ASSISTANT HEAD COACH-DEFENSE**
"First of all, I want to say I'm real excited about the opportunity here with the Washington Redskins. It was a no-brainer for me to get a chance to come here and work with Dan Snyder and Joe Gibbs. I'm very excited about the opportunity to learn a lot about this profession and about winning football from Joe Gibbs.
"It was a very good experience when he first made contact with me and wanted me to come on board. It was a pretty fast decision once we had our face-to-face meeting and we had about a five-hour session when he came to my house. He came in on Mr. Snyder's jet that night, trying to keep it low key.
"I thought it was going to be pretty inconspicuous when he flew into town because nobody really knew officially that he was the head coach. But when he landed the private plane with the five-foot helmet on the side of the tail, it got out pretty quick around Buffalo that he was in town and we were talking. I wish I could have had a picture of the people's faces there at the airport when their jaws dropped when Joe Gibbs walked in the door and bear hugged me and started talking about the job at that point in time.
"It went real fast after that. I'm real excited about the opportunity. There's an awful lot of tradition here, and there are great fans. The National Football League in general has great fans but the Washington Redskins fans are notorious throughout the league for being diehard fans. It's going to be fun to get a chance to be with this coaching staff.
"One of the things that I've always admired was the staff that Coach Gibbs had here many years ago. It's been fun to be able to interact with a lot of these guys - some of the best offensive coaches at this level.
"It's been fun to be in the meetings with them. I'm all about learning football and I think I've had the chance to be around some awful good coaches in my coaching tenure and this is another set of people for me to have the chance to work with. I'm excited about that opportunity."
On what was appealing about this position to not take another head coaching position:
"This is very appealing because we are working in the nation's capital and, again, the opportunity to work with Joe Gibbs. I had several opportunities to do a lot of things and I put everything on hold to talk with coach once he made contact with me.
"That night when it got to the point where he said, 'What would it take for you to walk away from those other opportunities,' what I said was it's the opportunity to learn from him and have a chance to have a little bit of say around here with the defensive staff and defensive personnel and learn obviously as much as I can from him and Mr. Snyder.
"It's been that type of a whirlwind since we got here. This staff is a hard working staff. Coach Gibbs has a reputation for burning the midnight oil as do I. So it's been a good fit. Since we hit the ground here there's been a lot of long nights already. We want to make sure we're organized as we enter into the free agency period."
On making the transition back to a defensive coordinator-type position after being a head coach:
"A good coach is a good coach no matter what level they're at. I've had the opportunity to be at the ground level in this business. I've been a high school football coach. I've been a college football coach. I've been a professional football coach. In pro football, I've coached everything from a defensive assistant/quality control to special teams to linebacker to secondary to coordinator to head coach.
"That experience I think is valuable to be able to know inside and out what every part of the organization from the football point of view has to do. Obviously these last few years as a head coach have been very valuable when you get into the marketing aspect, the financial aspect, the (salary) cap things.
"There are a lot of things I think I can help and assist coach Gibbs with. He's back into the salary cap era all of a sudden and I've been through that pretty much my whole tenure in this league."
On Joe Gibbs' return after time out of football:
"When he was still coaching football, as you look through the league you'll see most of his systems are still being used. You'll see the Rams and the Chiefs doing an awful lot of the same things Joe Gibbs was doing here that nobody else was doing. It was fun getting into the technical aspect of the coaching part because he couldn't wait to put me on the board once we got here to see if everything held up.
"I can tell you from my point of view it was refreshing to see how bright the minds were in that room because we do an awful lot defensively and they were right on top of everything.
"Coach Gibbs has been at a pretty high speed profession here for the past few years anyway so he's use to fast pace and change is annually in this league anyway and there will be some things that come up defensively from last year to this year that the system he has will be able to handle."
On whether he's evaluated the current roster of defensive players:
"They played an awful lot of close, tough-type games. There are some good young players here. The fact that this is a young football team excites me also. I think our goal is to take our young players and make them faster. We want to try to have the fastest football team as we can.
"Those are the areas we're trying to evaluate: our overall team speed. When we become a faster football team, it'll carry over into special teams, especially defensively on special teams, and it'll also carry over into the explosiveness that you have to have on offense to have big plays.
"There are some pretty good young players here--and veteran players, too. We just have to get them all to mesh together and on the same page. Football is football and what we will do defensively--there are versions of it being done here already. We'll add a few more packages than what they were doing.
"I'm used to playing a lot of packages of our personnel on game day. We'll try to window dress and play an awful lot of people. If we dress seven defensive linemen on game day, they're all going to play because we're going to play at an effort level that in order to play really hard in the last few minutes of the ball game, you better make sure you've rested people and done a good job with the inside part of the game so you can have enough energy to win at the end.
On what is the top priority to address on the defensive side of the ball:
"It's still too early right there. I think the luxury you have with free agency prior to the draft is you can take care of some of the needs in free agency before you get into the draft. But we're not completely done the total evaluation of our football team.
"We have as an entire staff--which has been interesting to say the least--watched all the film. So all of that knowledge will transfer to that side of the ball, which is good. And then we've probably watched about half of the season so far with special teams. We're going to finish that and then write our reports on the guys who are here, and obviously identify what our needs are and what we need to get better at."
On Champ Bailey:
"He's a really good football player and I'm anxious to watch him in the Pro Bowl. He and LaVar Arrington both, and Laveranues Coles, are really good players on this football team. They're impact players. There are several other impact players on this team. It's tough the Pro Bowl doesn't take all those guys over there. The Patriots only had three guys and they just won a Super Bowl.
"The fact that we had three guys going over there is awfully good. There are some other young players here who if they play their cards right, they'll have the chance to make that trip overseas, too."
On Bailey's status as a pending unrestricted free agent:
"When I first came here, it never came up. I didn't ask about that part of it. Right now we're going through the whole part of evaluating that. I like coaching good football players and he's a good football player."
On his philosophy on building a defense:
"It's always been my philosophy that you build from the outside in: your corners and your defensive ends have to be extremely explosive and be able to put pressure on the offense in that area. Obviously, you have to be tough up the middle in the run game. So the defensive tackles and the middle linebacker and the safety positions will be very valuable on being able to stop the run and play better on first downs.
"Again, we're still addressing all of those things and taking a look at all the stats and the [game film] that we have here."
On players who have been through multiple defensive coordinators in the last few years with the Redskins:
"As quick as we can, we want to relate the verbiage so that we're speaking the same language. Football is football. It's real easy. When the brown thing moves, take off and go get it. That's it. You're playing head up on a guy, or you're playing on the inside of the guy or the outside of the guy.
"So it's a matter of how fast do we get them on the same page. We're going to be aggressive. We don't want to be in a catch and read-and-react mode. We're going to try and attack and dictate as much as we can. But there are some awful good offenses in this league.
"The thing we're going to do that is perhaps a little more different than what they've done in the past is play a lot of people, meaning that we'll play the 4-3 personnel that [the previous defensive coaching staff] had here before. You'll see us play the nickel and dime packages that everybody has.
"But then you'll see the other hybrid packages that I've played before with the 46 front. You'll see three down linemen and three linebackers, three down linemen and two linebackers, two down linemen and three linebackers, three safeties and three corners. You'll see a lot of different things.
"What we're doing is, we're saying this: Guys have special skills and we want to figure out how we can utilize the players here and put them in a position for them to be successful. We won't say that the players here are going to have to fit in to a blueprint to a system.
"We're going to adapt a system that we have to meet the players here. I think you have a chance to be a little more successful at a quicker rate when your system is flexible enough to take care of the people you have here.
"We've had to adapt our defensive system to fit lots of groups before. It's been a versatile system and it changes every year. In the past, when I was at Houston, Tennessee, Buffalo and now Washington, each system has changed because it has had to adapt to the personnel that we've had that year. And it will here, too."
On his title as assistant head coach rather than defensive coordinator:
"In essence, [defensive coordinator] is what it is. Coach Gibbs has had a lot of titles on his staff before. I've teased him already that, before he left the game, there were an awful lot of titles at that time and there was the 'Joe Gibbs rule' in the NFL.
"That's when the tagging thing happened in the league--back in the early '90s--because in order to get the best coaches, what he did was to get them out of his contracts he gave them promotions. The league put a stop to that.
"[Coach Gibbs] is still comfortable about doing that. In order to get some of the top-flight assistants that we did get, the titles were important. It was important for some of their careers. I just like coaching, so it doesn't make any difference to me what title he gives me."
On Greg Blache's role on the defensive coaching staff:
"He's going to coach the defensive line. I think our defensive staff that coach Gibbs gave an awful lot of input to me on is who we're bringing in here--I wanted idea guys. I wanted good position coaches, but I wanted guys who could bring ideas to the table. The higher you go up in a profession, the lonelier it gets at the top.
"I've got Greg Blache, who's been a defensive coordinator and has been in the fire, set game plans and called plays. Dale Lindsey has been a coordinator, he'll coach the linebackers. That was important.
"And I think both of those two young secondary coaches I have [Steve Jackson and DeWayne Walker] will be coordinators before their career is over and done with. They're both bright young guys who are good technicians and they're idea people anyway.
"So our thought process was to get the best coaches we could technically and position-wise. But I also wanted guys who had been in the fire and who wanted to be more than just a position coach. I think that's the kind of staff we've put together."
On the defining characteristics of his defenses:
"We're going to base out of the 4-3 and we're going to be as aggressive and attacking as this group of guys can be. You're going to see us play coverage where we're rushing four or sometimes just rushing three. The situation will dictate what we try to do, but you're going to see us at times bring anywhere from four, five, six, seven, eight guys.
"We'll try to give the illusion to the offense that we're bringing more than we actually are. This is a system that has evolved. I've been involved in the background of a George Allen defense and moved into a Buddy Ryan philosophy. I've been exposed to the concepts of George Seifert and the San Francisco 49ers, as well as the Dom Capers and Dick LeBeau concepts. So everything has become a hybrid into what you see us do."
On his biggest influence as a defensive coach:
"I would say the biggest influences on my defense are probably the George Allen and Buddy Ryan systems. We've hybridized the other parts into the system. Most defenses in the league have versions of what we're doing. And the Redskins did here [last year]--they played some things very well. There's going to be an easy transition on some of the things they did last year. And then on some other things there'll be a learning curve."
On hard-hitting safeties:
"I like those kind of guys. Those are the kind of guys who try to rock you every time they make contact with you. I don't like a lot of drag-down tacklers. I like those guys who want to get the big points when they knock the pads off.
"We want to be known as a defense who plays fast and plays smart. I don't know if that is expressed enough in the league. We have to do a good job of getting our penalties down--and not assisting the offense in that way. We want to be as aggressive as we can be--and the turnover part, the negative plays part of it--and give our offense as good of field position as we can."
On a federal judge ruling Maurice Clarett as eligible for the NFL Draft:
"Personally, for me, I'm always a proponent that [young football players] stay in college as long as possible. I've always been a big proponent of education. I've told our players before that this is the best temporary job you'll ever have. You're going to have to come back and use your education one of these days. Plus I just think there's a maturity factor that they need to experience college before they get to this level. It's a serious business once you get to this level and it's tough to make that jump."
On how the Clarett decision will affect the NFL:
"It's still way too early to tell that. This is not a done decision yet and it's something that is going to evolve. How many LeBron James are there out there? For every one of those guys, there are a couple million who can't do that. I don't think it's going to drastically change anything. I hope for the most part guys make the right decisions and understand that this is a temporary job. At some point in time, the clock catches up to all of us and they're going to need to make sure they get their education."
On whether it'll be harder for Clarett as a rookie:
"I think it's hard to be a rookie and come in at age 22. At 18 or 19 years old, it's even harder to understand about paying your dues. There is a due-paying part of being a rookie in this league, be it a coach or a player. I'm not a proponent of players coming out early. Even the juniors--I'd like to see them finish college."