Washington Commanders defensive line coach Jeff Zgonina addressed the media after practice on Sept. 15. Here is a full transcript of the press conference.
On DE Chase Young playing this week and what he means to the group:
"Oh, I'm real excited to get him back out there. You know, anytime you get a good football player to play for you and help the team win games, you get excited."
On the high standards the defense has and how those are carried out throughout the week:
"Well, as a group we focus on leading this team and all the teams I've played on, and if coached, you know, that's how it's been. The D-line, it's always the front, you know, for the defense, it's the D-line. We're the first line. Same as the offensive line. They're the first upfront. So, you know, as a group, most D-line rooms are more vocal, more loud so to speak. We have a great group of guys that are great leaders and like to talk and get the team going."
On how Young has been for the last month:
"He's been good. He puts the work in the classroom and on the field and gets his workouts in his rehab and all that. And, you know, he is a pro. I mean, that's what he does. He didn't just sit around and watch. I mean, he put the work in."
On what he saw from DE Montez Sweat and his ability to finish plays last week:
"I mean, like any good player, great player, player that wants to be great, there's always something that you have to work on and finishing was one of Tez's things and he's done a great job in the off season and in training camp to finish plays. I'm not saying he wasn't finishing all the way, but no different than [DT] Daron Payne from two years ago. You know, his big thing was finish. He finished and had a big year and I will see that Tez will have the same explosion this year. You know because he's putting the work in and he keeps working at it. [Assistant Defensive Line Coach Ryan Kerrigan] RK has been helping him to finish at the top of rush, to finish on certain plays and he's doing a hell of a job doing it."
On how valuable the backup defensive end players contributions have been:
"Any great team won't be great until you have core players behind your starters and I'm fortunate to have a room of a lot of good football players from the top guy all the way down to the last guy, you know, in my room. They all can go in there and play and give quality snaps and give winning performances. So, it's a blessing for me to know that a guy needs a blow, I can put [DE] James [Smith-Williams] [DE] Casey [Toohill], [DE Andre Jones] Dre or [DE] KJ [Henry] and even when [DE] Efe [Obada] comes back, you know, all those guys can play, you know what I'm saying? So, it's great. You know, you don't have a big drop off. I'm not sitting there going, oh God, here we go. I have no worries. Straight confidence in all the guys that back up at the end position."
On if there was anything he wanted to see his group improve on this season:
"My outbursts, keep my outbursts down to a minimum."
On how keeping his outbursts down to a minimum is going:
"It's a work in progress [laugh]."
On if there is anything he is seeing with guys that he hasn't before due to it being the fourth year in the system:
"I think just the feel of the technique. They've worked at it and all four guys that are out there have worked at the techniques that we've been teaching for four years here and now it's like, they don't even think about it anymore. It's just a reaction now. It's like second nature. And that's what as a coach makes you feel good. You know that you've taught us a thing and they're having success doing it. It's not like, well, I should've, or I could've, they just do it without thinking about it. And it showed up this past Sunday. The technique was there and I know they weren't even searching for it. It just happened. That's what happens when you're in the same system for a while, it just becomes second nature."
On what he was seeing from Young before the injury:
"His explosiveness was back. He wasn't thinking about anything. He was just playing. It was smooth. You know, he was the Chase of old."
On if he sees a difference between teams that are statistically good versus being the group that dictates on the field:
"Well, we always wanna be a unit that takes over a game, but as stats go, I don't only give a rats about stats, just L's and W's. It's all I care about are W's and that's what our group is all about. We wanna win games. Yes, it's great to have stats, but stats mean nothing. You know what I'm saying? If you don't have W's, you are not playing in January and February and that's what we want to do. So, would you rather have 26 sacks or a Super Bowl ring? I guarantee you ask everybody in my room, they want a ring over 26 sacks because you get a ring, they'll take care of everything else."
On DE KJ Henry:
"He's gonna be an asset for us moving forward. You know, he's learning the system. He's learning the way we play defensive end here and he's fine as a rookie. I mean, he's a rookie but he shows a lot of promise and he keeps working."