Defensive line coach Chris Kiffin (9.17.21)


On positive takeaways from Week 1 after evaluating the film:

“There is a lot to like. It is the first time playing with a bunch of guys. Obviously, started off the first play of the game with (DT) Malik McDowell’s big play on a tackle for loss. I was really happy for him with that. Obviously for me, I wish we would have done a better job on (Chiefs QB Patrick) Mahomes. I get the age-old story of rushing the passer, contain them and there are six gaps with four rushers and things like that, but I know a lot of that is going to come with continuity. That is what we talked about on Monday with the guys is really learning how to play together after really not doing in preseason at all. It will come. There are a couple of those that I wish we had back as a group really to contain him and obviously eliminate plays like the 75-yard touchdown.”


On if he would have expected a month ago that McDowell would have been able to play 45 defensive snaps in the season opener:

“No. Not when they told us he weighed at 317. He reported to camp at 303 and then he gained 14 pounds during training camp. The way the game went, it was obviously controlling the clock in the first quarter and then we really did not play that many snaps overall as a defense. I thought that it was really good for those guys to play in the 40s, talking about those top four or five guys.”


On McDowell’s natural ability and strength balanced with what he still needs to learn and refine:

“For him, it is really just about finding what works for him scheme-wise and technique-wise. He came in here and regardless of whatever he has done in the past, he had to learn the way we were going to play the technique up front. The way we play kind of fits him – attack, penetrate, disrupt, get off and make plays and then once you get off and attack, then get to the ball. There is still a lot for him to learn and get better at. Just refine the technique getting back to football, understand those blocking schemes and experience being out there. Everything is going to be a first one. Now we are in the home crowd so he is going to wonder why it is really loud on third down when he is out there (laughter). Everything is going to be first. With him, it is fun to watch the growth, but there is still a lot to work on.”


On McDowell gaining 14 pounds during training camp:

“I do not know the exact number, but it was something like that. He was right around 300, and a couple of weeks into camp, they gave us the weight check in and he was like 317.”


On if McDowell needed to lose that extra weight:

“No, I think he is right around the same. I think he is still there. I actually think a bunch of it was muscle. When they do the bod-pod, a bunch of that was muscle so a lot of good weight, but at the same time, you are going through training camp you think you are going to be losing weight. That is a weight we are all good with him playing at as long as he can continue to maintain his stamina during games and run to the ball.”