LBs coach Jason Tarver (12.12.20)

Linebackers coach Jason Tarver: 

On LB B.J. Goodson:

“What has been great about B.J. is he is the same every day. He just keeps getting better. When he makes a mistake, the next time it happens, he gets it perfect. It happens throughout the week of practice as we are learning, and then he gets in the game and he sees it, and he has been to close and make plays. He had two really big ones in that first half last week that you mentioned. One was when they attempted to throw to their eligible offensive lineman. He did a great job of filling and then how he finished. He did not look back. He just went and wrapped him up and got the ball out. That was huge. That was that third-and-1, and then we were able to stop [the Titans] and (DT) Sheldon (Richardson) did a great job on that fourth-and-one. Anytime you can take possession by winning a fourth down, that is just like a takeaway. That is a possession. That was huge, and then our offense went down and converted. That was a big time play. The other one was on the attempted two-point conversion when he went and the saw the angle of the backs play that they have not run before, and he went and tracked No. 22 (Titans RB Derrick Henry), wrapped him up and (S) Andrew Sendejo came and helped finish him. That was a big play because that kept points off the board, and that was a play that they had not run yet. Those two plays, those really helped us in that football game. By doing your job play-in and play-out, when the big play comes, it is because of doing your job over and over and over. That is what we have been impressed by from BJ.”

On LB Sione Takitaki’ development:

“You have to smile when you speak about Sione because of the way he plays. He is right where he needs to be. He had a lot of experience early in the year when some of our other guys were not back yet. What is great about this position group is we have guys embrace and compete to get playing time. Sione is outstanding with contact. He is really good at same foot, same shoulder. What that means is if you are supposed to set the edge of the defense and you are on the run, you want to hit everything with your left foot and your left shoulder and extend your hands. He had two or three last week that were outstanding. He hit the fullback and he hit a tackle and a tight end that way. He is really good and getting better on the edges of the defense so that is where he plays some of his time, but he has improved playing off the ball, as well. He is right where he needs to be in his progression. He is getting better and better. I love the confidence, and we love the confidence coming from Sione right now. We are going to need that the next time we play at night. It is going to be awesome.”

On how Takitaki responded to coming off of the reserve/COVID-19 list following the interception-return TD and then returning to contribute last week:

“We talk about ‘find a way.’ We talk about treating each day being itself. We do not know. It is next man up to us. The room and the guys have been outstanding at this part because they just do not blink. What we did, Sione and I, had a little extra meetings – Zoom meetings of course. Sione, one day of practice came out and played well. That is the training that Sione has done on his own and with us and how he has practiced throughout the year. Him and us are getting the benefits of that. We just prepare and go and deal with each day one day at a time. That is every coaches’ phrase and it always is, but we have been lining that. We are very proud of the players and the team, and we need to keep doing it.”

On LB Malcolm Smith’s performance in an increased role on defense:

“Malcolm played really, really well. One of the best plays with Malcolm was something that goes unnoticed a lot, and that was the play at the end of the first half. They were in a position where they did not have any timeouts left and they were trying to get more yards rather than throwing a Hail Mary. We were in a defense to make sure that they could not get out of bounds, Malcolm was all the way away from the play, timed it right and burst all of the way across the field and went and punched the ball out, and we got that ball. He does things that are very smart. He knows where he is on the field down and distance, space and time. He just has a great feel. What happens with Malcolm is we put him in those positions, and that is where he can be really successful. We rotate. Everybody plays. It was really cool that (LB) Tae Davis made a great play at the end of the game – side bar. Really happy for him because he lives in Nashville and his family was there, and he made great plays on special teams also and went in and batted a pass away. It was awesome because anytime you play in front of your home people, it is awesome to make the play. So sidebar, proud of him. Malcolm excels in understanding situational football, and we use him that way.”

On the Browns LBs preparing for Ravens QB Lamar Jackson:

“We know that he is really good with the ball in his hands, an incredible athletic and a competitor. What we have to do is we have to work. We do not how long the play is going to take because the football team we are about to play can extend plays, and he is a piece of that, of course. What we want to do is we not want to count and play hard for six seconds, we just want to play until we get the man with the ball on the ground or take the ball and get it back to the offense. That is what you have to stress when you play a team like this because they can extend plays. We just have to work, and we have to play. We have to trust what we see, and when the ball comes out of his hands, we have to bring it. If the ball is still in his hand, we need to approach him and not jump up in the air because he is crafty. We need to run and track him and find a way to get him on the ground. Sometimes that is going to take one person, and most of the time, it is going to take more than one.”

On how is the Browns defense is different compared to Week 1:

“Our guys, the reps and the experience that they have and how tight they have become as a unit and as a football team and watching them grow week to week, it is not even close. When you are in that first one, we did some really good things. Sione played well in the beginning of that game where we made some plays in the run game, but there are also plays that we saw that we have been able to correct and work through throughout the year. We have come further and so have they. Each game is different. It is not going to be the same game, but we need to learn from the things that have happened and then trust what we are seeing when we get in this football game and use our knowledge of how they use their players and what kind of plays they run to our advantage. Each game is totally different, and this is a long gap between games. Like when we played Cincinnati, those were close gaps so those were pretty similar. This one is a long gap so it is two totally different teams, but we have to take what we learned. That is for sure.”

On if he expects Ravens offensive coordinator Greg Roman to show new wrinkles this game compared to Week 1:

“Oh yeah. We have to use our rules. That is the key with defense. The offense, you can say a coaching phrase is ‘They get the pen last’ so they call the play right, and we have to use our rules to defend the play. Some of the things that they are doing a little different is some third downs and fourth downs that they are using some different type of run or pass games so we have to use or rules within our calls to stop that. Some of our rules are going to be different than the first game.”

On defensive coordinator Joe Woods and Woods handling adversity this season:

“Stuart Scott, an outstanding man, one of his phrases was ‘cooler than the other side of the pillow.’ Of course, I can’t do it justice because Stuart said it a lot better than me. That is how I describe Coach Woods. He is consistent. Things do not faze him. He is direct, he is exact and he is precise. If something hurts us, he is constantly working to find the next answer and make a call. He is cool, he is calm and he is patient, but he is demanding and he is truthful. We all hope to be like that. When you are that way, people follow you, and more often than not, you come up with the right answer. So proud to work with him. He is just the same all of the time – direct and just wants to put the guys in positions to make plays.”


On finding opportunities for LB Jacob Phillips to get more playing time to help development after getting healthier: 

“His reps have increased on defense. I think he got 18 last week. The week before, the emphasis was getting the calls out and making sure he could get the calls. He was outstanding with it last week in the game. He played pretty well in the first game way back against these guys. You could see his speed. Probably because as a 21-year old young man in the NFL, you may not have ever had to work through an injury so he worked through an injury. You should see him, he just stretches and works all the time. He is very direct. He worked his way back, and then he had to earn his right to get playing time. You have seen his reps increase. He has been bringing it. He had a really good day yesterday, and that is what we are about. He and I check in at the end of every day. He watches the video, and I watch the video. He tells me what he thinks, and we are just growing up together. The better you play, the more you earn. You will see him some and he will roll in because he is fast, he is strong and he is getting better. It maybe set him back, but he is right where he needs to be right now, which is improving, and he will be in the game. We are excited to watch him again.”

On if the emphasis on speed with the LBs has Ravens QB Lamar Jackson’s in mind: 

“Oh, yeah, you are going to see everybody. You are going to see us all. We roll in and embrace our roles, and that is what makes this group fun to be around, and as a coach, you are proud – I know I have used that word a lot today, but that is what you are. We have to go and do the best we can to go 1-0, and everybody is going to get a chance. The better you play in your chance, the more you earn. He is right where he needs to be and we just want to see him go in, make the right call, and run, shed and tackle the guy with the ball because that is what we as linebackers.”

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