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DC Jim Schwartz: "We can't afford to take any steps back"


Defensive Coordinator Jim Schwartz**

Wednesday, June 18, 2014 

Q: You seemed pretty at ease and comfortable in your new role. Is that accurate?

A: About as at ease as you can get in the NFL. That's the way things are now. You have to produce in this business whether you're a player or a coach. We all look forward to producing.

Q: Your responsibilities from head coach to defensive coordinator are obviously a little bit different and you just looked comfortable. So is that accurate?

A: I've done this job before and I've been in the NFL a long time so I'll leave that to other people. I know what I have to do. 

Q: What are you most anxious to learn about your defense looking ahead to training camp?

A: When you talk about training camp, I think anybody talks about shoulder pads and contact and things like that. We get a lot of work done in our OTAs and so far in our minicamp, but there's only so much you can do without contact. I mean we're playing the game of football. We'll reserve judgment on a lot of our linebackers and defensive lineman until we can actually bang things around a little bit. That will go a long way to see where we are defensively. I think any coach is looking forward to the pads going on and a little bit of contact in training camp just to get a better idea in how physical you can be and what you can accomplish. It's hard out there now because you're trying to avoid contact. You're not trying to be physical. You're trying to be safe this time of year.

Q: It seemed like today's two minute drill was more intense and the players were more in to it. Would you agree with that?

A: Guys are competitive so they should. I think that when you have a situation like that everybody knows what is at stake. It's not like playing inside a practice. You put a very specific time limit on a play in a game situation and everybody's competitive juices start to flow. Coaches are included in that. You want to do well and the players want to do well. We expect that from them. We've also had some red zone periods in our offseason program that have been very competitive, but I think the players have done a good job of not crossing the line and not confusing competitive with combative and I've been really proud of them in that way.

Q: Are you excited about (Jerry) Hughes since he has shown a lot of quickness?

A: Again, you have to sort of reserve a little bit of judgment until the pads come on, but he is a very good pass rusher and we can use him in a lot of different roles. He stood up at times, he's down at times. Sometimes quarterbacks are going to have to evaluate whether he is a linebacker or a defensive end. I don't think it's a whole lot different than some of the stuff he was used for last year. He can change the game with a pass rush. That's a big thing in this game and those guys are very valuable.

Q: How do you best utilize Manny (Lawson)?A: Yet to be seen. Just like everybody out there, how guys fall into roles will be depending on how well they do in training camp. Our job defensively is to try to put our guys in good position and try to accentuate the talents that our guys have. Manny is an experienced player. He's played some down, he's played linebacker, little bit like Hughes. There's a lot of different things we can use him in and we're just getting started on that.

Q: How quickly do you want to push the players?A: We don't have to worry about that because they put themselves in pretty early. They're back here ready to work. It's the offseason program and it's a voluntary thing, but when they came back here they were ready to work. There was no easing in process. They learned scheme really quickly and they took it upon themselves to get that done. They've been able to get out on the field both yesterday and today and we expect tomorrow also. They still got some ground to make up, but they were ready for what was ahead of them. We didn't have to poke or prod to get them out on the field.

Q: What do you tell your players to do during the month long break period before training camp?A: We can't afford to take any steps back whether it's conditioning or also momentum defensively or knowledge of the defense. Yesterday we came out after a four-day weekend and we didn't perform as well yesterday as we did last Thursday. I mentioned before, this is a consistency business. You have to be at your best every single time you step on the field. We've accomplished a lot this offseason. We've installed most of our schemes. We've got a look at a lot of different guys. We've had some really good work on the field. But what we can't afford to do is, over the next month, take any step back, both physically and mentally. It's good for those guys to get a break before training camp, but their heads can never get too far away from this game and I think our guys will respond to this challenge.

Q: What do you think about the depth behind Marcell Dareus and Kyle Williams? Both of their roles seem pretty defined.

A: I don't know how well anybody's role is defined right now. What somebody's role is going to be is going to depend on how they are performing this year and this training camp. When we really start evaluating them, it's not going to be based on where our guy was last year. But we certainly have some candidates in there. Corbin (Bryant) has done a good job along with Stefan Charles and now getting a guy like (Alan) Branch back. Those guys all have some playing time and they all have some experience. Defensive tackle is one of those positions that it's very rare that you see, even across the NFL, a guy play every single snap. So we're going to need some depth in there. Keep our guys fresh and keep them throwing fastballs at the offense.

Q: How important is that rotation? A: I think anybody in the NFL is going to have some rotation at defensive line. Most offensive lines don't rotate. You want to keep throwing waves of players at them. When they're out there throwing fastballs, you want to make sure they're fresh and can go. Whatever the percentage of reps is, that's yet to be determined. But all of those guys will have a way to contribute to the game even if they're not a starter.

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