over-the-top screen, then they picked Kiko in the middle. He didn't have a chance to make that play. They had a better call than I had there. Then I went to some zone so if they were running those tight concepts, we would be there for them. That game of chess , you just keep moving in and out of when you pressure, when you don't, what they're presenting, what formations. You're just trying to put the guys in a position to make plays. That's all I'm trying to do. When I hit a call that doesn't do that, then I'm mad at myself. I have to make sure I change that.

Q. DB Eric Rowe is ready to play dime inside. Why wasn't he ready to play nickel inside previously?

COACH DAVIS: We put him in there and worked him a little bit. It happens quicker in the nickel spot, it really does when you're out wide. He had a couple struggles out in the dime outside wide that I have to get fixed. We're growing Eric about what we feel he deserves and what he's earned. I continue to root for him to show up and when we do give him his reps on Sunday, it's like [LB] Marcus Smith, we're going to keep putting you out there in limited roles and as you grow that role and show us like [LB Jordan] Hicks did, then you play more. Right now, that's about where he needs to be.

Q. You mentioned four players on the defense that get snaps that are growing. Should you be playing players that are still growing on defense?

COACH DAVIS: Well, we have rotations in all of them. I don't follow you.

Q. You said Alonso is growing and Hart is growing. Those are guys that are growing. 10 or 11 weeks into this, why are there players on defense that are growing this late?

COACH DAVIS: I think I'm talking about young guys that are first, second, third year. You want to talk about them individually. Taylor Hart was a whole year not even active, but now he's playing more and more snaps. As you are playing your starters and trying to win the game in the rotational basis, the young guys come in and show that you can or cannot trust them. That's the growing piece that I'm talking about. That's with Eric Rowe, that's with Marcus, it's with Taylor Hart. Kiko, he's a veteran that has been injured and not in this system. So now his practice reps and his game reps, he'll continue to get better in our system as a linebacker. That's what I'm talking about.

Q. There was such an emphasis on takeaways and you guys haven't had them the last couple games. How important is that?

COACH DAVIS: I'll tell you this, we had five opportunities in the Tampa Bay game to have a turnover. We caused two fumbles that we didn't recover. We had our hands on three interceptions that we didn't catch. The good part of that, we're in position five times to cause and create a turnover. The bad news is five times we did not. Earlier in the season and up until the last two weeks where we haven't had a turnover, those caused fumbles we recovered and the interceptions were being caught. We had a game that whatever could go wrong did go wrong in that game from the three big run plays that crushed us, the five opportunities for a turnover that we didn't get any. That game was all on top of itself. The good news is you have five opportunities. If you give yourself five every game, you'll have two to three a game, and we will.

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