Q. The quick game, what do you think as far as the problems you guys had defensively? Why do you think they came, and did they come from the quick game? (John McMullen)
SEAN DESAI: You know, there were a lot of factors in it, and it starts with me. I’ve got to prepare our guys better and put our guys in better positions to make some plays on those things. Then when I do that and keep shifting the calls and moving them around, putting our guys in good spots so they can challenge those at the point of attack, and credit to them, they did a good job of getting that ball out fast on us.
Q. You guys have been decent when it comes to sudden change and guys have had to go around the field. What do you attribute to that ability to basically shut down offenses at times? (Chris Franklin)
SEAN DESAI: I think I attribute to our guys and their mentality. The coaches and players– we’ve talked about that a lot. It’s a kind of mindset that we want to take the field in and we are trying to defend every blade of grass that we get a chance to defend. Our guys have really taken ownership of that, and they have done a great job of that in sudden changes situations.
Q. What did you see from S Kevin Byard in his first game? It seemed like he was pretty accountable afterwards, and also his impact on those other guys in that room. (Martin Frank)
SEAN DESAI: He’s been such a great leader. He’s kind of stepping in and really taking ownership of a lot of things and really putting the time in to work and learn the defense and do all the stuff that you would expect a pro to do, and he’s been a consummate pro. He’s been tremendous. He had a good game. He was solid. I’ve got to do a better job of putting him in some different spots and helping him, and he’ll continue to get better.
That’s the great part about this, is we are into week 9 here and we are still growing. We are still not a final product and that’s the exciting part, that we keep climbing each week.
Q. You’re rotating guys up front and obviously you’re rotating linebackers and rotating slots, you’ve got a lot of moving pieces. Is there ever a concern, the communication aspect of it, that with a lot of rotating, it really puts a strain on that? Do you ever think about narrowing down the rotation or what do you like about it? (Reuben Frank)
SEAN DESAI: Some of it is a function of what we want to do, and we hold our guys to the same standard and there’s always a concern whether we’re rotating or not in terms of communication. That’s always a big thing in defensive football is to make sure we are aligned and assignment sound.
Then from a coordinator perspective, we give them a plan that they feel strongly about that they can communicate in the time they are given on the field. It’s a matter of seconds they have got to see a formation, get the call, get their assignment, alignment, technique down and get all the tips we are giving them, and then process and go execute so we have to make sure, and I’ve got to make sure that we streamline that stuff for all of our guys.
And so, I don’t think it’s a function of the rotation as much as we’ve got to do a good job. I’ve got to do a good job of game planning and putting our guys in good positions.
Q. Is the goal to eventually settle in at those positions and have a group or do you foresee this being– (E.J. Smith)
SEAN DESAI: I think the more continuity you have is always better. I think that calms a lot of guys down but that’s neither here nor there. We have a philosophy, which is a good philosophy in that part of it, in terms of the front will not change. We want to send guys and waves and we want to be the fresher team in the fourth quarter of games and in the fourth quarter of the season. We’ll continue down the road, and it’s about really everybody that’s getting a chance to go play to take advantage of those opportunities, and our guys have. Our guys have done a good job in helping us get to the point that we’re at right now.
Q. It seemed like LB Nakobe Dean coming into this season was expected to be an every down player. Now that he’s back from that injury, why is he not? (Dave Zangaro)
SEAN DESAI: Well I think he is. I think the snap count thing can be a little bit deceiving when we are rotating guys because there’s a function of who our depth is and matchups and things like that that we want to create.
And it’s the same at that position, at the linebacker position; where we have three guys that play really good football for us. So, we want to get everybody healthy for the season and we are in this thing for the long haul, and we want to manage that, and we haven’t really had a drop off in performance regardless of who is in so we feel confident in anybody that we put out there.
Q. On the flipside of that continuity you were talking about, S Sydney Brown as a young player, one week he’s at safety, one week he’s in slot. How much has he impressed you just being able to handle that just from his experience? (John McMullen)
SEAN DESAI: Yeah, it’s always impressive. I think it’s a hard layer for young guys to handle and it shows the maturity that he’s been able to take on, the responsibility he’s been able to take on and it shows the credit to our coaches to be able to prepare and train these guys at that. He’s just one example.
We’ve had quite a few of those guys that have had to be able to do that. They are doing the best they can. They are giving everything they can every single week and we are proud of that.
And will the execution get better? Yeah, and it’s going to start with me at the play calling. That’s going to get better, too, and we’ll keep growing that way. I think it’s just going to help everybody. We talked to our guys about it all the time, it’s like putting money in the bank because we are all going to have to pull from that bank at some point in different roles, in different environments, in different situations, and we’ll be the best prepared team to do that.
Q. We know that you’ve had some continuity most recently on the outside with CB James Bradberry and CB Darius Slay, what role might they play that we might not see on the field in keeping the defense together? (Olivia Reiner)
SEAN DESAI: They have been great. They are such tremendous leaders. They have been around a lot of football, and they have been around some different defenses and different structures, and they have taken a lot of ownership in our defense here and making it their own and they understand the communication and layers that we require. And then they are taking some ownership into doing that stuff as well, which is great for them ,which is what we need. We need to rely on some of those guys to help ease some of the guys that have been learning a lot of different things. So, they’ve been great for that.
Q. No shortage of good wide receivers that you guys have faced. What makes Cowboys WR CeeDee Lamb stand out? (Tim McManus)
SEAN DESAI: Everything. He’s big. He’s physical. He’s fast. He’s got a big catch radius. He can win underneath. He can win after the catch on short throws in the quick game, and he can make you miss in space and go up and catch a contested ball. He’s a really good all-around receiver.
Q. What have you seen from Cowboys QB Dak Prescott this year? He’s been doing it a long time at a high level. (Reuben Frank)
SEAN DESAI: Yeah, kind of like what he’s been in the bulk of his career in terms of he’s operating in a highly efficient way right now, getting the ball out fast and he’s decisive with where he wants to go with the ball and he’s accurate. He’s throwing the ball on point to where the offensive structure is asking him to throw the ball, so he’s doing a good job.
Then, the one thing you can’t ever sleep on him, we learned this a long time ago and you guys have seen it way more than me, his legs. He can still create plays and make plays from a scramble position as a thrower and a runner, so he’s playing at a high level.
Q. You guys have used seven or eight different guys at nickel. How difficult has that been to find continuity there? Obviously, injuries are a factor and everything, but what’s that been like? (Martin Frank)
SEAN DESAI: Any time you get injuries, there’s always a challenge. The challenge obviously from a coaching staff perspective is to make sure our guys are prepared and equipped well enough with whatever we need them to go into the game plan with.
And the challenge from a player perspective is to process that and manage that, and I think the players have done a great job with all the guys that we’ve put in there. And they have really done their best to master the roles and the techniques that we are asking them for in each game plan.
Then our coaching staff has done a great job, obviously [Defensive Backs] Coach [D.K.] McDonald and [Assistant Defensive Backs Coach] Taver Johnson and [Nickels Coach] Ronell Williams, particularly with the nickels, have taken extra time and creating that time to meet with these guys and give them extra tips and tendencies and techniques because it all goes back to the techniques and fundamentals. That’s something that we’ve got to do a good job as a staff of keep teaching and zoning in on those.
Q. What behind the scenes has CB Eli Ricks done to earn your trust and then in the games, I guess to continue having that role on third downs? (E.J. Smith)
SEAN DESAI: Yeah, I think he’s been humble. He prepares like a pro and he’s learning, and he’s like a sponge. He just wants more and more information and he’s trying to take on all these roles and learn so many different things and he goes out there and he competes. When he was not up, and he was on the [scout team] and playing out there, he’s competing in those reps and that’s how you get noticed and you get elevated. In the meeting room he’s prepared, and when you get your chance, you make the best of it and he’s done a good job of that.
Q. Head Coach Nick Sirianni mentioned that he’s got those scout team reps against WR A.J. Brown each week. Do you have to sneak a peek at him doing those and see how he performs against A.J. in practice? (E.J. Smith)
SEAN DESAI: Yeah, we watch it all. We watch our scout team guys because if you are getting developed against our offense, that’s pretty good. That’s pretty good reps that you get at all levels of the defense. We watch those guys, and our coaches watch it with them and give their coaching points off that, too. It’s part of the whole process for us.
Q. As you add S Kevin Byard midstream here, the issues with communication and positioning in the secondary, how do you expedite that rapport? (Dave Zangaro)
SEAN DESAI: I wouldn’t say there’s issues there. It’s learning. It’s part of the learning process. You’re learning a defense and he’s coming in here and learning it, and he’s such a pro that he’s been around a lot of defenses, so for him it’s more like a translation key.
It’s like, ‘okay, this is what I used to call this technique or tool or coverage, and here is what we call it here and here is how I have to communicate it.’ He really did an outstanding job last week with the time that we had with him in taking the ownership on his own shoulders to go out and play the game that he played. So that will just continue to get better.
Q. With the deadline today, how would you characterize your relationship and communication level with Executive Vice President/General Manager Howie Roseman and making sure he best supports you with personnel? (Josh Tolentino)
SEAN DESAI: How would I characterize my relationship with him? It’s outstanding. He’s such a great resource and confidant, mentor. He serves all those roles for me. You can’t ask for a better GM/head coach combination for a person to work for with Nick and Howie. They have been great.
Q. With former Eagles DT Kentavius Street being traded yesterday, is this something where his snaps get redistributed back to the guys who are normally in the rotations? Is this an opportunity for LB Nick Morrow to step up? (Chris Franklin)
SEAN DESAI: I think we are going to go through that today as we go through the game plan, and we figure out kind of what we need for this week in terms of depth and roster-wise, and we’ll sit down as a staff and we’ll go through that.
But at the end of the day, we are still going to roll guys and you guys have seen it. If we’ve got guys up, we are going to play them and we are going to find roles for them and try to get them into the game. Morrow, if it’s his turn, he’ll be a great addition for that.
Q. That quick score by Washington late, what was the learning point? (Tim McManus)
SEAN DESAI: Oh, my God, that one. [Laughter.] Gosh, man. It’s two times they got me on that one. It’s poor by me. I’ve got to do a better job of putting our guys in position to execute in those situations and we will do a better job of putting those guys in position to execute those situations. We can’t do that. That’s not the type or brand of football we want to be known about and that’s not the type of product we want to be putting out there.
Q. One last thing on former Eagles DT Kentavius Street. What is that like in a day for you when one of your guys moves, and are you a sounding board before? After? How does that sort of work? (John McMullen)
SEAN DESAI: Well, the process is the process of how we handle it. But in terms of, I’ll speak on the first part of that question, what it’s like for me. It’s an emotional day, you know what I mean.
It’s hard. You invest in guys, and you build relationships with them, and they are great. Street is such an outstanding human being; they understand the aspect of it and it’s never anything personal, and Howie and their staff do a great job with that. But, we had an opportunity to meet with him and he understood.
All the guys that I’ve coached, I always leave them as a resource. If they need me for anything, they can always call me and my phone is always open for them and he’ll do an outstanding job over there.
Q. If I could ask another safety-type question. Obviously, you have S Reed Blankenship back along with S Kevin Byard, it seems like that position is at least stabilized. What did you think of the way Reed played? I know he was down on himself for a while, and then he made the interception, coming back from the injury and everything. (Martin Frank)
SEAN DESAI: I thought he was solid. I thought he was up and down, and I think he would tell you the same.
But that was really a function of me and our defense. We were a little bit up and down and we kind of put it together there in the second half and put together a bunch of good drives there until the drive you brought up that really messed that part of it up in the second half.
But the thing that I think probably he’s not taking enough credit for, and I think we’ve got to really shine some light on, is through the up and down and through the adversity, not just for him but as a defense, when it was his time to go make and a play, he went and made a play for us. And that was a big play in the game and that’s what we want.
We want guys that can still have the mental toughness and the wherewithal to grind out through a game like that. These games are not going to all be pretty. Winning is the ultimate thing that matters, and he really contributed to us and helped us win that game.
Q. Why do you think LB Haason Reddick has turned into this closer for you guys? (Dave Zangaro)
SEAN DESAI: Again, I don’t know what he’s turned into, I just know the mentality that he’s had.
And like I said a lot of those guys up front, they want to have that mentality that when it’s time to go they want to go, and that was a game there where it was frustrating on a lot of levels where they were getting the ball out so quick. And then when we had a chance to put our guys in some positions to go make some plays, he was one of them that did a great job.
And we had a lot of other pressures that didn’t maybe show up on the sacks sheet, but we impacted the guy a little bit there and we’ll continue to get better there. I think Haason has done a great job of embracing that role.