Q&A: With Ted Cottrell

How does Ted Cottrell view himself as a defensive coordinator? Will he ever use the 3-4 defense in Minnesota? What does he see in the linebacker position he is coaching? What does he need to execute his defense effectively? Cottrell addressed those questions and more.

Q: How would you describe yourself as a coordinator?

A: I'm real big on guys with execution, knowing what you're supposed to do, then going out and doing it. If you know what you're supposed to do, you can execute what we ask you to do. The numbers — the rushing yards, sack totals, takeaways — are good because then you are executing. As coaches, we devise a defense to a style of an offense. If we do it to the best of our ability on the way it's drawn up and supposed to go, then they won't be that successful against us. If we do this time and time again with that kind of efficiency, then all your numbers are good, your field position is good and you tackle well. So I'm real big on execution and tackling. Then, depending on your personnel, that tells how much man-to-man, blitzing and pressuring you can do.

Q: Do you consider yourself an aggressive coach, or if you know your fundamentals you don't have to be aggressive?

A: A little bit of each. The aggressiveness comes from knowing what to do. You also have to go with the abilities of the players you have. You can sit here and draw up some blitzes … but (the receiver) could get scott free if you can't cover. If you don't have the ability to cover, then it won't do any good. If you've got the personnel to do it, you do it. … This is the thing I was talking to the people in New York about — we didn't have it and in Buffalo I did. We didn't have great man-to-man cover people, so we couldn't do that. I wanted to do it, but I couldn't because every time we'd try to do it you'd have one of those (motioning with his head turned around looking like he just got beat in coverage) — there he goes.

Q: Is that why cornerback was such an important position for you to acquire in free agency?

A: I think it's important for any team to have two good corners. And everybody's coveting a defensive end that can rush the passer. Those are the two things people want, a pass-rushing defensive end and you hear the term "shutdown corner." There aren't that many Bruce Smiths and Reggie Whites out there — that's why everyone is clamoring for them. We're the same way. I think our corners did a pretty good job last year, but we want it so we can put a little bit more pressure on the passer — don't give him time to get to his second and third options.

Q: With the struggles of Ken Irvin and Denard Walker, how much of a factor were the injuries they were dealing with?

A: I think both those guys fought through some things. I had Kenny in Buffalo. He played through pain, and that's a hard thing to do. It's tough enough at that position being healthy, let alone coming in and fighting through injuries. Kenny's a good player. What I always admired about Kenny is he's a true professional. He's very highly self-motivated, which we want our players to be. You don't want to be yelling and screaming and jumping up and down all the time to get them to be able to play. That should be part of their makeup, because they're professionals now. I always tell them my job is to get them lined up in the best position to make plays. You should get enough self-motivation going to the bank and cashing that check.

Q: What position on the defensive side do you think needs filling the most?

A: Really, I'd say depth. We need guys so we can keep rotating and keep fresh. That's what I think. You can always have another good corner, you can always have another good defensive lineman, linebackers. They can go in there and keep the other guys fresher so when it comes to crunch time and somebody's got to make a play, they're able to make a play. The playmaking ability of a defense is enhanced by the more players that you have, guys surrounding him so that he doesn't have to go every snap. Then when you have to make a play, you may be a step away or not jump as high as they would have if they had been a little fresher.

Q: Is that one of the things you saw in the past couple months when you reviewed films is that you saw guys getting worn out?

A: Guys played hard. I was very impressed with how hard they play and the intensity that they played with, and I just think if you increase the depth it's going to be even better. There's no way they should have lost the Arizona game. They did everything to win the damn game, and that would have put them in the playoffs.

Q: You obviously have experience with the 3-4 scheme and the 4-3. From what you've seen of the personnel here, are there thoughts of changing to the 3-4?

A: No. We may use some parts of the 3-4. We've always done that no matter what system I've been in. We've also used parts of the 4-3. My opinion is that if you can do that, you always give teams something else to work on. … Even if they just show it a few times a game, you know they have it and you've got to be careful.

Q: Linebacker is the position you are coaching. What do you see there?

A: Chris Claiborne is a solid player. I'm glad he's back. E.J. Henderson is one of those guys that we (the Jets) covered coming into last year's draft. He spent time with the Jets before last year's draft. E.J., I think, is ready to step into that starting position. Nattiel is a good third-down linebacker on the weak side. Again, I think if we can add some depth there, it's going to help everybody.

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