How are you feeling?
“Tired. I didn’t get much sleep last night. That’s typical about this time, this point in the season. Especially after a loss like yesterday.”
Was it just frustration?
“Yeah, obviously frustration and searching for answers. It can be mentally draining but that’s all a part of this job that you accept. You try to look for answers to turn it around.”
Did you come up with anything?
“No, not yet. The good thing is there is another week that we have. We’ve got a heck of a challenge this week. We can’t afford to go 2-4.”
Why do you say that you can’t afford to go 2-4?
“It’s too tough of a road ahead. We can’t keep on doing this and saying this. Now it’s at a point where it’s becoming a must win for us if we’re going to do the things that we set out to do at the beginning of the year.”
What do you think needs to be accomplished to turn it around?
“I don’t know. I think it’s a lot of things. First we all need to play better. Players, we all can play better. I think sometimes we can all to each other, we really don’t say it to you guys, but we can use excuses all we want. Play calling, I’m hurt, I’m not feeling 100 percent. Whatever it may be, those are excuses that we come up with just to help our own ego sometimes where the fact of the matter is that it’s us. That other team is hurting, too. At some point we’ve just got to play better. We’ve got to start better at the beginning of the game and we’ve got to finish the game better.”
Last year the perception was that you guys were underachieving. Now it seems like you may be a very banged up team that is playing at its level. Is that fair?
“I don’t think it’s any question that we’re banged up obviously. You can look at the injury report and see that. At the same time, we played through stretches of this last year where we were banged up some and we got the job done. I don’t want to make that excuse. There’s no excuse for us to come out and play the way that we’ve played early in games in my mind. We’re out there playing so ultimately it’s on us. It doesn’t matter if we’re hurting or banged up or not. We have to play better. I don’t really have the answers, what it’s going to take for us to start better. Obviously I think all of us understand that that’s something that we need to do. But the one thing that I always feel better in knowing is that when we play at home, most of the time we do start faster. We’re playing at home this week.”
Do you personally feel physically equipped to play better?
“Yeah, I think so. The bottom line is whether I’m banged up or not, when there’s room to run, there’s room to run. You can run through holes when they’re there and when things are lined up for you. And sometimes even when they’re not, breaking a tackle here and there, people just miss you. The opportunities have to be there obviously also, and that’s all a part of it. We’ve got to have more plays than we had yesterday. Forty-nine plays is not enough to get anybody in a rhythm. Run game, pass game, whatever you want to call it. We went three-and-out five times. That’s not enough to get anybody in a rhythm. You can’t get in a rhythm going three-and-out. That’s not going to happen. So you take 15 plays where you went three-and-out, that’s really 34 plays where you got a first down or more. Thirty-four plays, that’s a half for a lot of teams.”
Do you believe that every player on this roster it committed to winning right now?
“Absolutely. I don’t think there’s any question about that. I would never question these guys. We work too hard to not be committed to winning. Things happen sometimes and obviously, again, there are a lot of guys out there that are doing it for the first time and filling in for guys that are injured. We said at the beginning of the season that we were going to need everybody because of how physically demanding this job is, this game is. Whether it’s a guy that’s filling in for an injured guy for one or two games, he’s committed to winning because he’s proved it out there on the practice field. Everybody is committed to winning.”
When you came off the field yesterday and were kneeling, was that the toe that was bothering you?
Do you still think there’s not an opportunity for you to take a week off?
“If I take a week off, I’ve got to take three weeks off. It’s not a one-week injury. You can’t get better in one week. Nobody can. If you’re injured, you’re injured. One week is not going to help. If you take one week off, you might as well take three weeks off.”
Would you ever like to run the Wildcat formation?
“We have run it in the past. Obviously a long time ago.”
What gives you confidence that things are likely to turn around?
“I’m confident because we’ve been in this situation before. I guess that’s the only confidence you have to say we’ve been here before. As far as confidence in knowing it is going to turn around, you don’t really know for sure because each game is different. Each year is different. I think I have the confidence in these guys, the coaching staff and everybody here that we have what it takes to turn it around, no doubt. But again, it’s about going out and doing it also. We’re going to have to catch some breaks as we did last year. We caught some breaks that went our way. It’s going to be no different this year. Make no mistake about it. This is a critical time for our football team. Before the bye is very critical for us. To me, this is going to determine what type of team we’re going to be this year.”
Do you feel like your per carry average is down because the offensive line has included some moving parts?
“I think it’s a combination of everything. It has to be a combination of obviously starting with me, the opportunities that are there. Then also not getting in a rhythm. All those things are something that has your average per carry down. To me, yesterday was really…the game was a weird game to me. First off, the first half went by so fast it seemed like we had the ball a few times. Then the second half, we had a couple of good drives but in critical times we didn’t get it done. Obviously the fourth down on the goal line was something that was devastating to us.”
Can the fact that you did it last year be a double-edged sword, where you kind of expect what happened last year to happen again?
“I think you’re right. It is kind of a double-edged sword where you say, ‘Well, we’ve done it last year and we can do it again.’ Yeah, that’s true, but it’s not guaranteed. It gives you the confidence that you can do it, but you know that it’s obviously different. At this time last year, there wasn’t New England, Buffalo and the Saints on the schedule the next three weeks. It’s a different year and for us we’ve got to find a way to put it together.”
How crucial does that make this Sunday against New England?
“It’s very crucial. To me, it’s definitely a must-win for us.”
Can you elaborate on what you said yesterday about how you need the fans?
“As I said earlier about us starting faster when we’re at home, part of that is because of the fans. Being in the comfort of your own home and not traveling and just being behind your home crowd helps you be able to start faster and even rely on your crowd throughout the game. It gives you that extra boost sometimes where you may need it. I think it’s definitely important that we have that this weekend.”
Why didn’t the 4th-and-1 play work?
“I think they did a good job of really understanding what we like to do in that situation. To me it seemed like they really knew exactly where we were going and they just attacked that side of the line of scrimmage. Ultimately why a play really doesn’t work is they have more (defenders) than you can block. That’s to me what happened. There was obviously guys there in the hole. I wanted to jump but I kind of got hit before I was able to gather myself and jump, which kind of knocked me sideways to try to squeeze into the end zone. At that point, somebody hit me. I can’t remember who. It just went down hill from there.”
Are there times when you guys are too predictable?
“I wouldn’t say that. I think everybody, as much as these coaches study, I think everybody at a certain point, you know what they’re going to do in certain situations. Again, it’s not about the play calling sometimes. It’s about saying, ‘You know what? I know you know what we’re going to do, but we don’t care. We’re going to hit you in the mouth and we’re going to be better than you.’ That’s football. Sometimes I think we try to make it more complicated than it is. Football is really a simple game. Either you’re going to hit the guy opposite of you in the mouth or he’s going to hit you in the mouth. It’s going to be one way.”
You guys said in Oakland that you felt a confidence that you were going to come back. Did you feel that yesterday?
“To me, I felt like we were going to come back. We did, we had the opportunity to tie the ballgame up with the 4th-and-1. The confidence was always there that we would get something going and something would happen where we would get back in the game. I think obviously from that 4th-and-1, it was devastating to us because from that point it was tough for us to kind of get anything moving in a positive direction.”