Q. Coach Coughlin said that you guys were going to work a lot on the red zone during this time period. What have you seen there?
A. No different than you do in any other parts of your game. You look at what people have tried to do against you. Mostly route problems that they try to give you down there. Are you outplaying your basic red zone coverages against them and how you might modify or wrinkle them slightly to better matchup the routes. That is basically what you try to get done in a bye week.
Q. If there was an area that you needed to put on top of the priority list for when this defense comes back, what would it be?
A. I would say that. It is very easy and obvious because of the statistics, but it is our red zone stops. For large portions of the game we play very well, but for a bunch of different reasons, we haven’t done a great job of stopping people when they get the ball down in the red area. That has got to change because you can play great for 50 snaps a game, but if they get the ball inside your 10 and you are not putting up enough resistance to keep them out of the end zone, they are going to have seven points instead of three. You are going to have a hard time winning games. If it had to be one thing, it is very easy to pinpoint and say that would be it. Doing a better job of executing and keeping people out of the end zone and forcing field goals.
Q. Now that you have had this time to self-scout, is there something else that you have uncovered that you didn’t expect to see?
A. No, I wouldn’t say it that way. You can sit back and look at a nine game self-scout and kind of take a picture of what you are doing down there in that area of the field. How you are playing defense and what kind of calls you are or are not making. It gives you a chance, about a couple of days to do that, to maybe rethink some thoughts defensively about what you can do maybe a little differently down there. Whether it is in your base red zone defense but also maybe some other calls outside of that, that maybe you normally don’t bring into that part of the field. Whether it is different type of pressures, ideas or something like that.
Q. How much can you really tweak given that you have had an entire off season, preseason and now you are nine weeks into the regular season?
A. That is a good point. You can’t make dramatic changes but you definitely can modify it because we do that every week anyways, even with our base stuff out in the middle of the field based on what the offenses do. Your point is taken there. You got a whole spring, a whole preseason invested in playing a certain kind of coverage down there but even that defense, that coverage, everybody has their red zone coverage that they play, we do tweak that every week based on what kind of routes the offense gives us. You are not going to make a whole full-fledged overhaul and just dump what you have been doing because you invested a lot of work and you taught your players how to play the coverage. A lot of times, just like out in the middle of the field, you just need to play the coverages better. I think you can step back and take a look at what you are doing and maybe consider some other types of things, maybe some pressure kind of ideas that maybe you normally don’t think to bring down when you get inside the 10-yard line.
Q. Teams don’t usually get one, two, or three starters back at this point in the season. You already have two starters back, if you get Aaron Ross back, you anticipate that being a real injection of something into this defense?
A. Yes, just because Aaron is a former starter for us.
Q. All of them, the whole three?
A. Yeah, oh yeah. I think it helped us the other night. Chris and Michael playing. That will be great to get Aaron back because, like I said, he has been a starter here. Whether or not he will be ready and how much he will be able to contribute in his first week back because he has been out for so long that has to be seen in practice. But it will be a great shot for us to have him back.
Q. This seems like the group you were planning on having during the summer?
A. I mentioned this before, I don’t know if you can appreciate this or not. The reality of it is we don’t even think like that. It is great to get him back. When you are in the middle of it, I guess we are so wrapped up in scheme and who we are defending that we are always thinking just put the next guy in there. It is a wonderful, I don’t want to say pleasant surprise because we anticipate them coming back, but it is wonderful to have those guys back. Because you are right, those are the projected players and starters.
Q. What did you see from Clint Sintim on Sunday and what do you see going forward?
A. He is talented. He is a big, explosive kid. The thing about him and Danny (Clark), as you guys probably know, we don’t play a whole lot of base personnel. Mostly first down and maybe some second down. The rest of the game we are in sub or nickel, as we refer to it. So, those guys, even Danny, don’t get as many snaps as the guys who play in the substitution personnel groups. All of his best football is ahead of him, he can be a dynamic pass rusher in base or in sub personnel. He is only going to get better in playing the coverages. Just like any rookie would be coming in, no matter what position they play coming in and learn how we play and teach coverages. He is a good player and I look forward to him contributing down the road.