Opening comments: ML:
I'd like to hit a couple of the positives after looking at the game. I thought again, the young guys in the secondary did a great job. We gave up some plays, and didn't do everything perfect, but we were resilient. I thought we tackled very well which is important. Daniel Coats had some plays in the passing game that were significant and had some protection stuff that he handled very well. I thought as a whole, our offensive front did a great job.
Jason Taylor is a fine pass rusher, and we kept our QB clean except for one time when we had an error in protection. Defensively, the two runs that they had were due to alignment things. Otherwise, we played pretty consistent. We'd like to get a little more pressure on the QB and not give up the drive at the end of the game. Special teams had a good showing. We developed some core guys throughout the season. As we said earlier, the young guys had to cut their teeth out there and they got it done. Kyle (Larson) had to punt into the wind each time, and they had to fair catch the football.
Q: You said last week that the whole thing needs to be "blown up." Did you mean changes all around?ML:
I think I clarified myself yesterday. Don't take the extreme word I used. But things have to change. It's the end of a football season, and it's inevitable that changes occur. We need to start from anew. There have to be revisions to things we do, and need to understand that there has to be an urgency. What happens a lot in coaching is that you kind of just continue on, and you get stale. We have to find a better way. I have to take critical looks at things.
Q: Would that also involve finding new people?ML:
It's always going to be part of finding new people. That's what the NFL is all about.
Q: What about coaches?ML:
We'll look at that. But I'm very pleased with what our coaches have done this year. They went through some trying times with new players and injuries. There were a lot of situations where each and every week, you're looking at a different group of guys, and moving guys from position to position. I thought they handled that well. There are things we need to do better. We'll address those things. And some of the coaches will have other opportunities. We'll see what happens.
Q: When you say coaches have other opportunities, you mean they're going to look as well?ML:
There will be coaches that have opportunities. That's part of coaching in the NFL. We've been fortunate to this point and have not had much attrition. Guys enjoy living here and like working here. They haven't made lateral moves, just moves to go upwards.
Q: Carson said he thinks there needs to be changes on the coaching staff to take things to the next level:ML:
I appreciate Carson's opinion. That's the player's opinion which they have all the time. We'll move forward the way I feel we need to. I appreciate his perspective. I think he may have meant changes were inevitable, not the fact that he knows that it will help.
Q: You have a lot of key free agents. Have conversations come about yet?ML:
Not really. Some conversations will be had. I don't think we have that many.
Q: Is there potential for a quick deal this year, like you had with Robert Geathers last year?ML:
That's going to be a matter of how both sides can agree. We'll see what happens as we move forward. It's in our best interest that we can get some of the people done before the start of free agency. But it has to be important to the player as well.
Q: How much player personnel change do you feel there needs to be?ML:
We'll make some changes in our players. We do have some free agents, we have some guys in spots we'd like to fill and be better at. We have some young players that will come on and have their opportunity. And we have the draft, so there will be some things.
Q: One of your concerns is that guys were too worried about contracts, but isn't that the nature of the beast?ML:
It is. But it's something that you can't allow to get in the way of football. There comes a time for that, but once things are set, there's nothing you can do to change it other than going out and performing at the highest level. It's been part of this discussion every year.
Q: You draft ninth this year. Do you think there will be an impact player there?ML:
It's way too early for me to answer that question. But I'm sure, when that time comes around, there will be a good player there.
Q: Guys have talked about going back to the way things were in '03. Is there any way you can do that?ML:
Yeah. I think that's important to the guys. I think they came out and played football the last couple of weeks with it that way. That's got to be part of it. The guys who have been here know what that's all about.
Q: Do you think it's from some of the guys having success and others not?ML:
It's part of the nature. Unfortunately there is a persona that comes with a little success. We need to make sure we remember how we got there and not get away from the principles we built upon.
Q: What identity do you want your football team to have?ML:
We need to be a physical football team. If we're not, we're going to struggle week-in and week-out. We're always going to be able to throw the football. We have a fine, outstanding quarterback. We have to be able to run the football effectively to take pressure off him. We have to defend the run effectively and not allow explosive plays. You have to win your third downs. If you do those things, you'll be successful. We had14 turnovers in the first five games, and you can't do that. You're putting yourself in jeopardy of not being very good. You might end up being 1-4 if you have 14 turnovers after five games (smiles), because you can't overcome that. Those things led us to where we are today. We didn't strap a couple of wins back to back to get out of that funk.
Q: Another common theme among the players was lack of discipline. Would you agree?ML:
Probably some of those same guys are the ones who need to be more disciplined themselves at times.
Q: Justin Smith and Dexter Jackson both said that some guys were more concerned about their personal stats than they were about the big picture. Do you see that?ML:
I think that's always something you have to guard against. We had some guys achieve some personal stats, and hopefully they come in the scope of winning games. Some of that stuff is irrelevant if you're not playing at the end of the year. That's one of the things that Carson understands now. Really, it doesn't matter how many yards he has and I think he would say that.
He's figured out that if we don't do things correctly, his yardage doesn't matter. That's been an area of growth, particularly for him. He realizes that some days, it's not up to him to throw it that many times, and we're better if he doesn't. We're blessed that he can, and sometimes you have to. Like yesterday, they stuck eight guys in there all day, and we had to throw it. We had some success, and by the end of the game, we were able to mix things up pretty good. He has the maturity now to understand that.
Q: You're now the senior coach in the division, with Brian Billick's firing. Does that add more urgency?ML:
I don't know that you could add more urgency to me. You'd be hard-pressed.
Q: Any comment on Brian?ML:
It's unfortunate. I started with Brian. I am feeling what he means to me, having coached for him, and the friend he's been to me.
Q: As a coach in this era, is it impossible to treat everyone the same?ML:
You're kidding yourself if think you can treat everyone the same. There has never been an era where you could treat everyone the same. But more specific to your question, you are capable of putting together a fine team. Guys who want to learn, work hard, learn more, revel in being the best, revel in being the smartest. You can do that. In order to take the next step, that's what you need to have. You want to be precise in everything you do. Those are the things you have to do, go back and look at the details and make sure you're getting that.
Q: Do you feel like you have the guys that you can be that smart football team that you want to be?ML:
I think we will be.
Q: Do you have any guys facing medical issues?ML:
Yes. We'll have some guys that have some stuff cleaned up over the next couple of weeks.