"We will keep things simple, but you have to realize when you put in one coverage you are actually putting in five or six coverages when you tweak things," he explained. "We will err on the simple side, but they will know what to do on every call we make. Our focus will be more on how to do something rather than what to do and not bogging their minds down.
"How do you get off a down block? How do you stay on top of a receiver? We are not going to spend a whole lot of time teaching scheme, we are going to keep things simple. If we do that, we will have players who will play at a high level, play fast and be able to make adjustments on the field. We will stop the run and not give up the big plays because our kids will be playing with confidence and certainty rather than being bogged down and playing with confusion. We want them going fast and that's the only way to accomplish that. If you have guys looking around pre-snap uncertain of where to go and what to do, that's when you give up explosive plays. That's when you get beat."
McGriff said he has been able to identify the players on defense that have a high football IQ and he's pleased with that number.
"We have a lot of young men who have a solid foundation of knowing football," he noted. "They have been able to learn and, so far, to retain the information and that is the key, to retain. If they can retain it, they are more likely to be able to execute it."
McGriff and Jason Jones will work the back end of the defense with Freddie Roach taking the front and Bradley Dale Peveto handling the linebackers.
"The difference from last year is that Coach Jones and I will combine our rooms and have the corners and safeties in the same room during chalk sessions. Both of us have a wealth of experience with secondary positions and we think when you have separate meetings with the corners and safeties that the communication can suffer. If they are in the same room with two coaches instructing them, players are more likely to be on the same page," McGriff added. "In practice, I will take the safeties and Coach Jones will take the corners, but we will meet as one unit.
"I have always believe that if you divide, you weaken. We will start communication in the meeting rooms, not on the practice field. A noisy room is a room that communicates. The only division of labor will be in individual drills. The rest of the time it will be the secondary together, not the safeties in one room and the corners in another. This is important to me because those guys are the last line of defense. Mistakes there cost you games. It will be critical for us to all be on the same page. We will get them confident and we will get them playing fast and on the same page."
McGriff has evaluated the personnel, on film, as much as he can prior to tomorrow's opening of spring training, and he has eyeballed all defensive players in meetings.
"Just looking at their energy, just watching film of them from last year, just noticing how they carry themselves in the weight room and in the Manning Center, I say we have enough defensive personnel to win, but I am also very eager to get them out on the field and start seeing them process, problem solve, react and play fast. From what I have seen so far, there are good football players in this building, but we have to prove it on the grass.," he assessed.
With McGriff, defense is about technique.
"If you study football plays from a defensive standpoint and you see the offense get a big play, a majority of time it is not about scheme. Everyone has good schemes. We will have solid schemes. A lot of times it is a player not in the right spot. Why? Because he is playing with bad technique, bad confidence, bad fundamentals, he was unsure, or he didn't rep that play enough," McGriff stated. "Our focus will be on coaching them up. We will teach them how to play football more than what to do. If you are always teaching them what to do and don't spend the time on how to do it, you have problems.
"Obviously, schemes are important, but they will become second nature when we teach our kids fundamentals, techniques and how to play the game of football properly. Everything else will fall in line."