Now this week, stopping the run again was the major priority because of the fact that they had rushed for 158 yards the week before against the number one defense in the league in Tampa Bay against the run. So, we started with that and we have played good sound, solid football. I think up front the front four has played well. I think yesterday, Reggie Torbor complemented that group and played very physical and very well. The young quarterback that we had to played against yesterday forced us to really be sound in our containment principles and to try and do some things that might confuse in third down situations. Of course, they were trying as hard as they could not to allow that to happen by virtue of some different formations, some different looks on third down. So, we played well. We played aggressively. We've been able to – we had four straight three and outs yesterday, which was really an encouraging start to our game. So, I think we have played very aggressively. Our front four has played well. We've put pressure on the quarterback and we played I think sounder, tighter coverage in the secondary, although there's always one or two plays that seem like we should have been able to do something about it.
Q: Has your defense turned a corner to set you up for the second half of the season?
Well, I don't know that – we had been doing a good job of keeping people off the scoreboard and people had amassed a lot of yards if you will with the passing game. We've just kind of tried to keep working, working, working, and working at getting better at the different things that we've had to improve on and it would be a really nice thing right now if our – one of our themes yesterday was consistency and that was in a couple of areas. One was in the defense obviously coming off the Washington game in being able to line up and repeat that type of a performance and I felt like in giving up 138 yards (of total offense) we were able to establish some consistency.
Q: That tighter coverage you talked about, you had mentioned that last week too, is that because of better play by the secondary or is it a change in an approach?
No, it's both. It's pressure out of the front. It's better and tighter recognition and being able to count on the pressure being on the quarterback and playing a little bit tighter if you will and perhaps a little bit more aggressively. But, still having in mind that we can't afford to give up the big play.
Q: Is there anything different on third down (by your defense)? I think you guys were last in the league a couple of weeks ago and in the last two weeks I think it's five of 26 (conversions) or something for the opponent?
Well, that's been a goal that we set two weeks in a row really. We've aggressively attacked that by challenging our defense with percentage numbers that were way down and that would cause that ‘holy cow' kind of an approach where you would look at it and say, ‘underneath such and such a percentage.' But, we have been unable to go out and do that. Of course, that's the key thing now. You talk about the possession down. If you look at yesterday, there were 46 snaps. There were 52 the week before and it's kind of the way our approach should be. As I look at the game, I look at the special teams snaps. I look at the defense snaps and then weigh in on the offense and I always want the offense to have a considerably higher number of snaps than the defense. And the last couple of weeks it's been that way.
Q: The throw down to Shockey on fourth down, is that something that you would have the confidence to call last year with Eli do you think?
Yeah, there were a couple of options there. The fact that Jeremy came so wide open, that's where the ball went. Would I have put him in that situation a year ago? Probably not on a fourth down call in a very tight football game. But, this is a different situation. So, to advance we did with the idea that it was a run formation and personnel indicated run and we felt we had a shot and we took it.
Q: In talking about consistency, the offense has not been very consistent the last couple of weeks. What's been the problem there?
Well, I think you have to give some credit to the defense. I know that's a difficult thing for us all to do. But, last week – you talk about consistency. Now, I don't know how you can say that 250 some yards rushing is not consistent. And we didn't throw the ball well a week ago. Now yesterday, we took the first drive of the game and went down the field and had to settle for a field goal. None of us were happy about that and then we had some struggles with converting. But, on a couple of occasions yesterday, we mix in a penalty, which I think took away 55 yards and they were both third down plays, which would have kept the ball and would have allowed us to go ahead and do some more things. It's a matter of execution. If you want to add the penalties, then that's what's been happening on offense unfortunately. We had five yesterday and five the week before. So, they are extremely untimely and they do cause you to be put in situations that are very much in favor of the defense in terms of getting you off the field. So, our third down percentage yesterday wasn't as good as I had hoped that it would be. I felt like going in that we had to challenge our people again and talk about 50 percent and we were at 38 percent. But, we had some very makeable ones that we didn't make. We may have picked it up on fourth down on a couple of occasions, but we were still unable to do it on third down. I think again that our protection was good yesterday. We didn't have any sacks. I like that standpoint. The running yardage was very difficult. But hey, Tampa Bay had 43 yards the week before. They are a difficult team to run the ball on. We had some success with the throwing game, although the percentage isn't exactly what you would like to have either. So, we're just continuing to be a work in progress and we definitely have to improve. I was glad to win the game on the road and it was a difficult battle even there in the third quarter. But, we were able to do a couple of things in the fourth quarter and then our defense took control again. In the third quarter, we had the two field goals. We had, in terms of number of plays, a long drive before the half and then we had the interception. Then we had the fourth down touchdown to Jeremy. Then, in the second half, they had the long drive and kicked the field goal. They had an opportunity to come back and do it again and one of the huge plays in the game, which I really haven't had a chance to listen or read too much today, but I don't know how many people are talking about (Chris) Snee's fumble recovery. That was huge. You are talking about a 10-3 score with the ball inside the 20-yard line and they are feeling pretty good about themselves because they have come down and kicked field goals. So, that was a huge play. Plaxico's play at the end of the third quarter was huge because it put us in a position where we knocked the ball in the end zone and rejuvenated our sideline. Our defense went out and got the ball back and we scored again. So, there were some things that occurred that were in very timely fashion.
Q: Brandon Jacobs mentioned yesterday that you spoke to him when he came to the sideline after the second touchdown when he kind of loafed into the end zone. Was it the manner in which he went into the end zone with the dance that sort of got your attention?
Well, again, I see where everyone is making a big deal out of this. First of all, I didn't say what you attribute to? He misunderstood me too. I said, ‘Where did the cutback come from?' That's what I first went to him for. He had cut the ball all the way back and quite frankly, I didn't even notice whatever that was he was doing in the end zone. He and I will have a discussion about that. But, he did get into the end zone. My question was how did you end up cutting the ball back that far? What did you see that forced you to do that? I could see on tape after looking at the film why he did it. But, he's very coachable and he'll do the right thing.
Q: So, you'd rather your players not get involved in those kinds of…?
I don't think it's necessary.
Q: On the fourth down play to Shockey, the week before you kind of lulled the Redskins into thinking you were going to run right and you go left and Tiki has a huge day. Just as a staff, do you feel like this staff is as on top of what other teams are doing and optimizing what you can do against them?
Well, I think that's what we have set out to do each and every week. It doesn't always, as you know, end up that way. But, our plans are very solid. I think we attack personnel very well and I think strategically, we are in position to do that. Sometimes, it doesn't – if it was going to be the way we like it, every play would be a success. It's just not that. But, we also are giving credit where the credit goes. We have some players that are able to make the plays that are strategically being designed for that and then some. I think Plaxico's catch, Shockey's catch, and even Amani's catch was an outstanding catch. Now how do you not call that a touchdown? I mean that's one of the more – but those are the things that Eli with his ability yesterday against a very complex third-down blitz team for our front, our backs, and tight ends to block the way they did and still on a couple of occasions, there's people loose in a …, he makes key plays down the field. I think on Amani's touchdown he had to avoid a guy right in his face and he did that. The same thing on Plaxico's long play. He had a guy hit him immediately after he released the ball. On Jeremy's touchdown, he sidestepped pressure to get the ball in position to be caught. The players are executing and doing the things that they have to do.
Q: Can you update some of the injured players from yesterday? It looked like Shaun Williams had the most serious one?
Well, he has a hamstring, a right hamstring. Kenderick Allen had a quad contusion. Nick Greisen had the hit in the ribs and he was out of the game and did play after that, but he's sore. Hopefully, that will come around by midweek. Jim Finn got dinged and came to a sideline and we held him for a series and he felt pretty good, so the doctors allowed him to go back in.
Q: Since Shaun aggravated the same hamstring, is he not likely to practice and rest a little bit to make sure…?
Well, we'll have to wait and see whatever the determination is. Right now, he feels kind of like he did after he first did it. He can do some things, but he has a little difficulty in a full open stride. So, we'll have to see.
Q: Do you have any expectations on Emmons or Tyree being…?
Well, again, we're going to see what's happening and where they are. It's an extended process here and hopefully we're going to see some progress.
Q: Do you know what you will do if Emmons comes back? You just mentioned how well Torbor played yesterday.
As I have said many times when you asked this question, I'm not as concerned as you are about how they line up. I'm concerned with having the quality football players to be utilized in different circumstances and situations. We would certainly need Carlos back as quickly as we can get him. That gives us one more quality player to again utilize. I'm hoping it's not going to be too awful long before he comes back.
Q: Jeremy is off to the best start of his career and has a lot of touchdowns, catches, and things. Yet, after a lot of games, he seems frustrated that he feels he can do more and the offense can do more. Is that attitude good or too harsh?
When used properly, it can be good. I think we would all like to do better. I think we'd all like to be able to accomplish more and we'd like to all take each and every step and make it such. We're working towards that end and I think it's a very good thing that Jeremy and a lot of guys in that locker room that think they can play better and do better and would like to have that opportunity. And I certainly think that's a positive thing. I think as we move forward and everybody continuously tries to improve and do better, then we'll iron out some of the difficulties that we have.
Q: Is Jim Finn your new secret weapon?
Secret weapon. That was quite a catch he made on a key first down.
Q: What about this game? We've talked about the big playmakers you have on this team and Jim was not usually part of that conversation. What about yesterday had you go to him?
Well, we had instituted some passes that would be utilized in those real tight situations and we had called it a couple of times before – one time before I think – perhaps in a little different formation and weren't able to get the ball there. Of course, it was the ball that just went over (Visanthe) Shiancoe's on the head on the first drive. So, we came back and used it later on and Jeremy had the big catch for the touchdown and we used it one more time and Jim Finn came up with a ball in the flat and made an excellent catch and was able to turn up field and get a first down by being able to walk the tight rope and stay in bounds. So, that was a real good sign and another way in which we can exploit some of that shorter distance offense.
Q: The ball that he (Finn) caught in the end zone that they called incomplete?
I just watched it live and having the officials standing right there, the ball was on the ground. The one official ran in and signaled that he was juggling. He didn't juggle the ball. He just probably secured it off the ground.
Q: There are only four teams in the NFC that are 6-2. Do you allow yourself even a moment's gratification for what you have accomplished?
No, no. I think you constantly are creating exciting scenarios for yourself and your mind as you go forward. I think you certainly learn all you can from the game before and you certainly are excited for our franchise and our players, coaches, and our team for being in the position that we are in. But, we have a long, long way to go and I think everybody knows that. The players know that and our thing is constant improvement and attitude is everything and if we can continue to prepare the way we have shown an ability to do that, I feel good about going forward.
Q: To add to that, do you actively start talking about playoffs at this point with the positioning that…?
No, I think we'll stay with the position we have taken in terms of our division. We have a slight lead in our division and we're going to continue to utilize that as a primary source of motivation for ourselves and for our team.
Q: With Philadelphia coming into town in two weeks, do you keep a little closer tab on what's going on with Terrell Owens?
No, not really. We post every week what the records of the teams in our division are and who they are competing against that particular week.
Q: With the Vikings coming up this week, do you think it will be similar to last week where you have a team who's a little more dangerous than people give them credit for and you'll have to convey that to the players?
I think our players – we've played the Vikings here a couple years in a row here now and twice, it may have even been three times on the road against them. We know that they are a talented group and they certainly did play well and win a game last weekend and I'm sure they felt they had to win under difficult circumstances having the starting quarterback being injured the week before. So, we have great respect for them. We know what is at stake and their win yesterday is certainly something that will catch everyone's eye.