On Friday, defensive coordinator Ray Horton spoke to the media and discussed his defense, specifically about Reggie Walker, who got playing time at outside linebacker last Sunday, about the decrease in playing time for Adrian Wilson and also about how the team is creating more turnovers than last season.
In doing so, he revealed an attitude that really is what you want to have for your players, although it is sometimes difficult to do when you have highly respected players.
When asked about Walker, he took a little to actually get to the answer, which was he "played well," but he spoke to the strength of the depth of the defense, calling it a "security blanket for the defense."
"i don't care who's in the game," he said. "I haven't seen anybody really perform poorly in a substitute role."
"What hope is with Quentin (Groves), he gets in and dominates. He had a sack and a blocked punt against New England. James Sanders picked up a fumble. Guys continue to make plays. O'Brien Schofield last year, Sam Acho last year when they stepped in, and guys tend to take advantage of the opportunity that they get."
When asked about Wilson and his role now on the team, Horton said this:
"Hopefully the message that's being sent by everybody is that the most important thing is to do your job and do your job well. And that was my point with O.B. (O'Brien Schofield) and Sam (Acho) and Q (Quentin Groves) and James Sanders. When you are in there, it's not a right, it's a privilege to be in there and play defense. We're just trying to tweak some things and give some guys some opportunities to go. So where does he (Adrian Wilson) fit in? He's one of the leaders on our team."
Playing in the NFL is not a right, however, frequently players reach a status in which they deserve to be on the field until they decide not to be. Has Wilson reached that stage? We have seen over the two previous seasons that he struggled and then was fantastic. He has not been the huge playmaker this year, but aside from a badly missed tackle against the Packers, there has not been much in the way of blatantly poor play.
Did he deserve the demotion? After one game, it has shown to be a good plan, as Rashad Johnson managed to have an interception and a fumble recovery in 12 plays.
At the same time, a player like Paris Lenon still plays every single down and is sometimes very good and sometime not so good. Is that because of his play or because the players behind him have not shown they deserve more time.
The part where Horton talks about "tweaking things" makes me wonder if we will see any other changes, or if it is just a case of getting Sanders and Johnson more time on the field.
In another part of the interview, Horton was asked about the interceptions the defense has gotten this season. Through 10 games, they have four more picks than all last season.
"I think everything is cumulatively better and we may not be the number one in red zone, but statistically we're better overall in everything. I think the guys are just more comfortable. I'm calling a lot more pressure. They seem to want it, so I'm just giving them what they want."
How many more picks will the team get? We will see over the last six games.
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