Q. Talk about LB Nicholas Morrow, his ability to step in and play at the level he has. (John McMullen)
SEAN DESAI: Yeah, he’s done a really good job. [Linebackers] Coach [D.J.] Eliot has done a good job coaching him up getting him ready, and Nick has done a good job taking that coaching and really taking ownership of this role we’ve asked him to step into.
Q. What do you think he’s done best? (John McMullen)
SEAN DESAI: He’s communicated really well on the field and that’s a big job for the green dot guy to make sure the calls get out. He’s doing a good job of that. He’s taking ownership of it. He’s being loud and he’s reacting well. He’s trusting his instincts and trusting the game plan and trusting the coaching that Coach Eliot and [Assistant Linebackers] Coach [Tyler] Scudder have given him to make plays and take his shots when he can.
Q. How have the injuries and the personnel changes affected communication in the secondary? (Jeff McLane)
SEAN DESAI: I think any time you get injuries at any spot, and obviously the secondary is one of the ones that were banged up a little bit, is you’re always trying to work on that. I remember, if you guys remember all through training camp, you guys kept asking about why we keep rotating safeties and rotating a combination of people, and this is the reason why is because you have to get comfortable with everybody communicating and that’s the way this league is.
I don’t think it’s impacted us too much but there’s always a layer; it’s a new voice, you’ve got to hear a new voice in a loud stadium and that person has got to be commanding and loud. That’s always a little bit of a transition. I think we’ve done a good job preparing for that. We’ve got to keep going that way.
Q. How has CB James Bradberry been in the slot? (E.J. Smith)
SEAN DESAI: I thought James did a good job; I really did. I thought he did a good job in the slot, and it’s a different game in there, and I’ve told you guys that before. Things happen on both sides of you. You have all the motion adjustments. You’ve got all your tools and you’re the primary communicator at the point of attack and you’re working with corners, safeties, linebackers. You’re kind of in the middle of everything.
He did a really good job, and it really shows kind of his veteran prowess and his veteran ability to go into that role after such a long career at corner and do that. We’re going to continue to have plans for him to get into multiple spots for us and he’s just been such a tremendous asset for us as a veteran and a leader in that room.
Q. Are you getting enough value out of CB James Bradberry in that slot given his history at outside corner? (Dave Zangaro)
SEAN DESAI: That’s a great question. This is really the first game he kind of had a chunk amount of reps at the slot.
I think it’s a little bit early to decide that. He did what we asked him to do as a defense, what we needed kind of from them as a defense. Every week we look at our matchups and try to put our guys in the best position, whether that means in the coming weeks he becomes more of a corner, then that’s what we’ll do. But as we’re getting into this process trying to go against the Rams, we’ll figure out what’s best for him and really us.
Q. When you look at Rams WR Puka Nacua, what stood out from your film study about how he’s played so far early on? (Chris Franklin)
SEAN DESAI: He’s played really good so far. I think [Rams Head] Coach [Sean] McVay and obviously [Rams QB] Matt Stafford and all those guys do a great job on offense, and they have really found ways to get him open and get him the ball, and he’s done a good job separating at the top routes.
Obviously has good hands and then he can make some plays after the catch, too. They are creating some matchups with motions, obviously for him and [Rams WR] Tutu [Atwell], that can create some binds for defenses, so you can see why the production has been there.
Q. Three scoring drives extended by the penalties on third down. What was the message in the room about that? (Zach Berman)
SEAN DESAI: The message is that we have to continue to trust our training. We’ve got to continue to trust our training and be disciplined and play clean football.
I think the unique thing that we saw, and it’s kind of happened a couple weeks in a row for us, and it’s happened in different spots that you look at our drive charts and summaries and things like that, and you mentioned those three, we have three drives that got extended and all those drives would have been winners on third down. So all of a sudden your third down percentage goes to 30 percent. Your scores go down. That’s a total of 17 points we ended up giving up on those drives. We’ve got to be able to endure that first off and get those guys back in position and get their minds right to overcome the adversity and play the next play.
But then you look at the other drives in that game, the ones that — really all the scoring drives had penalties on them and then when we didn’t, we were off the field. There’s three-and-out, one first down and punt.
So, I think our guys are feeling that that we’ve just got to keep keeping on and keep staying with the plan and really playing clean, disciplined football, being great in situational football and then we see the results and we’ve seen it in all the games that way.
When we don’t kind of step on our toes a little bit, whether it’s a bad play call or an execution thing, we’re pretty tough to go against.
Q. Your blitz rate was the highest it’s been this season. How much is that game planning coming in versus feel in the game? (John McMullen)
SEAN DESAI: I think it’s a combination. We obviously have a plan that we want to stick to and we do our best to stick to that plan as long as the game flow is going the way we want it to go, and then you’ve always got to adjust. We came out in the second half and had a few good series that we put together in the third quarter and got off the field and had some critical stops and started to settle in there a little bit. I think we always adjust, and we always have a plan of how we want to attack the opponent, and so that’s what the game required of us. We wanted to kind of throw a little bit more at the quarterback in that offense.
Q. How do you think you did in terms of when to disguise and when not to disguise versus their pre-snap motion? (Jeff McLane)
SEAN DESAI: I think they did a good job with the motion. I think we did a good job overall of holding our shells. The part of it is not always holding your shell. You don’t always have to show split safety and that’s one of the things we talk about, you can show post high and then play split. You can show post and play post. Show split and play post, you know what I mean, so there’s a lot of different ways we talk about disguising.
I thought the guys were mixing it up pretty good out there. Are there things we’ve always got to improve? For sure. There are instances of that without a doubt, but I thought we were able to get the quarterback off a read or two in different situations, and then sometimes we gave them the disguise a little bit early.
Q. Preparing for Los Angeles Rams Head Coach Sean McVay and this Rams offense — what’s the point of emphasis during the week? (Zach Berman)
SEAN DESAI: I don’t want to beat a dead horse, but it really is about us. It’s really about what we do and what we see. They do a great job. They have a high motion rate and they have got some good skill players that they try to get out in space. They do a good job in the run game, and they try to get guys out of their fits with all their motions and everything like that. It’s really about us and slowing the game down and what we’re seeing, and then being able to play physical and downhill the way we want to play our brand of football. Don’t make it a sideways game for us.
Q. LB Haason Reddick had his first game out of his cast on Sunday, how much more effective did you think he looked in that game compared to the last three? (Olivia Reiner)
SEAN DESAI: Like I said, I think he’s continually getting better, and I’m not sure if it’s a function of the cast or not. That’s probably a better question for him than me but he’s continued to get better. He’s always been physical at the point. You saw it there. He’s winning at a high rate and his one-on-ones, and he had an opportunity to get a sack there which is great. He was close on another one, could have gone either way with him and [LB Nick Morrow], in terms of split and however they do that stuff in the league office. He’s continually getting better and he’s going to continue to have his shots.
Q. We’re seeing a bunch of snaps for DT Fletcher Cox throughout four games. Is this sustainable for him at this age? (Dave Zangaro)
SEAN DESAI: Yeah, [Defensive Line] Coach [Tracy] Rocker does a great job in terms of communication, and we have a good plan going into the game. And then a lot of these games, these last two games, are really unique that we played in terms of the week before, the offense had the ball for nine or ten minutes in that fourth quarter and so you kind of have to adjust your rep count and the percentages because you didn’t get the anticipated plays that you were going to get and this week it was a little bit different. We were on the field for a little bit because we had some long drives and gave up some scores there. I think the most important thing is like you said trying to get him healthy to the game one, right, as we manage him through the week and that’s really with all the guys, not just Fletch.
And then, as you play your first half and first three quarters trying to get our guys in the best position and healthiest position to be there in the fourth when we need them. Then put that on a bigger scale: In the fourth quarter of the season, when we need them, too. So, we have got to continue to monitor that and we have a great job. We have got a great staff to continue to monitor that, and Fletch is obviously a part of that communication.
Q. When it comes to coaches like Rams Head Coach Sean McVay who uses a lot of motion, do you stress more discipline during the week or is that built into the whole process? (John McMullen)
SEAN DESAI: I hope it’s built in; we’ve been talking about it a lot, you know what I mean. We want to play physical, disciplined football and that message won’t change. That’s how you build good defenses and sustain good defenses and that’s what we want to become, and we’re still growing there, and we’ve got a lot of instances of becoming a really good defense. We just have to put together a full 60 plus minutes of that and consistently do it.
Q. We spoke about LB Nolan Smith last week, in the snaps he had, what did you see in this past game? (Zach Berman)
SEAN DESAI: I thought he was good again. There are some things that we still want to work on with his get-off and his strike and where he’s putting his hands. But it’s a process and it’s harder for him as he’s in the rotation. He’s done a good job commanding the roles we’ve given him. We had a nice drop with him there that converted on third down and that’s just a timing play, it’s a tough drop for him, and it’s really on me to put him in that situation. But he’s doing a really good job of owning the roles that we’re giving him.
Q. Do you like LB Nolan Smith in off ball, or was that just a wrinkle? (Jeff McLane)
SEAN DESAI: No, that was a package that we did. I wouldn’t say I like him off ball. I think I like him as a football player, and we’ve managed him in a lot of different spots but he’s doing good in the point of attack right now.
Q. On the penalty S Terrell Edmunds took on the sideline, it’s a tough play trying to stop a first down. How do you coach that? (Dave Zangaro)
SEAN DESAI: That’s tough. You’re right. It’s a tough play. It’s a bang-bang play, and I never want to take the aggressiveness out of our defense and our players. It’s easy for all of us because we watch the tape and we are on the sideline and we see it but when you’ve got those pads on and the speed of the game is going, there’s another human being running full speed at you. There’s a decision that you have to make in a split second, and I respect the decision that he made.
The awareness point is that’s a quarterback. Obviously, we all know there’s more sensitivity as there should be to quarterbacks when they are out of the pocket, and we make our players aware of that and he’s aware of that. That was a bang-bang play. You would be asking the same question if he let up and converted first down, you know what I’m saying. It’s a bang-bang play and it’s tough and we’ll support him through that decision.
Q. As S Sydney Brown gets healthier, how do you allocate practice time in terms of the slot and developing as a safety? (Zach Berman)
SEAN DESAI: That’s kind of been our art, really, the last few weeks with all of our DBs. [Defensive Backs] Coach [D.K.] McDonald, [Nickels Coach Ronell] Williams and [Assistant Defensive Backs Coach Taver] Johnson have done a really good job of getting those guys reps everywhere and obviously walk-through is such a big part of our foundation and our philosophy and that’s a huge part of where you can get reps. So, we’ve done a really good job and I would plan on continuing doing that good job in the back end with Sydney, also, to get him the reps he needs at all the positions because he’s got to be there for us.
Q. As a follow up, I understand you do that with everyone, but is it more pronounced with a rookie? (Zach Berman)
SEAN DESAI: Oh, for sure, that’s a good question. I think at the point of development that he’s [S Sydney Brown] at and he’s doing a really good job over the last couple weeks having extra meetings and developing in that role and you saw him in there a couple weeks ago, so we are going to continue that plan with him. And that’s right, the more reps and more time on task with anybody, especially a rookie, is important.