Brooks Ellis interview on Bo's show

Could any insiders give their thoughts on what Ellis had to say about why the defense performed so poorly at times last season?

He didn’t name any names, but he was critical of peoples efforts and said that some didn’t buy into the system. He said it must have been frustrating for the coaches when people who did well in practice didn’t bring it to the games.

Makes we wonder about senior leadership and also what could the coaches have done differently.

Deatrich Wise was injured. Finally, coaches shut him down. Could he have played better? Maybe. I don’t think players felt like they were allowed to attack enough. They are now and like it better. Not sure playing Henre’ Toliver inside at nickel was a great fit, either.

I think the buy-in - or lack of - came from sitting in vanilla 4/3 without much blitzing.

I heard what Brooks said. I always know that things can and should go well in practice. It’s against the scout team. It will and should look good and work.

I thought Brooks was very measured with his words, trying not to criticize too much and certainly not naming names. Don’t think it does any good to name names. What he did say was telling. I wish Bo would have pressed him a little more, but Bo may have felt Brooks was uncomfortable talking about it.

A current player on defense told me he thought the problems were partly due to some players, and also coaching. It was not a setting that was open to any follow up.

I sure hope they get the problems solved. There are quite a few returning players on defense.

The scheme did not work against spread teams but we usually looked ok against other smash mouth pro-style offenses. There was a very strong sense of “here we go again” in every game against spread teams. The players did not look like they believed in the scheme as we’ve all noticed. Losing Greenlaw exposed the lack of speed for Brooks, because Greenlaw cleaned up some misses by Brooks. Brooks was known as a great run support but bad in pass coverage, yet Greenlaw was the exact opposite. The Dline was asking fast twitch athletes like Ledbetter, Wise, Agim, etc to plug gaps against road graders. They were not built for it and it showed at times. The Dbacks were playing in a scheme that emphasized their weaknesses and Safety play was not good enough to clean up the misses at LB. The LB’s let receivers loose and the Dbacks were not able to respond correctly. It was amazing how they would start the game with intensity but then lose their fire after a few bad plays. The players knew it was scheme that put them in bad positions to fail and then the “here we go again” emotions took over.

We will gain a lot from not being predictable like Robb Smith’s scheme. We were very predictable and easy to study on film in Robb’s scheme. The other team could script their plays last year with confidence of where we would be and what we would do; so that may be why we failed so miserably early against spread teams. I felt that the players were too worried about the complex reads and keys in the Robb Smith scheme, so their first steps were slow while thinking. Robb’s complexity turned some 4.6 guys into 4.9 guys, so how much faster will we play this year with a more simplified scheme? We should be disruptive upfront, have far more speed at LB this year, Tolliver in his correct position, Richardson back in the secondary, and proper depth in the secondary.

I told Bo yesterday that he didn’t have the follow-up questions for Brooks last week. I told him when Brooks said they didn’t have the “buy-in” last season, I said he should have asked why. I thought there were other points that ached for follow-up questions. We discussed that on-air yesterday. He agreed with me that he could have asked for some more detail.

The art of interviewing is something that takes time to master. I know I never did. People like Clay are quite skillful in it and it shows in the articles he writes. The worst thing as an interviewer is to walk away and kick yourself for a question unasked, especially when the interviewee opens the door to a follow-up question.

The best interviews I’ve ever done had gaps in them while I thought about follow-up questions. That’s not perfect for live radio. But in what I do, it helps to have a little time to work in follow-up. I’ll have a set of questions to ask, but almost always the better stuff came from the follow-up questions that were asked after the interview was about done. If there is time, I can get to those follow-up questions. In a group setting, I rarely ask anything at the start. The main reason for that, I know if I raise my hand at the end and haven’t asked questions, I’ll get my chance. If I’ve asked two or three mundane questions early on, perhaps it would seem like I’ve had my chance and won’t be recognized. But, if it’s gone a bit and the main questions have not been asked, then it’s time to dive in and get started.

But, in general, my best questions are often those that I had no idea I’d be asking. Something clicked and I dove into an area that was never intended, based on something that was revealed during the interview and I decided that was the real story, not something I’d started out to write.

I’ve had so many people ask me before I’ve gone to the locker room what I was going to write about. I used to try to tell them something. It’s rarely right. Now, I just say, I’ll know when I get back.

The way I write is to do a tight, small outline when I sit down after an interview. There should be three or four points that jumped out of my notes. Then, I write. Takes about 30 minutes to write if you have that outline.

Interestingly, if I make a speech, I have one note card. I write down three to four topics and hit them all. Sometimes there might be six or seven. But if I write down one word for each topic, I can go through a speech pretty well. I might very well think of other topics when I’m on my feet, or during the Q&A that comes afterwards, but that note card will carry me through. Writing a story is almost the same process.

Also, I do walk away wishing I had asked a question or sometimes three or four. That’s a bad feeling.