Disappointment in the desert

"We're all professionals and I think you have to go out and play like a professional. There are five games to go. It's not like there's one game or two games left. We don't sit there by ourselves as a disappointing team. There are about eight clear-cut teams that will be pushing for the playoffs in the National Football Conference. The other eight teams are out of the hunt. I imagine that all of those teams will play hard and just try to win games." --- Arizona coach Dennis Green

Q: Are you surprised at kicker Neil Rackers' success this year?

Green:
He had a very good year last year. He's only missed one and that was last week. He had an excellent year last year. He's leading the league in touchbacks, scoring and field goal percentages. He's having a Pro Bowl-type year, and he's such a good athlete with a strong leg.

Q: This season you've had a couple of changes at quarterback, so how has that affected the continuity on offense?

Green:
We're throwing the ball well. We threw the ball well with (QB) Josh McCown, but we haven't been able to run the ball well with all the injuries on the offensive line. That's probably hurt us the most. Leonard Davis is the one player on the O-line that has been in his position throughout the year. Everyone else has had a combination of things wrong. It's very difficult to run the football when you don't have that kind of continuity. Kurt Warner missed four or five games with a groin injury, but he's back now. He's doing a pretty good job. He's rising in his quarterback rating in the National Football League. He's starting to throw more touchdown passes, and I think that he's doing the best he can to help our team win.

Q: What do you hope to get out of the rest of the year?

Green:
We're all professionals and I think you have to go out and play like a professional. There are five games to go. It's not like there's one game or two games left. We don't sit there by ourselves as a disappointing team. There are about eight clear-cut teams that will be pushing for the playoffs in the National Football Conference. The other eight teams are out of the hunt. I imagine that all of those teams will play hard and just try to win games.

Q: Why hasn't J.J. Arrington had a more effective season this year for you guys?

Green:
Line blocking. First of all he's only playing part of the time, so he's sharing time as a player. It's very difficult to coordinate run blocking with new players. You can throw five guys together and they can pretty much pass block in about a week or two. With that same group run blocking, it probably takes about five to six weeks. You have intricacies like who is blocking the stack backer, who comes off of him and who stays on him. It's much more difficult to get that going. J.J. is ready to roll. I think that he's going to be a very good player. That's what he was out of college. You don't have to make excuses, because when a guy leads the nation in rushing there's no doubt as to what he can do. The question is does he have the kind of team around him that will help him do that? So far with all of our inconsistencies of who is playing, we have not been able to develop that type of a run game.

Q: Has he been patient enough in waiting for his holes to open up?

Green:
Yes he has, but again we have more injuries than anybody in the league and we throw the ball a lot. We've been behind a lot. Last week was like a lot of games this season. When you're down 17-3 you pass the ball if you think that you can catch up. We did and we were in the game up until the last play. You have to start moving the ball. We're second in total yardage for passing offense in the National Football League. We don't like that statistic, because we would like to be second in total offense for the entire league.

Q: Has it been harder than you expected to turn this team around?

Green:
You expect it to be hard, but the injuries are what you don't count on. We have seven starters that are on IR and a lot of them have been there the whole year. That's something that no team counts on. If you can stay healthy you can play pretty good. You can look at a team like Indianapolis who is 11-0. They're talented and healthy. Those two things are a good combination. The 7-4 New York Giants are also talented and healthy. I think it makes a difference.

Q: When you look around the league do you think that there are more injuries this year than years past?

Green:
Injuries are all a part of the game, it's just a matter of how many you get. Having about seven or eight different combinations of offensive linemen is pretty unusual.

Q: What are your impressions of Alex Smith so far?

Green:
We had the eighth pick in the draft, so we had to look at all the top guys. We considered Alex Smith as one of the top players. He's very athletic. He played a little bit in our game, but not very much. He has a live arm and he's very smart. I think that he's going to be a good player.

Q: When you look at Julian Peterson on film is he the same guy from previous seasons?

Green:
He's a guy that you have to really worry about. He plays with a great deal of intensity, he's a very good chase player and he's an outstanding up the field pass rusher. He's a dominant player in the league.

Q: Do you notice any lingering effects from his injury?

Green:
No. We just played them twice a year, but he looks to me like he can still play.


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