Q: Are there any tricks or secrets to getting off the field on third down?**
Tarver:"Well, we've got to win our one-on-one matchups. You saw a lot of times where we had great pressure and then something slips out or whatever. Any tricks? No, that's when you've got to focus. You've got to do your job, you've got to win your one-on-ones. We mixed coverages effectively in that game, but I will say one thing, we need to create longer third downs. We had a lot of short, especially in that game. Then when we do get the shorts, we've got to do our job. We've been, this season, pretty darn good in the red zone when our backs are backed up. There are a couple things we can fix, and have fixed, from the last game, but we need to make that translate into short yardage and get more knock back and then play with our eyes through our coverage. Cover guys need to have their eyes on their coverage. Front guys need to knock the offense back. One thing we need to do is create longer third downs, the next thing we need to do is do that formula right there, which we do in other phases. So, that's what we need to focus on and have been, today at practice especially."
Q: What will it be like facing the former Raider Carson Palmer?
Tarver:"I really like Carson, he's a great person. But really, the guys on this defense, there are only two that were even here when Carson was in the building. Miles [Burris] and 'B-Ross' [Brandian Ross] a little bit, and 'Chim' [Chimdi Chekwa]. That's it. He wasn't here with this group of players, so it's like any other game. He's a good quarterback with a strong arm so we need to make sure we play top-down coverage and we need to make sure we find ways to affect him in the pocket."
Q: What did you see from Carson Palmer in his last game after coming off of the shoulder injury?
Tarver:"He played well. He threw it to the open guy for the most part and didn't throw the ball to the defense, kept it away from them and ran a functional game, moved the ball and didn't make any major mistakes."
Q: How much of the Chargers game, defensively, was mistakes on defense and how much was facing a quarterback at the top of the game?
Tarver:"I think he made some plays. What I liked is most of that game, we're challenging, we're running, we're hitting. If we're challenging and running and hitting and swarming and playing with passion, a lot of that will start to clean itself up. There was more of that going on, so that was improvement. Where we weren't quite as good is in areas where we have been good. There were a couple of red zone things, the second drive, the third drive, of their touchdowns, that those are plays that we have practiced and done a lot. We need to play those plays better, hold them to field goals. In a game like that, if you can hold that offense to a field goal a couple more times, that would have done it. That's what an NFL game is, when you're playing at that high level they back and forth. He made some plays, but our challenge was better. This week, and going forward, we need to challenge the ball. We need to play, we need to stop the run on first down and we need to play top-down pass coverage. By saying that, what happened in the last game, we won a lot of those vertical balls. We lost a couple. We need to make sure we keep winning more of those because you can rally to anything else. A little bit of both, he made some plays, but our improvement was in, we're there, now we need to learn how to finish."
Q: It seems that LaMarr Woodley was a stand up edge rusher quite a bit. Is there more of emphasis on him doing that?
Tarver:"No, he's being used the same way. We allow our edge players, we want their best get off and we want their best use of hands, and we want their best ability to dig out runs and set edges. So, with Khalil [Mack] and Woodley, they'll play up at times because they feel comfortable in those stances, so we'll use those stances and the players will use their stances as an advantage for them. So, he's been standing up when he can because that's where he feels comfortable."
Q: Does he have the discretion to do that or does the defense dictate this?
Tarver:"In certain defenses he'll be down and in certain defenses he'll be up, but most of the time, in other words, it depends on the formation and what the call is. He can be a lot of times, when it's just a tackle, he can be up, because that's where he feels his best get off is and we do too."
Q: How do you get more production out of LaMarr Woodley and Justin Tuck?
Tarver:"Well one, they've got to win their one-on-ones. You can see it across the board, we've got to win our one-on-ones. Both of them have put in good effort and they're professional in their work. They're trying to keep themselves healthy, and that's good, but the biggest thing is, you get one-on-one blocks, that's your job, you've got to win. We can create them and then it's working together, but I know you heard it from Coach Tony [Sparano] too, the biggest thing for us is there are one-on-ones out there. We're winning some, we're going to win more, at all positions. That's what has to happen. You strive to create those and you've got to win them."
Q: As far as their comfort for the defense, that is fine, it's just a matter of beating the guys they're up against?
Tarver:"Yep. Shortest answer ever (laughing)."
Q: Did their success on the rush on the last drive have anything to do with the defense being on the field for 37 minutes?
Tarver:"The first one they ran back-to-back same runs. The first one they got some yards, we missed a tackle at five yards. The next one, we missed a tackle in the backfield, we bobbled them in the backfield. We've got to get more guys to the ball like we did earlier in the game. The third one, down in the red zone, was the same play we had just stuffed, and they were able to push us, so that's a point of emphasis. We haven't' been pushed in the red zone all year. That's one of the things that I was talking about, we play strong in there. So, that's been an emphasis, both with the players and coaches, because that hasn't happened to us, we need to correct those. But, we've made major improvements in that run game. If you look at the very first play of the game, Miles [Burris] took the guard, threw him on the ground and made the tackle. We're using our hands and we're shedding. It's an attitude, defense is, that focus. When you get your one-on-one block or when you're supposed to be in the right spot, you've got to do it hard and physical and make the play. There's a lot of improvement there and you don't ever want to learn in the football league, you want to finish the dang thing off, because that's our job and that's what we need to do, and we're full on preparing for that this week, finishing that thing off. That's been the focus, let's say that. That's been the focus, don't let go of the rope. You should pull that rope, keep pulling on it, no matter what, it's your job. Sixty minutes isn't that long, whatever the time of possession is, and that's our job. If we want to make it easier, create longer third downs, win your one-on-ones. Then you're not on the field as much. When a ball is tipped up in the air, we've got to get it. It's our turn. It's our time to get some tips."
Q: It seems like you guys are spread out a lot and teams have been in shotgun, whether running or passing. How are you guys doing in that?
Tarver:"It's improved. Like I said last week, from Miami halftime on has improved. This is another team that is going to spread you to run and throw, but this team also will get big to run, so they do a good job with their personnel groups and knowing who they are. We're improving in knowing who our identity is. WE've had flashes of our identity in the last three weeks. Again, the first four weeks are buried, so you started to see some of our identity in that football game. Now it's a matter of, I'm going to use the phrase again because I like it, don't let go of that rope. You just keep pulling that thing and you just keep hitting and fitting the right gaps, and that's how you play good defenses. Fit the right gaps, get off of blocks and keep hitting people. When we learn how to do that all the way through consistently, and we're on our way to do that."
Q: Do you think cutting back on the playbook on offense and defense helped a little bit?
Tarver:"Yeah, I think with where we were with our personnel, like we said, we buried the other week and having said that, where we were with our personnel was, we were able to use things to still affect the offense. The thing is that our players, the linebacker position we talked about last week, we're getting more and more comfortable with. I think Miles Burris stepped up. It was nice to have Sio Moore back. I think our defensive backs did a good job of using our look. We revised, I told you guys a little bit, we've revised a little bit of our communication system. That was good, because they're an on the ball offense. That will help us going forward against non-on-the-ball offenses. This offense this week doesn't function quite as fast, it can, but not quite as fast as the last offense. Our new communication system, it's not really new, it's just refining it has helped us. So those things were definite improvements."
Q: Stacy McGee was a guy you guys were pretty high on last year. What has held him back so far this year?
Tarver:"Again, Tony can tell you about the injuries, but Stacy's had that hand. And you hear it from me all the time, 'Use your hands.' It's hard to use one hand in this game, and he's fought, because Stacy's tough and we love his toughness, but Stacy's got to continue to improve technique-wise as most second-year players do. His technique is all over the place at times, so as you're looking through Stacy's plays, you can find some good and then you can find some where you're like, 'Come on, Stace, you've knocked that guy back before. Why is that not perfect?' You're seeing a little bit of that inconsistency. He improved a little bit this week. We need to see a little bit more, but he's gaining his health, so we want to see both hands being used."
Q: So the hand is still a factor? It's still bothering him?
Tarver:"It doesn't look like it this week in practice, so I don't think that's a reason now. I think it's time to – it'd be good to see him get off some blocks and make some plays."
Q: Two good days in a row for DJ Hayden?
Tarver:"DJ has been working, yeah. It's good to see him out there. He's been working, he's been moving around and getting back on. That football shape is different. You can run all you want, but until you're running in pads around with big guys running around you and laying on you and moving around, it's a different type of conditioning. So he's had two good days."