Matt Patricia

Q. Why did you like LB Nolan Smith in that 5-1 penny at the off-ball? (Jeff McLane)

MATT PATRICIA: Yeah, Nolan, he’s a good football player. He’s a good young guy; he’s got good instincts. His progress through the course of the year — he’s played a couple different positions, I think he had some multiplicity coming out of college which is really good for him and allows him to be used in a couple different spots.

I think where we were last week kind of getting ready for the game and some of the depth situations that we had right there it was good to have Nolan to move around a little bit and that kind of just offered us some different roles to put guys in different positions out on the field.

Q. With S Sydney Brown, a young guy who maybe plays to the whistle and a little after, how do you balance wanting him to be aggressive and be that kind of player but also being smart, how do you work through that? (Reuben Frank)

MATT PATRICIA: I think that’s a great point. Some of it comes with experience. I think as you grow and especially in the league as you have more time on the field, you learn. We want guys to be aggressive. He has a great style of play, but certainly we can’t do anything that puts the team at harm or at risk. And those are good learning moments for everybody in that situation and just trying to get him to get that right tempo of the play for all of those things.

Always kind of feel like it’s easier to try to put the brakes on than put the gas on, so you like that. You just try to coach through it the best you can.

I think just those scenarios and the awareness, and sometimes as young players, there’s a transition for the speed of the game, too. Like the other guys are faster and quicker, and they move a little bit different than maybe what he saw last year. So, getting used to that is better.

Q. DE Brandon Graham seemed to get some snaps inside maybe more than usual. At the expense of, perhaps, DT Jalen Carter. What is it about that matchup that you liked that led you in that direction? (Ed Kracz)

MATT PATRICIA: Man, BG [Brandon Graham] is unbelievable. We were just talking this morning. I can’t tell you how much of a joy it is to be around him every day and to feel his energy and the things that he brings both on and off the field.

I think last week as we were trying to get ready to go and look at some certain packages and situationally where we thought we could utilize some of his ability and maybe, he’s a little bit — he’s really strong, he’s powerful, he’s explosive, he’s got great quickness.

And sometimes inside if you’re a guard or a center, big-guy matchups are different, and then all of a sudden, another guy comes in there and that’s a little bit of a different pass set for you. And you have, from an offensive line standpoint, if you’re a guard you’re trying to take, whether you call it the two technique set, three technique set, there’s a four-I wide set, there’s a two-I set down inside.

So you take those different sets, you practice through the course of the week, you work on them versus certain bigger guys that you may see inside whether it’s Fletch [DT Fletcher Cox] or Jalen [Carter] or [DT] Jordan [Davis], whoever it is, and then all of a sudden you get a little bit of a different skill set in there, and it gives you a little bit of a different problem against maybe something that we see that we could take advantage of or use to our benefit in those deals and those sets become a little bit different now for that guard in there. Short space, quickness, all that stuff inside, working with the centers. Especially when we are trying to affect the pocket in a certain way, we just thought that matchup would be a good change up.

Q. Speaking of Nolan Smith, you guys also used LB Haason Reddick. Where does that idea originate? Do you like edge-rushers… (Brooks Kubena)

MATT PATRICIA: Yeah, I definitely cannot take credit for any of that. Obviously, it’s been a copycat league across the board for decades, but you see stuff sometimes. You see other teams doing things and guys that have some of the on-the-ball, off-the-ball ability and move them around, try to create different protection issues for the offense.

Certainly it’s great playing at home. It’s very loud, which I love, and the fans are yelling and screaming. And it’s such a huge advantage for us when the offensive line, the quarterback, they are trying to get on the same page, certainly early, if you have a young quarterback out on the field in those situations or trying to communicate protection system, who is the Mike, trying to identify how they are going to handle those. If you can move some of those guys around, I think it just slows their process down a little bit. Maybe you catch them in a bad mismatch and catch maybe a free runner coming through, something along those lines. Being able to utilize those guys in those ways definitely helps.

Q. You had just the one sack against the Giants. When you watch the pass/rush back, what’s keeping it from being able to impact games? (EJ Smith)

MATT PATRICIA: I think the pass rush is, it’s certainly something we are always trying to strive for to get into the backfield and get after the quarterback. It’s certainly high priority for us week-in, week-out.

[Giants Head] Coach [Brian] Daboll did a great job with his staff of trying to get the ball out quick, and certainly you could see it early in the game, especially in the first half, did a really good job of using the empty formations and motioning guys out and getting some overload four-by-ones and three-by-twos and putting the ball out on the perimeter pretty quick. We changed up a couple things there to try to slow that down a little bit, and the ball was coming out very, very effectively fast.

You try to get them into passing situations where the routes have to go downfield a little bit further. Maybe you’ve got a little bit more time to try to get to the quarterback in that situation. But give them credit for what they were trying to do in those situations, but I would say this: those guys are affecting the quarterback. Maybe not in the sacks, we’re working to get there, but certainly the pass rush.

There’s certain things depending on the quarterback that you’re playing and how you try to game plan the effectiveness of the rush, maybe it’s coming through the middle or maybe it’s a certain side that you can get rushed to, get him out of his throwing lane, not let him step up through the pocket, right-handed quarterbacks versus mobile quarterbacks, guys that want to stay in, guys that want to get out.

I would say the rate at which these guys are trying to get out of the pocket or escape or whether it’s deep or up and through, is a high rate, too. That means they are feeling the rush from that standpoint.

And certainly, I think there’s things that I’ve got to do to continue to help these guys in those situations and scheme-wise that maybe we can do going down the road to help them have those guys stuck in there a little bit longer so we can get after them.

Q. What’s your philosophy when it comes to metrics like measuring that, is it pressures, QB hits, what are you looking at to try to quantify? (EJ Smith)

MATT PATRICIA: Good question because there’s a lot of numbers out there with all that stuff. I love numbers, it’s kind of my background, so I’m good with all that.

I think in the end you’re always trying to look at what affects the play. What is the result of the play, and that’s the biggest thing for us. We try to look at all those metrics and we try to apply them and improve them and sometimes it is just to your point, like, ‘hey, we are seeing numbers that say it’s coming fast, you’ve got to go faster’ or we’ve got to do something to help you get there quicker, whatever that is.

So, I love all those tools, certainly from that aspect of it. In the end, we are trying to see what happened on the play and did we affect the play or not affect the play, and you sometimes you don’t necessarily affect that play, but you may affect it two or three down the road because of the cumulative effect, and I think that’s always really good, too.

Q. What did you think of the linebacker play, especially LB Ben VanSumeren. He played defensive snaps for the first time in his career, him and LB Shaq Leonard together. (Martin Frank)

MATT PATRICIA: Let’s start with Shaq. I mean, that was great, right. Obviously so excited for him to be able to come in and play, and another week, just kind of getting familiar with everything and man, I thought he made some really aggressive, quick reads. He’s a super instinctual football player, and there’s some plays where he saw and triggered, and that I think energized everybody from that standpoint.

That was really good to see and I was super happy and proud of him for that. He’s such a great professional. He works extremely hard to do everything that we’re trying to do.

With Ben, that’s exciting for him to be able to get that action in the game, and he’s an extremely fast and explosive player. He’s young, so we are trying to get him to slow down, see what you’re seeing and get your eyes right and all that stuff. From a linebacker standpoint, he’s been real productive and helping our special teams, too. So, he’s been on the field from that aspect of it, but it looked like he was having fun out there and he was explosive, which is what he does.

And it was just in the situation we were in last week, trying to put different guys on the field, I wouldn’t say a platoon effect but we had guys in different roles in different packages so that you could really lock in on the job that you needed to do and just try to do it at the highest production level you could for that particular package that we had, which is good when you’ve got either young guys or guys that are new into the system; so that there’s a lot that goes into the game and the different situations and try to just lock them into those roles I thought was helpful for those guys. I think they did a great job, to their credit.

Q. Is Cardinals QB Kyler Murray’s ability to extend plays and his running ability; is that the biggest problem you face planning for Arizona this week? (Merrill Reese)

MATT PATRICIA: I mean, it’s one of the big problems. I mean, obviously you start with him. I’ve played him through the years. He’s extremely explosive, very fast, very quick. Unbelievable athlete. I think the thing about him, is you go out there and you’re like, ‘all right, I’ve got this guy lined up, and we’re good,’ and then he’s gone.

He does a great job with the angles. He manipulates the angles on the field, and you can see where his other sports athleticism comes into play here. He just does a great job, and he sets you up. He’ll go and he’ll get real tall and then you start to rise up and all of a sudden he’s gone. He’s just down and he moves and he’s quick.

The biggest thing with him that’s interesting since he came in the league that I’ve noticed is, he will hit top speed right now. Like there’s no buildup to it. It’s not like he has to get going for five yards before he’s running full speed. He can just go. I think that’s what surprises everybody right away is how fast he moves and how quickly he can get to that top speed. So, you start there obviously with him.

These guys play extremely hard. [Cardinals Head] Coach [Jonathan] Gannon has done a great job with this team and getting the team to play aggressive and physical, and certainly [Cardinals RB James] Conner, the running back, great running back. He’s a big, big guy coming downhill, he gets outside, he’s got good speed, good change of direction. I think they are doing a great job with him and when he gets rolling, it’s a problem. Obviously, a little bit of familiarity with him, too. Hollywood Brown [Cardinals WR Marquise Brown], if he’s out there, this guy is moving fast.

They have a great combination of speed, they play physical, I think they play aggressive up front at the O-line. Quarterback is very difficult to deal with. Tight end, [Cardinals TE Trey] McBride, he’s really having a great year. So, he’s a go-to guy for them. He’s a target.

All the situations, the quarterback trusts him. He’s got a big catch radius. So, the quarterback is looking to find him in those deals and a lot of the extended plays, these guys with their speed. They get open, they find the space in their zones, they get away from their man. And if you’re not trying to attach to the receivers and you lose vision on the quarterback, then he takes off. That is a complicated sort of bunch of problems to have when all those guys are out there.

Q. With DT Jalen Carter, he obviously has a ton of pluses going for him. What’s one area of growth you’d like to see that would be important for his development? (Tim McManus)

MATT PATRICIA: Sure, man, that’s a good one, especially with good, young players. You’re always trying to improve, whether it’s week-in, week-out their routine or just try to get them to maybe look at the game newly each week, from that aspect of it, like, ‘hey, this is what we did last week, let’s build on that next week.’ Let’s just keep building your process, I guess is the best way to put it from that aspect of it.

Just the consistency. You’re always trying to just kind of get that down. I mean, he’s obviously a really good football player. He’s done some great things for us, we’ll continue to build on that and go and utilize him in as many different ways as we can. I just love, he’s got great energy. He comes on the field, he comes to practice and just loves the game. It’s a real joy to be around him in those situations.

Q. You’ve been better on third down the last two weeks statistically speaking. What have you done differently and when did the process of changing third down start? (Jeff McLane)

MATT PATRICIA:  Give the credit for the third down to the players. I think they go out on the field and execute the game plan at a high level. I think we had some guys go out and really do a good job in those roles that we asked them to do.

Certainly, the last couple weeks we’ve tried to do a couple things. Just add on but we’ve really — [Defensive Coordinator] Coach [Sean] Desai and myself, we have been trying to add into those packages with the assistant coaches. They have done a really good job of just game planning that stuff so it’s just building through the course of the season and working with the guys that we have on the field and trying to put them in different positions to be able to go execute and have some success. So really excited just from the standpoint of whatever it is statistically, the players. I think they have done a great job with that.

Q. How was the communication in the last game? Not unheard of, but a little uncommon to have a safety with the green dot. (Dave Zangaro)

MATT PATRICIA: Yeah, great question, too, with that one. Give credit to [S] Reed [Blankenship]. Obviously, that’s a tough deal. I’ve used that in the past before with safeties in my history of having them have the green dot and communicate all that stuff to everybody, but it’s a hard deal. You might be 30 yards away from the play, you’re running back, you’re putting a lot of mileage on there. You’re trying to communicate to the front and everybody else.

Certainly, you try to look for just that continual voice that’s going to be on the field. It can be a little bit difficult when that guy is on and off the field, so you try to manage that best and that consistency I thought Reed brought to it, he did a really good job in the game with it. That’s not an easy thing to do. But give him credit for that.

Q. In your experience, we always say ‘the rookie wall,’ is that real, do you think? (John McMullen)

MATT PATRICIA: I guess through the course of my years, seen a lot of different rookies and some have been able to handle the transfer really well and some have struggled through that from that standpoint.

So, I don’t know if it’s just rookies, I don’t know if it’s younger players, newer players. Sometimes it might be a guy that has a change in the system, but the NFL season is definitely long. It’s a grind. That’s what we love about it from that aspect of it. I think as you get and become more of a veteran player in the NFL, that routine I think is the biggest thing that saves you.

I think that’s the biggest thing that you lean on is what is your routine. And you go into those modes of the season, and you just have those timelines that you hit and have those markers that you know, whether it’s you’re trying to get through September and then you get to whether it’s the end of October, you hit Thanksgiving, you hit Christmas, you just know the timeline of the season from that aspect of it. I think it’s interesting.

Obviously, a couple years ago, you wouldn’t think it’s much, but when you went from 16 to 17, I did think that was a change. I thought that was a change in kind of how the season time marker went for some of the players, and that took a little while getting used to.

And certainly, for younger guys and rookies that come into the league, it is completely different than their timeline of what college was, and the markers that they might have had whether it was Thanksgiving or Christmas and then certainly the break before we got ready for whatever postseason they had, and grinding through those months staying consistent with it is hard. It’s new for those guys.

I think that’s the biggest thing. You just try to get them in a routine. A lot of the guys, they will attach the veteran guys and kind of pick their brains from that standpoint of how do you do that. And that’s real and when you get through those harder months or those longer months where the grind is what it is, you just try to push them through to get them back at the end of it from that standpoint, so you just try to educate it.

Q. This kind of segues into that. You talked about how getting different guys on the field in recent weeks, in your ideal world, do you get as many guys as you can on the field and have them with those limited packages? (Bob Brookover)

MATT PATRICIA: I think it depends on the team. I think that’s changed for me just year-in, year-out.

But certainly, in the NFL, you’ve got some guys that are active for the games and if you can use all those guys and put them into different roles to help you on game day. And whether that helps you at the end of the game or whether it helps you in a situation, or it helps another player maximize what he’s doing in his own role, I think you try to figure those out and you try to do that when you can. Sometimes there are guys that are just going to be on the field all the time and that’s just who they are and that’s okay. But if you have those situations and you can maximize them, I always think that’s good.

Q. Do you feel like you potentially have some of them right now? (Bob Brookover)

MATT PATRICIA: I think we have some guys that are active for the game that can go out and help us, and if they can and that makes everybody else play better or whatever the situation is, we try to utilize it when they can, sure.