Q. Why do you guys like CB Mekhi Garner as the third safety in that situation, and what about CB Kelee Ringo that didn’t apply? (Jeff McLane)
SEAN DESAI: I don’t think it was more of a comparison thing. I think it was more we had invested some time and some task and when we felt Mekhi was suited for that situation in that moment when we needed somebody to come up and he did a good job. Got his feet wet early and he settled in.
Q. What’s it been like for you week-to-week not knowing who is going to be in your secondary? (Dave Zangaro)
SEAN DESAI: I think that’s the life of a coach. You know the guys that you have, and I think our training staff does a tremendous job of preparing us for what their anticipation is in terms of who can be available and the timeline of that and we go. That’s part of our process. Monday and Tuesday we figure out who we got, and then we roll with the punches every day as the guys get healthy or they may not be healthy by the end of the week and then we go.
Our standard is the standard, and everybody understands that in the defense of when we have certain techniques and certain fundamentals, we want to play to that standard regardless of who is in the game and that’s what we’re trying to build.
Q. What was the reasoning for LB Nakobe Dean rotating in and out and is that the direction going forward? (Zach Berman)
SEAN DESAI: I think each week, like with all of our positions, we have that plan of the depth and everything of who we want to get in and when. I think it was a good situation for us to keep everyone fresh and that’s a big thing for us. We want to stay fresh through the fourth quarter in every game and the whole season, and we have some good players at that position who are playing really good football for us, so might as well get everybody some shots on goal.
Q. Can it add some extra stress on the communication on the field? (Dave Zangaro)
SEAN DESAI: It can. That’s something that we prepare for. We prepare for throughout the week, and we put guys in those situations and myself in those situations as the primary communicator to them on game day, but we prepare for all those situations so we have a good plan going into it. Coach Eliot [Linebackers Coach D.J. Eliot] does a great job managing that on the sideline on game day, and [Eagles Vice President of Equipment Operations] Greg [Delimitros] and his staff help us with that in terms of getting the green dots sorted out, and then we go out and roll.
Q. Does that have anything to do with the 12 men — (Jeff McLane)
SEAN DESAI: That was me. No, that was me. I substituted there, and I shouldn’t have substituted. They went no-huddle on me.
Q. This Miami offense is No. 1 in just about everything right now. When you start game planning for them, what’s the first thing you want to wrap your head around and try to troubleshoot? (Tim McManus)
SEAN DESAI: There are a lot of things to troubleshoot, like you said. They are extremely fast, extremely explosive. I think Coach McDaniel [Dolphins Head Coach Mike McDaniel] does a great job and Coach Smith [Dolphins Offensive Coordinator Frank Smith] over there on offense, they do a great job. And they have got play-makers at all levels of the offense that attack all levels of our defense. So, it will be a fun week to try to prepare for them and get our guys in position to go make some plays for us.
Q. What are you seeing out of Dolphins QB Tua Tagovailoa specifically? (Tim McManus)
SEAN DESAI: He’s playing really efficiently. He’s getting the ball out quickly. He’s decisive with his decisions and not taking many hits and getting his ball to the play-makers, whether it’s the run or the pass game. All of those guys on offense there can make plays and really open up the game with explosives at any time in the game.
Q. Getting back to the secondary, it’s a really unique situation because not only are you rolling a lot of different guys in, but a lot have not played before. I think you have five D-backs who have never played a defensive snap, plus CB Josh Jobe had only played 12 coming into this year. How does that change the preparation and how do you make sure they are up for the moment and the challenge not just physically but mentally? (Reuben Frank)
SEAN DESAI: I think you’ve got to give a lot of credit to Coach McDonald [Defensive Backs Coach D.K. McDonald], Coach Williams [Nickels Coach Ronell Williams] and Coach Johnson [Assistant Defensive Backs Coach Taver Johnson] coaching the secondary of getting those guys prepared and meeting with them extra.
And then in terms of preparation, like I said, we try to rely on a lot of our systems stuff that we put a lot of time in through training camp in the off-season of fundamentals and the techniques that we teach, and then we try to cater it to who we have available and who we think can best suit those roles, and if they can’t then we adjust the scheme and we try to manage some things but not the sacrifice of all 11. We still have to put a good product out there on defense and we will continue to try to do that and putting our guys in the best position to make plays.
Q. Going back to the concept of rotating guys, you got hurt, before CB Eli Ricks got hurt, you were rotating him and CB Josh Jobe on different series early on in the game. What went into the thought process behind that? (Olivia Reiner)
SEAN DESAI: Yeah, it’s similar. Like all of these rotations and with the level of depth we have — I think [Executive Vice President/General Manager] Howie [Roseman] and those guys have done a great job of building that depth for us where we can feel good about putting guys in different situations. Very similar to the linebacker one and the D-Line room or wherever we are rotating the secondary with Eli and Josh that we felt both those guys are ready to play and we liked the matchups. And they both have different strengths and so they present different problems to an offense, and we try to use that to our advantage any time we can and we’ll continue to try to do some of that kind of stuff.
Q. So should we expect the three linebackers to keep rotating or is that just until Nakobe gets his sea legs back? (Reuben Frank)
SEAN DESAI: I really think it’s by week and by game and what the package and the plan is that what we want to do.
But we feel confident in any of those guys going out there and executing for us.
Q. How is Mike McDaniel’s offense evolved from the Shanahan template in San Francisco? (Jeff McLane)
SEAN DESAI: That’s a great question. I think every year, everybody evolves a little bit, and he’s done a great job evolving and he’s doing some new things with some motions and things like that that put different conflicts on defenses. And so, he’s for sure evolving from it and there’s some core tenets in there in terms of the run game and what they want to do and how they want to attack us. And even in some of their drop-back pass game, there’s some core tenets.
He’s done a really good job of evolving to his players. He’s got a fast team and he’s got a lot of play-makers there that can stretch the field vertically and horizontally and make plays after they get the ball in their hands or downfield and so he’s added some tools there as well.
So, I think he’s done a good job evolving and some of the core principles are still there.
Q. What’s the coaching point for compensating for a speed mismatch? (Zach Berman)
SEAN DESAI: That’s a great question. We are going to have a long discussion about that today as a staff. I wouldn’t say it’s a mismatch but one thing that we always want to pride ourselves on defense is playing physical.
And in my experience, even going back to my days at Temple and coaching special teams, speed can hurt you, but physicality can hurt speed. We want to be able to counteract that and we want to be able to swarm the ball carriers and run and make sure we are around the ball as much as we can be, and bring in a lot of bodies around the ball and try to get back to create some turnovers and getting the ball out as well.
Q. You mentioned the young DBs getting their opportunity, we haven’t seen Kelee Ringo getting his opportunity, how is his progress and developing coming? (Ed Kracz)
SEAN DESAI: He’s been doing a good job and he’s been really taking on some different roles and teaching that we’ve given him the last couple weeks. He’s doing a good job and it’s a continual progress of how he develops, and we have to keep developing him that way and he’s on progress of where we want him to be in terms of that development.
Q. When it comes to potential in-season additions, how does that process work with you and the pro scouts and front office? (Dave Zangaro)
SEAN DESAI: Obviously I think our whole scouting department obviously is led by Howie and all the guys that he’s got there do a tremendous job of staying ahead of the curve so to speak in terms of what’s out there, and then they bring up names to us and we kind of work together through that process of they gather our opinions and they bring in work out guys that we try to work out and then we go from there.
But they are always ahead of it, and that helps us tremendously because our focus is right now on getting our players ready and that’s been a tremendous help for them to be able to stay ahead.
Q. You have a lot of depth on the edges, is that why LB Nolan Smith has not gotten many opportunities? And how do you balance that or a young guy, a first rounder, and getting exposure to it without hindering him? (Jeff McLane)
SEAN DESAI: Yeah, I think that’s a great question. You’re right. We do have a lot of depth up front, so we have to keep rolling guys and when guys are playing good, they have to keep playing good and Nolan has done a good job of giving some of the opportunities he’s been in and we have to continue to find ways to increase his role.
But the way rotations and game flow goes is based on the flow of the game, and he’s always part of that plan. He’s part of that conversation, and then we let the game play out how it needs to play out and he understands that.
It’s not necessarily a matter of rookie and development. It’s just more a matter of how you want to develop your whole team and players, and that applies to everybody.
Q. Three straight games without a takeaway, how much does that bother you? How tough does that make it to play defense at a high level? (Reuben Frank)
SEAN DESAI: We want to get the ball. Our job is to get the ball back to the offense as fast as possible and the fastest way is a takeaway, and the next fastest way is a three-and-out punt. But we want to get back to it.
And we all know, they come in bunches. And a big function of that, and we have been doing a good job; we are going to go continue to attack the ball. We have had some missed opportunities with the ball on the ground a few times, and we have to go get it.
So, we are going to keep swarming it and we are going to keep attacking it and we are going to keep wrapping at the level of the ball and preaching all the fundamentals we do because we have seen they do come and the ball has been out. And sometimes they are opportunistic, and we have not had them the last couple weeks, but we’ll get back to it.
Q. You mentioned the three defensive backs coaches, obviously you have a dedicated nickels coach. Who deals with the safeties specifically? (Zach Berman)
SEAN DESAI: Coach McDonald obviously runs the room and he has Coach Johnson and Coach Williams working with him and they do a great job of partnership and collaborating. They meet every day. They communicate in terms of what we are meeting on, what we are telling these guys and what we are coordinating on individual drills, and you’ll see guys moving around and working at different spots throughout Indy.
They have done a great job of all working together and really tag-teaming and allocating their own resources because one person can’t do it all, especially with the guys that we are trying to prepare at the high level that we are preparing them.
So, they do a great job of allocating their time to really coordinating and they are all in cahoots. They are all connected so well and communicate with each other, so that helps.
Q. DT Milton Williams has seen an elevated role with DT Fletcher Cox out against Los Angeles and DT Jalen Carter out against the Jets. What have you seen from him and how he’s stepped up in that role? (Owen Boyle)
SEAN DESAI: I think Milton has done an outstanding job. I’ve said his name a few times here since I’ve been here. He’s so consistent and he’s so physical. He prepares like a pro and he always prepares for the opportunities that he’s been given, and that’s what you want in all of our players.
He comes to work and he does his business and he’s physical; and the guys respect him, his peers respect him and we certainly appreciate him and he’s a big part of our defense.