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Quotes: Defensive Coordinator Bill Davis



Q. When you look at the defense, do you have to make wholesale changes or do you just need to stay the course?**

COACH DAVIS: Right now, collectively, as a group of coaches and players, we have had long talks about it: when you have two bad games like that, everyone has got to start with themselves. And it starts with me. I've got make sure that I continue to work on putting these guys in position to make plays and individually, they are working on making those plays. So, you cannot panic, you cannot overreact and you cannot underreact. That's the fine line I'm walking right now. We're looking at everything and everybody. What moves are available to be made and do they warrant that move? The other day, we didn't do a lot of things well. There was not one place or one position that was at fault. I think all of us own it. All of us own our own mistakes. I have to do a bit better job of planning and putting these guys in spots and they've got to do a better job of executing. We all own our own. I've got a good group of men in there that are all owning their mistakes.

Q. Is your expectation that you will stick with DB Eric Rowe at outside corner?

COACH DAVIS: Yeah, I think so. I think it's time for him to go out there and see what we have. He played 14 snaps matched up on Megatron [Lions WR Calvin Johnson] last week. They caught four on him and I think Eric grew a little bit. Two of those catches were in the field, which Eric was way too soft [in coverage] and far off, and we talked about it. He's got to get up there and believe in himself and challenge them. He had two in the red zone. I think Eric is one of our best fade and fade-stop players in the low red zone. The one that he got caught on him, I think Eric played a great down and they made a great catch on it. He really is, he's a long, tall, good leaper. The other one was a bad down all the way around. He missed at the line and the help that was supposed to be over the top got froze by a look-off, and wasn't there for him. The third-and-17 was a rough one. But I do believe in Eric and I do think we'll grow him and I think he's a young guy that will get more and more confident and we'll get more and more confidence in him.

Q. Will CB Byron Maxwell travel from side to side now?

COACH DAVIS: It depends who the matchup is. As you go through the matchups, like early on [against Detroit] I actually didn't think [Lions WR] Golden Tate and Eric was a great matchup because [Tate is] a smaller, quicker guy. That goes in and out of what the matchup is and how big they are. Eric is a tall, long body that actually matches up well with the longer, taller receivers. But I think somewhere in the second series of the third quarter, we just made the wholesale change to match Max [Maxwell] up and let Eric go on the other side. So we'll move in and out of that as we see needed. As the game goes on, you look to see which matchups you're struggling at and that's all over the board; that's from the nickel slot to the outside ones, to the running backs and the backers. We're constantly looking at the matchups that favor us and that we're struggling with, and then we move accordingly.

Q. What went into that decision? When CB Nolan Carroll went down with an injury was there any thought to moving Maxwell over?

COACH DAVIS: Absolutely. We talked about it right from the get-go. But it goes back to that long body that Eric is. We picked him for his ability, his speed, his leap-ability, his ball skills and his length. When you have a monster like you have in Megatron, that isn't a bad matchup. Now most of the time I had help for him. I can't give him help on every snap because there are other scenarios. He had help a lot, and sometimes he didn't. He actually did better without the help. He had better snaps when he didn't have the help than when we actually had the help to him. After that second touchdown, then we made the switch and let Maxwell move in. It was talked about from the get-go.

Q. Can you do anything about your inside linebacker play.  It just seems like neither LBs Mychal Kendricks nor Kiko Alonso are in sync with what's going on?

COACH DAVIS: You know, Kiko played better. I think overall, Mychal struggled a couple times in coverage. Those are matchups that sometimes you win. We started losing that one. We gave safety help after that. We have to collectively get that shored up and get that piece better. Those three guys, I believe in those three guys. They are the answer in there. We've got to find the right matchup with those two in there, or three of them. We've just got to get better play collectively out of all of us. Again, it's not only one position that was at fault the other night. It was collective.

Q. What are some of Kendricks' issues in pass coverage? That used to be an area of strength.

COACH DAVIS: I still believe in Mychal. Mychal can cover and Mychal will continue to cover backs out of the backfield. He had a tough matchup [against Detroit]. Credit goes to the running back and some of the moves he made on him. But Mychal will be fine in coverage. He has the athleticism. He has the understanding of leverage and where his help is. He had a bad day.

Q. As far as Rowe is concerned, it seems like your plan was to bring him along more slowly and not thrust him into the position he was in. Obviously, circumstances changed that. Was that kind of the idea, to keep growing him as the season went on?

COACH DAVIS: It was. Like all of them, you grow them as fast as you can. You play them when they show you they're ready to play or they have to play. Somebody's got to grow the guys and you take lumps when you have the young guys playing, like anything. You're going to have some mistakes made by him and you're going to have some growing pains, but you're also going to see him make some plays. I'm excited about Eric and the plays he's capable of making, and he showed us he can make, and hopefully that shows up Sunday.

Q. Collectively, how much do you have to worry about the confidence of your group after the last two games?

COACH DAVIS: You know, when you have two losses like we had, and played as poorly defensively as we had, human nature is your confidence is going to be shaken. What we can rely on and go back to talk about are the games we had: the first Dallas game against [Cowboys QB Tony] Romo, the [Saints QB] Drew Brees game and the [Giants QB] Eli Manning game against New York. Those are times we had success with the same calls, with the same guys and with the same tools. We just have to get back to that. The only way you get confidence, though, is in making plays on Sunday. That's where the energy picks up and that's where your confidence grows. So it's one player at a time and one call at a time. Put them in a better position to make plays and then having them make it, we'll gain our confidence and we'll get back to where we were.

Q. On the first play after Carroll got hurt, Tate caught a pass on a slant. What do you want to see definitely out of Rowe on that type of route?

COACH DAVIS: Eric is usually great at putting his hands on people and holding his inside leverage. He lost his inside leverage and he didn't get his hands on. Again, [Tate is] a small, quick guy and [Rowe] has to make sure he's in control of his leverage. He lost his leverage and then it ran away from him.

Q.  Going into the Tampa Bay game, you were eighth in the league in points allowed. So where does this come from? I know there's no one easy answer, but this is two weeks in a row to have that after the way you played in the first nine games?

COACH DAVIS: If I had that answer, trust me -- I guess the encouraging part is for those eight games, like you just talked about, these men did that. These men in this game were capable of doing it and we were calling it better and executing it better. That's why we can get it back to where it was. But right now we've got to overcome and get through a lapse in confidence and get back to playing fast, physical [defense]. We haven't tackled as well the last two weeks and the turnovers are nonexistent. Those are two big pieces of who we are. Our tackling has to get better and so does our turnovers.

Q. What do you see from the pass pressure? It seems like that has kind of dropped off.

COACH DAVIS: You know, the pressure wasn't bad [against Detroit]. They were throwing the ball quick and I blitzed almost 50 percent of the time, trying to get the ball out and getting some matchups. There were some unblocked pressures, but the ball was out. So they had a nice plan and they were doing it. We got some pressures, and [Lions QB Matthew Stafford] played a hell of a game. The quarterback really did throw the ball well and executed quickly. We've got to do a better job. They had maybe four screens and a couple quicks. You know, it was back and forth. The actual individual pass-rushing, if that's what you're talking about, was not poor, the ball was just coming out pretty quick.

Q. The slant routes have been giving you a lot of problems this year and on Sunday you're going up against Patriots QB Tom Brady, who is as good as they come with that. What's been the problem there?

COACH DAVIS: It's been a little bit different as the different players have been beat on it within the different calls. There's not one answer. Like you talked about the one that Eric Rowe got beat on, he lost his inside leverage. It's about leverage. It's about where your help is. It's about technique. Slants, fades and fade stops are about technique ball. We just have to get that. We've had some rub routes and concepts that we've got to fight through the pick concept that happens. But it's different for everyone.

Q. With the turnovers, in the first eight games you were among the league leaders. You haven't had any in the last three games. Is that something you guys aren't doing? Is it that offenses are protecting the ball better against you? Is there a reason for that?

COACH DAVIS: We've had a big share off the quarterbacks. We've had some caused and not recovered them. Two games ago [against Tampa Bay], I told you we had five turnover opportunities, but in the Detroit game we had none. That's more discouraging. If you have five and don't get five, at least you're in a position to cause and get the turnover. Against Detroit, nothing went well, and we did not have any turnovers or opportunities. They protected the ball well when they ran with it and the quarterback in the pocket protected it well when we were close to him.

Q. You talked about this being a tempo defense. What does that mean to you and what measures do you take to become a tempo defense? How do you become that?

COACH DAVIS: Well, we practice tempo every day. With what we do, that's a lot of reps real fast on us. So when a team goes tempo on us, we are in condition to handle the tempo and everything that goes with it. We also communicate better under the tempo. We may get some tempo from New England. We practice against it every day, so I think that's what we're built for.

Q. So that doesn't mean playing opposite a tempo offense? What measures do you take to account for the fact that you are working opposite a tempo offense?

COACH DAVIS: I think we talked about this earlier. If you're talking about reps and how many snaps were on the field, in that area?

Q. Yes.

COACH DAVIS: We are in control of how long a drive is, the defense is, not how many times. But the series, there should be 12 series in every game. That's the average. We are at 12 or lower in every game, so that's not an issue. We're not defending more than anybody. We have to get those three-and-outs, four-and-outs, five-and-outs. When you get extended downs because we're on the field, that's where we hurt ourselves. So the tempo conversation, and I've said this many times, they don't affect us unless it's a bunch of series, more series than other people. Does that make sense? The drive itself is 100 percent on the defensive coaches and players.

Q. You're facing one of the best quarterbacks at the line in terms of changing plays in Brady. How do you defend that? Do you have to stay in your base more?

COACH DAVIS: We have to be ready. They not only change it on the line. It's one of the things that makes them great. Brady has been in the system for 16, 17 years. They have this thing wired. They've got it wired, where they not only change the play at the line, but in between series, they can change the whole plan. They go from having a two-tight-end, two-back plan, to empty, spread out, every other series. So you are defending by series a plan of attack that's coming at you. So we have a lot of confidence in our scheme and our flexibility and the different things we can go in and out of and we'll have to do that. We have to keep it moving. When you face these top-notch quarterbacks that are really coordinators on the field, you've got to move it around a little bit on them.

Q. At what point, if any, would you ever consider a philosophical change, playing softer pass coverage, that kind of thing?

COACH DAVIS: I think the conversation a lot of times is why we play single-high like we do. And then with pressures, the dilemma you're always in in my chair is let's say the fifth guy, I'm going to add the fifth guy to the rush or I'm going to add the fifth guy to coverage and help people in coverage and only rush four. Or I can go and just rush three and add more help. You're going in and out of it. When you want to pressure and blitz and attack, it almost has to go to single-high. There's a couple versions of split safety, but you get into a little bit of a thin there. As a matter of fact, the big play in the Detroit game in the first quarter I believe where the running back – it kind of looked like [LB] Connor Barwin was closest – was a middle-open pressure that is very vulnerable when they've got five out. Most of the time when you pressure, you're going to have single-high. So we pressure half the time…I'm more single-high then. Some of the top defenses in the league right now major in single-high. The Jets, the Broncos, those guys. You have to move in and out of it as matchups show themselves. I was more in single-high against Detroit because I was pressuring more. We've had some success in the pressure game and we've had split safety work. So I have played soft and off many times. As a matter of fact, the two that [DB] Eric [Rowe] gave up on [Lions WR Calvin Johnson] Megatron were a split safety, softer zone coverage. So you have to move in and out of them. I am not solely on single-high pressure. We've done both. I do more of that because I believe in it. I believe in attacking and trying to put pressure on the quarterback. It didn't work the other night. But I'm not going to come off attacking. You have to have a mix. You attack, you fall back. I say it all the time, it's about disrupting their rhythm. Sometimes disrupting their rhythm is faking blitzing and not blitzing, other times it is blitzing. I have to do a better job of getting the rhythm of the game and disrupting their rhythm.

Q. Brady is the best. How do they continue to succeed despite losing one playmaker after another?

COACH DAVIS: It's system oriented, it really is. Brady is in control at the line. These guys have to know what he's telling them to do. He adjusts the routes at the line, he adjusts protections at the line and puts them in where he likes the matchup. It's constantly moving. Everybody that gets plugged in has to play their role and understand their role and then the system goes and he runs the system, and is about as accurate and as good of a decision maker as there is in the league. I think that's why they move it so well. He finds the matchup, he sees the leverage, he throws it very accurately, and he gets it out very quick. That ball is out as quick as it can come. The reason they have the success no matter who's playing out there is because of Brady and how he runs it and how he operates it.

Q. It seems like Brady is absorbing more hits than usual.

COACH DAVIS: It's week-to-week. Sometimes he is, sometimes he isn't. He took some hits the other night.

Q. S Malcolm Jenkins was on the radio last night suggesting you have become too predictable in the red zone. How do you feel about that?

COACH DAVIS: Malcolm had a nice night, huh? [Joking, Laughter] We are no more or less predictable than anybody else. There's only a couple things you do down there, that anybody does. You're either bringing everybody or you're dropping and helping out or you're selling out for the run. We move in and out of different coverages, and we show blitz and drop back. You can talk about red zone, but you also talk about third down. It not predictability because we do have enough scheme down there that I think we move in and out of it. Everybody's entitled to their opinion. I respect Malcolm, his opinion. I respect all the guys and their opinions. I actually enjoy getting the feedback from all the guys and seeing how we can make it better. Because at the end of the day, it's about us getting it done and getting a win.

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