I apologize for being late. I have some disappointing news. I just came from the meeting with the medical staff.
(When did it happen? Do you know what play it happened on?)
Still do not know. It’s remarkable to watch the tape. He played 23 snaps in the game. I want to say it probably happened somewhere between probably his ninth and 12th snap in the game. There’s no real clear-cut picture when he did it. To watch him play, I think it was at least two full series after that, and also on the punt protection. Dr. McKenzie last night felt pretty strong about it in his examination, and it was confirmed this morning. We just got the news.
(So you think he played some with it?)
Oh, he absolutely did. Because there’s no evidence, I want to say the last six, seven snaps, of any collision or any major stop-and-start type situation where his body was in that type of position.
(On the Best fumble, you see him get into the scrum there…?)
Yeah, that’s one of the … the defensive staff looked at it. I went up yesterday afterwards and we watched the special teams after the game, looked at it briefly and couldn’t see it. The defensive staff couldn’t find it, and when I watched it with the defensive staff, there’s really no clear picture. When you have a significant injury, you can usually pinpoint it.
(What did he report as far as pain, etc.?)
He felt some of the very common symptoms, and that’s why they sent him inside, on the sideline after Dr. McKenzie and Pepper had a chance to examine him.
(Do you fill that for a couple of weeks, and where is Atari at?)
Well, we just talked about it in a preliminary meeting that we had with our coaching staff here at 10:15. We’re going to have to really look at how we’re going to do it for the next two weeks for sure. As far as
Derrick did OK. Like a lot of things when you don’t get the reps, the communication as far as the details of where you need to be, alignments and disguise and things like that. We need to play better on defense. That was not our best performance by far this year.
Correct, yes. Like I said, we’ve got a couple balls up in the air that we’re looking at and talked about this morning. The Washington Redskins will be part of that discussion as far as how we’re going to approach this game.
(Is one of the balls up in the air potentially moving Bush back to safety?)
That’s one of the balls, yes. That would be one.
(How disappointing is it for him and where was he at with things?)
It’s very disappointing for him as an individual just because of what he’s put into it from the time he’s been here, to have to grow up that fast, and he was getting better with each week. He had a real nice tackle there early in the game, comes up in support. You could see he was really comfortable. For a first-year player, being in a key communicating spot in our defense, I thought he did an exceptional job. He was getting more comfortable and you could see his athletic ability taking over. You feel bad for Morgan.
(After the game yesterday, Aaron brought up the need to get the offensive playmakers on the field more. Is he not on the same page with the play-calling?)
I would say we’re on the same page. It was an odd game, no doubt about it for our offense. The time of possession, we’ve been on the other side of a few of those, but never that I can recall on that side of it. I think it was almost over an hour period where we weren’t in the game. But as far as our offense, we’re a multiple offense. In league circles I’m sure we’re noted as a multiple offense, so we do a lot with our personnel, we do a lot conceptually, we have a lot on our quarterback’s plate. We talk every day. I’m very confident that we’re on the same page.
(How much input does he have in the game plan each week?)
It’s pretty normal as far as his process. Monday he’ll go through the correction period, just like the rest of the team. Then he’ll take the game tape home with him. He spends a lot of time on his computer with his film study. Tuesday he has a program he goes through in the morning, and we usually see him as an offensive staff approximately about 11 a.m., and then he’ll have a couple thoughts, some of the things that he’s seen, and by that time we can tell him … by noon we usually have a preliminary run plan, and actually we’re starting our final run plan meeting at noon. There’s usually a conversation that happens about that time.
(I am sure you saw the clips and what he said. What was your reaction when you saw it?)
I was made aware of it. I didn’t spend a whole lot of time with it.
(But when he says you need the best guys on the field…have you talked to him?)
I have not talked to Aaron yet. I’ll see him today, like I always do, in the meetings. We’ll talk about the game. We’ll talk about the things I thought he did very well, and we’ll talk about the things that he needs corrections on. As far as getting our best guys on the field, I was very confident in the game plan. We had 45, 44 plays on offense, so I think anytime that happens, right there, that’s out of balance for us from the beginning. We want to be 70, 75 plays in the ballgame, and we were just a little over half of that. I’m sure everybody was wanting more opportunities.
(Are you assuming that he is talking about spreading the ball out like you did against Chicago?)
I’m not assuming anything. We have more formations than … we could play tripleheaders with our offense. It was an odd game for our offensive players. I’m sure they all wanted more opportunities. I’m sure they all wish they could have did more. But the fact of the matter, when you go through that game tape today, my biggest disappointments as a team, when we have three takeaways in the game, I strongly believe to be in the plus turnover ratio. Four giveaways is unacceptable. There’s a lot of time, energy, technique that is spent every single day in our program, and we were minus-1 as a football team, and that’s going to change. So that’s the first part. Third down, we didn’t do a very good job on both sides of the ball. Particularly if you want to start with the offense, third-and-1 and third-and-2, that’s an extra set of downs, the interception in the red zone on third down. Our third-down production offensively wasn’t what it needed to be, and I thought that was really our biggest hurdle on defense was our third-down production. That’s what we’ll spend our time primarily with today when we go through the corrections.
(Will Jordy stay on the kickoff return team?)
We’ll look at that. There’s accountability back there. You have to hold onto the ball. I think Jordy’s done a good job the first three weeks. I think he’s doing a good job of recognizing what we’re trying to do from a return standpoint. I think we’re doing a much better job blocking on the return game. But there’s no excuses for having the ball on the ground twice. We’re not going to play like that.
(What are your options there?)
You could definitely consider Tramon back there. Patrick Lee I’ve been impressed with. Dimitri has some ability to do that. We’re going to spend a little more time this week, particularly with our specialists throughout our special teams. We have to do a better job handling the football, ball placement and things like that.
(After Grant’s injury, do you think you have found your identity on offense yet, because Aaron alluded to that?)
I think that’s a convenient buzzword, and I’m not trying to downplay your question or what exactly Aaron said or didn’t say. But our identity hasn’t changed. We’re a multiple offense. We have the ability to get in and out of a number of different personnel groups. We spend a lot of time trying to stress out our opponent from a personnel standpoint, formations included, and at the end of the day we’re about the fundamentals of football. That’s what I focus on. Did we have plays called in the game that put our playerse in position to win? Yes we did, and that’s the bottom line. How much we spread out and how much we don’t spread out, the coaches coach, and the players play.
(Do you think Kuhn has earned the right to be the No. 1 back right now?)
I don’t view it that way. I don’t view it as No. 1 and No. 2. When we put our run play together, we are trying to not be predictable on who runs what plays or who runs what concepts. We spend more time self-scouting ourselves more than ever because we don’t want to be predictable conceptually. We have the flexibility, particularly with our perimeter guys that we don’t have to have the same guy run the same position. We are moving Jermichael around even more this year than last year. We have Donald outside, not as much inside, so we have been very conscientious coming out of the offseason of who plays where, and it’s no different with the running backs. I think if anything, maybe ask John to do less because John plays at 5 yards and is also playing at 7, and certain handoffs, just give him more of a rhythm. Brandon, I don’t worry about because he has done the whole gamut since the first day. I just spend more time on the self-scout part of it, make sure we are getting these guys fundamentally repped and ready to go so they are seeing it with the right vision, they are having the right tempo and the right time clock in accordance with what we are trying to get done in the run blocking.
(What disappointed you about the defense?)
Defensively we had some areas of production that just wasn’t there. The long down-and-distances, we didn’t do a very good job. They had a number of long down-and-distances that we didn’t convert, and if you want to break it down even further, through about four weeks we are not handling the quarterback running with the football. And that is something that we need to address, especially going into Washington this week. With the two-man or the underneath coverage and with the pass rush and who is assigned where, we had a couple of breakdowns that were big plays. I think Shaun Hill had three for 53 if I stand correct, so that was one area, and screens. It is common to see a lot of screens when you are a fire-zone, quote-unquote, team, and we did not handle the screen very well. So those are two big areas of production that Detroit did a very nice job of. They did a good job of getting the ball to their playmakers, and their offensive perimeter group is talented.
(Any other injuries come out of the game?)
(Going back to Kuhn, did he do enough that he might get more opportunities?)
We don’t approach the game that way because I don’t think there is that vast of a difference. When we line up to play against a defense, we trust either running back to put the ball in their hands, which is nice because you are looking at the concepts , what they do best, how you are going to attack the defense. So I don’t go into the game and say, ‘OK, John is going to get 10 carries and Brandon is getting 12.’ I don’t do that. Now, there are other factors that you have to take into account. If someone gets a hot hand, then feed them. I think that is a very practical approach. To start the game, everything that we do is built on game-planning and trying to keep these guys in a rhythm and trying to do the things that they have reps in. Every football team goes through that, whether you are coaching defense, offense or special teams. You try to keep players doing the things that they have a lot of time invested in, particularly fundamentally. That is no different than what we are doing with the running backs.
(Of all the things that weren’t positive, was the way you finished out the game by running out the final 6:32 something you can build on?)
I thought there were a number of things that came out of the game. No. 1, to turn the ball over four times and win the football game, I think that says something about your football team. I don’t know how many times that has happened statistically. To overcome that much negativity of a core fundamental that you truly believe in and you dedicate a lot of time in, I think that is an accomplishment. I thought our adversity defense was outstanding. When we turned the ball over, they held them to field goals. I thought that was a very big bright spot in the game. And really, the last 15 plays of the game. With everything that had gone wrong all the way up to that point, the last three plays on defense, starting with Charles makes all three of them. He makes the tackle on first down, he breaks the pass up on second and third down, and then we get the ball back and we control it for 12 plays and end the game. Those last 15 plays of the game I thought was impressive Packer football, and we were able to get the division win and that’s what it is all about.
(After watching the film, did you come away with a different feeling?)
I’ll just say this: I think we need to get a little more realistic, and I haven’t talked to the team yet. I’ll touch on this when I get in there, but we came in the locker room, we always pray when we come back in, and usually there is some excitement. You would have thought we lost in the locker room, and I think that is unrealistic and we need to get in touch with reality. We talk about winning and improving, and we won the game and we’ve got a ton of room for improvement. To me, that’s a positive. It didn’t look good, it was odd at certain points in the game, but we won the football game, we won a division football game. Those are very important. We spend a lot of time on division football games. You can see Detroit spent a lot of time on us, and that’s what division opponents do to each other. I don’t recall too many easy wins in division games. It doesn’t happen very often. Just because people think we are supposed to go out and win by two touchdowns, that’s not realistic, and for us to let that in our locker room is not what we are all about. So maybe this is a good shot of reality that we need. We have had a different week. We felt like we lost a game we had a lot of chances to win, and then we had to do some things at the end of the game to win another division game. These are all good experiences that we can learn from.
(Isn’t it good as a coach for the team to not feel good after a win like that, because they still have room to improve? Where is that feeling coming from and why does it bother you?)
I think I said that, didn’t I? I think it is a positive that we won and that we have an opportunity to improve. We’re not going to be passing out flowers when we go to this meeting today. There is going to be a lot of correction, and that is the beauty of the football team. They have a lot of character in that locker room, and they just showed it yesterday on the field. Yeah, no one was really happy about the way it went or the way that it was going at times, but they fought to win the game. That says a lot about your football team, and they are going to come in there and they are going to be accountable. They are going to be held accountable and we need to learn from this, so that is our plan.
(So you don’t think it was about all of the preseason Super Bowl talk?)
Well, I think you would like to think it would be, and maybe it is. Maybe I don’t do a good enough job? Hey, I was asked if I think we can win the Super Bowl. Hell yeah. I would think the other 31 other teams think they can win the Super Bowl too when they start the season. That conversation is over for us. I understand how we play our tennis match here, but it is not what we live and talk about or evaluate on based on what we said in the preseason.
(No, I’m saying that because they only won by two points and they think that’s not good enough because they think they are a Super Bowl team.)
Well, the Super Bowl, they don’t play that until February. Frankly, the only team that really deserves to even talk about the Super Bowl is the New Orleans Saints. They’re the champion until someone takes it away from them. I think we all understand that in our locker room. Our goal is to win and improve weekly, and we’ve got a lot of room for improvement, and we’re just going to stay the course. I feel we have a very good blueprint of how we grow during the course of a season. We’re going through an injury phase right now. Hopefully we can move past this. It happens to every team, and I’m a little more concerned on the defensive side of the ball, because they really haven’t been healthy since the first week of the season. I think we can do a better job making decisions early in the week and play the most prepared player, and that’s something we’ll look at when we get together Wednesday morning.
(You are hitting a pretty tough stretch of the season; would you have hoped you were on more of a roll at this point?)
Well, we’re 3-1. I look at the first quarter of the season, everybody talks about the fast start. I look at the four games as how you evaluate your start. I think we’re off to a solid start. We’ve won three games, we’ve lost one. There’s a lot of productivity on film. There’s a lot of positive things on film. But the things that we haven’t done well, we’re fortunate enough where we can correct it. I know that may sound like coachspeak, but that’s the way we feel about it. We don’t feel that there’s nothing that’s happened to us that we can’t improve on. We had a bunch of penalties last week, and we emphasized it all week, we had three this week. That’s progress, and we need to continue to work and focus on that, because that’s very important. We feel if we don’t hold ourselves back, we have a great opportunity o be successful, whoever we play and wherever we play. We’ll just stay true to that.