Defensive Coordinator Jeff Ulbrich, 9.14

[Please click photo for link to video]



Zack Rosenblatt, The Athletic: We asked you a bunch in the offseason about Jordan Whitehead and even Dalvin (Cook) said some things about him pulling in those interceptions, how nice was it to see that?

It was awesome. It just couldn’t have happened to a better human being, let alone player. He is a guy that every single day, practice, off days, I have seen him out there in street clothes on the jugs, put it in. He knew that was the part of his game he knew he wanted to improve and take the next step with and he took it. I look forward to him still getting better, still finding more ops (opportunities) to make those special game changing plays like he did.


Antwan Staley, New York Daily News: What was it about, you and Robert (Saleh) also had confidence like he would have a much better year. What was the turning point and what did you see that led you to believe that?

I didn’t see a player that had a bad year, to tell you the truth. I saw a player that played at a high level, a player that had he not dropped the four or five picks that he did, he probably would have been in contention for Pro Bowl, All-Pro, all those things, because as we know, stats drive those competitions at times. It is a guy who we knew he had the speed, the athleticism, the dedication to the game, all of that. Now, another year in the system where, rather than just playing the play book, anticipating and make the play book come to life a little bit, we knew he was going to take that jump because the time he put in and the person that he is.


Rich Cimini, It also seemed like he was playing in the deep middle a lot more than he did last year. Is that true and how much of a factor would that have been?

Yeah, we do a little bit of all that. There are times within this system where we have had true down guys and true back guys. The essence of it, when you go back to the origination of it with Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor, that was a true dedicated down guy, a true dedicated back guy. Both guys are interchangeable in that way now. Sometimes if that happens, one guy is down a little bit more than back, it is more of a right and left thing regarding the formation, than it is that we are actually dedicating a guy down.


Antwan Staley, New York Daily News: Getting Brandon Echols back, what does that do for your defense?

It is huge. Brandon Echols is such an interesting cat. When he first got here, he was young, like all rookies are, and we were very intrigued by the athlete and the player. He made some really cool plays his rookie year, but to see the growth he has taken on and off the field is special. He is a unique guy too. The fact that he can play inside and outside. The fact that he can back up nickel and outside corner, it helps us have so much versatility in that way. The roster management, who you dress on a game-to-game basis, sometimes becomes a lot of difficult decisions when you have a guy who can play two spots. It is a huge advantage for us.


Zach Braziller, New York Post: What stood out the most to you watching the film of that game, from a defensive perspective?

I don’t want to dimmish what was accomplished, but the stuff that I expected and I know they expected. That we were going to play really hard, that we were going to execute at a high level, that there was going to be absolutely zero quit. It was funny, we came in during halftime and there are times with certain teams where you have to kick them in the butt, really challenge them, look them in the eye and see where they were at, and there was zero flinch in this group. I went and approached them at halftime and there was zero question in their mind that we were going to win that game.


Al Iannazzone, Newsday: What is the mentality of the defense? I mean, we have spoken, we saw you on Hard Knocks speak about who your defensive needs about Aaron (Rodgers), now that he is not here, anything change for you in terms of you have to do a little more?

Absolutely not. The expectations stay the same. We love Aaron (Rodgers), a great teammate. He had a profound impact on this organization, not just the players, but the coaches, the front office, everybody. Insanely, upset and saddened for him, the individual, because I know he was invested at the highest level to this journey, this team, this locker room, this organization, but we are not sad for ourselves though, we are not. Our goals are the same, our expectations are the same, and we will conduct our business the same way.


Bruce Beck, WNBC: Do you believe that the defense has to carry this squad, or you just have to concentrate on doing what you have to do?

That is exactly right. We just have to focus on what we have to do and nothing changes in that way. We have great faith in this offense, great faith in (Nathaniel) Hackett, Zach (Wilson), the offensive line, our running game, the receivers, all of them. It was really cool at halftime, typically we are separate, the offense is on one side, the defense on another, but I peaked across to look at the offense and there was zero flinch in them too. There was a really cool moment where I saw the skill guys wrap their arms around Zach and uplift him. It was one of the best team wins that I have ever been a part of.


Connor Hughes, SNY: As you are getting ready for this one against Dallas, Micah (Parsons) is now the one calling the plays again, do you see a legitimate difference between the Cowboys offense than you have seen the last few years and how this one beat up the Giants a little bit?

It is really hard to tell, there is a such really small sample size, there is only one game. They are really in four minute mode early in the game because the score got out of whack pretty quick so it is hard to tell. It is a really funny situation because we can definitely go down some holes like how did they plays us when he was in Green Bay in 2012 and all those conversations get had and then we really go back to our base fundamentals and what we do. I really think there are things that Dak (Prescott) does well and there is no way that anyone would change that. There are some staples that are within that system that regardless of who is calling the plays I think they are going to be a part of that offense. We will see because there are a few wrinkles that we saw, obviously from the Giants game and we will adapt, we will adjust as we go. There definitely will be a difference, it will be interesting to see what that difference is.


Connor Hughes, SNY: You mentioned Dak (Prescott). The one issue that he’s had are those interceptions. When you review them do you see a player, that has a little bit of a gun slinger in him and that is what’s leading to interceptions ordo you see it as an opportunity for you guys to manufacture interceptions. I don’t know if that’s the right word, defensively force them and the quarterback?

I think regardless of who the quarterback is, as we all know, we’re trying to force them. Whether it be deception of coverage, changing the look, the rush, the pressure, forcing bad decisions. It’s interesting, he’s got such a winner’s mentality. He’s got winner DNA and you feel and see it on the tape and it jumps out to you. With all winners at times, sometimes that’s their superpower or that’s your kryptonite. It’ll be interesting to see the version we’ll get on Sunday, but he’s a great player. He’s very similar to Josh (Allen) in the fact that he can make plays in the pocket, outside the pocket, he can extend plays. He’s been a very good quarterback in this League for a long time. It’s going to be a great challenge for us.


Zach Rosenblatt, The Athletic: What’s been your experience like working with Nathaniel Hackett so far? It seems like he has a little bit of a different approach to how he motivates his guys. I’m curious what it’s like from your perspective?

No, it’s really cool. I think as a coach, you’re always stealing things from other coaches. He brings a level of positivity and he’s got this huge aura about him and I think that’s infectious to the players. A lot of stuff that I think the offense really enjoys and they’re captivated by him in that way and there’s things that I will steal from my time with him, for sure.


Bruce Beck, WNBC: I would think you probably watch a lot of film of offensive opponents, but do you ever have a chance to appreciate the Dallas defense? Do you in a way try to mirror anything that they do or respect the fact that, that defense is ferocious as well?

I think as a coach whether it be offense or defense, people that are doing things at a high level, you always take a peek at them and see if there’s things that fit within your system that they’re doing. So for sure we do that. Not just with Dallas, but with anybody that’s playing good defense. Especially when it’s a like an opponent, you’re trying to find ways that they exploit at certain things, take advantage of certain things. At the same time, one of my best friends on this earth is their defensive coordinator and their defensive line coach, Aden Durde and obviously, Dan Quinn are people who are very close to me. I’m always very curious to what they’re doing. Always have a high level of appreciation for that defense and the coaches that coach it.


Andrew Crane, New York Post: Sauce (Gardner) was pretty critical of his game and preparation at least immediately after the game. Could you sense frustration from him immediately after the first half or sense any frustration from him?

I don’t know if it was necessarily his preparation. I think that he has such a high standard for himself as we all do. He expects to make the game changing plays every time he’s on the field, he expects to be the difference, he expects to be the reason we win and he played well and as we can always, all of us can coach better, we can play better. There’s always level of improvement and I think that’s his mindset that he wants to be that guy every single time he crosses the white line and I love that side of him.


Al Iannazzone, Newsday: Aaron was the number one guy, but you still went against Zach a lot in training camp. What kind of change have you seen in him from last year to this year?

I’ve seen tremendous growth. There couldn’t of been a better teacher for him than Aaron Rodgers, he’s a guy that has done it. Here’s a guy that shares a similar skillset as far as the athlete that he is, the ability to throw the stuff off schedule, extends plays. I think it caused a huge amount of growth in Zach and I’m excited about him getting this opportunity.