Q:What are the advantages of rotating Duron Harmon, Tavon Wilson and Patrick Chung at the safety spot next to Devin McCourty?
MP:What we're going to try to do is get as of the many guys out on the field that we think can put us in good situations and help us be a good, solid fundamental defense versus whatever situation comes up that we're seeing. Certainly we have some guys in the secondary position, the safety position, that we want to get on the field and have a role here on defense and [to] be able to get those guys out on the field in different looks and situations is certainly something we're trying to do. It's a blessing for us to have those types of guys we can get out on the field that can give us different looks and different multiplicity when they're out there.
Q:How extensive is the Oakland Wildcat package and what kind of stress does that put on the defense?
MP:I think they have a very good package with the skill players and the offensive line. They are certainly going to feature the running game with a player like [Darren] McFadden and if a player like [Maurice] Jones-Drew is out on the field at the same time, you certainly have a dual threat for a run game and now can be threatened on both the inside and outside edges of the run game. One of the coaches on their staff is obviously very familiar with us – [assistant head coach/offensive line] Tony Sparano – and when he's out there with the Wildcat versions we've seen from him in previous years, we have to be ready for all the different facets involved. It certainly will be a challenge for us to make sure we have it handled: we can recognize it, get to it and defend it. I think McFadden does a great job when he's in control of it and it certainly ties into their aggressive blocking styles up front where they can run the ball really aggressively with that look.
Q:One of the hot topics going into this year was the new rules regarding defensive backs and how physical they can be with receivers and how it would force them to play with better techniques. Is that something you've noticed through the first couple weeks?
MP:We're always trying to coach our players to play within the rules and the way the rules are stated so there's really been no change as far as that's concerned. We're trying to always play with good technique and be disciplined with our fundamentals – our footwork, our hand placement. We're always trying to coach it the right way and the way it is in the rules. For us, nothing has really changed there. We're trying to play disciplined and with good technique in the secondary, with the linebacker position and really all positions, all points of emphasis, whatever it is. We're trying to coach it the way the rules are written and interpreted. We're certainly trying to eliminate as much of those as possible.
Q:Has Chandler Jones been progressing in a way this year that he could bring this defense to another level?
MP:With Chandler, I think he's a young player that's still maturing in the league. I think he's trying to work hard every week to improve his play style and his fundamentals. We're trying to put ourselves and our players in the best possible position week-in and week-out. Whatever that particular position is, that's what those guys are being asked to do. Whether it's Chandler or Rob [Ninkovich] or Jerod [Mayo] or Vince [Wilfork] or Dont'a [Hightower] – anybody across the board – week-in and week-out, we are trying to put those guys in a good position to help us win. Chandler certainly did a great job last week of trying to help us in that facet in putting us in some good situations. But moving forward for this week, we're obviously very concerned with the complexity of the Raiders offense and the problems they pose to us. Certainly they have a very big, strong, powerful offensive line which will be a huge challenge for us up front and trying to work towards a quarterback that is doing an excellent job of not taking a negative play, not allowing himself to be sacked and getting out of the pocket when there's trouble. So certainly it will be a very disciplined game for us to make sure we can control the quarterback, control the run game and obviously the passing game.
Q:How impressed have you been with the way Dominique Easley has been able to make up lost time and how has he been able to do that?
MP:He's still got a lot of work ahead of him; he's still trying to get a grasp of what we're doing defensively and make the transition. He's certainly working hard. That's the biggest thing for Dominique that I'll say – he works extremely hard at the game like all of our guys do, he's fallen right in line with that 'attack the game every day' mentality and study, work hard to improve the fundamentals and skill sets that we're asking him to do and that's really what we're looking for right now. He's got some great guys to follow in the shoes of like Vince and Chandler and Rob in the front and Jerod. He's trying to learn how to be a professional and fall in line with those guys and how we attack each week. That's where we're at with him. We're trying to get him better every week and he's taken that challenge and trying to rise to that the best he can. Again, I think it's a different challenge each week for us and this will be another big one with another big offensive line we have to deal with. He just has to keep trying to improve his fundamentals and his technique, keep working hard and that's what we're looking for.
Q:What are your impressions of watching Derek Carr on film these first two games?
MP:Great question. Obviously this guy's doing a good job running their offense as a rookie quarterback and someone who has come in and made some good adjustments in the game and also tries to put his team in good position to be successful out on the field. He's really done a good job of studying what opponents are doing against him. He's a smart guy, he's a great athlete, he's very fast, he's got a good, strong arm. He can do something back there that can cause the defense to be under duress for the game. So you really have to be very disciplined and make sure you don't get beat – not only with his arm, but with his legs if he's out of the pocket. He's also doing a nice job of making sure the offense is getting into the right particular plays. He'll take a lot of plays and change them based on the looks and things like that they're seeing from the defense. He's doing a good job of getting the ball to the guys who are going to make plays for him. Certainly I think he's done a great job of trying to handle that offense as a young quarterback and it's a different system but you're seeing a lot of the good things he was doing as a college player now transfer into the NFL. It certainly will be a big challenge for us there along with the run game, which is led by two very good running backs. Another guy that's key for them offensively would be [Marcel] Reece, who's kind of a multiple player for them, can run up in the backfield and also split out in different positions. He'll certainly be a target for them that Carr has relied on quite a bit.