Q: Coach, can you talk about the challenge of going against someone like Philip Rivers, especially with how well he's been playing this year?**
Coach Tarver:Yeah, his release looks even quicker than it has in the past, and that's hard to do because it was very quick in the past. He's playing well. He's diagnosing defenses well. He's taking advantage of matchups they're creating with the offense. I think they do a good job of creating matchups with the players that they have, so our ability to win our matchups, especially in certain situations is one of the keys to the game this week.
Q: How different is it now with him having [Danny] Woodhead? In the past, when he got under pressure he kind of went down or forced it, now he has that guy he can get the ball to.
Coach Tarver:Well, he has a few. What he does, and what they do by their formations and their scheme is they do a good job of getting into a formation where he can look and say, 'Okay, I have two on two coverage over here.' When he has two-on-two coverage* *he has some options he can do. That might be a wide receiver in Woodhead, that might be [Antonio] Gates and Woodhead and then he can put them on certain angles and take whichever one comes open. What Woodhead can do is of course step on your toes and break either way. He's a great little route runner. That's why that weapon is so valuable; Gates is a good route runner as well because of his big body. He leans on you and goes the other way or leans on you and goes across your face, stutters you because he's so big. That's what they're doing, they're using their personnel well, which is the key. You have to know your personnel and you have to use your personnel for what they can do. That's what we are doing to the best of our ability on defense and that's what they have the ability to do on offense.
Q: They're pretty banged up on the offensive line, does that factor into your game plan, that they don't have a lot of continuity there, especially with the way that you like to blitz?
Coach Tarver:The offensive line as a group for them has done a good job. They know that they need to have that pocket intact because of how Philip [Rivers] moves in the pocket. The way this quarterback moves, they've been sound at keeping the pocket tight. We need to be able to pull that apart and we have some different ways to try and do that, not all by activations, but we like those. They've done a good job, especially for the guys that have been in there. I've been impressed with the guys that came in and played, so we're looking forward to the challenge.
Q: Are you worried at all that Washington might have provided a blueprint for your future opponents with that no-huddle with the way they were able to execute it so quickly when they ran it in the first quarter?
Coach Tarver:Worried? No. Worried doesn't enter into our thoughts. We want to put the guys in position to be successful. We want to be to the point where tempo is an advantage if you use it as an advantage. The faster you go, the faster they can go three-and-out. We have to get that mindset and do it. They jumped on the ball and did a good job for a few plays there, and then we held them to a field goal which was good; we need to do that more. One of our biggest things is there are times when people are going to move the ball, that's football. They're professional athletes that are going to get paid. These guys can throw the ball, and catch it well and run it for positive yards most of the time. Last week we had a whole bunch of tackles for loss and that helped us. We need to keep getting better at our process; we're going to control what we can control and that's how quickly we get the call back code and how quickly we get back on the ball. If the offensive linemen are running to get on the ball, you just run right behind them and get on the ball, and then get the call. We have a good communication system. We've done well on our communication, we've done well. We've only had one time out of all the no huddles where it wasn't exactly 11 guys knowing the play, and that's pretty good, because I guarantee most aren't that way. We need to even improve on that.
Q: Do you wonder then if they provide enough blueprint for other teams to try to attack you?
Coach Tarver:No, it's good. We need to be able to handle anytime anybody jumps on the ball. You need to be able to handle it. That's the modern trend in football. There are three things you look at every week: You look at what you do, you of course look at what they do and then you look at what everybody's doing, in the NFL in college. Those are the three phases everyone is picking things from, copycat league as they say, right? Those are the three phases so we study those three phases every week anyway. The best teams know what's going on in that third phase, everybody is doing this, we have to be ready for somebody to jump on the ball and go. Okay. Now obviously it's on film so that's good. They know it, we know it, let's go.
Q: You've probably gone over the interception thing a million times on film and in your mind and how you can go four games without one. How close have you gotten to getting them and not converted? What can you do to actually start getting them?
Coach Tarver:The third downs last week were a great example. You see how close those balls were flipped over the middle? Tracy Porter's hand was about an inch away from two of them. The biggest thing that we need to do is take care of our own responsibility. We had a turnover, a turnover and the ball at the 18 yard line and it was eliminated by being offside. That's the biggest thing that we need to do. Those things will happen, we need to keep tipping balls, we need to keep getting our hands up, we need more tips, we more opportunities. We had four balls out pulling at the ball and we got one and we eliminated one on ourselves that was a game changer, which you cannot do. You have to take advantage of those opportunities. That was the biggest play of the defensive game last week to me and the guys. 'Hey it's the fourth quarter man, we got the ball but we had to give it back.' We had four balls that we ripped out in the last two games and we got two fumbles out of Denver, that's rare. We have six out in two games, it's coming, and when they come, the old phrase is they come in bunches. Keep working, keep working, they're coming. We have to put ourselves in the right spots in the pocket, close windows, get our hands up, and keep raking at the balls. The second guy in causes fumbles. The second guy in that cause fumbles in 2012; the Oakland Raiders didn't have any. We already have three pulled out by the second guy into the tackle, Nick Roach last week on the tight end in the middle of the field. We're working on and the guys are doing the right things, now we need to have our eyes in the right spot, get the ball tipped in the air, go take it and then when we get it let's go score with it. We need to score with it on defense, we need some of those to happen, it's time.
Q: How did [Brian] Sanford and [Jack] Crawford do for [Jason] Hunter last week?
Coach Tarver:You know, Sanford started strong; he had some things where he could have continued to learn as the game went on, but that's what young players do. Jack when he came in had two real good plays. He stopped a bootleg right away and hit the quarterback which was good. Then on the next play, they run and he does the same thing, he does a good job of pressing it closed, so his first two plays were real good. We like the way Jack plays. Jack plays all out and when he's in the right mindset and rolling off, and getting extension because he has long arms, he has a chance. Both of those guys have long arms for their bodies and when they use their hands and get extension, they can be decent professional football players for us and hopefully continue to grow from that decent and get better. What they did, especially their first few reps early, were good. We need them to be consistent.
Q: [DJ] Hayden, how is he coming along?
Coach Tarver:Hayden's coming along. We had one leverage issue in the game but other than that he had good coverage against most of those third downs. They didn't play us in the personnel groups where he was on the field as much so he didn't play as many snaps last week. This week, this team will play us more in those personnel groups, so it's a good challenge. He had a good day at practice today. He had a good day of learning the route concepts that we're about to see. Shoot, he made almost every play and the one that he didn't, he knows. He saw it twice and the second time he saw it he went and got it. It's continued progression. That island that you're on as a rookie corner in this league, that's the biggest island in the world sometimes but he's a great kid and he's going to get it. He's going to get it and he's getting better every week with it.