I will just start out by saying that I came in today and looked at the tape and watched the entire game. I thought that the special teams aspect of it, I was pleased with. Our punter did an outstanding job of keeping the ball away from an outstanding returner. I thought our coverage on the punts was outstanding and Devin Thomas did an excellent job of tackling Banks on the one in the field of play and doing a good job of eliminating any kind of return and getting the ball out and on the ground which we had talked about all week. We were not able to recover it. Devin, by the way, thank God has been cleared and it appears it was a burner and so hopefully he will be ready to practice this week.
I thought our kickoff return team did a good job and had an opportunity to have a couple good returns. I like the way the two returners got it up in there and blocked for one another. We did have one or two blocks that could have sprung it, to be honest with you, against the number one coverage team but you certainly see why they are. I thought those two and our kickoff coverage was fine. I didn't have an issue at all but we did have the one field goal that we missed which disappointed me.
The one thing that we lacked in the game was that we got a turnover right away, the first play of the game we got a turnover and the yardage is going to be fine but then we add a penalty to it. We didn't get the field position advantage although we did get a penalty with the flea-flicker play that they went ahead and left into the wind. It should have given us more of a spark and we basically stuck with our 15 scripted plays and we tried to mix in a little play action to try to take advantage and it didn't work. We were 3-and out following a turnover which is something you don't want to do. You want to have the opportunity to reinforce your defensive team for turning the ball over and taking it down and getting points but we didn't do that. I am sure our team was looking for that because obviously the spark right away was the interception. We talked about turnovers and how badly we needed takeaways and we didn't get that reinforcement. We obviously were waiting for the big play that we didn't get and that was something that was unfulfilled once again.
We didn't stop the run as well as we would've liked to. Later on in the game, we did a better job but in the early going as they ran up the 17-0 score, we didn't do a good job with that. We did settle down and play a little bit better later on but it was too little too late. Offensively, we had our opportunities. If I wanted to be the eternal optimist, I would tell you that we threw the interception after driving the length of the field with 9:08 left to go in the game, there were 22 offensive plays following that interception and that would have been two 11-play drives which we did come back down twice more and finally scoring the last time. There was plenty of time to do something about the game and we had done that in the past but we were not sharp enough to do it this time. We had the ball in the end zone and we had the holding penalty. We had the ball on the one inch line and I did not talk to the officials today but I do need a reason on the ruling and why the ball went back to the two. (Ware) did hang on to the ball, he did have possession of it and he did secure it. There wasn't a ball out or nothing of that nature and I want to know exactly what the ruling was there because we expected it to be at the one-inch line instead of the two-yard line.
We were not sharp and our execution wasn't as good. We turned the ball over and we had penalties and the offensive penalties were foolish penalties. The two false starts on the younger players and the illegal formation by the veteran player and there is no excuse for any of that. We just didn't play well enough and they did and they should be recognized for that fact. They were efficient and we were not. That is how you lose games in this league.
Q: What is your reaction to Antrel Rolle's comments after the game?
A: I don't know if it was in reference to a question or whatever but I do know this: every player that is medically cleared to practice practices and every player that is not medically cleared to practice does not. It is all a matter of whether or not the player comes out the medical room with a tag that says he is out for the day or limited and of course, this time of the year, there is a lot of that. I am sure there is frustration there and I am not sure that is the mechanism in which you express your frustration. I wasn't there and I wasn't a part of that so I wouldn't comment on that.
Q: Is Ballard going to miss time?
A: We are going to look at this day-to-day but we expect that he will. It is a good medical guess right now but we hesitate to say if he is out and how long he is out or anything like that. I would think at this point in time he is going to miss some time.
Q: Is it season-ending?
A: I don't know, I am hoping it is not a season ender. No, it is not one of those. It depends on how fast the knee will come around and we are just going to have to wait and see.
Q: Is it the MCL?
A: I think it is called the PCL. It is an old PCL injury that he has had before.
Q: You can't get new players at this point. How can you clean everything up in your pass defense?
A: I think you ask me this every week and I just tell you that you have to keep working. You keep doing the very best you can. I don't want a new quarterback. I don't want a new secondary. I don't want new linebackers. The ones that we have, we've got to make them better, they have to play better. These guys have put us in this position right here whereas of a day ago we were in the lead in the division. The same players are going to have to finish this job. We talk about it endlessly, about finish, finish, finish. Be the stronger team. Be the team that we can be proud of as we end the season on a high note. To that end, I'm going to continue to preach. I'm going to do the same as soon as I get an opportunity to talk to our players tomorrow. I don't think you sweep anything under the rug. There are no excuses for the way in which we played yesterday in the areas that need to be addressed. To that end, improvement is a constant thing and the idea of truly understanding what is at stake, what you have at your doorstep and what you have to do to be in position to accomplish it. I would hope that we can realize this, focus on it and do something about it.
Q: Do you feel that Prince is ready for the responsibilities you've given him in the last couple of weeks? Obviously you made a change in the second half.
A: We did. It's not any reflection on the young man other than the fact that he wasn't playing well at the time. Here's a guy, again, who's in big games without a lot of practice time. He's trying to do some things on the fly that he may not understand well enough or certainly in this case, didn't play well enough. We're going to continue to work with him, continue to push him, continue to try to bring him along as fast as we can. He literally has had no preseason and very little practice time during the season. He's a young guy that has talent that has struggled from time to time with his physical ailments as well as his understanding and knowledge of the speed of the play and what people are trying to do to him. These things all come with experience.
Q: You can only do so much. Are you leaning on your leaders on the team?
A: We've done that. We've tried to spell it out to our players and our players understand what's going on, teach the younger guys exactly what to expect at this time of the year, make them realize how important it is for them to play well right now. And the same thing goes for guys that have been around for a couple of years. I think there is peer pressure. I wish there was more. I don't know that necessarily that's the way that it is in our league anymore, but I wish it was. I think you have strengths in people to be looked at in terms of how to prepare and how they play the game. And hopefully there's enough of that that everyone rallies around it right now. And I think we will. I think there will be a unified commitment to playing well together. There's no finger pointing. There's none of that. There's plenty of blame to go around.
Q: Will it be difficult to deal with the hype of the game? Can the hype be good or can it hurt you guys?
A: I certainly hope it can be good. Let's face it, you have a city that has certainly divided. Half the city, or you would think half would be in favor of one team, half the other. Certainly you're going to sense it. The excitement, in terms of that, I would hope would be even more stimulation to make this an extremely important game, more than it is. I don't think you need any more, quite frankly, to understand how important the game is to both teams. If you played it in the parking lot, for what's at stake and both teams will realize this. It is this time of the year. It is December in the NFL. You are in the stretch. Both teams are very much involved in the playoff hunt. The excitement of that time is picked up by the fans. It's the holiday season as well, so I think it's a good thing.
Q: Have you ever cut out words that someone else has said and put them on a bulletin board?
A: Not really, no.
Q: Do you have any comment on Rex's trash talk?
A: I don't usually get involved in the rhetoric part of this thing. I think what's important is that the game is an important game to both teams. And the game will be settled on Saturday afternoon at one.
Q: Did you ever come close to trash talking as a player or a coach?
A: No. Not that I would admit to. No.
Q: Did everybody else come out of the game healthy?
A: There are some things that we'll wait and see how it goes. We've got some guys that are nicked up, as they usually would be. We'll see what their status is tomorrow. They've had treatments today. They'll have treatments tomorrow and they'll come in a little bit later in the day and we'll assess that. At that point in time we'll update the injury report and make you aware of it if it's necessary.
Q: How about Pascoe?
A: He does have a rib injury. He's going to have that checked out and we'll see how much that affects him when we prepare to practice tomorrow.
Q: Are you concerned Osi won't play again this season?
A: I'm very concerned because we were hoping we'd have him back. Again, we're going to take it day to day, but we'd have to have some major improvement here to be able to say that he could go.
Q: Can you talk about how the play evolved where DJ Ware was down the field?
A: It was an audible. There were a couple of plays involved there. The defense caused us to go to a pass play. He was the intended blocker that ended up being a receiver in the seam. He was in pretty good shape running the route. Quickly, the defender came into play. Actually, the defender was not interested in playing the ball at all. He was just interested in going to the receiver, but he did get a piece of it and it deflected up in the air and that was eventually right into the hands of the defender. It went from being a play that could have been a big play to one that we were disappointed in.
Q: That looked like a formation that Beckum usually lines up in.
A: Beckum, he has lined up there. The three wides have lined up there. In this case, the back. You've seen the back on the other side, normally in the out or outside position. This was a little different alignment, but there was a specific reason for it. We had a run/pass option there. The run was taken away.