Q: How would you evaluate your performance on Sunday?**
Coach Tarver:"I think we got two takeaways. We played pretty darn good red zone defense. We need to find a way to stop that shovel pass. We have three guys over there. We've got to get a way to get that on the ground and then we're perfect in the red zone. So those are the things we did well. We need to improve on execution on third downs in the first half, that was all execution, and in the second half when we made those adjustments, we went six-for-six on third down with two sacks. So regardless of the look, we need to perform better in those situations. Then we play good, play good, play good and then we miss tackles. That's not acceptable in the fourth quarter. We need to finish as a defense in the fourth quarter."
Q: When you see a real disparate yardage figure and you've given up a ton of yards, that doesn't really bother you as long as they don't get in the end zone?
Coach Tarver:"Points allowed, OK? Points allowed. We've got to find a way to stop them. Sometimes we made it hard on ourselves, sometimes we played better, but we got to find a way to get off the field. That's our job. We don't control where we get on the field, we control how we get off the field."
Q: At the end of the first half, the last series that the Jets had, why did you soften up the rush? It seemed like you went to three more often.
Coach Tarver:"Execution. That was not designed to be a three-man rush on the third-and-9 up the middle of the field."
Q: There was more than one though.
Coach Tarver:"Neither. Not on that drive. That drive either had four. That was the only three-man rush in that drive and it wasn't designed to be that way. That's it. It's execution. We execute that call and we're off the field on that play and that's the big one, that third-and-9 up the middle of the field where the quarterback ran around. We've got another running quarterback. We need to make sure that that doesn't happen."
Q: With receivers catching balls and turning around and having room to run on a number of occasions, is that execution, too?
Coach Tarver:"Yeah, we need to be tight. When we're in one-on-one match-ups, regardless of whether we're in man or zone, if you've got one guy in your area, be tight to the guy in your area. There wasn't numerous times. It was a few times. There was one on that drive where one of our corners was too far off. There was a few in that drive. There's one where one of our players jumped out of his zone, in the drive where we got the fumble in the red zone. One of our guys moved too far over in the zone. He needs to stay where he needs to be."
Q: For the execution errors, are you guys, as far as playing together and gelling and communicating, not as far along as you hoped?
Coach Tarver:"No, we need to just take care of those situations. Like I said, in the second half, we went six-for-six on third down. We cleaned all that up. Two sacks, we knocked them out of field goal range on one. So that's it. Bottom line is do your job and the whole bottom line here is we need to finish as a team, as an organization and as a defense. We need to finish games, period. If it's your job, if it's your turn to get the guy on the ground, get him on the ground. That's all it is and that's where we are. We play close and we battled to keep ourselves in the game, you're going to do all that hard-fought battling to let up at the end? No. That's the emphasis this week. We've got 60 minutes. Let's finish practice. Let's finish the games. Let's finish everything we do the right way."
Q: How did Antonio Smith play?
Coach Tarver:"Antonio Smith played well. Antonio Smith brings a presence to the defense. He plays every play as hard as he can. He had a good game. He had tackles for loss, he pushed the pocket. He did well. I'm very glad he's here."
Q: So he still has got a lot of gas in the tank?
Coach Tarver:"Yeah, he might have our fastest get-off. We have some get-off races that we're going to practice this weekend, so we'll see who gets off the fastest."
Q: What does he bring personality-wise to the meeting rooms?
Coach Tarver:"He's honest. He tells it like it is, which as a coach or a player, you respect. He's seen everything in this game, so those things make him a great asset to our locker room."
Q: The fact that he keeps things light, does the humor he uses have a purpose?
Coach Tarver:"I think that's just how he is. His personality type is he just says it how it is and sometimes that comes out kind of funny and sometimes that comes out as, 'Hey man, do your job.' He's just being himself and that's what we need him to be, himself, and keep playing the way he started for us." Q: Is he the kind of guy who is a big plus for a coach?
Coach Tarver:"Yeah, we like having him in the program because he tells you where he is. He's honest. He tells you whether he likes it, whether he doesn't, what he feels. When you're honest and you work hard and you play every play like it's your last, you get a lot of stuff done with players like that."
Q: Over the last couple of days at practice, have you seen enough from Chimdi Chekwa that you would be confident putting him in as the third cornerback?
Coach Tarver:"He's working into shape. He looks good in practice, so I like what he's done for two days."
Q: Does Arian Foster look like he's back to where he was a couple of years ago? What are you impressions watching him on film?
Coach Tarver:"He's a good runner. He's a great, patient, get vertical, get positive yards runner. We got to get as many of our players as we can – we're only allowed 11 on the field, so we've got to get all 11 to him as many times as possible."
Q: Is Foster's success really the key to the overall success of their offense?
Coach Tarver:"He's a really good player. He really understands their scheme and how to work in their scheme and he can control a game if you let him, like you said. We've got to make sure that we handle him and then the plays that come off of him, because they do a good job of run, run, run and then throw. Of course they have some weapons in the pass game. I don't know how many Pro Bowls the wide receivers' been to, but it's a lot."
Q: What are your thoughts on Ryan Fitzpatrick?
Coach Tarver:"You know what, he's a smart, tough football player. He figures things out and he competes. Anytime you're smart and tough and you compete every play-in and play-out, you're a match-up. So we've got to understand how he moves in the pocket. We've got to understand how he throws. We've got to understand how the offense is going and use our rules to prevent that. But he's good when the play breaks down, so we need to make sure that we continue to play. As long as that play takes, we need to be continuing to play. We need to swarm and figure out when he's running or if he's throwing, what he's doing and go get him."
Q: Would you still put him in the category of a running quarterback? Is he something you need to still worry about?
Coach Tarver:"Yeah, he moves when it breaks down, he'll take off, so he will scramble. I don't know where he is stat-wise in the league, but he's up there in number of scrambles per pass attempt. He does a good job of getting the ball out quick and then when he doesn't, he does a good job of using his legs to make plays. So we need to understand that in all of our calls and make sure we're right."
Q: Did you guys miss Nick Roach more or less than you thought you would? What was the impact of losing him?
Coach Tarver:"I thought Miles and Sio did a heck of a job in there together, because that's two young interior linebackers. Sio played on the ball most of it last year, and now he's playing off the ball more. So that's two guys playing in positions where they had practiced some. Together, they do a good job of communicating together. We had very few communication errors. We had a couple third downs that we needed to clean up and we already cleaned them up. We cleaned them up within the game like we already talked about. I'm pleased with those guys. Anytime you have a character player with ability and the character in Nick Roach, you miss guys because of who they are. Nick, whoever, you miss them, but you also know it's next man up all the time in this league. That's how it goes. There's 16 games, somebody's going to be down each week. You've got to adjust, you've got to roll. Let's roll. And those two young men played well."
Q: Do you have more character players than you have had in past years?
Coach Tarver:"Again, you guys know, I like 2014, so we're going to talk about 2014. Here's where we are, I'd say, as a defense: We have guys that have made plays in this league, more of them around now, and we need them to make plays for the 2014 Raider defense. We have done a good job of battling in that first game and battling through some of our preseason things and becoming a close unit, but when it's our turn to do our job, that's where we need to individually take advantage of our one-on-one and do our job. There are four, the guys we brought in, when they get their one-on-ones we got to win. We won some last week. We didn't win them all. You're not going to win them all, but we've got to win a few more so we can get on the right side of that game."
Q: If you take away the last run by Chris Ivory, how did you guys do against the run?
Coach Tarver:"I think there was a 10-yarder where we missed a tackle on the edge where we had two players there unblocked and an 11-yarder. Then there was an 11-yarder to start the second half where we needed a couple guys to do a better job. So there's two runs over 10 yards, there's the two quarterback runs where we need better execution on third down in the first half, and then there's the long one. So other than that, that's a good running football team, they're going to get three or four or five yards sometimes, because they're good. They're good up front, they've got a good center and they've got two real good backs, so they're going to get some yards. But you can't throw those out, so we need to be good all the time like we talked about, finishing. So the two quarterback runs and the long run, of course, that's more than half right there. So you can eliminate – it's never as far away as you think. It's never as good or bad as you think. There's a couple plays that we have to lock it down and find a way to get the guy on the ground. That's our job. You take those out, of course, but you can't. That's how it works."
Q: What was your takeaway on Khalil Mack? You talked about him being late sometime. Was he reacting better?
Coach Tarver:"I thought as the game went, you could see the explosion in the young man. He got better and anything that we coached him on the sideline, he did right and fast the next time, so he's right in the progression where he needs to be. He's right in the progression where a young edge player should be. When he sees something, he learns from it. He's had his two best days of practice, have been these past two days. That's what I'm exciting about. He got better as the game went, he's had his best two practices since he's been here these two days, so he keeps on this progression. He's set edges well, again. He's around the ball. You started to see him really flash at the end of the game. Even the long run, he set the edge and made the tackle miss, he was all the way over there that quick. Those are the things we need from Khalil."
Q: It seems like you had a little one-on-one time with him. Are you trying to expedite this process a little bit, personally?
Coach Tarver:"With Khalil, I'm a little bit biased. I grew up as an outside linebackers coach over there on the other side with some pretty good players. A lot of times what we'll do as coaches is we'll spread our individual time so that while the inside linebackers were working with Coach Bob [Sanders], they we redoing things that they have to do in coverage. Well, Khalil and I went over and did some of the things we're going to do in the rush again to make sure our mechanics are good on third down, two-minute, those things. That's what we were doing today. For a young player, it's good to do that one-on-one because you can make sure. You can ask him a question in the middle of the drill and say, 'Hey, how do you see this? OK good, we're on the same page,' or, 'Hey, OK, well here's what I was saying in the meeting. Do you understand this now? Let's practice doing one of these kind of – let's do this fast. OK good, you got it.' You just prep him for what's coming, just teach him progressions. Learn it in the meeting, do it on your own, then do it in a team setting and correct it, make sure it's right."