Dirk Koetter: "Just real inconsistent yesterday on defense."

Coach Dirk Koetter spoke to the media on Monday to discuss Mike Evans' performance after the week 9 loss to the Panthers

(On why the defense struggled early in games)

“Well, poor tackling was the main issue yesterday – poor tackling. Just real inconsistent yesterday on defense. We actually did start fast yesterday on defense and then on those five straight drives where they scored, on three of those drives we put them in horrible field position – the interception, two sacks and a punt return and a fake punt put them in bad [position]. We just tacked horrendously on those two long drives they had in the first half and we come out the second half and started off great. Played three excellent series in a row – got ourselves back in the game. Tackling was the main issue yesterday.”

(On if he is concerned with the poor tackling)

“Huge concern. Yeah, it’s a huge concern because it’s the most fundamental thing to playing defense.”

(On if they can simulate good tackling technique in practice)

“Yeah, of course you can. We practice it every week. Number one – you only wear pads one day a week once the season starts. We have tackling periods in practice. I doubt if any team in the NFL has taken guys to the ground because that’s a double-edged sword. You’ve got to have somebody tackle, but that’s not a good excuse. We have to tackle better.”

(On if the outcome of the game would’ve been different with better tackling)

“Except for the double reverse play which was just Keystone Cops. Except for that play, all those other plays we had a guy right there to tackle him on the line of scrimmage. I mean, look at the tape. There was a guy on the throwback screen – we had two guys right there. On both, they ran two little versions of that throwback screen – guy’s right there on the line of scrimmage and we miss a tackle. Those could’ve easily been no gain – coulda, woulda, shoula. And then we’ve got pursue better. When we do miss tackles, we have to have better effort in pursuit. You’re not going to make 100 percent tackles. All you can do is have the guys there and then your pursuit has got to catch up.”

(On why there is a lack of consistency)

“Yesterday, we had individual break downs. We get a third conversion on a third-and-eleven and we get called back for an illegal procedure penalty. We got another on a draw – one of those first ones we had a good concept on and we missed the throw, we missed the catch, we got sacked on one in the second quarter where we didn’t communicate very well. It was a combination of everything: different breakdowns on different ones.”

(On if the offensive line is a concern and the difference between now and the beginning of the season)

“Two of our three sacks we gave up yesterday were strictly communication errors. We didn’t communicate right, so we didn’t have the right guys blocking the right guys. On the one that we were in a two-back formation, one of our linemen made a call that he shouldn’t have made and that threw everybody off – we had everybody blocking the wrong guys. On the second one where they came off the edge on that third down, we were in the right thing and one of our guys just didn’t slide out to the edge and everybody else thought he was. We got beat by communication instead of getting beat physically. The very last one of the game, I thought Donovan [Smith] did a good [job] – [Mario] Addison comes away on the game in the stat sheet with three sacks, but on the last one he just beat Donovan. Donovan had a good day against him. The other two, like I said, were communication issues.”

(On wide receiver Mike Evans’ performance at Carolina)

“Mike had a rough day yesterday. That might be as poor as I’ve seen Mike play in the whole time I’ve been here. Mike has typically had good days against [James] Bradberry, so we had a lot of stuff game planned for him. Mike really struggled yesterday and we probably should’ve moved on sooner. One thing about that is once you say mentally and you tell your quarterback – I tell you guys all the time, we don’t go back there and say, ‘We’re going to look for Mike,’ because then there was time in the second half where Mike did win and we should’ve been looking at him and we weren’t.”

(On wide receiver DeSean Jackson not being targeted until late in the game)

“Yeah, targets – just me careful about that because we had things targeted for DeSean, we just didn’t go there for one reason or another.”

(On if Jackson not getting any passes thrown to him until later in the game was because of the coverage)

“I’d love to get more balls thrown to him, but you also see what happens after we got it back up and we just heaved one up to him at the end and it got intercepted. Again, that’s a double-edged sword. We’re not trying to phase DeSean out of the offense or anything like that. We did have other things called for him and the ball didn’t go there, so on the stat sheet it doesn’t go down as a target. For instance, on the one sack, we were saying when we were in two-back, first play of the game that was either a Mike or DeSean thing. DeSean was wide-ass open, but we had pressure and he couldn’t get it to him.”

(On what gives him the confidence that the defense will improve)

“We have no other choice right now. We have no other choice.”

(On the defense not contesting passes)

“On the touchdown to [Greg] Olsen down the middle, we had two guys right there. They’ve got to make a better play on the ball. Javien Elliot was right there on one of the third-and-mediums, it was a good throw. [Brent] Grimes had two where he was right there laid out and didn’t get them. We definitely have to play tighter coverage and we can obviously – we talked about this last week – getting more pressure will always help you with that.”

(On if the secondary is getting interceptions during practice)

“Yeah, Brent Grimes I think had two interceptions in practice last week. I think they’ve been making a conscious effort to do that, but we’ve got to do it in a game.”

(On why safety Justin Evans not made ‘splash’ plays recently)

“This is bigger than any one player. I can’t pin it on any one guy, but I can’t give you a specific answer on that.”

(On how much tight end O.J. Howard has grown in his second year)

“I think O.J.’s playing fairly well across the board. He still has to become more consistent as a run-blocker, which he’s very capable of doing. He has gotten better. He could actually be a dominant run-blocker in this league. I think O.J.’s doing everything better. I think he’s doing a good job across the board. I think he’s doing better [with] run after the catch, I think he’s running routes better, I think we’re designing more stuff for him.”

(On what happened on the ‘Keystone Cop’ play)

“We were in man coverage on that pay. Our two D-tackles ran into each other. Our two corners chasing their men – ran into each other and then our pursuit and tackling and effort on that play was just not what it needs to be in any way. It looked like a Keystone Cop play.”

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