Defensive end Phillip Daniels, an 11-year NFL veteran, has started every game this season and has 15 tackles, two sacks, one interception and a team-high eight quarterback pressures. He spoke with Redskins.com and media after practice this week:
Q: What have you been working on in practice the last two days before the teams heads out on its bye-week break?
A: "Technique things. Everybody is focused on doing everything the right way and being where they're supposed to be. In a way, we're going back to training camp a little bit. We're working on our steps, our hand placement--little things that can help us out in a game, things that maybe some of the guys got away from during the course of the season. The bye week couldn't have come at a better time because it allows us to work on that. From here, we'll work on the things that we can control. Everything else, when we get on the field and do all of the little things right, eventually it will all come together."
Q: How much do you think getting away from football for a few days will help?
A: "I believe in that. I've been on other teams [in Seattle and Chicago], and when we got to that bye week, we worked on the little things and it changed our season. We're hoping that's what happens here. We know we have a good team. We're just not playing well on the field. It's not every guy and it's not every play. It's maybe a guy out of position at one time, and that play ends up hurting us. We just have to come together as a unit and play solid. Everybody has to do their job. You have to take care of home first, and then we'll be a better team."
Q: Getting the bye should also help the health of this defense, right?
A: "Oh, yes. We have some injuries right now and we have a chance to heal up and get better. We should get [defensive tackle] Cornelius [Griffin] back and he means a lot to that defensive front. You know how he is--when he's in there, we're a lot better. It'll help a lot of these guys with bumps and bruises to heal up, too. We're just going to use it and get well. We have Dallas rolling in here [on Nov. 5]. It starts there and hopefully we'll keep it going."
Q: What will you do during the bye?
A: "I'll go see my kids. My kids live in Chicago and I don't get a chance to see them except for once or twice during the season. I saw them in Indianapolis this weekend when they came down for the game. So I'll get away for a little bit. I'm not going to watch any games or anything. I won't even read the newspapers because everything is so negative towards us. You don't want to hear that stuff and let it build up. You just want to get away from it. I'll do that, but deep down in the back of my mind, I'll be thinking about what we need to do to get this team better."
Q: Have the struggles of the run defense this season surprised you?
A: "It does shock me that we're giving up so much in the run game. You have to realize that we have guys hurt and we have young guys in there. We've had Joe [Salave'a] hurt and Cornelius hurt. That takes away a lot from stopping the run. When we get healthy, we'll be able to do some things to stop the run, especially up the middle. Other teams have run to the outside on us. But whenever we make teams run to the outside, it gives us a better chance against the run. I'm pretty sure we'll get that fixed."
Q: The defense has 11 sacks this season. Do you feel like the unit is as forceful as it was last year?
A: "I always say this: pass rush and pass coverage go hand in hand. When one suffers, the other suffers. That's how it is. We're a team. We don't ever point the finger at either one. We just try to fix the problem and keep it going. Right now, we're a defense that's not playing solid and when you're not playing solid, you don't get the stats. Take last year, for instance, when we didn't get a lot of our sacks until the end of the season. We were playing solid and everybody started coming together. We were doing all of the right things. Me? I don't worry about stats, I worry about wins. I don't care if I have zero sacks and zero tackles, I just want to win."
Q: Do you think that offenses are starting to catch up to what this defense has been doing the last few years?
A: "Looking at the films, I don't think they're catching up. We're just doing things to help them out. We're making mistakes, little things such as not being where we're supposed to be on the field or giving up holes here or there. Big plays have been killing us. If we can eliminate the big plays, then we'll be better."