Q. Generally speaking, how did your group do in the preseason opener against the Eagles in Philadelphia?
A. I thought they played well. We got a couple of interceptions, but because it was the first game there also were a couple of hiccups that we have to work out. I was still a little disappointed in our tackling; we can do a better job there. But as far as our pass defense, I thought we played some things pretty well.
Q. You mentioned the two interceptions. Can you coach that?
A. I think you can coach ball reaction. It's an unscouted look for us, because since it's the first preseason game we're not preparing, we're not game planning. It's just us playing our basic stuff. One of the things we got to see from doing that was the guys were anticipating some of the things the Eagles were doing and were able to react to them.
Q. Are certain players more likely and able to be interceptors of the ball than others, beyond just the simple ability to catch?
A. I think some guys have a better knack, a better vision, a better feel for the whole field, what they see. A lot of times the younger guys get focused on just their particular assignment, don't understand the whole scheme, don't understand where other people are going to be. It's a vision thing that I often compare to a 16-year-old who is first driving a car and he's gripping the wheel and staring straight ahead at the road; then as he gets more comfortable with driving and the things going on around him he can change the station on the radio and do some other things and still be able to see to drive because as you gain more experience your vision has expanded over time. I always thought that was a good analogy on how a player can evolve once he gets a feel for everything.
Q. When a ball is in the air, do you want your guy to play the man or play the ball, understanding that the goal is to prevent a completion?
A. There are three things that factor into that. The first thing is the situation in the game. The second thing is the down and distance. The third thing is knowing who you are and who the receiver is. That always comes down to what you're dealing with based on those three specific areas. Is there a set answer? No. But I think there are times in a game where, do I take a chance at an interception, are we better off here if I just make the tackle on the play and get out of the stadium.
Q. Are there certain defensive backs who have ball skills and guys who just don't?
A. Yes, I think there are, just as there are certain guys who have better tackling skills than other guys. Those are things as a coach you try to work on, to make the guy who maybe doesn't have the ball skills get better ball skills, and the guy who isn't a great tackler become a better tackler. So, those are the thing you try to coach up, and each player is different, and the specifics on coaching them are different.
Q. You have mentioned tackling, and that was an issue last year. What usually are the reasons for missed tackles?
A. Small things. It's always the small things even though a lot of people think it's big things. First of all, you're playing against good players. The other team practices, too. So one of the things is, you always go back to your fundamentals. You have to make good contact, you have to move your feet because the opponent is bringing his feet, and another thing is you need to have a good base when you make a tackle. If your feet are too close together when you're trying to make a tackle you don't bring anything and you're going to get run over.
Q. What does Joe Haden bring to the group?
A. Great leadership, great professionalism. Joe is a guy who when he's sitting in a meting, he's very attentive to every little detail. He understands he has to look at all of the little things to make himself a better player. Joe understands as he watches video that inches can make a big difference, so he's looking for every edge he can possibly get. Not only from the receiver, but it's also about understanding formations. Where is the quarterback? Is he under center? Is he in the shotgun? What's the down-and-distance? What does that offensive tackle look like in his stance? Is he leaning back? Is he leaning forward? He's trying to eliminate a lot of variables before the play even starts.
Q. How has the No. 1 pick, Terrell Edmunds, been doing so far?
A. I thought Terrell played well in the first preseason game, and he's going to get better. Watching him in each and every practice, he gets better. He wants to be good. He's a guy who studies the game. There are going to be some things, where as he plays more and gets more comfortable, he'll figure some things out.
Q. I'm going to give you a list of names, some of the young defensive backs, and ask you to just give a quick synopsis on each. Let's start with Sean Davis.
A. I've watched Sean develop each and every day, and it's a new position for him. Free safety. It's much different than where he's been. He's the last guy back there most times, and he's got to understand the importance of his decision-making. And he has gotten better every day.
Q. Mike Hilton.
A. Mike does a great job. We couldn't ask for any more than we get from him. He's got a wonderful feel for the game. He's a good blitzer – five sacks last year coming off that edge. He understands football, and he understands where everybody is and what to do. And he can think when he does it.
Q. Cam Sutton.
A. Cam is another guy we play in multiple positions, he has multiple roles. He accepts that readily. As you do all of the different things that he does, he's a guy we put in some situations where he's not going to get as many reps as the other guys.
Q. Artie Burns.
A. Artie has done well. I've been impressed with him. He made a real effort to improve his tackling, and he has had a fine camp so far.
Q. Do you set goals for your group, such as number of interceptions, things like that?
A. I don't do that. I know Coach Butler sets defensive team goals. These guys know this because I say it all the time: the best player on the team is the team. That's why we set team defensive goals. For example, average yards per pass play, sacks, interceptions. We do have goals, and we feel if we achieve those goals, then we'll win the game.