First I'll update the injuries from yesterday. Herana-Daze Jones has a bruise to the knee, as does Reggie Kelly. Anthony Schlegel has a back injury, and Chad Johnson has the neck strain. On Wednesday, we'll see where they are. All four have the opportunity to play in the next game. John Thornton, who missed last week, has the opportunity to be back. The other three guys, Willie Anderson, Ahmad Brooks, Caleb Miller, we'll see where they are on Wednesday.
Q: Since it was such a big deal yesterday, is there anything else you can add regarding Chad's injury? Is he doing well today?ML:
Yes. He's here working. He's fine.
Q: Your players are saying this is the toughest spot they've been in with you as head coach, and that they will just keep working:ML:
It has to be smart work, efficient work, productive work. No question. We're in a tough spot. The way to get out of it is to work, and be productive. We need to be correct, be timely with it, efficient, and get things done correctly. More correctly, more often. They understand that we have to sustain things for a 60-minute football game.
Q: How easy would it be for players to become blasé, giving you the tough job of making sure they keep it up? ML:
We would have to change that player out. The player would have to find another place to work.
Q: Are you satisfied that you have guys who are putting forth the effort?ML:
Yes. I don't think that's an issue. It's not fair to the other guys in there.
Q: You've talked about tackling until you're blue in the face. It still appears to be an Achilles heel:ML:
Yes. It was a negative again yesterday. The tackling was not a good thing.
Q: What more can you do?ML:
Keep working on tackling.
Q: Do you go through serious contact tackling drills in practice?ML:
No. We'll just keep doing what we're doing. Keep doing it. Maybe there will be some guys that aren't in those spots when it's time to make those critical tackles. If you're not willing to make the critical tackle, you probably don't deserve the opportunity.
Q: It sounds like you're thinking about shaking things up a little bit:ML:
I'm not shaking things up. If a guy isn't going to make a tackle for us ... well, everyone in this building is counting on our guys to make the big tackles. It's not a shake-up by any stretch of the imagination. A shake-up is doing something out of the ordinary. This is a very fundamental aspect of football, and you make changes when you need to.
Q: Changes are always possible?ML:
They are always possible. That's correct.
Q: Is it because guys are too often in one-on-one situations?ML:
One-on-one plays happen in football all the time. You can't do anything about that. You have to make tackles. There are also key points when you're at the point of attack when you have to make tackles. It may be a three-yard loss, rather than a two-yard game. That all plays a part in the outcome of the football game. We have to do a better job.
Q: At what point do you say 'What we're doing day in and day out isn't working'?ML:
There's only one way to improve tackling, and that's keeping emphasis on it. What we're doing is continuing to emphasize it. If you think we should stop, maybe we should stop, but it would probably be a lot worse.
Q: I mean to the point of 'What we're doing isn't showing up on Sunday'?ML:
You have to change the player out, as I said earlier. If that player isn't getting it, it's not fair to the other guys in the building. If indeed it's one player at the point of attack time and time again. We're not tackling well enough, and that's the point.
Q: The running game had improved the previous two games. Yesterday, it statistically regressed. What was the biggest change yesterday from the two previous games?ML:
I don't think we did things as well fundamentally. We fell off some things, and that hurt us. It comes back to the same things. We have to make sure we continue to stay on it fundamentally and not allow things to erode. Whether it be footwork, vision, or coming off at the same tempo. All of those things have to happen, and we need to be efficient with it. We took ourselves out of a couple of plays. We snapped a ball when we though they were offsides. We took ourselves out of a couple of plays through audibles. There were more runs and more opportunities we took ourselves out of. Obviously I'm not happy with the way we ran the football yesterday and more importantly, the fact that we lost the game. You have to look at the reasons why, and I think that was a part of it, our inability to sustain the run.
Q: Is the running back absolved from the lack of productivity?ML:
Yes. I continue to tell you that. Generally the other 10 guys have a lot more to do with it. When a running back loses a step, that's easy to see, and we're going to see it before you ever would. The running backs were on their tracks yesterday, both in the running game and on protection.
Q: Mike Brown came out over the weekend and said he supports you. Does that mean anything to you?ML:
I know that, day-in and day-out. I'm happy for it because I guess if he did it, it makes you guys all relaxed, gives you something else to do. But it doesn't change the situation we're in. He nor I are happy where we are. There's nobody who wants to win more than Mike, who wants to figure out how and why and how we can fix it more than he does. He doesn't sleep much. He spends every waking moment he has trying to figure out how we make this thing right.
Q: Would it help to have a general manager here?ML:
That's not my thing to worry about. Beating the Baltimore Ravens ... you want to talk about the Baltimore Ravens this week, I'll talk about them.
Q: But would it help you to have a GM?ML:
That's got nothing to do with what I have anything to do with this week. What I have to worry about is the Baltimore Ravens. The game's over yesterday. It's almost 24 hours. We've got to move on. Let's get to the Baltimore Ravens.
Q: In general, do you think there are more neck injuries in the league now?ML:
No, there's no more than ever in this year. There's not -- not at all.
Q: Can we get a Chris Perry update?ML:
This is the week where we do have to return Chris to practice. So he'll return in a limited basis to practice this week on Wednesday.
Q: Any concern that with your players getting older, that the team's window of opportunity is closing?ML:
There's an undefeated team in the NFL right now that's got a lot of guys over 30. So I think that window of opportunity is something that people write about, but I don't know. You win with players, and mature players a lot of times make it a little easier. There's no question that Willie (Anderson), our eldest player, is a little older than the other guys. But other than that, I think we're not an old football team by any stretch of the imagination.