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Jim Schwartz's weekly press conference took place on Monday and included more discussion about Sunday's loss to the Vikings.
Opening statement: "1-3, not exactly the start that we envisioned. We can certainly work our way out of it."
On if experiencing a 0-4 start in Tennessee in 2002 can help in this situation: "2002. I think that every single year you can come up with something. I mean, last year the Giants lost four in a row, five of six. So, you know, I mean, last year we lost three out of four two different times. Well, I guess if you back-to-back them it's three out of four. We lost three out of four last year. But it doesn't matter what happened last year. It doesn't matter what happened with the Giants. It doesn't matter what happened with the Packers the year before that. It's this team right now and there's some things that we need to get corrected. And if we do, then we'll have a very good chance of digging ourselves out of this hole and get to where we want to be. If we don't, then we won't."
On what about the team right now gives him belief the team can improve: "They are all things that we can correct. We've had four non-red zone scores. That's not us. We've dropped I think four different touchdown passes. We have guys that have good hands that will catch those balls. We only have nine sacks so far. We have a very good defensive line and we'll get more. We have zero interceptions so far. We've given up four special teams scores. You know, there have been a lot of things that have happened that are not indicative of where this team will be after 16 games, and like I said we need to get those things corrected. We have the talent to be able to do it. The only thing that matters is us being able to do it this year and not anything that happened in the past."
On his philosophy on starters playing special teams more: "You know, everybody has a role. You only have 46 guys active during the game, so there are going to be some starters that are going to play on special teams and that's been this year, that'll be next year, it was last year. I mean, that's just sort of life in the NFL. That being said, everybody on the team has a job to do and whatever your job is you need to be able to accomplish it. We haven't done that the last couple weeks on special teams for a lot of different reasons. It hasn't been one thing that's continually come up. It's been four different breakdowns have led to four different scores."
On what he saw on tape of the return touchdowns: "Well, the first one we had a good kick. Like I said yesterday, the week before we'd had some problems with our kick location, we had a very good kick. We had poor reaction blocks, guys didn't get off blocks. A couple poor fits. I mean, we didn't even lay a hand on the guy as he went down the field. The next one was all missed tackles. There were, in opposite of the kickoff where there were a couple of guys that were out of position, on the punt there were a lot of guys that were in very good position including our gunner. But all of them missed. I think we missed four tackles on that play."
On what has to change to execute: "I mean, there's a physical part of an execution. Making a tackle, making a catch, you know, those kinds of things, making a block. I mean, those are all execution but your opponent's getting paid too. So, you know, it's a physical contest. And there's other things like Dave mentioned where you fit something wrong. There's execution that way. You know, when guys are in position as players, they need to make that. They need to be able to make a play, whether it's a catch, whether it's a tackle, whatever it is. But there's also the other part, and we've had incidents of both in the first four games. It hasn't just been all, you know, guys getting beat or something like that. There's been some technique problems. There's been some mental mistakes. We certainly have the ability to play a lot better."
On the perception that the offense is reactive to what the defense is doing rather than proactive and forcing the defense to react: "I think you do need to have a mentality of being aggressive and aggressively taking what the defense gives you, but there's also a downside to that. Making dumb decisions where if you try to push a ball where it shouldn't go in a coverage. Teams have been playing us very light. From the very beginning at the Rams game, teams have been playing us to take away the big play. What we need to do is we need to be able to execute all the way down the field."
"If you remember even going back to the opener, we drove I think 14 plays. Consistently making third down conversions, getting good runs, doing all those things and then we didn't finish it well; threw an interception at the end that derailed them. When teams take that approach it puts more of an emphasis on your execution. Teams have been making it difficult to get big plays. We need to be able to execute better. We need to be able to run the football better. If you take the wide receivers or quarterbacks out of it, we've rushed for about 3.4 yards a carry in the first four weeks of the season and we came off one of our most efficient run games the week before at Tennessee with one of our least efficient this last week. 3.4 a carry against teams that are loading up the box to try to stop the run isn't necessarily bad, but against teams that have taken a light approach and played all of their players back deep to take away big plays, it's not good enough."
"We have to run the ball a lot better. We don't necessarily have to run for more yards or any set number of yards, but we have to make people pay if they want to take the approach like you said. If they want to be able to play back and defend deep balls, we have to be able to convert. We have to convert third downs. We also have to run the ball effectively. We've had no explosive runs out of our run game. That's one of the major areas we need to do better because like we saw toward the end of the Titans' game, when we were able to start effectively run the ball, it opens up the passing game. Until we make teams respect it-again, it doesn't have to be 300 yards rushing, it doesn't have to be a 100 yards rushing, but key first down runs, explosive runs, will open our passing game."
On if it's more about the running backs or the offensive line: "Yes. Tight ends, running backs, wide receivers blocking down the field. It's a team game. We need to be able to break off a couple, run for more first downs. Our best run of the day we finished with a fumble. Those are the kinds of runs we need without the fumble at the end. Mikel made a good run, creased the defense 14 yards, went and delivered a blow to the safeties and coughed up the ball. Those are the kinds of runs that force a defense into stepping up and respecting the run more. But you can't finish it with a fumble.
On trying to run the ball against good looks: "I'm not saying can't. I'm saying haven't."
On if that falls on the offensive line: "I think it falls on a lot of people. It falls on the running backs to make the right cuts. It falls on the tight ends to get good blocks whether you're front side or back side. We use tight ends as full backs too so it's on them. It is on the offensive line also."
On stopping Vikings RB Adrian Peterson and how pleased he is with the defense as a whole: "The whole goal is to allow one less point than we've scored and we haven't done that. That being said, we gave up six points on defense yesterday. They only had one explosive (plays); well technically they really had three because two pass inference plays are chunks. Even though it doesn't go in the stat sheet as explosive, they moved the ball. And that's how they scored their two field goals were pass interference calls. Hold teams to field goals, you keep the team in it. And even with two non-defensive scores against us, I thought we (allowed) no explosive runs, only one explosive pass and that was in a four minute situation at the end. We did good on third down. We got off the field on third down. We held in the red zone when they got close. Those were all positive signs from our defense.
"There's some other things we can do better. We can rush better. Even though we gave up no explosive runs, they still had 4-something a carry. They still made their yards. We did a pretty good job of limiting Percy Harvin. We knew how explosive playmaker he was. We did a pretty good job of limiting him. I think he had one catch or one of his catches was 17 yards. The rest of the time we did a pretty good job limiting. That's hollow. Whether you give up 0 points or 6 points, if you lose the game there's really nothing to be proud of."
On seeing how much this team was capable of last year: "Losing is always tough. There's no harder thing than losing in professional sports. It's not whether you're going to get hit with adversity, a losing streak, a time where you're not playing your best. It's a 16 week season. There are times that's going to happen. It's your ability to persevere through it. It's your ability to correct mistakes and not have them go forward. And that's our biggest challenge. We're through a one-fourth of the season. We started 1-3. You could grab a four game slice last year and were 1-3 in the middle of the year. Do research. There are 6 million teams that have gone through that same thing. The teams that have succeeded were teams that were able to correct their mistakes and were able to persevere through tough times. I wasn't in New York last year but I can't imagine what it was like to lose four in a row, five of six. But you know what they did? They persevered through it. They corrected some mistakes and they got on a roll. We can do the same things. But it's up to us. It's not up to what's happened in history or anything else. If we're tough minded, as players, as coaches, if we correct the mistakes that we've made, then we can dig ourselves out of the hole.
On if they need consistency to get out of the hole: "I think that there's a little bit of that. Like I mentioned on the special teams scores, it hasn't been the same thing. It's not all been due to missed tackles. It's not all been due to missed fits. It's not all been due to any one particular thing. We have had signs where we can move the ball with anybody in the league and we can score. We'd probably feel a lot different about it if we caught one of those two touchdown passes earlier in the game. It has the ability to change the whole scope of the game. We talked about rushing the passer, we've been outscored I think 60 to 30 in the first half of games. That takes the rush away. When you're playing with the lead, you have a much better chance of rushing the quarterback. The quarterback gets impatient. They have to make plays down the field. And the run becomes less a realistic option and you're able to rush better. Our ability to score also affects our ability to rush which affects our ability to get interceptions. It's all tied together. There's no question. It's all tied together and our job is to tie it all up.
On if CB Bill Bentley's pass interference was result of being a rookie: "He's had I think three defensive pass interferences on plays down the field. He had a very crucial holding penalty on a third down and 16 last week. Some of those things he'll learn and put himself in better position particularly like the holding penalty on third down and 16. There's no reason to hold a guy on third and 16. If it's third and three maybe you have to hold him. The other ones he's been in good position but used poor technique, never found the football. And when you're not looking at the football, any contact that occurs ends up being defensive pass interference. It's a big difference for a player from college where they allow contact down the field and you don't have to worry about looking back for the ball as much. Now just because you're covered doesn't mean they're not going to throw the ball. And that's something, you can chalk it up to being a rookie or inexperienced but you don't get graded on a curve. He has to go out and he has to be able to accomplish those."
On the play where WR Calvin Johnson went out: "I can't clear him. They have to go through the whole protocol. He got hit around the head area. They threw a penalty on it. They had to completely check him out to get him back on it. Nobody cared if we were still on offense or if the punt team was on the field. We lost Sammie Hill early in the game in a very similar situation. Now he was fine. Wasn't concussed, went through all his tests, did fine, went back in and played the rest of the game. Depends on when they tell us he's good to go. It's changed in the NFL and we just have to live with it."
On handling the bye week: "I mean, it is what it is. The bye week's scheduled for Week 5. We need to make the most of it. We've got work days the next to two days. Today's a work day, tomorrow's a work day. We're not on the field tomorrow but we'll go to meetings, we'll have walk-throughs and things like that. Wednesday we'll practice, so there's stuff we can accomplish."
On if the team didn't do enough in the offseason in hindsight: "I think the only time you'll be able to say that is after 16 games. Like I said, it's a 16-game season. You're judged on what you do for 16 and that's our objective. We didn't have the start that we wanted to have but, it's not to say we can't put that behind us and dig ourselves out because we certainly can."
On starting games with more of a sense of urgency: "I don't necessarily think it's starting with backs against the wall, I just think it's been the game situations. You know, starting faster will help us. Like I said, we've been outscored two to one in the first half of games. It can help not just our offense but our defense also and special teams also. If we score more early, if we don't allow scores in the first half, you know, I don't think it has anything to do with a back against the wall mentality or end of game. We have explosive players that can make plays. Need to make them more early in the game."
On a lack of execution early in the game: "I mean, it's a little bit like the special teams. It's been a lot of different ways. You know, each one's been a little bit different. Each one has been something else. I mean, open the season with a great drive, finish with a real bad play to get an interception. You know, each one's a little bit different. You know, one might drop a pass, one might give up a big play on defense. Something like that."
On punting instead of going for it on a 4th down in the third quarter: "Yeah, I mean, I think that we were playing fairly well on defense. We had gotten the ball back a couple times. We had the field position. You know, thought the same way. I think part of that is confidence in the offense that we can score later in games. That wasn't the make or break. We could have lost the game there but not necessarily win right there."
On the offense stepping up and executing the game plan against different defenses: "I think that it's our job to make people pay if they choose to employ those kind of defenses. You know, I hate to point to something other than a win, but the week before we scored 41 points and 36 first downs and almost 600 yards. And again, that sounds hollow when you lose the game, but we did a good job of executing against that strategy. Quarterbacks completed about 80-percent of their passes and everything else. That's what we need to do. And we ran the ball effectively. Not necessarily for a bunch of yards, but we ran the ball effectively and rushed for first downs. I think what it is, it's incumbent on us as an offense, us as a team that when teams try to play you one way or another, you have to make them pay for doing that. Whether it means completing four passes in front for 10 yards a piece or running the ball five times for 40 yards or whatever or throwing a 40-yard pass over the top-I mean-it's all still 40 yards. But it does make it much more critical to be able to execute consistently."
On WR Nate Burleson's comments that this team doesn't have the same fire as last year: "No, I think this is an emotional game and you need to play with emotion. I certainly respect his opinion when it comes to it. There is a sense of urgency with us. Nobody's OK with starting 1-3. I don't want to have that message up here. My message is that that's not the end of the season. We're one fourth of the way through the season. There's still a lot of ground to be covered between now and Week 16, and our job is not to, our job is to correct what led us to 1-3. Not to dwell on it or anything else. But I certainly respect his opinion. We do need to play emotional. We do need to, for lack of a better word, put a chip on our shoulder and things like that. I think part of that has to do with coming out early in the game and establishing ourselves and not relying on coming back and playing close at the end of games."