A very exciting game, as I said last night. A lot of things you’d like to change, you‘d like to have the one coverage there in the secondary – miscommunication. It ended up being a big play. Another time, we didn’t get great pressure on the quarterback who seemed to have all day to throw the deep ball there. That hurt. We had one ourselves. They came with a blitz and no one covered Mario and we got ourselves a big play, a long play, that way. It was some fourth-quarter and we hung in there and just fought. The fact that on third-and-ten we had a tip ball interception on a screen pass that looked like we had three blockers in front, it’s amazing. Eli comes to the sideline. He’s very disappointed but he puts it in its place and the next time we get the ball he goes right back out there and rallies the troops – makes some incredible throws to the sideline, under pressure, all night long. People tapping their feet and then going out of bounds, whether it be Victor, whether it be Hakeem. Big plays down the stretch by Ballard, obviously, putting us in position. I know there was a touchdown run on the second try by Brandon. The powerful run there – well blocked. Guys jumped on their respected defenders and did a nice job with that – patience. The two-point play, Petrus did a really nice job on that. Danny Ware showed great patience in holding the line and then coming underneath him. You’re never safe, 46 seconds left and they do a really good job the last couple of times.
Q: What has Eli done that continues to amaze you?
A: It’s just his mental toughness. He comes over, he’s not happy. A lot of times he’s not happy. Something has taken place and he wants to control everything and sometimes there’s things you can’t control. He’ll come to the sideline and be disappointed and upset but he’ll get his nose right in the book and look at all of the pictures and see and discuss with Kevin what has to be done, what could have been done differently and what do you see, what do I see, what’s everybody see? Then he goes back out there and just directs traffic on the field and the response on the part of his teammates is obvious.
Q: Given your desire to have a balanced offense, did you ever think you would have a quarterback flirting with the NFL’s single season passing record?
A: No, I didn’t think that way. But if you look at last night, we had 31 runs as well. We just had a ton of plays last night and won time of possession against a team that, quite frankly, has done a good job with time of possession over the entire season.
Q: Can you put your finger on why the NFL has shifted to even more of a passing game?
A: No, not really. I still believe it all starts with protection. Of course, you have to have the people that make the big plays on the other end of it, but it’s the quarterback that is the major ingredient. You’ve seen, just over the last few weeks in the people that we’ve played, the outstanding quarterback ratings, the way in which the league is blessed with these outstanding players. I can’t tell you exactly what it is. I just know that the quality of play you’ve seen, the defenses are very well taxed.
Q: Are you going to let Eli run his own offseason program again this year?
A: We’ll see about that.
Re: Being in control of the division.
A: I’ve always been a huge believer in you have to take care of your own business. Whenever you start to drift and to think that perhaps other people are going to help you out, I think you get in trouble. You have to take care of your own business. We realize how difficult each one of these games will be, but we put ourselves in position where if we can take care of our own business then what we’ve wanted all along will present itself as an opportunity for us.
Q: Is there a sense of pride that your team took to heart what you said about finishing strong?
A: I’m pleased for them for realizing that whatever information that through the course of our study and our research I give to our players it’s only because it’s going to help them be the best they can be. There’s no other objective in mind. I’m pleased that they’re fighting and working their tails off and I’m happy that they were reinforced last night, but it certainly doesn’t stop here. There’s a lot of work to be done.
Q: Eli has gotten a lot more help from his receivers this year. What else is different from last year?
A: The easy one is last year with the turnovers. This year, he’s very, very conscious of that. He’s been very accurate. And I think one of the things you saw last night was he can move around and create some things for himself, but when he finds that that still hasn’t solved all of his issues, he throws the ball away. That is a real, real positive step for a quarterback to be able to recognize that you’ve pushed a bunch of buttons and nothing seems to answer anything for you and before you get yourself into trouble and lose yardage, throw the ball away. That is something that I think I have noticed.
Q: How gratifying is it in the face of all your injuries this season to see your team adopt and believe in 'next man up' and realistically, could you have envisioned it working as well as it has?
A: It’s the idea too that we have a bunch of very, very competitive people here. The players certainly observed when the injuries did occur and they certainly felt bad for the individuals, but I don’t think that they ever wavered from what they want. They also helped in encouraging and teaching and helping with some of these young guys that haven’t had this stuff in their place. I hope that all of the years and all of the mental attitude type things that we’ve tried to instill in our guys – the mental toughness, the physical toughness part of it, the belief in who you are and what you’re attempting to accomplish, the idea that it’s all about team, that it’s not about the individuals, it’s not about self, it’s about team and what you can do for your team and how you can help the unity and the morale of your team by the way in which you buy into it and the way in which you set aside your own goals and objectives that aren’t in the best interests of the team. I hope those things have certainly sunk it.
Q: How are Ballard and Diehl?
A: I think Jake is going to be okay. He may have injured his wrist a little bit, but they don’t believe it’s much. Dave just keeps hanging in there and pounding away. I think that they may be a little bit restricted this week, but they’ll definitely be ready to go.
Q: What did Diehl injure?
A: He’s had an ongoing hand issue that he’s battled and really done well with it.
Q: What about
A: He’s got some issues with his upper chest area. I think we’re going to have to see if he can play through some of the soreness that he has and hopefully that will happen.
Q: You’re talking about a pectoral issue?
A: Sternoclavicular. Up a little higher than [the pectoral].
Q: In watching the film today was there anything little that stuck out about JPP?
A: Not really. He was flying around, playing hard, sometimes not getting a whole lot done, but because he’s persistent, athletic and really enjoys the game, he just keeps swinging. He hangs in there and he keeps going and keeps going and keeps going. He’s got that ability, as you saw on the blocked field goal, because of his athleticism and skill that he can make the play when your team most needs it.
Q: Going back to the film, what exactly was happening with the issues in the secondary and how much of a concern is that for you going forward?
A: I’m continually asked about concern. It’s tremendous. Grave concern. I can’t express that any more. We continue to work with it. You have technical errors. You have just physical breakdowns where one person is able in a certain way to win on a certain play over another. You have those kinds of things that happen as well, but the thing that I’m most discouraged about and disappointed is when we do have a breakdown in communication and we do have some type of a error that gives up a big play. And that should not be happening and we’re continuing to try to eliminate those things.
Q: Where does that come from?
A: I really can’t tell you that. It’s probably what one person thinks is the play, but the coverage called doesn’t get the adjustment, doesn’t get the check. It’s ongoing. You can list any number of reasons why those things happen. None of which satisfies anything obviously.
Q: Do you think there’s a chance you can get
A: We’re hoping, but we’re going to have to wait and see. This stuff is day-to-day. You get excited and then you get a report and it’s not quite as positive as you thought it might be. We’ll wait, it’s a little early. We have tomorrow and, even treatment-wise, Wednesday before we get on the field. Let’s just see how that plays out.
Q: How about
A: Same kind of thing.
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