On Thursday defensive coordinator Jason Tarver took the podium leading up to the Raiders clash with the struggling Philadelphia Eagles at the O.co Coliseum on Thursday. Tarver discussed the return of Miles Burris, Martez Wilson’s first impressions with the team, and how similar Chip Kelly’s offense with the Eagles is to his Oregon days.
Transcript from the Raiders official website.
Q: How’s the preparation going for Philadelphia’s fast-paced offense? How close is it to what Chip Kelly had going on in Oregon?
Coach Tarver: Very close from what they’ve shown in the past. It’s a good scheme. It’s designed to get playmakers in space, so the biggest thing for us defending it is one making sure we’ve got eleven guys on the same page and two, making sure there isn’t any space and if they get the ball to go get them very quickly using our mix of calls and coverages that we do.
Q: What’s the key to keeping them from making the big plays that they’ve been making often this season?
Coach Tarver: One is being where you need to be in the run game. What this team does is they do a good job of being balanced running and passing. This is a running offense. That’s what people forget. When an offense goes fast people think that they’re necessarily throwing the ball because you picture Peyton Manning, but this is a team that wants balance. They want to take whatever is there based off your looks, get positive yard, get on the ball quick and do it again. The keys are making sure we’re where we want to be in the run game, not where they want us to be — knocking people back and setting edge, doing the things that I talk about a lot, using our hands, those things — and in the pass game it’s top-down coverage. Number 10 [WR DeSean Jackson] is a good player, and all their receivers can hurt you, can make plays. Some of them are big, and some of them are really fast. This quarterback can throw a good deep ball. He’s accurate down the field, so it’s top-down coverage, and it’s setting the edge in the run game every time – getting eleven guys with our mix of calls to do that.
Q: How much quicker do you need to get play calls in this week as opposed to a normal week?
Coach Tarver: Some games are slower than others, but there are so many people playing at this pace now. This is the trend at all levels of football, so we’re equipped to get calls in very quickly. That’s built into our system. That’s what we do.
Q: It’s harder to substitute when they’re going at that pace, so how does that alter what you can do defensively?
Coach Tarver: Well, as you continue to build one of the strengths of this system is, as you guys hear us say a ton, is multiplicity through simplicity. We can do most of our looks out of one personnel group, so we’re able to be multiple at a fast pace. That’s our challenge. That’s a challenge to the guys. We need to execute that.
Q: What are your impressions of Martez Wilson so far?
Coach Tarver: He’s a big, athletic guy, and he’s done what we’ve asked him to. He’s studying, so that’s good. He’s working on the look teams, and he’s moving around pretty well. Like Coach Allen has said, it’s not exactly easy when you walk in mid-season to pick something up when you haven’t been in it, so we’ll see as he progresses in the next few weeks what can happen.
Q: How has Vance Walker made an impact?
Coach Tarver: Like many things about Vance, one of the things we liked and why Dennis [Allen] and [General Manager] Reggie [McKenzie] were able to bring him in is he’s smart, and he can play multiple positions — go to the right spot with power. You’re starting to see maybe even a little more of his quickness come out too. I’m proud of Vance. He’s doing well. He’s really coming into his own. He gets better every week. Hopefully he can continue that trend. That’s a good one to ask questions about. I’m glad you asked. I like where Vance is going.
Q: Do you get excited for a game like this to go into the film room and be like a mad scientist game planning against them?
Coach Tarver: I like that nickname better that some of the other ones right now. (laughter) That’s great. You guys hear it a lot from me; this is why you do it. I mean they’re exceptional. This running back is exceptional in space, and to try to give them no space is that challenge — why you do it. That’s what excites us is no matter what type of scheme it is to be able to stop the run, keep the top on the coverage and be able to swarm and make plays. Like we said, we’re turning bad into good. Now if you slow down this running game, you’re turning good into great. When we go in there we’re looking for ways to do it, but most of it is the execution of whatever calls you put them in quickly against this team to do what we need to do.
Q: Do you think that this defense plays with a chip on its shoulder?
Coach Tarver: I think that D.A. [Dennis Allen] gave me a great compliment Monday when he said that I coach with passion. If you’re going to do anything in life you want to be the best. You want to be the best, and why limit yourself. That’s what we talk to the players about. Why can’t you do that? You guys can run and you’re smart and you love this game, so if you love this game why limit yourself? Why say, ‘I can’t do that,’ ever? Why not say, ‘Let’s do our best, play as eleven together and learn to communicate and see what the heck happens, and when in doubt get the guy with the ball on the ground and go to the next play?’ That’s how we talk.
Q: What have you learned about Charles Woodson since training camp that maybe surprises you? Is there anything?
Coach Tarver: He’s absolutely amazing in how he studies and what he watches. He’s watching football all the time, and how he interacts with these guys and how he feels the game. He’s special in that regard and I really hope that these young men that are around him right now, coaches and players can take some of that. When you’re around that greatness and how he prepares and you’re a rookie like DJ [Hayden] or whoever, learn what this guy’s doing. He loves it. He’s watching as much film as any mad chemist or anybody, and that’s what makes him great. Of course he’s got ability, but the love of the game is what comes out when you watch Charles. It’s what comes out, and it’s what I hope our young guys keep with them forever because that’s what gives you the long career.
Q: You talked about coaching with passion. How difficult is the balance of coaching with passion and not letting your emotions get the best of you like they did last week?
Coach Tarver: Well you better have just an outlet. I’ll quickly take a deep breath or say something, and then you go to the next play. I mean, that’s what happens, so that’s it. You’ve got to let it go. You breathe; you go to the next play.
Q: How much of the defenses success seems to be based upon players just buying into what you’re doing here?
Coach Tarver: There are no perfect calls; there’s only perfect execution. I’ve said that before. That’s the key, but that’s how we approach it. Hey look, do your job. Do your job, and do it with that kind of passion. If you’re not doing it with passion you’re going to hear about it, but there’s very few of our guys that are that way. That’s where we’re thankful for Reggie and Dennis for who they brought into our room, and who they keep bringing into our room because these guys want to be great. Greatness is not one thing. It sure as heck doesn’t have to do with me. I don’t cross that white line. I don’t play, but our job is just to put them in position to make plays. The more that you do it together the more plays you make. I don’t know how many guys on the defense have sacks right now. I do know that our interceptions and our sacks are spread pretty well, and when you do your job, the quarterback picks who sacks him — not me, not the player. He moves towards somebody, right? That’s how you approach it, and what I’m not proud of with this group of men is that’s what they do. They’re very unselfish because the more unselfish you are and the more you throw yourself into anything the better you can be. That’s anything. That’s a team. That’s anything in life. Nothing was accomplished by one man by himself. It’s everybody working together in their roles, and that’s what we talk about.
Q: How’s Miles Burris been looking the last couple of days?
Coach Tarver: Again, I light up when you talk about Miles because he’s a stud. He needs some more field time, but he’s covering a lot of ground, and he’s working of course. It’s just good to see him out there because that’s a great person and a big athlete that can hopefully get himself in shape and help us. We’ll see how it goes. I mean that’s obviously going to be Dennis and Reggie’s call of when and if that process occurs, but for two days, I’m excited about where he is.
Q: How do you think Miles Burris did last year?
Coach Tarver: I think he did well for a rookie. It’s hard to be a rookie in the NFL. You’re a young guy against men, and that’s why you don’t see as many young guys come out in the NFL — with the exception of those quarterbacks last year, that was pretty special — come in and play because these are grown men that have lifted and trained longer than you and are absolutely brilliant with their film study, like Charles. You’re just becoming a man. You pop in and yeah you were able to throw people around in college, but everybody’s good. Assessing Miles, pretty good as a rookie. Learned from his mistakes and used his hands, and by the end of the year he was finishing the down unblocked which is one of our big things. He was doing that, so it was pretty productive as a rookie. We’re excited to see him back.
Q: Guys have said as a unit they’re getting better and having more fun.
Coach Tarver: Well winning is another one. Winning is a process that ends in a result. Our process is just to continue to get better at doing things together, and then what happens is — especially when you watch them like the second third down when Mike Jenkins makes that play on the quick screen. It was a great tackle on a great athlete in space, and you watch all the guys run over together and celebrate with him. Every single player entered that screen all the way over there. The big guys came from all the way over there because Mike made a play. That’s what it’s about, and that’s what you see our guys doing. When we put on our black jerseys that’s what we want to do. We want every guy to be on the screen at the end of every play and enjoy the heck out of playing football because you don’t know how long you’re going to get to do it.
Q: What are your thoughts on Sio Moore’s development?
Coach Tarver: Sio’s starting to do everything faster. When you’re activated go, as you hear from me all the time. He’s starting to do that better—leading with his hands more. We like Sio leaning forward, and he’s also gotten better in coverage. It’s been reps, and the biggest thing that Sio’s doing right now is how he’s working in practice. He’s just better at working in practice, and that’s how it translates into the game. Allen Iverson’s quote isn’t exactly applicable to football about practice because you’ve got to do it at a fast speed. It’s not always in pads, but you’ve got to do it at a fast speed to be able to do it in a game especially as a young player. Some players have seen it enough. They’ve seen enough reps, but young guys haven’t seen enough yet. It hasn’t just happened enough times right in front of their eyes or what they feel. Sio’s feeling it in practice and translating it to the game, and that’s good. It’s good for us, and it’s good for him.
Q: Coach Allen said Monday that Sio is doing a better job of preparing, film study and all that stuff, does he take it more serious, Coach Allen also said rookies just don’t know what it takes to play in the NFL and it comes as a shock.
Coach Tarver: Yes, and that’s it. Sio is spending more time on Monday’s and Tuesday’s. Tuesday is players day off, Sio is studying more film and calling [linebackers] coach [Bob] Sanders or calling me and texting, saying what’s in for sure in the plan early in the morning so he can start to get his mind right. Lifting on time, setting a schedule. You get up in the morning and you set your schedule to watch film, we all have set schedules to come to work, you guys have to get your stories out. You have to remember that in college their schedule is set for them a lot. Now you set your schedule as a pro, that’s where he’s growing and that’s exactly right. Football is a seven days a week business, it’s not only hard on your body, you have to let it rest, on Tuesdays you have to look, you have to prepare so that when we show all these looks real fast on a Wednesday and we’re all on the ball really fast, what are you going to do? I know that look, I already saw that. Let me knock that guy back and make the play, and that’s where he’s going. He’s continuing that process, if he continues that process we have a pretty good pro on our hands. The same thing Miles [Burris] did last year, he built himself a process and that’s the way they grow.