“As far as the game, it was a backwards game a little bit. One of the things we wanted to do, and part of the reason for coming out here the other night, was to get off to a good start. We knew that with a team that’s been a good team, a good, fast, physical team for a long time, that we’d have our work cut out for us. We needed to start fast, match or exceed their tempo. I don’t know that it could start a lot worse than it did, both offensively and defensively. But what I feel good about now is this group of players, starting with the defense, slugged it out. They say in boxing that it’s not how hard you punch, it’s how you react after you’ve been punched. We took a couple of pretty good body blows; they might have been a couple of head shots, hay-makers, whatever you want to say, but guys fought back and made plays.
“Offensively, we finally got something going, got down the field and scored some points. Our defense continued to play some pretty tough, stingy, physical defense, and got the ball back for us again, offensively, and we capitalized on that with a run by RB Thomas (Jones) which is what you have to do. Even at the end of the game there, with four minutes, when we were trying to run the clock and get a first down, we were able to move the ball down the field and get a field goal. That wasn’t enough; obviously we needed to get another first down. And then at the end of the game we just needed to continue playing with technique and keep doing the things that you have to do to win in the league and we didn’t get that done.
“I feel like that’s the way our games are going to be for a little while. That’s just the way it is. We’re a team that hadn’t won a lot of games in the last bunch of years. We’re trying to make this transition, or we’re making this transition into becoming a good team, and that’s the way the games are going to be. I don’t think there’s going to be many pretty ones. It’s still going to come down to the team that plays the best will win and that includes not turning the ball over, tackling, playing the defense the way you have to play it, executing on offense and special teams. That’s what I’ve tried to make clear to the guys is that’s the way the games are going to be for the most part for now, so we’ve got to be the smarter team, we have to do all the little things right, and then we just have to finish the games in our favor and then build from there. That’s the most important point to take here, if you’re expecting it to be pretty fancy, flashy, dashing, daring, any of that stuff, it’s probably not going to be for a little while but we’ve got a chance to be a good team and I’m excited about the physicalness of the game. We’ve been in pads 31 days; training camp is now officially over. The reason you’re in pads for 31 days is to be a physical football team and I think that tonight you saw that coming out and I think that’s a good sign for our team and a good sign of the direction we’re going.”
Q: You got some good play by guys who aren’t necessarily typical playmakers?
A: “I don’t know about the types. Again, I think this is a developing team in a lot of different areas. I’ve said that a lot of times that our players who have been on the roster a couple years (2 years, 3 years, 4 years) they have to develop and I think you’re seeing some of that.
Q: What are your thoughts about the second and third teams?
A: “We have better competition at more spots and good teams have competition at a lot of spots. We don’t have much competition as we want here as we go forward but we have more competition at more spots than we’ve had and that creates pressure, that gets the best out of guys, generally.”
Q: Were you more pleased with the run defense or the pass defense?
A: “Our number one goal, defensively, is going to be to stop the run. We allowed a couple of big plays. We have to play the technique better, we have to hold up in there, and do a better job. But I thought the defense got the team back in the game because it could have gone south fast. It’s not a game that in the past, in the last year that I’ve seen us turn the tide. I talked about this in one of the practices in training camp where we kind of started not so hot, re-grouped, came back, turned up the intensity, got better, improved the practice, and I think you saw some of that in this game. I think when you have a team that can do that, that generally means that you’ve got a chance because it looked pretty bleak there for a little while. There was a bunch of positives in there, defensively. We’ve got to play the technique longer. Again, for the tail end of the game there, we’ve got to do a better job and win the game.”
Q: Was this the personality that you want to see in your defense?
A: “It’s getting close. I think in general, there’s an energy on the sideline, there’s an energy out on the field and guys are running and hitting and getting to the football. Again, it doesn’t always look pretty but when you’re doing those types of things, and you have guys that are on board and trying to be part of this, we’re going to get better and better results.”
Q: It seemed that nothing went right until they got called for delay of game?
A: “They had flinched out there a couple times and that’s nothing illegal. I think on about the third time, the right time for us, because we needed that bad. You need to take advantage of breaks and capitalize on opportunity and that’s the name of the game for us. When we get opportunities, whether it’s to Kendrick (Lewis) to catch the ball there or us to break a big return or score, we need to do it. We need to capitalize on opportunities that are presented to us.”
Q: What about the competition for the third running back position?