HEAD COACH LOVIE SMITH
"I thought we were in a good frame of mind to start fast and play our better ball that first half. Just tough when you are playing against a good football team and you don't, and you get in a hole like we did. I like the way the team fought back, gave ourselves a chance to win at the end, but we didn't finish. You also need to finish the game, and we didn't finish the game the way we need to. Along the way some good things happened. Of course, Dameon Pierce ran well throughout, so he gave us a spark throughout. But, some of the other things that cause you to lose games, too many pre-snap penalties again. I'm going to talk about those. Passing game-wise, I thought we had a few big plays, but the consistency wasn't there. On the defensive side, the first half, again, we didn't start well. Of course, that was definitely the case. We like to move it up. Big plays in the passing game really hurt us. But, saying all of that, we got ourselves in a position there late. It didn't help missing the field goal early, the fourth down at the end of the half, not converting on it. With all that being said, we had an opportunity late where we were down one score, and we needed to get a stop defensively, and the two big pass plays doomed us. Injury-wise, we had a few guys who went out. Blake Cashman went out, and I don't normally talk about guys who didn't come back in. He is in the concussion protocol."
What have you been seeing from QB Davis Mills and what do you think he needs to do to allow you guys to finish games?
You're right. All eyes are on the quarterback, but there was a lot more. Our offense got us into position, we're one score down. We need to score. We're down three-plus scores, and we came back. In order for that to happen, our quarterback had to hit some passes. He did. Just like the rest of the group, there was a period of time in there when – what does he need to do? We need to protect better. As far as pushing the ball down the football field, I thought at times we did do that, but we're not where we need to be in our passing game, just like we aren't in anything else. That's what I'm going to say about your question."
What have you seen from RB Dameon Pierce in terms of breakaway runs?
"There's a reason why we're starting a rookie running back. Of course, he can run in between the tackles. He can make you miss in open field, but that's the part of his game that we haven't seen. Not many running backs going, what was it, 75 yards or so? In the NFL, that's hard to do. He is just kind of showing you all of the things that he can do. I don't know exactly how many carries he was able to get today, but he is a guy that we need to continue to feature."
Your thoughts on the fourth-and-1 at their 24-yard line in the second quarter that QB Davis Mills got sacked on?
"We need to convert there is my thoughts on it. We could have easily kicked a field goal, but we needed points in that situation. We just didn't execute the right way. Good call by them. The right blitz at the right time, of sacking us, but there was an opportunity for us that we let get away."
What do you take away as a head coach, when you are a few plays away, but you are winless right now?
"One time in you say, 'Hey, we'll get it right.' After four games, we can't talk about being close anymore. But if you watch the game, we talk about a lot of opportunities. It seems like we've done that each game. Not there yet. You know, we're not a good football team yet. Good football teams find a way to win at the end, and we haven't been able to get over that hurdle. But looking at the positive, it was a terrible first half, and we got ourselves in position there late. Other games on how they've seemed like we had to hold on, we're in different position. To come back there, we're able to see an awful lot, but still things that we need to improve upon."
You mentioned after Week 1 that you wanted RB Dameon Pierce to get more touches. Why was he on the sideline in the fourth-and-1 situation?
"Because we had a pass call on that, and the guy we had out there, we thought gave us our best option. There was a pass, and that's probably the reason why. Dameon has done some good things, but we're not going to have him out there each play. That's what we had called. Good play on their part. Not so good for us."
Was there miscommunication on the defense on the catches that Chargers RB Austin Ekeler had?
"Yes, it was. Whenever you see a guy wide open like that, there's a breakdown in communication. On two of those plays and that long run, it's really disappointing that happened. I felt like we were in a position where that shouldn't happen, but it did. Yes, miscommunication on those plays."
I know you make the calls about whether you want to go or not on fourth down, but as far as who you want in the game, is that your call or Offensive Coordinator Pep Hamilton's?
"That's our offensive staff, and everything goes through me. Fourth-and-1 is a big play. We thought they gave us our best chance to be successful on that play. Like every offensive play that we have, that's how the communication goes."
Do you have an injury update on DB Derek Stingley Jr., seeing how he was favoring his arm?
"Yes. He was down for a while. Bruise on his arm. He was able to finish, so he should be okay."
When you are unable to get to the back field and cause pressure on sacks, how frustrating is that?
"It's hard. It's hard. I thought they did a good job with that. You have to change your approach a little bit, but again, when you can convert on third downs the way they were able to, that's tough. In an ideal world, we would like to be able to get pressure with our four-man rush. We weren't able to do that for the majority of the day."
WR BRANDIN COOKS
What's the start of the season been like for you guys?
"Frustrating. Close ones, as we all know, pretty much this league comes down to close games. There's hardly ever any blow-outs, and the great teams find a way to be able to finish. We haven't been able to do that. Today we just simply as an offense didn't start fast. The past four weeks has absolutely been frustrating as a competitor, no question."
What was the difference offensively in the first and second half?
"I think at the end of the day that sense of urgency was there because of, obviously, what the score was. We have to have that mindset from the get-go. Like I said earlier, being able to start fast, but I think it's just all about a sense of urgency. That's why we were able to do some good things in that second half."
What do you feel like the team needs to do from here?
"I wouldn't necessarily say change anything. It's just getting back to work and in those situations being able to be situational masters and being able to actually focus and hang in there and stop biting ourselves in the foot, whether it be penalties, whether it be turnovers. I'm just speaking from an offensive standpoint because that's the side of the ball that I play on. The things that's biting us in the foot is going to continue to hold us back from winning games as long as we continue to do that."
It seemed like after RB Dameon Pierce scored that touchdown, both offense and defense got going a little bit. What did you think about RB Dameon Pierce's run?
"It was crazy. As we talked about, it takes one play to be able to get the team going, and that run, to be able to make a guy miss like that and be able to strike down the sideline, got the whole team amped up. From there on it gave us some juice. I think that was a defining play to be able to keep us going and moving the ball in the right direction."
How do you describe the passing offense outside those two successful drives there?
"I think, like I said earlier, just being able to have that sense of urgency early on. I feel like once we had that, we got going getting the ball to the play makers. I think we've got to have that mindset to start the game off just because we talk about start fast and finish faster. We can't just choose one."
QB DAVIS MILLS
You had two successful drives. What was the differences between those?
"Just have to find ways to continue executing our jobs. I mean, I just overheard Brandin (Cooks) a little bit. We can't turn it on and turn it off when we want to. When we need to go down and score like we did at the start of the second half, we have to do that the whole game. Continue to find ways to get the ball to the guys out in space and let them make plays."
When the passing game was going well in the second half, how much of a boost does that give you? How much does that help you with confidence?
"That's what we expect. We expect to go out there and perform and do our jobs at a high level. I don't think it's surprising or does anything to my confidence. I always play out there confident like I can make every play and can make every throw. I think it's a result of everyone doing their jobs and executing at a high level, and that's what we're trying to do for a full game."
What's your perspective on playing four close games and being 0-3-1? Where the team is at right now?
"First, four games are close. Good teams have to find a way to win late in the game, and we haven't done that yet. Just have to keep fighting for it. We still have a long season ahead of us. All it takes is one. I said it last week or the week before. All it takes is one. Just have to get that one win and start building some momentum, and it will carry on through the rest of the season."
How does 'ground and pound' open up the passing game and kind of fall in line with what y'all are trying to do as an offense?
"I mean, if you think the identity of somebody's offense is a ground and pound team, you expect them to run the play. We were trying to catch them often guard and make a play on the edge. It will be good to see what happened on that. I think the end came unblocked when we should have had him accounted for. Just have to go correct the mistakes and execute at a higher-level next week."
What was working for you this week particularly on the deep passes to WR Nico Collins and TE Jordan Akins?
"Just trusting those guys to make plays. Had really good protection on both of those drives and really throughout the game. It was great that my offensive line was giving me time to throw, and those guys were making plays. It's funny because we've repped that play to Nico (Collins) so many times in practice, and I think we've only really thrown it one or two times, so it's awesome to come out and see him make a huge play, and we know what he is capable of. Same thing with (Jordan) Akins. They brought cover zero. I think that was a fringe play for us. Brought cover zero. We actually called that play three times on that same drive, and that was the only look where we had where I didn't have to kill out of it and get to something else. He ended up making a play and putting us in good position to score."
Obviously, through the first four weeks the game has come down to plays in the fourth quarter. How much of a mental battle is it for you guys to get over that hump?
"I think it's just part of our jobs. Everybody has to put their head down and get to work and know if we do what we're supposed to do, the results will come. We just have to find a way. Like I said, all it takes is one."
You mentioned about those drives and being able to get the ball down field and cover zero there. Did they change at all towards the end once they got that chance there near the end zone and have teams kind of played you all differently when you're not you were able to push down towards the end of the game?
"They were doing a really good job on defense just mixing up what they were showing throughout whole game. They did a lot. I mean, we just have to find ways in those situations to execute at our jobs. One little slip-up can end a drive, so we just have to make sure all 11 people out there on the field are doing their jobs every play."
What in your mind do you have to do differently maybe in order to be able to close out?
"Biggest thing is start fast and then finish faster."
What's it like hearing the fans booing in the stadium and what's your message? Do you understand the frustration of where they're coming from?
"Yeah. I mean, as all fans are, you want to love your team as much as possible when they're doing well, and then it's tough for you to like them when they're not doing well. Just urge them to come in here and keep this place rocking. I mean, when the energy was -- when everyone was loud and we had energy I think late in the game, the players feed off that. That's helping us play well, and we have to use that every ounce of it when we're at home."