Defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz (10.26.23)
What do you see out of Geno Smith?
“I see a veteran player that’s sort of survived some of the bumps of some early setbacks. I think he’s an inspiration to a lot of players that don’t have immediate success, but his stick-to-it-ness and his ability to keep working, persevere and obviously improve have shown these last couple of years. I remember having a conversation with him after a game. He was playing with the (New York) Jets and he was a backup and hadn’t played. And I told him, I said, ‘Look, eventually you’re going to get another chance. Make sure you’re ready for it’, because I played him a couple of times early in his career, and he certainly has. We’re going to have our work cut out for him. He’s throwing the ball very well. He’s really efficient, very accurate with his passes, high completion percentage, and I think that he’s really a good role model, a good inspiration for a lot of players that may have struggled early in their career, and if they stay on track and keep improving, that they can eventually have success.”
What do you think you didn’t do as well against the Colts, that you guys have done well the first games?
“Yeah. Well, pretty much everything. We didn’t stop the run very well. We couldn’t control the first and second down sticks, and mainly it was because of the run. We weren’t as firm as we needed to be on the inside. Missed some tackles, gave up some big plays. We were poor in the red zone, which continues really to be a thing. I’m really disappointed in our red zone. I thought we’d be further along in our package, and I know it’s new, and we didn’t get a lot of time on task early in the season, but we need to have urgency to better in the red zone. That game is a lot different if we can hold some field goals right there, but we’re a good third-down team, too. But in that game, weren’t. About the only thing that we were good in was what we had sort of struggled the first part of the season, which was getting turnovers, and that was really the difference in the game. I was also proud of the players, the way I mean, it seemed like every time we put a fire out, a new one sort of popped up, and sometimes you don’t have your fastball and you got to scrap and grind, and that was a grind for the guys. But they kept their heads in the game. They kept playing. And as much as anything, were able to come up with a four-minute stop at the end of the game, which put our offense in a position to go win it, and then were able to seal the game with the sack force fumble. So, a lot of stuff that certainly wasn’t up to character for us and stuff that we need to do better and improve. But we did make plays in the game and that sort of – I don’t want to say counted it because you want to play good football, but it made up for the fact that we didn’t have our fastball and weren’t playing good. Baseball, I know the World Series is coming up, but you got a hitter that strikes out three times in a row and then hits a home run in the bottom of the eighth. It’s a three-run homer. That was sort of the way we played football. We want to have a little more contact than that. We want to put the ball in play.”
Did the Colts RPOs come as a surprise at all?
“Oh, no. I mean, they stayed pretty much – like the RPO game, the actual throws on the RPOs, there was really only one, and we just need a bigger contact on that one. But the scramble, if that’s what you’re talking about, his (Gardner Minshew) more keeping the ball. Yeah, no, I mean, he had done it in all their games and (Anthony) Richardson had done it. I think there were some of those games when he came in after Richardson was hurt that they were shying away or not doing those things. But certainly, we were prepared for it, we just didn’t execute very well. We missed a lot of tackles on the quarterback and weren’t in a really good position. So, I think that was probably the biggest thing.”
What’s it rank, Myles’ (Garrett) first half in terms of other amazing performances that you’ve seen over the years, can you kind of put it in some kind of context?
“Well, I have to stay in character there, 4-2, right? If we’re going to say 3-2 when it comes to somebody’s performance. But, yeah, let’s be for real. That was a performance for the ages. Two sacks, two strips – both of them. One we scored on defense, the other one the offense scored off of. Blocked kick, an amazing blocked kick. About eight tackles. I mean, eight tackles is hard for a defensive end to make. And maybe one other thing that sort of flies a little bit below the radar, we lost Alex (Wright) early in that game and Ogbo (Okoronkwo) was struggling with his ribs and sort of hats off to Ogbo because he was playing on half a body, but he was trying to keep going out there and tough it out for us. But Myles played just about every play in the second half and was still able to come up with plays like that and that’s just another tribute to him as a player. I mean, it’s not ideal. We don’t really want to go there with playing every single snap. I think that over the course of the season, over the course of games, that’s not a great strategy, but when you need to, he certainly proved that he could. And, yeah, that was a great individual performance. We had some others, I thought Jordan Elliott might have played his best game, that we’ve seen him play. He’s really, really improved for us. He’s starting to master the technique of attack. He’s a big man. Saw him get a sack, but not just a sack, but his presence in the inside run game has really improved. Yeah, 4-2.”
Kenneth Walker, what makes him is he similar to any other backs you faced or what makes him successful?
“Yeah, you just put the tape on and it’s impressive. And his numbers, if you just judge him on his stats, 4.1 yards of carry. I don’t know where that ranks in the league, but it’s probably not like top ten, but you put his film on and it gets your attention right away. The broken tackles, he’s really hard to bring down. He’s got quickness and he has power, and he can threaten all the edges of your defense. Just because you have him hemmed up doesn’t mean that you got him completely bottled in. He can go all the way out the back door. He’s really good at setting his blocks up. He’s really an outstanding young player. And some of our things that we struggled with against the Colts, particularly the inside run game, and allowing them to control the game with the run. And when we played well on defense, particularly Titans and 49ers, after that first drive against the 49ers, we were able to control the second down game. So, we’re going to have a work cut out for him or work cut out for us. But, yeah, he’s an exciting young player. I didn’t really know him a ton from last year because hadn’t seen him and didn’t really cross over very much with those guys. But he gets your attention really quick and he’s a good young player.”
The RPOs are relatively new to the NFL, ten years, whatever, and with your defensive style just attacking going forward, it would seem to be the play to run at your defense. Do you find it frustrating to defend that in your system?
“No, I mean, it’s just life in the NFL now, it spreads you thinner with gaps because you have to account for an extra gap with the quarterback. So, I don’t think it’s anything that’s necessarily frustrating or anything else. I mean, it’s something that’s fairly common. It used to be you didn’t see it very often, but now you see it more. And it’s not just like, Tony (Grossi) when we talk about RPO, it’s the run pass option. And a lot of RPO is they have a run called and they’re throwing the ball off of it. They’re reading a particular player and they’re ripping the ball in and getting the ball out quick. Think Eagles in the Super Bowl run with Nick Foles. But you add the extra layer of quarterback run, that’s probably, I’d say, the run option, not the run-pass option, but the run, run option creates an extra gap. And we have ways to handle this scheme. We haven’t executed them very well so far this year, and it’s certainly something we need to improve on.”
Is off-sides something that you have to worry about going forward?
“100%. And we’ve talked about it in the past, and we’ve had a couple of plays this year early in the game against San Fran and these two plays where we jump offsides and then we don’t finish the play, whether it’s in the back end or up front. And our message is we don’t necessarily need to try to get back, just go shut the play down, just keep on going and shut the play down so that we don’t put our corners in that position to have to go play those balls where the offense has license. So, we’re a get-off team, we’re an attack team. There’s a bit of cost of doing business with that, with offside, we don’t want to be offsides in critical situations like backed up or third down and short or two minute and things like that. But there’s going to be some times where we’re going to be off sides, but we can’t allow them to turn. They need to be five-yard plays, not 55 or 80-yard plays or whatever we’ve given up. But that’s definitely something that’s on our radar and something that we need to address and improve. We already have addressed it, but we need to do it on the field. The first step is don’t be offside. The second step is either shut the play down or do a better job of finishing the play. And a lot of times you’re dealing against human nature, like just a natural reaction. Your natural reaction is to try to get back or to sort of, you know we need to do that better.”
Myles said that he thought maybe the center was doing something with the ball that made him jump. Did you notice anything? Were they doing anything different?
“Yeah, I mean, everybody’s going to try to do stuff like that, you know, they’re going to try to do whatever they can to gain an advantage. They know we’re a good pass rush team. They know they have players like Myles out there, and they’re going to try to negate that, whether it’s hard cadence, whether it’s a little bit of movement or stuff like that. Sometimes I think offenses can put themselves in a little trouble, but we put it on tape, so we put it on tape, so we’re going to have to deal with it, you know, if people think they can gain an advantage, then they’re going to keep on trying. If we go a good stretch without it affecting us, I think we’ll see offenses do it a little bit less.”
An interesting roster makeup in Seattle. They’ve got some really veteran guys like Geno and Bobby Wagner, who’ve play a ton of football. They also have more rookies under 53 than anybody else in the league. From a game-planning perspective, do you approach things differently when you’re playing against a team that hasn’t seen everything because there’s a little less experience there? Is that factor in for you at all?
“Sometimes when it’s a quarterback, sometimes when it’s an offensive line, I think that does come into the equation. When it’s skilled players, when it’s tight ends or wide receivers, I don’t know that it comes up quite as much. But they also have, even though they have a lot of rookies out there, they – third year in this offensive coordinator? Yeah, third year in Shane’s (Waldron) offense. So, they have a lot of time on task with their other players. And even though they have a lot of young players, they can get those guys. So, I think that if those players were concentrated in a certain position, maybe there’d be something there. We just need to worry about ourselves. We need to execute ourselves. Execute ourselves – we need to execute well ourselves. Some of you English majors got to clean that up for me. Yeah, I don’t know. But we have to do a better job of executing and worry about ourselves. There you go.”
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