"Like I told the guys a little bit ago, we go through the week and we talk to them about our expectations about how the game should unfold — on Wednesday, Friday, Saturday evening, or even prior to the game. Then, we went into the game and (went) against that route. We created penalties on special teams early in the game that changed field position, and that did not help us, in a game where I felt like holding field position was important for us to do. It gives us more opportunity and makes it more difficult (for the opponent). As the game wore on defensively, we pressed. We have guys that that made some errors, but then we pressed the guys that know what to do all the time. That never bodes well for anything. That really hurt us. Offensively, we have to rely on our fine plyers to make good plays all the time. They have to be consistent. We didn't get enough things done in the passing game, obviously. We had some positive run looks, and did a good job in those areas. But, it wasn't enough to sustain drives, make first downs, and keep the ball moving down the field to score. You're going to have trouble winning any game when you score seven points. It was not a very good (game), and it didn't look any better watching the tape."
Where do you think that message got lost?
"It's not as though it's a lack of trying to do it right. It's doing it right within the confines of what you're asked to do. You don't have to go over and above and put us in jeopardy of getting a foul. It's the same way with third downs offensively — keeping the defense on defense, preventing some of the runs and passes they had, and staying true to that."
In your experience with young players after they get their first test, does their awareness go up pretty quickly after that?
"There are going to be some plays that they — and us — wish they had over. But, we kind of lumped a bunch of those plays together at inopportune times too many times. It started right away, and we just never got back on solid ground or stopped the bleeding."
To what can you attribute the offensive struggles yesterday?
"We were a tick off in the passing game all day. I mean literally, it was off our hands. We have to go into the week, and the football game, and do better. Point blank. We have to ask more and be better, and get it done that way. Whether it be the development of the route, or the protection — all of it. Balls have to be accurate throws and where they belong. Give the runner a chance to make the first down. We don't want to put balls behind people, but that's going to happen occasionally. Yesterday, we had way too many of those, and that makes it hard when the runner can't turn and run when he has to go back and catch the ball first. The vertical throws down the field — we left them inbounds, where we want them, and we have to come up and find a way to make the plays. We've seen all those things happen correctly, and we have to make it happen. We didn't make it happen yesterday."
Do you think there was miscommunication between Andy Dalton and the receivers? There was a play earlier in the game where Dalton and Tyler Boyd didn't seem to be on the same page ...
"There wasn't a miscommunication. The receiver has got to recognize what's going on around him and he's got to make the proper adjustment. Andy (Dalton) saw things correctly and the receiver has to do it right."
So it wasn't the wrong route?
"It's not necessarily the wrong route. He has to understand what's going around him as well. He's got to see what's going on outside of him, as well as (what's going on when) he takes his release."
A couple of people have said that the energy wasn't there in yesterday's game. If that's the case, how do get the energy back?
"As I told them (the team), sometimes they got to make their own music (laughs)."
This was a young team on Sunday. Is that were some leadership from older guys could have made a difference?
"We got to make some plays. You got to make some plays to turn the music up. Make some football plays that get everybody going. There were two teams out there fighting the same way. They (the Bears) made plays, and they got momentum from making those plays, and they started feeling good about themselves. That's what you have to do. We (also) can make plays, and we have to make those plays. Those are things that have to happen. It started with the first third down of the game, where I've got to challenge a play because we can't even get it right from the officials (smiles). So I got to waste a challenge there — it kills what was a good play and now we got to go back. Then the next time, we don't make the third down. We miss it by that far. All those things we got to have. We got to make it happen, and it's an excuse not to. That's what their jobs are — to make it happen."
Does that come from the veterans?
"Well, we got to do it within, because the veteran can't get out of his own responsibility. He's got to do his thing. He can't be worried about what's going on behind him, around him, and so forth. When it comes to Sunday, you're competing against the guy across from you — win your battles."
There's still a small chance of making the playoffs, but this appears to be the second year in a row where you haven't gotten in. How disappointing is it?
"Well, you don't want this. I don't think anybody does. These guys have a lot to play for, and it's not my responsibility to get them — as I said — to turn up the music. (We've got to) figure out a way to get momentum going and put good football plays together. If we got young guys in there, they're going to have to grow up in a hurry, because we are going to play three good football teams."