Opening comments: ML:
We came out of the game in relatively good health. The only injury sustained was in pregame warmups with Kyle Cook, who dislocated a toe, but was able to come back and play. Other than that, we came out of the game in pretty good shape, except for the normal bumps and bruises. I think a couple of the guys who are on the mend, Corey Mays and Dexter Jackson, will be closer to playing this week. We'll see how the week goes and whether they can work and practice. Other than that we're in pretty good health. We'll have some guys who have nagging ailments who might need a little bit of time this week, but then will be ready to go.
Q: On the two-point conversation, why a fade pattern to a tight end? ML:
It came from the game plan, that's the play that was called. You can evaluate all your information, but that's your judgment.
Q: Seems like with your two Pro Bowlers on the other side:ML:
That's right, we had all the coverage on the other side, and single coverage with a safety vs. our tight end. We thought it was a pretty good matchup.
Q: How is Carson's elbow? ML:
His elbow is fine. We'll see where he is Wednesday. But he came through the game fine.
Q: Did you see anything in the game that affected Carson's throwing? I'm thinking of the one over Chris Perry's head on the move:ML:
He was on the move, and I'm sure he wishes he had it back, but we didn't make a good connection there.
Q: But it wasn't the elbow?ML:
Q: There weren't a lot of downfield balls, is that because of Carson's elbow?ML:
How many have you seen this year? We had a couple of downfield plays called, and they (Jets) were on top in the coverage. We had a downfield called where T.J. Houshmandzadeh ended up breaking up the ball coming across the field. We had an opportunity to go to Chad (Ocho Cinco), and the safety was way over the top. One of the good things Carson did yesterday was not force the ball in there and try to prove to anybody that he could throw the ball downfield.
Q: Why haven't you gone downfield this year?ML:
We haven't been able to get the ball over the top, and we have to keep working at that. We've been getting a lot of top coverage on one side, and haven't been able to stretch them vertically on the other. We don't want the ball to go into the coverage if they are there in position.
Q: Is it guys not getting open?ML:
I think I just kind of explained it. We're going to let the plays dictate themselves. We probably need to do a better job of creating some of those plays.
Q: What can (Chris) Perry do to improve his ball security?ML:
He has to just keep working on it. We can't have three lost fumbles and five fumbles in five games. We have to do a better job in practice, making sure we are going for the ball all the time. Although, last week he took a helmet to the ball which made him fumble and this week they had the wrap around. But the hard part about doing it in practice is, you don't want a lot of guys tangled up going after the ball like you might want to do in training camp.
Q: With the small margin for error, and (Cedric) Benson coming in for the full week of practice, does that allow you to make a change on how many carries go to one back and to the other?ML:
Well, we have to take care of the football. I'm not going to sit here and explain how we are going to handle that situation. We want Chris (Perry) to take care for the ball and do that just like everybody else that handles the football on this team is asked to do. As Cedric learns more about this offense and understands where he needs to go, his role has an opportunity to expand. We should sign Kenny (Watson) this week to add a back and bring him back to his position on the team.
Q: Is Kenny (Watson) healthy enough to play this Sunday?ML:
He was healthy on Friday, but he wasn't going to play in the game on Sunday (at Dallas), so we released him to have the extra (roster) spot. But we plan to sign him back.
Q: You talked about the lack of big plays on offense, but defensively it seems:ML:
We allowed the big pass across the field to Terrell Owens and then the early fourth-down run they had was huge. We have to do a better job on playing on the perimeter.
Q: Some of the alumni who struggled through tough seasons have talked about how they didn't want to go out, made their wives go out and get gas for them, had the tinted windows, didn't want to go shopping:ML:
I don't know about that. That's probably not the way to go about things like that. Why don't we stick to a question that is relevant?
Q: What does losing do to the psyche of the coaches and players?ML:
It doesn't do anything. We want to win. My job every day is to come here and get things going and moving, and that's what we're going to do. We don't come around here with our tail between our legs. We'll be ready to go in New York. Psyche only is a problem with weak-minded people who quit at the drop of a hat, so it's not going to affect many people in this building.
Q: Are you committed to honor your contract?ML:
Q: The league's official website reported that you have been told your job is safe through the end of the contract:ML:
That's great. I appreciate that (laughs). I honestly don't think anything has ever changed here. The commitment that I made five years ago here and two years ago (with a contract extension), is that we'd see this thing all the way through and get us back to where we were (division championship level in 2005). We've taken some lumps this year, and that doesn't change how I approach what I do.
I'm excited about our football team. I actually like our football team, other than being 0-5. I like our guys. I like what we're doing. We're working very, very hard. We're not creating enough plays. Our margin for error is very, very slim. But they come here and they come to work. We go out there and we play football games.
We dug a bad hole yesterday; a huge hole on the road in a tough place to play against a good football team, and we were able to dig out of it by making some plays and making some things happen. It wasn't all pretty, but it all wasn't totally bad. We fought the thing down and we had a chance to make some plays at the end of the game that mattered. I told our team we needed to win the third quarter; well, we won the third, we just didn't win the fourth. We have to find a way to not be behind in the game, and go ahead and win the second half and win the fourth quarter. Those are things we talk about. We've made some progress, not nearly enough, and I'm not satisfied with where we are that way.
Q: What's your opinion on the offensive line play yesterday?ML:
Again, whether it be seven or eight guys, whoever it is, that are blocking, whether it be receivers, tight ends, fullbacks, etc., and those five guys, we're just not consistent enough. We did a lot of things really well. But we still have to keep being more consistent. We've gotten beat in unconventional ways, where a guy jumps under a block, around a block, etc., a little different than we expect it.
We need to be a little better with our footwork and expect the unexpected a little bit, because that's what's jamming us up. We got off to a great start in the second quarter (at Dallas), and then in the third and fourth quarter, when we need to make a little hay running the football and get some things going, we weren't able to get enough movement. Both our backs have to continue to stay on track a little better and let those guys do their jobs. And I think that's important too, that we keep doing that and allow the thing to get set up. So we're going to keep working at it. We're going to practice the running game harder on both sides of the football and keep addressing that.
Q: Are you going to have to have a rebuilding year to allow this young defensive to regenerate? You haven't gotten much production from some top draft picks:ML:
I don't know that we have had any high draft picks.
Q: Your second and third round picks (WRs Jerome Simpson and Andre Caldwell) have barely played:ML:
I said the defensive players. As far as the offense, if you'd like me to sit Chad (Ocho Cinco) and T.J. (Houshmandzadeh) down and put those two young guys in then, you tell me when you're ready to do that. OK?
Q: Are you rebuilding?ML:
We're having to in some regards. When you lose a David Pollack, an Odell Thurman, a Kenny Irons -- all high draft picks -- you have to replace them. We replace them with new players. Unfortunately they're younger players and you have to develop them. We just played a group of guys, and how many of those guys were drafted by the Dallas Cowboys? Almost 90 percent of them. You have to let your guys get out there, and they have to play and work, and when you're in your third and fourth year with those guys, they're playing better football. And they play together, and they get that sense of togetherness and how it should fit and how it should work.
Not that they didn't have any bad plays yesterday, but you get a sense of that togetherness. We got some good, positive plays again from Keith (Rivers). We got some good play from Chinedum (Ndukwe) and Marvin (White) - those guys are battling. Leon Hall again, battling. We get Johnathan (Joseph) back a little yesterday. I'm not saying it's good enough. We're not satisfied with anything. We've got to do it better and do it longer, and we've got to do it for 60 minutes and win a football game.
Q: Do you remember Cedric Benson from '05? What did you see in him that made you want to pick him up, and how did he look to you Sunday?ML:
I don't remember him from '05, because we weren't in the market for a top back at that point. But yesterday, I thought he ran with great pad level. I thought he was pretty decisive in his cuts, in his movement, which is important right now where we are, I think, offensively, that we go ahead and we let the guys up front work, and kind of ride the wave a little bit. That's one thing that we continue to coach Chris (Perry) on very hard, to take the ball vertically and then let things happen. When Chris is taking the ball vertically, good things are happening. He had a fine run yesterday on the touchdown that was called back. So those kind of things are important, and that's where we are offensively right now. We need to take what's given, and come and play the next play. So make the positive plays right now and make it happen, because that will create more and more runs. We have to keep putting those plays together.
Q: How long will it take Cedric Benson to become a full part of the offense?ML:
It's going to take a little bit of time. There will be some things that for a while, he'll be a little bit unsure of, which will cause me to be a little anxious about how much he's in the game. We can't create all the different looks and the things that perhaps could happen. Now I will tell you, he's a very diligent worker, and hopefully he'll continue to be a diligent learner at what he has to do, so that we become more comfortable with those things, and then hopefully he'll go ahead and execute it. And that's the biggest part of a running back coming in. The natural part of carrying the football, that's the easy part. It's the other things that come with it that tax you a little bit more and can be just as important at times.
Q: You were talking about the turnover on the roster. Since '06 there's been significant turnover:ML:
Well, we've had a little bit of change through injury, unfortunately. That's the way it is. But we've got to keep retooling. You've got a lot of our recent picks that are playing. As they continue to grow and play, they do good things. We've just got to keep relying on that and let them work. The system works, it's just you don't get an unlimited number of them.