HEAD COACH LOVIE SMITH
Whenever you come on the road playing a good football team, there are some things you've got to do. Number one, you've got to win the turnover ratio, we didn't win that. We haven't taken the ball away enough really all year, definitely not today. On the offensive side of the football, you can't turn it over, it's kind of simple as that. Those turnovers were really big. We knew that it's tough duty stopping a great running back like (Giants Running Back Saquon) Barkley and we let him break out a few times. (Inaudible) breaking out there's got to be a missed tackle somewhere in there. I thought our guys played hard. Defensively that long touchdown pass, just missed tackle, and man coverage. When you're blitzing in man coverage it's tough if you have a touchdown that long, we should have to miss two tackles, because normally we have a guy in the middle of the field. Those hurt and like I said you've got to take the ball away. We'll keep talking about playing the run better. Offensively, got to score more points than that. We had the opportunity, we were down in the red zone quite a few times. Got to be able to get it in. They were better. I think they were about 50% on third downs keeping drives going, that hurt us. We didn't start strong on the offensive side and not converting enough on third down situations hurt us too. I'll take your questions.
When you look at the red zone, is there something that kind of jumped out to you about some struggles in the red zone?
Yeah, I can say we didn't run it well enough and at least we had done a better job passing, but as much as anything you can't turn the ball over down in the red zone. I mean in the game, we were in a one score game. Lot of things we talk about when you're in a one score game. I'm going to look at turnover ratio and how we did with that. Again defensively, NFL games you need to take the ball away it's as simple as that. They did and we didn't. As I mentioned earlier, we've got to protect the ball better, make better decisions on some of those.
You mentioned the first half the offense couldn't get going. What was your plan to move the ball against them both in the pass and run, and what wasn't working?
Our plan coming and getting off the bus – we need to be able to run the football. We weren't able to run it as well as we needed to early on. Third downs, three-and-outs, you've got to sustain drives in order to see exactly what the game plan is supposed to be, and we weren't able to do that.
There were some plays on third and long early on where it seemed that you guys were throwing the ball significantly short of the sticks. In the first half that led to some of those quick three-and-outs. Was that game plan or was that just quarterback play?
What do you mean? Was the gameplan for us to throw it short and not get the first? You know sometimes when the deep route is covered you check it down. We can't do that to answer your question. That's not good enough. Normally on third downs we're trying to third downs, so you've got to push your ball at least that, yes.
What did you think of WR Nico Collins today after coming back from the stretch being out?
I thought we did a good job targeting. I think he was over targets (or) probably about as many targets as he's had – and rightfully so. He's a good football player, need to get him the ball more. A lot of things kind of led to that.
You mentioned being able to push the ball down more with the quarterbacks. Is there any consideration making a change at quarterback and why?
Quarterback – we needed to play better today. I mean that's pretty much it.
When you look at the fumble that's kind of characteristic, RB Dameon Pierce, he has fumbled a lot but two first ones he lost, what do you kind of take away from that?
Stuff happens, that's all I'm going to say. I'm definitely not going to criticize Dameon Pierce knowing what he's been doing for our team, but you've got to protect that football, yes. He knew it, we know it, can't do that, but he played the way he normally plays – and that's giving his all every time he has an opportunity to. More of us need to play as well as Dameon has played throughout this year.
You mentioned the quarterback play needs to be better. In other spots you've rotated in any other players at safety, what's standing in the way of possibly making a change at quarterback?
Just don't think it's time, as simple as that. Quarterback position is a little bit different. We rotate pretty much at most positions, we play more than one guy. Quarterback position is a little bit different. We can't turn the ball over. Acknowledging what we did today is not good enough and anytime we're turning the ball over especially in the red zone it's not good enough. But that's where we are right now.
How impactful was DL Jerry Hughes today for you?
You know there are a few guys that really no matter what game you're talking on, you're saying some of the same things. Dameon Pierce is one of them on the offensive side, Jerry Hughes is one of them on the defensive side. I don't know exactly what they all did today, but I know it's maximum effort always. Trying to rush the pass as well as he can, trying to just play hard. I know that's what he did because that's who he is.
Once you start moving the ball in the second half, you're already down 14-3. When you're talking with them about first half, offense is just getting the ball moving. What's kind of preventing so far this year getting that started early?
Starting early you need to be able to convert on third down. It's kind of as simple as that. If you're three and out, you get a chance to see the gameplan early on. When you move the ball down the field and for whatever reason if you get behind the chains early on, that can happen. But you're right, we didn't start well. Offensively we need to play better than that but there was a point of time in the game where we got ourselves back in. That sack and interception that we threw, now we're down one score. We're in the game. They're some things we didn't do well but there are critical stages of the game where we haven't played our best ball. Specifically, today, that was one of them.
How frustrating can it be that every single game this year you're right there in the fourth quarter and then you guys aren't able to pull through. How frustrating can that be?
Well, it is frustrating. You can only talk so much about, 'Hey, we're close man and keep going, we're going to get over the hump.' But normally when you're close you do eventually get over the hump. But for whatever reason, and not for whatever reason we kind of know the reason, turnovers, not taking the ball away. Just some explosive plays at the end, we're going to keep going to work on that. We realize what the problem is and what the results say a little bit, but we are close. Eventually I do feel like we're going to get over the hump. So far, we look at the first half of the season. We just finished up the first half of the season – not good enough. But we still can see promise for the second half.
QB DAVIS MILLS
The interception there in the end zone, how big of a change was that in the momentum of the game?
Very critical. Not coming away from that drive with points is big. It changed from maybe worst-case scenario getting a field goal there, that allows us to go down that next drive and it be a one possession game so it's tough. I've got to be smarter with the ball there. We're second and twenty-five, we don't need it all back at once, trying to score. I can find the check down on that and get ourselves into a third down situation still in the red zone with a lot of plays at our disposal, so I've just got to continue protecting the ball and be better in that way.
Entering this game, what was the game plan? Just to move the ball in the first half, saw some struggling whether it was pass or run. What was kind of the plan?
Same every week. We gameplanned against this defense. We knew they were going to bring a lot of pressure. We had different protections we could get to on third downs and those pressure situations. Could have executed those a little better. And then, like always, we wanted to run the football. Couldn't run it early on. Those guys—a lot of respect to their defense—there's a reason they have a really good record in this league right now. They have a lot of really talented players in their front seven on their defense that were making plays, so we've just got to start faster and come out like we did in the second half earlier on in the game.
HC Lovie Smith said essentially that he feels you guys are getting closer, but obviously there has to be some frustration that builds when you lose or when you guys are losing. Do you get a sense that you're about to turn a corner? Can you turn a corner here?
Yeah, that's what we're shooting for every week. Obviously, the frustration is there. No one likes losing, especially me. That's probably the worst feeling I can ever imagine is losing something when you're putting in all the hours to go out there and win games and it's just not happening, so there's a lot of positives that we can pull from this game. Guys are making plays – offense, defense, and special teams. Just some critical errors and critical parts of the game that are holding us back, so if we can focus on the smaller details and take it play by play each week, there's a chance any team in this league is capable of winning games. I'm fully confident in our locker room that we're going to go out and put some wins together as the season continues, so I think these losses just add to the hunger of going out there and doing your job and finding a way to win.
The first throw and I think later on in the game too, it gets tipped, it gets caught, but how do you feel like you're delivering the ball lately and is it where you want to be?
Yeah, I mean I feel like I have a clean pocket and I'm able to step into my throw and I'm decisive. The ball is coming out how I want it to be. That ball, I mean, might have missed it by a couple inches low, but that guy got his hands on it and (WR) Chris Moore was able to make a good play, but obviously continue to be safe with the football and make sure that guy, the defenders, aren't touching the ball, so we're able to move the ball continually down the field.
There are other positions throughout the team that have been shuffled based on performance. What's the communication to you from Lovie? He said he's going patient with the quarterbacks. Where do you feel that relationship is and where do you need to perform and also some accountability? Where does that kind of communication come for you?
It is what it is. I've got to go out there and make plays just like everyone else. My job is to go out there and protect the football and win football games and we haven't done it up to this point, but we're really close and we're optimistic each week going forward that we're going to go out there and do enough to win games and that's what the feeling in the locker room right now is. Everyone is hungry for this next week at home against Washington (Commanders) to go out there and get a win.
Getting WR Nico Collins and WR Brandin Cooks back. What was kind of the plan to get them the ball and get them in the passing game?
The same as it was before when we didn't have them. Both of those guys are extremely dynamic— getting open, making plays with the ball in their hands and we've just got to continue to find ways to find easy completions to them so they can make plays.