Opening comments: ML:
As far as injuries go from the game, Corey Lynch got some kind of bone injury inside his lower leg (knee), and it may be that we lose him for the rest of the year. Glenn Holt, with the shoulder sprain, is the only other injury. We'll see how he is as Wednesday and Thursday unfold. Other guys should be coming back, (Jamar) Fletcher, (Corey) Mays and (Ben) Utecht. We should get some guys in, and the possibility of losing one player.
Q: What about (Rashad) Jeanty and (Domata) Peko? ML: Rashad will be OK. What he did with the foot is more pain, and how he can tolerate the pain. We think Peko will be OK.
Q: Where do you anticipate you'll go with Carson Palmer?ML: As I've said, the timeline on Carson remains the same. He'll continue to follow the program of rehab. He will not throw on the field with us this week. He is doing great. At some point, they'll try to evaluate him a little further; Carson wants to play. And as soon as he can get to that point and can progress back into throwing on the field, then we'll have a better indication.
Q: Is he out for Jacksonville?ML: Yes. He won't throw this week on the field.
Q: After watching the tape, did you see the effort there?ML: There are cases where we wanted to have better effort, better finish. But all in all, generally that wasn't an issue. Our lack of finishing the play. We get the wind taken out of our sails by the punt return after our three-and-out. And then we climb back in and make it a close football game. Then we come out and allow the touchdown in the third quarter. That was disappointing. We played against a good pass rusher (Mario Williams), and for most of the day we protected the passer. We did some good things. We have to be stouter in our pocket. Defensively, obviously we did not cover anybody very well yesterday.
Q: You are the voice and face of the organization, but you have a visible owner who is not saying a word. Do you feel out in front taking all the bullets while no one is saying they have your back or anything to that effect? ML: I don't know that anybody would want ... what do they call it ... a vote of confidence. Those things don't seem to go very well usually (laughs). Any time I've seen one of those, they don't go well. I'd prefer not to have one.
Q: But it seems you're out front taking the bullets? ML: That's fine. That's what this position entails. That was the arrangement of this position six years ago. As I told our football team today, the way they play is a reflection of me. I met with them. It's a reflection of me. It's not the coaches, it's me. And that's why it was my meeting today, because there are things we need to do better. If we flinch, it's my fault, and I understand that.
Q: So you met with the team by yourself today?ML: Lets not make a story with that. They had meetings with their other coaches today, too.
Q: You said last week that you liked these guys, and after the Pittsburgh game you mentioned how disappointed you were in the second half, but things turned out pretty much the same way in Houston:ML: Really disappointed over the last two weeks, but that's my job; to turn the psyche of this team. We are beaten up and we have to find a way to draw down and find a way to turn this around to get a win. That will cure a lot of the ills that everybody is feeling right now.
Q: You said you liked this team. What is it that you like?ML: The fact that our football team works. I dont have any malingerers, and people like that are tough to deal with on a day-to-day basis. A lot of people have to deal with stuff like that in professional sports, and I don't. When I come downstairs and its time to work, people are ready. Thats a big point, but it doesn't add up to anything because the ultimate goal is to win football games, and we are not doing that.
Q: At this point in the season, what can you change other than the psyche of the team? Can you change your coaching staff?ML: Well, we're not going to change coaching staffs. That's not going to occur. The thing we can do, though, is really look hard at ourselves. We have to try to find a way to do things better, whatever it may be. Find a way not to trip and stumble when you're getting through on the linebacker. Try to find a way not to fall down if you're the free blitzer. Try to find a way to make sure to get the guy down on the ground, no matter what the situation is, whether it's the kicking game or whatever. Don't stumble and fall at the point of attack. Those things, we've got to just keep finding a way. The only way to get better at something -- the only way to be confident and sure of something -- is to do it over and over again.
If you aren't sure about anything in life, going back to when you were in grade school, if you knew what was on that exam, you sat in the front row. If you weren't quite sure, you might shy away in the back of the room. So we've got to get in the front row. We have to understand what we're doing, and do it faster and do it better. I think that's important. That's the only way I know. When you've been embarrassed like we were, the only way to get away from that is to redeem yourself. And the only way to redeem yourself is to go do better, and do better right away, and not let it sit and spoil you.
Q: When you hear somebody say you've lost this team, how do you respond to that?ML: I have not heard that, so I don't know that and I don't think that's an issue. Maybe you would ask some of the guys in the room there, that would probably be better than to ask me.
Q: They say you haven't lost the team:ML: Well, then, I think that might be a good answer. But I don't understand what that means, other than if you would have people who don't listen to you, and they are going about doing things their way and so forth, and you're not playing in conjunction, in sync,. then you wouldn't have the bright spots that we have. Although they seem fleeting at times, there are some good things being done. And there are some things that we pay attention to, certain things and certain details, you see those things happening. But again, until you win, everything goes under the microscope every single day.
Q: What do you think about Johnathan Joseph's play on the Kevin Walter touchdown? People think it's lack of hustle:ML: It is, and that's a poor play. It's as poor a play as you can have on an NFL field.
Q: At the end of the Pittsburgh game, you told the team this can't happen again, but it did again in Houston. That has to be disheartening to you:ML: Well, it's not what I want. Some of these terms you guys come up with, I don't quite figure them out. But it's not what I want, and I've got to solve it.
Q: What do you mean when you say you like the positives?ML: Well, I talked to the team about things that I thought we did a pretty good job of. Offensively, we hadn't been very good on third down most of the year. Yesterday we were pretty good, but it's probably because we were better on first and second down most of the day. But there were still some third downs we need to get converted.
On defense, we weren't very good on third down, which is something we've been a little bit better at most of the year, and yesterday we weren't. Over this last three games, we've fallen off on third-down defense, and we've got to find a way to rectify that, and that's been disappointing.
Our punter, who has not had a very good last couple of outings, had his best outing punting the football. The three chances he had to hit the ball, he hit the ball very well. We got our kicker (Shayne Graham) back, and he was able to do some things in the kicking game.
Defensively, Pat Sims continues to play well and do some good things. We had some other guys step up and do some good things in the running game. But as I said, we didn't do a very good job consistently pressuring their quarterback and covering their guys, particularly on third down. Some of their deep play-action stuff, they throw it down the field, it's tough to cover. But you've got to get guys back in the throwing lane and maybe he has to hold the ball just for that count, and some of our guys had some pretty good rushes going on some of those plays. But he was able to deliver the ball just before we could get him.
I thought for the most part, as I said, we kept our quarterback clean. We got some good runs up in there with Cedric (Benson). We executed some of the plays, the special plays that you work on. And I thought those were good things. But again, not enough, long enough. So it all goes down to you flush it all, you're mad, you're upset, and you put it under the microscope and you've got to do it better.
Q: The Texans secondary has given up big plays all year, and your quarterback actually got some time to throw the ball. Why weren't you able to get anything done down the field?ML: We just didn't get anything done down the field.
Q: Boomer (Esiason)and Coach Bill Cowher both opined on CBS that your team quit on you:ML: I didnt see it. Again. I've learned in this room that people tell me about things other people say, and it's not always quite right, so I'll hesitate to comment. I know Boomer is just as big a Bengals fan as anybody, and he's disappointed when we don't win. So I'm sure it hurts him.
Q: Have you talked to Johnathan Joseph about that play?ML: Oh, yes. Immediately.
Q: So obviously he told you he thought he was down:ML: He thought he was down, but you don't have to think anymore. We'll get a spearing penalty maybe. But I mean, truly, that's the difference. Their guy gets a spearing penalty on T.J., and it's the same situation. We know what kind of football player Kevin Walter is. He'll fight you for everything you've got. And that's what you've got to be like. You've got to be more than way than the other way, in order to win and be productive in the NFL.
Q: So you'll take the spearing penalty anytime?ML: Well, I'm not going to take the spearing because there's a way to touch the guy down that's not spearing. You don't have to lead with your helmet to touch him down. All you've got to do is get there and finish the play. Just finish the play. It's a bad situation. A guy runs across the field who's not faster than you, and he catches the football on you -- I'm already upset. But then don't let it get worse. Don't make a bad play worse.