I think we came out of the game in pretty decent shape. We have a couple of guys that should be elevated this week. It looks as though Rich Braham and Kelley Washington probably will not be ready to play but they'll be closer. Levi Jones will probably be listed as questionable along with Brian Simmons. And Kevin Kaesviharn will probably be listed as probable.
Q: On the San Diego game:ML:
After going through the tape a few times today ... it's disappointing to get off to such a great start, to make plays in all three phases, and then play like we have three thumbs for the last 30 minutes. We made some errors mentally and some physically. Both cases are correctable. We did a lot of good things. But at critical points, we didn't do things right enough, correct enough, well enough, consistent enough, in order to win. We allowed them back into the game and we still had opportunities at the end to make a couple third down stands, particularly in the last drive that would have made a difference. It's disappointing because of the lack of execution of some people. And it varies. If it were one guy, it would be easy to correct. But we've got to press forward; that one is over. We don't get it back. We are going to get ourselves prepared and put it behind us and move forward. We'll move on to the Saints, which is a big game for us.
Q: Being a former defensive coordinator, how much responsibility does a coordinator take after a second half like yesterday?ML:
I'm responsible for the football team, so it stops here. Just like last week when you were questioning the other side. Maybe (special teams coach) Darrin Simmons is next.
Q: Did this team quit in the second half?ML:
No, this team didn't quit at all, in any phase. We've got to make plays. Did we not make plays? Yes. But we didn't quit.
Q: How much is coaching responsible?ML:
At some point players have to take responsibility to get their jobs done. A lot of the things that errors were made on were not the first time through. It was through the week on particular plays, particular formations, particular defensive snaps in practice, and it was done correctly (in practice). It was done correctly earlier in the football game at certain points. It comes down to the player being consistent with it. What happens is that when you start pressing, then you try and alter what you do a little bit, because the last time, the other guy wasn't where he was supposed to be in the fit. Then you don't do what you did last time, and you're out of your fit, and the ball rolls back to the open spot. And that creates a problem and an issue. That's how plays get magnified. You get on a run like that and it's hard to get off of. We had one of those against New England a few weeks ago. We had eliminated that, but it crept back. Yesterday there was no need for it to, and I thought we were past it, but we're not. We have to get there.
Q: At what point do phrases like 'we're getting better' start ringing hollow?ML:
They don't ring hollow. That's what it's all about. There is no other remedy. This is not magic. This is football. You do football with repetition, hard work, detail of your job, and you keep doing it. That's how we got to where we are, and that's how we'll get out of this funk. It won't change, and that's what we'll continue to do. We'll coach harder, we'll coach better. We need to play harder and play more efficiently and do things more productively. One week we throw it for a million, the next week we run for a bunch. We don't do this, we don't do that and it just keeps sliding. Hopefully we got it down, and all we can do is move forward.
Q: Would you consider taking over the defensive play-calling like you did a couple of years ago to prove a point?ML:
The point I proved is that it's not about what you call. We set up the plan that week, had gone through those various plays, and a certain individual gave up a touchdown play that week. He was not in the right technique, it was corrected in practice and he gave up a big play. The coaches have corrected the situation, and reminded him of where you need to be and why. Then it comes down to the player. We'll make some subtle changes on players and get some things right. We've got to be better. We're just not playing good enough football right now consistently enough.
Q: Dexter Jackson was saying yesterday that some guys were not committed enough Monday through Saturday, as much as Sunday:ML:
It's important that when you step to the plate like that, that you be pretty good at what you do, too, and don't have error on your own part as well.
Q: Do you think he was qualified to make that statement?ML:
There's no one on our team right now that is qualified to make that statement.
Q: How upset were you that he said that stuff?ML:
I'm not upset, but there's nobody qualified. He's frustrated. It's gone from frustration on one side, to frustration on the other side. They ought to be frustrated. You put your heart out on your sleeve and you get beat, you're upset. Make sure you're handling it right and doing the right thing.
Q: Like you had said in previous weeks, it seems like for one half the team laid it out there:ML:
We laid it out there, but we've got to lay it out there a little smarter. We did for 60 minutes, but we've got to be smarter with it. We've got to do the right things all the time. We've got to tackle, defend the ball, defend the run, and block. We had some big blocks that could've made a difference in the football game. No matter what it is, there were a lot of things that we could've done better.
Q: In regard to the touchdown pass that was thrown over Deltha O'Neal's head, was that a lack of technique, or a lack of focus?ML:
He's got a job to do and we ask him to do that. He understands that. That's part of playing cornerback in the NFL.
Q: How is his shoulder?ML:
We'll see on Wednesday.
Q: With this being your fourth season, are you disappointed in the defense not showing progress, making the same mistakes?ML:
I'm disappointed because we've definitely spread it out. We seem to have new guys all the time, which is unfortunate. We've not had the same group that's been able to play together. With the coaching, they've got to become more responsible. If it doesn't, this kind of thing can happen and you can give up some plays. But these are the guys whose backs you were jumping on a few weeks ago, for three or four games in a row, when they limited the opponent to a few points. We had a bad half, and we've got to get back and play football.
Q: In regard to with guys trying to do too much, how does that happen with a 28-7 lead?ML:
Well, it was 28-14 after they scored the first touchdown, so the game changed quickly after we allowed them to score on the first possession of the third quarter, and we didn't get any points. You want to do right, and you press too hard.
Q: You mentioned subtle lineup changes; do you care to elaborate?ML:
Well, subtle playing time changes.
Q: Will it be on third downs?ML:
It could be any down.
Q: Will it be in the starting lineup?ML:
We'll see on Sunday.
Q: Is it more of having a consistent effort?ML:
I didn't fault the effort. I don't fault the effort. We lost the football game. We lost the football game.
Q: Fans think the team has underachieved:ML:
I've underachieved as a football coach.
Q: You have to be upset that you're under .500 for the first time since 2004:ML:
Yeah, I am. But the only thing we can do is go win. We've got to get our mind right and go beat the Saints.
Q: What is your role with the defense?ML:
I'm involved with both sides of the football. I'm not the defensive coordinator, nor am I the offensive coordinator. But I make suggestions all the time. I make suggestions on the game plan, I sit in the meetings on Tuesday with both sides of the football, and ultimately everything has to go through me and I approve what we do. But I don't call the game on Sunday because I need to be in other areas at some point. So I can't be there making adjustments on defense and be conscious of what's going on with the offense. I don't choose that to be my role. And I think the person that does that needs to be hands-on in that fashion. He has to be a part of that in that way, or else the other side's missing something.
Q: Are you satisfied with how that's working out?ML:
Yes, I am.
Q: Did San Diego do anything different offensively in second half that was hard to cope with?ML:
No, they didn't, unfortunately.
Q: This is the most points the Bengals have given up in a half:ML:
The last four weeks, things were the other way. We've just got to make sure we play consistent football.
Q: Did what you see from the offense give you optimism that they're on track?ML:
We made some steps in the right direction. We've got to continue with that, there's no question about that. The disappointing thing is we had the one quarterback sack that we should avoid. Those are things we want to continue to keep getting better at. We changed our operation a little bit and it was good for us, and our guys responded well to it. We've got to keep going. We had a good run in the first and second quarters of the game. We've got to get the same thing going throughout the rest of the football game. We had a dropped ball that would have made a big difference, because we got a chance to go ahead and keep pounding away at them with that first-down catch. Those kinds of things we've got to keep being consistent with.
We obviously have to play better in kickoff coverage and get back to punting it as consistently as we were earlier in the year. We didn't have our best day of the year punting yesterday. We've got to continue to secure the football, and we've got to get some takeaways. We're playing on a very marginal, thin line right now. At the end of the day, those things are holding true. We've got to take the ball away, and we've got to keep it on offense. And that thin line we're playing on makes a difference in the football game.
Q: How did you change the operation on offense?ML:
We changed things up a little bit and put things back in Bob Bratkowski's hands a little bit more. We took it out of the quarterback's hands, so that the things the coaches spend a lot of time on -- game-planning and so forth -- we were able to get through and attack with a little bit more. Those are things that, throughout the game and throughout the rest of the season, we'll be able to adjust and move in and out of a little bit better.
Q: Are you confident T.J. Houshmandzadeh can play after the blow to the head?ML:
Yes. T.J. was resolved at the end of the game, and was to his senses prior to getting on Dave Lapham's radio show. Unfortunately, he got on there and he wasn't. He was okay the last drive, but when a guy loses consciousness, they're not going to allow him to go back in the game. So he'll be evaluated again. He's already had one test, and he'll have the second test on Wednesday morning and should be cleared.
Q: Are you pleased with Deltha returning punts?ML:
We know Deltha can return punts. It's just a matter again of putting your starting cornerback back there and dealing with that. So that's why we've tried to avoid that. His two chances back there, I think he's been injured both times, so it's not been a great omen for us.
Q: Was the change on offense to give Carson less to worry about?ML:
No, it doesn't change him at all, really. It doesn't change Carson's approach because he doesn't know when we're going to do what we're going to do. It's just a matter of when we give him the freedom to be in charge. So that doesn't change his approach at all. But what I want to do is just make sure that we're doing the things that give us a better opportunity.