Q: Tale of two halves for the running game last week, huh?
A: Yeah, we were very disappointed the way we started. It was a combination of a lot of things. I think they were moving and caught us a few times, more than we would have thought, and that it wouldn't bother us and it did bother us. Fortunately in the second half, I thought we got it going a little bit. We're still not nearly as consistent but we got a couple big plays. That's what I tell our guys is when you face teams that are doing that, whether it's teams that are blitzing all the time, or a team that's playing and angling, sometimes they're going to catch you with that stunting and sometimes you need to catch them, and we caught them a few times, which is good. We got those four big runs. In the grand scheme of things, it's hard when you get those negative plays. It just knocks you out of your down and distance really. That's when I think we're at our best. That's certainly something that we talked about, and the guys realize it's something we'd like to become a lot more consistent with. We hope it happens this week.
Q: What did that flip play do for you in the second half?
A: It was good. I took a deep breath and called it. I said ‘We usually do it with Ahmad, let's with Brandon' and we loaded up with a tight end on the wing on the other side, and he showed enough speed to run away from the end. It was a great play.
Q: So does that prove what you guys are saying about them being interchangeable?
A: Exactly. There are certain things that you'll always emphasize more with one back than the other, but if all you do is play A-G, and then H-M over here, well then it doesn't take defenses very long. You have to be able to do both. That was a big play, and it got us started. We were in the same grouping of personnel when Ahmad hit the sprint on the other side away from that. It was a good play for us. We got three big plays out of that formation, that first look.
Q: How are Boss' injuries going to affect the game plan this week?
A: Not much because we know we have Bear up and ready to go. We'll see what he can do, and you hope that whoever plays that tight end position, being such an integral part of your running game, you have to prove you can run over there, so they have to expect that. Most of the game last week, they started blitzing every time to the open end side and said ‘we aren't going to be able to run over to the tight end if the pressure is coming from over here.' Fortunately, we caught them a couple times. It's something we always have to deal with if you can't run to both sides. Bear has a big challenge with two lightning quick defensive ends he has to go against, but we have great confidence in him and he certainly got a lot of experience this preseason.
Q: What difference, if any, have you noticed year one to year two with Hakeem Nicks?
A: I think he is growing. He has made a couple big plays for us, there is no question. He still has a ways to go consistency-wise with his decision making. He got caught a couple times where they sat on him and he needs to be able to solve that problem. The thing he did last year and he did this year is that you throw the ball up and he catches, he can run after he catches it. The key is him running routes well enough that we can get him the ball. I think it's just slow but steady improvement in that area.
Q: Any difference the way he approaches the game from an off-the-field standpoint?
A: I think he is starting to realize what it takes to be successful. I think he understands that if he wants to be a number one type of receiver, you have to play in and play out every time you get single high or single man up that you have to go over there and you're going to win. That takes a lot of work and preparation, and you have to be a craftsman and a true professional. It doesn't come easily. If anything, he's growing in his understanding of what it takes and what's needed to do that. He's got a ways to go.
Q: Obviously the Colts are going to change their game plan after last week, how do you combat that?
A: I think you can't abandon completely who you are, so they can't do that. They were moving as they always do. There is always an accentuation on their part of getting to the quarterback, getting upfield, getting movement, angles, free up some guys for the pass rush. When that happens and you're in the game running the ball, sometimes you have the type of day that Houston had. Houston happened to hit it perfect, and they did a great job with it. I'd be shocked if they played five times that it would happen again. I know with their emphasis and their pride, there will be some adjustments. Maybe they won't stunt dramatically, and they won't change the ways and angles at which are very severe and much different than other teams. There isn't much movement up field, it's lateral so they take advantage of their speed and their quicks. If you don't catch up with them, then they're disrupting plays all over the place. Hopefully, we have a sense of how fast they're going to be. Last week, Carolina's movement bothered us early on. This is a team that is faster than that. I'm sure they looked at that and said ‘Hey, our stuff can be very effective against them.' So I think we have our work cut out for us.
Q: Last year we asked who your receivers are going to be. A year later, do you think you really have some weapons now?
A: Yeah, I thought we had guys that had potential and I still think we have guys who have potential. You guys see the big plays but I see the mistakes that we're still making and the areas that we have to get better at. We have some good kids who have some athleticism. All can make plays with their feet after they catch the ball. I feel good about that. They want to be good, that's the starting point, to have some athletic ability. They want to be good, they listen. I have some good coaches who do a nice job helping them to grow and develop. I think we have a system that allows them to tweak those things that they can do. We give them a chance to showcase their abilities. As I say to them, eventually, it doesn't take long to figure out, ‘here's what you do against those guys.' It's important that they continue to grow and develop so that the areas that eventually they take away, they open up other opportunities. Are you good enough to take advantage of those? That's what we're working on right now.