I looked at the tape this morning and afternoon and spent a lot of time with the coaches talking about it and looking at it. Really it’s a sad tribute really because I really felt like our preparation in terms of a short week, the meeting time, the extra meeting time we spent, the time we spent together in a little bit different capacity out in Denver. The morning of the game where we did have some meeting and some finishing touches where we had to put on some things. I really felt good about where we were and all being there together knowing full well what the situation was for our team. With six games to go what we needed to accomplish.
We just didn’t play well. We didn’t play as physically on either side of the line of scrimmage as we could. I supposed I should start by saying that I wasn’t disappointed with special teams. There were certain aspect and certain individual plays that weren’t as good as others but overall I thought we punted the ball well, we covered punts well. We had one good punt return we probably should have had another which we weren’t able to block one of the gunners well enough to get Domenik (Hixon) started. We kicked the ball off. The ball came out twice inside the 30. The last one I did not like. They came from four yards deep in the end zone to the 35 yard line. We had a lot of touchbacks but the two kick returns we handled weren’t good enough. The effort and the intensity and the way in which those groups played I was not disappointed in. I can’t say the same thing for either side of the ball.
As I said last night, football to me is that you have to run the ball and stop the run. Those are the first things you do have to do to put yourself in a position to be able to take advantage of the various aspects of your plans and your talent. When you don’t do that you’re really putting a magnifying glass on some of these other aspects of the game. It’s not surprising sometimes that it doesn’t come out well. As I said last night, we did not stop the run. We didn’t give ourselves opportunities to run the ball because there really wasn’t much continuity. We didn’t have a lot of opportunities. We didn’t make a lot of first downs, we didn’t do a lot of the things that we knew were the reasons that people had defeated Denver in the last four games were because of, we didn’t do those things.
We turned the ball over, we gave them points off turnovers. We had a 6-0 game in which our defense did a nice job of keeping Denver out of the end zone and forced two field goals and then we turn the ball over on a running play and they were able to score there. I look at the 16-6 score and at that point in time Denver went back to running the ball with success. They ran eight, ten, a few runs of that nature which at that point in time, at 16-6, we really needed to stop the run. If we had stopped the run and forced some other things perhaps we would have had an opportunity to get them off the field without points. But, we weren’t able to do that.
We had a couple of things that looked like drives going ourselves and we ended up with field goals that would have been nice if we were able to punch the ball in. Once as far as the 19 yard line and went backwards. Not a lot of production there. Very disappointed in the caliber of our play. Very disappointed in the outcome of the game. The only thing I can say is that I hope our players realize the nature of how we got beat and the fact that when I talk about the kind of play, the purposeful play that we need in order to win that is what I am talking about.
Q. After San Diego you were upbeat and focusing on some of the things you had done well. Today, when you talked to your team and looked at the tape. Is it kind of a completely different tenor given the nature of the loss?
A. It was last night. As I have told you many times, I really am very honest with our team. I don’t point the blame. I am not out there to put the blame on anyone. I am there to try to solve problems and issues, but I don’t pull any punches relating to them how you win and lose. I thought that last night we did not play well enough to win. We didn’t play well enough to even put ourselves in a position to have a chance. We did have some opportunities, but we weren’t able to pull close enough to accomplish that or to just rally our team around something that was a positive. In talking briefly after the game to our game, I really called upon them to reflect on the purposeful week that we had in terms of knowing full well on the short week what we had to accomplish and feeling pretty good about the way in which we went about it. Then to not have the reinforcement of playing well and give ourselves a chance to win.
Q. Injury updates?
A. Michael Johnson had the groin. I think were going to have to wait and see on that. Danny Ware had a bunch of tests today. We won’t know much more until we follow along here the results of those tests. Bradshaw seemed to be in pretty good shape today although I am not sure how advanced it will be. Anybody else you have in mind?
Q. How about Mario Manningham?
A. He did feel a little bit better this morning, I think.
Q. Darcy Johnson, Rocky Bernard?
A. I don’t think they were going to result in much. They both should be fine.
A. Webster I think will be OK.
A. I don’t think anything new, no.
Q. Shaun O’Hara wants guys to take their job more seriously. Are you preaching that message, individual accountability?
A. I wasn’t familiar with the fact that he said that. Pat (Hanlon) just said something to that effect. We are always talking about accountability, were always talking about don’t let the other guys down. We’re always talking about being at your very best and understanding that the number one thing for any individual is to give great effort.
As a coach when I look at players what I am looking for are guys that give great effort because I think when you give great effort you know that you can mold and shape and things will be the way you want them to be. To quote John Wooden "you’re not going to fail if you're giving great effort".
We are always talking about that. I don’t know what Shaun’s exact verbage was and wouldn’t be for me to try to understand what he was saying. The idea that people are accountable for their jobs that is ingrained in step one of being a responsible teammate.
Q. Ability/inability running the ball has coincided with the wins and losses. What has been the deal with running the ball?
A. I think consistency. I don’t think we have been consistent. I think we always try to have balance. Sometimes we haven’t had the balance we want. We certainly didn’t run it anywhere near the number of times we would have liked to run it last night. The way in which you accomplish things of the nature you are speaking is to establish some rhythm and continuity in your offense. Without that you don’t get anything consistent. That is exactly what took place. It is hit or miss unless you can go ahead and have some success, move the ball, get some first downs, allow yourself to be able to create some variety in what you do. We just didn’t have that..
Q. The touchdown pass to Stockley ... one guy missed assignment?
A. There was a defensive , one coverage call and it was a mistake on the part of one individual.
Q. Bill Sheridan has come under fire. Have you spoken with him? Do you want to get more involved in the defense?
A. There is certain aspects that have to be corrected. Those are the areas that basically when I talk to the defensive staff after I evaluate a film. I go in and we talk about the things that need to be corrected or we talk about personnel, how they should be utilized. It is a continuous thing. It is not an attempt after one game to become a part of the defensive thinking. It is every week, after every game win or lose, we discuss the players, we discuss the strategy, we discuss the success or lack of and we try to address the areas where we have not been successful and we call them the objectives for the following week. It is a continuous thing.
Q. Are you satisfied with the job he is doing?
A. I would say this to you. There isn’t anybody starting with me that is satisfied with anything. It is never one individual, it is a full team. There is no one individual that is at fault here. We are doing this as a group, as a team, as a coaching staff and that is the way it will always be.
Q. Sheridan had said that the defensive hasn’t been playing physical enough. You agree?
A. We have to play better, we have to be more physical. We challenge ourselves to be that in all three phases with every game. We certainly need to do a better job in that area.
Q. With the break until the next game, does this kind of give you guys another chance to evaluate and look at things like a bye week?
A. First of all it is another opportunity for some of the people that need the time to heal up to heal up. We do have the weekend. There is an opportunity to look at ourselves again, more thoroughly perhaps in terms of self scout. We’ll do that.
Q. Emotion lacking from the start or was it not being able to make a play?
A. You can classify it a lot of different ways. Had we taken the ball, gone down and did something with the ball and provided that kind of spark for our entire team you might have seen something different. Had we been able to go in and just register a stop right away or do something to rally your team. We felt like coming off a win that we would be in position to have some momentum in the game and even though we were on the road to have to go ahead and give our team the reason to be excited or inspired.
You always do that with some kind of something good happening on the field. We didn’t do that. We didn’t give ourselves any reason. Although at halftime when we were down 16-0, there was a lot said. The idea was that we had an entire half to do something about it. If we could go out and shut their team down and force a shutout in the second half. And then work our way into some opportunities to score that we could in fact get back in the game. We didn’t get touchdowns. We did come away with two field goals which made it 16-6. You are in striking distance now. Had we gone from there with the ability to stop them or to take the ball and drive it and score again or create a turnover which in the preceding games when other teams have been successful they had scored on defense, they had scored on special teams, they had created some type of momentum changing play by virtue of that.
Having a chance to do that would have given us that opportunity. For a while in the second, despite the fact we weren’t playing as well as we would have liked to be playing we did have a chance to close the margin. We let that slip away.
Q. How surprised are you to be sitting at 6-5? How frustrating to not be able to find the answers.
A. I thought playing two good football games, we didn’t win the San Diego game but we brought ourselves back to playing pretty good football. Then the following week against a good team from Atlanta, we were able to win. I thought that we were beginning to ascend right there and would continue to build momentum from there. Yesterday’s game was a disappointment.
Q. Going into these three divisional games is this the last gut check moment?
A. Well we have a five game schedule. One game at a time with these outstanding divisional games coming up and then two other extremely good opponents in addition. We always take them one game at a time. We have to see how we come back now and rally back from a loss which none of us are proud of. Certainly we will utilize every aspect of motivation that we can to get our guys back on track and realize you are one game away from turning some of this around. But it is going to take a real consciousness effort to change the nature of the way we played the other day and turn it into the kind of physical team we aspire to be.
Q. Go back to the idea that they have been through the tough times ... Is there over reliance?
A. I don’t know what they said to you about that, but I certainly don’t think in anyway that is a negative. I think having bounced back on a couple occasions in the past I am hoping that particularly those guys in a leadership role can express to their teammates that the way in which that takes place. It takes place because you get back and grind. You got to grind. You got to realize the basic nature of the game is the physical nature of the game. You have to return to that. I am hoping that message rings loud and clear and that we respond to that.