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Quotes: Defensive Coordinator Jim Schwartz


Q. Can you talk about the defensive line rotation and how that can benefit you? A lot of times people like to keep their best players on the field more, but this rotation is going to kind of mix it up a little bit?

JIM SCHWARTZ: Well, I think if you want your best players to play well over the course of a game, over the course of a season, you're going to need to rotate them a little bit. We expect our guys to play wide open. We don't expect them to conserve any energy and that's a very, very difficult thing to do. It's hard to rush the passer. It's hard to play the run. You've got 700 pounds of guys pushing on you on every play in the run game. You have contact on every single play. Just makes sense for us. If we are going to play that way, to have a good rotation, we have to trust the rotational players that they are going to go in and perform at a high level regardless of when they are asked. But I've always compared it to, you know, the bullpen in baseball. It's hard. If you're a starter and you're pacing yourself, there are not many guys that can gas it a hundred miles an hour. You're coming out of the bullpen, you're throwing an inning, you can heat it up pretty good. We want to just keep rolling fresh bodies out there.

Q. Have the back-up guys earned it?

JIM SCHWARTZ: Well, it's preseason. I like where we're trending and I think that you saw some signs of that, but nothing matters until we get to the season. We'll see. But, you know, they have been trending right way in preseason and practice, but that doesn't matter right now.

Q. Why did CB Eric Rowe become expendable?

JIM SCHWARTZ: You know, we were in a situation … I think the development of [CB] Jalen Mills had a lot to do with it. Jalen was a seventh-round pick and really exceeded our expectations and probably anybody's expectations for him. We're looking at a situation where we're going to have four corners active. Jalen has played some nickel for us, also. That really wasn't on Eric's plate. Eric worked really hard and did everything we asked from him. We certainly wish him the best. But our personnel staff decided to use him as an asset, and as coaches, we just deal with that and keep playing.

Q. Was there ever a thought to move him to safety?

JIM SCHWARTZ: That's been sort of a thought that was tried last year. I think he's a corner.

Q. How did he take to the schematic changes? Did you ask him to press more than he typically had?

JIM SCHWARTZ: No, he's a good press corner. I mean, that's what his strengths are. Schematically, all those guys have taken to it.

Q. You are kind of short at corner. Can you sustain that this season?

JIM SCHWARTZ: Well, I mean, on a games-by-game basis, we're not short, but like you said, we'll see how the season goes. That doesn't matter. Any position you think you're deep at, it's going to come a time where you're shocked at how thin you are. Sometimes you're able to get through injuries or part of this game. We're a little bit thin right now, not from a game basis – we'll be fine for Sunday. There are only so many guys you can take active into the game. But depth becomes certainly important as the season goes on and as injuries and other situations come to light.

Q. What can your defense do to make QB Carson Wentz's first start not be something where he has to be Superman?

JIM SCHWARTZ: I don't know that we really look at it that way. As a defense, our job is to go stop the opponent, not to take anything else, not to carry any other flag other than going out and stopping RG3 [Browns QB Robert Griffin III] and stopping [Browns WR Terrelle] Pryor and [Browns T] Joe Thomas and [Browns TE Gary] Barnidge. They have some good players on offense and we are going to have to play our very best to stop those guys and get off the field on third down, create negative plays, create turnovers. If we are getting off the field on third down, if we are creating turnovers, that's certainly going to help our offense.

Q. From what you've seen, is RG3 playing at a high level again?

JIM SCHWARTZ: I think I go back to the same thing with the preseason: It's hard to read too much into the preseason, positive or negative. A lot of guys take different approaches in preseason. Coaches take different approaches in the preseason. The proof is going to be the regular season and we're not to the first game yet, so that story really hasn't been written yet, to tell you the truth.

Q. How do you think LB Mychal Kendricks came back from his hamstring injury, and is his role going to change any?

JIM SCHWARTZ: Well, everybody's role is sort of fluid, depending on how they are playing, depending on injuries at other positions, depending on the opponent. What you're asked to do one week is not necessarily what you're going to be asked to do every week because you're going to tailor a plan for a specific opponent. He stayed active in the defense when he was hurt, which is difficult to do. But he's a veteran player; a young, veteran player. We played him a little bit in the preseason, particularly late in some of those games, just to get him some play time because he had missed so much time early on in training camp. But I think that helped him, to see two veteran guys out there like [Eagles LB Stephen] Tulloch and Kendricks in the fourth preseason game, but both of those guys needed that work. Both of them needed to get a little closer to game shape because they had missed so much time.

Q. Are you going to use a rotation at the linebacker position?

JIM SCHWARTZ: We have a lot of different packages at linebacker. We have four-linebacker packages; we have three-linebacker nickel [packages]; we have three linebacker base [packages]; we have different nickel sets; we have different dime packages. Each guy has a little different purpose in all of those, so you'll see a lot of packages with different linebackers on the field.

Q. Kendricks said last year that the rotation kind of didn't allow him to get in a rhythm. Do you have to take that into account, too, that a rotation could negatively affect some of those guys?

JIM SCHWARTZ: Yeah, I wasn't here last year, so I really don't know how that played out. But I view using guys with their particular talents as a positive; I view keeping guys fresh over the course of a season and over the course of a game as a positive. It's up to the players to perform.

Q. What's the biggest challenge that the Cleveland Browns offense presents?

JIM SCHWARTZ: I think first, you've got to start with some of the read-option stuff that they do. And we expect [Browns QB Robert Griffin III] to run a lot. They ran some of it in the preseason and they had a couple big gainers in the preseason. So you have to account for the quarterback. They are very good at taking deep shots and you saw that in the preseason. [There is Browns WR Terrelle] Pryor – [Browns WR Josh] Gordon is not playing in this game, but he made a couple plays for them. That's what their offense is. They run a lot of unbalanced line. They run a lot of extra offensive linemen at tight end to try to assist their running game. Those are all challenges for us, defensively, and things that we are going to have to work very hard to stop.

Q. In the preseason, your defense led the NFL in rushing, in points against, in interceptions --

JIM SCHWARTZ: What was it, preseason? [Joking]

Q. Yes in the preseason, but can the confidence that your players get from that carry over into Week 1, or do you think that it's a complete clean slate and it really doesn't matter?

JIM SCHWARTZ: On my bio, does it say anything about preseason stats anywhere? [Joking] Yeah, I don't carry those with me, man. I think it goes to what we talked about with the defensive line and what we saw from some of those guys. Yeah, there are positive signs; yeah, I think we've shown signs that we can execute the schemes and we're trending in the right direction. But you know, let's not start getting ahead of ourselves. We've got a lot of work to do and it's a long season, and [when it comes to] how we perform, there aren't going to be any asterisks that say, 'Yeah, they were crappy this year, but they played really good in the preseason.' Are any of you guys going to write that? [Laughter] I'm not going to put that on my wall, believe me.

Q. In the past six weeks, what have you learned about DT Fletcher Cox that you couldn't tell from watching him on film?

JIM SCHWARTZ: Not a whole lot. He's really good on film and he continues to be a really good player. He's a difficult match up one-on-one; he plays the run well and he plays the pass well. You know, there's a reason we gave him all that money [Laughing] and it's not because he fits a certain scheme or anything else. He's just a really good player.

Q. Being that you work opposite of rookie QB Carson Wentz, what stands out about him and have you noticed anything developmental-wise in the months since he was acquired?

JIM SCHWARTZ: Man, I'm just trying to farm my own land [Laughs]. Let me just stay with the defense. I think we can help any quarterback by keeping the score down; we can help quarterback by giving him good field position; we can help any quarterback by giving him the ball back, whether it's on a third down stop or a red zone stop or whatever it is. I think that's the part that we are going to play. We need to worry about our own selves and we need to worry about stopping the opponent and not really worry too much about what's happening on the other side of the ball. There's always going to be things [that help the offense]: we'll score points or we might turn the ball over. Our job is to go out and get them stopped regardless of what happens.

Q. Are you ever brought into the conversations with Eagles head coach Doug Pederson where he comes to you and says, 'This is what I want you to throw at Carson this week versus last week, etc.?'

JIM SCHWARTZ: Well we talk about a lot of things as a staff. But I don't think it's right to talk about any of those things in this setting.

Q. Do you look at the defensive line as the group that you really want to set the tone for you on Sunday?

JIM SCHWARTZ: That is part of their job. They need to be tone setters and that's one of the reasons why we need those guys playing wide open. Their motor has to be running every play from a pursuit standpoint, to stopping the run, to creating negative plays and to getting after the passer. It's a very difficult thing to do. But when we're playing well, that will be the engine that will keep us going.

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