Transcriptions from Thursday's practice
Defensive Coordinator Steve Spagnuolo
Opening Statement: I'm just going to open it up for questions. We just got done with – I thought we had two pretty good days of practice and we needed them. So, with that being said, I'll open it up.
Q: What are your concerns with injuries?
A: Yeah. We have some guys. Didn't think it would get like that quite this quick. We're working through it. Give some other guys some opportunities.
Q: Do you have optimism about any of the guys with injuries when it comes to Sunday's game?
A: I don't know that. I mean, I'll leave that up to Ronnie (Barnes) and Ben (McAdoo). I mean, tomorrow we have kind of the walk through practice, so hopefully they'll get a little healthier. We're still three days away, so I'm hopeful.
Q: If someone said to you three games into the season that you would have the worst rush defense in the league, what would you say?
A: I would say, first of all, I didn't know that because I don't look at it. I'd probably say no comment because we have 13 more games to go, but I certainly wouldn't have expected that. But, one bad game like that. That's what happens. That's what it does.
Q: What do you see as the reason for the bad rush defense?
A: There's a lot of things. It started inside, then it moved outside on some plays, then it got out to the second level guys, downhill, not playing downhill, guys not setting the edge in the secondary. When it goes like that, it's not one thing. But I think everybody recognizes it. We've been through it. We sat down and watched every run play together as a unit. I think everybody was accountable for what they did or didn't do and hopefully it will get fixed.
Q: I'm sure you're going to stick with S Darian Thompson, but is it tough to do that when a guy like S Andrew Adams steps in and proves himself?
A: Yeah. I mean, everybody is going to play. Those guys were a little bit on rotation. Andrew is probably going to play more. I would expect that would happen a little bit this week. But, yeah. But everybody has had struggles now. When you're 0-3 and as my friend over here pointed out – it's their game. I only worry about final rankings at the end of the year. When that happens, everybody is struggling. So, we pick each other up and move on. We're going to need everybody before it's all said and done. But there will be other guys in there playing.
Q: Talk about Jameis Winston forcing the issue in the passing game and how that could be good for your defense when it comes to turnovers.
A: Yeah. It'd be nice if he throws a couple to us. I always say catch the ones he throws to you. But look, that's not going to happen. He's a good quarterback. You have to force him into those things and we have to do that first. If we do our job, maybe the ball will fall in our hands, we'll get a couple of turnovers.
Q: How much have you sensed your defense wearing down in games and is there anything you as a coach can do?
A: Yeah. Call better third down calls and win the third downs so we get off the field. I look at that all the time. When I see that there's over 70 plays, the first thing I do is go look at third down. Now, the more manageable third downs, the longer ones, right, we would rather have and when they're not long, okay, then you have to look at first and second down. But you have to win third down to eliminate the number of plays on the field.
Q: Were you disappointed in the drop off on DE Olivier Vernon's side of the ball when he wasn't in during the fourth quarter?
A: I'm not really sure how to answer that. I'm going to go back and say that it wasn't one person. It wasn't one side. It was everybody. It's never one person. When you run the football, and they run the football for over four yards, it's never one guy. So, in that case, I would not say it's one person. I'd say it's the whole defense and that's how we're going about fixing it. Everybody.
Q: Are you seeing the same issues come up with CB Eli Apple?
A: Yes and no. I always go back to the things that I think go unseen, which are the times that they don't throw it there because his guy is covered. And when they do throw it and we have an issue, he has to bounce back and play the next play. I'm biting my tongue on commenting on the one play that I saw a little bit differently, to be quite honest with you. But, it is what it is and that's what they called. We had no explosive pass plays. The only things that really hurt us were the penalties. But the officials call the game and we play the play after they call it.
Q: What does LB B.J. Goodson give you, especially in the run defense?
A: B.J. – he takes a lot of pride in being a downhill linebacker and tackling and being a physical guy, so if we can get him back, that certainly would help some things.
Q: How much did CB Janoris Jenkins give you last week and did he show his value?
A: He sure did. We weren't sure – he didn't practice at all obviously, but he's a gamer. He went out there and at 85% he's still a pretty good football player. It just tells you what he is. He's a gritty, gutty guy. He knew his teammates needed him and he went out there and played and I was kind of proud of the way he played.
Q: Is it challenging to set up with CB Janoris Jenkins when you're playing a guy like Mike Evans?
A: They have two good receivers. That's the challenge right there. The other thing with Rabbit's ankle being like it was, putting on an extra couple of miles running back and forth didn't seem to be real smart. So we kept him on one side. But hopefully he'll be a little bit healthier this week and get healthier and healthier as we go. We need to get healthier as a whole group and we will, mentally and physically.
Q: Are you okay with the tackling?
A: No. No. Both these last two games, the tackling has not been very good. Too many missed tackles. It's the first thing we talk about. Quite honestly, it didn't go much further than tackling and stopping the run. We didn't have to talk about a bunch of other stuff. Didn't have to look at stats and what goals we did or didn't get. It all begins right up there.
Q: What do you do when your veteran guys who have proved they can tackle but the last two games haven't proved that?
A: We work on it. It has to get fixed from the inside out. In other words, guys have to have the attitude to fix it, which I think they do. I'm going to credit the two teams we played. They're two pretty good football teams that had some pretty good backs that made us miss. But if we don't get better at that, it's not going to – all the other stuff is not going to matter. So we need to improve that.
Q: Was the pass completion to Alshon Jeffery before the field goal a miscommunication?
A: No. It was exactly how it was supposed to be played, we just didn't knock the ball down.
Q: What's your message to a player like S Darian Thompson?
A: Well, what I tell him is I haven't lost any confidence in him because I haven't. We need him back there as a communicator. We need him back there kind of running the show and getting guys lined up and he has to play better when the ball carrier shows up in his alley and we have to make a tackle and he has to do that. But I think he'll get better. We'll all improve. I mean, that's what you go through – go through some tough times and pick each other up and hopefully we find a way to win. I mean, this whole thing gets cured by winning a football game, so all we're worried about is here's what we're doing. We're worried about winning today and then winning tomorrow and just winning the day and hopefully on Sunday we can win a game.
DT Damon Harrison
Q: What's the key for this defense to turn it around against the run?
A: Guys just have to fly to the ball like we're known for doing. It's simple things. It's simple assignments. Just be where you're supposed to be when you're supposed to be there.
Q: How surprising is it when you see the poor tackling on film since there is so much talent on this defense?
A: It's very surprising. Nobody saw that coming. But it's all things that we can get corrected and get corrected fast. It's not a matter of guys not being able to do it. It's just actually doing it and doing it with some authority. I don't think we've been doing that.
Q: How much can the pressure up front help the secondary get some turnovers against Jameis Winston, who tends to force the play?
A: A lot. I mean, you can't complete a pass if a quarterback gets sacked and if you're in his face and you're hitting him, going to cause a lot of throws just to go up in the air and we have some guys that can attack the football. So I definitely think we need to do a better job of helping out.
Q: What have you seen from Tampa Bay on film when it comes to running the ball?
A: Again, we played a couple teams that struggled to run the ball, but that doesn't mean anything if we don't go out there and do what we're supposed to do. So all I know is on Sunday, they're going to run the ball as everybody else has tried to do against us and they've had some success.
Q: Talk about kneeling for the anthem before the Eagles game.
A: We're talking about the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, sir.