Opening comments: ML:
In looking at the Jets, they have had a couple of games that have been opposites. Three weeks ago in San Diego, they got behind early, and basically played the whole second half in a one-minute mode (offensively). Two weeks ago, when they played the Arizona Cardinals, kind of the opposite took place. So you have two games that are on either end of the spectrum and are a little hard to figure out. Then they had the week off last week.
Offensively, they can be an explosive team with Brett Favre as their quarterback. (Laveranues) Coles and (Jerricho) Cotchery are doing a great job catching the football. They have in the past been able to run the football effectively and so, in that fashion, are a dangerous team. Defensively, they have done a nice job up front. They've had leads in three of their games that enabled them to really get after the quarterback. It has made a big difference. Then on special teams, (Leon) Washington has done a nice job as a kickoff and punt returner. He's a dangerous guy in the return phase.
Our challenge is No. 1 to be able to establish and do a better job than we have done all year of running the football, which will take some pressure off our pass game. Defensively, we have tried to take coverage to people, and not give up explosive plays, and we have to continue to do a better job of that. The Jets are a good team, and we have to go on the road. But we match up well with them.
Q: Another 3-4 defense; will that familiarity help you? ML:
It does. We're in a string of five 3-4s in a row. So basically its all but two teams we've played this year, and Pittsburgh next week. Its a similar style to what we have faced the past two weeks (Cleveland and Dallas). It will be good for us. We will be the first 4-3 front they will play. We have to go figure out what kind of runs they like against the 4-3.
Q: What's the latest on Carson?ML:
Well, we'll do as we did last week. (Limit him in practice on Wednesday and Thursday and then further evaluate). I think he's already kind of filled you guys in on that.
Q: Your pass protection was improved Sunday. Do you hope to build on that, and does it extend beyond the front line?ML:
The pass protection sometimes is thought to be all on those five guys up front, whereas it actually ends up being everybody involved. And I thought that everybody involved did a better job of being where they needed to be. We were getting on the assigned guy and seeing the looks the receivers make and the proper breaks, the quarterback delivering the ball, with the timing. I think thats important. So I would hope that yes, we continue to do those things. A little bit of carryover in some areas, running game-wise, would be helpful.
We need to be able to get on the right guys and get some movement and get some cracks and get some runs. You know, looking at last weeks game, you put a 17-yard touchdown run in there, wed have felt a little better about the day. (A TD run was nullified by penalty). Because then we wouldnt have had a couple other carries or a couple other throws. But it doesnt work that way, and one tug of the jersey (for a penalty), and we are where we are. Thats the way it is.
Q: The Jets up front are a much different football team than the one you faced last year:ML:
Yeah, they've got some different guys doing a lot of the same things, but they're doing it with probably improved people. Kris Jenkins is playing very well. We know Calvin Pace is a very good football player and then they go with Alan Faneca on offense, and you mentioned Damien Woody was playing out at tackle, which is a new spot for him. Again, I think the trigger guy is a big difference in their offense - how he does things and how he plays the game. He's playing pretty efficiently if you watch him through their games since hes been with them.
Q: Has the addition of Favre changed their running game?ML:
I still think they ran the football well. But when they got to third downs two weeks ago, they threw the ball. They tried to keep the run going and shorten the clock as much as they could in the second half of that game. But on third downs, they did trust him to take care of the football and deliver it, and he threw it. Even on fourth-and-whatever. They went for it at one point late in the game, rather than chance the field goal block. I guess they decided to go for it and ended up getting a big touchdown play.
Q: Has Carson's elbow stopped you from throwing deep?ML:
No, it has not.
Q: Will you have trouble dividing carries among your three running backs?ML:
No, we will not.
Q: Chad (Ocho Cinco) told us about how you are encouraging him to smile; do you like his attitude so far?ML:
He's trying his very best. He's working hard at it. It's a funny thing, but there was a receiver across the field last Sunday (Terrell Owens), who had only one pass thrown to him. One completion, one catch, and it was a big play. That's what you have to look to. The quarterback is coached to throw the football to what he perceives is the weakness of the coverage through the design of the play. He doesn't survey the field. He has reads and he has progressions he has to get through, and unfortunately, sometimes the coverage may dictate that you don't get as many opportunities as you wish.
We're still working hard to provide those opportunities, and you've got to point to some of these other guys, who when they get their chance, they thrive on it, and that's what you've got to do. I think that's a maturity thing that Chad has worked hard on. It's like anything else. It's like that three-point shooter or that great pass-rusher -- you'd like to get them going early, because I think that helps that confidence level, it helps them fuel themselves by touching the football. Sometimes you won't be able to do that out there, but we're going to keep trying to do it with all of them. But as I told you last week, I thought Carson did a nice job of not forcing the football. He let the things unfold, let the things happen. He had to move a couple times and he did that. He delivered the ball where it needed to be delivered, and that was a good thing.
Q: You play in the same stadium where you played three weeks ago; is that going to be an advantage?ML:
I think you asked that question on Monday. Let me see if I can give you the same answer (laughs). Yes, it should help. As you said, we'll know the surroundings, we'll go to the same locker room. I heard we'll have different clubhouse guys. But anyway, it is going to be familiar. But once you kick the football game off, that stuff goes out the window. It's 11-on-11.
Q: Are there adjustments ready, since you said you had problems with the headsets there the last time?ML:
That's a league thing, and hopefully we won't have that issue. It's out of our hands and hopefully they'll address it. It was reported to them because they were the ones telling us that there might be a problem going into it. Hopefully we don't have an issue with it, particularly on third downs.
Q: Can you comment on the rumors that the 49ers are interested in trading for T.J. Houshmandzadeh?ML:
Boy, that's a bad rumor, huh? I mean, let's just talk about it a little bit. No. 1, you're going to get a club in trouble for tampering, and that club has already been penalized once this year, very harshly. No. 2, what club in its right mind would trade for a player that's going to be an unrestricted free agent? Again, if you're going to start a rumor, make it a good one. Make it something that makes some sense to people inside the NFL. You know? It's unfortunate.
The thing I hate about it is that that headline gets on the Red Zone or whatever those sites are, and that makes it look like a story, when it's not a story and it's unfortunate it ever got posted. If we would count back, there's probably seven, eight, nine, ten of those that have been on that particular site that come from one particular group, and that's unfortunate. Let's try to do a better job of reporting facts and so forth that way.
Q: You had a nice turnout for the Hometown Huddle community service event with the players yesterday:ML:
I think it was. With where we are in the season, I've been taking a lot of heat for saying I like our football team, but I do like our football team. I like what we're doing. Our football team is a better football team than what started this year. We haven't won a football game, and don't ever anybody think I'm satisfied with that. Or that that ever sits well with me, because it doesn't.
But I think it was good for guys to get out and know how fortunate they are, and that's what I told them. You've made commitments to be there and do it. We don't like where we are, but you know what? The only way we can go about it and change it is to go do something about it, and you know what? (Tuesday) you had a chance to do something thing to change something and make it better. That's what's life is about. They're not going to have their tail between their legs, they're going to play.
We're going to fight and win this football game in New York this week. I was satisfied, I was glad. I think they all had a good time. It's good to see them out there laughing and having fun together. Because that's how they came in here. They come in here and practice hard. We prepare hard and that's what we've got to do. We've got to make football plays. We're going to keep grinding at it until we make plays that win games and then we're going to be on a roll. It'll be done and we won't go back on it, because they'll savor it. That's why you do it.