Q: Is there anything specific that you’ll be looking for Friday night?
CRENNEL: “Sure. Guys who hit, who tackle, who have great effort to the football and who will play the technique the way we teach the technique. Those guys are going to give us the best chance.”
Q: How do you think the defense will improve against the run this year after struggling against it last year?
CRENNEL: “I really can’t speak to that since I wasn’t here last year. All I can do is try to get these guys to fit where they need to fit to be physical and aggressive and have great effort to the ball and hopefully that will pay off in the running game. We’re going to try to emphasize not letting them run the ball on us and if we can stop the run, that will help the passing game as well – the pass rush and everything. That’s one of the things we’re going to try and focus on and we’ve been talking about.”
Q: You have a potentially very young secondary. What are some of the possible advantages and pitfalls of that?
CRENNEL: “The advantages are they don’t know what they don’t know and they just go out there. They have great attitudes. They run around and they try to make things. The disadvantage is they are going to be facing some veteran receivers that know quite a bit. They’re getting some good work from a guy like WR (Chris) Chambers who’s been around and knows the tricks of the trade, so they’re getting some valuable work here. Like I said, the attitude is good and I’m impressed with that and not only in the secondary we’re young, we’re young everywhere. We have to deal with that as well.”
Q: What about the pass rush? Do you have the pieces to be a competitive pass rushing team?
CRENNEL: “If everybody does their job I think we can be effective in the passing game and only time will tell how effective that will be. We’re going to try to put pressure on the quarterback to make some things happen and hopefully we’ll get him on the ground more than we’ll let him stand up.”
Q: Last year the team transitioned to a 3-4. How is the system different now?
CRENNEL: “I don’t know if you watch a little bit but several teams are going to the 3-4 and there are several different versions of the 3-4 – everybody doesn’t play the 3-4 the way that we play it. So the guys learning this technique, it’s a little bit difficult for them because most of them are coming from college where they just run up the field. We don’t just run up the field. We play what we call two-gap and they have two gaps of responsibility in the running game and then they have to convert to pass rush on the pass. They’re all learning that, so that’s kind of new to them.”
Q: Personally, is it good to be back on the field with the guys?
CRENNEL: “Yeah. If you could judge by the sweat that’s coming off of me, and if that’s happiness, I’m happy. I’m glad to be here because there are a lot of guys on this staff that I’ve worked with before, I know what they’re about, what’s important to them as far as football is concerned and so I think that we’ll be able to relay that importance to the players and hopefully we can make this team a very competitive team.”
Q: We’re told a lot that in a 3-4 scheme, depending on what it is, that it can be hard for a fan to evaluate what a defensive end is contributing or not contributing because it might not show up on the stat sheet. What should you look for or what are you looking for when you look at these defensive ends?
CRENNEL: “Guys who are physical and who make the plays that they’re supposed to make. Like I said, they have two gaps of responsibility in the running game so if the ball runs into either one of those gaps and they make the tackle, that’s effective. Being able to impact the quarterback or impact the pocket – whether it’s pushing the pocket or getting your hands up on the guy or whether it’s sacking him on the quarterback and getting him on the ground. Generally in this scheme, the linebackers are the guys who are ‘the playmakers,’ but they couldn’t survive if those guys up front didn’t do their jobs.”