HEAD COACH LOVIE SMITH
"When you're disappointed with where you are in the football season, you have to really search for somethings that are positive. Looking at that game yesterday, I understand we lost. We haven't won a game in four, I understand all that. To be down 27 to 7 and to come back, a period of time in the second half, where we got ourselves in position to take the lead, that's saying an awful lot. We're going to hopefully build on that. To get ourselves in that position though, we didn't start fast. The interception on the offensive side of the ball, but still getting them in third-and-long defensively and jumping offsides, having a third-and-short and giving up a touchdown pass, that put us on our heals right away and we didn't handle the first quarter the way we needed to. There are some positive things. We've talked a lot about Dameon Pierce. For him to have that type of game, breakout game, we've been waiting for that. For that to happen our offensive line and everybody responsible for blocking has to do their job. It was good for him to show that last part of his game, breakaway speed. I thought passing game-wise, we had our moments. Of course, we got Brandin Cooks a lot more involved. Nico Collins made plays. To be able to get our tight ends in the game and get them action, it still wasn't enough. Defensively, it was our worse game we played on the season, defensively. I don't think we've given up over than 20 points before that game, 23 I guess. Third down conversions, we didn't take the ball away, explosive plays, it just wasn't a good day for us defensively. You can't win games if you play that type of defense and we don't plan on that happening again. Special teams, I thought for the most part we did some good things. That takeaway late, that cause fumble, gave us momentum to give us a chance. Injury-wise, we had a few like you have normally. Injuries are part of it. This time in the season, you can start getting guys back. We'll talk on that a little bit later on in the week."
On film, what did you see when QB Davis Mills led the touchdown drive to WR Brandin Cooks?
"I saw some positive throughout. As I said, we're down 27-7, we stacked a couple good drives together and had an opportunity on that next one. What did I see from him in the pocket? Poised, standing up strong, making the plays. We had our opportunities. It gets lost a little bit when you lose, but that's how it went."
With the recent communication breakdowns, are you at a point where you might look for other players?
"We evaluate, as far as personnel, each time we play. That evaluation is always going. You can always plug somebody and give someone a little less, someone a little more. It was more than just personnel. There were some communication breakdowns. We had a couple wide-open guys, things like that. That shouldn't happen in those situations. That really hurt us."
What is your overall philosophy on how to handle pre-snap motions?
"We have basic adjustments that everybody in the league has. It's no different than that. They move a guy, you move a guy. It's pretty simple. Do you have to adjust every time motion happens? Yes, like everybody else. We do it the same way. Without going over everything, you have different adjustments you use for different coverages and different defenses you use. It has nothing to do with some of the things that we're screwing up on right now."
Is there an execution part of that that needs to improve?
"Absolutely. Most of the time there's something going wrong, it's about execution. Everything we do is sound, so it is execution."
What's the reason the team was better in the third quarter than other portions of the game?
"I don't think you can just say one thing. When things are going well, first it starts upfront, protection. Protection was good there. Play-wise, we had a little success running and passing the ball, which is just running our offense the correct way. Normally, when you see positive things happening, special teams, offensive, defensive, that's pretty much what it is. All three phases as we talk about them, there are moments when it has a look that's right. That's how, eventually, we want to be able to do that and just be consistently good doing those things. That's what's happening right now. That consistency that we're looking for hasn't always been there in critical moments."
Did you feel like the offensive line had good protection for the most part apart from some communication breakdowns and penalties?
"Once we get those solved, then we'll see that win in the win column. It isn't consistently good, that's it. Just consistency throughout is what we haven't had. The reasons for that, concentration, discipline, all of the above. Just not quite there yet, but at the same time, as you look at that football game, that's a good football team we played too. We had an opportunity. All of the things we talked about, fourth quarter, we had the ball to take the lead. I know we've talked close an awful lot, but that's reality. Fourth quarter, with the ball to take the lead, based on everything else that happened. That's why we all should be anxious to get back into the AFC South playing ball with another opportunity that's in front of us. Things are happening for the most part, we see improvement. Except for what we did defensively, we've seen improvements with everything we've been doing."
Has there been conversations to make a change at the quarterback position?
"We're not making a change at the quarterback position. The things we've talked about is with Davis (Mills) leading us and whatever Davis (Mills) and everyone, coaches, what we all need to do better. Did I just tell you we were in the fourth quarter? Do you know who our quarterback was that led us in position to take the lead there at the end? Davis Mills. He's our quarterback."
Does the upcoming bye week factor into your decisions surrounding guys on the reserve/injured list?
"We definitely take all of that into consideration. On some of the guys coming back from IR, there's a period of time before they could come back. That's not to say they aren't ready to go right now or they haven't been ready. Yes, we take all of that into consideration. If we think it would help a guy to take a few more weeks off, but they're ready to go, we're going to go with it. Yes, we do take that into consideration. We understand when our bye is coming up."
What do you need to see from RB Dameon Pierce to have him on the field in high leverage situations?
"Late in the game, you're talking about the fourth down play? We're going to play more than one running back. Some plays he's not going to be out there. It so happened a few of the plays have been big plays and we didn't handle those right. Dameon (Pierce) on the fourth down play that you're alluding to had nothing to do with the tailback there. We busted an assignment on the line of scrimmage to have a guy go free. As I said on that play yesterday, that was a pass play that the quarterback could possibly even keep the ball on. It had nothing to do with our tailback on that moment right there. I think we've got Dameon (Pierce) involved enough for him to have an impact on the game yesterday. Would you say that? I would."
The plan was to have Chargers OLB Khalil Mack blocked on that play, right?
"That's what I said. It was a breakdown in a blocking assignment on that play to leave Khalil (Mack) free on that play, yes."
Do you think some of QB Davis Mills' miscues in the first half put you guys behind in the game?
"To answer your question, yes. Offensive line, most of the offense, yes. All of the defense, yes. And some of the special teams. All of us. Our coaching wasn't up to par on stuff to get us in that position. Yes, all of the above. Just not the one guy. In the end, on how we got the ball back kind of started with him (Davis Mills), yes."
What happened on the last play of the game when you ended up running the ball?
"Game was over at the end of the game. In the end, we decided to get out of it and go from there."
What is your through process behind bringing somebody back from the reserve/injured list?
"It's pretty simple. Are you healthy? Are you ready to go? We think you can help us win. We're going to go with it. It's kind of simple as that really. Like right now, the guys that we went with in every situation we're going with the best person that we think can do the job right then. As you add guys to that mix, we start evaluating them. Most of the guys that we're talking about coming back from the list that contributed to us, and a lot of them are kind of our guys. As soon as we think they're physically ready to go, we're going to try and get them in the mix as soon as possible. Some of the guys haven't played. Christian Harris has never played for us and someone like Tavierre Thomas and Mario Addison, some of them, they're kind of in different phases for us with what they've done for us. We'll take all of that into consideration."
What does it mean to have OL Kenyon Green own up to his miscommunication in yesterday's game?
"First off, he's a special man and is going to be an outstanding player, but he gets it. I would like to think all of us based on what's happened around here, all four games and yesterday we're saying, 'hey, I need to do a better job.' That doesn't surprise me and that what I think he's seen from the guys that have been around here a while. When things don't go well, we all have a say in that. Just like when we start winning, I hope that all those guys acknowledge what they've done to help us win too."
You said it was your worse performance defensively. What are some of the keys to fixing that?
"When we say fixing, I don't think we played really bad defense like that. The points have been down, we've been kind of taking the ball away, we've been pretty good on third downs. We haven't played the run as well as we've needed to but yesterday was different. Critical moments, we had a few breakdowns but we just didn't make some plays that we had an opportunity to. We had interception early in the game. We had a chance. That could've given us momentum going a different way. Some of the runs we had, there was a third-and-1 and missed a tackle in the backfield. There are some critical moments like that eventually we're going to stand up and make plays during that time. We didn't do that. Then it still came down to, there's one drive. In the second half, the first three (drives) we played good ball, good defensive football. I think the first three drives of the second half. But the one drive when we needed to make a play, we let them convert on fourth down and they were able to score on that one. There are all things of course we can point out and we all kind of know what happened a little bit, but these things can be corrected."
How frustrating is it to be in those late game situations and not have a win right now?
"It's frustrating. That's our record. We own that. As I see it, at the end of the season it would really be tough. As I see it right now, we've been in every game. We've had an opportunity. Glass half full, that's what you're looking at, opportunities right up until in different ways. A team has to go through a lot of things. We've had a lead and yesterday having to come from behind against a good opponent to see that we're learning things about ourselves. I understand the NFL is not forever. I think we're close enough to where we can get over the hump just based on all of the things that we saw. There were a lot of good things that we saw. We talked about the running game going. We'll get the defense to where they need to be. A lot of positive things that we have seen are going to get us over the hump."
On the fourth-and-2 play that the Chargers were able to convert, was that the safety or the linebacker's fault?
"You can figure that. We didn't communicate it the right way. It's the same play we missed on fourth down. It was the same play they hit there at the end. One converted it on their fourth-and-2. Our fourth-and-1, different formations, same play, we just didn't play it the proper way."
On that play, who had RB Austin Ekeler?
"I'm just telling you, we didn't play it the proper way with our coverage."
In what ways does blitzing QB Davis Mills make it more difficult for your offense?
"I thought we had our chances yesterday with that, all that they did. You look at our production offensively, we ended up with 24 points. They blitzed us yesterday, 24 points. We missed a field goal, 27. There's a couple other, if we just had given Davis (Mills) a little more time we could've. I thought in the end even though teams are blitzing, they're going to blitz us an awful lot, it's just a part of what we're going to deal with. I thought for the most part we saw signs of what we can be with the passing game too."
Have you and OC Pep Hamilton talked about the usage between RB Dameon Pierce and RB Rex Burkhead?
"Pep (Hamilton) and I talk about everything always. Again, that had nothing to do with what happened. We have a plan that we feel good about the plan. We felt good about the plan with Rex (Burkhead) being in on that down if we had blocked the other guy. We felt good about that play then. Rex has a purpose. He scored yesterday too, right? Were we supposed to have Dameon (Pierce) in there then or was it okay to put Rex in there then?"
In short yardage situations will you use RB Dameon Pierce more often then?
"I'm just saying, when we have Rex (Burkhead) out there is when we think we need to have Rex out there for what we have called in that situation. I think if we had executed that play in the proper way we wouldn't be talking about this right now."