Sean Desai

Q. We saw CB Kelee Ringo and LB Nolan Smith had pretty sizable roles, more than usual. Is that something you see continuing over the last four games to maybe take some of the snaps off DE Josh Sweat or whoever else is there, CB Darius Slay or CB James Bradberry? (Ed Kracz)

SEAN DESAI: I think those guys have done a good job through practice in earning some of those spots. As we talk about it every week, in terms of our rotations and plans, those guys are certainly in the conversation to help us as we move forward.

Q. What do you like about what they’ve shown you? (Ed Kracz)

SEAN DESAI: I think you see some quickness and speed from both of them. Some switch at the point of attack, and the ability for Kelee to get out there and challenge and do some things there, which was nice. Try to use his length to his advantage.

And then Nolan obviously has been physical at the point of attack, and you see his athleticism as well. So I think those guys are growing and learning the defense. They keep getting better, and the coaches are doing a good job developing them.

Q. On that, with Ringo, it seemed like he was in on some of those third and medium range, the last three games passing-wise. Quarterbacks have had a ton of success there in those situations. Where have you seen those issues and where do you think they can be fixed? (Brooks Kubena)

SEAN DESAI: Yeah, that’s a great question. We have been targeting those and really trying to pinpoint where. To be honest with you, it’s been a few different areas and kind of been different each game or even each situation.

Obviously, it always starts with the play call. You can always reflect and put them in a better situation after you see the play of what the route is and how you want to match that route differently based on the coverage in the system we got up that week.

And then I think there are some other finer details we want to keep refining to try to help our guys be in better positions to go win those situations.

Q. As a follow up, you’re second in the league in first and second downs sacks; last in the league in third down sacks. Why isn’t that translating to third down as much? (Zach Berman)

SEAN DESAI: That’s a good question. I think that’s something that we’re trying to explore. Again, a big part of it goes to the play call. You have to continue to be aggressive and find spots and matchups that you like to be able to win on those situations.

And then we’re obviously cognizant of time to throw and different situations that show up there. That’s a function of rush and coverage working together with the play call. You got to get the quarterbacks off the spot, buy some time in the coverage, and then we got to win when we get some matchups up front consistently. We have to keep working to improve there.

Q. After the game DE Josh Sweat said he’s not used to our group not taking care of each other when it comes to pressure. Do you think there are players not playing team defense and being more concerned with individual performance? (Jeff McLane)

SEAN DESAI: I don’t have that sense. I think the big thing is obviously after a game like that, it’s a frustrating loss, frustrating way to go, and we all want to get better. We all want to push to pull together and get better. We’re working our tails off to do that.

The bright spot, I know sometimes it’s hard for you guys to see the bright spot, but we’ve been there. We played some really good football games and really good parts of games and done really good against some offenses.

The last two weeks is not our standard, and we accept that and know that. We’re going to lean back into what we really believe in ourselves and our standard and we got to go back and achieve that from a coaching and a player standpoint.

It’s going to be all of us working together, and I think we got the guys and the leaders in this building to help us do that.

Q. Couple members of the secondary said that things got simplified for that Cowboys game. Can you help explain what was simplified and why that was necessary, especially when you have a lot of veterans in that defensive back room? (Tim McManus)

SEAN DESAI: I think probably what they meant, and obviously you can ask them exactly what they meant, but probably what they meant is we’re really trying to hone in and hang our hat on something the guys can feel confident and go out and play with.

Ultimately, that’s the most important thing, is making sure from a schematic standpoint we have enough answers and the players have the answers on the field that they can go adjust to and respond to whatever an offense is giving us.

I think we did a good job detailing that out last week. We had some spots that we were really effective at and some spots we weren’t that we have to continue to improve upon. We will continue to build.

Q. You said it starts with the play call. In terms of game planning, how do you vet yourself? Where is Head Coach Nick Sirianni’s role in that? And 13 games into the season, where have you found improvements in that? (Brooks Kubena)

SEAN DESAI: It always starts with the play call, and it’ll always start with the play call, right, for me at least. As we go through the game plan week and the process, we work together as a staff and obviously coach has his input — we meet early in the week — on how he sees the game going, his expectations of the defense in terms of who we got to stop and how we got to stop them.

Then he does a good job of letting us figure out how. We get together as a staff. We have a lot of smart people on our staff, and we try to compile our ideas and fit what matches our players the best with our scheme, and then we go and call the game that way.

Then in terms of my process, you practice calling the game all week through different iterations and methods, and we do that. Then we talk amongst each other. Do you like this play call in this situation? Do you like this here? We prepare the players that way to give them some anticipation of what to expect in certain situations.

Q. Have you heard some of the outside criticism, and how do you handle it if you do hear it? (John McMullen)

SEAN DESAI: That’s part of the job. There is always going to be criticism. Go back every week of this season there was criticism based on different things that happened in the game. When you play a couple games the way we have, not the performance or the standard we want to, that’s going to magnify and amplify. I get it. That’s okay.

Everybody, fans, you guys, everybody is entitled to their opinions. What we have to do is just lean into each other and really focus on our process and getting better.

At the end of the day, from what we want to what everybody else wants in this city, is to win, right? And we found ways to win to get us to the point we are. We’re not where we want to be. We’re still growing to get where we want to be. We feel good about doing that and working together to achieve our goals still.

Q. What concerns you the most about the way the defense has played the last two games? (Martin Frank)

SEAN DESAI: I think it’s just we have been inopportune. We have not been able to get off the field when we need to get off the field. Yeah, in third down and situational football we got to be better, third down, red zone. Those have been our bugaboos. Not going to lie to you. That’s been our Achilles’ heel right now.

I feel really good about where we’re going with it, feel really good about our planning process towards it, and our players’ mentality in approaching that situation, being able to put guys in spots to go win those.

Again, we won a lot of third downs early in the year. We just haven’t been able to do that this year. That’s hurting us as defense. Increases our play counts. But it hurts us as a team. Our job as a defense is to get the ball back to the offense as fast as we can, and we haven’t been able to do that effectively enough.

Q. Second game in a row where you guys have given up a handful of scoring drives in the course of a half or the entire game. How do you manage that on the sideline with players to maybe not get discouraged and find answers quickly? (E.J. Smith)

SEAN DESAI: That’s the art of it. We have a great group of leaders on the sidelines. Our coaches do a great job keeping guys in it. Really, it’s about addressing what happened. What’s the source of why did this happen? We had a couple series in the first half there that we had couple pressures called and we blitzed right into some runs and we miss a tackle or misfit something. Obviously, it’s a big deal, right, and then the optics of that, and it leads to a touchdown drive.

For us, it’s about focusing in on where we’re supposed to be, doing some things, and then changing the call and getting us into better positions to be in those situations.

That’s what we have to keep leaning into. And then we came out in the second half, got a three and out, got another three and out, forced fumble, touchdown, then gave up a couple drives there and held them to some long field goals.

But we have to find ways to maintain that for 60 minutes.

Q. Speaking of specific calls, on fourth and two in the first quarter you had two high safeties dropping. What were you expecting on that, and was there any consideration they may actually hand the ball off? (Jeff McLane)

SEAN DESAI: Yeah, they did a good job, broke their tendency. They had been 100% pass in that situation, and we thought we had a good call up to defend really everything there. We were in a six-up look where we thought we had all the gaps protected if they did try to hand one off, and they used that for four yards on that run there.

That’s good play call versus a good play call. That’s part of the game. We obviously want to win those situations more often than not. That was a big one in the game.

Q. Did you like the call still there? (Jeff McLane)

SEAN DESAI: No, of course I would change the call. Any loss that we get, I would change every call. That’s the reality of it.

Q. Sometimes I’m sure you’re okay with that. Sometimes I’m sure you’re saying the numbers suggested that. In that situation though, to have two safeties drop so deep when they only need two yards, are they throwing deep in those situations? (Jeff McLane)

SEAN DESAI: Yeah, you know, the tape had indicated they had a variety of different routes there. We played it. To your question, yeah, I would want that call back. I would want to be in a defense where we can fit that run a little bit more aggressively and then stop them for sure.

That would be maybe changing up the front structure and adding a movement in there instead of the way we played it.

Q. What is your assessment of DT Jalen Carter’s play to this point and what’s next for him? (Tim McManus)

SEAN DESAI: He’s done a good job and he’s had spots where he has done really well and some spots he knows he has to keep improving. He’s staying with it. [Defensive Line] Coach [Tracy] Rocker is doing a great job coaching him up and getting him ready. We have to keep leaning into that and keep refining it and keep helping us. He’s been able to help us, and so we have to keep him going that way and keep him trending in the right direction.

Q. As you look at the lack of interceptions in the season, is that a stat with luck bearings to it, or is that a function of scheme? (Zach Berman)

SEAN DESAI: Probably a little bit of all of that. In my experience, it’s probably a little bit of all of that. I think we’ve had some opportunities where we didn’t capitalize, and some for sure scheme-related things where guys can be in better spots to go see the ball and make a play on the ball. Some balls have to tip your way and do that.

So, I think it’s a combination of all that and we have to keep leaning in and find ways to go pluck that ball in the air. We have done a good job in terms of tackling and forcing fumbles, and so we have been able to compensate that way. Obviously Fletch [DT Fletcher Cox] had a huge one in the game as wells. Been really good there.

In terms of the interceptions, we have to keep learning in and finding ways to put our guys in positions to make plays.

Q. You talk about getting some of these issues resolved. Why are you so confident you will? (Dave Zangaro)

SEAN DESAI: I know the people in the building. I know the culture we have, the staff that we have, the leaders we have on defense. Everybody is excited about the opportunity that we have ahead of us.

The cool thing is we have every goal still to be reached ahead of us. We have to really lean into that. We learn from our past. The good and the bad in the past. Then we have to move forward and own all of our responsibilities and roles and go master them.

Q. How would you characterize your time working with Seahawks Head Coach Pete Carroll? What challenges does their offense present? How would you say your time there helps you prepare? (Josh Tolentino)

SEAN DESAI: Yeah, you know, it was a year and it was great. Coach, I think the world of him, and he knows that. I think he’s an outstanding leader of men and people and really does a great job of obviously Xs and Os, but in his leadership and culture. I’ve learned a tremendous amount from him in that year and the opportunity he gave me.

In terms of the experience and how you can lean into it, obviously you were able to practice against them a lot and see them every day, so you try and rely on some of that. Every year and every week teams have to evolve and change and they got some new people that they’re fitting it in, especially in the front in their O-line play, and obviously the skill guys are all good and back.

[Seahawks Offensive Coordinator] Shane [Waldron] does an outstanding job of coordinating that and putting them into position. So, we’ll have our hands full for sure, but we’re excited about this challenge.

Q. Speaking of your time in Seattle, when you had a chance to see Seahawks WR DK Metcalf and Seahawks WR Tyler Lockett up close, what makes them good at getting separation and creating plays and how do you think your defensive backs will hold up against that? (Chris Franklin)

SEAN DESAI: I think our defensive backs are looking forward to the challenge, and we’ll do a good job of holding up against that. Both those guys are professionals and have such different traits how they get open. It was good to be able to see them in person and how they’re being coached and what they’re being taught.

DK is big, fast, physical and can have a big catch radius and win a lot of different ways on the field. Tyler, I said this when I got there, to me he was one of the most underrated wide receivers in the league. Really savvy in terms of how he can run routs and win to his leverage. He’s got a good catch radius for his size and quickness and speed as well.

Those guys are really good, professional receivers and they do a good job at their craft. We will have a good challenge ahead of us and we’re looking forward to it.

Q. You mentioned evolution, how much have the moving parts affected your ability to evolve this defense, or has it? (John McMullen)

SEAN DESAI: I think that’s the art of coaching. That’s this league. There is going to be some evolution and changes. The art and the mastery of it, as a coach you have to be able to adapt. That’s what it is. I think we’ve done a pretty good job. I think can we be better? For sure. We will be better. And we are looking forward to that challenge.

That’s our art as teachers and coaches. We have to be able to adapt.