OK, I'll start with the injuries from the game. Brady Poppinga will have arthroscopic surgery in the morning, and we'll have the details from that once Dr. Pat McKenzie completes the surgery. Donald Driver had a quad strain. He will probably miss some practice time this week. A.J. Hawk had a groin strain, and he should also probably miss some practice time. With that I'll take your questions.
(Did you get a chance to watch the penalty on Francois again on the punt?)
Sure did. I had an opportunity to watch all the tape. Had an opportunity to watch the punt after the game.
(You have used that formation a few times. Did anyone warn you in the past about it?)
It's a new rule this year. It's something that a lot of conversation during the preseason about the formation. It's a formation that's been used against us probably on a weekly basis. We used it throughout the game. The rule states that the player cannot be within a yard of the center. The intent of the rule is for the safety of the snapper. The origin of it really started on field goals, and it was carried over to punt. We had used that formation earlier in the game. It's a legal formation. Why it took so long for the flag and so forth, I do not understand that part. It's illegal formation, offsides, things like that. Just the process of it is what's disturbing. But Robert Francois was lined up a yard from the center. That's what the film shows.
(Is there any advantage to him lining up a yard away? Should he maybe play it safe and line up 2 yards back?)
Let me ask you this, because I was asked the same question last night. What is the difference between lining up over the ball, if you're the nose guard? Would I tell the nose guard to line up six inches away from the football, just so maybe he's not offsides? Six inches is the difference in a lot of things, particularly at the line of scrimmage. The rule states not within a yard. There's a reason why you have individuals lined up in certain positions. You want to get as close to a yard as you possibly can. I don't think that's any different as far as the teaching purpose that goes on throughout formations, defensive fronts, bump-and-run technique, where the receiver is crowding the ball, whether the defensive line is crowding the ball from the other side. The rule states not within a yard.
(Are you baffled by the call?)
Baffled? I'll just say this. When pre-snap penalties are called, illegal formations are called, offsides called, usually the flag comes out immediately. The same situation occurred in our Detroit game, the flag came out immediately. Now, just the timing of it is what sets you back a bit. After a timeout, to be in the huddle and then the flag to come out that late. I think the process is something that needs to be looked at. If someone lines up wrong, the flag should be thrown immediately, in my opinion.
(But you do think your guy was lined up legally?)
I think the film illustrates that, yes.
(How much longer can you go with some of these punts that are putting you in bad field position?)
The punting was not good yesterday. I think that's obvious. Tim has been inconsistent, and my mindset in preparation for Minnesota is to keep working with Tim and get him to be more consistent. Frankly I thought he did a good job with his inside the 20, the two punts going in, but the opportunity to change the field position did not happen, especially when we needed it there in overtime. So he needs to do a better job.
(What will your approach be with Al Harris and Atari Bigby?)
Well actually we're going to start practicing all three guys coming off of PUP, and frankly, just want to see them out there in the group drills, in the team drills and just see where they are. Because they can't do any more than they've done from a rehab standpoint. So it's time to cut those guys loose. I know they're excited about it, and we're excited to get them on the practice field.
(Do you have any sense from talking to the doctors where they are or do you just have to see them in practice?)
Well, really when you get to this point from a rehab standpoint, really this is when the doctors turn them over to the coaches. There's nothing else that they feel they can do for all three players as far as getting them ready to play. It's time for them to get into football activities and find out exactly where they are.
(Do you any sense that one of the three is ahead of the others?)
I think I'll answer that Wednesday. Really, I just want to see them out there in practice. If you talk to them, especially when you're the head coach and you talk to players about injuries, they're always fine. They're always playing this week, and they're always good. And you appreciate that. But we'll find out about those guys Wednesday.
(But the window to start practicing could be later, so I assume you are hearing good things from the doctors?)
Yes. They're professionals. If you just watch them go through the rehab with Mark Lovat and Flea (asst. athletic trainer Bryan Engel), they're ready. They're ready to cross this last hurdle, so it's been all positive, yes.
(How much can Starks help you, given the fact that he missed his senior season and most of OTAs and all of training camp?)
I think it's obvious that's a huge question mark. Atari and Al Harris have battled, have played in games here, know our system of football. You're talking about two veterans. Starks is really, we just want to get him out and see him in pads and get him in that environment. We're really evaluating him totally differently.
(When you look at the close games with Aaron, 1-11 is a pretty stark number. How do you break that down? What do you take from that?)
It's become a situation. Anytime you have a tendency and it's produced negative results, you have to look at everything. You have to look at the plays you're calling, you have to look at the execution of it, the defenses that you're getting in those particular situations. I've created a situation column on my call sheet for that, and we'll continue to evaluate that. I think we're a different team than we were two years ago, and I do think this year is different because … the result is the same, and I totally understand the point of the record and so forth, but there are positives within that. That last drive, to go down and to score to put the game into overtime. In Detroit, they go down and score, and then at the end of that game. And then you look at the Washington game, some of the things that happened, they're correctible. I don't think it's something that we're doing wrong. Frankly, it's a situation that's been evaluated, no different than third down and red zone and everything else has been evaluated on a weekly basis. We'll just continue to work at it, and we need to do a better job. There's no doubt about it.
(How much of it is on Rodgers, because there were also games in 2008 where you either missed field goals or the defense gave up a score after you took the lead?)
It is going to either be real good or real bad. That is just the nature of the quarterback position in the National Football League, and even more so our offensive system is built around making the quarterback successful. It's a quarterback-friendly system, and anybody that has knowledge of the history of the West Coast offense understands the teaching philosophy and the starting point of how the offense is built from the ground up. And he is a very accountable young man and he'll continue to work. It's not going to change the way we approach games and so forth, but it's a situation that we probably have to maybe spend time on, which is obviously a concern just the way we have been practicing lately just because of other circumstances. It's a situation we need to do a better job in.
(How much trouble did Cameron Wake give you and were there things you could have done differently?)
A good football player. We had chips and so forth and you have things built in, but also they have things that they can do too to take the back off of it and so forth. The five sacks, and just really going back to that penalty discussion, I don't want to take away anything from Miami's victory because I think if you look at the way their productivity in all three phases, they earned that victory yesterday. As far as the production they had with their offense, the 26 first downs, and they won the field-position battle on special teams. When you generate five sacks and they had the turnover against our offense, it definitely was a victory that they earned, so I don't want to take anything away from that. I am going to stand up here and look like I am complaining about penalties. But as far as Wake, he is a good football player. We did some very basic things. There is a lot of carryover this week from last week, really two similar defenses we played back-to-back. As far as did we line the tight end up over there a bunch and chip him and so forth? No, but as far as the timing and the throws and the protections we had in the plan with Bryan, I felt very comfortable with the position we put him in. But our timing is not where it needs to be, and that is everything. I am talking about the protection, the footwork of the quarterback, the route running. When we do it, we make it look very easy, and when we don't, we have moments like we did yesterday.
(Was there something they were doing with the sacks?)
You need to look at the sacks. Not all of those sacks were created by the defense. There are a couple of those sacks from our perspective, from our evaluation, that should not occur. Whether it was the timing and the footwork of the quarterback, the last sack on third down we just didn't pick up the TT game with the Mike on the delayed blitz. We just didn't handle that very well at all. It is the same thing as last week. You have five sacks, those are big plays in the game. It changes field position, it changes momentum, there are a lot of things that come out of that, and we have done a good job up until the last two weeks. There has been a little carryover in last week's game to this week, and we need to get that ready because we have an excellent defensive line in Minnesota coming in here Sunday.
(Do you have a feel for Matthews and Pickett this week?)
No, I don't. Like I said, they are going to play. That is what I am told. They want to play. They are going to do everything they can to get on the field. They both tested Sunday morning before Miami, but they weren't ready to go. We'll see how the week goes and I'll have a better feel probably Thursday I would think.
(Any clue on Tauscher?)
Getting better. I would say he is still a ways away, but he is getting better, getting stronger.
(Is there anything that stands out on third down, and do you know why you are seeing so much two-man?)
I think the two teams that we just played are really similar defenses. That is what they believe in, and it isn't like they came in and did a bunch of new things for us. Two-man, if you can keep Aaron Rodgers in the pocket, that's a good coverage to play. But it starts with protection, it starts with the footwork and the timing and everything of your quarterback and making the right decisions, and us winning the one-on-one battles. We had some one-on-one battles, especially early…the thing that is frustrating about us on third downs is the third-and 1 to 5s. We hit on two third-and-11-pluses yesterday, and we start the game with two one-on-ones in the third-and-1 to 5 area and we don't convert those. So we need to do a better job winning the one-on-one battles, whether it is the catch, the separation, and it's just really football. It's technical football.
(Are you close to acquiring Anthony Smith?)
Yes, we are in the process of acquiring Anthony Smith. I'm not supposed to say that until it is done, but I think it may be here shortly. Anthony has a history with us, has played in this defense, and we think he is a good fit. It will be great to have him back.
(Are you looking at him more to fill the special-teams spot created by Martin's injury?)
We have lost two safeties, so we're looking at him at both the safety position and special teams.
(Have you made a decision yet on Finley?)
That is actually where the spot will come from. Jermichael Finley will go to IR and Anthony Smith will come on the 53.
(Was there any way IR could have been avoided?)
This is completely in the best interests of Jermichael Finley's future, so that was not avoidable.