OK, I’ll start with the injuries.
(Same shoulder for Chillar?)
(What is the timeline for Nance?)
He’ll go through the normal process. They have a history on every player. Go through that and it will be headed up by Dr. John Gray. We’ll go day by day. I’m sure I’ll be giving you updates Wednesday, Thursday and Friday as we move through the week.
(Is Starks ready to come up?)
Well, he’d better be. He may have an opportunity this week.
(What are your thoughts on running game going forward, as far as how effective it has been or could be?)
We got into a game really throwing the football. Our situational run wasn’t what it needed to be. But as far as the offense as a whole, I thought it was as productive of a performance as we’ve had this year in the passing game. Really the issues, the first third-and-1 down there on the goal line and the two quarterback sneaks are both plays you want to see go in the end zone. Our sub run game was productive, particularly in our no-huddle. We really never got to our two-back offense because of the success that we were having with our multiple-wide receiver sets. We’ll go through it every week. Our opponent really dictates how we run the ball.
(Did Aaron change the call on the first sneak and the second was called on third down?)
(How did the second-down one get blown up?)
It was a good check by Aaron, and I fully expect us to execute that play versus that particular defense, especially in the transition that their defensive line was in. It was a good check by Aaron. Poor execution.
(In terms of your philosophy, do you like quarterback sneaks?)
You never want to expose your quarterback to unnecessary hits, but it’s like any play you have in your offense. There’s a design, there’s technique involved, and when it’s not done right, usually negative things happen, and it was evident on both of those sneaks.
(Heading into December, do you have to be better running the ball?)
I clearly understand where you’re going with this. But we played in a dome, played on a very fast track, different surface than I played there in the beginning, and had favorable matchups outside in our opinion. It was extremely productive. December, playing outside, all those factors … our opponent really determines how we play each game offensively.
(What did you think of the tackling on a couple of those third downs?)
The two big third downs were negative plays for us on defense. The one checkdown where we didn’t tackle, and really the third and I think it was 16 that led to the fourth-and-3 where we missed the tackles. If you have a longer down-and-distance there on fourth down they probably don’t attempt the fourth down. We need to tackle better. It’s like anything. I’m a big believer in you get what you emphasize. You gentlemen are at practice every day. We do tackling drills three days a week. That’s something we installed back in the spring. No different than our ball-security drills. We expect and demand to take care of the football, take the football away, and we expect to tackle as a football team, both defensively and throughout the special teams, well week in and week out. We did not do that to the level that we’ve been doing it here over the last month.
(What was the sequence in not challenging the Gonzalez fourth-down catch?)
Anytime you have a play you’re looking to challenge, really it’s based on information. There was really no information that would have led me to challenge that play. Really, if you want to break it down even further, you look at significant information and you have blind information. There was no significant information which would come from a replay. There was really no blind information. Their offense didn’t hurry up. I saw the play. It looked like Tony had both his hands under the ball. Watching the coaches’ film this morning, you can’t tell that it’s a catch or no catch. But my understanding was a play or two later, whatever the timing was, when it finally did come in the box, that there was movement on the catch, and that’s really off of a TV angle, a totally different angle that we did not have access to. There was really no information for me to consider challenging that play. And frankly, each week, you evaluate your officiating crew. Pete Morelli’s crew is among the lowest at turning over challenges. So those are all types of things, whether you play the high side or low side as far as taking an attempt at a blind challenge situation, which that clearly would have been in that case.
(Would you ever consider using a timeout to get that information?)
I think I already answered the question. There was no information at all to tell me even to consider taking a timeout. Their sideline, they didn’t hurry up and get on the ball.
(Overall, do you like how the replay system is set up?)
I think the camera angles are phenomenal, particularly when you play in a national TV game where there are more cameras available. Every stadium is different, particularly on the road. It’s part of our game. I think it does fall into the category of home-field advantage sometimes. Yeah, I’m pleased with it.
(Have you had issues before with replays being delayed on the road?)
It’s part of the game. We’re not going to do down that road. Like I said, I think it is all part of home-field advantage. Sometimes it may seem quicker than others. I have never stopped and tried to time it. There is a process that we have on why we challenge and when we challenge, and we adhere to that process.
(Rodgers has been criticized for not winning close games, but was that 90-yard drive one of the better drives he has had?)
I have never seen a quarterback, in my time here, play to that level in the passing game. I’ll make that statement clearly here. I thought his performance, as far as handling their pressure vs. empty sets, handling their three-man rush. He had the delay of game there that backed us up and he bought as much time as he possibly could on the three-man rush for the fourth-down call. I thought he played at an extremely high level in the passing game. The quarterback sneak, the fumble, to me that’s as much on the execution of the line as it is on the ball-carrier. It’s adversity, and it takes all three phases. Our offense needed to go the distance of the field. We tried to manage the clock the best we could. He got the seven points and then we come back and have the kickoff come right back at us out to the 50. We obviously didn’t handle the adversity on special teams there at that particular point, but I thought that was an outstanding performance by
(How did that kickoff return break down?)
They went with a middle return. Really didn’t get any penetration from the backside. The safety shot it so the ball didn’t bounce when they went with the middle return. The coverage element, as far as not getting the penetration, was the first breakdown. It was obviously a poor tackling technique with the high tackle. There they are, they’re out there on the 50-yard line.
(When you look back to some of the close losses, is there a common thread?)
Every game is different. Every challenge is different. We fully anticipated a 60-minute game. We talked about it as a football team all week. I thought they did a better job in the trenches than we did. We played to our strengths offensively, and really we didn’t put enough points on the board too and our defense let them in the end zone one too many times and special teams didn’t handle the adversity. It really came down to probably one play in any one of those areas and the outcome is probably different. I don’t think there is a common thread. It’s a road game, a tough environment, very loud. Louder than I recall in my past games down there. I thought we handled the crowd noise exceptionally just as a whole as far as our tempo in and out of the huddle. I thought our defense handled their personnel groups and the communication challenges as good as we possibly could in that environment. I think they had 10 personnel groupings in the first 18 plays. There were a lot of challenges going on there that we did very well (in), but the outcome obviously was not what you wanted. You have to keep building off the positives. I thought we had an edge to our play here the last three weeks or so and our edge wasn’t as sharp as it needed to be in Atlanta.