COACH TOM COUGHLIN
Initial comments ...
"I didn't like the way we started. Offensively, there was no tempo, no rhythm. Three-and-out, three-and-out. That didn't start us off very well. I just think our tempo and rhythm has to be upgraded. Obviously, we had some issues with catching or running the ball. At halftime, the running stats were pretty even. We had some runs in the second half. We had a nice kickoff return, we had a nice interception — both deep in their territory — and we couldn't do anything with it. That's frustrating. A lot of people had a chance to play. We've got a lot of information to sort through on tape tomorrow. We'll just see where we stand.
"We had a couple of injuries tonight as you know. (Landon) Collins banged his knee and he was out right away. (Mykkele) Thompson injured his Achilles, which we'll know something about that later. (Trumaine) McBride with a hamstring, he had been nursing his hamstring a little bit and obviously had problems. And (Jayron) Hosley a head and neck, so we did have some injuries today to report to you tonight. So, but we have a lot of work to do and a long way to go. We didn't play the way we envisioned we would play. This is a good football team. They looked very good. They showed execution, they showed poise. They were good on defense. Their defensive front was difficult for us to handle. We didn't have much going for us in the pass game at all. It was protection breakdown. If it wasn't that it was our inability to connect or their coverage was good. So, we've got a long way to go and a lot of work to do. We certainly head into this week knowing full well that things have been put into perspective for us. It's no longer wondering how you're going to play. I thought our two days of controlled work were better than the way in which we played tonight."
Can you give us an update on how bad Collins is?
Is it a concern obviously with Mykkele if it's torn or ruptured?
"We don't know."
What went into your decision — you said probably one or two series, and obviously you went a lot more with your starters?
"Not really. I told you that the offensive line would play 20 plays and they did play just about 20 plays. I think maybe Eli may have played 12. The first two series were only six plays. So nobody got overworked. There was no major decision to do something that hadn't been planned."
How did Flowers look to you?
"I have to look at the tape. I'm sure there were some things that he's definitely going to be able to improve. But we got him on the field and a number of snaps in the game for him. That's good experience for him. He'll play probably a little more than some of the others in preseason because that's what he needs."
You said you didn't play well. It's the second year into this offense ...
"That's correct. We didn't make enough plays ... We've got a chance now for another practice week, moving forward with installations and a chance to do some things with the ball down the field much more than we had right now. It seemed most of the things we did were very short. We got the ball out on some check downs more than a few times and guys have to take what's open. But I did expect the ball to move down the field a little bit more."
The right side of your offensive line, do you think you're a little bit more concerned than you were before in that area?
"I don't know more than I was when I came in. I mean this is the third day of working so I haven't had a chance to look at that and I'll look at the tape and make some decisions and focus a little bit more on that. But no more than it was coming in."
So what was your take on the right side of the line coming in? How confident were you?
"It's not just the right side it's the whole offensive line. We've got work to do."
You think Ereck Flowers did alright?
"I think he did all right. I think he did all right. We didn't do much with the pass so where do you want to start?"
Is it easier to be patient with the defense?
"I don't see any patience anywhere. It's the (first) game of the preseason. It's time to do some things, to put some things together. The plan tonight was to play everybody, which I think we did. We rode people in and out just the way we expected to. The group that had the middle quarters had a lot of snaps. You're talking about guys who played into the high 20s and some in the low 30s for snaps. It was a lot of snaps for the first preseason game, but that's the way it was planned. And that's the group that was to get the majority of the snaps and they did."
Akeem Hunt seemed to do a lot of really good things ...
"He did a lot. Obviously the kickoff return, a couple of nice runs. That's what I was looking for on the kickoff return. That was great to see, and I'll have to look and see if he could have gone all the way. It looked like he was going to go for a second."
Did you expect a little bit more from the first game?
"Yeah, of course. We would've liked to have moved the ball a little bit better, do a little bit better on third down. The second play had a lost gain, and then we had a third-and-long — a couple third-and-longs — and our third-and-manageable situations, we didn't convert. We've got to look at that and see where we can make improvements."
Last year at this time you guys were getting used to a new system. It's almost like there was an anticipated growth period during this process. Did you anticipate that coming in to today?
"We were on the same page. Guys were doing the right things. We just didn't execute quite well enough. We didn't sustain any drives. We did the correct things, we had opportunities. We just didn't do them quite well enough. We'll look at it. We could've made some checks or done some things a little differently that would have given us better opportunities, so I can look at that and just get back into the flow, and get back to game planning — get your checks, and get everything the right way, so you'll have better opportunity to have better plays."
I know you were on a snap count, but were you surprised about the four series?
"No. They never told me an amount of plays. I wanted to keep going out there to see if we could get something going and get into a rhythm."
Was there anything at all that left you concerned about the offense, or do you just chalk it up to being the first preseason game?
"Not concerned. I don't think you're ever concerned after the first offense. We didn't turn the ball over, we didn't have penalties, we weren't sloppy. We just didn't quite execute like we wanted to. We had some good calls, had some good things. We've just got to look at the film and see where we can grow — where we can make different adjustments. We need to get all our weapons out there and play a little sharper next week, have a good week of practice. I thought we had good work against the Bengals in practice this week. That was good. We've just got to keep grinding and keep getting better."
Do you think those practices had any effect on tonight with familiarity or feel?
"I think if anything it should probably help you out seeing what a defense is going to do. I don't think you're going out there game planning. I think the game plan sheet was made before the practices we had with them. We hadn't fully installed our whole offense yet. We've still got a few more installations that we've got to put it. We're kind of sticking to the plan and running what we have in right now."
Does it make for a long week?
"It was a long week here. A lot of nights, a little bit out of your normal routine of things. I thought it was productive. The week here and the practices against the Bengals were productive for us. They showed multiple looks on defense, and challenged us in making our calls, and made us talk about things. I think we made some improvements in that aspect and through game planning, but you've still got to go out there and make the plays."
On the first offense playing into the second quarter ...
"We stayed in because we wanted to score, obviously. It was good to get points on the board. We picked up some good things that they threw at us and that was good for us. We were originally told we were going to stay in for a quarter, but we needed to stay in longer. It was good work for us to be in there."
How was beneficial was it, getting to go against somebody else in the practices and then the game?
"It was great. Anytime you get to play against a team that good, a team that has been to the playoffs like they have, it's good for us to go against them. I think we got some good work. Tonight we found out some things we need to work on this week."
The top three running backs seem set. Are you just trying to work your way into the rotation?
"Yes, that's the goal for me. Obviously I know special teams are going to be a big factor, so I am never going to lose sight of that. But also I feel as far as being able to join that rotation, I feel I am capable of doing that and let it show."
Talk about the first couple of drives for you guys ...
"I just think we were a step slow and a little hesitant. It almost seemed like we didn't adjust to the live situation as well. You would think that you get in the game, and it's live, and you turn up the speed and turn it up a notch, but it didn't really look like that. It looked like we were just kind of in practice mode defensively. It was frustrating because it felt we should have been eager to get this opportunity. We should have played faster and better."
You've been around awhile, how unusual is that? Have you ever been in a situation where that has happened to a team?
"You see it happen. Sometimes you just have to get used to it. A team is game-planning you, things like that. Players have to get used to a team's tendencies and anticipate a little bit. I feel like we just have to do a better job as players of being ready, being faster and knowing what we are doing out there. I know we had some mistakes out there. It just seemed like some guys looked like they were stuck in the headlights a little bit."
What surprised you if anything? They always talk about the speed of the game at this level. What did you really like about what you did and what really puzzled you or caught you by surprise?
"The things the coaches have been telling the team about the game have all been true. It's definitely faster (than in college), and guys are better. Guys are a lot stronger. Those are the things I wasn't necessary surprised by, but it was everything and more than what the coaches have been saying. There are a lot of things that took me by surprise that I did right and wrong. I made a few mental errors and I know I will have to fix those things next week and do a lot better going on to the next game."
As you go through the rest of the preseason, are you concentrating more on new pass rush moves or trying to do what you do best?
"I am definitely going to be trying to develop my game. I want to be a complete defensive end. Not only being able to stop the run, but also being a great pass rusher. That is something I am going to continue to work on day in and day out. I'm excited about it; I am going to look at film and see some of the things that I need to work on and build on some of the things I did well out there."
When you know a zero coverage blitz play is called, what is going through your mind as a cornerback?
"I just don't want to be the one to let them catch the ball. It's an all-out blitz, and man-to-man coverage, and it's trusting the blitz to get there and the defensive backs to cover."
In the second half, the Bengals drove the ball a couple times, but you guys really stiffened in the red zone. Did you guys turn it up a little? How did you keep them out of the end zone?
"In our huddles, we just kept telling each other keep fighting and don't give up any points. If they drive all the way down to the red zone and we get the ball back, it's still a win for us."
Were you pretty happy with what you got on film tonight as they evaluate the cornerbacks?
"Yes, I was real satisfied, but there are two plays I'd like to have back. I just have to watch film and figure out how to correct it."