Q: What are the specific challenges that the Seattle run defense will give you guys as you try to get your run game going?
A: They have good players. They have good players and in some respects it resembles Arizona's commitment to stopping the run, so you'll see some involvement of the safeties – very aggressive, big, strong guys. From that standpoint it will remind you a little bit of the approach that Arizona took.
Q: You don't see many defensive ends the size of Red Bryant.
A: No. That specifically is going to make the tight end runs particularly challenging. We'll see. We'll do what we can. Sometimes you have to match up instead of just one guy. So you're going to zone block so you put the tackle and the tight end on a guy that size. We know we'll have our hands full.
Q: Is it fair to say you haven't run the ball like you want to?
A: We definitely have not run the ball as well as we would have liked to have run it. I think as we go along we'll get better at it. I think part of it is just the coordination and the cohesion of the guys up front – the better deepening of understanding of some of our new guys, whether it's the tight end or center, the moving of the tackle to the guard and the new tackle, that type of thing. It's also people. Certain formations, certain personnel groupings are just loaded up trying to stop the run, which has given us a chance to throw the ball well. As long as we continue to do that, I think things will change. It's amazing how those things work hand in hand. But I think the passing game will help to set up the running game. You always hear just the opposite, but the reverse can be true, too.
Q: Can you play yourself into a rhythm in the run game?
A: There's a fine line and that is a great question because that's one that you always deal with, how long do you stay with something? You'd like to get into that kind of rhythm where you say, 'Okay, now we're achieving what we'd like,' which is control of the line of scrimmage. But if you're not careful, the game slips away from you when now all of a sudden you've lost a chance to win. I think you're balancing, first and foremost, doing whatever enables you or puts you in the best position to win the game. But usually the ability to [pass and run] is what accomplishes that. So you're kind of straddling the fence. You want to do whatever you can to win the game, but usually being able to run the ball contributes to that. There are certainly teams, and we've been on occasion that way too, where you're throwing the ball because of your success doing that. I think in the long run, particularly up here, when you get into the winter and everything else, if you can't run, it usually makes life more difficult. I don't think it's the end-all-be-all, but it certainly gives you a better chance to be consistent and to overcome any of the conditions that sometimes present themselves here.
Q: Forcing you to pass to set up the run, has it been any worse than it's been in the past?
A: Not really, no. On occasion. What Arizona did, I think there was definitely the nature of that safety. [Wilson] is just a big, strong kid and when he was down [in the box], if it meant gambling to the point that he gave up some chances on some play-action passes, he was willing to do that. We've always faced guys like that. Whether it's Dawkins or Landry or somebody, but this game he was definitely committed to stopping [the run]. It made it challenging, but that wasn't in and of itself good.
Q: You came out in two receiver sets with Cruz instead of Manningham.
A: Just really seeing some things that we wanted to see Victor do, that we thought Victor would do more effectively. We'll always do that. We'll move people around. We'll play Manningham in a certain spot. We'll put in Victor at certain spots. We'll have Hakeem do different things. It's really just taking advantage of the ability level of that guy for that particular play.
Q: Did you talk to Mario?
A: I always do it that way. That's constant. That's an ongoing thing.
Q: Has he improved?
A: He had a good game. That was really his best game. He had nothing to show for it production-wise, but he ran a lot of good routes, got himself open. Just because of the coverage or what have you, the ball went the other way. But really that was his best game.
Q: He was open on the deep middle, the one Eli threw to Cruz?
A: Wide open on that one.
Q: Victor looked like he cut that off.
A: Victor was exactly right. That's a read. He was perfect. He did it exactly right.
Q: It appears that Mario was benched. That wasn't the case?
A: No. Not at all.
Q: He's improved his route running?
A: This was his best game by far. He had a good game. He was wide open four or five shots down the second half of the game, but the reads took the quarterback in the other direction.
Q: Mario's a weapon you want to use?
A: Oh yeah. I like it when you guys can zero in on something that wasn't good and yet we were good in the other areas because that means maybe next, you know two weeks ago you were asking how come Hakeem didn't get the ball. Usually it balances itself out. I'm much less concerned about those things than you are. What I'm concerned about is 'are we moving the ball?' Are we having success? And so far we're doing that. [Manningham] will get more than his fair shot at being the guy. It's basically what are people doing defensively and where are they most vulnerable and what are our matchups that best give us a chance to have success and certainly he's a big part of that.
Q: Mario's still a starter?
Q: Victor just keeps going out there and producing.
A: He's getting better and improving a little bit each week. You guys go from somebody can't do something to all of a sudden he's a superstar. I see very slow, steady improvement, which is great. That's what we're hoping for.
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