Opening statement: "OK, good to see everybody here; I appreciate you being here. I had a chance to, obviously, last night and then this morning, all of us to study, dig into the game and just assess what you see. You do get a much better feel for it when you look at the tape. So, after having studied it, really what I come away with – and this is having done this a long time and being in these kinds of situations many times before in seasons – we understand exactly what we can be as a football team. When you watch the tape, so many things are on there that express where we're going and where we can get. I think a lot of times, these types of circumstances, these challenges, the way we've lost games – three of our games have kind of been in kind of the same vein, yet different types of circumstances – you learn from those things. I'm really confident that our guys are going to take to heart the lessons – coaches and players – and these are the things that are going to forge us going forward and are going to make us the team that we can become. It's very obvious to me, when you watch the tape, all the players [and] all the coaches, what we're capable of. You have to get there somehow, someway, and sometimes it's through adversity. Almost all of the circumstances are self-inflicted. These are all things that are very, very correctable. You chase a lot of different details in football, and some of the things we were challenged with over the first few weeks of the season have been corrected and cleaned up. There's a lot of areas that we're playing much better at than we did earlier in the year. So, I know we're going to just attack it the same way we have; we're going to keep pounding the rock, and that rock's going to crack. We're going to get on a roll. I say we do it as soon as possible – let's go. Let's have a sense of urgency. I know our players feel the same way, and that's how we'll be approaching it this week."
What needs to be done to correct these things in the fourth quarter? _(Jamison Hensley) _"You go to work at practice. It's example; you take it by case-by-case, situationally. The jumping offsides on a move call; that just shouldn't happen. We work on that. That's something we practice; our defense does it, we practice it every week. It was one of those things that was really surprising; that's not something you expect to have happen. We overcame it a few times, too. We had some great blocking on our offensive line, run game and pass protection. We did a lot of good things, but that's the type of thing that I think the fact that it happened to us in this game is going to make us evermore determined and aware of it, and it shouldn't happen again. You might get them once every couple weeks, but it shouldn't be something that happens four or five times in a game."
On Giants TE Daniel Bellinger's touchdown, there seemed to be another communication issue in the secondary. Was that the case? _(Todd Karpovich) _"We just didn't play the coverage right. The coverage was misplayed underneath. So, it's a boot pass [and] the way we play it, it wasn't matched correctly. It's just something that we practice all the time; we should be better at it. It was a mistake. We can get that cleaned up and fixed. There are going to be things in the game on both sides, there are mistakes that get made that get taken advantage of. Football's not perfect. Guys match with the wrong guy sometimes, their eyes are in the wrong spot sometimes, sometimes they overplay something and something else comes in behind them … That's the nature of the game. Sometimes you pay for it, and sometimes you don't; sometimes they pay for it, and sometimes they don't. In that case, we can play that coverage better. We'll just keep working on it."
With the illegal formation penalty on the quarterback sneak, is there any insight on what happened on that play? _(Luke Jones) _"A head coach looks at it and says, 'How can that happen on a basic offensive play?' That's still the one that I'm really reeling over; that's the one that's really churning me up. We get that done, there's a high chance we go win that football game. So, it's not acceptable. It is explainable when you dig in and you see the chain of events that happened, in terms of how we lined up, and then someone tries to make up for how someone else lines up. A mistake gets made, someone tries to correct it, that's really another mistake, and then we don't finally fix it in the simple way that it's taught to be fixed when something like that happens, and you have a terrible error. There's no way that should happen; that's one that I'm not probably going to get over, but ultimately, it's my responsibility. I'm the head coach; I'm responsible for all that stuff. So, I see it and I have to get it right, have to get it fixed. It can't happen, and that's not OK. Our guys feel the same way about it."
On the errant snap that led to QB Lamar Jackson's late interception, is that something that you go through situationally and coach what to do when that happens? _(Kyle Barber) _"The basic rule that Lamar [Jackson] would tell you, and any player would tell you in that situation, is that you try not to make a bad situation worse. That's always the basic coaching point; any coach would probably tell you that in any sport. Many times, you'll see that Lamar will come out of that, and he'll go make a play. So, I have to balance that a little bit because of the unique quarterback that we have, but that's definitely one that he's going to want back, there's no doubt about it. He's responsible about that stuff, [and] Tyler [Linderbaum]'s the center. We've had a few of those this year on the road, with silent cadence where we've had the snap at the wrong time. He's in his what, sixth game now? So, he just has to keep working on that and clean that stuff up and he will. It doesn't make it OK; [I'm] not excusing, it kind of makes you … Just it hurts, but I'm also confident in him and his work ethic that he'll clean that stuff up as well."
Do you think that at times QB Lamar Jackson is maybe trying to do too much and that leads to errors? _(Jamison Hensley) _"You can describe it that way probably, and in that situation it's probably a really apt description."
Do you feel better about having to fix self-inflicted wounds rather than fixing problems that opponents are giving you? _(Cordell Woodland) _"It's such a great question, because half of it makes you feel better about it, because you know you can get it cleaned up, and half of it makes you feel worse about it, because it's like, 'Why didn't we have it already cleaned up?' We're in a place in our development right now as a team where there are a number of moving parts, and there are growing pains that we're just having. I've never been one to say, 'Oh, we're a young team,' and all that, but there's truth to that. The way we're playing man coverage, sometimes young guys, it's a new situation for them; a route runs away from them and it's the first time they've seen it in the NFL. It comes open, and it's a third-down conversion, where a more veteran player has had that route beat him before in the NFL. As a coach, I just really have to do a good job of being understanding, but not accepting of those types of things. So, once it happens, it has to not happen again, and we're trying to chase things ahead of time as much as we can too in practice to make sure they don't happen. We've done that; guys made a lot of good plays yesterday. Defensively, numbers-wise, it's our best defensive game. Offensively, we did a lot of good things on offense, but we have to get better in the red zone, both sides of the ball. We have to get better on third down, both sides of the ball. We can't make critical errors in critical fourth-down situations, both sides of the ball if we want to win games, and we do want to win games, and we are going to get that stuff right. You have to be forged a little bit, and we're getting forged right now, that's for sure."
DT Travis Jones had a much bigger role yesterday and was productive. Did you feel he took a step forward yesterday? (Childs Walker) _"Yes, I really do. I said something to him during the week. We were talking about something, and I said … He had said, 'How are you doing?' Or something, and I said, 'Well, you know what's going to make me happy?' And he said, 'Me dominating?' And I'm like, 'Exactly. We're on the same page.' _(laughter)He's a great guy, and he wants to be good, and he did that. He was using his hands, knocking people off the ball. That was what he wanted to do in this game, especially with the run, and he did it. He did a good job; other things he can fix for sure, but he made a big step."
T Ronnie Stanley played the entire game after the third series when OL Patrick Mekari was needed on the right side to replace T Morgan Moses. What was that conversation like when you needed him to play that game, and how did you assess how he did? _(Kyle Barber) _"He did really well. Ronnie [Stanley] played an excellent game. Pat [Mekari] played a really good game on the right side, too, but that was just Ronnie wanting to go in there and do it. That's how he felt about it, and when that happened, he said, 'Hey, I'm doing it. I'm going to go do it.' I'm not surprised; I wouldn't say I expected it, but I wasn't surprised at all when I saw him saying he was going back out there. Ronnie had a really excellent game; he played good football. The whole offensive line really played well. There are things to clean up, like we talked about, but generally speaking, we're blocking people very well."
RB Kenyan Drake had a breakout game yesterday, and now you have RB Gus Edwards coming back, RB Justice Hill coming back and RB J.K. Dobbins. You must be pretty happy with your depth at running back, so will it be a good challenge to figure out how to get guys carries? _(Todd Karpovich) _"Yes, that's a really good problem to have. It's better than the other problem that we've been looking at for a while. So, I feel like our offensive line is doing a really good job of blocking the run, and our guys are running the ball. J.K. [Dobbins]' knee tightened up yesterday on him; he just didn't feel like he had that explosiveness in the second half. I think he might've landed on it at some point, but Kenyan [Drake] stepped up and did a great job. Mike [Davis] didn't get the ball, but he did a really good job on the plays he was in in terms of he had some blocking responsibilities. The opportunity that Kenyan started was there, and once you get him started and heading downhill, he's really effective. He has some speed and some explosiveness. It's positive. We're looking at Gus [Edwards]; Gus is in the mix. We'll see about this week; possibly, maybe next week, maybe Thursday [Night Football], somewhere in there. And J.K., get his knee loosened up again, and he'll be there, and Justice [Hill] coming back soon. It's a good thing."
Just to clarify on RB J.K. Dobbins, does he have to get any tests or anything like that? Or is it more just soreness and his response to the turf? _(Luke Jones) _"Yes, I just think it's just part of the … That knee is not going to be like, all of a sudden, 'OK, now it's healthy.' This is a process. You saw it last year. I mean, we saw it with [Saquon] Barkley, and look at him now. So, I just feel like J.K. [Dobbins] is pushing as hard as he can to get through it. He's a really good back right now, no question, and he's only going to get better, and he's going to get back to being – and better – than he's ever been before soon. What that timeframe is; it just depends."
On a bigger picture, with how well you guys ran the ball, there's been some criticism about why you're passing more than running when guys are ripping off eight and nine yards per carry. What do you make of the split that unfolded yesterday? _(Jonas Shaffer) _"I think that's always the question. It's a great question. You complete the pass and people aren't really saying you should've run it. And as a play-caller … I've never been an offensive play-caller, but I've known a few, and I listen to them a lot in the headsets. And every now and then I throw a suggestion out there, and they ignore me – that's OK. Sometimes they listen, but … You've got to kind of look at what you're facing. And you do run the ball down there, but all of a sudden, that box starts to stack up a little bit, and people make determinations from their gameplan standpoint that they're not going to let you run the ball down there – inside the 15-yard line or the 10-yard line or wherever they decide that they're not going to allow you to run the ball at all costs – and you can still run it, and you can still try to run it and smash it up in there, and you might pop it, you might get it, or you might say, 'You know what? I can throw against this, and I'm going to set them up and throw.' We've gone down to the 1-yard line and run it down there and not gotten it in, as you know – and why didn't we throw it? So, I just think that, yes, you accept that, and you look at it, and you say, 'Well, maybe we could've done something different,' but also, we could've executed the pass game a little better and scored, and we wouldn't be having this conversation. So, I'm not afraid to throw the ball down there just because we've been running the ball well; or we're not afraid to keep running, even into heavy fronts, either. But I think a play-caller has to make those decisions."
Are there parts of your passing game that are not available to you if WR Rashod Bateman is not out there? Or is that the wrong way to think about it, I guess? _(Childs Walker) _"I guess, I wouldn't think about it like that. There are always certain things that certain guys do better, and you try to put players into positions [for] the things they do well, but most of the guys can run the concepts. There are always concepts. We're not losing any concepts because he's not out there, but it's one less really good player out there affecting the defense."
Is there any update on WR Rashod Bateman? It's been a couple week's now. I know, initially, you had said you thought he was day-to-day. _(Luke Jones) _"Yes, it turned out to be a sprain in the foot that … I'm going to tell you – but you guys are going to say, 'Yeah, you always say that…' He's [Rashod Bateman] close, he's close. We're close on a lot of guys. I'm looking forward to all those guys being back. But we'll be talking about him this week; we'll be talking about him on Thursday."
Any update on T Morgan Moses? _(Shawn Stepner) _"Yes, Morgan [Moses] – it's not a serious injury. He could have come back and played in the game; we decided – I did and the training staff kind of agreed – to make sure that we played it safe with him. I expect him to be practicing at some point in time this week, and we'll see how he is for Sunday."
Was part of the determination on T Morgan Moses due to the turf at MetLife Stadium? _(Kyle Barber) _"All things factor in, in those kinds of situations."
What have you seen from ILB Malik Harrison? It seems like he's put together some good performances, and just the versatility he's offered you guys, playing more at SAM, since you've had a need there with OLB Tyus Bowser being out. _(Luke Jones) _"Right, it's a really good observation. He [Malik Harrison] played three positions for us. He played SAM, he played MIKE, and he played DIME – the DIME-backer – and did a really good job on all three areas. I can remember one play that I'm going to probably say something to him about, and the rest of it, he was excellent. So, it was a good step. He's been up most of the season. He's had a couple [down] games, but most of the season he's played really well, and a guy like that continues to merit more playing time."
Yesterday, CB Marlon Humphrey really didn't say much to us after the game, and he kept repeating that he wanted to watch film. And then later, he put out this Tweet about insanity being when you do things over and over again, expecting the same results. It was kind of cryptic. Have you talked to him about it and asked him what that was about? (Jamison Hensley) _"No, I haven't. PR [public relations] sent it to me. But I looked at it and went, 'Hmm, OK.' _(laughter)I'm sure if he wants me to understand it, he will. But we've given up leads in the fourth quarter [in] three different games. That's not something that I've ever experienced, and that's something that keeps happening. We've got to get it fixed. We have to get it cleaned up. It's all of us. Like I told the guys in the locker room, it's us, it's us – nobody else. Fans can't do it; media can't do it; we have to do it. It's our job to get it done, and I'd say we've got just the right men for the job. I'm confident that we're going to get it done."
Is there a broader message to finishing? What is finishing, and how do you practice finishing? As a coach, how do you handle that, other than honing in on the specific things that didn't go right? _(Ryan Mink) _"Well, that's part of it. And then the other part of it, to me, is like … I think finishing is a habit. So, the idea is that you finish everything – finish everything all the time – and that's kind of the way the program is built, [and] that's the way we built the whole operation. You finish your workout; you finish your film study; in practice, you finish the play; you finish the communication; you finish the call; you finish lunch – that applies. You just have to finish. You have to make it a habit to finish. And it's not easy, because the other team is trying to do the same thing. It's not like a homework assignment, where it's just me, and I've got to decide that I'm not going to procrastinate, and I'm going to get it done. I've got to get it done while I'm being attacked, when somebody is trying to make sure I can't get it done. That's competition. So, we'll keep fighting. We're 3-3; we're tied for first place, I guess, in our division, if you want to call it that – whatever that means. We control our own destiny, 100%, and we're a really good football team. Maybe it doesn't look that way; maybe people want to say otherwise; I like that, because it gets our guys' attention – it gets all of our attention. But we're capable of – and we plan on – becoming a great football team, and that's our job, [and it's] up to us to get that done."
With the red zone offense, you were saying that defenses could stack the box. Is that what you were seeing on the film, after watching it – that they were stacking it, after having some success in the run game when you were going down the field? _(Kyle Barber) _"Yes. They were [stacking the box in the red zone]. It was a defense determined to stop the run. There's not a lot of room down there. The safeties come this way [closer] on you, so they're not back as far. You can stack the box [and] keep the safeties back, so you don't get beat in play-action on some kind of a deep route, which they did a pretty good job of – a really good job of. But we were able to get a lot of seams, then, behind the backers and a lot of over routes and crossing routes, and those are things that tighten up in the red zone. So, that was the idea. It didn't work out for us, because we didn't make the plays that we needed to make."
You guys started the season just on fire against the blitz, and the past three game have been a little bit more of a mixed bag. Is that just some of the negative regression that you might expect over a long season? There's no question that the pass protection has done well – QB Lamar Jackson hasn't taken a lot of sacks against the blitz – but just some of the accuracy and general explosiveness has fallen off since that fast start. (Jonas Shaffer) _"Yes, I just think that's a reality and something we've just got to keep working on. It's always going to be that way during the season; there's going to be ups and downs, ebbs and flows. But [we'll] keep working on it. I know we're capable of having an explosive offense. We had a pretty explosive offense yesterday, except for points, which comes back to the red zone – either that or you get the ball behind them and score on long plays. People are defending deep passes, if that's kind of what you're referring to. They see that, and they defend them. I'd say this about our defense: Our defense has cleaned that up. That was a big issue early in the year, and we've worked hard on that, and _(knocks on wood)right now, we've cleaned that up. We've got to keep chasing it, because every game is a new game. But I'm proud of our guys for that. So, that's the way it works. It's a long season."
You guys are celebrating the 2012 championship team this weekend. I know you don't like comparisons, but would you ever say to the current team, "Hey, look back at that season. Plenty went wrong over the course of that season, but look how it ended?" _(Childs Walker) _"Yes and no. It's not something I do; some of the guys do. I've heard Josh [Bynes] talk about that; Anthony Levine Sr., Sam Koch – some of the guys that were here – [Justin] Tucker. They mention those kinds of things to the guys every now and then. I don't usually talk about that kind of thing, unless it's a specific story. But it's true of any season, really. We're capable of achieving everything. OK, let's go to work."
WR Devin Duvernay didn't seem to be as involved this week as he was last week. Was there anything specific with that? Was the gameplan this week to kind of build on what you put out there last week? _(Cordell Woodland) _"Yes, it's always going to be [in our] gameplan; there are plays for Devin Duvernay. One of our notes to ourselves was to make sure Devin Duvernay is more involved. So, [he] didn't get involved. It's not that the plays are not there; it's just [that] the ball didn't go there. Maybe sometimes it could have; other times he was covered. So, it worked out that way. But we got him on some swing passes, where he did a nice job, and [he] got one key play to the right, down by their bench. He's a guy that needs to be a big part of what we're doing, for sure."