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Todd Wash - Monday, August 6, 2018

(On Leon Jacobs) "He is doing well. It is a situation where he is obviously a rookie. He steps on the grass and all the different looks our offense is giving us is great for the growth and development of him. We are seeing some real good things. Obviously, we are looking for consistency out of him, but we are excited with where he is at, at this time." 

(On if he is impressed with Jacobs progress since being drafted) "It does. Mentally, there are no issues. He understands what we are asking him to do within our scheme and he is going out there with the best of his ability and executing it. He is a very analytical guy, so you really have to make sure it is black and white for him. There is no grey. He does a nice job of studying." 

(On Yannick Ngakoue's desire to improve) "It says what kind of person he is. His desire and the way he is driven is that he wants to be the best there is in the NFL. He comes to work every day and does that. You would hope that would filter down to the rest of the players. Not only the defensive line room, but the linebacker room, the secondary room. How he is driven to get better every day is a great role model for the rest of our guys on our team. He definitely has a chip on his shoulder. That is the thing – we have known that since we worked him out right before the draft. He is a guy that is going to do whatever it takes to be the best. We really appreciate that quality with Yann." 

(On if he appreciates the talent and depth on the defensive line) "I think you have to give credit to the players – how well they work. They come in and strive to be the best that they can be. You have to give credit to Dave [Caldwell], Tom [Coughlin] and Doug [Marrone] for putting a commitment to us having quality depth up front. Being a former [defensive] line coach, obviously we stress that. We think it all starts up front. We are pretty fortunate that we have a pretty good back end, too. I think it is a situation where we are very fortunate. Not everyone can do it, but that is the plan. Always have quality and quality players up front because that is where it starts." 

(On how comfortable he would be if the second-string defensive line was the starting defensive line) "Obviously, we have starters and we have backups. Our starters are pretty good. Our backups are solid. There is no doubt. We have some inexperience with some guys. We have to get Dante [Fowler Jr.] back and get him on the grass to see where he is at, physically. Once again, we are pretty blessed. I think a lot of guys would like to have the depth that we have, and we are lucky to have it." 

(On when Fowler Jr. could return) "We leave that up to the trainers. The biggest thing we tell our coaches and we get told this, but we are going to coach the guys that are in the room. Obviously, Dante is not on the grass, but he is in the room. He is making sure he is up to speed mentally with all the stuff we do defensively. We look forward to getting back. Hopefully it is soon." 

(On the 2016 draft class defensively) "Yeah, that was definitely a good draft. Once again you have to give credit to the personnel people. They go out and find them and draft them. Give credit to Dave and Tom. It is a situation where we are just fortunate. Not everyone hits on their draft picks. We are lucky that happened, but it is also a credit to the three individuals that come in every day and they work and strive to be the best that they can be. Sometimes that is not always the case with the makeup, the mental makeup of a player. We are fortunate that we have good players [who have] a good mental makeup."

(On if he embraces the comparison to other historically great defenses in the NFL) "I will be honest with you, I don't worry about anyone else in the league trying to compare ourselves to them or former defenses. The only thing we care about is what we do. If we go out and I put them in the right call and they go out and they execute, then we have a chance to be successful. We worry about us and we just had a stern meeting this morning – we control how well we play. No one else does. We don't compare ourselves to anyone." 

(On if he talks to the defense about achieving greatness) "We have talked about it, but I think it is important that we get to this phase, defensively, the players have to take control of it. It is a lot stronger when they take control of the room. We are there to guide and help and push, but when they take control of it and they hold each other to that high standard, we are going to make some real good things happen." 

(On the benefits of making practice harder than games for the defense) "For us, Doug and I being [offensive] line and [defensive] line coaches, that was always our philosophy as position coaches. You can ask the defensive line when they were here. That was the philosophy – to work the heck out of them and when we get to a game it is easier. We go out and practice and will have 120 snaps a practice and it is only going to make us better. If we do that, we challenge them, it is not going to be the first time they are in a high-intensity situation and we are going to see how well they respond in those situations if we practice like that." 

(On Taven Bryan and Ronnie Harrison) "Taven, obviously, is a big, strong young man. He is playing a couple different positions. He is learning as he goes along. We see a real good run defender. He is stout at the point [of attack]. Plays with a good energy. We really like how he runs and gets after the football. We will continue to develop him as a pass rusher. I think he can go outside. He can go inside. We are going to continue to develop him in that aspect. Ronnie is a guy that can play in the box. He can play in the back. It is very important with how we play our system with both safeties going down. He has the ability to play not only strong, but free safety. We have seen a lot of good things out of him. Once again, he is continuing to grow. We are going to find out as an entire defense how well we tackle in the next month. We haven't really tackled yet. In practice, you see some leverage situations show up where it is going to be tough to make some of these plays. We are going to find out with everyone how well they are going to tackle and that is what we are concerned with."

(On what he emphasizes to enforce finishing games) "Situational football. We get into a four minute and we have to get a stop. Two minute, not allowing a field goal to continue to get to overtime. We are going to put them in position where it is really up to us, defensively, to win football games. When that happens, we have to make sure we stay true to our fundamentals, execute and we will get off the grass. We are putting them in a lot of those situations just to see how well they respond when the game is on the line defensively." 

(On if he appeals to their vanity or cockiness in an effort to stress finishing games strong) "I just think we hold them to an extremely high standard. That goes for offense, defense and special teams. We feel that if we hold them to a high standard, once we get to that standard, good things will happen. If we don't practice well or things don't go well they are going to know it. I think a lot of times they know it before we know it. If we don't, then we are going to hold them accountable. We will get in them and we will see how they respond the next day." 

(On how much the starters will play Thursday night) "We haven't discussed that as a staff or maybe we have. I am not sure? We will figure out when we get to Thursday how much we will play." 

(On if he feels he has a special connection with Ngakoue because he was adamant about working him out prior to the draft) "I don't know. I was sent out to work him out. I don't know if I have a role in that. I didn't pick him. Yann and I have a lot of conversations, obviously, and being his coach for a couple years, you develop a relationship with the guys in your room. It is kind of carried over into the role I have now as a coordinator. We talk a lot about scheme, X's and O's, his technique and that kind of stuff. He is just a great guy to be able to coach and I respect the heck out of him." 

(On if he strongly encouraged the team to consider drafting Ngakoue after his workout) "Yeah. We took him in the third [round]. I think I was on the table in the first [round]. [The personnel department] knows more about it than I do. I know when we didn't take him in the second, we are going to miss out on this guy, but they obviously know the draft board better than I do. I am just glad we got him." 

(On if he likes where the defense currently is) "I do like where we are at. I think our first unit has played well. We have gotten a lot guys in with the first unit also. The biggest thing is that we have to make sure we get to the regular season healthy, but at the same time, we have to make sure they are ready to go physically, being in shape, making sure they understand football and being in shape is different than just out running. I like where we are at. We need to continue to develop some quality depth at different positions. The back end, the linebacker spot and develop the rookies because a lot of them are going to be playing." 

(On how Abry Jones has handled sharing reps with Marcell Dareus) "We talked to him and I think we have three starters inside. We have 'Abes,' 'Cell' and Malik. All three play about the same amount of snaps. That is going to be important because they are all three different styles of players. Whoever takes the first rep, whoever that is, we really don't care. They are all three going to play. They all know we look at them as starters and they all have to be ready to go." 

(On if he has run into anyone in the coaching ranks that was disappointed their team didn't select Ngakoue) "If we didn't take him there, then I know the team right after us would have taken him. I do know that talking to their coach. He was like, 'Dammit!' It was a good situation where we took him. Once again, they know the board. We are always very, very selfish as coaches. We will take as many picks as we can get. They know where guys are slotted and where guys will fall. Credit to them." 

(On if Ngakoue would be a top-ten selection if the league were to re-draft the 2016 class) "He has the ability to be a top-ten pick. He also fits our scheme. He could fit a 3-4 scheme. He doesn't fit into everyone's scheme. He does fit into how we are set up with a little end and a big end. I shouldn't say little. That offends Yann a little bit. He fits in well with our scheme. We build it around the skill set of each player. I think our assistant coaches do a real nice job of making sure they can do those skills." 

(On if the coaches inadvertently fed into the chip on Ngakoue's shoulder by picking him in the third round) "He is going to come into the building every day striving to be the best. It doesn't matter if it is a walk-through. In the meetings, he is still locked in. He still takes notes. He knows [the defense] probably as well as I do. It is just a credit to Yann. He is a great young man." 

(On D.J. Hayden playing the nickel defensive back position) "I thought D.J. has had a great [camp] once we got the pads on. I think he has been playing extremely well. We also have Tyler Patmon in there. We have Tre Herndon. I think we have some real good quality depth at the nickel spot. These preseason games are going to be big. Once again, we have to find out how well people are going to tackle. We haven't done it yet, but up until this point D.J. has been a good man-to-man player. He is really starting to excel in the zone coverages that we play and the instincts that it takes to be a nickel. We have to find out who can blitz. We are going to try to bring our nickel in that kind of stuff at times and can he win one-on-one battles. Those are all things we are going to find out in the games here in the next month."