Initial comments …
“I wish I could tell you after watching the tape that I felt better about the game yesterday. We didn’t execute very well and we paid a dear price — starting with (not) making first downs early in the game and being able to stay on the field (offensively), then defensively and our miscue on special teams. We led to our own demise early in the game, particularly in the first half. We couldn’t get anything going (on offense), except for the one drive. On defense, we didn’t execute by getting to the right spots, and obviously the tackling was a disappointment. We have to do a better job.”
What’s causing the issues with tackling?
“What causes issues with tackling? You have to go and you have to tackle. You have to do a better job. I wish there was a magic word or button to press, but there isn’t.”
How much of that stuff can also be a tip of the cap to Kansas City for being one of the tougher teams in the league?
“Again, they have some good people in the open field. We know that, but you have to get guys to the ball and be there to finish the play. We had some unblocked guys at the point of attack, but we didn’t make tackles and plays, which makes the scope of the down and distance a lot different. The No. 1 attribute of playing defense is being able to tackle. It’s a ‘want-to, a got-to and a have-to get it done’ (attitude).”
Offensively last night, WR A.J. Green had a lot of targets. Over the last couple of weeks, how concerned are you about getting more from the supporting cast?
“We have to keep doing that. I’ve said it many times in this room, the best offense we have is when you guys are asking why A.J. isn’t getting the ball. That’s important, and I continue to make that point all the time. We have to continue to get the guys to create (opportunities) and let things run its course. We have to work the ball into the weakness of the coverage, and the guy in the weakness of the coverage has to win.”
Injuries are one thing, but it’s another when massive injuries to one position group, like your tight ends, impacts the plays you can use. How tough is it to adjust when the package is corroded like that?
“You have to. We just have to keep adjusting, and that’s part of it.”
Do you look at the tackling issue as more frustrating because it should’ve been done right the first time, or as a fixable issue?
“It’s a definitely fixable issue.”
Because it’s a fixable issue, does that make you feel any better about the fact that it’s been a problem? At least it’s one you know you can correct …
“You have to correct it with the people out there, you have to correct it with the person at the point, or you have to correct it with new people. It’s kind of a three-in-one deal.”
You said tackling is a ‘want-to’ issue. How does a guy not ‘want to’ tackle people on national television?
“I don’t think it flashes through his mind that he’s playing on national television.”
It ought to anyways. You’re playing professional football, why does a guy not want to tackle?
“We have to get there and want to.”
Are the missed tackles a product from a lack of practice time?
“Again, it’s part of football. It’s part of defense. You have to tackle. I can’t push a button and make it go away. We’ve got to get better at it, and we’re going to keep working at.”
Is the frustration growing with how the defense has not been able to get third-down stops?
“We have to keep doing a better job. We have to keep coaching it. We have to do a better job executing it, and at the point of attack we have to make the tackle. We have to get the quarterback on the ground and get the ball carrier on the ground, whatever it may be. We have to get to the right spots in pass coverage and keep the correct leverages. It just goes back to doing a better job executing particular assignments each and every snap.”
The run game wasn’t as efficient as you had hoped. Why?
“We took ourselves out of some opportunity in the running (game), and that’s part of the game when you get behind like we did. We have to do a better job, because there’s opportunity there. We’re missing on it a little bit, and we have to look at it and figure out a way to make it a little better. I think there’s more opportunity there than we had. We got one pushed back because of a (block in the back) penalty, which makes a huge difference. Our guy was blocking a guy and (their) guy turns (into our guy), and there’s not much we can do. That takes back another large gain. But there are some plays we’ve had where we had to block one guy at the line of scrimmage and we’ve had a chance for a big positive play, and we have to get that particular player blocked (better).”
Do you feel like the pass rush has been as effective as you’ve wanted it to be?
“The ball is coming out quickly a lot of times. We understand that. It means you have to do a better job at rushing a little bit differently, try to get some push and some tipped balls back in the face of the quarterback. A couple times, (Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes) threw the ball away when he was trapped, and we have to understand that. We’re getting some protection with more people in there. All that said, we have to be more effective rushing the passer, no question about it.”
Is it surprising to you that there hasn’t been more production from the pass rush?
“We didn’t have a lot of those situations where you can ‘rear your ears back’ yesterday and get after the quarterback. That kind of answers your own question. We were playing an offense with a lot of RPOs (run/pass option), and not only is there a pass downfield but there’s a screen pass involved. It’s a three-way thing. It’s a little different of an offense that we played yesterday. It’s more than just a drop-back passing game. We didn’t see any of that, or very little of that. We saw things that had the run option, screen option and vertical option. You have to handle all three areas of it.”