(How is Miree today?)
Sore - we're still looking at him as far as a couple of his tests. It didn't look very good on film, so he'll be doubtful for this week for his elbow.
(What did he do?)
He hyper-extended it - it's the elbow joint.
(What about Morency?)
He'll be out this week with a lower back. He may be a couple more weeks.
(How frustrating is that after yesterday's performance?)
Frankly, I'm more disappointed for Mo (Morency) because I think you're seeing him getting very comfortable with our run game. He's been excellent on special teams. He's a good football player. He's a tough guy, very explosive. Unfortunately, this is part of the game. It's an opportunity for Noah (Herron) to step in there, but I feel bad more for Mo because he just had his first 100-yard rushing game, and he just really looks comfortable out there. He's a real spark plug on special teams also.
(Do you know how and when he hurt it?)
No I don't.
(Miree out a couple of weeks also?)
I don't think it will be a couple (of weeks). He'll be doubtful this week.
(How is David Martin's jaw?)
He's fine. He's going to be fine.
(Any other injuries you weren't aware of yesterday?)
Charles Woodson is getting checked on his knee. He left the game, and we're checking him out today. We have a bunch of nicks, nothing major.
(Driver's ankle? Jennings for this week?)
Minor, he'll be fine. Jennings will be questionable. He worked out Sunday morning before the game. Like I said yesterday, he's close. We'll have a better idea on him Wednesday, but I'm hopeful he'll go.
(Miree have some big blocks before he got hurt?)
He played excellent, played very well. He was a big part of the success in our run scheme. I thought his decisions were very good, played with good pad level, good finish. He was really rolling there and got hurt on the fourth down call.
(What was the breakthrough for Morency yesterday?)
It was well-blocked for most of the day. They have an overload scheme that we talked about during the course of the week, and I just thought we did a very good job play in and play out of capturing the line of scrimmage. Mo is one-cut and go. He did a nice job on the big run and made the safety miss in open field which went for I think 37 yards. He's doing a great job of hitting the hole, but as far as him breaking through, he had some bigger holes than Ahman, but he cashed in on them. He had a nice day.
(Two 100-yard rushers - say more about RBs or the O-line?)
It's all-encompassing, everything involved. First off, running the football is an attitude, and I think we're in touch with that attitude right now. We're starting to hit our stride. It has taken a little longer than we would've liked, but very happy with where we are at and where we are going with it. It's a combination of all those things. I think you are seeing the technique, particularly on the back side. Our cut-blocks were way up, 45-plus cut blocking and getting people on the ground. That's what we're looking for. It was an emphasis last week we felt we need to really improve on. The technical part is improving. I think the back is making good decisions, particularly the fullback. He's part of the decision-making process, and he's doing a much better job. The backs are taking one cut and going, so it's really the combination of everyone involved.
(Have you ever had two 100-yard rushers?)
I don't think so. I don't keep track of that, but don't think I have.
(Jagodzinski responsible for installation and implementation of the zone-blocking scheme?)
No, this is the specialty that Jeff brings to us. This is the stuff, under Alex Gibbs' tutelage, that they have taken this thing to another level. Jeff is the one who has installed it - everyone has had history with zone-blocking schemes, but the way we do it, particularly the way we train it and the adjustments we make, is clearly what Jeff brought in here.
(Did Gibbs run it like this with you in Kansas City?)
No, we were more of a pattern scheme, power and things like that. This took off when Alex went to Denver in 1995.
(Is this why you hired Jagodzinski?)
This is a part of it. I didn't hire him because of his run-game ability - I hired him because I think he's a very good football coach. I think he's an up-and-coming coordinator that people will be talking about in the near future. This is a scheme I believed in, and like I said, I think they've taken it to another level. We're starting to see the benefits of it.
(How rare is it to have 3 rookie O-lineman performing at this level?)
Well, when you try to build a foundation, you look for body types, the type of people that fit the scheme. All the lineman that we brought in here fit the bill. The fact that they're young and all growing together is very positive. We're very pleased with the progress we're making, but we still have a long ways to go. There are a number of things we need to improve on, and we'll continue to work at it, but I think we're off to a good start.
(Ever been with a team with three rookies starting on the O-line?)
No, I've never had three rookies. Will Shields started as a rookie in '93 and played every game since then in KC. In New Orleans, LeCharles Bentley was a rookie who started. Rookie offensive lineman - it's hard to start. People talk about playing quarterback - playing offensive line is tough. That game happens so fast in there, and the other team is six inches off your nose, so I haven't been around too many rookie offensive linemen.
(What is the O-line doing now that they weren't?)
The first thing you see, you can see it from the sideline in the game and it's even more evident in watching the film today, is the way they're coming off the ball in sync. The urgency, the speed, the continuity - there is excellent tempo in the way the back, particularly the fullback, is fitting into his decision-making process, and now the running back puts his foot down and goes. When you see that rhythm and everything is in sync, that's what you're looking for. Frankly, in the past when it wasn't going quite right, it was one guy here and one guy there. You're seeing them all come off the ball in rhythm and timing, seeing the cut-blocks happen on the back side. It's just a lot more decisive. That's the thing that really jumps out at you.
(Spitz and Colledge play their best games?)
Really the offensive line as a group had their best game. I'd say that's accurate. Mark Tauscher clearly had his best game also. Scott Wells has been very consistent for us, and Chad (Clifton) had a good game also. The thing we have to get cleaned up is the pre-snap penalties, but you could definitely say that was our best game up front.
(With the fake field goal and the later fourth down, do you consider yourself a gambler as a coach?)
I'm not the gambling type. Those decisions to me are made during the week, as far as how you feel about fourth down. Frankly, the fake field goal looked so good on film, I just got overzealous with it. If I didn't think it was going to work, if I didn't think it was high percentage, I wouldn't do it. The pace of the game has a lot to do with it, field position. Particularly early in the game, I felt really good about our defense and the pace they were playing with, the aggressiveness. They were capturing the line of scrimmage. Those are all calculated risks. I wouldn't say it's gambling.
(What occurs midweek for you to make those decisions?)
Once again, that decision there I got overzealous with it. I thought we were further away - the intital spot when Morency had rolled on third down, frankly it was probably still too close. They didn't have the rush on, so the communication of calling it off was not coordinated, and that's what resulted in us taking the loss on that fake. Those are things you look for during the week.
(Why did you go for it on 4th-and-5?)
Field position, the way our defense was playing. I was trying to put the game away. When you have a team on the ropes - you don't often have a chance to have another team on the ropes and put the game to three scores - that's when you have to put teams away. That was my thought process during that time.
(What is going on with Kampman and his 8.5 sacks?)
The inside play really helps too, and he's a technician. He has a big heart, plays with a lot of energy. It's great to see guys like Aaron Kampman have success, because of the way they prepare, but it's also a product of everybody involved. Coverage plays a part in that too.
(Are opponents underestimating him?)
I wouldn't say so, because that goes in patterns to it. When he had the big game early, people came out chipping him with tight ends and things like that. It's really what the other team believes in their right tackle. They get the same films we do.
(Are you moving him around more as a weapon?)
I think we talk about it more. Frankly, as I've walked through this business, and I don't care what phase it is, offense, defense or special teams, you are who you are. Put the guy in the best position to be successful. That's his natural position. There's times you want to move him to the other side based on matchups, based on your rotation, things like that. But it's nothing we'll major in. Those are all what I refer to as secondary concepts or secondary packages and things like that. But he's been getting good matchups on our left side.
(Do you have to get another running back?)
That's something Ted and I were talking about before we came down here. Actually I haven't talked to Vernand today, and I just met with the trainers before I came in here. But that's an option.
(Any chance he's out for the year?)
I don't think so. I don't think so. They're telling me a couple weeks right now is the initial diagnosis.
(How big of a loss is he?)
Anytime you lose productive football players, you can look at it as a loss to your football team, but you also have to look at the guy that's right behind him, or beside him. I don't wish injury on any player in this league, but it's an unfortunate part of the game. I really don't sweat it. I don't go upstairs and close my door and cry about it. It's part of the game. It is. I think you can waste more energy and time and everybody else's time involved if you take that approach. When we play on Sunday in Buffalo, it's going to be the Packers versus the Bills, regardless of the 11 we march out there, and that's the way it is. Really, with injuries, I feel worse on a personal level because I'm watching this guy get better every week, and he's contributing and he's part of our success. But we need to go on and get ready for the next game. Maybe it's the cold part of the business, but it's reality, and everybody in the league has to deal with it.
(What are you getting out of the 33 defense?)
I think you're asking players to do what they do best. You're keeping a linebacker group on the field that has flexibility. They have range, they have pass-rush ability, they have pressure ability, and it's a good change-up. Just like we've talked about before, with the dime package, to take a guy like A.J. Hawk or Nick Barnett or anybody off the field, that's not in our best interests. It's a good change-up because you can get the different fronts with it, you can cover up the core, the two guards and center, you can go guard bubble fronts and do pressures out of that, you can drop eight. It just gives you more flexibility.
(Have the communication problems been worked out in the secondary?)
I just think they're playing better technique, they're seeing it more, you're just seeing a group come together. As long as we can stay injury-free back there, it will continue to improve, because we are talented back there. But it's a new group. Two of the four starters are new. I just think the group is getting more coordinated and more comfortable with each other.
(Is Ahman running faster and harder or is the blocking just better?)
I'll say this, he's run hard since I've been here. I think back to Chicago, I thought he ran hard in the Chicago game. I think it's a combination...he's seeing it more, he's getting more reps at it, we're blocking it better, I think the fullback has been more consistent. I just think we're getting better at it. There's nothing like live reps for that run game. You can sit there and cut them bags all you want, but them bags are not moving. We're just more in sync. I would say he's running as hard today as he did in Week 1.
(Will you continue to limit Ahman's carries with Morency out?)
I think we need to be conscious of that. I don't know if it was a mistake earlier in the year, but he looks very strong with where he's at with his carries. We tend to forget Noah Herron just had a very nice game a couple weeks ago too. So we'll continue to forge on, and Noah will pick up the attempts that Vernand has left behind, and that's the way we'll go. But if he gets three or four or five more, I'm OK with that. I just don't think we need to get into the 25, 30-attempt type games.
(The safeties haven't made many big plays but are they doing a better job coordinating the defensive backfield?)
They both graded out with winning performances today. I thought they tackled well. Nick does have excellent range. First of all, I don't really recall a lot of opportunities that they're getting back there also, particularly this past week. But once again I think we're definitely improved in that area. The communication is much better, and I think they're just seeing it better.
(Does the pass rush correlate to the good play in the secondary?)
The best pass coverage that you'll ever have is a good pass rush, that'll never change. As long as we keep getting after that passer, our pass coverage will improve. I agree with you, that's a big part of it.
(How comfortable are you with William stepping in at fullback?)
We're very comfortable. I think it speaks a lot when you have two fullbacks and four tight ends on your active Sunday roster. We won't change anything. We'll just go right ahead with William in there and keep rolling.
(Is having four tight ends something you believe in or was it just the personnel you were presented with?)
It's a belief of mine, something I want to say we did it in New Orleans. We always just carried one fullback. Once again, it gives you great flexibility. We were fortunate the tight ends were already here, and getting Tory Humphrey was a big plus too. Ideally, as we move forward, I'd always like to have four tight ends on our 53.
(You had six offensive linemen active yesterday?)
Seven. Moll and Chris White (were the backups). We would have probably just stayed with the Miami rotation if something went left. Tony Moll would have gone to the right. Tony backed up both guards and tackle was how we sorted it out, and Chris was the backup center.
(How do you handle young players this week, making sure they don't just assume everything from the losses has been fixed?)
You have to communicate every week what your objective is. Obviously it's to win, but how you're going to approach the game and how you're going to win the game. There will be clear communication when they get back here on Wednesday on what's expected of them. I'm not worried about them. I think young guys are excited now. They're all seeing progress, we're winning games, so they're seeing their preparation starting to pay off. But yeah, it's something you need to caution against.
(What do wins do for a young player's confidence?)
Just like I said, they're seeing improvement. Now we've sat here and talked about improvement, improvement, improvement. But to have growth, you need success, and that's what we had the last two weeks. When you rush the ball for 200 yards, that's a milestone. That's something that doesn't happen every week in this league. The run game unit needs to feel very good about themselves. The passing game, frankly we left some yards on the field. We let some opportunities get away. A.J. Hawk and the crew on defense, they're getting better. They're having success, and that's all part of growing as a football team.
(What's the importance of being 3-4 compared to 1-4 earlier?)
It's all about having a plan and seeing your plan be successful, so I think that's very important as we move forward with our program here. We've had a number of things we've changed since we came together in the spring, and more importantly the players are seeing the change produce wins, and that's important because attitude and confidence carries you a long way in this league. Because everybody has talent, most people have home-field advantage, and all the other things that are components of successful programs, but you have to win football games. When you win football games, everything comes to light, everybody sees the vision more clear as you move forward. So yeah, it's very important to win football games.
(You've admitted to two early mistakes in games the past two weeks, with the fake field goal and Colledge v. Taylor. How do you move forward or figure out what you might overlook?)
Anticipate my mistakes? That's part of game-planning, anticipating the unknown. Once again, going for a fake field goal, now if it works it's a great call. That's the thing about play-calling. I think sometimes you get caught up in it's a good call because it works and it's a bad call because it didn't. You shouldn't have ran here ... I don't share that belief. I don't call plays based on - I hate to hurt your guys' feelings - what I have to stand up here and talk about. I don't think you can do that. We want to be aggressive. We felt it was important to get on top of that team as fast as we can, and we saw a big-play opportunity in the field-goal phase, and we went for it. And I probably didn't call it in the best situation. But I promise you this, if they would have went for the block, Jon Ryan might have been standing in the end zone. But that's football. That's what happens. I'm not going to beat myself up, regardless of the outcome of the game I'm not going to beat myself up about the call. As I anticipate this week, I'm just going to maybe watch a little more film and try to anticipate those errors so I don't have to stand up here and talk about it.
(Should Hawk have made that play on the goal line?)
That's what you're looking for, and we run the same run scheme. We call it quad george, and it's real hard to get the inside linebacker blocked. We pretty much tell the running back you have him one-on-one, and I just think the way A.J. was coming off of the block or the angle he had, he just didn't have a chance to get his pads down, but that's really the matchup you're looking for when you run that play, because it's really hard to get the back-side linebacker, you're really not going to get him blocked. When you get down to the goal line, they kick out the guard and lead up with the fullback. When they're in an inches defense, to get your center or uncovered lineman up on the back-side linebacker, it's very hard. So even when you install that play from an offensive standpoint, you tell the back you're probably going to have the back-side linebacker one-on-one in the hole from the 1-yard line, and that's the matchup you have to win. It wasn't as clean as that on that play, but that's the way that play operates.
(How do you coach differently with a young team?)
You can't ever assume anything, and you always talk about details, details, details. Frankly, we do a lot of walk-throughs, we spend a lot of extra time working as a group in the gym and going over things over and over. You need to even do that more as a young team, and frankly if there is a disappointment in the game, it was that our mental errors were up. That's a part of growing, whatever you're working with. It's not like we have a high volume of game plan that's going in. To answer your question, it's to cut back and keep going over it over and over again. That's one thing I learned from Marty Schottenheimer. Anytime the mental errors would come up, and whatever the quota was, ... if you had 10 runs in the game plan, and if the mental errors were up, he'd say cut it to six. And you'd say I've got eight of the greatest runs ever, ... cut it to six. Things like that, those are good checks and balances to have with your football team period, but that's something I pay close attention with us because we are young. I don't ever want to have too much.
(Who are your kickoff return options now?)
Noah's been back there and obviously Shaun has done it, Bodiford. So that's probably the way we'll go.