HEAD COACH LOVIE SMITH
"When you play a couple of games and when you don't win one-score games at the end, it's frustrating, disappointing, but you go back to work. You look at all the things that you can do to try to get over the hump as much as anything. That's what we've been doing. Had another opportunity yesterday we let slip by. Hostile environment on the road. We're in there with them, but again, we didn't make some plays that we need to. They scored a touchdown. We didn't. We had an opportunity to score, one great opportunity to score a touchdown. We didn't, they did. It's kind of as simple as that. Offensively, I talked about getting Dameon (Pierce) more involved. We got him more involved and that'll continue. I thought he ran hard, did some good things. Our passing game, we still haven't accomplished what we've been setting out to do with it. We felt like we had opportunities for that. Defensive side of the ball, I thought the guys played hard. Whenever you only take the ball away one time, you need more. The one time we did take away was a great play by Christian Kirksey. Offensive side of the football, we didn't do a good job on third down, keeping drives going. Defensively, we played a lot better in third down situations. Eventually, they determine a winner by the score. We've got to score more points, it's as simple as that. Injury-wise, I think I talked about Kevin Pierre-Louis a little bit yesterday. He didn't finish the game. We continue to evaluate him. Like I mentioned Brevin Jordan, yesterday same thing with him. We'll let you know about them a little bit later on."
What are your evaluations on QB Jeff Driskel's performance?
"I think every time he's gotten in the game, preseason, the two regular season games, limited amount of action, he's given us a spark. That's exactly why we inserted him into the game is what we've gotten from him. We like what he's done."
When you were building the offense with QB Davis Mills in mind, what were you identifying as his strength?
"It's pretty hard to go with a strength. We talked about Davis (Mills) enough without me going over his strength. What we would like to get accomplished in our passing game is just production. When we have opportunities to catch the ball, we had a few drops. Get the running game going, get those one-on-one matchups. That's what we're trying to do. How we envision it is that. A running football team will get opportunities to make some big plays in the passing game. We're going to do that. We're not getting off with the bus, passing the football. We want to be a running team as far as that concern."
Are the missed opportunities coming from the quarterback or the wide receivers?
"Whenever you see something like that going on, most times it's a combination of both. Receiver can run a better route. Maybe protection could be a little bit better. Our throw could be a little bit better. Without going over each specific one that fell a little short or didn't happen the way we like, most of the time it's that combination of all."
Do you anticipate OL Scott Quessenberry to be the center?
"Yes. Scott's (Quessenberry) our backup center. It's like it with all the groups. If your starter can't go for whatever reason, it's the backups time to step into a starting role. I thought Scott Quessenberry did an excellent job in his first action. We didn't feel like we missed a beat as far as player that hadn't gotten a whole lot of reps, stepping up and giving us a great chance."
What did you see out of DB Derek Stingley Jr.?
"Every young player has to get put in some preseason we took our time with him coming off a major injury, we've steadily increased his load a little bit. Part of that continuing to increase his load was to put him in positions that we did yesterday. Matching him up a lot of the times, putting him in tough situations. I though he competed well. When you're a cornerback and you press, one-on-one situation is a lot. You're going to win some of the battles. Some of them you aren't going to play as well. It is how you respond. He competed hard. He tackled well. He made some plays and we're excited about that growth continuing. I talked about Derek (Stingley Jr.), Jalen Pitre, same thing. Kenyon Green started yesterday for the first time, played well also. Thomas Booker got reps yesterday. A lot of our younger players are getting good time and the time is warranted based on their play."
What do you point to as the reason that you're being outscored in the fourth quarter?
"We're working on it. I wish I could just say this is what it is. Believe me, we would have taken care of that before that last game. I know the guys are competing hard. We haven't made some plays. Sometimes it's just that. The opportunities we just haven't handled some of those situations well, well aware of that though on how we started. We've been in games throughout but just haven't been able to finish it. I talked about the improvement you normally make from Week 1 to 2, we made some. Now, I'm excited about Week 2 to 3, to see if we can clean up some of those things and finish better."
Were you encouraged by the way your defense has performed in the redzone?
"Yes, very encouraged by it. It comes down to scoring. When you get down to the redzone, one of our goals is when teams get down there, is to make them at least kick field goals. I think yesterday we were 0-for-2, which is good. We played great redzone defense the first game also. There are some bright moments defensively as we talked to the guys. Played two games, we've given up three touchdowns. That's hard to do. Point-wise, the numbers are down and eventually we'll start scoring more points on the other side."
Will OL Justin Britt be back this week?
"I don't know that yet. We'll let you know when we know that for sure. Again, when things change, last week I told you he's not playing, right now it's the first day (this week). You know what we've been doing all day, since getting off the plane? Watching that last video. We'll see how the rest of the week plays out."
Did some of the miscommunication from last week get fixed for this week?
"That's an easy one. Yes. Some did. All didn't. That goes along with not being able to close out games. When we're rolling and winning a whole lot of games, there's going to be communication problems there. That's just the base part of the game that you go through. You want to keep it to a minimum. Some of them I would say yes. There's just some things we need to clean up."
What does production look like to you?
"What it looked like is just improvement in every area. Offensively, it starts with just points scored. It's pretty simple. We have to score points. We haven't scored touchdowns. You're not going to win many games when you don't score a touchdown. We didn't score a touchdown yesterday. That improvement for them. Defensive side of the football, don't like the way we tackled late. There are opportunities that you left out on the football field. We evaluate each group and normally when you lose, really when you win also, every area you can improve. I think a lot of areas we improved from game one. I'm excited about what we can possibly do this week."
What have you seen from WR Nico Collins through two games?
"Nico (Collins) is a big target. As you identify some of the things, after the fact, I thought Nico (Collins) did some good things when we featured him. As we look at it, big target. When we do go to him, it seems like he's been a play maker. That's one of the areas that yes, we need to be able to get Nico (Collins) more involved, when we're passing the football."
Does this game against Chicago mean more to you? How do you see your defense stopping RB David Montgomery and RB Khalil Herbert?
"Going back, I spent a lot of time in Chicago, some great years. But it's game three as I see it. There's an opponent on the other side. Their running attack against the Packers last night, they didn't get everything going the way that they wanted. Running game-wise, they were able to get the running game going, featuring both of the backs that you mentioned. That will be challenge for us. We haven't played the run as well as we would like. That's definitely an area that well be looking to improve upon."
After having the opportunity to win the game late two weeks in a row, what are your assessments?
"As you mention, to have a chance to win the game late, it's just a few plays here and there. We had the ball first-and-goal on the four, correct? We've got to be able to score a touchdown in that situation. Davis (Mills) is our quarterback. You go throughout, it seems like every drive there's something we say that eventually when we get it right, we can get over the hump with that play. I understand it starts with the quarterback, but there's so much more, protection. Maybe the area that I've been most disappointed in is the amount of penalties that we had. Defense did a lot of good things. But jumping, pre-snap penalties, you have to be able to get rid of that. We had too many. Of course, they had more than we did. We had too many. That happens before you get to those situations where you need to make one play, stopping ourselves in a lot of things."
With DB Jonathan Owens leading the league in tackles, does that speak more to his performance or is that more of an indictment on the front seven?
"I don't know about indictment on the front seven. Is he a good football player? Yes, I can talk on that. All 11 guys need to be able to make plays and our free safety is involved. I'll just say, when we've needed him to make a tackle, he has. I like his play. He and Jalen Pitre have both settled in at their right position. Jonathan (Owens) is another young player that should only get better. If we talk about all the young guys, they are getting better. Each week you want to eliminate just a few things that we're not doing right."
What are your thoughts on DL Rasheem Green?
"Rasheem (Green) did some very good things. Of course, you notice the flash plays, the big sack, trying to get the football out. His play against the run was pretty good. There's a reason why he's been in the mix. He is a good football player. Again, it will be a big challenge this week, but we like what he was able to do. For the most part, the line did some good things. We're just going to talk about some of the pre-snap penalties."
Can you talk about OL Kenyon Green?
"It seems like every time, I've talked about some of the flash plays that he's made. We've seen signs but I thought yesterday, gave him the reigns, start, go with it. I thought he was physical. He did some good things in pass protection. He was having fun doing it. After the game, already talking about what he needs to improve upon. He's going to help us win a lot of games. He's one of our guys. He's a good football player. Excited about the growth he's going to make. He's going to be better this week than he was this past (week)."
On the third-and-16 play, can you explain what was supposed to happen?
"Cover 2. We get reroutes on receivers. We have half field back behind they hit a spot in between, we didn't play the coverage the way it should. That's not a play that we should give up in that situation. A lot of times with cover 2, you put a guy short and a guy deep. In that situation third-and-16, we moved them back. That's not a play that should have happened. One of the major disappointments I'll say from that game was that play."