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Coordinator's Corner: Haley & LeBeau on Lions

Posted Nov 14, 2013

Offensive coordinator Todd Haley and defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau talk about Sunday's game against the Lions.


Offensive Coordinator Todd Haley

On Tuesday, Coach Tomlin said that Jonathan Dwyer is a spark plug. Do you see him taking that role on in this offense?
I think that he’s taken on a limited role with great energy and desire and it shows up on tape. When we’re in there as a group watching it and you see everybody kind of responding to it, he’s taking what he’s been given and getting the most out of it. My father used to have a saying, “If a guy is averaging eight or nine yards, you better give it to him until you at least get that average down a little bit.” That’s how things work. You earn the right to get some opportunities and he’s definitely doing that right now.

Any concerns with the injuries on the offensive line? It’s a weekly discussion now.
[Laughs] We’re kind of numb to it right now. That’s the way it is. Everybody has got their own problems. Nobody cares about ours. These guys are working hard and they know they’ve got to be ready. I thought last week with some extenuating circumstances going into the game even, some guys missing some time during the week, they stepped up and played. Then we obviously had Ramon [Foster] go down during the game and Guy [Whimper] stepped in and did a good job. That’s the way it’s got to be.

How talented is their front?
That’s kind of what makes the engine go. Those guys, especially the two inside guys, no disrespect to anybody else, [Ndamukong Suh] and [Nick Fairley], they bring it. They bring it every play. They’re disruptive and they can ruin your day if you let them. They’re first and foremost in our thoughts.

Heath Miller’s first three games back he was getting a lot of looks. Those have gone down. Is there a reason for that?
I think it’s just kind of the nature of the game and the way things go. If one guy is making plays, defenses generally are going to look for ways to try to take those guys away. That creates opportunities for other people. For us, specifically, I think that’s why you’re seeing a little more from [Jerricho Cotchery] who is doing a great job. We’ll continue to try to move guys around and give them opportunities, but sometimes there are going to be games like that. Heath is at the front of the line with whatever it takes to win. He knows he was taking a couple guys out of the play multiple times, so that was a good thing.

Re: Jerricho Cotchery’s ability to get open, find spots and make catches:
I think with him, number one, it starts with experience and preparation. He’s been around. That inside position is a position of experience where the more times you’re in there and see the coverages and how they’re coming from both directions different than an outside receiver. There is no substitute for experience. He’s a pro. He prepares. He’s the same guy every day. There’s very little variance from Jerricho. He’s not an up-and-down, yo-yo guy at all. He’s going to be sitting in the same place in the meeting room, standing at the same place at 10 a.m. in the  building, and in the right spots on the field. That’s why he’s much appreciated.

It sounds like you’re describing Heath Miller there.
Same thing. Same guy every day. You don’t see a lot of variance and they’re both good. That’s the way we like it.

To use a phrase that Tomlin did during his press conference, he said that the Lions oftentimes take your five eligibles and make them three because you have to keep them in to block. How much of a challenge is that going to be for you this week in that regard, finding stuff that works with just three guys out there?
That’s kind of been going on a little bit. With some of the injuries and things up front and trying to protect guys or new guys or guys that haven’t had a lot of experience in specific positions, we’ve had to be doing a lot of that. This team this week is no different, and maybe more so with what we’re dealing with up front. Like I said, if you let those guys get going they’re going to ruin the day for all of us. Guys understand their roles, they understand the tempo or the timing of being there to help and at the same time getting out. We’ve made some good plays to some of those guys in those situations throughout the year.

Re: Detroit’s ability to defend the screen:
I think it’s a case where every team that plays them is trying to throw quick screens for the same reason, to get the ball out of the quarterback’s hands and slow the guys down up front. I think when a team plays and  sees that on a weekly basis, sees it probably on a weekly basis from their offense in training camp, they get pretty good at defending it. We’ll see where it goes from there. I do believe they’re good at playing receiver screens.

If they’re playing the run on the way to the quarterback, how have they done so well in shutting down the run game the last three or four games?
I think that their offense obviously scores points. They’re averaging in the high 20’s somewhere, 26 or 27 points [per game], and I think teams get behind the eight ball a little bit and end up having to throw it to try to score points. Like any other week, if we can come out and be fairly balanced, I think that will always be an advantage to us, but at the same time we’ve got to score points. They’re not a team that you’re going to expect to go out and score seven, 10, 13 points. They’re a prolific offense with some big time players and playing at a high level. So, we’ve got to do what we have to to get the ball in the end zone.

Re: Jonathan Dwyer:
I spoke on him earlier, but he’s a guy that obviously has been through a little adversity, but he’s come back in with a clear heart and up for anything. He said that from day one once he came back and it showed. Every opportunity, whether it’s one snap, three snaps, five snaps, special teams, you see him and you notice him out there. I think that when guys do that and show that on a consistent basis they earn the respect of their teammates, first of all, and they earn the respect of the coaches, in return for probably some more opportunities.

How much of that was there before? Coach Tomlin said a lot of what Dwyer is doing now has to do with the fact that he was sat down and unemployed for a week or two. Do you think that has a lot to do with it? Might you have made the wrong call going into the season knowing what he had?
That’s all behind us. You’d have to ask Jonathan about his personal feelings, but I know that he handled what could have been a negative situation in a very positive manner, and it’s paying off for him and for us.

Ben Roethlisberger has talked about the development of your relationship and said in the last few weeks it’s been really good after learning a new system and getting to know a new coordinator. Have you noticed that as well the last couple of weeks?
Just the last few weeks? [Laughs]

He said it’s been really good.
I’ll have to talk to him. [Smiles] No, I’ve been saying it since the offseason and training camp, through time and growth of relationships in general, I would expect it to be moving in the direction that it is. It’s been night and day going all the way back to training camp, and obviously we haven’t had the results that we want, so we’re all disappointed where we are right now. But we still can control that and turn a bad into a good. I’ll say it again, I think we’ve been on the cusp of being a pretty efficient, good offense, even with some adversity and moving parts. We just have to put a complete game together.

How much of what they do on defense, specifically on the line, is dragging the game down to kind of a street fight level? Their penalized reputation and fine reputation is pretty well known.
They’re aggressive. Like I said, it starts with [Fairley] and [Suh] up front, and that’s their demeanor and that’s the way they play. Those are the types of guys you’d love to have on your team, but you don’t like them when they’re on another team. I’ve got to give all due respect to how they play and how hard. They’re like any kind of good, nasty defense – they’re going to push it to the limit. We’ve got to worry about us and make sure that we’re executing and playing fast and physical and protecting the football and getting the ball in the end zone when we get down there. That’s what we’ll be focused on and we can’t worry a whole bunch about how they’re handling it.

What have you seen in Mike Adams and his development?
I think he’s another one, much like Jonathan [Dwyer], that probably was pretty down, I know for a fact pretty down about the fact of losing a job. He had a couple different ways he could handle it, either in a positive manner or a negative manner. I think he’s done nothing but keep a positive mindset and taken on this role of playing some tight end and doing the best job that he can at that, and he has. That’s where he’s been out there and that’s where he’s been productive for us. That’s a good thing and I think it’s a testament to him and his mental toughness to kind of overcome some negativity.



Defensive Coordinator Dick LeBeau

Are the Lions wearing your throwback jersey this week?
I doubt it. [Smiles]

Is Calvin Johnson as good as you’ve seen? How good is he?
I don’t think there’s any question about that. He’s as good as you get. He has everything: size, speed and he is great at getting the ball. He has a good quarterback to get him the ball. He’s a challenge. We are looking forward to the challenge.

Is the challenge not so much running with him but outfighting him?
I think that’s true because he has great ball skills. He has size and good timing. He has been with this quarterback. He is an accurate guy. He gets the ball [high], which favors the taller guys. That’s a challenge, no doubt.

Have you seen anything that defenses do that actually work against him?
Get the quarterback on the ground before he can throw it. That works pretty well against all passes.

Could you have shut him down in your day?
I would have asked for cover-two and rolled up on him. Let the safety have him over the top.

Was last Sunday Vince Williams’ best game?
Vince has been getting better every week. I think he continued to grow. He might have been more visible but to us, day-in and day-out, he’s made progressive strides. I think that will continue to happen.

Charles Tillman form the Bears seems to have always covered Johnson well. Was it always just Tillman on him?
I’ve looked at how he stacks against everybody. To play good pass defense, you have to keep good position, get pressure on the quarterback and you have to take good angles. He is going to catch some balls. If you play well, you can keep him from dominating. That’s what we have to do. I don’t think anybody has any magic coverage to put one player on him, because there are 11 of them out there and five of them are eligible to catch the ball. You can stop one man, but you have to stop all five of those guys. He will get our attention. But still, we have to make plays on him.

Is that where Reggie Bush is really a factor?
I don’t think there is any doubt. But their tight end is about 6’ 8” and they have a wide receiver that is 6’ 6.” This is a big bunch. It’s a special group in that aspect. If you look at the statistics, they are throwing for over 300 yards a week. It’s not a secret that they can throw the football.

Re: Matthew Stafford not getting sacked that often:
He gets rid of the ball very quickly. Actually, he takes some chances with the ball. Again, with that height advantage he has sprinkled all around the field, he trusts those guys. He will throw the ball, really, a lot of times when he can’t see anything but the opposing rush. That’s why his sack numbers are down. He’s very good with rhythm passing. He gets the ball out. He’s not a rookie, either. But he will take some chances with the ball. Hopefully we can make him pay for some of those. 

Is it about how their receivers are in the right spots so quickly or is it about him taking chances?
He isn’t taking chances in that respect. They use a lot of various motions and formations. They do some empty, where they have no one back there and the field is pretty well spread. Again, he’s a veteran quarterback. He knows where to look, what to key and where his best percentage chance of a quick throw is. The numbers will tell you when you are throwing the ball for over 300 yards a week, when No. 81 is catching as many balls as he is catching and as many touchdowns as he is catching, you know people are aware of him, so you have to say they have talent. We have to keep that talent under control and not let him dominate.

If LaMarr Woodley can’t go, will it be Jarvis Jones and Jason Worilds?
It’s Jarvis and Jason if LaMarr is not in there. We will leave that to the medical people. As the week progresses, we will hope for the best and expect the worse. We will be able to play either way. We hope to get LaMarr back. He’s a great player for us.

What is it about Ike Taylor that makes him match up so well with opposing wide receivers?
Ike has more size than a lot of cornerbacks. That’s always been to our advantage. He can match up with these big guys that can really run, because he can really run. He has been the guy that we’ve put on their guy. A.J. Green from Cincinnati is a great player. Ike, for the most part, has done a good job against him. I think this is a similar challenge. Johnson may be a little bit taller, but I think they are fairly equal in terms of their ability. We have to play well to keep him in check. We can’t let him dominate.

Does Ike enjoy going up against their best?
There’s no doubt. He’s a great competitor. I think he would be disappointed if we didn’t put him on them.

Re: Going back to page one last week:
I think you were at the game. It was much better but we have to be better than that. The next seven games will be very important to us in that respect. Our attention to detail in the game – it’s always been pretty good on the practice field, but in the game it was much better. We need to continue in that vein.  

 

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