SEAN DESAI: I want to start by just offering my condolences to Dr. Epps and the whole Temple community. She was such an extraordinary leader. In my time there she became the faculty athletic rep and was such a huge advocate for sports and really the student athletes in that program and such a staple in that community in athletics and academics.
Really sad to hear of her tragic passing yesterday.
Q. We’ve seen at times you have defensive ends line up inside and tackles line up outside. Generally speaking, what’s the benefit to that, and how early in the process do you figure out who can do that? (Dave Zangaro)
SEAN DESAI: It’s an ongoing process, and really we are always looking for different matchups and trying to create different angles and rush points and create different matchups for our guys versus their guys.
So, all that goes into that process of where we want it align guys from the front structure, and then you see it from the backend similarly of how we try to coordinate some of our coverages along with that. That’s really it. Trying to find different matchups and different points for our guys to go and be aggressive at.
Q. In looking at CB Mario Goodrich and how he played last week, how would you assess him and where do you think he can grow? (Chris Franklin)
SEAN DESAI: He got thrown in the fire there, unexpectedly I’m sure for him. But that’s a great lesson for everybody to always be prepared, having that-next-man-up- mentality.
I thought he got better as the game progressed. There were some motion things like that early that he kind of just had to feel and settle in there a little bit and gain some confidence.
Then it’s something we emphasize to all the guys, in those moments you have to rely on your and preparation and the trust that you have in the techniques we’re teaching. He got to that point. He’s just going to keep growing. It’s his first time playing NFL football in that environment on a Thursday night. What a special moment for him to be able to get out there and do that.
Now it’s time to take the next step and really trust in all of his training and techniques we’re teaching him.
Q. What did you see in CB James Bradberry when he was working in the slot during the summer, and what about his skillset fits that role? (Tim McManus)
SEAN DESAI: I thought it was great. The one thing you talk about James, and really a lot of our — especially our older guys that have played a lot of football — is they’re so smart. They’re so football savvy and football smart that some of those transitions for him as we were doing some of that stuff with him, became a little bit simpler for him because he understands the game and what we’re trying to get done with some of these coverages and techniques.
So, I was really impressed with how he was taking on that role, and not really sacrificing his corner role, because that’s his role. He’s our corner. But he was learning that, and I think it helps him and really everybody in terms of the way we teach it. Helps everybody learn all 11 and why we’re doing certain things from a coverage standpoint because we’re all 11 as one.
Q. What are some of the traits that — I mean, we saw Mario Goodrich in training camp outside and inside. What are some of the traits he has specifically that make him a good slot? (Reuben Frank)
SEAN DESAI: I’m going to try to answer that on a bigger level of what I think makes a good slot players here in that league. You have to have high instincts and really good football savvy and feel. Because things in the slot happen from the left and the right, as opposed to if you’re a corner, things just happen inside of you and you’re playing your man on keys.
Where here the game happens both ways. You’re the primary communicator on bunch and stack tools, you are the primary communicator and adjuster on motions, so there is a level there of not necessarily stress, but an extra added layer of how you have to play in that position.
And then people try to attack the slot in different ways in this league. I mean, the simplest way is the slot option route, through the stacks, the bunches, and through different releases that they give you.
So, I think all that stuff are things we look for in kind of a slot defender of who can handle that stuff and process that stuff and be able to adjust within the scheme to be play those techniques.
Q. Why did you go with LB Nicholas Morrow as the Mike? (Jeff McLane)
SEAN DESAI: It’s all been part of our plan of rotating and developing guys, and he has a lot of experience there. He has had some experience playing the green dot, and he’s had some experience in our defense over the last six months communicating there.
So, we thought that was the decision to go with there.
Q. In past years the view here has kind of been that safety and slot were more interchangeable than maybe corner and slot was. How is that in your defense and can those safeties cross-train at slot as well? (Zach Berman)
SEAN DESAI: Yeah, for sure. And I’ve said this so many times to our players and even I think — I don’t know if I said it to you guys — but we value ourselves and our teaching, right, and teaching our system and coverage responsibility. So really the fundamentals and the techniques we try to cross-train and learn across the board.
So, whether it’s the safety that has to come in and play slot or corner that has to come in, and you’ve seen it with different guys through training camp and the off-season, that we have been getting guys in those roles to get them adjusted to that teaching so they understand what the concepts and techniques of defense is and how to play those techniques. And now it’s about getting the time on task.
So, I think, yes, I don’t think necessarily it’s only from one position to another. I think it’s a matter of what that guy can process and learn from the fundamentals and techniques that we teach, and how it fits into the rest of the 11.
Obviously if you move one guy, you’re affecting another guy somewhere else, so we have to put the whole picture together.
Q. What do you see now when you look at Buccaneers QB Baker Mayfield? What is he doing well? (Merrill Reese)
SEAN DESAI: Man, I don’t know if it’s a good fortune, but I’ve played him a couple times now in the last few years. He is such a daring, courageous guy. He is aggressive with his mindset and how he wants to push the ball downfield, and he’s operating at an efficient rate to complete some of those passes downfield. He has some really good skill players to target downfield.
You see him, he has good pocket savvy and good feel. He is a tough tackle and tough sack. He’s strong and stands there in the pocket and can be elusive to get out of it. He is just not going to take the hits. He’s going to try to make something happen.
That mentality of trying to make a play happen, he kind of always has it in that gun-slinging role where he is going to throw that and trust his skill guys to make some plays for him.
Q. When it comes to slot versus outside corner, in general terms you don’t see a ton of long slot corners. You guys have a lot of long corners. Is that something you have seen, experienced, and why is it if that is the case? (John McMullen)
SEAN DESAI: That’s a good question I think really for different probably philosophies and systems. My guess is there is probably a notion that longer guys aren’t as quick in transitions to reverse the slot option routes. I’m not necessarily of that belief. I think if you can play the option route, you can play an option route. If you feel the option stem and you play the leverage right, you should be able to play it appropriately.
I think a lot of that is just kind of in the football way of thinking over time, that long guys stay outside, smaller, slighter guys go inside. I think in this day and age you have to keep adapting, because really on the flip side you saw forever people were saying that a guy with [Buccaneers WR] Mike Evans’ height and skill set doesn’t play in the slot well. He showed up a lot in the slot tape when he’s in there because they’re trying to create those matchups.
We have to be able to adjust our techniques and fundamentals that way, too, and I think we try to do that with our teaching.
Q. DT Milton Williams gets lost in the shuffle with two first rounders and DT Fletcher Cox, his stature, what have you seen in the first two weeks from him, and what is it about him that maybe shouldn’t get lost in the shuffle? (Jeff McLane)
SEAN DESAI: I think the thing we’ve seen, and I’m glad you brought him up, because he has been a critical asset to that front is his physicalness and consistency. He strikes at the point of attack and he’s sound with his technique and fundamentals.
Coach Rocker [Defensive Line Coach Tracy Rocker] does an amazing job just with all those guys. He’s been a guy that we’ve grown up in here, where he stays physical and he’s got versatility, can play a lot of those inside positions for us, and you’ve seen that in the first couple weeks.
I think he provides a good balance and a good toughness and adds a level of toughness to that room.
Q. Have you been surprised at all about the jump from DT Jordan Davis as a pass rusher? (Dave Zangaro)
SEAN DESAI: I don’t know if that’s a fair question for me, because from the off-season I told you guys what I’ve seen of him. My experience of him has been that he has it in him to be this explosive, physical, knock-back type of player and disrupt games. And he’s done that.
Our challenge is always going to be, not just with him, with everybody, is to keep stacking and developing consistency that way over a longer period of time. Whether it’s within a full quarter of a game, 70 plays, and now through a season.
So, for me, I’ve always felt in my experience with him that he’s had that in him, and we are trying to be consistent. And again, Coach Rocker has done a great job demanding that from him.
Q. What have you seen from LB Haason Reddick as he is trying to deal with that injury and playing through it? (Reuben Frank)
SEAN DESAI: Man, he’s been so gritty and so tough. His play temperament is there. You see him knock people back at the point of attack in the run game and even converting in the pass game, and he’s getting there. He is getting around this quarterback, and he won’t take it this way, but it’s a compliment to him that people are addressing him in terms of chippers and getting people around him, and it’s our job and my job in the role I’m in to help him, to get him in different matchups, different situations, move him around. We’ll continue to do better at that for him.
Q. What were your impressions of CB Josh Jobe in his first start and whether or not he will continue to be a viable option? (Olivia Reiner)
SEAN DESAI: Yeah, great question. Similar to [CB] Mario [Goodrich]. He actually got thrown in there a little bit earlier with that, but he did a good job. He did a good job overall.
The big touchdown pass, I got it, and that’s not just on him. That’s a rush and coverage thing. All 11 of us got to be better. I got to be better with the play call in that situation to help him out, and then we got to get there and not create a step-up lane for him, for [Vikings QB] Kirk [Cousins] to get to that read, and then Josh has to be better with his leverage and getting it down.
But overall, I think he did a good job. He challenged up front with the receivers, and our challenge, again, similar to Mario’s, is to continue to build the confidence in him because he is an NFL corner and can be a good NFL corner.
Q. DT Fletcher Cox has taken a heavy workload here in Year 12. Is that consistent with how you plan to use him? Do you expect to get those guys behind him more? How do you see that moving forward? (Zach Berman)
SEAN DESAI: I think the mentality we have up front, like we said, is to try to bring guys in in waves and keep them fresh. That means through the course of the season, but also means as the game progresses. At the end of the half, two-minute situations, end of the game in two-minute situations, make sure they’re rolling in there fresh and they’re at their best because they’re fresh. We’ll continue to keep that philosophy going.
Q. Your run defense is I think ranked second overall, but passes, I think 30th, 31st. Is that a matter of the young guys feeling their way? What else can be done to improve the pass defense? (Ed Kracz)
SEAN DESAI: Starts with me. I have to do a better job in terms of our preparation in our techniques and fundamentals, a better job putting our guys in positions to make those plays.
Then collectively I think there are some things that we know that we have to get cleaned up with techniques and fundamentals that we have to emphasize better and differently from my end as the coordinator. Then we keep mixing things up with coverages and keep putting our guys in better positions on situational plays to make plays.
Then when we have opportunities to get eyes on a quarterback, our eyes on a check-down or a ball carrier, we go and make them feel the presence of a bunch of guys coming to break on that ball and tackling it.
Q. Overall, you guys do have multiple takeaways through the first two weeks. In terms of what you said before the season about wanting your defense to be felt by the other team, how do you feel your defense has accomplished that in the first two games? (Dave Uram)
SEAN DESAI: It’s early. I’m proud of our guys. I think they have demonstrated a level of physicality and consistency and relentless effort, and those things are palpable that people can feel. They’ve gotten after the ball. They’ve created disruption, they created havoc, and I’m proud of them for doing that.
Does that mean we’re the final product yet? Not close. I think our guys know that also. That’s okay. It’s week two and we’re getting better, and we want to keep rising with our level of play and get humming when it’s time to hum.
And we will. We’re going to get there. Each week we’re going to make progress and progress and get better, and then we’re going to go. I think we’re getting there. We’re going to continue to get better.
I am proud of how they have been felt, and I think they’re going to continue to raise that level also.
Q. DE Josh Sweat had a nice summer. He has sacks in two consecutive games. What has stood out about him? (Josh Tolentino)
SEAN DESAI: He’s carrying everything Coach Washburn [Defensive Ends/Outside Linebackers Coach Jeremiah Washburn] and we’re teaching with the front perspective into the game and he’s being consistent with it, and then when he gets those opportunities he’s taking advantage of them. I think that’s a credit to him and his work ethic and preparation that he’s been doing, and Coach Washburn has done a great job putting him in those spots.
He’s had, like you said, a few games he’s been able to show it. He has been really physical in the run game, too. I think that’s all those guys up front have been really physical in the run game, and goes back to your question of whatever we are ranked on the run defense. That is that palpable feeling. You have to set that tone, and our guys know that. We have to make sure we eliminate something.
Q. The one touchdown looked like a blown coverage to us where people went to Vikings WR Justin Jefferson, which is understandable. Vikings WR K.J. Osborn kind of leaked out. Is that a communication issue? (John McMullen)
SEAN DESAI: There is a communication thing and it starts with me again. I have to make sure our guys are prepared in that situation, to make sure the tools and the communication level are relayed across all 11. Can’t just be me thinking a tool or a player just thinking a tool. It’s got to get coordinated, and that’s where we go back to — from a rush perspective, we want to be four or five as one. From a back-end perspective, we want to function seven as one, and ultimately as a defense we want to be known as eleven as one. All of us have to be on the same page on every single play.
That is a great example, great learning point for us of it has to be all of us, myself included. It’s got to be me setting that tone for these guys.
Q. Thoughts on Buccaneers Head Coach Todd Bowles — (Zach Berman)
SEAN DESAI: I’ve met him a couple times. He’s awesome. I have so much respect for him obviously as a head coach and even as defensive mind and defensive coach. I had the good fortune — I’ll leave you guys with this story — we did a Temple coaching clinic a couple years ago. I can’t remember what year it was. One of my contacts was like, yeah, come on, guys will be juiced up about you. I’m a quality control at this point in Chicago. I’m like, they’re going to be juiced up about me? He’s like, yeah, NFL, all that stuff. So I go and show up and I’m sandwiched between Todd Bowles and Bruce Arians. I am like, there is no way people came to see me over here, but that’s right. Coach does an awesome job. A lot of respect for him.