We'll start with the wounded. Rashad Jeanty, Ethan Kilmer, and Tab Perry will probably be the three players unavailable against New England, although Perry is coming back a lot sooner than expected. Rashad appears to be on track for return at or after the bye. Ethan will be close to that as well. Ahmad Brooks should be available this week. The guys who were banged up in the Seattle game who we're unsure about would be Caleb Miller and Rudi Johnson. Eric Ghiaciuc looks to be available to come back this week as well. We'll know more as we go through the week and get a little closer.
To look back at Seattle, I think the first thing we need to do is to stay a little bit more disciplined and understand our job, and make sure we get our job done, number one. Secondly knowing your role, and what your particular role is on the team, and being able to do that to the very best of your God-given talent. I think those things are very important, and lately we're pressing and trying too hard. I think that's the thing that's evident through the two losses, and even the first game. We are trying so hard, we're getting away from the things which we have built upon, the sound principles. Sometimes they can trip you up, and right now, the fine line we're living on, we're not benefiting from it.
Q: Is that across the board, regardless of who you are?ML:
Yes. Regardless of who you are. From our very best player to our 53rd player. That's important to understand, that we need to stay within ourselves and what our responsibilities are and what's going to get done that particular play, and make sure we stay at that, and let things work. Let the play work -- offense, defense, special teams. Let it work and stay within your role. I think that's important.
Q: Is there a particular play where something like that did or didn't happen which you could use as an example?ML:
It would be against my principles to give you an example.
Q: Do you expect to go into the New England game with the same offensive line that you did last week?ML:
We'll see. I didn't mention Stacy (Andrews). His shoulder is going to be a little sore probably, but seems to be okay. We'll make that determination later in the week as to what offensive line goes into the game.
Q: Is that why Stacy was taken out of the game (shoulder)?ML:
Yes. He had a slight shoulder injury, as we find out now. He has an opportunity to be able to play this Monday.
Q: What are your thoughts on special teams, and on Skyler (Green)'s two fair catches inside the 10-yard line? ML:
Well, you're going back to old principles. When they put in this new stuff called FieldTurf, it changed the dynamics of where you should catch the ball or let it go. With the FieldTurf, when the ball hits, it has a tendency to go straight up in the air. So you want to catch it closer to the goal than you used to on other field. Skyler was on board and in the right spots when he caught those footballs. Rather than having the ball on the two-yard line, we tried to get it on the five. That's part of his job, to read the trajectory of the punt and the spin of the ball and make that determination. I felt like he did a good job both times with that. We'd rather have the ball at the 10 and the five as opposed to the two. You have to change your thinking a little bit. I think as coaches we learn, and it's a hard lesson. When we changed our field, we had to change our strategy of letting the ball fall on the seven or eight-yard line and then us ending up on the one or the two because of it. I think it worked the other way for us.
Q: Rudi (Johnson) has been one of the most durable guys in the league the last few years. If he slows down, or isn't able to go because of injury, what does that do to you?ML:
We bring the next guys up and we go. I think you saw that when Kenny (Watson) replaced Rudi in the game. I think you were probably clamoring for that, so I think you got your wish.
Q: Kenny's role on special teams:ML:
It always changes. Anytime a guy moves up, things change. It gives us our ever-changing kaleidoscopic group of teams players, so that would obviously have some ramifications in other areas.
Q: Is Kenny a guy who could carry 20-25 times?ML:
He's done it before.
Q: Rudi struggled...ML:
No Rudi did not struggle. He had a five-yard gain, minus-four yard gain, five-yard gain, minus three-yard gain. Rudi did not struggle. That's a fallacy. Don't even go there.
Q: Kenny came in and provided a spark. What do you think the difference was?ML:
The difference was we were calm, and lining up in the huddle and calling plays. That can sometimes be a big difference in our guys up front in being aggressive and attacking, and that seemed to be the biggest difference in the football game. It's what we were doing offensively, and being able to get a hat on a guy, hat on a guy, and allow the runner to do his thing.
Q: Were you pleased with Levi (Jones) and the rest of the line?ML:
Yes. I think it was a good step in the progression. The first time Levi went into the game, it was part of the plan anyway. He was going to be at tackle, and Stacy (Andrews) and Andrew (Whitworth) were going to alternate some at guard. When Stacy had the injury, I believe it was the first series Levi was in there, and it ended up staying true to the way we had practiced quite a bit last week anyway. We begin to evolve into playing six or seven guys while we were playing two guys on the other side.
Q: Kenny gets a good burst into the line:ML:
. He's a little bit different style of runner than Rudi. Things are set up a little differently. Certain runs we do offensively have been set up a little differently than where Rudi's strengths are. We have a lot of confidence in Kenny and we'll move forward.
Q: Is Willie (Anderson) all right?ML:
Q: Same old same old?ML:
Not same old same old. But Willie, I think, will be Willie and he'll gather all his strength and be out there ready to go Monday night.
Q: Can you explain why the running game was better when you had time to huddle?ML:
I think people have different senses of what their jobs and responsibilities are within that. Our offensive line does a better job getting off the football, and sometimes it makes a big difference. Also the things they're doing defensively as well, they're probably in more of a pass defense mode, because we had not had a lot of runs in the right areas in the previous games and we were able to run the football right down the field.
Q: How did Dhani (Jones) do?ML:
He did well basically, physically. There are still some things mentally we need to do better. It's unfortunate that you have to do that in a critical point in the game with a new guy, but it's kind of the hand we've been dealt, and we'll continue to work at it and prosper with it. I think he came in both on special teams and defense, and did what we expected him to do and showed why we brought him in here on such short notice.
Q: Your routine changes with the Monday night week. What did you do with the guys today?ML:
They had a day off yesterday, and we just try to move ahead as we normally do when we have a longer week. Leave them with something to think about. Something to go home and study in their time, whether it be here tomorrow or at home on tape. They have the opportunity to move ahead mentally a little bit, let the body recover a little bit, but yet continue to move ahead and push ahead mentally.
Q: How much of today is a reaction to Sunday's game (Seattle)?ML:
I don't make the schedule after something. Schedules are done weeks, if not months in advance.
Q: Can you explain why you went for two on Sunday after you went up 21-17?ML:
I probably should have kicked the extra point, but I went for two. We'll leave it at that.
Q: If Caleb (Miller) can't go, would Anthony (Schlegel) be the guy?ML:
I think Ahmad would start the game.
Q: In your 15 years in the league, have you seen a team as dominant over a three-week period as the Patriots?ML:
We'll it's actually 16 years, but who's counting. I think last year's Super Bowl champ was the Colts, and the one before that was the Steelers, but in the last five years, the Patriots have had an excellent football team, winning three of the last six Super Bowls. They've been able to keep a lot of their core intact, which is huge. In the age of free agency, they've been able to keep a lot of their guys, and then fill in with some guys. And this year they added Adalius (Thomas), who was one of the bigger names on the free agent market.
They've been able to pluck the guy who is leaving a particular team, maybe not in the best time period. They've been able to get that guy and put him in sync with their strong core of guys, and the guy has been able to go and play and be very productive. They've done a nice job being able to manage these guys. They have a very mature group of players who understand the selflessness it takes to be a championship football team.
Q: In what ways has the defense missed Ahmad?ML:
We seemed to play pretty good defense last week.
Q: What did the defense do that you liked on Sunday?ML:
I think we had 60 snaps, and all but about four of them they played pretty well. We had four snaps that unfortunately hurt you in the football game. At those points, you can't flinch or have one particularly bad play. We can't have a run get out and get frustrated and get a penalty, and from the penalty allow a play to go over top of us. The same thing there, they convert the fourth down, and then we allow that play to go into another bad play. I think those things we still have to grow through and that's again, part of the know-your-role, do your job and cover your assignments to the best of your ability, and don't let the last play lead to the next play.
Q: The Patriots seem to have changed from a run-oriented offense to a passing offense:ML:
I think they're going to tailor an attack against the weakness of what they believe you're trying to defend. They give you a number of different looks. Sometimes they come in with two tight ends and an extra offensive lineman as a third tight end, and we're going to see four wide receivers and the back out in the spread or the tight end out in spread. You get the whole gamut of personnel and formations, which has kind of been their trademark. And they've continued with that. Tom Brady has a great command of these things and where, by reading coverage and redirecting protections, they try to give him the best chance to be successful.
Q: Willie (Anderson) talked about not only playing better but coaching better. How do you take that?ML:
I think what he meant by that was that when you get into those key moments, that everyone understands what's going to occur. Anytime we don't make a first down or a touchdown, they want to say it's coaching, we want to say it's execution. It goes hand in hand. No matter what play is called, we want to execute it. In their opinion, sometimes they want to say, 'Well why didn't we do this' or 'Let's do this.' It's easy to look back after the fact, and say we should have done that. We ran for a touchdown from the eight-yard line the other day, and we were expecting a ball to be thrown.
There's a command of what's going on, and once that leaves the sideline, we put a very confident player (Carson Palmer) in control. We feel very confident in the things he does, and we have to react to it and respond to it. Every time we throw it, the offensive linemen have the opinion we should have run it. As a receiver, every time we run it, they think we should have thrown it. As a running back, it's the same thing. There's a dynamic there, and it's good that we have good players at every position. Guys who feel like they can speak up, 'Put the weight of our team on my back' -- they want that. That's a good thing to have. You want to have that same kind of swagger across the board.
Let's go kick off to win the game. Lets punt the football to win the game. Let's kickoff return to win the game. Those are things that you want to have throughout your whole football team. Guys who have that kind of confidence, when the game is on the line. 'Put it on my back coach. Here we go.'
Q: That's similar to what you said after the game:ML:
In crucial moments, this is what we're going to do. We're going to take this drive down in one minute, and this is what we're going to do. Kickoff return, we're going to have this return set. Let's get through there. Glenn (Holt), you can run it right through the goal post. As opposed to that one guy coming off the block, and causing a fumble. We're supposed to secure the ball. We can't give up the ball. We can't turn over the ball like we have these last three football games, and I think the team understands.
It goes back to the principles we built upon, that we're getting away from because we're trying to do too much. We're not taking our bumps and going and making the next play a better play. Again, it's an important week, its a big week. The guys at the Enquirer stole my thunder today (with a story about Bengals being 6-10 in their last 16 games). That's what took me so long to come out of the locker room the other day, I was already on that. You stole my thunder today. It has been a year, and that's what it's all about. It's time to step up and play NFL football.
Q: When you mentioned guys knowing their roles, how surprised are you?ML:
Roles change every year. Now it's time you get into these games and settle in a little bit. Because of injury, and so forth, and recovery and this and that, it has been a little harder because the roles keep changing. Now I think we've been through that war zone out there enough for those 45 guys to understand that your role can change in a hurry come Sunday, and be ready to respond when your time comes. I think guys like David Jones respond. I think we're seeing that happen.
Chinedum (Ndukwe) early on, and then he gets injured. And Marvin White. You see that happening, particularly with young guys, and a new guy we added in Lemar (Marshall). I think they should go. Ahmad Brooks, who is light years from where he was a year ago, need to continue to respond to that. Skyler Green, another new guy. We have some new guys and we have some good guys who have been here. Let's just continue to move on.