(Could you go over the injury report, if you've got one handy?)
Sure, I've got it handy. Mike Neal and Brady Poppinga will both have season-ending surgery. Mike Neal will have his surgery tomorrow. Brady Poppinga's hasn't been set, but it will be here in the near future, probably the next seven to 10 days. Cullen Jenkins had a calf strain. I do not have his prognosis for the week yet. So he's possible for the Jets. Brad Jones had a shoulder sprain. And Ryan Pickett had an ankle sprain. Same ankle. Went out there the seventh play of the game. I know we talked about Nick Collins yesterday. His status is the same.
(Did Poppinga have a scope?)
Brady had a scope on Monday, and it's the same knee that had the reconstruction surgery done four or five years (ago), my first year here. They found there was more damage than they were able to correct on the initial scope. So he's in the process of seeking a second opinion, but it's pretty clear that he's going to have season-ending surgery.
(Does Poppinga's knee need reconstruction again?)
Frankly, this is always … I'm not trying to … I think those are questions more for the player, if he wants to get into the specifics of his knee injury. But it's going to require season-ending surgery.
(Did the Neal injury come as a surprise to you or did you know right away?)
Well, no, we knew the extent of the injury right away. It's to his shoulder, and sometimes you're able to rehab and play through that. But that's not the case with Mike. It's severe enough, and everybody's in agreement, they feel that we need to go in and fix it. It happened in the Washington game, so we've obviously tried it here the last two weeks.
(The fake field goal, is that something you can't use again since they will see Flynn as the holder?)
Are you going to tell the other team if he runs out there? I don't know, it worked. I'm just kidding you. Yeah, you have to look at that. We were really trying to carry over the fact that Matt Flynn was the holder at one time. So I don't think it's totally out of the norm that he was the holder. I watched the way their defense reacted to it. It looked like they were more in tune with trying to get lined up and getting their coverage set than who the holder was. If they realized it, maybe they did. I'm not saying they didn't. But yeah, I don't think that's something we're going to run five times this year, to answer your question, because obviously Matt's not the holder. But it's something that was put in last year when he had holding responsibility, and we just carried it on. Andrew has been running that particular pattern now since the injury to Jermichael in Washington. It was a big-play opportunity. We just didn't execute it.
(Can you talk about the effort of C.J., B.J. and Jarius last night?)
Yeah, I think that's clearly one of the highlights of our win yesterday, and I can't say enough about Mike Trgovac and that young defensive line group. You lose Cullen Jenkins half an hour after the inactives go in, so you're dressing with 44 players, and you knew Ryan Pickett was going to be a limited focus, and I think he played seven plays in the game. Those three young men played the whole game. I think B.J. played 60-something snaps. B.J. has played a lot of football for us so far this year, and I can't say enough about C.J. and Jarius. I thought they got better as the game went on. I thought both those young players grew up a lot in the game. It was their plan to run right at us. We kept them out of the end zone, and those three guys were a big part of it.
(Isn't that what you need with injuries, for some of the young guys to grow up quickly and make contributions?)
I agree with your point. I think it's an excellent point, and that's where we are. It's our responsibility to create those opportunities and it's the responsibility of the decision-maker, particularly the quarterback on offense and the linebackers on defense to trust those individuals in those positions. Because what happens is, when players start getting outside the scheme, they may make a play here or there, but seven, eight times out of 10 it just creates more problems. Trust is a word that's used and it's very important in many different forms and fashions in the game of football, and especially when you have new players stepping in, you have to trust the scheme and you have to trust the individual that's he's going to do his part.
(You are 4-3 and have a share of the division lead. How do you look at things right now?)
I don't really get caught up in seven-game evaluations. We keep track, very close tabs, of what we're doing well, things we need to improve on. Stay focused on our preparation. I'm a huge believer in you have to practice and prepare a certain way each week. It carries over into the game. I don't think there's any mistake on the fact that we probably had one of our better practice weeks this week. We were able to tie it together where we had players that practiced Wednesday, Thursday and Friday that end up playing in the games. Also had a player like Charles Woodson that, with his personal situation, missed a significant amount of time and still went out and played at a high level. We're just pulling some things together. It's a good win. It's an excellent win as far as the big dose of confidence that comes with a division win and everything surrounding this game. But it's over. We're onto the Jets. They're a very good football team. They're playing very well. They're going to be fresh, and it will be a big challenge for us Sunday.
(How can you use a win like that? The flip side, the season's not over if you lose and fall to 3-4, but then you've lost four games by three points each and things are pretty tough around here. What kinds of things can you take from a win like this and build off of and try to create some momentum?)
I'm the point man of this deal. I don't swing left to right like that. I'm out in front. I do not change. It's not my personality. I believe it's ineffective to swing with the emotion, the criticism, even on the other side of it. When something everybody feels extremely positive is happening, I don't think you run around with your pom-poms this week. That's the last thing that I'm going to do. Everybody had a chance to enjoy the win last night, and I'm sure everybody feels good today. It was easier coming to work today than it was last week. That's our business. Winning is important. A lot of good things come off of winning. But it's onto the next one. It's a simple as that. I wish I had some fancy words up here to make you feel better, I could answer your question better. But that's what you've got and that's what I am.
(You are that way, but you have 25-year-old kids who are more emotional and might look at it differently. How do you make sure that they use it in a positive way?)
Well, it's all part of how you, you have to set the tempo and the plan every week. A big part of coaching is you're a teacher and a salesman. You have to sell that plan, sell that path every single week. You can't just go up and give a good speech at the beginning of the year and roll the ball out there. It doesn't work that way. Today's athlete is different. I think they're very educated, they're very in tune. The social networking is unbelievable. Some things I don't even know how to work. But I'm in tune with what's out there. It's important for us to stay focused on the next opponent, and that's our approach.
(How close were you to activating Harris and Bigby?)
I thought they both had a good week of practice. I know they're champing at the bit. We'll actually as a staff, that's something we'll talk about tonight and tomorrow, to try to have a plan there. It's encouraging to see our secondary with so many names on the board so healthy because that's something that was a contrast to last year. We just want to make sure it all fits together, because special teams plays a big part in this too. It's just not about activating Al and Atari to play on defense. It will definitely affect how we move forward on special teams too. So that's what we need to work through.
(What was happening with the miscommunication on some of the routes last night?)
Really, we just had the one where they jumped into what we call 55, two-man, and the route adjustment between the receiver and the quarterback, we weren't on the same page. But we had a couple back-shoulder throws that the timing and the throw were just not what you look for. The one out to Aaron's left frankly was a protection declaration that wasn't done right, and Aaron was just getting the ball out early because Winfield was free off the slot. I think it was Winfield who was coming free. I would say two of them were just more timing and as far as back shoulder or throwing up the field. The only one that was really a route adjustment, because I know Andrea Kremer asked me extensively about it at halftime, and I didn't see it the way she saw it, but then watching the film I could see why the question was asked.
(Can you talk about the screen game last night? It hasn't been one of your better plays this year or last year, but you ran three or four of them pretty successfully.)
Well, see the problem is you guys have to do a better job evaluating our screen play. Because our screen play is we don't just line up and throw a screen to the back. There's a little more to that. So sometimes, … I'll just say this. For our self-scout, our productivity in the screen game has been very good. It's been very good really the last couple years here. And it always doesn't go to the screen back. But just really, I thought we hit on all of them. Timing was off between the quarterback and the running back on the interception. But other than that, I thought we were very effective. I thought Donald Lee did an excellent job. Brandon Jackson was outstanding. Very pleased with the production on the screens last night.
(On the second interception, where else can he go with the ball, or should he just throw it away?)
It's buyer beware. You make that decision, you better be right, and I fully understand and see what he saw. He saw Greg Jennings on a matchup that he thought was favorable and he took the shot with the ball. Frank Walker made a good play on the ball. It's that big-play opportunity, the ability to extend plays, which you have to do against that defense. They are very sound and they play on time. They play their scheme very well, and all starts with that front four. When you come out of the pocket like that to extend plays, you are going to have some shots up the field. It's something we talked about and we looked at, where you're not going to get the traditional 44-yard, 45-yard go route. It's going to be more an up the field, down the field-type throw, and that's why Aaron took that shot there.
(How did you think Bulaga played?)
I thought our tackles, both Bryan and Chad, played very well. They did a good job. We put it on them as part of the plan. We needed to control their ends, and we felt like we accomplished that in that game. I was very pleased with Bryan's performance.
(You said after the game that maybe you haven't put the ball in Jackson's hands enough. Have you made a concerted effort to do more of that?)
We roll those guys, and I think it's important too and something that was brought up this morning in talking with the coaches is when a player gets a hot hand, we are so detailed on who is playing where as far as our rotation of personnel and so forth. I think we do an exceptional job and also to play with the tempo that we do, but I thought that was Brandon's best game that I have seen him play. I thought Pittsburgh was a statement game for him last year, the way he played in that game, but I thought he played a complete football game. I just think it is important when someone is playing at that level, you want to get him a couple more opportunities. As far as him getting the ball more, that was more for you guys.
(Do you see a confidence and a comfort coming from him compared to Week 2?)
Totally. I think that is an excellent observation. I thought he played at a high level. I thought he played tough, just the burst he showed on the sideline there on the long run, the long screen. Like I said, in my opinion I thought that was his best game as a Packer.
(How do you think Bishop played overall? He's a guy that has waited for his opportunity for a long time.)
Definitely, and it has paid off. He is ready. I am sure he felt that he was ready a long time ago, and it's all part of the course that we are on as a football team. When players get opportunities, they step up and play. Not to take anything away from Desmond, but I thought Desmond and A.J. both played very well last night and they have done a very good job in there. We feel very comfortable with those guys, both base and sub, and it's a credit to Winston Moss and just the way those guys work. Desmond is making a lot of plays out there, very productive, and that was obviously a huge impact play in the game.
(Can you talk about your play-action game and did it look like the linebackers are respecting Jackson more?)
I thought that we hit the target on how we wanted to call the game, going into the game. Frankly, the play-action was good, the three-step drop, it was there. We probably could have thrown some more of that. The only thing that is holding us back on offense is giveaways and third down, and I thought we hit the mark on third down last night. We had a couple that we just felt we left out there on the field, but I think we were 55 percent on third down, and that is our key. We're still not where we need to be as far as total plays, but we're giving the ball away too much, and that's been our issue all year. When we take care of the football and we're productive on third down, good things happen for our offense. It creates better point production, the ball gets spread around, everybody is happy. Third down was an improvement, but the two giveaways were a big part of it. As far as the play-action, yeah, they read their keys. They don't change. It starts with that front seven, a lot of experience. As far as running the football and we were able to get out on the perimeter with the one naked, I'm just trying to think through some of the plays while you ask the question, but I thought it was productive.
(What are your thoughts on Pat Lee in the return game?)
Pat Lee has done a good job. He has done a good job with the return game. He is pouring it up in there. We felt that we were going to be in good field position with the depth of their kicker on the kickoffs. But very pleased with the kickoff return. I thought those guys did a good job and Pat, he is hitting the course and he has done a nice job the past couple of weeks. Winning the field-position battle was obviously important in that game.
(Joe Whitt said in the preseason that Tramon Williams was the best cover guy on the team. What do you think of his performance this season?)
You watch the tape and you look at the grades, he has graded out very high every week, and he is a good punt returner too. Tramon is a little bit of your poster child for us. He is a young man that came here, was given an opportunity, and he has just worked from the first day he arrived and continues to do so. He is a tremendous professional. He is very detailed in his preparation, and he is playing at a very, very high level right now. There are some technical things that we felt he needed to improve on from last year to this year, and he is getting that done, particularly with the tackling. I think Tramon Williams is having an excellent year.
(On the third-and-2 in the fourth quarter, were you OK with Aaron's deep throw down the sideline?)
Yeah, I think we have got to be a little more completion-conscious there.
(Did you consider kicking a field goal on the fourth-and-1 in the fourth quarter?)
That was an option. Actually it was my first reaction based on the spot of the ball, but that's a gray-area call. You could punt the ball too based on the way your defense is playing because they had the two turnovers. I felt that we were in good shape there, but I did feel like our defense was on the field a long time. I was concerned obviously going into the game, especially when they went so heavy running the ball, that they were going to have the potential of wearing us down. That was all part of my thinking. With the measurement and everything, I had plenty of time to think about it. It really came down to going for it on fourth or kicking a field goal.
(Were you pleased with Masthay's performance?)
Absolutely. He had the chance to play the field position and I thought he did a nice job. I thought Tim did a good job, I thought Mason did a good job on the kicks. We just had the one kickoff that hit their front-line player, but other than that. The one kickoff return that they had come out, our coverage, we're going right into that and that shouldn't have happened. We had two cover guys that lost their lane integrity and Harvin was able to bounce the second one out there. Other than that, I thought the coverage units did a very good job.
(How limited was Driver yesterday and do you expect him to go through the full week of practice?)
I couldn't tell you. That's something that we'll have to look at on Wednesday. He looked fine on the film. He didn't have the opportunities yesterday that the other guys did, but he actually played more plays than I anticipated. Donald doesn't miss practice, so it's really hurting him if he goes into that mode because he is an old-school pro. Like I said, he doesn't miss very much, but hopefully we'll get him back full-time this week.
(Who got your game balls yesterday?)
A.J. Hawk on defense, Brandon Jackson on offense, Anthony Smith on special teams, and the 'Big Hit' award was Jarrett Bush.
(Are you concerned about Jenkins?)
Yeah, I am concerned. It's the same leg. It's the calf strain, and just the way it happened, it's definitely something to be concerned about. We'll just wait and see and see how he comes through it. If I had to give him a status, he would be questionable for this week.
(When he got hurt, did that change a lot as far as the game plan?)
We really didn't have any choice. You already handed in the inactives, so. Yeah, it took us out of base. We went into an exclusive sub-defense game. We knew that Ryan was going to be limited. I don't think that would have been practical for Ryan Pickett to play 40 snaps in that game coming off his injury, and he played seven. He tried to gut it out but it just wasn't right. You could see it on the first double-team with Ryan Pickett. He doesn't get moved out on double-teams and you could just see right away that the ankle wasn't right.
(What kind of a defensive lineman does T.J. Lang make?)
He played better last week. He must have saw someone do an arm-over move in practice or something because he tried that a few times. He played better last week than he did this week, but T.J. is a tough kid and we've got to coach him up a little bit more.