Q: Does Boldin’s status affect the way you prepare this week at all?
A: No, because we are anticipating him playing. He came back in the game last week after he got knocked out. And I know he has been questionable in some of the practices. But I think that is pretty routine stuff. I would be surprised if he doesn’t play. We are preparing like he is going to play.
Q: How stunned, shocked or whatever were you last week?
A: I don’t know if that is the exact word for it, but maybe disappointed as much as anything. Obviously you never anticipate something like that happening. And I didn’t think anything like that would have happened going in. We felt good about what was going to happen. But they did a great job and we didn’t step up and match it. But I don’t know if I would call it stunned. But you could probably use a whole bunch of different kinds of words to describe the unexpected performance, the unexpected result.
Q: Do you expect no repeat of that this week?
A: It won’t be the same for us, I’m sure of that. They are a little bit different kind of team in the sense that they employ a lot more four and three-wide receiver groupings than New Orleans had and did. But they are a throwing offense, which is what obviously New Orleans had great success against us with last week. So I’m sure they will be licking their chops coming in against us, feeling they will be able to throw the ball all over the park on us. That is to be expected, and that is what they do anyway. So for some of the personnel groups, we anticipated New Orleans running the ball. And they didn’t do that. They threw it out of groupings that we were anticipating playing run calls on. But for Arizona, they are a passing team. They are going to come out in three and four wide receivers a majority of the time. So it will be a different kind of look offensively.
Q: Drew Brees was barely touched last week. Was that them, was that you, what was it?
A: Some of both. They did a good job. They moved him around in the pocket a little bit and they kept protectors in. They didn’t run a whole lot of four or five receivers out, especially in the two-back personnel. They kept guys in to protect. Second of all, we didn’t do a great job pressuring the quarterback. And third of all, on my part - should have, would have, could have – we would have, especially at some point in the game, figured out what they were doing, that their aim is really to throw the ball on us. And we should’ve just pressured more. Not only more frequently, but send more guys than they could pick up. But like I said, they did a good job. They had a bye week and they did a great job of self-scouting. And their run/pass percentage was flip/flop from a different personnel group. So, like I said, we were making run calls, and they were throwing the ball down the field. We are rushing four guys but they are blocking with six or seven so you are not going to have as much pressure on the quarterback. But, yeah, it is a combination of all of those things. And by the same token, you still have to cover. You are not going to pressure every single down in football. We don’t. I don’t believe in that. But in hindsight, sure, if we had it to do over again, we would pressured much more, more frequently and sent more guys than they could block. Because that was their plan to max it up and throw the ball.
Q: Do you think moving forward then that you guys will kind of ramp up the number of times you blitz a game?
A: Yes, anticipating that is what people will try to do to us. Because we have a good pass rush and so people are not going to let them get off and they will block more guys and run fewer guys in routes; so, yes, absolutely.
Q: Even with a team like this that uses four wide-out sets?
A: Yes, the same mentality. When you anticipate people throwing the ball, you always want to affect the quarterback. Like I said, the thing that New Orleans did a good job of, especially as the game opened up, in groups where we anticipated a two-to-one run-pass tendency, they threw the ball every down out of those personnel groups.
Q: And they put in an extra tackle?
A: Yes, and not even that – just when they were in their two-backs, tight end, two wide receivers, they blocked the tight end and ran two-receiver routes. And they did a good job and we didn’t match it up.
Q: Do you see yourself putting in Mathias, Osi and Justin in at the same time? Or just for rotational purposes?
A: This game in particular because there is going to be so much three- and four-wide receiver sets, they will be out there together. And I know it probably seems a little weird at times seeing any one of those three guys on the sidelines because Mike Waufle rotates them through. But in the big picture of things the plan is that they will be fresher for the long haul and they will be able to go harder when they are in there for the 35 or so snaps that each of them basically gets every game. But in this – because we are going to be playing a lot of dime and nickel, three and four wide, then the three of them will be in there collectively, sure.
Q: The Saints did like ‘max’ protect. I know that you guys did that in a playoff game last year so it sounds like you are expecting to see a lot of more of that - that the blitz is kind of the way to get pressure even when they are max protecting. Is that correct?
A: Yes. New Orleans did it in their two-back groupings without getting super technical. Because when they went to their three wide receiver groupings, they ran conventional four and five man routes. And we did pressure that grouping, which was because we anticipated pass from those groupings. The thing that is going to be a little different from Arizona is that they are a three and four wide receiver team. So the structure of the personnel they have is not to max protect but to throw. And so their answer is to throw it quicker – three steps and get rid of the ball and throw hot. So when you have four wide receivers you only have six protectors – the five linemen and the back – those are the only guys that can protect. So it is hard to get what we call seven-man or full max protection out of it. So they will be a little bit different. But they may elect to go to two-back personnel. Because they have all of the personnel groups like everybody does. And they may elect to do that feeling they have a good chance to protect from our pressures or our four-man rush and throw two receiver routes like New Orleans did to start the game out. But I don’t anticipate that. I think they will do their --- they are playing well. I’m sure they are going to feel good coming in against us and throwing the ball on us. But they are a three and four wide receiver team. I think they will do that as the norm. And they will throw from that. And their answer to the pressure will be to get rid of the ball or screens – that is their answer for pressure – they throw screens, which a pain in the neck.
Q: Is Kurt Warner getting rid of the ball quicker this year?
A: I think he does a good job. He is really smart and he is a veteran. He still gets hit and people get after him. He is not the most mobile guy you are going to play against. So he gets hit and has trouble moving around in the pocket but he does a great job of reading pressure and getting rid of the ball. And that is their answer; that and the screens. They throw perimeter screens. So you bring guys and now you have fewer guys on the perimeter ... wide receiver screens.
Q: Were they doing that last year? Any change at all from last year?
A: No, I think that has been his deal.
Q: How about yourself? Everyone says you are even keel. Is it tough to stay even keel after last week?
A: I think you have to. And it’s a credit to our players – our guys did a great job. They never flinched during the game. We get together on the sidelines in between series and the position coaches do a great job of relaying information about what has just transpired and any adjustments we are going to make as we go back on the field for the next series. And it wasn’t for lack of effort or ‘want to.’ They got us last Sunday. They did a good job. And in hindsight, yeah, you can think of all kinds of things you should have, would have, could have done. And I definitely would have had some different thoughts in hindsight now. But, no, you have nothing to gain by losing your cool. And all you are really doing when that is happening is you are trying to figure out what the heck to do to stop it. And that is what you job is – stop the bleeding – while it is going on. And what the players are trying to do, too. They are trying to play better the next series when they go out there.
Q: Is it harder for you – I know you want to start out …….. Harder just not seeing it maybe like you want to.
A: That is a good question and I have found being on the field – it is an irrelevant issue, yeah. Being on the field has been fine. The information we get from the press box – and it is not as great of a view – but from the sound you know what is happening out there – you can see it. So I may have anticipated that beforehand but now being on the sidelines for half a dozen games, that isn’t even an issue because the communication we get from the guys in the box is crystal clear. And we are all talking on the phones. Everybody knows what is happening so it is very ……
Q: Did you have to prop your guys up this week at all?
A: No, we have resilient players. Tom does a great job of handling the morale and all of the intangible things on a regular and a daily basis. But when we came out to practice yesterday guys were upbeat and very driven. Our guys have a lot of pride. They expect to win around here so they are disappointed in their performance. They don’t expect to play that way when they line up. And they certainly don’t expect to play that way this Sunday. So, no, we don’t have morale issues. Our guys want to play football and they can’t wait to play Sunday night.
Q: You said definitively you kind of wanted to ramp up the blitz. Just curious, then why in the past few games why did you keep it at the level – just because everything was working and you didn’t need to blitz more? Or what is the reason for kind of a change now?
A: Really, the answer is yes, because we were handling the other people. So we pressured in the previous games but we were up. Our base calls were successful. When you think of the last three games I thought we played well on defense. Things were going well. And we pressured intermittently and we pressured on third down, which everybody does. But our base defense on first and second down was more than adequate -- since the Dallas game we had played well. So to answer you question, yes. Things were going well; we were playing good defense. But obviously they found a way to attack us and like I say, to throw the ball on us on every single down. And so we don’t want to let that happen and we will be prepared as we go forward.