Do you want to just start off with the injury update?
“Yeah. Our players, we had them sleep in a little bit today because of the short week. We’re trying to get them extra rest. They’re just reporting right now. So, we’re going to be doing training stuff from 11 to one. So, I don’t have anything for you guys right now. We have to release an injury report as if we practiced today, so later today we’ll get all that out. [Vice president of communications] Bob [Lange] will get that to you guys.”
Obviously, three weeks ago, it was easy to dissect what went wrong when you guys played Arizona. When you look at this film, where does your eye go?
“The end of the game. In order to win an ugly game in the NFL, you’ve got to be good on four-minute offense and four-minute defense, and we weren’t there at the end. We went into that game knowing that we had to protect the ball and not turn it over and hoping to get turnovers. We accomplished that goal. That’s why I think we had a very good chance to win at the end of the game. Then, from a four-minute offense standpoint, we didn’t run the ball well enough when they knew we were trying to run it and when we took our shots in the pass game to take advantage of that, we didn’t come down with it. Those are the ones you need to do to close someone out. Then, on defense, played real well all game and those last two drives are those two touchdown drives, especially the last one in particular, we’ve got to finish.”
You mentioned trying to run the ball effectively when they know you’re going to run it. I guess it was similar in Green Bay that you weren’t able to kind of finish that in part because of the same situation. Can you pinpoint maybe why that is, given the fact that the run game overall has been effective this year?
“I think that’s a challenge for everyone. That’s a hard thing when people know you’re running it because they’re going to always bring more people than you block until you run the quarterback. So, that is always an issue and that’s why you do want to try to take a shot in some of those times because they are extremely vulnerable in the pass game. We did it versus Green Bay one of those times. I think it was on the second-and-10. We did it in this game on a first-and-10 down the field to [WR Marquise Goodwin] ‘Quise that [Arizona Cardinals CB] Patrick Peterson got down there and broke it up on. After that, that’s four-minute offense. You’ve got to have hard-nosed running. You’ve got to get through those. They don’t make it easy. Usually when they do that, it gets to a third down and then you’ve got to win the game on third down. We didn’t get it on third down.”
You so often say after these difficult losses that there’s a 24-hour rule. You definitely don’t have time this week. What’s the message to this squad now to regroup in such a short time frame?
“It’s a little easier when you don’t have a choice. The players have got to come in here for treatment, but my experience with these games that come so fast and guys don’t have the time to recover, the best thing for recovery is sleep. So, the guys who are injured have got to come in and rehab, but everyone else we’re not going to see today. Then, they’re going to come in tomorrow, we’re going to push it back a little bit more tomorrow morning just so they can sleep in a little bit more. Then, I’ll talk about this game quickly at our team meeting, but we’ve got to move on to Oakland very fast.”
There was a play late in the game about 50 seconds left, the Cardinals had already been flagged for one illegal substitution, but you and defensive coordinator Robert Saleh spotted it again and wanted the flag. Did you get any explanation from the officials about why there was no flag in that instance?
“No. I think we all saw 12 in the huddle and I think they did, too. They didn’t call it that time. When I’m yelling and stuff in the middle of plays, I rarely can get them to me because they’ve got a job to do once that play starts. You move on to the next play. It’s too late after that to sit there and try to get an explanation. It doesn’t matter. You miss it, they move on.”
We talked after the game about the trade scenarios. Has there been any movement on anything?
“No, no movement on anything. But, I know those guys are talking nonstop right now and they’ll probably do it all the way up to the deadline tomorrow. But, I haven’t been informed of anything so far.”
You said that you had talked to or somebody from the team had talked to WR Pierre Garçon. Has there been any other players that you’ve had to kind of loop in as far as that their name has come up?
“No. Pierre is the only guy I’ve spoken to personally.”
Does having a Thursday night game on the trade deadline week make things just more difficult as a coach, where you move a guy on Tuesday and you don’t have a lot of time for game planning?
“Yes, much more difficult. We had a lot of injuries last night, too. Would love to be totally locked into this trade deadline, which we will be, but also got to find out who’s possible of playing here in a few days. That’s why there’s a lot going on and all these decisions play off of each other. So, just trying to buy some time with it as much as we can.”
Regarding the trade deadline, you guys have I think just five picks. Is there motivation to maybe be able to stockpile a little more just given where you are on the roster and everything?
“There’s motivation to improve our team whatever way possible. So, whether that’s getting extra draft picks or whether that’s adding someone who we think can help us, either way. You can do it both avenues. But, you’ve got to have suitors and there’s got to be options. We’re looking into all of those and hopefully some good ones will come up that we think can help us.”
Have you had a chance to look at any Raiders film yet?
“Yeah I skimmed over it a little bit over the weekend. I know our assistants, they spend all Saturday and Sunday getting a head start on it, which those guys are a lot further along than I am right now. As soon as I am done with you guys, I’ll be officially done with the Cardinals and it’ll be Oakland from here until kickoff.”
As you look at those last four minutes, you were talking about those last four minutes of offense and defense, is there something that sticks out to you, is it more of a mental breakdown or an execution breakdown that comes down at the end of the games?
“We gave them too many opportunities. We had a chance to put them away, especially first-and-goal on the four where we ran it on first down, had a messed-up exchange between our quarterback and our running back, which made the quarterback have to run after that. So, we got nothing out of that. Then, on the next down, we ran the ball on second-and-goal from the four, where we had a chance and missed it. I thought right there, just put it in the end zone could have put it away and not had it come down to later. When you do look at things, playing man coverage, if you get beat, we’ve got to get to the quarterback faster. When we’re playing zone coverage we’ve got to get to the quarterback faster. It’s 11 guys helping each other. Same thing with us doing calls, mixing in some pressures and things like that. So, there’s so many things you can go back and look at at each play. When you come up short, whether it’s offense or defense, everything that you did that didn’t work, you want to do the opposite. But, there’s a risk-reward on everything you do.”
It seems that early in the game you guys were getting a lot of pressure bringing your edge rushers up the middle. I think that was how you got the safety. Was that something that Arizona adjusted to and wasn’t as effective on those last two drives?
“No, that’s just a tackle-end stunt. We do it a lot, we do it a lot throughout the game. You either have a straight four-man rush. You can rush straight with four or you can decide to do what people call are games. That was the game that we do. It was just a tackle-end stunt that we do every week and we do a number of times throughout the game. They did a good job of doing it there. We were tight in cover so no one was open right away, and made them hold onto it for one more hitch and [DL Cassius] Marsh got in there off the T-E stunt.”
You guys have a lot of injuries this year, significant and the little ones that stack up. Is there any concern that your players might use the injuries as a rationalization or an excuse if the team’s not showing progress?
“I haven’t questioned that with any of our players. I think our guys have fought their asses off to get out there and they do it every week. It’s going to be a lot harder this week with a shorter week, but I know our guys are going to do everything they can to do it. It’s tough as you go through the year and our record is what it is. Some guys playing through some bad stuff, eventually you will shut them down. But, we’re not there yet. We have a number of guys who still can get healthier and help us whether it’s this week or whether it’s later on. But, we have half of our season left, we’re only halfway through. So, we’ve got a lot of ball to play and there’s a lot of guys in here that we’re counting on to get better.”
You guys have been competitive in a lot of games the last two seasons and you’ve lost a lot of close games the last two seasons. Why do you feel that finishing has been an issue for your group?
“It’s something we’ve got to do to get better and get over that hump. It comes down to, you can do a lot of things throughout a game, but when it comes down to the end when we need to close people out and we need some closers to do that. We’ve had some opportunities to do it. This year there’s two games in particular that have bothered me the most, this game and the Green Bay game where we’ve gotten that ball back with a chance to where you just get two first downs and you can end that game and we just got one of them. So, we’ve got to continue to get better at that. We obviously are getting opportunities, reps and experience at it, but the experience hasn’t paid off yet. We had an opportunity last night to do it. I thought we would, I felt extremely confident in that the entire game until the last play. But, we came up short again and that’s stuff that we have to continue to learn from and we have to get better at and we’ve got to find people who can get it done.”
I think a lot of people understand with the injuries and the schedule, there’s some reason for the way the season has gone. But, just when you look at this overall at 1-7, do you feel like this team has realized whatever potential it has or do you feel like it’s kind of fallen short of whatever expectations there should be?
“I definitely think we should be better than 1-7. Regardless of injuries, regardless of what has happened, there’s a number of games in there that we could have won. When that happens, you need to win some of those and we’ve come up short. Just to let this game get away, to let that Green Bay game get away, I believe we had a chance to win that Los Angeles [Chargers] game and to let that get away, those are close games that come down to just a couple of plays. Yeah, we’ve been dealt a tough hand with some of the injuries we have and some of the things that we’ve been going through, but that doesn’t mean we should be 1-7. Those games, we make a few different plays, and I’m talking one to three plays, still wouldn’t feel great about our record but I’d feel better than I do now. So, there’s a very fine line between those things and the bottom line is when you don’t do that and you don’t get it done, our record is what it is and I can’t sit here and be positive about that. But, I do know deep down that it does come down to just a couple of plays here and there and those are plays that we’re capable of making. Those are plays that we’re capable of making going forward, too. You can’t control what’s already happened, but we can control what happens in the future. I’ve got to find a way as a coach to make sure I get our guys more prepared for those, better at those situations and able to make those plays really when it counts in the fourth quarter and not the previous three.”