Thoughts on last night's game and preseason...
We wrapped up the preseason last night with a good performance. Certainly there is much more to go and many, many things that need to be corrected but I thought that we played with good intensity. We played with good effort. We were focused. We played with a lot of energy and I think that one of the things that you come away with right away was the feeling that everybody had when you had the goal-line stand. I thought that that was really a nice way to put an exclamation point on the preseason. As I mentioned to you, it would have been nice to get some goal-line work last night and we did get the two-point play and we did get the defensive four stops from the one inch line, which I thought was an outstanding feat. You also, in so doing, zoomed in on some guys and saw how they could make plays. From the linebacker position, Jon Goff. From the linebacker position, Bryan Kehl. From the front - it was very low - pad level very low and sort of paved the way by clearing a path for the linebackers to go ahead and attack the line of scrimmage. You were able to flatten a couple of the runs out. Even in the fourth down play where Jason Pierre-Paul kind of ricocheted back a little bit but came back and then strongly solidified the tackle of Bryan Kehl's to make sure the ball carrier didn't get into the end zone. The first drive offensively was well-executed, well-performed. The protection was outstanding. Methodical. We got some outstanding individual plays in the process of that drive and I thought that that was well done and I thought Rhett Bomar played well last night and got a sense again of improvement because of the fact that he has taken so many snaps and had a chance to be coached so directly - almost in a one-on-one capacity - for quite some time here in preseason and I thought that showed itself in his play last night. Again, it wasn't all perfect. The interception certainly set us back at a time where we felt we were driving in for the go-ahead score there, a score that might have put New England behind by two scores. We did have some outstanding plays, some outstanding individual plays. I thought Gartrell Johnson ran well at the end of the game. Very powerful. Danny Ware had some plays that he looked typical, very quick, very elusive. So we had those types of things. I thought that our second offensive line did a good job. Whenever you can rush 160 yards you've done a pretty good job. Defensively, Goff got to play 45 snaps in the game and I thought that helped him, to be honest with you. He wasn't scheduled to get that many but Phillip Dillard went down and he had to and I thought he did a good job. The entire game, he wanted to play and he wanted to be in there and I thought instinctively it helped him. He relaxed and he got in on any number of snaps. It wasn't like it was limited so he was able to feed off of that. I thought that helped. Running the one play down from behind by Seth Williams and Bryan Kehl - I thought that was a very big effort play - it set up the goal-line situation. There were a lot of good things that happened last night. There were some inconsistencies. Inconsistency in our kickoff coverage - although the first one, we had people there, we just didn't make the play. That's disturbing, but we were there. We had a couple of tackles inside the 20 as the night went on. We had some punts that - one downed at the six and one 51 yard punt that had no return whatsoever so I think that there was some outstanding play and some things that we really can study and look at and get better at.
Q: Can you update injuries to Phillip Dillard?
A: Hamstring strain. It'll be probably a day to day thing. Maybe a week. I don't know for sure.
Q: What's the timetable on Andre Brown?
A: All last week Andre had a turf toe problem that was bothering him and it became evident to me that he was really not going to be able to function so when we spoke with the doctors pre-game and they were evaluating him, the decision was made to go ahead and shut him down, put him in a boot, take the pressure off that, and try to get him back to where he can run as soon as possible so that decision was made then and I'm not sure exactly how long.
Q: Do you expect to have Shaun O'Hara and Aaron Ross back next week?
A: Well, we have to wait and see. We do have a nice stretch here of a couple of days and they don't have to work Monday with us if that's what the doctors want and so we could put together a nice run of four or five days here where they're just being treated and hopefully responding to the rehab and the treatment so there's no way I can speculate on that. We're all hopeful.
Q: Is special teams an area where you're really scouring the waiver wire?
A: Talking about the four core units, we've had some inconsistencies as I've mentioned in kickoff. I mentioned we did have two inside the 20 but we also gave up the ball from the end zone to the opposite 45-yard line, so we've had some inconsistencies there. From a return standpoint, we did not put ourselves in any great position from the standpoint of kickoff return, although, to be honest with you, the wedge did a nice job on the first one. There was just a communication issue between the off-returner and the returner and then getting started late, the off-returner was not in position to block the defender that he was responsible for so we lost an advantage there and ended up with a ball that was in the minus 11 and it very well could have been out past 30-yard line. The punt returns last night - I thought Mario's was a very good return and he really gave us a nice spark with a 20 yard return and any time you have a net of 42, you're doing pretty good with returns and your punt coverage team and your punter so that's just a brief outline of where we are in regard to that. I think that Lawrence Tynes has been very consistent in preseason with his kickoffs. His hang times were better last night, field goal production has been very good. He did have the one muff with the holder. That is the first time we've seen that. Lawrence has a lot of confidence in Matt, so we'll just go back to work on trying to solidify that and to make that something that we can rely on there. Our field goal block team has done a nice job for the last three games of the preseason. We've come off the ball well and we've penetrated, we've knocked the opponent back, we've created some opportunities for penetration and also even off of the edge, so we're making pretty good progress in regard to that team.
Q: Do you still need to find a return man?
A: I don't know that we have to go out and find one. We do have to solidify who it is going to be. We did not put Danny Ware back because of the earlier incident - that proved to be the right move. Danny had a nice night and came through the game clean, but he has the ability to return back there.
Q: Did Rhett Bomar show you enough last night that you feel like he could go into the season as the number two or do you still have to keep your eye on other options?
A: I think you're always available to look at what options are out there but there isn't any question that Rhett has improved and he has more confidence, he has more poise, he's running the huddle better. He's had a couple of back to back weeks with two-minute experiences that he's handled very well, so there's progress - there isn't any doubt about it. If we could eliminate the interceptions then I'd be even more happy but as far as a guy that has been impressive in the way in which he has improved in training camp, I don't think that there's any doubt that this guy has improved.
Q: Did you anticipate such a huge impact from Shawn Andrews so fast given that he hasn't played in a while?
A: Well, we were all hopeful of that and Shawn showed his power last night, without a doubt. He did a nice job in the run area. He did a nice job in pass protection and some things up front. I think we still have work to do just to make sure on assignments as we get a little bit more sophisticated with him and the language again and what he was used to doesn't run together one tenth of a second before the ball is snapped. There is still work to be done there but he has gotten into the swing of practicing and last night had his most reps in a game and it was really good for him and for us.
Q: Are there any areas of real need on the team?
A: Well, I think that we ought to continue to improve in a lot of areas. As I said, last night I think we played better and we did. Now whether we're ready to go 60 minutes of that type of execution, for example, resembling our first drive. I would have felt a lot better if we scored the second time, too. If it wasn't for the flea flicker issue, we may very well have. There is advancement in all areas. There's refinement. As you look at special teams, you know that the kickoff coverage has got to parallel the kicks. The kicks have been good. We should be having greater success. We shouldn't have a ball come out to midfield on us. That's not acceptable. Our return game should be without hitch now. It's not that we're that complicated. We're more physical than we are complicated. We've had some errors that shouldn't be taking place, so there's improvement needed in all areas. We gave up some yards for the pass last night. I'd like to be able to tighten that down. I'd like to do a better job defensively on third down. Get people off the field on third down instead of 50%. I'd like to return to where we were a couple of weeks ago in the green zone offensively. We were one for two last night and we came off of the early season game at two of three so I'd like to get that back up to where it belongs. There are areas everywhere that need to be improved upon but I like the way our guys came in, how they prepared in the short week and I think that they're excited now about the upcoming first week of the season.
Q: How do you feel about the defense going into the season opener? Are you where you want to be?
A: I think we made good progress last night as far as getting where we want to be. A couple of things that I saw that I mentioned to you before is that we did get the outstanding pressure out of the linebacker position last night and we did get a big hit on the quarterback out of Michael Boley. That was a nice step forward. We still haven't gotten there from the secondary although Terrell was very close and I think Phillips may be a guy that we can count on to get there and get home to the quarterback in that situation as well. I think that we are making progress. I think that we rose up against the run and did a pretty good job against the run. They had 73 yards, 2.2 per rush, so I think we're making progress along those lines. We do have to go ahead and continue to not allow the big plays and we did make a nice play - Antrel's interception was off of a deep ball intended for Randy Moss and we made the interception there, which was a good, positive thing, so I think that the defense is improving. We still have improvement to go. We'd like to get a couple of guys back that are not out there so that they can make a contribution as well but I think we're heading in the right direction.
Q: Brandon Jacobs expressed frustration with his role as Bradshaw's backup - have you addressed that at all and are you worried about his mental status?
A: I was surprised to see that today and I'm really not going to comment on that. I think we have always been a multiple running back situation. Nothing has changed. The big thing that is important to realize is that Brandon is healthier than he's ever been prior to the start of the season and that's a good thing, so we're looking forward to the opportunity to play our multiple running game, our ability to use our power back in combination with Ahmad and with Danny Ware and we're looking forward to that and I think that at this point in time I do feel good about our ability to use multiple people at that spot and as you well know, with a 16 game season, you're going to need them.
Q: He said it really hasn't been explained to him how this is going to work moving forward. Is that true?
A: Well, I'm not sure all of that. We did have a conversation today and he is well aware of where we are and what we are doing. He's very, very confident in his relationship with Jerald Ingram and he and Jerald are, I believe, on the same page and there is no - I don't believe that there is an issue there.
Q: Did you make it a point in the preseason and in training camp to get him less carries so that he would be feeling better for the regular season?
A: The idea of having all of these guys healthy has always been a first and foremost. We prepare them, get them ready go to, keep them healthy as best you can, so that at the beginning of the season they are ready to go. Obviously, they have to put the work in, but that has always been one of the objectives. Now, to the extent of how the individual is used in these preseason games, there is always a regard for how many snaps. It is all thoroughly planned. Brandon didn't get the number of snaps that was intended for him last night but the end result of having him ready to go for the season is still in place.
Q: He is fully healthy though? That wasn't an injury thing that kept him from getting many snaps?
Q: What is the latest with Travis Beckum and his neck? Have you found anything there?
A: They're looking into it. All of the MRI work has been completed. Hopefully we're going to get Travis back next week.
Q: You mentioned the flea flicker. Do you have any reservations of opening up the playbook so much in the preseason like you did last night?
A: No. I don't think so. I don't think that there's any reservation at all. The fact that you have that type of play available is simply another thing that the opponent has to defend.