Monday, Jan. 4, 2010
"From an injury standpoint, I'll give you an update. The guys that were inactive or the guys that have missed – Jacques Cesaire, Jacob Hester, Vincent Jackson, Shawne Merriman, Legedu Naanee, Eric Weddle – those guys I would expect to be able to participate at some level during this week. Again, I'm going to generalize, but I think all of them will be able to participate at some level this week. Then all of them without having a setback would be full go next week. Obviously the more they can do this week, the better I believe it is for them.
"From a standpoint of injuries in the game, James Holt has a shoulder injury and he will have surgery and he will be out. He's had a remarkable season for a young guy that came in here and just jumped out very early. He's really become a big part of our special teams. We'll have to replace him there. (Antonio) Garay strained his hamstring, but I think he'll be alright."
"From the standpoint of the game, as I said yesterday, it was good for us to get our starters out. Most of them got about 20 plays. I thought they got good work and accomplished what we wanted to get done. Then our young guys, I think it's great for them to get a chance to play. The game was fast for them early. I think as they settled in to what we were doing and playing in a real game in terms of being a starter-like mentality, I thought we handled things extremely well and obviously I thought it was good for Billy to be in the situation he was in. To put that drive together at the end says a lot about those young guys and their abilities to play. It's nice to get Billy the reps; get him the opportunities. I hope he doesn't play over the next month, but I believe he'll be ready if he needs to be."
Is the bye week more important physically or mentally?
"I honestly believe it's both. First of all, physically it is a long season and you do get rest (with the bye). Everyone is in there lifting. They'll get a lift and a run in today and then tomorrow we'll be off. We'll get three good days of practice but the rest will come on the weekend, Saturday and Sunday. We'll play the following Sunday at 1:40 so we'll come in and do something on Monday, then Tuesday off and have a normal week after that. When you look at it you go Saturday, Sunday, Monday it'll be a light work and then Tuesday (off), they'll be rested physically. That's critical. Then the mental part of it is not only stepping back away from it for a second but we can really get into some detail in terms of preparation for this game and be real exact in what we want to do where sometimes during the season, and like we had for Tennessee you get into short weeks, you get into different types of game-plan situations where you have people injured and they don't get a lot of reps in practice. Sometimes you wish you had a little more time to prepare. That won't be the case here."
Coach Norv Turner
"My intention is always to get first downs on first and second down. That makes it much smoother. Third downs are obviously critical any time of the game to keeping the drive alive. We spend a lot of time talking, whether it be a four-minute situation like we were in yesterday, the two-minute situation getting the ball with 50 seconds like we have. I think those things come from the preparation we've had all through the year. We had a major emphasis this year in training camp and our offseason work on the two-minute situation. We took it a step further and tried to come up with every possible scenario we could come up with. I think all of that has paid off for us."
In the playoffs is it even more critical?
"When you get in the playoffs, and it sounds very obvious, you're going to play a very good team. Obviously you're playing one of the best teams in the league. That's why they're in there. The one thing that Coach (Jimmy) Johnson used to always talk about is that it's the team that plays the best when you get to that point. In other games you are better than someone. In these games, it is the team that plays the best and the team that plays the best handles all those different situations. Obviously those are game-changing situations."
Do you feel you guys are the team playing the best right now?
"We're playing at a real high level. I think there are a number of teams that are playing extremely well. We had an outstanding game with Dallas in early December and they've really taken off. You look at the teams in the AFC and they're going that way (up). To me it's not what you've done or how well you've played. You get a three-and-a-half hour game and you need to play better than the team you're playing against."
Can you talk about the job Hal Hunter and Don Johnson have done?
"We did have some changes on the staff and one of the things I always talk to coaches about, and I probably got this from John Robinson, there are two things when you talk to your team. We've got a lot of marquee, big-time players. In the spring we talked about, ‘Hey, let's see how many guys can go out and have their best season of their career.' We had a lot of guys that did that. I talked to the coaches the same way. ‘Lets see how many guys on this staff can have their best year ever coaching.' To do what we did on the offensive and defensive lines, you say that Don Johnson I think has had an outstanding year and worked with a lot of different people. Hal Hunter and Mike Sullivan together with the offensive line, they've done a great job, particularly when you look at the center position and the changes we had there and Mooch playing as many games as he did. Then starting the last 11 games a rookie at right guard and right tackle, that's hard to do."
How do you avoid coming out rusty after the bye?
"I think it's something this team has done a good job…we practice fast. This week we can reduce the reps just a little bit, but when we go, you just have to go fast and you have to maintain that type of mentality. I think that's the strength of this team. Even when we were struggling, I know I commented on it and it doesn't help when you say it but you're not playing as well as you'd like, but we have practiced well and I believe we will continue to."
How do you prepare when you don't know who you are going to play?
"It's the position you're put in and we will prepare for the situations that are going to come up in this game. We just talked about it – whether it be red zone; whether it be backed up; whether it be goal line; whether it be two minute – we will get those situations handled and we will work hard on them. We will look at different things that teams do and do a little bit of each, but in those situations, things tend to be a little more standard. There are a lot of similarities between all the teams you play. Obviously we have to wait until this weekend is over to find out exactly who we're playing. Then we'll get into the specifics of that team."
Coach Norv Turner
"Malcom and Buster Davis will end up getting game balls offensively. I thought Malcom would have that kind of game. I thought based on the way Washington played, the things Billy does well and the way Malcom is playing. He hasn't been that guy, and obviously we've spread the ball around to a lot of people, but when Gates went out and Vincent Jackson wasn't playing, there were some opportunities to really zero in and get him involved and get him part of it. He really responded. He's an outstanding player who has really gotten a lot better over the last year."
Is this the most rewarding season of your career as a head coach?
"It is. I'm not very good at comparing those things, but the biggest thing for me is the job the assistant coaches have done and the number of people we have that have contributed to this team. That part of it is impressive. Somebody had the number, I don't know exactly what it was, but they said 60 different guys have played in games for us. That's a lot of guys, but I know that on Sundays we play a lot of people. When we win a game, I think everyone feels that they were part of it and that's a great team feeling."
Is it even more important this time of year to have a guy like Malcom step up when you're playing good teams that can take other guys away?
"There is another guy that's in the mix and I think Malcom has been that guy and people know that getting ready for us, that we do have balance. I think when you visually see it on tape and you say, ‘Wow, here are the things they do with this guy,' it's something else you have to prepare for it."
What are the expectations within the organization?
"I think everyone knows what we want to accomplish. That's been from the start, but I'm not going to get ahead of myself and I'm not going to let my guys get ahead of themselves. We talked about it last night in the locker room: in this league, if you want to do something, you have to go earn it. That's been a great lesson learned by a lot of people in our organization. There have been times obviously in the past where people pick you and it's a foregone conclusion in someone's mind. It is not a foregone conclusion in anyone's mind. We know that we're going to play an awfully good football team and we're going to have to play at our best to move to the next round of the playoffs."
But do you feel confident in the next round considering who you might play?
"As I said, we're going to play a real good team and teams have different scenarios that affect them. If someone told me that we were going to go through the season with Mruczkowski at center and Vasquez at right guard and Dombrowski at right tackle and we're going to win a number of games in a row with those guys, I might have been a little skeptical. I don't think because someone is hurt or someone has had a change based on injury that you expect to get anything different."
How do you explain playoff football to your young players?
"That's one thing this team has. Our guys, our core guys and they'll help the young guys in the preparation, but we have a lot of guys who have not only played in the playoffs but have won games and won close games. We won the overtime game last year in the playoffs. We had a great win in Indy two years ago in the playoffs. They've experience that and they've experienced the other side of it. I do know that our guys understand that it can end real fast if you don't go out and do the things you're capable of doing."
What did you take away from your Super Bowl experiences with Dallas that you might be applying right now?
"It's so different and it was a long time ago. I went to two (Super Bowls with the Cowboys). With the Rams we went to two championship games. I've been to a championship game here two years ago. To me, what I just said, you've got high expectations and you want to go out and be the best team but you've got to go out and earn it. It's a one-game-at-a-time deal and as I said it can end fast."
How much of an edge over the other teams is your team's playoff experience?
"I don't know that it's an edge over the other teams, but certainly it's a great feeling to know that you've got guys who have been in the playoffs, have experienced the playoffs and had success in the playoffs."
Do you deserve to be in the Coach of the Year conversation, as a reflection of the team as much as you?
"Those things…it's not a big issue for me. I'm glad that Philip's name has been brought up over the last two or three weeks regarding MVP, but I don't think that's an issue for him. I know that we've put ourselves in this position and we want to go make the most of it."
Will Dombrowski remain your starting right tackle?
"Dombrowski is the starting right tackle and I'm very impressed with the way he's played. I'm glad that Jon Runyan got to play. He played about 40 snaps yesterday. Dombrowski went over and played left tackle those 40 snaps and I was impressed with the way he made the adjustment to left tackle. It just gives you a good feeling to know that if we had an issue that we are in good shape in all our positions. If we had someone have to come out of a game, I'm confident that we could go in at any of the five offensive line positions and handle anything that might come up."
How has Runyan handled not moving into the starting lineup?
"Jon has been great. Jon is a pro and I think he's enjoying being part of this team. Playing yesterday, playing the week before gets you to feel more of a part of it. He's fit in great with our offensive line and he's helped Dombrowski a great deal."
Who replaces Holt on special teams?
"We've got a number of guys and we've had some guys who have not been able to be up, whether it be at different times Marques Harris, who was not active a couple weeks. C.J. Spillman was not active for a number of games but played yesterday and was outstanding on special teams. We'll make that decision as we go through."
You mentioned maybe shortening practice to keep guys sharp. How do you do that?
"It's really not significant. It is to them because it's numbers of reps where in a drill we normally do 12 plays but we might cut it to nine. If you do that in five different periods, you take out 15 plays of a normal practice. Again, it's about what we talked about earlier: mentally being sharp and physically making sure we take advantage of this week."
Has your heightened execution in practice translated to games?
"Absolutely. It's just the confidence you have. Games are different. You've got to go beat someone who is talented and you've got to block them and do whatever those things are. There's no question if you practice fast and that's your normal tempo then you make that adjustment to games on Sundays much easier."
Do you expect Shawne Merriman to be 100 percent?
"I don't know that he'll be 100 percent, but I know that this week will help him greatly and I hope there are some things he can do (in practice) if we're working a pass-rush period, if we're working a third-down period. I hope he's able to get some reps, but I would expect him to be the healthiest he's been in quite a while."
What were your impressions of the Jets last night?
"When you play defense and run the ball and give a lot of different looks like they do… Obviously they were impressive in the game and it'll be a real good game next week."