I wish I had an answer. This game, I keep saying it over and over, each week comes down to execution. If you out-execute the team, you put yourself in a better situation to win, whether that's the first half and getting out to an early lead or it's finishing in the second half and getting a win. This first drive is going to be critical in this game for our offense and our defense, just to give us a little bit of momentum, give us some confidence, maybe quiet down the stadium a little bit, make it easier on ourselves communicating later on in the game if we can get out to a lead and play with a lead.
Q: You haven't played well in the second quarter. How do you sustain a drive?CP:
Again, it's execution. I think the biggest thing is whether we've been out-executed or not, there's been an number of times we've beaten ourselves. We've hurt ourselves with a penalty, with a missed assignment, a dropped ball, a bad throw, whatever it may be. It's not that we're not as athletic or not as physical or not as talented as the other team, it just comes down to execution and knowing your assignments, depending on what coverage you get, what defensive front you get, whatever it may be, and out-executing the opponent.
Q: How much pressure does it put on you in the second half if you don't have a good start?CP:
It's a whole different game plan playing from behind than it is playing with the lead. And unfortunately, we've been playing from behind virtually every game, it seems. When you're playing with a three-point lead, a seven-point lead, a 14-point lead, you play different. But when you play from behind with a two-touchdown deficit or a one-touchdown deficit, you feel like you're 21 points behind, you're 28 points behind. You start pressing a little bit. You feel like you need to score on every single drive. Sometimes we've been down only seven points and it feels like 21, and you try to do too much on one possession when all you can do is execute the play that's called and all you can get is one touchdown per drive. You can't get 14 points in one drive. I think that has been part of the thing -- we've been beating ourselves and trying to do a little bit too much, trying a little too hard and not executing.
Q: Rudi Johnson's back at practice and Kenny Watson is expected back. Would you like to see both incorporated into the offense?CP:
Oh, definitely. They're both too good of players not to. It's always a good thing when you're not sure which running back you want to play, because Kenny does so many good things and Rudi does so many good things and they're so different that it gives us a great change of pace. It mixes things up for us offensively. We can do different things with different guys, and really keeps the defense on their toes and keeps them guessing.
Q: Are you surprised at how T.J. (Houshmandzadeh) takes a licking and keeps on ticking?CP:
I mean, T.J. is as good a football player as there is in this league. But it really doesn't surprise me. I get surprised when I see him on the ground because I know he's tough. I know he's stronger than everybody on the field, I know he's got better balance and more toughness. There's been a couple of times when I think he's just had the wind knocked out of him, where a lot of guys, they don't come back into the game. But T.J. -- the first thing I do when I see him on the ground, I go over and kind of yell at him or talk a little smack to him, and he pops right up and gets back in the huddle and plays. A lot of times he gets blown up playing the position he plays, and playing against some of the teams in Cover 2 scenarios where he beats his man and the corner's waiting to get a shot on him. Like I said, there are a number of guys in this league that don't return to games after shots like some of the ones he's taken.
Q: Do you look at him as a No. 2 receiver?CP:
He's leading our team in catches. He's leading, I think, the league in catches. I've said it before: I wouldn't trade him for any receiver in this league, point-blank. He's done nothing but make plays this first half of the season. Done nothing but makes plays that a lot of guys can't. I can't say enough good things about T.J.
Q: How do you talk smack to him? CP:
In a few choice words, just tell him to get up and get back into the huddle. I'm not going to go there. But I like talking trash to T.J. any chance I get.
Q: Chad has been downcast lately with people speculating he's part of the problem. Is he a different receiver when he's not the way people are used to seeing him?CP:
A little bit. Sometimes he comes in and he's loud and talking smack all over the place, and sometimes he comes in and is very, very quiet. But whichever guy comes in, he always practices as hard as he can and does everything he can on the field.
Q: Which do you prefer, the quiet Chad or the talkative Chad?CP:
I like the louder Chad, the more confident, talking trash in people's ears about different things. But it's hard to be like that 24/7. It's hard to have that much energy, especially when you're depressed about the way the season's going. It's hard to come in fired up when you're not 7-0 or 8-0 like some of the teams in this league.
Q: Does it affect his game when he's quiet?CP:
No. He still shows up, he still practices as hard as he can during the week and still shows up to play. It doesn't matter how much he's talking or how little
Q: Marvin showed you guys the AFC team records today. Was it helpful to see that?CP:
Yeah. As bad as this season has gone for us, we've still got a shot. Looking at our schedule, there's not a team we can't beat. We've got to play Pittsburgh again, and I think we're confident we can go in and beat them. Baltimore, we've already beaten them. We're pretty confident going up there and playing. Arizona -- there's some teams on our schedule that we don't know much about, but we always feel confident playing against NFC teams and being in the division we are with the physical play in this division. We feel we can go in and play against any NFC team. There's some winnable games, some games that are going to be tough, but there's no reason we can't go 11-5. It just comes down, like I keep saying, to out-executing teams, the ball bouncing your way a couple of times, the call going your way a couple of times, us playing hard as a team. There's a number of things that factor into it, but there's nothing that says we can't go 11-5.
Q: You've lost five in a row on the road. Before that you were an above .500 team on the road under Marvin. What's the key to succeeding on the road?CP:
Communication. Offensively and defensively. The way our teams on both sides of the ball are set up, there's so much communication. Whether it's loud like Seattle and you really can't hear anything, or it's like a number of places where you can hear guys talk on the field even when the crowd is up on third down and they're as loud as they can get, you can still concentrate and focus. Whether it's extremely loud, the loudest place we've ever played, or not loud at all and the fans aren't into it, you still need to communicate between guys. Make sure where there's pass protection, you're talking about blocking the right guys, whether it's defense and you're talking about a motion or shift. The safeties realigning and the linebackers realigning just comes down to communication and being able to block out those distractions of playing on the road.
Q: What are your Impressions of Donte Whitner?CP:
He's a very good player. I know he was taken extremely high in the draft and it shows on film. He's a physical safety. He can play the ball well in the air, and he can come up and smack people. Just a very good player.
Q: Does he remind you of Bob Sanders at all?CP:
A little bit. I think he's a bigger player. I don't think I'd compare him to a guy like Troy Polamalu or Ed Reed, he's a different style, but if you're looking for a style to compare him to, it's probably Bob Sanders.
Q: New England vs. Indianapolis. Who do you like?CP:
The way New England's playing, I think Indy's going to have their hands full. It's just unbelievable what some of the things .... it looks like (the Patriots) are playing against j.v. high school teams at some points in games, and basically doing whatever they want. They won't be able to do that against Indy, because Indy's going to have a great game plan and they're going to be well-coached going into the game. They're so good on offense and so good on defense, it's going to be tough for Indy. But not that they're out of the game at all – I think they've got a shot – but you got to think New England's going to get it.
Q: What do you think of Brady's numbers?CP:
He's doing all right. He's having a decent season. (laughter)
Q: Do you think he'll break Peyton's' record (for TD passes in a season)?CP:
What is it, 49? Yeah, he's more than halfway there. He should.
Q: Do you feel that your offense is able to run the ball better with or without huddling?CP:
Other than this last week, we've run the ball better in no-huddle. Our no-huddle stuff gets us better match-ups on the field. This past week we just had a great game plan going in with a lot of the huddle stuff. When we did go the one series with no-huddle, we basically threw it every play and went all the way down the field and didn't get any runs in, but we were confident in our no-huddle system that we were going to get some good runs.
Q: Buffalo has a lot of young guys. Do you think they're playing faster than they have in the past?CP:
Yeah, I remember not last year, but a couple years before, completely different style of defense, different coordinator, and they were all over the place. They had a style similar to Pittsburgh and Baltimore where they're going to line up all over the place and try to confuse you. Now they line up and play and, looking at their roster, I don't think they have a guy over nine years or eight years on their roster, including punters and kickers and long snappers, which is pretty amazing. It's a very young team.
But I think they're in a great system for what they've got. It's very simple. There's not a whole lot of checks. There not a lot of formation changes. There's not a ton of different blitzes they need to worry about. They have a little bit of confusion they like to create on third down, but really they let their guys line up and play. And when you've got a young group of guys, guys that haven't been in the system for a very long time, if you can just let them line up and play, it makes their whole life easier.
As opposed to having 60 or 70 calls on a game plan, they really play a very ... they're very limited on first and second down, and like I said on third down, they do a couple things up front to try to confuse your protections, but the guys in the secondary really are doing the same things they do on first and second down. When you've got young guys like that, it just lets the athleticism take over. When you've got a guy like Donte Whitner, who I think was the sixth pick in the draft, obviously he's a very athletically gifted kid. You just let him play. You let him line up and play and not have to disguise too much or think too much, and just react to what he sees and play football.
Q: Tony Romo threw five picks against Buffalo. Have you watched any of that game on tape?CP:
Yeah, there's a number of playmakers. Both their corners are fast guys. They play the ball well. Like I said, Donte Whitner plays the ball well. They got a couple ones thrown to them in that game. It wasn't anything they did; there was a couple of balls just kind of got thrown to guys. But they're making plays. When an opposing offense makes a mistake, they can capitalize it, turn it into points and change field position.
Q: What are your thoughts on balance between the run and pass games?CP:
Offensive philosophy, you got to take what they give you. Not this past week, but in previous weeks, we've seen a lot of double-teaming of our two receivers, and you've got to run in some situations. If you try to force it and throw it, there just isn't much there in the pass game. When the defense makes you run the ball, you need to be able to run the ball. We've been successful with Kenny these last couple weeks in that.
Q: What do you think having Rudi (Johnson) back will do for you?CP:
I'm excited. We were just talking...it's a great combination of speed and power, and it's a good thing when you have two running backs and you're not sure who's going to start, who's going to be in there, because they're both very good. Rudi's great at the power thing and coming downhill, and Kenny can run outside, Kenny can catch. He can run screens. Two very talented guys, and two guys that complement each other well and are good for our offense.
Q; You haven't had two useable running backs since 2005:CP:
Yeah, it's been a while. I think since Chris Perry, when he was on the field, we'd change it up with him and Rudi.
Q: Will it help?CP:
I think so. We'll see.