Q: The defense gave up two early big plays against Buffalo, but after that they seemed to rebound. How good was that for you to see?
A: That was very good. I thought the first series we played a good series of football. Then [Buffalo] came back and bang. Then we gave up a score. For us to regroup, maintain our poise – and I thought we played better as the game went on – that was a positive step.
Q: What was it like on the sideline when the defense gave up the big plays?
A: There was a little frustration. I won’t say that there wasn’t. We had high expectations going into the ballgame. We thought we had a good plan. The guys felt good about their preparation. When you give up two big scores, two big plays, which we’re trying to eliminate in our football, it was a little bit of frustration, but they regrouped.
Q: Aside from the two big interceptions against Buffalo, how well has
A: We started matching Corey up to who we think is the best receiver on the opponent’s football team. I’ll measure it by this; we don’t call his name too much. I’d like to keep it that way, except when he gets interceptions. But that first interception, I don’t know if you saw it on tape, but it was phenomenal. It was a one-handed interception. It was a big play for us. The second one was even a bigger play because it led to the winning field goal. Corey’s been doing exceptionally well.
Q: What made you switch to locking Webster on the one receiver?
A: Just to challenge Corey a little bit. We did that a little last year in the second part of the season, when we played Philly. He really did a good job on Jackson, we thought, a year ago. We just thought, ‘Hey let’s challenge Corey a little bit. Let’s give him some confidence and let’s let him see that we have confidence that he can go out there and do this for us and we’ll play around him.’ He’s answered the challenge.
Q: That’s a lot of trust by the coaching staff.
A: We definitely believe he’s up to the challenge.
Q: Webster was upset earlier in his career when he was kept away from the opponent’s top receiver. What kind of response did you see from him this year?
A: You see a sparkle in their eye. It wasn’t that Weby comes out and says, ‘Hey, I’m the guy’ or anything like that. He doesn’t beat his chest. He studies. There’s that twinkle, that look like, ‘I got this responsibility. I am the man.’ You see his practice habits improve. You see his whole demeanor improve.
Q: How would a healthy Tuck change the dynamic of the defensive line?
A: I just think it improves our dynamics and it improves the flexibility that we would have, that we don’t have right now. If we can get a healthy Tuck and get our d-line intact, our defense would improve tremendously.
Q: Do you see that as a crunch for playing time for guys that are currently up there?
A: No. We feel like, for instance JPP. He’s averaging 55, maybe 60 plays a game and he’s producing good numbers right now. If we could reduce that to 40, 45 plays a game he could produce even better numbers because sometimes he plays slow at times. We think that’s because he’s winded. If he had that little breather on the sideline, he could come in and produce and do some things that we feel like can accelerate his game to a different level. We think that’s good for those guys.
Q: Are you happy with how your defense has responded to the injuries and moving around?
A: I’ve been impressed with their mental toughness as far as that’s concerned. Do I want better play? Yes, I always want better play, but I definitely have been pleased with their mental toughness and their willingness to stick to it and their willingness to stay together. I think that says a lot about the character of our players.
Q: Do you have a sense of what you can expect from Prince?
A: That’s such an unknown. One thing about an injury like that and then a lack of practice time is that we are so far ahead in how we are preparing and how we’re thinking and how the communication process and the chemistry with the players on the field right now. We want to get him involved with that. That’s a new process for the defensive backs – a new communication piece for the defensive backs. As much as we want him to come back, that’s a piece that you have to put in and then kind of work with and find out how it works.
Q: It’s a bonus.
A: No doubt. Believe me, as excited as we will be to get him back and get him on the field, we have to be kind of careful because again, there is a lot of teaching that’s gone into the positions that those guys are playing right now. Once you move a guy to that position then there’s a lot of re-teaching that has to occur. We’re excited to get him back, but again, we have to be careful with that process.
A: We haven’t used as much base, let me [say] it like that because we faced a lot of three-wide, four-wide, multiple receiver set teams. That affects the 4-3 base because we want to match up athletes on athletes and skill on skill. Today was good for Greg because we’ve been playing him in some sub and trying to get him ready for that role. It’s a different game when it’s the sub package out there and he’s got to be matched with wide receivers and tight ends and sometimes fast backs. I expect his acceleration and learning to take place a little bit more as we continue throughout the season and hopefully you’ll see him in those sub packages. That’s our plan.
Q: Do the three-wide receiver sets limit what you can do with Kiwanuka? Will that be a problem when Tuck comes back?
A: No. Actually, we think it’s a bonus because we’ll be able to play Kiwi in a number of positions – at the linebacker position and then we’ll be able to put the three, maybe four defensive end-type people in the game for an even better pass rush, a more productive pass rush. With Kiwanuka and Tuck and JPP, as well as Osi and Dave [Tollefson], we get the flexibility that we would like to have that we haven’t had this season. We think it’s a bonus.