Q: Opening comments:
"I thought it was a good way to finish the season. Our defensive phase of the football team played well and won on third down, which keeps points off the scoreboard. Offensively, we were able to do some things in the running game. We were able to throw the ball early in the game, which set up a field goal and a touchdown. It was a good job finishing things up.
"Special teams were consistent. We had some penalties in the kicking game that hurt us. We worked through that, and that made a big difference in the later part of the season. It was a good victory in all three phases today."
Q: Did you hold your breath seeing a starter in Leon Hall returning punts today?
"No. Someone is going to do it, and Leon has done a good job for us. He likes to do it, and he can run with the football. He finally got his opportunity."
Q: Andre Caldwell had his opportunity to play today, can you elaborate?
"We like to do things to put the football in Andre's hands. He does a great job of running with the football. He is able to put his foot in the ground and move north and south to gain positive yardage."
Q: Cedric Benson had a big game and did some nice things today. Is he a player you would like to have back?
"I want to have everyone back. All in all, it was a good positive day."
Q: Are you glad the season is over? Are you ready to take a break?
"I want to be playing. You don't work in a profession such as this and be glad that the season is over."
Q: How happy are you with these last three games, and what can you take with you from them as you head into next season?
"The detail of our work and the little things that make a big difference. There are things that we see as coaches that many times other people overlook. We have players that continue to work hard. We may not have been the most talented football team all year, but I do like the football team. I like the way they play and compete. I like the way many of them come to work everyday.
"When you start to make some plays and you eliminate some setbacks, it begins to make a big difference. These things make a big difference in any phase of the game. When you eliminate errors, you give yourself a chance to be successful."
Q: Can you speak about the job defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer has done this season with the defense?
"Our defensive group has continued to get better each week. They (the defensive players) have (hit their) stride at different points during the year. Sometimes field position and opportunity didn't present themselves, but I felt they did a good job this season.
"Many players were forced to play under fire, and they rose to the occasion. Chris Harrington made a big play today, and he just joined us a few weeks ago. He knocked the ball down in a two-point conversion situation. He is the third guy on the depth chart in that position. He was replacing Rashad Jeanty, who replaces Darryl Blackstock. Little things like that prove to be big. Many guys have accepted roles and understand them.
"Mike Doss made a big play on the first third down today. We had a number of different guys who fit into a number of roles, and I thought the guys did a good job of that."
Q: How do you think you will look back and evaluate this season, based on having a number of players filling roles that normally don't see a good amount of playing time?
"It gives these types of players an opportunity prove they can play in a game situation. When you get back to competing to play in the preseason, it gives these guys the opportunity to prove what they can do. They should have both confidence physically and mentally in their preparation.
"As coaches, we still have to do the best job we can putting the best football team we can out there on the field. For the players who don't see much action to get out there and play shows them what it takes to compete and be successful."
Q: Do you have any big plans this offseason?
"No, I'll probably just lay low and hopefully watch S.C. wrap up another Rose Bowl."
Q: Did you get a chance to throw at all Friday or Saturday?
"Yeah. I actually threw against the defense on Friday. Everything went well. I threw pretty much 100 percent. I've had another MRI. I'll get the results of that back hopefully this next week. I'll be ready to roll in the offseason and keep throwing and keep training, hopefully with no flaws and no surgery, and be ready to roll in OTAs."
Q: If the new MRI doesn't show any negative results compared to the previous MRI, would that eliminate the chances of surgery?
"Yes, that's the goal. I'm going to keep my fingers crossed and keep praying about it and hope it works out."
Q: When you threw the football, you had no pain. Were you able to throw with velocity?
"Yeah. I tried to route every pattern against the defense in different situations. Everything felt great."
Q: The team started 0-8 and finished 4-3-1. That says a lot about the character of this football team:
"It was nowhere near where our season needed to be. It was a huge disappointment. We had some tough games - some really tough losses early. We kept battling. Guys kept believing in Marvin (Lewis). He stayed on us - kept pushing us, kept driving us. He got us to finish the season - this last month - on a positive note. We won three out of the last four games. If there's one thing to look at and be excited about going into next year, it's we got some young guys developed. Andre Caldwell played well today. Cedric (Benson) and the offensive line played great. The way our defense is playing and the way coach Zimmer has them going, I can't wait to be a part of this next year, and to see what level they'll take it to next year. They can really be great. They've got guys that are hungry and want to be great players. We believe in those guys, and it's just exciting."
Q: On defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer's first year with the team:
"It couldn't be more than this with all the injuries - guys going down, starters going down, guys filling in. We almost had two shutouts in back-to-back games. That's tough to do. In this league, that's extremely difficult to do. It's exciting. Leon Hall is as good a cornerback as there is in this league. Robert Geathers has been banged up for a long time, but Daryl Blackstock and others ... just so many guys made plays and filled in roles. It gives us a good feeling going into this offseason, and it gives us excitement going into next year."
Q: On the team's success running the ball today:
"We stayed consistent with it. The guys up front set the tone early in the game. We came out in the second half poised to finish and we made it happen."
Q: On the offense's ability to successfully run the ball despite constant personnel change:
"I think it says a lot for us as professionals and for the young guys growing into being good professionals. We got it together the last stretch of the season. You hate for it come so late, but I think it's got to make you feel good inside to see that commitment."
Q: You started the season 0-8 and finished 4-3-1. Running the ball and stopping the run helped the improvement:
"The defense did play great. They played great the last six weeks. They came out and set the tone and held guys as low as they could. For us to put up not even 20 points on the board and get a win was tremendous for the defense. Just the fact that we came out, kept the clock rolling and got it done on the ground really late in the season was big for us."
Q: It takes a lot of preparation to get ready to play on Sundays:
"Game days are only one day a week. You've got six other days that are important to prepare for that. The season gets long. Sometimes it gets hard. It's where you've got to really dig down and where you really find out how important it is to some guys and just keep rolling with the punches. The greatest feeling in the world is to finish on top."
Q: There are many who hope to see you in a Bengals uniform next season:
"Yeah, me too. We've had a lot of success. We meshed as an offense and it's important to keep that going. I don't know what their plans are, but as far as my end, I'd love to stay."
Q: What was the turning point for this team?
"It was definitely the week prior to the Redskins game. We had a resolve of, 'Let's just have fun. We have put too much pressure on ourselves, so let's have fun.' We had an excellent week of practice, and that led to the game. And from there on, we didn't lose."
Q: This team started 0-8 but finished 4-3-1. What does that say about the character of this team?
"It never left. We have some stand-up guys, and we have some hard working guys. You have to be hard working if you're going to be around here."
Q: Can you put a capper on what this season was?
"Finishing strong at 3-0 ... one word: Liberation. It's very liberating. We deserve it, because we work hard. We had a lot of balls that bounced the other way, but finishing this way shows that the guys that are here are fighting. There was no doubt in here, but maybe to the eyes on the outside, there was. Finishing this way going into the offseason at least doesn't leave us with a bitter taste. At least with the guys we have here, we know we can get it done. So maybe that will open up some eyes for the coaching staff. I know there are going to be some changes, but at least it will bring a closer look at the guys that are here ... and we know that we can win against good teams in this league."
Q: What do you think you showed this season?
"I showed that I can go out there and play, be a starter, contribute to the team and make plays. If my number is called, I'm going to make the play."
Q: Have you ever taken a direct snap from center before?
"I used to do it in high school, so I'm pretty comfortable back there. I tell people that I'm a quarterback anyway."
Q: Did the experience you gained in the SEC prepare you for the NFL?
"I don't think the stage is too big. I think the SEC and the Florida coaches prepared me well. They got me ready for the NFL, and I'm out there strong, and when I get the ball I'm ready."
Q: Are you curious about what the team is going to do with Chad Johnson and T.J. Houshmandzadeh?
"Of course I'm a little curious. That plays a big part in my role next year. But, that's not my main focus. I'm just getting ready for next year and working hard in the offseason."
Q: In terms of waiting for your opportunities, what was that process like for you?
"It was tough. I haven't sat on the bench in a long time, so it was tough on me. I just sat back and learned from Chad and T.J."
Q: What was the biggest thing you learned from observing those guys?
"How to prepare for a football game. You just can't go out there on Sundays and play. You have to understand and know your opponent, and that will make it a lot easier for you."
Q: When did you start to notice pain in your back?
"I would say it was Saturday. I kind of felt it walking off, hunched over. It's just one of those things. I figured I would play. You get out there and you want to play when you see the crowd and you see the other team on the other sideline."
Q: What did you think of the job rookie WR Andre Caldwell did?
"He did really well. We got him the ball early, whether it was a reverse or a pass. Any receiver will tell you: When you get the ball early, regardless if you touch it again, you're always into the game because they got you the ball. And I thought he did really well with the reverse to open up the game. He got 20 yards. He played really well."
Q: What are your emotions about the upcoming offseason?
"I don't know what's next. I don't have any emotions about it. I'm curious and excited to see what's going to happen. But I don't know. That's so far away - a couple months. It seems like an eternity, to be honest with you. We'll see what happens. Hopefully it ends cool."
Q: What are your desires about what you want to happen next?
"I don't know. It depends. I feel like I don't mind staying here. I would like to stay here. But I don't want to stay here if I get franchised, because it's just a one-year deal. I know that. They know that. It's not a long-term thing. It's one (season) and you're out of here. It (shows) no intention of signing you to a long term deal. And it doesn't make the team better. If you (tag) me, I'm not going to win games for you by myself. We have so many other holes to fill. If you franchise me, it's not beneficial for the entire team. I would like to stay here. I was talking with Carson about it today. I think we can win. The defense - if you get Keith (Rivers) back, if you get Robert Geathers back and J. Joe (Johnathan Joseph) back - the defense will be that much better. And you would figure we're not going to play this bad again on offense."
Q: Are you saying you won't play if you get franchised?
"No, I'm not saying that. I'm just saying I don't want to be franchised. It's a lot of money, but the situation I'm in, I would prefer to have a contract. Who wouldn't?"
Q: The franchise tag doesn't have to be in place until February. Will that long period of time wear on you?
"No, it won't wear on me. I don't think it will wear on me anyway. I'll watch the playoffs. That will take my mind away from it. I wish I was playing, but that will be a distraction for me somewhat. But we'll see what happens. Coming from where I come from, when I started here, you wouldn't bet that I'd be thought of as something like that anyway. So hopefully, it doesn't happen, man. And if we can work something out, that's cool. And if not, I would still like the Bengals to do well, because I have a lot of friends in this locker room."
Q: Do you like the foundation that's been set for this defense heading into next season?
"Yeah, definitely. I definitely feel comfortable with the front seven and the back four guys. I think we've got some good depth, once we get everybody back."
Q: On the strong finish by the defense:
"That was big. These last three games, we came in here with the mentality that we're going to win, and that's what we were able to do. Especially today, I think the big part of the game was, offensively, holding onto the ball and controlling the game. It makes it a lot easier on the defense."
Q: You guys wanted that shutout. It took the Chiefs seven snaps near the goal line to finally score:
"Yeah, we really wanted that. We were really hungry for that. When we started the week, that's what we wanted. So when we came in at halftime, and when the fourth quarter started, that's how we were thinking."
Q: The defense played very hard for defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer all season long :
"Yeah, definitely. When you're as passionate about defense and you love football like Zimmer does, you can't help but play hard for that guy. We're comfortable that he's going to put us in the right position to make plays. We've just got to go out there and play hard and make plays."
Q: The way the defense played, despite missing several starters to injury, the future looks bright:
"Yeah, definitely. Once we get all of our guys back, defensively there's no telling how we're going to look. We've just got to build off of this and go into the offseason, work out, and work hard all the way through camp and try to keep this thing going."
Q: Finishing 4-3-1 after starting 0-8 is a pretty good accomplishment:
"Yeah, definitely. We definitely won't quit. We can be 0-15 in the last game, and we're not going to quit. That's our mentality. Obviously, we didn't start off how we wanted to, but I think we finished pretty well."
Q: Did you like playing defensive end?
"I love playing defensive end. I think if I did come back, that it would be more in that role. That's why I asked the coaches to switch it that way. We were 0-8, and I said, 'Listen, just let me play a little more outside.' I think it worked out for the team, and it got a lot more guys playing. I like it a lot."
Q: Could you see yourself a Cincinnati Bengal again?
"I don't know. It's up to them. Now, it starts all over again. You know the business. They have to make an offer and I have to accept it. I don't know where they're going as far as their direction. I'm really not worried about it. I told my agent to call me if something happens."
Q: Initial comments:
"I thought early in the football game we didn't have energy, and you have to play with energy. We generally play with a lot of energy, and we didn't have that in the first half. We struggled some offensively, but I felt like defensively, we did pretty well. We kept it close, and we had a chance in the second half. I thought that in the second half we moved the ball a little bit offensively, but this is probably one of our worst offensive outings in a while. We weren't very consistent making first downs and moving the ball, and if you don't do that, it makes it tough. In the second half I thought we moved it some on offense, but we didn't score enough points. We only scored six points. We've been scoring points better than this in the past month, but we didn't do it today. That was hard for me to see today offensively. We misfired a lot on third down, and defensively, we couldn't get off the field after third down."
Q: Why do you think it took Tyler Thigpen so long to get going?
"I don't know. He was just (throwing) a little high and couldn't get into the rhythm. We didn't have a good rhythm offensively. There were a lot of three-and-outs. When they had the ball, they made some first downs. We were 0-4 on first downs in the first half. In the second half, we got going a little bit. Still, I think the big turnover when we fumbled hurt us. If we hadn't done that, it would have stayed a two-score game, and all of a sudden when you get the touchdown, instead of going for two points, you're kicking and it could have been 13-7. When we fumbled it, all of a sudden they got 16 points on the board, which puts you in a lot of bad positions offensively because you have to go down and try to make two points every time you score."
Q: Do you expect his play to be sharper at this point?
"He just had one of those days. He was high-throwing some balls a little, and that's the extent of it, really. He's a young guy; he's been playing pretty consistently. This was not one of his better days, but I thought, in the end, he rallied and got us going again and moved the ball there at the end when we scored."
Q: The decision of whether you coach again next season is not going to be based on today's game, but would you feel better about it if you guys had made a better effort?
"Well, I think the effort's the effort, and I thought the score said 16-6. We thought we could have moved the ball better offensively, and we didn't. We just struggled offensively. Defensively, our group kept the score down and gave us a chance to win. I think that's the whole key on defense. They moved the ball, but we held them to 16 points. For the most part, if you do that, you have a chance to win some games in this league. We didn't put many points on the board and I'm disappointed because we've been doing that in the past."
Q: Would you have felt better if you guys had been more competitive today?
"You (would have) liked to have won the game, no doubt about it - last game of the season on the road. But it didn't turn out that way. It was one of those days where we didn't have a lot of rhythm offensively, and that's really puzzling, because we've been pretty good offensively in the last month. We've been moving the ball and scoring on some pretty good teams."
Q: What's this period going to be like for you now?
"We'll go back in tomorrow and talk with a few folks, and from there, start getting ready for the Senior Bowl, where we'll evaluate the players. The coaches will evaluate our players, and from there, the coaches will take off for about a week. And when they come back, we'll go to the Senior Bowl and look at players."
Q: So it's just business as usual?
"Yes, it's absolutely business as usual. I'll be in the office all week and I'll be around. We'll evaluate our team and go from there."
Q: Why do you think you got off to such a slow start today?
"I'm not sure. There are obviously some balls I threw that I'd like to have back today. You can't have those things back though, and that's tough. We wanted to go out on top today, and prove that we can play as an offense the way we've played in past games. We struggled in the first half after they were able to put points on the board. We got some things going in the second half, but we can't wait until the fourth quarter to start getting things done."
Q: Did you try a little too hard at times?
"I might have. I'll have to look at the film and check my footwork. I don't think it was the wind. We just need to come out playing well from the start."
Q: Do you feel that you have improved since you started you first game early in the season?
"I do feel like I have improved, but I think I took a step back today. I didn't have any turnovers, but I need to get better each and every week."
Q: Do you expect to begin next season as the starting quarterback?
"Yes, I expect to. I feel like I've earned the starting job, and hopefully the Chiefs feel the same way."
Q: What do you think you've done to state your case as the starter?
"Just look at the way I've played. We've moved the ball, and guys are so much more energetic when they're out there with me. It felt like the guys got a second wind when I became the starter during the second half of the season."
Q: How does it affect you knowing that there will be a new general manager and possibly a new coaching staff next year?
"It doesn't affect me as a person. It's above me, so it's out of my control. I just need to continue doing what I'm doing and let the rest take care of itself. I think Herman (Edwards) should remain the head coach. We struggled in terms of our record, but we're in a rebuilding phase, and we could have won a lot of games this year had things bounced our way. I think we can add a couple players this offseason through the draft and free agency and get this thing rolling."
Q: Talk about your future with this organization:
"Hopefully, my future is not with this organization. It's not (the Chiefs') fault. Half of it is mine. Half of it is my off-the-field situation and other things that occurred.
"On the football field, my role definitely diminished when I came back (from injury). I felt like I wasn't getting as many carries as I could have handled. I felt like I could have helped as much as I could have, but they shifted their powers to other players on the team. I feel as though my time is up in this city and this program."
Q: There is going to be a general manager change and possibly a coaching change. Do those changes affect your attitude?
"No. It has everything to do with the environment. The city is tired of me, and the organization and I have run our course together. It's time to move on for me. There could be 100 changes. It's time for me to go."
Q: Are you going to ask for a trade?
"No. (The Chiefs) pretty much wrote that in the sand these last few weeks."
Q: How do you feel like you fit in to the Chiefs' spread offense?
"I don't. I have never been a six- or seven-carry per game back and expect 200-yard rushing games. It's never been my style. I wish it could be. It's not me. I wear down defenses and get yards when the offense really pounds the rushing plays."
Q: It's not about the game, but can you talk about your move to the middle linebacker spot?
"Trying to finish the season on a winning note was the main focus this week. We wanted a win for the confidence of this team and for where it is heading. We needed to make a play here and there over the past eight weeks, and everyone could see it. We didn't do enough to win today."
Q: The team finished with record-low totals in sacks and total yards allowed. What needs to change for the 2009 season?
"We have been trying hard to build offensively and defensively all year. We prepared every week and played hard against every opponent just the same.
"The games just didn't go in our favor enough this year. We can only build in the offseason and prepare for next year."
Q: Talk about the sour taste left by a loss in the final game of the season:
"Nobody wants to lose, especially in the final game of the year. We all have attitudes that we are building something positive (in Kansas City). Hopefully, we'll come back next year and get this thing going on a winning path."
Q: Do you expect the Chiefs defense to look different next year?
"That's up to the coaching staff. That's up to the G.M., and hopefully we will all be back (next season). We are going to fight hard to be a dominant defense next year."