Q: Is this the best you have felt about the running game?
A: We have gotten better and that is no question. We are still a little inconsistent than what we like to be but we are in that area where we feel like we are headed in the right direction. If we are averaging about four yards a carry, that keeps us in a down and distance that makes it much easier to call plays, it makes them much more balanced on defense because you can run or pass. It is very helpful when you can do it, so to answer your question in a roundabout way, yes. We are not satisfied but we feel like we are progressing.
Q: Is it more about eliminating the negative plays?
A: Absolutely, that has been the biggest thing. There is not a penalty or a minus yardage play, it may not be six yards a carry but at least there is not a negative play. When you do that you help control the pass rush, you make a defensive line play honest, and it makes it a lot easier for us to do what we have to.
Q: What has happened to get back in the right direction?
A: I wish we had the magic answer but I think the runners are doing a better job of staying inside and hitting the holes the way they should. I think the linemen are doing a better job and it really started with Mitch Petrus and Kevin Boothe and now that David is back, it has continued. I don't know what sparked it but something got it going and we made a commitment going into the Green Bay game that we wanted to run the ball a little bit more effectively. We were going to see if that would help us control their pass rushers and we had some success. It carried over to Dallas and it has been something that we have been building on ever since.
Q: Do you see the playoffs more about the hot quarterback now or is it about running the ball?
A: I have never seen it that way. You want to run the ball but most of the time it is about the guy who has the hot quarterback.
Q: Could you ever imagine your offense being last in rushing?
A: No, not really. I thought last year we thought we had something in Jake Ballard but did I see a down the field threat? No, but I thought he would catch the ball and give us some consistency. I didn't think he would replace Kevin Boss but I thought he would do some things. I thought Victor Cruz had a chance but did I not know, no one knew, but did I think it was something there? Yes, I did. The rest of the guys, Hakeem, Eli and Mario would continue to grow and they have. I thought we would continue to move the ball and do fine throwing it. I am disappointed that the running game wasn't better and I expected it to be better than it was and for whatever the reason is it has not been. We have gotten better and that gives a little bit of a chance to make the defense play honest. We think we can throw the ball pretty well.
Q: What makes Victor so good after the catch?
A: Everybody is different and he is just very powerfully built. He has some strength to him so if you don't hit him flush up, he is going that way and has enough quickness and is a little thicker than the average wide receiver maybe. That is the reason why because he has enough quickness coupled with some strength.
Q: Is the Atlanta defense faster than the last time you faced them?
A: They are fast. I don't remember how fast we felt they were going into the last one but they are fast and good. They are a top ten defense. They have gone against the Carolinas, the New Orleans Saints, the Green Bay Packers and other teams twice. They have gone against some very powerful offenses and if you look at them play, you would say they are a top ten defense. They have linebackers that can run and defensive linemen with some speed, the corners when you put the nickel in he is fast. They are good and they have great faith in their ability to run. Their approach is not the same approach that we faced the last three weeks.
Q: Do you think Eli's success is because of Mike Sullivan?
A: I think Mike has done a terrific job, I really do. He was a defensive coach that we made a receivers coach. He is a smart guy and an articulate guy. He is learning on the job but he is a bright guy and well spoken, he is a good, hard worker and he goes out and finds things that will be good examples for Eli. Mike is going to step outside that box and do other things so the stimulus has been good. I don't know if he has gotten any credit but he deserves credit and he has certainly been a catalyst in the good year Eli has had.