Opening comments: ML:
We'll begin with the guys who came out of the game with injuries. John Thornton had a stinger, and things seem to be better today. We'll see how he is on Wednesday. Herana-Daze Jones has a shoulder injury. He's undergoing a scan right now, so we'll see how he is. Kenny Watson had a concussion, which subsided today. He'll undergo the normal procedure, and looks to be fine. Otherwise, guys came out in pretty good shape from the game yesterday.
After watching the tape I think the one thing you have to know going into the game is, you have to play good, sound football. You want to make some plays to change field position. Offensively we did a good job. Defensively we stopped the first drive, offensively we take it down and get points. Then, later in the game, early on, we have an opportunity to down a punt that leads to a significant play in the game where on third-and-one, we lose the ball. Those kind of plays make a big difference in a game.
Defensively, we allowed two runs which really affected field position. For the most part, we played the running game well. You have those two plays, a 37-yard run and a 12-yard run, that make a big difference. We allowed the pass on the double move, then later, a touchdown. That, and the touchdown before the half were significant plays. Offensively, we did some things moving the football. We were able to run the ball, 8, 9, 10 yards at a clip sometimes. But we didn't convert all of our red zone chances, which ended up being a big part of the game.
We were down 21-6 at the half, and they were able to do some things in their secondary which slowed us down, and didn't allow the big plays, although we did have some opportunities and didn't come down with them.
On special teams, we continue to move forward. But I would like to see them make some significant plays, and plays that would change the game. We're covering kickoffs better, but we're not getting the big hits and were not getting the ball down inside the 20. Yesterday, we had a couple of opportunities, but we have to do a better job of avoiding the block, and then making the play around the 20-yard line. Return-wise, it was a better day. There are still some things where we lose a guy once in a while and we don't get all those returns out beyond the 30 where we'd like to have it. We continue to move ahead. I think all in all we have to keep running to the football, keep finishing better on offense, and keep doing the things we're doing.
I'm not going to panic about anything at this point. I'll just keep working hard at what we're doing.
Q: On the 42 yard play to Santonio Holmes, did the play clock expire?ML:
Q: What was the explanation on that?ML:
The back judge felt that when he looked up from the play-clock to the line, the ball was being snapped.
Q: The only game you've led at halftime was the opener. What can you do to motivate the guys to start faster?ML:
We'll work at it. It obviously plays a part. When you have to come back in the second half, like we've had to for the past three weeks, it takes a toll on you. Fortunately, our offensive guys have been up to it. They have been able to stay in there. We protected the quarterback well yesterday, and our quarterback played well on his feet. We don't want to have to put it on his shoulders all the time, or the offense's shoulders. The other games, we've had some turnovers which made a big difference. But yesterday, that wasn't the issue. We allowed three touchdown drives that we can't allow, and coming back offensively, we have to play well in the red zone.
Q: After having a night to sleep on the fourth and one at the two, what's your feeling now?ML:
I still feel like we're going to possess the ball three more times by taking the (field goal). We had the opportunity to stop them and get the ball back before halftime, and have the ball kicked to us at the beginning of the third quarter. I'm probably going to still kick the field goal. It was a good yard (for a first down).
I just have to go with the information I'm getting. We had a little bit of a rundown on the play-clock because we didn't get the ball spotted right away, and we didn't get much progress on that play, either. Once I called time out and asked for a measurement, it was a little further than we anticipated. It's easy to look back now, particularly after they score a touchdown, and think that makes the difference. At that point, getting the points was important.
Obviously the players want to go for it, the fans want to go. And if we run it and don't make it, we should have thrown, and if we throw it and don't make it, we should have run. That's the other side to the coin. It was important to get points. The other negative was, if you don't stop them, you're not going to get a lot of possessions.
Q: Are you someone who, when faced with a tough decision, you think about it a lot, or make it and move on?ML:
I make it and move on at that point, but I think about it a lot afterwards.
Q: Was the fourth-down call something you wrestled with last night?ML:
Oh yeah. Obviously when they go down and score a touchdown, I wrestled with it from that point on. But that's part of this. There are lots of decisions that come up in a game that happen that way. Do you risk it on fourth down? Are you punting the football? Those kind of things come up. Most of the time, you don't notice them, but they are things that come up for us within the scope of the game. You always have those kind of things. We have to go in with the plan we have, and hopefully the plan holds, and we get it done and execute.
Q: Did the third-and-one when Kenny was stopped and lost the football have any affect on your decisions?ML:
No. The momentum in the game, number one. And if we are unsuccessful, we give them a lot of momentum. Getting the points, having the chance to kick off and put them down there again. I can't assume that we're not going to cover the kick, or that we'll let them go 70 yards for a TD. I have to assume we'll tackle them on the 20-yard-line and we'll force a three-and-out, if not a turnover.
Q: What if one of your coaches had said with conviction, 'Coach, we're running this play, and we'll score a TD?' Would that have more influence?ML:
Let's move forward. That one's over with. We don't get it back.
Q: Is this the toughest challenge you've had, being at 2-5?ML:
It is tough. No one expected us to be sitting here at this point with this record. So it is tough. We'll be up to the challenge. We'll get back to work on Wednesday and stack good plays on good plays. We have enough leadership in the locker room, and with our coaches, we'll get back and get after it. The players have a chance to stay away from here today and not have to sit and go through it as much with the coaches, and the coaches have a chance to gather their thoughts. It's important that we move forward and make corrections. We don't get it back.
Q: Not having any meetings today was pre-planned?ML:
Yes. I need to have a meeting next week, and I had a meeting last week. So I planned that this would be the week to not go with it.
Q: Is this a team still looking at the possibility of the playoffs?ML:
We can't worry. The playoffs are possible. The playoffs are there. The playoffs are not out of reach. But we don't need to worry about them. We need to worry about win number three in Buffalo this week. That's what's important. This is the game that counts. We don't need to look ahead. If we take care of ourselves, we'll be fine. And at this point, we can still do that. Let's take care of what we have to take care of, and do our jobs.
Q: How do you improve the tackling?ML:
Part of tackling is wanting to. The other part is putting yourself in the right position. We continue to coach that, and we'll continue to run to the football hard. We don't just want a guy to come up and make one play and jump up and beat his chest. Let's have 60 plays of that. Let's get that going.
Q: You say your pressure is internal. Have you found yourself applying more pressure?ML:
I always do.
Q: Does it change weekly?ML:
I don't think it changes week-to-week. There's only one goal every week. That goal doesn't change.
Q: You're surprised, the players are surprised. How do you get them to maintain composure?ML:
You have to go back to the little things. Why are we not doing this? Why is this blowing up in our face? That's all. Keep it at that. We have some guys who care a lot. Those guys can still put us on their shoulders, as long as they don't get outside the realm of what they're supposed to do, and move us forward.
Q: New England's players rallied around their coach when they were accused of cheating. Will this team rally around you, or turn tail?ML:
I think their coach was under fire (for a league violation). I'm not under fire. There's a big difference.
Q: What do you think will happen? Will they rally behind you?ML:
This team can rally around themselves. This football team is its own entity. It's a team. They have to understand that they're going to go out and win football games for all of us. That's important day in and day out. You're trying to build something out of this that's not within the realm.
Q: Did you notice that your players supported your decision on the fourth-and-one?ML:
Everyone wants to put it on their own shoulders. And that's good. That's what I said when I started here, and I do appreciate that. Rallying around whether or not to go for it on fourth down is great, but let's not put ourselves in that situation. Let's do it on third down instead.
Q: You said you weren't overmatched:ML:
I still don't feel that we were overmatched. I think we have to play better football. If we play better football, we'll win more games.
Q: Will Willie (Anderson) be back this week?ML:
I don't know that Willie will be back this week. I think there's more opportunity for the following week.
Q: What about Ahmad Brooks? Too early to call?ML:
Q: Rudi Johnson?ML:
We'll see Wednesday.
Q: Does Chris Perry have to start practice this week?ML:
I don't know that. I may have misspoke last week. We're checking on that right now. If it's not this week, we'll wait another week. I think when Chris does come back to practice, we'll probably use the two to three weeks anyway. If this week is it, then he'll return Wednesday. If not, then we'll wait.