Linebackers Coach Jim Herrmann**
Re: Jon Beason
Picked up right where we left off. I think our guys accepted him. We have good guys here. I'm sure he was able to walk right into the locker room and fit right in. (…) in the linebacker room and we have a great group of guys. His body of work speaks for itself. Obviously he's a Pro Bowl caliber type guy and I think our guys like that in the room. It's different and new. He has a gregarious personality. He's very easy to get along with. You can tell why he's been a good leader.
Q: Is that unusual for a guy to come in after not being with the team to get the attention and respect and make such an impact that quickly?
A: In this day and age of NFL football, no. It happens all the time. I think guys have different personalities and he has that personality that just catches fire. He walked in the door and like I said earlier, the guys gravitated to him and he has that type of personality, he's that type of a leader. To me, that was refreshing.
Q: Has he had any kind of a direct effect on the role and responsibilities that Spencer Paysinger had?
A: Yeah, because normally the MIKE linebacker is usually the signal caller and so forth. In different packages, if he's on the field, he does it. If he's not on the field, then someone has to do it. I think that helps take a load off of what Spencer has to do and that helps. Jon has been in that role wherever he has been. Once he got the terminology down, he was able to do that very easily.
Q: While we're on the topic of Spencer, he started, he held onto that job, can you talk about his development and growth?
A: I think Spencer has done a great job this year. We had to put him in that role and he took to that role very easily, in different packages. He does a good job of that. I think for his development, that was good. He has developed into a good football player and continues to play and get his ankle right. I think having Jon will help him, too, because Jon's been in the league for seven or eight years and this is Spencer's third or fourth year, I think. It will help him, just to see a different type of guy and personality.
Q: Speaking of guys getting healthy, Jacquian Williams finally looks like he's healthy. He had a solid game this past week. His development is coming along?
A: Yes. I think he feels good with where he's at physically and I know he's a different type of linebacker, but he's physical enough to play the run and he did a good job in the game. We were very pleased. I was very pleased. After looking at the film, I was like, okay, he's back to form, back to where I was hoping he would be at this point. Hopefully he continues to get better and better.
Q: Do you see him taking fewer gambles, now that he has a couple of years under his belt?
A: Jacquian? I wouldn't necessarily say gambles, but I think he's learning the nuances of the game, the nuances of coverage and covering people in man to man. That comes with experience. You need to touch the oven and feel that it's hot to learn not to touch it anymore and the same thing is true. You need to learn how to cover a guy and different nuances of routes and where he needs to be. The more he does it, the better he is going to be.
Q: With his ability to cover, do you see a good combination with him and Jon Beason in that nickel role, with those two guys having relatively different skill sets?
A: I think so. It's always nice when you can matchup people and put them in positions to cover and do specific things. You see that around the league all over. You're trying to get your guys in position to be successful and we were able to do that a little bit with Jacquian this week.
Q: Do you see Beason rubbing off on the younger guys with his knowledge and really raw enthusiasm, kind of infecting them and making them better players just by being around them?
A: I think so. He's a very upbeat leader and it is. He has an infectious personality. Most great leaders are. You see that in him. To be able to walk into the door and play right away, that's not easy. He was able to do it and everybody on the defense was right with him. To me, that's huge.
Q: Have you ever seen anybody pick up a defense so quickly?
A: I have, but there are a lot of similarities. The biggest is the language. Everyone plays cover 2. They may call it this in this place and this in this place, but everyone plays some form of 3-deep and some form of man. I think it's more the language to learn, this is this and put it into categories. He was able to do that very easily.
Q: What's the tangible on-the-field result of having someone like Beason out there, who is that leader that you talked about, very vocal, sets people up, and really seems to be one of the guys on the field that makes sure everyone is where they're supposed to be and is in command of that defense at all times?
A: I've always been a firm believer that there has to be one voice on the field. Coaches are on the sideline, somebody has to be the voice on the field. When you have a guy like that, that one voice resonates to everyone on the field, and the results are you have 11 guys on the same page, which is good.
Q: A player like Beason, does he allow you to do things that maybe you weren't able to do earlier in the year?
A: Not necessarily different things. We run our defense. We're efficient. Like I said, if you have 11 guys playing the same thing, you're going to win. You're going to be successful.
Q: We talked a lot to the linebackers before the season and they acknowledged that nobody was expecting much of them, they get a lot of criticism for being an okay group or whatever. Have they played better than what most people give them credit for?
A: As a group, I think those guys have done a good job. In today's world, it's about wins and losses. You don't win and you lose, somebody's going to take the criticism. It's just part of the business. The biggest thing I tell them is look, at the end of the day, can you walk off the field, look in the mirror, and say I played my best today? If you do that, then you can keep doing that and get better each and every week. You'll eventually be successful. Just in the last couple of weeks with wins, that happens. They build their confidence and keep striving to go out and better their best performance, they're always going to be a peak performer. To me, that's what you strive to do as a coach, try to get them to be at their best each and every week.
Defensive Line Coach Robert Nunn
We've done a good job of stopping the run and creating a few more opportunities to try to get after the quarterback a little bit. We show up a little more when that happens. As a group I thought the whole year we've been solid in the run game. We've done a good job of stopping the run, just not been able to create the opportunities whether it's third down and distance or getting the game right where we can have the opportunities to rush the quarterback. Playing the last two running backs and being able to stop them the way we did and get the hits on the quarterback, it feels like we're moving in the right direction.
Q: We all see how quickly teams are getting the ball out against you guys, which is obviously by design. Is that the biggest reason for the lack of sacks, or do you think there's other factors?
A: I think probably the biggest reason, that's it, but there are other factors that factor in. What the score is, we have not had the situations that you want to rush the passer. In those first six games, especially, we just didn't have those situations and when we did, I thought we did a decent job of taking advantage of those opportunities. We've created some better pass rush opportunities for us the last couple of weeks and been able to take advantage of them.
Q: It's looked like Justin Tuck has been particularly good against the run, is that an accurate assessment?
A: He has played much better, comparing him to last year. He's played healthier, I said that in the preseason. I really thought he could maintain, staying healthy that he would really show up and he really has. He's played really well and in the last two weeks I think he has nine hits on the quarterback in two weeks, so Justin's off to a really good season.
Q: The other end of that spectrum is that Jason Pierre-Paul admits he's not himself, which, I guess, so soon after back surgery is not that much of a surprise, right?
A: He's struggled a little bit, but he's still playing solid against the run and we just have to keep showing up every day and going to work and that's what he's been doing. He's behind the eight ball. He's an inexperienced player, he has not played a lot of football and missing training camp and missing the offseason, it did set him back. That can't mean excuses. The season's here now. We've got to keep rolling. His attitudes been good and that's what we have to keep building on. Keep building on the positives and I still think it can happen for him this year. He needs that one breakout play, or one breakout game to get him rolling. He's the kind of guy that can get hot and get him moving in the right direction.
Q: A lot of that, I imagine, is also attitude. Last year he seemed very frustrated and down. He always talked about being unhappy. That could probably lead to a funk, if he can't get out of it.
A: Yeah, you know, I can't answer that, you'd have to talk to him about that. Last year, he didn't have the big numbers in sacks, but this guy was still one of the leaders on the defensive line, in tackles. The list is very short of guys that play the run upfront like he played the run last year. He didn't have the year as far as the pass rushing numbers, but he still played pretty good last year. Nothing like he played in 2011, everybody wants to see that every year and hopefully we can get him back to that. We're going to keep working and that's what I get paid for. Hopefully that's what we're going to keep trying to do.
Secondary/Safeties Coach David Merritt
Q: Talk about the focus that Antrel Rolle brings to the game?
A: Antrel is everywhere. He has played corner, he's played strong safety, he's played free safety, he's played nickel and he's done that from day one since he arrived and it's no different this year. I had Antrel playing the strong safety this past week because Ryan Mundy was out. Well the only thing I told him is that I would like for you to lineup to the tight end in this particular formation and he just took it and he went with it and then two days later I asked him, 'You know what position you're playing?' He said, 'I have no clue.' I said, 'You're playing the strong safety position,' and he said, 'Okay, wherever you tell me to go to go, that's where I'm going to go.' That young man studies more than any safety I have in the sense that he comes to me all the time and he's asking about certain plays and we sit and we chat about the plays that he asks about and it's tremendous to have a kid that way.
Q: With having Terrell Thomas taking up a lot of the slot/corner spots and two great athletes in Will Hill and Rolle, has it given you more flexibility to confuse opponents because Rolle and Hill both have the athleticism to do everything you need them to do?
A: No question and the thing that I told T2 (Terrell Thomas) just this past week, I said Antrel, when we use Terrell, it's no more than the Bison package. I later mentioned it to Terrell and he said I understand coach. I said you're just a safety. Now you're a safety. You roll down to play the slot and you go back and play the post and so the sky is the limit. We have an ability right now to roll guys back and forth, whether it's Will Hill, whether it's Antrel, whether it's Terrell Thomas and you're able to confuse the quarterback.
Q: Have you noticed a focus with Will Hill that you haven't seen before in recent weeks?
A: Since he's been here he's been a focused young man for me and so I haven't noticed anything unusual or different because from day one when he came to us in his workout he knew at that point this was his last chance and so we keep the thumb down on him and Will is able to respond and he's responding well for us and so I think the kid understands that without football, where am I going to be? I understand that you can go out and find another job, but to be able to play a sport that you love… I mean the kid has taken advantage of it at this point.
Q: What do you like that he's done for you since he's been back?
A: I like his aggressiveness. I like his ability to tackle. He is able to play man to man coverage. He's just the ultimate athlete that you would like to have at the safety position because he can do it all.
Q: What is his ceiling? How good do you think he can be?
A: In my opinion, I think he can be a Pro Bowler. I really do, because of his body, his aggressiveness and his ability to sink his hips to play man to man on slot receivers. If you guys remember, when he first played for us, he played the nickel position, so he had to go in and play the slot receivers. His ability to cover, his ability to strike with force and hopefully we'll be able to get him back in the post so he can roam a little bit so we can get some interceptions out of him.
Q: How would you assess how Ryan Mundy has done for you so far?
A: Mundy has done fantastic. Coming here from Pittsburgh and being able to do the things that he has done is a tremendous credit to his ability to step up as a pro and understand the package, understand the defense that we're trying to put out on the field and right now, before he went down, he was leading our team in tackles. He's a very aggressive kid. He loves to be around the box and just his ability to give us what he's given us so far has been tremendous.
Q: Was it a scheme thing with Mundy not playing defense on Sunday in Philadelphia?
A: It was a scheme thing in the sense that when Ryan had a little nick we decided that if he's not able to practice right now, we need to take T2 and maybe put him in his position. We tried to tweak that a little bit and we said, let's look at this. Maybe we can move Terrell Thomas around and put him in different positions, so it was a scheme thing that we came up with.
Q: Is putting Terrell in that spot because of the way Will Hill has come along or does it go hand in hand?
A: It goes hand in hand. All three of those guys: Will, Terrell and Antrel… As I told T2 and Antrel, it's no more than the Bison package when we play three safeties and so with those guys you can mix them up and that's the beauty of it is that you don't know who's going to the post. You don't know who's going to be down as a support player, so being able to throw Terrell in there, who's a big kid as we all know, helps tremendously because of his size. We were able to just kind of roll the dice and shake it up and came out with a great victory down in Philly.
Q: Is Terrell playing at safety a role that he can take and go forward?
A: Absolutely. We look forward to it. His ability to go down and play the nickel spot, Antrel's ability to play the nickel spot and Will Hill's ability to play the nickel spot gives us more flexibility than we've had here in a long time.
Q: Does that affect how teams try to attack you because they don't know who's going to come play in the box?
A: I don't know. I think when you look at offenses; they look at us as defenses. They try to figure out who's the nickel, but does that affect how they're going to attack us? I don't know. Philly is such an unusual offense and so that's to be determined and we'll find out when it comes to Oakland and some of the other teams that we're going to play down the road. You can't rule out Ryan Mundy because what Ryan Mundy has done here the first couple of weeks, I understand that we didn't win, but that kid was very, very productive for us. With the ability to have four safeties, meaning adding Terrell Thomas as a safety slash nickel, it gives us more flexibility than we've ever had here.
Q: How has the secondary help the run defense this year?
A: These guys are continuing to buy in. They're grinding and you even look at those two sacks. One of the tips that we gave the guys was that if the tight end blocks down on your defensive end you need to be ready to pull up the running quarterback, which is Vick. So you saw on both of those plays Antrel and T2 did the exact same thing and they came and they fired on the quarterback, which teams are going to have to prepare for that now. But what the secondary has done for us… you look at Prince, you look at the young fella McBride, who's really not young. He's a veteran in the league. But these guys are holding up on the outside, which has given the safeties an ability to go and play with more vision and ability to go down and make tackles. My hat's off to those corners because the corners are out there battling Jackson. These guys are 4.3 running nine balls on them left and right and these kids just come back and line up and play again. They've done a tremendous job for us and that has allowed us to hold some disguises and even sometimes when people think we're disguising, we're getting ready to blitz. They've given us a tremendous opportunity just by their looks on the corners.
Q: Has Will Hill surprised you since his return?
A: No because I saw it in preseason in his first year and I saw it even in practice. So what he's doing now is he's having the ability to actually go out and show the world what he has. Jersey kid. A lot of guys saw it in high school. You're talking (about) a local hero here, so what he's doing is not surprising at all. I would love for him to do a couple of more things a little better and I'm going to continue to harp on those things, but it's not surprising to me at all.
Secondary/Cornerbacks Coach Peter Giunta**
Q: What kind of effect does that have on the other people in the room to see a guy like Terrell Thomas come back from so much adversity and play the way he has?
A: It's very inspirational. Terrell does a great job in his preparation and knows what's going on and is a great communicator on the field, so having him out there with Antrel and Will and all the other guys has been a tremendous plus for us.
Q: In your room I'm sure there's some frustration on Corey Webster's part that he can't get on the field. How is he handling that? Has he been able to help the other guys with learning?
A: He tries in the meeting room to do that stuff. During the practices he's out and trying to get himself back with the rehab and then comes over and attends the team parts of practice that he can. But his whole thing is to get himself back healthy and ready to play so it's been very frustrating for him. He starts to make progress and it just seems like he can't get over the hump yet. Hopefully this rest will help him.
Q: With the injuries, Antrel has had to play in the slot. Can you talk about what he's brought to the table?
A: He has done it for the last couple of years for us. We hated to move him back because he was doing such a great job at safety but out of necessity we had to move him back. We had two really healthy corners for the first Philadelphia game. Terrell's knee was swollen up so bad because he played so much against Kansas City and we lost Aaron (Ross) and Jayron (Hosley), so we had three corners go out in that game and Corey was already out, so we were down to two guys. We had to make the move and Will Hill was back so it worked out great for us that way because of all of his experience he has had at the nickel spot.
Q: What's been the difference with Prince Amukamara. He looks like he's playing at a very high level and is confident out there.
A: For Prince, the big thing was that this year was the first time that he was able to go through all the OTAs, all of minicamp, all of training camp and everything without any setbacks injury-wise and that's a huge plus for a young player to be able to go out there and play and practice. Thank God all eight games he's been healthy and he's been able to play all eight games except for that one time where he got hit and missed a few plays in the game, but other than that he's been back and playing. Every game he is getting better and better.
Q: All of the guys on the defense have been talking about the last three games. They sense something is different, maybe it's simpler. What are you seeing from the group?
A: I think the group every week has made progress. I don't think it's just the last three weeks. Hopefully as things go on every week, we'll get better and better. That's the whole idea in coaching, you want the guys to improve daily. It's daily improvement, it's weekly improvement and if we keep doing that, we'll be there at the end. That's what you have to do, you have to keep getting better every day, every meeting, every practice, every game. If we continue to do that, we will have a lot of success defensively.
Q: The players said that the defense has been simplified. Do you know what they're talking about?
A: You try to limit some of the things that they have to do in the gameplan and part of it is who you're playing and what you do to stop an opponent. We've tried to listen to their needs and their concerns and Perry has done a great job in tailoring things to this group that we have now. Different guys have stepped up and played, different guys have been hurt, so you have to adjust. You're playing based on who you have available on the field and he's done a great job with that for us.
Q: For the most part it seems like your group has done a good job in eliminating big plays from opponents this year. What's been the key to not letting them get behind your defense?
A: Communication has been very, very good this year. We put a big emphasis on it last year, to make sure that we're all on the same page and everybody's playing the same coverage and everybody knows exactly what the other guy is doing. Those guys have done a great job of communicating this year. They know when they're supposed to stay on top of the route, when they can be aggressive and undercut routes and the safeties have done a great job in staying on top and helping us.
Q: How much of a pleasant surprise has Trumaine McBride been? A guy that wasn't even in the NFL last year and he's come in and given you quality reps.
A: Trumaine has done a great job right through OTAs, minicamp. He's played in the league and has experience, so that's a huge plus. Having a guy that has experience, has played in games, played in the Chicago system and he's done a great job for us obviously stepping up and playing.
Q: Was that a welcome back game for Terrell on Sunday?
A: Yes, I think it was. I think Terrell, you miss two years and every week you start to get a little bit better. Mentally and emotionally getting over that, "Can I do it?"… now it's like, "Hey, my knee is fine. I can do this." You talk to anybody that's been hurt, it's very hard. As much as you say, "Yeah, I'm not worried about it," it's hard to get over that.
Q: And he's done it twice.
A: Right. This is the third time for him. He did it in college, too, so he's had it three times. Now you go out and play. A lot of times, the second year, because they've gone through a whole year and then they go back and they're just training. They're not rehabbing constantly, they're just getting ready for football and that's out of the back of their mind. Right now you're still rehabbing trying to make sure that the knee is right and there are no setbacks. That's always in the back of your mind. He took a huge step this past week going back and playing the nickel spot. He had great communication with the other two guys and he was tremendous for us.
Q: If you didn't have the bye this week. would he have played every snap?
A: Yes. He would have. He was ready to do that. Now this week, we would have given him a day off, maybe two depending on how the knee responded after the game. When I talked to him on Monday, there was very little swelling, which is a great sign. When you get on and you're playing on the turf, depending on what happens during the course of the game, how much it swells or how much it doesn't, but this game he felt great on Monday. Wins always help but there was very little swelling. The Kansas City game was on grass but it swelled quite a bit. We had to limit him. You go from a Sunday to a Thursday, there are some different things so we knew that we needed him because of the bigger receivers against Chicago so we purposely, we didn't want his knee swollen, we didn't want to take a lot of chances against Philadelphia because we had to turn around and play again on Thursday against Chicago. We needed a corner and we only had two available. He was the third guy and we just kind of played him very sparingly just to save him for Thursday night. Trumaine did a great, great job on DeSean when we played them the first time and this past time he was tremendous. He gave us a ton of quality snaps.
Q: When you talk about Trumaine, it seems he is aggressive at the point of attack, maybe more aggressive than some of the guys.
A: He does a great job getting up and pressing guys. It fits his skill set and he's able to go up and match their quickness. He's a little undersized but he competes, he's a great competitor, he has good ball skills, especially with the ball in front of him. So he's been a great surprise for us this year.
Q: You mentioned him back in the spring when we talked to you.
A: Yeah. He is a guy with very, very good coverage skills. In our system he fits because we do play a lot of man-to-man coverage. That's perfect for us.
Q: How would you assess Prince so far?
A: I think he's done great this year. He's getting his hands on people, being very competitive and challenging throws on guys. I'm very pleased with his progress to date.
Q: What is he doing better today than he did at the end of last season?
A: His experience has been huge. He understands what people are trying to do to him. His awareness and anticipation of things that are about to happen are so much better because he got to play a little bit last year and now he's played eight straight. When you go out there and you have some continuity and you're playing and you're communicating with the guys, you get a great feel for the game. It's not like you're in for a game and then you're out for two of three games with an injury. This year he's been very healthy, not missed any practice time and very little game time with the one mild concussion against Dallas. He's done a great job that way. He feels the game so much better than he has in the past because he's been able to play.