Q. I wanted to ask you about a little off-the-wall guy, LB Ben VanSumeren, a guy we haven’t really talked about, but it looked like he was running around, making a lot of plays the other night. What have you seen from him the past few weeks and how far has he come? (Reuben Frank)
SEAN DESAI: He’s come a good bit of way. He’s kind of new to the position, and so he’s done a great job. He’s really taken all the coaching that [Linebackers] Coach [D.J.] Eliot has given him, and the biggest thing we wanted out of that game was for guys to go run and show their talents and try to keep our list down a little bit so they can go execute, and he did a good job for the most part there.
Q. The execution from the sideline, bringing plays in the headset, who were you relaying them to? (Ed Kracz)
SEAN DESAI: On game day? I thought it was really smooth. I thought it was really smooth. Obviously in the preseason you have so many guys that got to be ready because we’re rotating a bunch of guys in, and so it was one of the backers always, and again, Coach Eliot, [Vice President of Equipment Operations] Greg [Delimitros], our equipment manager, these guys all did a great job of cleaning that operation up.
But I thought it was a smooth operation. The guys heard the calls, they got the calls in and they were able to echo them. So that was the good part.
Q. Now that you’ve had LB Myles Jack and LB Zach Cunningham for a few practices and a game, how are they acclimating and what have you noticed about them? (Dave Zangaro)
SEAN DESAI: I think they’re still going through the acclimatization process. Like you said, it’s been one or two practices plus the game, so they’re still getting their feet wet here and they’re doing good. You can tell these guys are pros. They’ve been around the league, that they know some football. They’ve been around different defensive systems.
Right now, it’s just their process of learning our stuff and our culture and our standards, and they’ve been doing a good job. They’ve really embraced it, so it’s nice to see.
Q. I assume there’s a pecking order there, how you’re going to allocate playing time. What are you looking for? What will decide that? (Bo Wulf)
SEAN DESAI: There are a lot of things that go into playing time, but really, we just want to get guys evaluations. So, we’re trying to get some balance there and try to get guys in different combinations like I’ve talked about all through camp here to see the best fits at all those things and making sure we get good evaluations of everybody.
Q. What did you think about S Sydney Brown, how he performed, and how do you balance when you’re teaching safeties about aggressiveness versus over-aggressiveness? (Jeff McLane)
SEAN DESAI: I thought Sydney has done well. He’s had a good camp, and he’s continuing to grow and learn this defense. That’s really all these young guys, and really everybody, but it’s a bigger learning curve for young guys that come in.
He’s doing everything he can to learn and grow with that, and then in terms of their aggressiveness, that’s the art of a coach. Sometimes their great traits can hurt us, but he hasn’t done that. He’s done a good job and just teaching the techniques that we want, and then you’ve got to let these guys play. That’s part of what got them here, so we want their traits to show the things that got them here.
Q. On LB Myles Jack, he was saying how he was contemplating trade school and at his house playing Call-of-Duty when he got the call. What did you know about him that made you confident that he would be a fit here and be able to come in and adapt? (Tim McManus)
SEAN DESAI: Obviously for a while, we’ve studied his tape coming out of college and evaluated him there, watched him play his time in Jacksonville and Pittsburgh and then got to visit with him when he came and worked out.
We felt good, and obviously [Executive Vice President/General Manager] Howie [Roseman] and the scouting staff do a tremendous job of helping us during this time of year to keep advancing and keep information on these guys.
That was really the process, and then you kind of go through it, and you see how he works out, and he looked good there. So, we’re fortunate that he’s part of us right now.
Q. This Browns offense is schematically different than what you see every day. What are you expecting to learn over the next two days? (Zach Berman)
SEAN DESAI: That’s a great question. I think one thing that we’ll get a really good grasp of as a staff, as a team on defense, is how strongly can we rely on our techniques and fundamentals. This is great because it’s like an unscouted opponent; you’re not really preparing for them, you’re still in training camp mode, but it’s a different team, like you said, than the team you’ve been facing for the last three weeks. So, you get to really test out your rules and see who’s really mastering it, and that’s what I think I’m most excited about.
Q. This time last year the defenders were talking about under-center looks and play action. Is that something that you want to see from your group based on not being able to see it so far? (Zach Berman)
SEAN DESAI: Yeah, that’s a big part of it. All of that’s a part of it. That’s part of our techniques and fundamentals. That’s the kind of the stuff we’ve been teaching and preaching since we started installing this defense in the spring. We walk through it, we do see it, but we just don’t see it at this level at full speed. You’ve got another team doing it, and they might have a different wrinkle than the guys have been seeing.
It’s just relying on your training and having good eyes, making sure your eyes are where they need to be. If we’re doing a good job teaching that, then they’ll be all right.
Q. We saw CB Eli Ricks make some plays. What have you seen from him these past few weeks, and do any of the coaches need to chat with him about his enthusiasm after the play? (Reuben Frank)
SEAN DESAI: He’s kind of into that bucket of all these young guys. He just keeps trying to develop. He’s learning more every day, and there are things that we still need to clean up with his game, and I’m obviously really thrilled for him to have the play that he had in the game. That’s a great opportunity for any young player — for any player but even a young player like that to do that.
But he knows that we’ve still got to get back in the lab and keep working on a lot of the things that we need to work on.
That’s a young player who’s really excited, and we talked about it on the field. No matter what, you can’t sacrifice the goals of the team, and a 15-yard penalty there would have been really costly. Thankfully he didn’t get one, but it’s a good learning experience for all of us to learn from.
Q. Who do you like in that backup nose spot? (Jeff McLane)
SEAN DESAI: Gosh, we’re so focused on training the techniques, you know what I’m saying? What that means is we have a lot of guys and you guys see the combination of guys we put out there, so they’re all learning those jobs.
I think [Defensive Line] Coach [Tracy] Rocker does a tremendous job of teaching those things and the combination of blocks that they can get. So, we’ve got really good depth in the D-line all over the place, and I think it’s just a matter of now finding all the different combinations, so we’ve got a few guys that are in that pool and will continue to stay there.
Q. Do you feel like you have someone for whom it wouldn’t be a reach for them to play that aside from DT Jordan Davis in terms of size, skill set – (Jeff McLane)
SEAN DESAI: I think all of our guys can play it. I really do. I think all of our guys can play there, and that’s the way we teach it, that we all learn the techniques and the fundamentals. If you’re playing head up on a center, you’re playing head up on a guard or you’re playing head up on a tackle, there’s some head up combination blocks that you can get.
So, Coach Rocker, like I said, does a tremendous job teaching the techniques that way, so guys have some cross train ability there.
Q. Focusing on techniques and fundamentals, at what point is there a demarcation line where all right, we’ve got to evaluate – (John McMullen)
SEAN DESAI: From my end? Oh, my gosh, it’s constant, but that’s part of our evaluation is who’s mastering those techniques and fundamentals because that’s what’s going to make the players great. Someone asked the question of aggressiveness. That’s what’s going to let their talent shine is when they can master those techniques and fundamentals.
We’re never going to get away from that. That’s an organizational benchmark and we’re all in on that, so that’ll kind of be a part of that evaluation.
Q. When you look at DT Jalen Carter’s two snaps, obviously he almost had the sack in the first one, and had the second one, just how he played and also LB Nolan Smith and getting their first action? (Martin Frank)
SEAN DESAI: Yeah, both of them played well. Like you said, [DT] Jalen’s [Carter] first snap he had a good move and a good counter there, and [LB] Nolan [Smith] similarly.
We’ve all got to remember, this is their first NFL game that all these guys have played, right, so there’s a lot of emotions that go into that for these young men, and we want them to embrace those emotions, but then they’ve got to learn how to manage those and play that, and it was a great opportunity for all them, and they all did a lot of good things on the field and where there was mistakes, that’s why it’s preseason. That’s why we’ve got time to correct some things and keep moving forward.
[LB] Nolan [Smith] falls in that same bucket. He did a good job there, and he knows where he’s got to keep improving.
Q. Between linebacker and safety, is there a time frame for when you’d like to solidify those starting jobs just so you maximize practice time for those guys? (Dave Zangaro)
SEAN DESAI: I mean, Patriots week is still three, four weeks away. That’s the time frame. We don’t need to make any decisions up until then, and we’re going to keep finding the best combination and make sure our guys keep competing.
Q. We’ve talked about the positives coming from these joint practices, where do you see the value in these next two days against the Browns? (Gabriella Galati)
SEAN DESAI: I think the joint practices are tremendous because it’s right about that time in camp where you get tired of going against your own guys, and somebody asked a question about a different offensive scheme. You get to see yourself against different stuff and different players, different receivers, different O-linemen, different tight ends, guys that run their routes a little bit differently, and it becomes more real football like, more game-like. I think that’s a really cool thing to do, and I think the fact that we do it is awesome.
Q. At the end of last year one of the things LB Haason Reddick said was he wanted to take on more of a leadership role. Now that he’s back on the field on a more consistent basis, are you leaning on him more and seeing more? (Rob Kuestner)
SEAN DESAI: I think we’re leaning on all the veterans. Leadership comes naturally, and he’s a guy that it comes naturally to. We want all these guys to step into leadership roles and all these guys to have a voice on the team and they can all do it differently. They don’t have to be the loud guys. They can be the quiet guys. There are so many ways to lead, and he’s doing a great job with his peers right now.
Q. What’s your relationship with Cleveland Browns Defensive Coordinator Jim Schwartz? Have you ever met him? Have you studied his scheme at all? (Jeff McLane)
SEAN DESAI: I can’t remember if I’ve met him [Jim Schwartz]. I don’t think I have. If anything, it might have been like a handshake at the combine or something.
I think he’s a tremendous football coach. He’s had a lot of good defenses. We played against him a lot when I was in Chicago and those guys were always playing physical and fast, so I think he’s a really good mind, and you’re right, there’s a lot of good stuff to study from his schemes.
Q. Head Coach Nick Sirianni said you guys are staying intentionally vanilla during the preseason, how much of your defense has been installed, and how much is still left to do at this point? (Zach Berman)
SEAN DESAI: Like I said, I think I told you guys that a couple weeks ago. A couple weeks ago what did I say, maybe 80 to 85 or 90 was percent in. We’re probably about 95 to 98 percent. There’s always some situational calls and things like that that you keep refining, but the defense has been in, and the guys know that.
Now it’s about mastering your techniques and fundamentals.
Q. Did you, in fact, interview for the Browns job? (Tony Grossi)
SEAN DESAI: I mean, yeah, if it’s out there, right. They put in a slip for me.
But I’m so blessed to be here and have the opportunity here, and I thought the Browns’ organization was extremely professional and tremendous through that process.