Initial comments: ** ML: "To summarize yesterday, we obviously have a lot of positives, but a lot of corrections that need to be made as well. To be up in the game, to be able to move the ball as we were productively from the first drive and feel good about things, to be kind of our own enemy with the turnovers, beginning with the interception and going from there into the series of fumbles. So ball security is obviously an issue we have to continue to address. We have to make sure we do a better job of keeping the ball high and tight and make sure we're putting two hands on the ball when we're in close traffic. It's hard to overcome that, which we did. From the defensive point of the view, to just be disciplined throughout the game in every area, stay disciplined, stay on your job and just worry about what you have to worry about. I think those areas are important to clean up as we move forward."
Happy Birthday. I guess yesterday was an early birthday present?
ML: "It could have been worse."
In the kicking game you had a kickoff go out of bounds. And a 52-yard field goal isn't a gimme, but it missed, and there was a blocked extra point. Any issues there?
ML: "Mike (Nugent) will obviously have to hit the ball better and not have a kick that travels out of bounds. I think that's all. I thought he hit the field goal well, we just never got it inside the uprights. It was well in his range. And then obviously the blocked PAT is something that's very, very fixable."
As far as coverage:
ML: "I thought we did a good job in coverage. Kevin (Huber) punted the ball extremely well in his three opportunities. He put the ball where we needed it done. I thought that part of the game he executed very well. In the return game we still would like to get some cleaner looks and cleaner running lanes. We've got to work harder at that."
They ran the ball a little bit:
ML: "They ran the ball with a 50-yard run. They had one run. Other than that I think it was a pretty good day. We got in some passing defenses and some situations where they had two balls up in there for nine or 10 yards, but I thought for the most part we did a good job and made it pretty much one-dimensional, which is what we needed to do. On the long run, we've got to make a tackle. When we've got the guy clean at the tackle, we've got to make the tackle and get the other guys there. Again, be disciplined on defense and take care of our things."
What about your running game? What did you think?
ML: "I thought we did a good job. When you don't have the ball for four different possessions, you're not going to get anything going. Then we were behind. We still were able to hit some runs up in there when we were behind. We popped a draw and so forth. But when you get behind in the game, you have to throw a little bit more than you want to. So we didn't get to run it nearly as often as we had hoped to going into the football game."
You had quite a few passes deflected by your D-line. Is that something you've coached more and emphasized the last few years?
ML: "Our guys have big length to them, and I think it's a timing thing. It is something that guys get better at as you go. It's very upsetting to our own offense when we practice against them. They want the ball thrown and caught. So it's a fine line when we're in training camp and so forth. But you want to get push up in the quarterback's face. Some of these deflected balls, we've got to get where we can catch them. They're kind of falling away from us right now. Hopefully that string will come back and it will be in our favor and the ball will fall to us a little bit.
Are you seeing teams pay a little more attention to Geno Atkins?
ML: "I think about the same. They understand protection and they work that way."
You've got to happy with the conditioning of the defense:
ML: "We had some moments yesterday where we weren't as poised as we need to be. They've got to stay after it. But I'm going to agree with you because it doesn't help me to disagree with you (laughs)."
Do you pride yourself on a team being tough?
ML: "We're tough. We've just got to be smart. I don't doubt our toughness. I want us to continue to be a smarter football team."
You don't mind working:
ML: "No, you have to work if you come here. You can't stay if you don't work."
When guys from other teams come here:
ML: "They're going to get an IV. Our guys are used to working. They know they have to work. That's what the week is about, put in your work so that Sunday's different. Sunday you know 'I've got this. I've been through this. I know how this is going to feel and how it's going to work.' If you stand around and point and practice all week, when Sunday comes it's happening too fast. We had a trying schedule. Now we get a chance to have more of a normal week. But I emphasized to our guys they have to come home and they have to get their rest and they've got to come in here ready to go on Wednesday because we've got to get to work."
I think that was the most Carlos Dunlap has ever played. How did he hold up?
ML: "Most snaps that he's ever played. I thought he did well."
Is poise and discipline something you're going to harp on? Because there were a lot of 15-yard penalties, it looked like Vontaze Burfict got away with something after an extra point where the other guy got penalized:
ML: "Make sure you see the whole thing. You don't know what happened before the little microcosm you saw. Whether or not you saw what you think you saw, you must have better eyes than I did because I surely can't see anything."
FOX showed three different angles:
ML: (Laughs) "I don't see that."
We talk about it all the time in the NFL, guys get nicked up, and it's always the next guy up. On the back end, Taylor Mays has to come in at the end of the game and play the slot, you make adjustments and things continue to roll for you:
ML: "You have to have people that are capable and ready to go in position. When something happens in the game, you can never predict which player gets nicked in a football game. We were able to move, and slide over, and get going and it was a good job by him."
Was yesterday a perfect example of how it's a one-week league? You guys come back and win, and your next opponent that everybody thought was going to go 0-16 ends up winning on the road:
ML: "I don't know who your 'everybody' is, but as I've said, I thought Cleveland had a very good football team a year ago, a better football team than their record. They made some changes and are moving in a different direction. They've got another good football team. They've got a lot of good players. We know it's going to be a tough struggle up there, and we've got to have a good week, and a hard week of preparation in order to go up there and play."
You always tell you players to keep grinding, keep playing. When your message is delivered to fruition like it was yesterday, is that rewarding?
ML: "I can maybe live on that for about a week. My memory is about that long. It will work for about a week. If we do those things, we're going to have a good opportunity to win the football game at the end, and that's what's important. If we make the same fourth down tackle, I'm very confident we have the ability to go down the field and score to win the game that way offensively. So be it. In some ways we might have felt better about it, you know what I mean? (Laughs) You know, rather than giving the ball back to Aaron Rodgers. We have a lot of confidence in our guys both ways. It was a great defensive stand there at the end. No question about it. To get the ball down there like they did, to the 20-yard line, 25, and to hold it right there was great. We had a lot of guys play good and do good things defensively. We had a lot of guys do good things offensively. There were a lot of good things to build upon, and then to continually keep our attention to make the correction we need to make."
With the lack of snaps Andrew Whitworth has taken, he took a lot of snaps in a physical football game yesterday and he seemed to hold up pretty well:
ML: "He would tell you that he was in condition; whether it was great football condition, because he hasn't had a lot of football snaps, but the conditioning as far as aerobic conditioning, he felt pretty good about that. We were able to spot him through the first week with Anthony (Collins), and helped him through that, and this week it worked out fine."
Any update on how Leon Hall is doing?
ML: "Leon's got a sore hamstring. We'll see how the week goes."
Partly cloudy so far?
ML: "It's partly cloudy."
Adam Jones was limited in practice all week but ended up playing almost 100 percent of the snaps for you:
ML: "Self limitation, man. (Laughs) He's a veteran player, was sore last week with the abdomen, but he knew it was a big football game, big opportunity for him and for our football team. He had to play big. I thought he did a good job. He gave up the penalty on the throw, but I thought he tackled well on the opportunities he had to go in there and make a tackle. And that was good. He was hurting all week, so he will be better this week. He answered the bell.
"Some guys wouldn't be able to do that. He told me all week long he'd be fine. He said 'Don't worry about me, I'll be fine.' That's what he did. He got his work in on Wednesday, he got his work in on Friday and we pulled him out when we pull him out so we know he's ready. Again, I still see better than I hear, but I thought he answered it and did a great job. It was tough out there. We have watched these guys take apart some guys and our guys held up and did great."
It really was a good day for all your corners because basically you rolled three on defense again:
ML: "They stood up and played, I think they played 80 snaps. That's a lot of football."
Do you think Brandon Ghee can go? Is he close?
ML: "I'm told he's close. Again, I still see better than I hear even at my age."
You really handled the red zone well:
ML: "I think it was big conversions on offense. Those were big in the game. Defensively, they got in twice, and we had chances to stop them both times. We got to keep pointing to that. If we just do what we're supposed to do, it's amazing how good you can play. We have to continue to grow together that way with the football team in all three phases and have confidence in that. It's obviously a good situation to live through and come out on top and go back to work."
Was yesterday a suck-it-up game for a lot of guys?
ML: "It was a no-flinch. You couldn't flinch in that situation. Cause if you flinch, Jordy Nelson is going to run by you, or Cobb is going to, somebody is going to do something. It is an effective offense. They lose their running back and they put Johnathan Franklin in. Johnathan Franklin did what we thought he could do coming out of UCLA. He can make people miss in space. That was the thing we knew when he came in the game, that he wasn't going to be in there to protect. He was going to be in there to have the football in his hands. I thought we reacted pretty well to that stuff. We didn't have the DBs to put in there necessarily to match up with them. Vontaze (Burfict) and Rey (Maualuga) did a good job in those situations, where they are maybe a little bit behind the 8-ball athletically against a wideout, but they got themselves in pretty good position."
There's always certain player-coach relationships that are pretty tight, but Terence Newman almost teared up yesterday talking about Mike Zimmer taking a chance on him and the relationship they have:
ML: "He came in with Mike and he was a young player back in '03. When we looked at Terence on tape, I saw a guy that still had a lot of ability. Mike knew him as a person. Those two things give you an opportunity. We felt it was important that we could add him to the football team. He trusted in Mike and the fact we would coach him and get him back playing at the level that he could be back playing winning football.
"He's done that for 20 games for us. He's great for the football team, Terence is. I was telling Troy Aikman this, that some of his closest friends on the football team are guys on the practice squad. The guy has an amazing relationship with people. He's such a good people person and what a great mentor for young players to see this is how a guy that has been an All-Pro, a Pro bowl player, a guy that has been a high draft pick, this is how he goes about his profession. And this is what it means to him when he's still playing in his thirties. That's how important it is. I think he's great for the football team."