Q: Does Robert Griffin III look like a different guy to you in terms of the amount that he's running, maybe the amount he plants and throws? Does it look like a different quarterback or the same guy?
Coach Tarver: He's got special skills. He can deliver the ball from any angle, so you still see that. We have to do a good job in the pocket. There's been some teams that have done a good job in the pocket on him and we need to do the same thing. He can still make all the throws and he's a good player and a smart player. What we need to do is take care of what we can control and that's the biggest thing, control the pocket, control our calls.
Q: Do you think he's as much a threat to run still?
Coach Tarver: I think once he gets out, he can run. He scrambled last week. People are making a big deal out of his sliding, which that one slide he did fumble the ball and he wants [Washington Nationals OF] Bryce Harper to help him or whatever, but he can still run straight ahead. Once he gets going, he's going pretty fast. We need to be correct in our lanes and do those things. He's a good p layer, so we need to make sure … Again, it's the same thing. It starts with ourselves. This starts with ourselves. We played two pretty good games where we took care of what we could control. And we played one where we can obviously tackle better and take care of our own stuff better. And that's what we're going to do.
Q: Are you better prepared to face Griffin III because your defense saw Terrelle Pryor every day in training camp?
Coach Tarver: Yeah, it helps. Our defenses go in from Day 1 with the responsibilities of what people are calling this read-option, which is option mechanics. It's option football. So from Day 1, and you guys have heard me say this before, from Day 1 this defense is how do we take care of this, what are your rules? Well, apply your rules. So whatever call we're in, our players need to apply their rules that they've done since day one. And it's always good to see it in camp from a quarterback like [QB Terrelle Pryor] T.P. And he did a great job running it and the formations that we used in camp were very hard ones. So that was good for us; it helped.
Q: Having Tracy Porter healthy, does it offer some stability to your secondary given that he plays different roles in different packages?
Coach Tarver: It definitely helps. We're trying to establish consistency in the back end. Of course that quarterback we played last week doesn't lead to consistency. That guy was as good as he's ever been and he's special. There's one of those. So we need to realize that and our guys do realize that. Going forward, what we need to do better in the back end is tackle, and we have tackled well for the most part since we've been here this year. And two, continue to know where our help is and compete. We need to get our hands on more footballs. The guys had a great practice today doing that. We got, I don't know how many, but we got a whole bunch of balls out today and that's what we need to do. Our players are equipped to do that and do that better.
Q: Do you have to rush a quarterback like RGIII differently because of the running threat in terms of being more disciplined in your lanes?
Coach Tarver: You need to make sure you're in your spots according to the call – we're going to rush three guys, we're going to rush four guys, we're going to rush five guys, we're going to rush six guys, we might rush more. So when we do all those calls, we just need to know where each other is. We need to do our job. And that's the way to do it. And then he may make somebody miss and then you have to cover for each other.
Q: Teams often use the so-called spy and Colin Kaepernick pointed out that that's what the Colts did against the 49ers. Would you guys do that where you have a certain player assigned to Griffin?
Coach Tarver: What the Colts did is they ran 4-man rush, they played man coverage and they had another guy sitting there, like you could see it on the last turnover. No. 15, he triggered to go get Colin. I looked at those of course. We have similar things. I'm not going to say exactly because the Redskins are listening because they're smart. I'm not going to say exactly how we do it, but we have things that function like that in our defense.
Q: We were talking about this yesterday and the fact that with the rules now being as they are, it's so tough to be physical during the week during practice and all. With the issue of tackles, how do you get better tackling as the weeks progress without a whole lot of contact throughout practices?
Coach Tarver: You've seen from us how we drill it in camp and we do specific tackling – short-area, medium-area, long-area tackling. What you have to emphasize is this, it's how we got better at the end of the year last year, it's how we'll get better from last week to this week, it's your body position when you're around anything, whether you're in pads or not. Whether you use your hands and your hips are down, your eyes are up and your feet are active. You need to put yourself in position to make the tackle, whether you're making the tackle or not. It's the hardest thing for a player to train himself to do at any level, but especially a pro because a pro in his head they're really good players. They say, 'I can make that.' When you know what? You can't make that if your feet are real close together and you cross over and you look like this [demonstrates at the podium]. You have to emphasize that all the time in pads or not. That's the only way to do it when you're not in pads. The actual on-contact, it's more of this – when you're supposed to be looking at the quarterback and he throws the ball, look at the quarterback, break to the football, get your hips down, your eyes up and your feet alive and go make the play. It's being in that position. There was only a couple times where we weren't all the way ready, but we had a second-and-20 on the third play of that game and the guy catches the ball at 4.5 yards and he made two of us miss, so it went from second-and-20 to third-and-8. That's an example of what we have to fix. Swarm, be in the right body position, and get that play down. Does it make it harder? Sure, but you have to emphasize it all the time. And we do that. Finish the down unblocked is how we say it in practice whether you're in pads or not. Get off of blocks, that's where we need to improve and that can be controlled as 11 guys going to get the guy with the ball.
Q: Do you feel the last game was a little bit of a reality check for the defense being that they weren't where they thought they were as far as the stats pointed out?
Coach Tarver: No, I think that what happened in that game, we made mistakes in the first drive – two offsides and allowing a touchdown on a play we practiced the exact same play. And then we punt, long field goal. And then what we need to do is control what we can control at that point. From that point on, that's where we went, 'holy crap, it's on us a little bit.' That's what we need to improve. Your job is to stop the offense, period. That's our job. That's why we do this. That's where we need to improve and how we improve is something of body position and talking to each other and stuff like that because that's what got us in that game. Most of your run yards, it's hard to make a call second-and-2. It's fun to make a call second-and-9. Those things, that's what we need to clean up. So, is it a reality check? No. The quarterback is special; that's a good football team. We'll play them better. We're learning things all the time and that's what happens when … You have to be able to take your mind and say, 'I don't care what's happening to me, let's go.' And that's what we can improve and we will.
Q: Is DJ [Hayden] tentative out there at all right now?
Coach Tarver: DJ gets better all the time. DJ gets better as the game goes on. We want to see DJ start games faster. We want to see him say, 'I can cover him,' because he can. He has all the ability, the mindset, all that stuff. He just needs to do it from step one of the beginning of the game. He made a play on that second drive that we were talking about on the third-and-8 on the wide receiver screen to No. 88 [Broncos WR Demaryius Thomas]. No. 88 on that team hadn't been tackled like that. He went and took a shot at his legs, wrapped him up. He eventually pulled out of the tackle, but everybody else was there. That was a good play because those screens had run through everybody else. You guys saw them at the end of the Baltimore game, right? And that was one of the things he hadn't done as much. He missed a few tackles in that game, but he just needs to start faster and compete. And whatever happens happens. The guys and the calls and all of us will work together to help him if we see anything. So that's where he needs to go; start the game faster man. But that kid is going to be a good player. We just want to see him play up to his capability.
Q: Is it part of it upstairs that you need to convince him that he can be good at this level? Is it a psychological thing?
Coach Tarver: No, I think it's what all young men and rookies go through. We need contributions from all our rookies this week. We need some guys to grow up and say, 'I'm going to do my assignment. I'm going to set an edge violently because this is a good running game we're about to play. And I'm going to get off of blocks and I'm going to go and make a play.' Because that's what good defenses do. And that's what we've put on for two weeks and not for one. That's the only difference is get the heck off blocks, go make plays. That's' why we're here. That's what gets me excited. We can do that. We put our black jerseys on, let's go.
Q: From your vantage point on the other side of the line of scrimmage, why are Shanahan's teams so good at running the ball with their zone scheme? It's like they're out of a mold; they're almost all the same.
Coach Tarver: He does a great job of formations by game plan. You know what plays you're going to get and so do they, that's why they're good. All the blocking schemes are the same, so they change the formations weekly, but keep the same scheme. That allows the continuity to continue to do it. He does a nice job of picking players that fit his system, running backs that can make one cut and get vertical. Look what he's done in his career with running backs. It doesn't matter who it was; they produced. The two running backs that this team has are pretty good players. They get positive yards. They do a good job. So that's what you're preparing against and that's why he's been good for a long time is because he keeps a lot of it the same and then just changes the formation a little each week. You don't know what formation he's going to pick. Like what we're talking about with the guys right now is use your rules. We'll just use our rules, which you hear me say a lot. But this team is the ultimate team of using your rules. I don't know how Mike is going to shift the tight end. I don't know how they're going to do it, but I do know that they're going to end up in certain formations and they're going to run the same things. So somebody has to set the edge. The other guy has to knock everybody back and then we have to get off the blocks and go swarm the guy with the ball.