Q. Can you give us a sense of the next day feeling after that game?
A. I will try to be as polite as I can. It sucks. Losing is by far the worst feeling in the world and to know that you lost in basically the primetime game on one of the biggest football days of the year, it’s very upsetting. I think we are all hurting a little bit right now, and I think the way in which we lost is just as painful as the loss itself.
Q. How ready is Gartrell Johnson to take on a bigger role in this offense?
A. I don’t know. That is not up to me to decide. I know that he has done a good job of learning this offense and basically just trying to be a sponge and pick things up, left and right. He has shown some good things. I thought he did a great job when he stepped in against Tampa Bay earlier on in the year. He made some nice runs. He definitely has the athletic skills and the talent level. I think he is preparing himself and he is doing all he can to get on the field. I know he wants to get out there and he wants to play. I think he really looks forward to the opportunity.
Q. Can you describe what the coach was like in the locker room after the game last night?
A. He was upset, he was frustrated. I think he was obviously very disappointed. I don’t blame him for that. I think we were all feeling the same way. I think as a player you are wondering what happened, but even more so as a coach. You aren’t even out there on the field and that has to be the most frustrating thing of all. You go through a short week and you do everything you can to make sure your players are physically ready for the game. You make sure that they are mentally ready for the game. We were doing walk-throughs even the day of the game. We had about an hour to an hour and a half of meetings, chair drill walk-throughs, right up to the last minute, getting mentally ready for the game. You feel like you have all those things in a row and everything prepared and you go out there and play like crap, basically. You don’t win the game. I know he is frustrated.
Q. After the San Diego loss, Tom was upbeat and focusing on the positives. How much different was the tenor after this loss?
A. I think it is different. When you have a couple extra days, sometimes that loss can linger. I know this is going to be one that is going to linger for us for a couple of days just because we are not going to probably move on to Dallas until Monday. The San Diego game, we had ourselves in position to win the game. We went up by six and we ended up losing the game right at the end. I think even though you lose that game, you had a chance to win. I don’t even think with last night’s game we gave ourselves a chance to win. I look at the offensive production. We have been averaging 20 something points a game and to not score a single point in the first half, that is just unacceptable. I think his overall demeanor was very disappointed.
Q. You said something after the game about guys not taking their job seriously enough. Can you explain what you meant by that?
A. I think guys need to find a way to step it up a notch. When you make a blanket statement like that it is probably only going to cater to three to five guys. Its not 53 guys. There are guys that are out there that are fighting their tails off and doing everything they possibly can to try to win a game. In a team sport like this, your game can be won and lost by one play, one player not doing their job, especially on offense. Everybody is counting on each other. I think at this point in this season everybody needs to dial it up a little bit and do a little bit more. Be a pro about everything. There is always more that you can do in terms of studying, in terms of getting yourself ready. The second half of the season is always a little bit tougher. Teams know you better. You are on film. You have tendencies. You have to be much more aware mentally of what is going on.
Q. Is the locker room at any risk right now of dividing?
A. Nope. I am sorry to disappoint you guys, but, no, I am not worried about any fracture or divide in the locker room. This is a tough team both physically and mentally. You know what? In the NFL you don’t always get what you want, and sometimes you don’t even get what you deserve. We are 6-5 right now and we don’t have anybody that is going to show us any sympathy, so we aren’t looking for any. This is our season. I think everybody on this team is going to fight. There are no losers on this team. There is nobody that is going to hang their head and say, ‘Woe is me.’ We have a lot of character in this team. We have a lot of guys that will put a lot of time, a lot of effort, coaches included who have put a lot of stock into this season and a lot of stock into everything that we do every week. I don’t expect anything to change from that standpoint. Guys are going to come back. Obviously we have a big game against Dallas next week. The tough thing about a situation like this, playing on a short week, is now you have to deal with the results of that game, win or lose, for the next couple of days until we can get in here on Monday and start prepping for Dallas and start getting excited about a divisional opponent at home. Until we can do that, we just have to eat this bullet.
Q. Is there something to be said for having your destiny in your own hands having three divisional games coming up?
A. That’s why I don’t think you can get down on yourself. In the NFL there are plenty of people that are going to try to knock you down and try to tell you that you should quit and that you have nothing to play for. When you look at what we have in front of us, Dallas is in first place in our division and we have them coming into our house and we have a chance to play them. You can’t ask for any other opportunity than that. Not looking past them, but we play all three of our divisional opponents as we come down the stretch here. We have opportunities. It is up to us as men to make the most of those.
Q. Is there a level of concern about the run game?
A. I have the utmost confidence in this offensive line. I think the talent is certainly there. Are there plays that aren’t pretty and are there plays that don’t go exactly how we draw them up? Absolutely. At the same time, there are plays where we have everybody blocked, I have said it before in previous weeks, as a unit, because I will include the fullbacks and tight ends. You can block a play perfectly and everybody is blocked and you only get three yards. Everybody says, ‘oh, you can’t run the ball.’ You can have three guys miss their block on one play and it springs for 28 yards and you say, ‘Wow, they are doing a great job.’ Just because you are not getting a lot of rushing yards or you don’t feel like the running game isn’t going well doesn’t necessarily mean that you are not blocking it well. Sometimes they make plays. I think really as a unit we are probably frustrated with the run game. It has come so easy for us the last few years. Running the football has really been an afterthought. Yeah, we will get six, seven yards, no big deal. We’ll get 150 yards rushing without even blinking an eye. Things are a little bit tougher; it’s tougher sledding. But, that is just going to make it even sweeter when we do start to crack those big runs and we get back on track.
Q. Is there anything that you will address to get back on track?
A. The only way, in my eyes, to get back on track is to keep doing it and do it more. I think, as offensive linemen, we are always going to complain that we aren’t running the football enough. That is kind of our M.O. We want to run the ball more. Quarterbacks and receivers, we are going to have discussions with them every single day, they want to throw it, we want to run it. That is a constant battle. I am not going to be happy until we have 35-40 carries in a game.
Q. Why do you think it has become tougher sledding?
A. If there was one single reason why, then we probably would have fixed it. It’s not one specific reason, here is why we aren’t running the football or here is why it is tough. There are a lot of different factors that have gone into it. I think there are certain times where we can execute better. I think defenses are definitely keying in on the run and they feel like it is one way to try and beat us. To try to slow us down in the running game and if they can do it early on, maybe that frustrates us and we shy away from it. I don’t know. It is something where we need to make sure we start fast and run the ball effectively right in the beginning so we can make sure we have confidence in ourselves that we aren’t going to stray away from it.
Q. You have to convince your coordinator to keep calling those run plays?
A. We have to be effective in the outset of the game to give confidence to ourselves just as much as anybody else. By that, I mean not just our unit that is blocking, but for our running backs and certainly for the coaches. That is always the challenge. I think we are a much better team when we start fast. When we go out there in the beginning parts of the game and we get into a rhythm. That has kind of been the way that we have won a lot of football games around here. I think that is when we put our best foot forward.