Opening comments: ML:
We had a couple injuries to note from yesterday. Madieu Williams has a thigh bruise. Eric Ghiaciuc has a strained knee, and he came back to play, and Glenn Holt has a strained shoulder. I think Madieu probably won't be able to do much on Wednesday, the other guys, maybe a little limited on Wednesday. Willie Anderson has an opportunity to play this week, we'll see how the week unfolds for him. We came out of the game in relatively fair shape, for our standards, early on. I'm sure we'll have some other things that will prop up upon us that guys have been dealing with all year. As far as the overall picture, it's pretty good.
After watching the tape, I have a better answer for yesterday's question about our run-pass balance. Actually we had a pretty good mix at halftime. In the second quarter, we had a series where it ended up being all throws, and we had a series in the third quarter which was all throws, and we had success with it. Then we got off track when we snapped the ball because we thought their guy was in the neutral zone, which by tape, I believe he was, and then secondly, we had the missed assignment on the next play which was a run, and we ended up behind it.
You just kind of get off kilter, and you get four or five more throws in a row than you set out for. I think it gets to be a little disproportioned. Then we came back in the end of the third quarter and fourth quarter and had some significant runs paired together. Four yards, six yards, and those things, as you go back through the play by play and watch the tape, you realize that it wasn't as disproportionate as it seemed.
Q: A lot of it goes back to not being able to convert third downs?ML:
Yes. We missed a high throw twice, we were probably a little short on a route, we get bumped off on a protection. One guy kind of bumps feet with another guy, which ends up getting the guy into our quarterback's feet earlier than he should have been, and he would've been blocked, but we kind of bumped into each other. As a staff, we have to coach better. We weren't as consistent in areas as we need to be. Same thing in special teams. A lot of good things, but we had a penalty for offsides, a penalty for block in the back, and a fumble, and missed a field goal. Those four plays were very significant in the football game, and they make a huge difference.
Still, we had a lot of good things. We were able to play field position, cover our kickoffs, have positive kickoff returns, and have a positive punt return. I think those things, in a close football game, make a big difference. When you go back to the tape, it's a play here, a play there, it's a penalty, it's missing a block, so we need to be more consistent.
Q: The quarterback has had inconsistent play recently which is unusual. What do you attribute that to?ML:
It's very unusual, and he was inconsistent and we'll let it go at that. Carson's a fine player, and he will be fine. We just have to make sure that we're protecting him when we need to protect him, and that he's on his mark and doing his job, and that we're in the right spots, whether it be the running game or passing game.
Q: How has Stacy Andrews graded at right tackle?ML:
I think Stacy, physically, has done some things pretty well. The things that have disappointed me the most have been the false start penalties, and he had two yesterday. Those are significant, because they came at inopportune times. Yesterday, when we were at a critical point in the football game, third down and two, at the twenty, now we're back up to third and seven. It's important that he does a better job with those kind of things.
Q: Two areas which are important to control are turnovers and field position, which you did. It must be disappointing:ML:
We didn't take advantage, offensively, of the field position at all. We didn't score touchdowns, we missed on throws, we missed on catches in both situations. We have to do a better job. That was the disappointing thing. You need to come out of there with points. You knew because of field conditions, particularly at the one end, you wouldn't be able to kick a 40-yard field goal. It was very soggy and nasty there. You have to be conscious of that. We were in four-down situations quite a bit. That means you have to catch the five or six-yard checkdowns, and now we're fourth-and-manageable, or less than it would have been.
Q: On the sack which would have been a safety, but was nullified by penalty, what did you think of the penalty?ML:
Once it's done, it's done.
Q: Kind of ticky-tack?ML:
Once it's done, it's done. It's unfortunate.
Q: Do you trace the lack of consistency to discipline?ML:
Every game you have a different plan. You plan against different people, and you get different looks. Discipline is part of it, but there are new looks and things which change. The pieces vary every play. There is a discipline part of it, but it's not as simple as where you're headed with that. It's part of playing pro football. The other side has the same things. They won the football game and they had some of the same holes. We just have to do better. We had opportunities to put ourselves in position to score a lot more points, and we didn't do that.
Q: Did the defense keep playing at a winning level, or did they take a step back?ML:
Other than one run, we managed the running game very well. We were in good spots for the most part, and they tackled well. We need to be tighter sometimes in coverages, whether it be man or zone, there are some things we could do just a little better. Manage the quarterback. He had two plays in a row where he avoided sacks. One he scored a touchdown, the other he had a 10-yard completion. I think those are things which you need to continue to do better, and know it's a priority. We did it much better than the first time, but obviously not well enough, because we lost. Those are part of the reasons why we didn't win the football game
Q: Did the field condition hurt your pass rush?ML:
When you're playing on that thing, it's hard to get much of a pass rush. In those long third- down situations, they weren't going to take the sack. They ran the draw, they ran the screen.
Q: You're in a new spot for December. You've been in contention more often than not. What do you do now?ML:
Coach better. It's simple. Coach harder. Play better, play harder, and don't change.
Q: Just stick to basics?ML:
We have the chance to win four more games, so it's important.
Q: How do you feel about the situation?ML:
We don't have enough time here to talk about that. We're going to let that one go. My feelings don't matter.
Q: How are the guys reacting?ML:
I don't know. I think they'll be fine. I think they'll be very resilient. We'll come to work and get after it on Wednesday. We'll see where we are personnel wise. Because of bumps and bruises, some other guys may get opportunities.
Q: What do you use for motivation?ML:
The motivation is called 'professional athletics.' You're a pro. You're either going to be a pro, or you won't be here. It's that easy. You don't have to motivate anyone.
Q: The first offensive drive was great. Did their defense change, or execute better?ML:
We didn't score any points. We converted our third downs in the first drive. We found windows, and put the ball where it needed to be, and protected. We weren't consistent.
Q: So it wasn't what they were doing, but what you weren't doing?ML:
Yes. They haven't changed in 15 years. They do a good job coaching their guys, and they do a good job matching in coverage. We had open guys we didn't get the ball to, they had open guys who caught the ball and made first downs. We have to be consistent.
Q: Is there a point when you look at personnel for next year?ML:
No. Next year has nothing to do with right now. None of us are promised next year. You nor I.