Defensive Coordinator Jeff Ulbrich, 9.8

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Brian Costello, New York Post: What jumps out at you when looking at the Bills?
The same stuff that always jumps out. A quarterback that can absolutely make things happen. It doesn’t matter at times if you execute at the highest level, if you finish, you do all the things you practiced and got ready for. He has the ability to improvise and extend plays and make magic on those second plays, so it’s a great challenge. It’s a great barometer for this defense and where we’re at to play a high-level opponent like this. It’s going to take everybody. It takes all 25 defensive players that we dress for this game.


Antwan Staley, New York Daily NewsYou’ve been able to have success getting to Josh Allen, especially last year when you sacked him eight times between the two games. What do you attribute that to? Just having the success getting to him.

Our defensive line is one to be reckoned with in my opinion. Not only do we have very good players, we have a lot of depth, and the back end has gotten better every game, obviously it’s gotten better every year that we’ve gotten here. Combination of personnel, scheme, and the whole thing, so it’s all those things, and I think whenever you play your divisional opponents, you start to become very familiar with each other, and it works for both sides. We’ve become familiar with them, they’ve become familiar with us, and because of that, sometimes you’re going to have days like that.


Brian Costello, New York Post: You guys obviously have high belief in what you can do this season, D.J. (Reed) expressed it the other day, other guys have expressed it. Is there a certain element of Monday night where you’re just kind of excited to see maybe the validation of all those expectations and the buildup of the last few months?

Yeah, not necessarily the expectations, just the biproduct of all this work that they’ve put in. I want these guys to have success at the highest level, because I’ve been around a lot of football, been around the NFL for a long time, and I’ve yet to see a group universally so committed to the process. They work their tails off every single day, and people like D.J. when he says what he says, it has nothing to do with this dream that he has, it’s just a biproduct of all this work that not just he has put in, but everyone on our defense has put in, so because of that, I’m excited for them to have an opportunity to shine and do their thing.

Al Iannazzone, Newsday: Does that raise anything? Like the way you guys will have to play? Because people were going to come after you to begin with, and now they’re going to come after you even more.

I’ve always looked at it if you need something that we say to be motivation, what happens when you don’t have that. So, I’m not concerned with it changing the way people approach us. We’re going to do our thing, we’re going to commit to our process, and we’re going to be the same guys every week.


Zach Rosenblatt, The Athletic: You’ve talked a lot about the defensive line. You’ve added even more pieces since last year with Will (McDonald IV) and those veterans. How excited are you to move those puzzle pieces around and figure out the right combinations and keep coming at the offensive line. How much are you looking forward to that as a coach?

I think we’re all excited from an organizational standpoint. I’m sure the fanbase is excited. Again, it’s just a group that for those who know Aaron Whitecotton and are familiar with that group, I’ll put them against anybody. I’m not just talking about talent; I’m just talking about the way they prepare every single day. There’s a lot of D-Linemen who couldn’t get through one of those individual sessions that Aaron puts them through on a daily basis, and that group embraces it and because of that, it gives themselves an opportunity to be very successful on gameday.


Brian Costello, New York Post: Did you see a jump last year, when the double team was on Quinnen (Williams), from your first year here, and do you think that will go up even more? Or do you think because of the depth and the guys on the edge, teams really can’t do that?

It’s really hard. It’s kind of why I’ve always leaned toward interior guys at times to be more universally effective. It’s easier, not easy. It’s easier to chip a guy on the way out for an outside rusher. It’s easier to turn a protection to a guy, it’s easier to help on an edge with a tackle. It becomes very difficult to help inside at times. You can manipulate and you can full slide and you can give guys help, but sometimes interior guys, you’re going to have to hold up one on one. And because of that, Quinnen gets probably more one on ones than our edge guys do, so I’m excited for Quinnen. It’s very curious. Some guys in this League, they get paid, they get that contract, and there is definitely a different approach to the game. Maybe not the same intent, the same strain, the same daily approach. He has gone the exact opposite direction of that. He’s a guy who has always worked his butt off, but now I feel a sense of leadership coming out of him, and sense of pulling guys along with him, and it’s really cool to see. It just shows those are the guys that you pay. Those are the guys that you give the big contracts to. The guys that you can build not only your defense around, but your team around.


Ethan Spears, New York Post: Was there a moment throughout camp or preseason where you saw that most, where Quinnen was pulling along a younger guy?

I think he’s been doing it since he got back in the building. Obviously, we didn’t have him this offseason, but ever since he stepped in this building, I felt a sense of- he’s really pushing himself to be that guy and pushing himself to be more vocal. I don’t know how natural that comes to him sometimes, because he’s such a leader by example. He’s just going to go out, he’s going to show you how to work really hard and play very well, and he’s pushing himself in the way of being more vocal and really bringing guys along with him. It’s just going to be another reason why I think we’re going to have some success this year.


Ian O’ Connor, HarperCollins: From a defensive perspective, when you compete against a quarterback who gets rid of the ball as quickly as Aaron (Rodgers) does, how frustrating can that be to a coordinator and obviously the guys whose job it is to get to the quarterback?

Yeah, it’s extremely difficult. The beauty of it is, especially from a practice perspective, he finds every one of our holes in our defense, and from that standpoint, I think we’ve gotten tighter. Tightened the windows, tightened our coverages, tightened everything up, and because of that, I think we’re going to better on the backend. But yeah, it’s extremely frustrating to a front that’s trying to get home, and the ball keeps getting spit out, it really forces you into potentially more man and more tighter coverage, and as we all know, that’s not necessarily our foundation, that’s not we try to base our defense upon, so he’s a challenge for sure.


Al Iannazzone, Newsday: How does having someone like him as your quarterback help your defense? I think we’ve talked about it recently; you haven’t played with many leads over the last couple years, but does it change when that situation arises, and it could arise more this year?

For sure. We’re never going into a game saying, “we’re going to get up” and have this exotic plan for when we get the leads, but we’re definitely ready for it, and you play a different style of defense. When you don’t have to defend the run, and you can just jump out your shoes and attack, it opens up what you can do schematically, it opens up your approach of the defensive linemen when you don’t have to think about the run, think about setting edges, think about taking double teams. So, it’ll be exciting for our defensive line to get some of those opportunities, and for the back end, because I really believe those are the times where the turnovers really start to ramp up, when you can really start to affect a quarterback with different coverages that aren’t necessarily built to be run sound, stuff that can be a little bit more exotic. All we’re trying to do is create a hitch. We create a hitch; the defensive line takes advantage of it.


Antwan Staley, New York Daily News: What have you seen from Jordan Whitehead entering his second year in the system?

Just so fortunate that we have this man on our team. He’s such a high-level player, high character human being, a guy that is a leader in every way, on and off the field, and I think another year in this system, because when he got here, year one, this was very foreign to him, the stuff that we did was some stuff that he had never done before in his career. So, another year of familiarity, especially from a safety perspective, where it takes a lot of time on tasks, it takes a lot of turns to get comfortable not to think and just to play and react, I think he’s there now in his development within our system, so I’m excited for him. I think he’s a guy who doesn’t get enough recognition, and I look forward to him getting that recognition this year.


Brian Costello, New York Post: Is (Adrian) Amos a chess piece for you in terms of free safety looks and kind of an extra linebacker?

Yeah, without a doubt. He has a ton of experience. He has over 1,000 tackles or whatever it is in this League. He’s played at a high level for a long time, so to have him, like you said, to create different packages with, but also to give us exceptional depth. It’s like really having three starters, and really with having Ashtyn (Davis) as a guy who’s still emerging and growing and becoming the player I think that this organization thought he was when they drafted him. It’s really like having four starting safeties that you can move around, mix around, and when a guy needs a blow, guy breaks a shoelace, whatever the case may be, there’s not going to be a big drop off. So, having both those safeties back there help us.


Andy Vasquez, NJ Advance Media: Going back to Josh Allen, I think he’s admitted that he’s had a hard time with you guys. How dangerous does that make him, obviously with so much time to prepare? How open do you have to be to kind of being flexible when you’re facing a guy like him, who’s going to be trying to find the holes he hasn’t been able to find before?

For sure. I think you have to be flexible every week. You have to be very cognizant of the direction of the game, how the offense is attacking you for sure. He’s just a unique player in the fact that he can make some things out of nothing. He’s such a dynamic athlete, he’s a huge man that’s hard to tackle, and he’s a guy that’s just a relentless competitor and he’s going to extend plays. He makes, like I said, magic happens in those second plays. Those second plays we have to eliminate, whether that’s through the rush or staying plastered in coverage and minimizing the yardage that he gets when he starts to move around and scramble and extend.


Brian Costello, New York Post: Your favorite 85 Bear?

(Mike) Singletary was my coach.


Brian Costello, New York Post: (Mike) Singletary was your coach in San Francisco?

Yeah, he was my linebacker coach.


Brian Costello, New York Post: You know the 46 (defense style) then?

I do.