Q. I know you’re not going to tell us exactly what the plan is once LB Nakobe Dean gets back, but can you foresee — I guess philosophically, are you open to having all the linebackers play? And did you see enough from LB Nick Morrow that you think maybe there will be a role for him once Nakobe does come back? (Reuben Frank)
SEAN DESAI: That’s a great question. Really at all positions yes, we see roles for everybody. That’s how we train our guys; they’ve all got to be ready. And there’s so many different situations and so many different combinations of things that we can get to that the more talent, the better. The more decisions like that that we have to make the better it is for us.
Q. What does it say about the adjustments made after the opening drive and being able to shut them out in the second half? (Josh Tolentino)
SEAN DESAI: I think our staff did a great job and our players did a great job. We communicated well on the sideline. We kind of figured out what — we anticipated some of the things they were doing in the first drive. And they hit us on a couple of third downs that we had some chances to get off the field.
But we kind of just regrouped, we settled in, and we detailed some of the things we wanted to do with techniques and calls. The players, they brought it to life. They brought it to life and they did an outstanding job, and they stuck with it and they played really well.
Q. Having CB Darius Slay shadow Rams WR Cooper Kupp briefly, was that something that was on the fly, or was that plan B going in? (Jeff McLane)
SEAN DESAI: No, like I said, it was part of that feedback that we got through the game and creating some matchups that we know that [Rams Head] Coach [Sean] McVay and those guys really try to get to.
We talked about it. And we had some thoughts going into the game about what we would want to get to and when. And we had those conversations on the sideline quickly and then doubled down at halftime with some of those thoughts.
Q. How was CB Bradley Roby able to catch up fast enough to play 25 snaps? And how did he play? (Dave Zangaro)
SEAN DESAI: I think he played solid. It shows you kind of his veteran nature and his ability — he’s played a lot of football in this league, played a lot of slot in this league. And then his ability to learn our defense. Credit to our coaches, [Nickels Coach] Ronell Williams did a great job meeting with him extra all week and trying to get all our guys up to speed.
And all our guys are doing that. And it just shows you that if you understand the system and what we’re trying to get out of it, there’s an opportunity for you to come in and play in this defense.
Q. CB Darius Slay kind of mentioned he felt Rams WR Cooper Kupp was getting hot, and he came to you and the staff and said can we maybe simplify things a little bit. How much do you take in when a player comes to you in-game like that? Obviously, I assume it’s different, veteran or younger player, but how much do you take that into account? (John McMullen)
SEAN DESAI: We take everything into account. I wasn’t aware of that quote, but he did come to us, and we talked about the plan that we had and what we wanted to do matchup wise.
And we stuck with our calls and tweaked some of our techniques within the calls to help our guys with their matchups. Obviously with Kupp, we knew they were going to be a prime target there. And even with some of our disguise stuff and our front structure stuff, to be able to get after the quarterback and show him some different presentations and get our coverages in places that we needed to get to.
And then Slay is right. One of the big messages all those guys, including the coaches and all the vets at halftime, let’s just do our stuff, let’s play our techniques, let’s win the leverages that we’re asked to win. If you do that, you’ve got a chance, and that showed. Our guys really took ownership of that.
Q. In DT Fletcher Cox’s absence, how did you determine the defensive tackle rotation, and specifically going with DT Milton Williams in the role he did and keeping DT Jordan Davis in the role he had? (Zach Berman)
SEAN DESAI: Those are conversations that we have throughout the week. We have them every week, to be honest with you, because we want to bring guys in waves. That’s an important conversation. And [Defensive Line] Coach [Tracy] Rocker does a great job with the interior guys and [Defensive End/Outside Linebackers] Coach [Jeremiah] Washburn does an outstanding job with the edge guys. Even at the DB spot, [Defensive Backs] Coach [D.K.] McDonald has done a tremendous job rotating those guys.
Now perhaps we’ll have conversations with [Linebackers] Coach [D.J.] Eliot, at the backer position. But we have conversations every week and determine how and when, by play calls and situations in the game. All that goes into those decisions.
Q. When you only have to play 21, 22 minutes as a defense, how much of an advantage is that at the end of the game as far as getting pressure and those guys are fresh, and you can — if you have to play 40 minutes on defense, I guess it’s a little different? (Reuben Frank)
SEAN DESAI: Oh, yeah, absolutely you hit it right on the head. We’ll take those games every week if we can. We want to be the freshest team, and part of that’s our offense doing such a tremendous job of controlling the ball, moving the ball, controlling the clock and moving the ball downfield.
And it gives our guys a break and then it keeps us fresh. It manages our rep counts and makes our substitutions and rotations, manages all of that. We’ll take that in any game.
Q. DT Jalen Carter’s production, what kind of ripple effect does it have, whether it’s for you as a play caller or for the rest of the defense? (Tim McManus)
SEAN DESAI: We obviously see the kind of player he is and that he can be and continues to grow in that role and continues to keep doing better and better every week. There are things he keeps improving on.
And in terms of ripple effect, anytime somebody makes a play, it’s an amplifier, energy. It brings a tremendous amount of energy to the rest of the guys on the squad and he’s a guy that’s been making plays and Haas [LB Haason Reddick] made some big plays in that game. We got a big PBU by J.B. [CB James Bradberry], and we get some opportunities there that — we grade them as havoc plays. When you can create some disruptions, some havoc on defense, that’s a big thing, and they’re huge for energy and momentum swings.
Q. You’ve put successful game plans together each week with moving parts at all three levels, in particular in the secondary. What’s the week-to-week process been there in that regard? (Zach Berman)
SEAN DESAI: I appreciate that. That’s a nice compliment. We stick to our process. We kind of evaluate what we did from the previous game on Monday. We get together as a staff. We talk about it. We kind of have some awareness of where we need to improve. And then we go through our process of how we want to approach this next team.
Part of that process is knowing who we have available to us and putting guys in position and then having answers, whether we got to get to the answers early, late, whatever we got to. We try to talk about a lot of that stuff during the week as a staff; and oftentimes, even with players, situationally, ‘hey, if this happens here’s where we’re going to get to, let’s be ready for this.’
We want our guys to be prepared. We take a lot of pride in our preparation. We want our guys to be prepared. I think our staff does a tremendous job doing that and then communication on game day is critical.
Q. Have you ever been on a team that’s had as many defensive tackles, I think you guys carry seven. Is that normal to have that many, and is that just a reflection of the depth you guys have or just the team philosophy? (Jeff McLane)
SEAN DESAI: I know last game we had five up. Are you talking about actives? Or in general?
Q. You guys have seven and two injured, and you still didn’t miss a beat. (Jeff McLane)
SEAN DESAI: No, I think it’s great. I know that philosophy has been here before me, but I think it’s been great. And it’s a real luxury to be able to have that. Like you said, when you have this next-man-up mentality and guys can just roll right in there and you don’t necessarily skip a beat or miss a beat because the standard is the standard how we want to play. That’s the standard at all levels of the defense.
I think we’ve been able to do that successfully. All our guys have done a tremendous job, coaches and players, in terms of preparing each week, like they’re going to be ready to go get their opportunity. That’s the standard we want to keep holding.
Q. With DT Jalen Carter, we all see what he’s doing on Sunday. We saw him in training camp. The things we don’t see, meeting room, film study, what’s impressed you or surprised you about what he’s doing in this building? (Reuben Frank)
SEAN DESAI: I don’t know if it’s a surprise, but it’s impressive how much he loves football. He’s like a sponge. He’s asking for feedback. He’s getting coached hard. And even from his peers, he’s taking a lot of coaching from his peers, and whoever he can feel like he can get information from, a lot of guys are touching him.
Coach Rocker obviously is a primary key point. [DT Fletcher Cox] Fletch, obviously, has been big. And even [Defensive and Football Operations Assistant] Matt Leo has done a tremendous job of pulling him aside and doing things with him, Coach Washburn. That’s the impressive part. He’s a sponge, wants to keep getting better, keep being a big part of this defense and impacting and he’s taking ownership.
Q. How does that manifest itself, the love for football? You said he asks questions. (Jeff McLane)
SEAN DESAI: To be honest, that’s a great question for him. I think you’ve got to ask him that. To me, with a lot of our guys, we have a lot of guys that way that are like sponges. We have a highly intellectual football team. We pride ourselves on our football IQ, and the guys are working and getting better at it. Wherever each individual’s drive comes from to do that, that’s up to the individual.
For us, we’re just so appreciative we have a roomful of guys that way.
Q. What did you think of LB Haason Reddick’s ability to get home on third and fourth down to essentially ice the game? (Josh Tolentino)
SEAN DESAI: That was awesome. We talk about it with our guys, talked for a few weeks, having this closer’s mindset. We want the rock in our hand. We want that responsibility; we want to own that responsibility. We know what comes with that responsibility. And that’s part of our standard, and he did a great job in that situation, and we’ve got to remember he was the one who made the big play, but there’s lots of layers of that defense that helped him make that play. It’s really all 11 of us being prepared for that moment.
When that moment comes, we don’t know whose turn it’s going to be. We don’t know who’s going to have the shot to make it. As long as we’re prepared for it, we’ll be ready to go make it.
Q. With LB Haason Reddick, he had a lot of pressures early in the season, but he wasn’t getting home. Is that just a matter of sacks coming in bunches or the hand in not being able to do some of that hand work? (John McMullen)
SEAN DESAI: The hand thing, you have to ask him, I don’t know. But it’s this whole thing of what’s better, pressures or sacks? We always want pressures, and pressures come first before sacks. Before you get a sack, you have to have quarterback pressure. It’s just a matter of timing. Sacks come — they’ll come, and they’ll continue to come for us. And we’ll continue to put our guys in positions to make it, and then it’s all coordinated in terms of the rush and the coverage working together to be able to get sacks, to be able to get PBUs, to be able to get tips and overthrows and do all that stuff and force the balls out and force fumbles, but it’s all a coordinated effort.
As long as you keep pressing, you keep trusting the technique and the training you’re getting, that stuff will come. And he’s had a good couple of games with where the sack result has come.
Q. You guys have had the highest blitz rate of the season this past week and the past two weeks have been the highest, what’s led to that change? I guess that evolution. (Zach Berman)
SEAN DESAI: I think we keep evolving as a defense. We keep growing, and the teams that we’re playing are different. We’ve got to be able to adapt and adjust to the teams we’re playing and what we think gives us the best chance each week to impact the opposing offense. And that philosophy won’t change.
Whatever we think is the best as a staff with our players and putting them in the best positions, that’s what we’ve got to do. And we’ve got to give our guys the best chance to win because our guys care and they’re fighters and they’re going to work and they take ownership of it. That’s what we want. We want them to take ownership of the plan each week and they have got to trust that we’re doing everything we can to put them in the position to win.
Q. You mentioned Defensive and Football Operations Assistant Matt Leo. What’s his role been and how has he helped the players? (Dave Zangaro)
SEAN DESAI: He’s been great. Been supporting us on defense and helping Coach Rocker and Coach Washburn with the front guys. He’s been doing stuff with [Director of Player Development] Connor [Barwin] in player development also. He’s been tremendous.
And it’s just a great voice because he’s got the most recent experience of being in that room with the players in the locker room and all that. He’s done a tremendous job. He’s very relatable as a coach, and so he does a great job.
Q. I know you weren’t here the past two years, but these past two games stand out, like if you look at the three year sample size here, do you want blitzing to be part of your defense’s identity? (Zach Berman)
SEAN DESAI: I wouldn’t say that. I would say I want our defense to be physical and impose our will on people. I want us to run and hit. I want us to be smart. I want to be situationally smart. And that’s really what our brand is going to be. That’s really up to you guys to see how that manifests. And you guys will go either way with that, whether it’s a high blitz rate or low blitz rate. At the end of the day, that’s okay. We’re about winning games, and we’re about putting our people in the best position to win games and giving them the best opportunity to maximize their skill set to win games.
And whether that means you rush three or rush seven, it’s by week and by play, and that’s our job is to put our guys in position to make plays.