Q: What are some of your lingering impressions on the big win over the Rams?
Mariucci: Some of the things that we really emphasized and talked about in the fact that we had a couple of weeks to prepare for the Rams really is an advantage, let's face it, its. You get a chance to freshen your team up, you get a chance to prepare a little bit longer and game plan and have some creative time and that sort or thing, it helps. Of course, some of our offseason had spent on evaluating the Rams' scheme and planning a little bit as to what we might do differently over the last games against them. And we were able to put some things together. I told our players to enjoy it for a night, but we're going to get it behind us – just like you do any win, or any loss, or any game in a long season like this – and we're going to start thinking about Seattle. We've got to put another good game together.
Q: Are you looking for offensive balance like you had against the Rams, when you had 27 plays each passing and rushing?
Mariucci: We had good balance, yes. And we had good efficiency, good production. We had only one penalty on offense and no turnovers. We only had 50-some plays again, and it's hard to get big numbers when you're only in the 50s. Our games have been fast games, where teams are running the ball or running the clock a little bit. Jeff (Garcia) only had seven series, and that's a low amount. There's part of me that wants to run a hurry-up offense so we can have more snaps and more series in any given ball game. I think the average in the league is like, 64 or 65 snaps a game and we're well below that. There's still some things that we can improve on, certainly, but the fact that we're balanced, the fact that J.J. (Stokes) became a factor, and so did Tai Streets, that fact that we have a couple of tailbacks that are being used in a productive way, and Eric Johnson is coming fast, that's going to help us in the long haul, it really is.
Q: Do you make your living in the passing game with what your receivers do after they catch the ball?
Mariucci: Well, that's part of it. Every defensive scheme is going to be different. Some teams are going to be zone-oriented. Some are going to be pressure-oriented and man-to-man, and it depends on their personnel and it also depends on the score of the game. You have to be able to defeat both of those sort of schemes and combinations of each. Jeff does a great job of throwing the ball out there quickly. Some of those quick throws out to the receivers are all audibles. They happen spur of the moment. Get it out, try to break a tackle. Sometimes we break a tackle, sometimes we don't. But it's been productive, plus people have to realize that they can't be too soft on those receivers. They've got to play up, and we like to get them in bump-and-run coverage sometimes.
Q: How familiar are you with Seattle and Arizona, the new teams you'll be playing twice a year in the NFC West?
Mariucci: Probably more familiar with Seattle than Arizona. A lot of us have coached together and we know each other's schemes a little bit, you know, that sort of thing. The last time we played Arizona, they came here and they blitzed us, like, 58 out of 64 snaps. And they're an improved team. They really are. They're pretty creative, and (quarterback) Jake Plummer is a little like Jeff Garcia.
Q: How do you think it's affecting your young team that it is now riding atop the division and becoming a team others aim for?
Mariucci: We feel we're going to be in a dogfight throughout the entire season. You know, you're always jockeying for position in terms of the playoff race. I think Arizona will be very competitive, and I think Seattle will be as well. Don't be surprised to see the Rams turn it around here at some point when they healthy up. They're missing a lot of guys right now. So they'll healthy up and they'll start winning some games, too, and they'll start creating some chaos in the league.
Q: How important it is to remain atop the division?
Mariucci: Our goal, obviously, is to win the division first. Because if you win the division, you're guaranteed at least one home game in the playoffs. The two wild-card teams will travel. You get four division winners, the two best records will get the bye, and then the other two will host the wild-card games. If you win your division, you got one – at least – at home. And we haven't had that in a long time. And that's what you need. Obviously, if you can get the bye, that's even better. But you've got to fight to win your division. And it is interesting right now to know that the Rams are 0-5, because that's completely unexpected, I think. But we just have to keep playing one game at a time. There will be a purpose for every game, believe me. And there is a tough schedule in front of us.