Jason Tarver held his Thursday press conference yesterday, with the defensive coordinator talking about the challenges of facing Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos wide receivers. Tarver who has led the Raiders to two strong defensive performances and has the Raiders amongst the league leaders in sacks knows he is in for the challenge of his life in facing one of the best quarterbacks of all time.
Tarver mentioned how he will be counting on his veterans in Nick Roach and Charles Woodson to lead the defense on the field in facing the complex audible-heavy offense Manning likes to run. “You’ve got to get the call communicated to 11 guys. We have guys that are very good at that. In the past few weeks and this year, we’ve been a lot better at that through two weeks than we have before. Some of that is the players we have. Nick is one of them — Charles, there’s others that we have on this defense (that can get the play calls communicated properly)”
Here is the full transcript from the Raiders official website:
Q: How do you inflict pressure on a quarterback that can get the ball out as quickly as they can get it out?
Coach Tarver: One way is give him looks where — and this is hard to do because he’s so good at seeing your looks. One is to have looks that look the same, but you’re actually doing something different to hopefully make him hold it at least a little bit. Two is pocket mechanics. We were working on that today at practice. We need to make sure that the pocket is the way we want it; not the way they want it. That’s another one that’s hard to do against this team because they’re outstanding at what they do. Those need to be right to affect him. We need to affect this quarterback so that he doesn’t have the easy lanes to throw those completions — make it as hard as we can. He still finds ways to throw the ball complete, but we need to do those thing — our looks, our pocket mechanics, our angles of departure and our activations. When we’re activated, we need to be on our right lines and go from there.
Q: How do you blitz a quarterback that wants you to blitz him? Guys like [Peyton Manning] and [Drew] Brees welcome that because they’ll use that as an edge.
Coach Tarver: Well one is to blitz guys from different angles having different coverages behind it. We do some of that. If a guy is pressuring from a certain angle, when we change the coverage behind that, it controls where we want it as well. That’s the guessing and cat-and-mouse game that we play all the time. These good ones like Brees and Manning and many others in this league are the best in the world. You have to vary your coverage behind your pressure.
Q: How good is he at changing up the hot reads?
Coach Tarver: Well the hot reads are built in. There’s certain looks that once he sees them, if he can check the whole play, if he knows your look, that’s what happens. That’s why they’re a good second-half team. If he sees it, sees it, sees it and you don’t have enough change ups then he’s got you. You have to change your looks so that he just runs his play — throws it to the guy based on your looks and says, ‘I know I got this. I’m going to throw it over here.’ One, two, ball out — the average time or whatever — it’s fast some of the time. If the look changes and he goes, ‘One, two, oh, that was different,’ then that gives us a chance. We have to have enough to do that, but we also have to be able to execute.
Q: Is it a danger that if you’re changing up looks too much during a game your team might get confused and not know exactly what they’re supposed to be doing?
Coach Tarver: Our job is to execute, so what we do is we have multiple looks that are the same call for us. Again, the activation and what we do is one of my favorite things — multiplicity through simplicity. It can be the same blitz out of a different personnel group, so hopefully it looks different to the Denver Broncos, but our guys do it very fast.
Q: Does it help to have an on-field extension of you — maybe someone like Nick [Roach] or [Charles] Woodson –who can make checks and get guys lined up? Does it help to have a guy that’s smart and knowledgeable on the field to maybe read and react?
Coach Tarver: Yeah. If you call a call, number one, you want to get it to all 11 guys on the field as fast as you can. The offense obviously has their call before you because they’re on the ball. You’ve got to get the call communicated to 11 guys. We have guys that are very good at that. In the past few weeks and this year, we’ve been a lot better at that through two weeks than we have before. Some of that is the players we have. Nick is one of them — Charles, there’s others that we have on this defense. Number two is if anything happens, use your rules of the coverage to get yourself out of it. If the formation changes, if this team checks the play, if we all of the sudden understand whether it’s a run or a pass then we use our rules within that call to stop them on that down, and then bang, go to the next play. That’s the key to playing this guy anyway — precision, precision, execution, precision. That’s what he does, so that’s what you have to do to play with this type of offense.
Q: You didn’t get a turnover for the second week, but do you think you’re getting closer?
Coach Tarver: Yeah. No doubt. Definite progress. The tips, they go in streaks. We want to get our hands on as many balls as we can and affect as many passes as we can. We need to do a better job at being the second one in on a tackle pouring at the ball. We have at times, but we need to do that on defense all the time. Second one in the tackle is going for the ball. We emphasize that a lot and we need to keep doing that. The more tips you get, the more chances you have. Ask [Texans DE] J.J. Watt. What’s his stat? His 20-20-20 stat? The more times that ball is tipped, the more times we affect the pocket, the better chances we have. We need to continue to do that. That’s working together to do the right thing.
Q: Are you excited for the challenge of going against the Broncos and a guy like Peyton [Manning]?
Coach Tarver: Oh heck yeah. This is the ultimate. To be the best you have to beat the best. This is what you want. This is why you play the game. Monday Night Football against them doing something nobody thinks you can do? There’s nothing better than that.
Q: You’re taking this defense as a six-week evolution. Are you pleasantly surprised or at least just happy with where they are with all the new pieces? It’s week three and they seem to be functions well as a unit.
Coach Tarver: One, we installed it as a progression. Like I said through the preseason, there are things we showed for a reason. That’s number one. Where we are in our progression we’re pleased with. Now, our goal is different. Our goal is this. Our goal is to go 1-0 every week, so what we’ve done in two weeks doesn’t mean anything come whatever time it is in Denver come Monday night when we kick off. That’s what we want to do every week. Are we on our progression of getting better? Heck yeah. Are we where we want to be? We want to go 1-0 this week.
Q: What jumps out on film watching their receivers?
Coach Tarver: They’re a unique group in that they can run all the routes. They can run double moves. They can run wide receiver screens. They can run underneath routes. They can run over-the-top routes. That’s how this offense has functioned over the years — getting wide receivers that can all do multiple things. Then they do a good job at using how the guys can run routes — obviously [Wes] Welker in the slot and those things. They move them around and run the route specific for that down and distance. They do as good of a job as anybody. This quarterback has done as good a job as anybody throughout his career of that — using guys for what they’re good at. Know your personnel. Use your personnel. They do a good job of that. We need to have our coverage guys understanding who’s going to do what in what situation, how they’re going to hide it, but what’s really going on.