Have you ever seen or heard of two defensive linemen scoring touchdowns in the same quarter?
“Not that I know of. Obviously those were two timely plays that helped us tie the game, and then put the game away. As I said yesterday after the game and now after watching the tape, we have a lot of corrections to make. We didn’t execute well on offense for most of the game and we weren’t as good on third-down. We were a little bit better on third-down defensively, but there were some where we could’ve defended better by making tackles on third-and-long plays. That’s key. Although we had some nice runs, we’re still a tick off in the run game. We also had execution issues on special teams that we have to shore up.”
How much did the rotation on the defensive line help yesterday? It’s kind of helped in fourth quarters this year with the way you’ve rotated …
“We have the ability to keep guys fresh with the depth we have right now. I think Adolphus (Washington) had the fewest snaps of them all, but that’s still double digit (plays). It gives guys an opportunity (to rest), as long as we’re being productive with those we have in there. It’s helpful.”
HB Joe Mixon started out slowly, but in the second half he had a lot of success. Was it a matter of trusting his tracks, and the more he played the better he trusted his tracks?
“His tracks were consistent throughout the game, but we have to continue to stay true to them. Sometimes the ball will end up in the wrong spot, and you have to protect it.”
People talk about teams coming out flat after a big win the week before. Is that something you see happen, or is that an overrated thing?
“That’s an excuse. Your focus can’t change week to week, Sunday brings a new game. We know we have to be prepared to play. We’re playing NFL teams, and the margin of error in these games is thin. We prepared to be successful on the first drive, and we drove the ball down the field and threw an interception. You can’t do that. The ball was thrown somewhere it shouldn’t have been thrown and went up into the air. We learn a lot, and when we have unsuccessful plays and drives, we have to learn from it.”
Have you ever been around two more mature rookies than DE Sam Hubbard and S Jessie Bates? Both are young guys who made big plays yesterday. They already seem so mature with everything that’s going on …
“One of their characteristics is maturity. They’re still young guys with exuberance who also make errors that need correction, but yet, they’re good football players who understand football. So when the game gets fast, they’re able to stay up to speed, and that’s one of the things we feel best about. You don’t necessarily know that, because you aren’t in the trenches or the heat of the fire with them until after you draft them. That’s been one of the pleasant surprises with both of them.”
“You get somewhat of a sense for it, with how they can speak football and talk football when you’re watching tape with them, and how they can explain it. For some, you can get a little bit of a feel. But still this is moving fast. This is NFL football. I can remember one of the words our coaches used today that I’m going to steal — the ‘un-scouted look’. With these guys, it’s how we handle some of the ‘un-scouted’ looks on Sunday. We have to be successful at those. Our rules and how we built things have to hold up. It has to be quick thinking in order to get that done.”
Have you ever seen DT Geno Atkins play as well as he’s playing right now?
“Geno is having a fine season.”
How does Geno Atkins impact the rest of the defensive line, considering how much attention opposing offensive lines devote to him?
“I think he garners a lot of attention. But more importantly, he’s a great leader for the whole entire football team. He’s a guy that has gone out and practiced his tail off every single day since we started. He had a great off-season, he participated every day and tried hard every day. He’s embraced the new learning of the new defense and is having a productive season for us.”
How big of a deal is Geno Atkins and Carlos Dunlap feeding off of each other’s success?
“It’s big. We’ve got to feel good about things. Most important is our ability when we get around the quarterback to get after the ball. We’ve got to continue to work hard at that. Geno had quite a few collisions with the quarterback yesterday. He knocks him down and he stays on his feet (laughs). That’s a good way to do it, I guess. He can do it with that kind of velocity.”
He didn’t get called for any penalties related to hitting the quarterback …
“Nope. Those guys are taller than him. He’s going to be below their numbers anyway (laughs).”
Even on his sack, it looked like he used correct tackling form. Were you happy to see that?
“Yeah. It was good to see that. I didn’t see it during the game, but when I watched the tape I was able to see it”
DE Carl Lawson has just one sack so far this season, but it seems like he’s been productive and around the quarterback…
“Carl’s creating a lot of movement from the quarterback, whether they’re stepping up (away from the pressure) or (the offensive line gets) a holding penalty. That’s what good rushers do. You just have to keep going, and sooner or later it will be your time. You just have to keep going and keep executing the plan. He was a little quick at times yesterday with some of the movements. You have to keep learning from it and be better next time out.”
After watching the tape, how would you assess the play of your offensive line?
“We just have to be on the same page more often. We had some communication where we have to stay on the same page. In the run game and the pass game, we have to finish better. That’s really important.”
Are you still set on the starting offensive line personnel?
“We just have to keep playing. That’s what I told you in Week 1, Week 2, Week 4 and wherever we are now. We just have to keep playing.”
TE C.J. Uzomah had a few big plays and seemed to make a solid contribution for you …
“You mean the holding penalty (laughs)? C.J. has been productive this football season. We just have to keep going and keep growing. As we said earlier in the week, those guys (tight ends) have to continue to expand (their roles).”
What did you think of LB Vontaze Burfict in his first game back?
“I think he understands that it was good that we could get the lead there at the end and get him out, and then get the guys who have been doing it (the first four games) in there. As we’ve said, working on the football conditioning part, the only way to do that is to play football. This is his first outing (of the season), and hopefully he continues to take steps forward that way. There’s some new things he wasn’t quite exact on, and we have to be better all the time. I feel good about the rest of the group and with their contribution. To get Jordan Evans back in there at the end of the game, when they were throwing the football like that, was good.”
Was he winded at the end of the game?
“Yeah he was. He was winded on the interception return, and it was a different football game at that point — or I guess it was second one, the fumble return.”
Did you notice a difference with Burfict’s football IQ back on the field, with how he calls out certain things to the defense?
“We just have to keep learning.”