5 Questions with Ted Cottrell

The Jets' defensive coordinator spoke to the New York media about Sam Cowart and the defensive improvements.

Q:  Talk about Sam Cowart and his evolution?

Cottrell:  It wasn't much of a gamble, I don't think.  They
had put Sam through an extensive physical when he came in here.  I didn't
have any idea that we were going to get him.  He just came up  -- he was not
healthy, fully healthy at the start of the season.  So one of his big
attributes is his quickness, and that stems from his vision.  His sight was
not affected, but it's just that with the leg and the Achilles, he had some
problems really pushing off and that was compounds because then he started
over compensating, and I think he had a little bit of a hamstring, so that
slowed him down.
    About the fifth or sixth game, you could see that he was starting to
feel better.  You could see that burst because you see him practice.  And
now I think he's all the way back because he's had a little bit longer time.
His body is recovering now and he's playing well.

Q:  Is Cowart at the level he was before the injury?

Cottrell:  Not quite, not quite, but pretty close.  Before he
got hurt, he was up there with Lewis.  Those two, I thought those two were
the best inside backers in all of football.  Sam, he's almost there.

Q:  Is this defense close to reaching its peak?

Cottrell:  Believe it or not, I think we are getting there,
but we have still got a ways to go.  We have still got a ways to go, and the
players know that, too.
    I after the game, think I Abraham said, "Hey, we can play better."
When guys start thinking that way, then you've really got something going.
Now they have that belief that they are pretty good.  They are not cocky.
They are not walking around saying, hey  -- look, don't put any names on the
defense either.  Don't try to put any names on it now, just go out and make
the play.

Q:  What could a defense learn by watching the games yesterday?

Cottrell:  It's playoff time.  All the quarterbacks are good
and you give them opportunities.  You keep giving them chances to come back,
they are going to get you.  I think that's the lesson to be learned.  If you
keep giving them opportunities, the guys will come back and they will make
some passes on and you see what happens.  You get a hot quarterback like
Garcia  -- and during that game the other day, Peyton, when he went to that
three wide receivers, I said, my goodness, here we go again.  He's real good
at the no-huddle, because he has a check-with-me system anyway, but the guys
were comfortable even in practice.  After a whole year of doing that in
practice, so it didn't bother them.


Q:  What does it mean, six turnovers in the past two games?
Cottrell:  We've been harping on it:  Take the ball away.
That's been a big thing about us.  We've got to get some takeaways, and
earlier we were lacking in that department.
    The other thing was, we've been working hard on making sure we catch
the ball.  Dropped so many interceptions this year, an unbelievable amount,
like at least 15, 16 that we've dropped, interceptions.  So we've been
conservative  -- if we would have caught seven or eight of those, that's a
big difference.
    We've really been working hard on making sure if we get a chance to
intercept the pass, intercept and catch the ball  -- and also, we've been
stressing, take the ball away from him.  You see that guy running through
the ball, one guy run up, grab him, try to get the ball out.



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