ML: think the only two notable injuries yesterday were Antonio Chatman with a slight hamstring strain and Corey Mays, linebacker, with a hamstring. We'll see how they are as we go through the week. The other guys that probably will not be available this week will be Willie Anderson, Ethan Kilmer, and Tab Perry.
We'll see where Ahmad Brooks is as the week goes on. I think that Caleb Miller and Rashad Jeanty both have opportunities to return to practice this week. Rudi Johnson came through the game pretty well. He had a little tightness in the third quarter and we took him out after that. Jonathan Fanene will return to practice this week, and Reggie Kelly sprained his ankle. Everything else should be in good order.
Q: With Mays' injury, do you feel like you have to add someone at LB? ML:
With the other two guys coming back, I don't know that we need to do that. We'll have three guys here in a short period of time.
Q: How does not having a dominant third receiver affect the offense?ML:
I don't know what effect it has. I think anyone's third receiver is their third receiver.
Q: How would it affect things to have someone who was between Chad Johnson's and T.J.'s Houshmandzadeh's numbers?ML:
Well, I feel pretty good about our WR situation. I don't know that there are too many people with three guys who have numbers anywhere close to that.
Q: Is there a common thread on the third-down issues?ML:
We have things to do in every area. Whether it's what we're doing, how we're doing it, when we're doing it, how we're protecting it and so forth. We have to make sure we do it better.
Q: You were so good in '05 and had a lot of leaders. What do you think is different?ML:
We have to make sure we're not doing too much and being too creative each week, and what we are creating, we go out and execute. I think protection is a big part of that. The ability to keep guys, and the new things that we do, we're doing it at a good rate. We're going to take a hard look again at what we're doing and how we're doing it, and get better at it.
Q: You have said your message doesn't change week to week, but it seems like your tone changed in the press conference yesterday. Can you talk about the psychology of what you go through with these guys. as to which buttons to push? Obviously it's been a struggle this year:ML:
I think every year is a struggle, no matter where you are (in the standings).
Q: What kind of a struggle?ML:
It would be a struggle if it were the opposite (in terms of record) too. We'd still be struggling in the same ways, but you'd feel better about it, so it wouldn't be a big deal. I'd be struggling the other way, telling them they're not all that they were being cracked up to be.
Your margin of error is narrower though, with the 1-4 record:ML:
Our margin of error is tight. That's the result of being 1-4. That's what we need to realize. Every play right now, we're not getting the benefit of the doubt. Balls are not really bouncing our way. That's what we need to realize and keep doing things the right way. Building upon the positive things and making corrections when it's not as positive and correct.
Q: You did a great job with Larry Johnson in the second half. More carries than yards. Do you anticipate that teams are going to keep trying to run on you?ML:
That's what every team wants to do. Run the football. That's the best way to win in the NFL. It has been proven. That's one reason why we're 1-4. If you run the football effectively you'll have a better opportunity to win. If you throw 40 times per game, you're not going to win most of your games. Even with a great quarterback. You're going to have too many negative things occur.
Q: So why aren't you guys running the ball?ML:
We have to run it more consistently.
Q: Everyone looks for balance. Kansas City threw it 35 times and ran 34, so they achieved that balance. You've struggled to get balance. Is that when your offense is best?ML:
I think any team is better when they can have that kind of balance.
Q: Do you envision Andrew Whitworth staying at LOT?ML:
We'll make that decision as we come through the week.
Q: Levi Jones owned up to his play at LOT last week. He apologized to Carson (Palmer). Is that what you expect from a pro?ML:
Yes. I think Levi is disappointed in how he performed in the first part of the football game.
It speaks for Whitworth. They were on fire and he went out there and put the fire out :ML:
We didn't win the football game, so we're not going to give the hoorays to anyone today. We'll just keep playing.
Q: What was your message to the guys today?ML:
Same thing I told them last night. It hasn't changed. Unfortunately, I had to live through it on the sidelines so my memory was pretty good. There were a lot of things in the first half that we didn't do well enough. We had an opportunity and we let them get away. We made a couple of opportunities and we were fortunate to be where we were in the game. But maybe they were, too, because a lot of things went their way.
In the second half, if we shut them out, we have an opportunity to win the football game, and there was an opportunity to shut them out. There was a critical third down where we could have stopped them, and we don't. There were a couple of chances offensively where we had the chance to make first downs and we don't. Those make a big difference.
We had an error before halftime. We had a third-and-18, we give them 17 yards and then fail to catch a kick. That was a big field position play in the first half. We had those plays in the first half of the football game. We had two penalties in the second half in the kicking game. Those things make a difference in field position. That's ten less yards for our offense. We drop a ball wide open in the middle of the field. Those are big plays. Those kind of things we can't do. If we do those things correctly for an entire game, we'll be in good shape. It's evident that we can make them. Let's make them more consistently and get it done.
Q: Are you satisfied in the consistency of guys finishing plays?ML:
That's a big, general, word. I'm not going to comment on that. That's a big word and a lot of plays.
Q: Do you feel any more heat with the losing streak, or is it just the heat you generate on yourself?ML:
It's only the heat I generate on myself. Fortunately or unfortunately, however you want to put it. I guess I'll disappoint the fans if they think there's heat. My only heat is internal and that's what drives me. That's the good thing I guess about this position. I'm not going to get concerned. This is going to be a great football game this weekend. We have a team coming in with the Jets which was a playoff team a year ago. and they're not where they want to be right now. It's going to be a big football game for us, and an exciting game. It's a four o'clock game, so our fans will be revved up and ready to go, and we're going to be revved up as a football team and ready to play.
Q: Chad (Johnson) and Carson are on different pages at key times. Is that bothersome? The interception against New England, the interception yesterday, they seem to be on different pages judging their body language and reactions.
ML: I think any time things don't go right, your body language will be one way or the other. Someone is going to be disappointed. I would think so. Someone will be disappointed one way or the other.
Q: But during key plays:ML:
Every play out there is a key play. Every single play.
Q: But you don't want to waste plays. Those are wasted plays.ML:
Any play we don't get the ball is wasted.
Q: You've talked about guys being too creative at times. Does that include Carson, Chad, T.J:ML:
Carson puts a lot of pressure on himself all the time and we remind him to minimize that. Things will be fine. Just keep playing.
Q: A lot of guys took a lot from the motivational speaker you brought in last week. Are you surprised that the game started the way it did?ML:
I thought the game started pretty well. Other than the penalty on third-and-10, we were in pretty good shape. We went right down the field and scored, and had an opportunity to keep them from scoring, so I thought we started well. As for the speaker we had in, I think you (media) made more of it than should have been. The speaker was set up to come long before the New England game. The timing, you can take what you want from it. The message was well received. He did a great job, and I think everyone got out of it what they needed to get out of it. But you don't win football games with words. You don't lose football games with words.
Q: So it's time for the players to walk the walk rather than talk the talk?ML:
It's in my message. Again, you don't win and lose with words.
Q: Only five teams have reached the playoffs since 1990 starting 1-4:ML:
Then I guess we get a chance to do something special. That's why we're all in here. I'm going to keep you guys working all the way to February. Every chance I get.
Q: You did start well offensively. Was it something they did, or lack of execution?ML:
When we don't convert third downs, that's a big part of it. We got away with first down, second down, first down, second down, there for a bit. Kenny (Watson) gets a big run, T.J. gets the big play and we score on our fourth play from scrimmage. It was a good drive. We come back and we don't have the same execution. We get pressured and it doesn't go our way. We just have to keep going.
Q: This is off topic, but Dusty Baker mentioned in his press conference how great it was to have two African American head coaches at Cincinnati's two professional franchises. Does that mean anything to you?ML:
Well, coming from Dusty, as accomplished as he is, it means a lot. I haven't had a chance ... I just saw (Baker's hiring by the Reds) on the ticker late Saturday evening. That was my first notice of it, when I was watching the end of whatever game was on right before bed check. It's special. I have not had the chance to meet him, and I'm excited about that. I know the Castellini family and how excited they are to have him, and how badly they want to win. I'm flattered.
Q: Does it mean anything to you having two minority men as the professional head coaches of two major franchises?ML:
I'm flattered about it, but this is not black nor white. Let's win a lot of football and baseball games.