OPENING REMARKS: “It was a big win for us on Sunday and it was a step in the right direction. I think we’re all excited about coming in finally on a victory Monday and having something positive to talk about. Obviously there’s still a lot of work to be done. We made corrections like we have over the last so many weeks and I definitely think this team is going in the right direction. We have a lot to build off of now and we also have a great challenge coming up going into Indianapolis this week against a good team. Every time you go to Indy, you’ve got to be aware of those defensive ends because they’re great players on the defensive side of the ball. We’re excited about the challenge again.”
Q: You were able to neutralize the Minnesota defensive line so they couldn’t cause too much trouble. When you look at the defensive ends on this team, do you see similarities to last week?
CASSEL: “Absolutely. You look at the two teams and how they actually try to schematically come after you and they try to create pressure with those front four and this is a team that does much of the same with (Dwight) Freeney and (Robert) Mathis, and those guys are two of the best in the game at what they do. Again, the offensive line did such an outstanding job last week of really being able to block those guys and give me time to throw and I’m sure that they’ll be up for the challenge again this week.”
Q: The offense has looked its best when you’ve been able to open it up a little bit – the second half of the San Diego game and after the incident with you and Coach Haley on the sideline in the Minnesota game. Why has it taken you guys awhile to open up the offense?
CASSEL: “It’s a good question. I think it’s probably a better question for coach. At the same time, there’s a gameplan going into every game and we stick to the gameplan and it just happens to be that we get a few more throws going into the second half and it’s worked out well for us so hopefully we can continue that success.”
Q: Was that your message when you were talking in the Minnesota game, because before you talked on the sideline, you had thrown seven passes. After that, you threw 22 times. Is that a coincidence?
CASSEL: “Honestly, the incident was just the incident and it had nothing to do with opening up or anything like that. It something that happens in football where it’s two emotional people that want to win. We talked nothing about scheme or anything, it just happened to go that way when we got into the second half.”
Q: Some of the guys talked about you being very vocal in the locker room at halftime. Can you give us some insight into what you said?
CASSEL: “I won’t go into great detail but I believe in these guys and I think that we have a great team here and a great foundation and it’s just about sometimes getting fired up and letting these guys know you believe in them and let’s go out and let’s compete. That’s really all it came down to.”
CASSEL: “We’d like to think so. He’s a guy that’s been working very hard over these last few weeks and he was out there today and he was practicing and hopefully he’s a guy that will come in and be able to contribute. That’s a decisions that’s probably more up to coach than anybody else and to see how far along he can come this week.”
Q: You know him a little more because he came to stay with you during the lockout and worked with you a little bit. We don’t know him yet because we haven’t seen him play. Does he have the mental toughness that after you two work more together that you’ll be able to throw the ball to him because you two are just on the same page?
CASSEL: “That’s a great question. I think I’m still getting to know Jon because we haven’t spent much time out on the field together. While I know him and I’ve seen a little bit of him, obviously he’s physically impressive, there’s no doubt about that. Once we get out there and we start playing, you just hope to build that rapport and chemistry and I think that takes a little bit of time.”
Q: How much of what you said at halftime of the Minnesota game was just telling guys to go out there and play? Don’t worry about making mistakes or trying too hard, just play?
CASSEL: “That sometimes is just what this game is, it’s about going out there and playing and competing and doing what we do so well. Sometimes you overthink it and as players, sometimes you just need to get back to the foundation, the basics of the game and go out there and compete and just make plays. That’s what we did in the second half; we did a great job of that. You could see it in the receivers who made a ton of great plays out there. Hopefully that trend continues.”
Q: There was a lot of frustration the first few weeks of the season. Does it feel like there is a little weight off your shoulders now, maybe it’s a little different atmosphere this week?
CASSEL: “Well it feels good to get a win, there’s no doubt about that. It definitely feels different than what it’s been. It’s always tough because you work so hard during the week to get prepared for Sunday and that’s your day to go out there and compete and when it doesn’t it go your way – whether you lose by 30 or you lose by three – it hurts. But when you get that feeling of victory, it feels good for everybody inside, it lets you know why you play this game and hopefully that motivates us to go out there and continue to work hard and do the things we need to do to be successful.”
Q: You guys took advantage of Minnesota DE Jared Allen’s enthusiasm to rush the passer and sent your running game behind him. That’s on film now and Indianapolis will have seen that. How do you counter that?
CASSEL: “I think football’s a chess match so every time you go in there, you’re watching film, you see what they’re doing, they see what you’re doing and the coaches have the mastermind, they come up with a plan and you try and go in there and execute it. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t.”
Q: Do you feel like you’re at your best when you want to prove something?
CASSEL: “I think as a competitor and as player, you better be able to motivate yourself each and every week and for me, there is nobody that motivates me more than myself. It’s the motivation to do well for this team, this organization, for fans, for everybody else. I’m a motivated person and I wouldn’t be in this position if I wasn’t. I get fired up and motivated and it doesn’t take much. I enjoy the competition and I like to go out there and compete.”
Q: You said the stuff about emotion. Those exchanges have to be isolated, right?
CASSEL: “Absolutely. It’s something that doesn’t come up much and you don’t see it a lot. It was just one of those things that happened during football games where emotions run high. Again, it goes back to two people wanting to win and sometimes your emotions get the best of you. The best part about it is you move right on. He came over, sat next to me five minutes later and we moved forward. We had a great second half and nothing else has been made of it here in this building. We moved forward.
Q: Do you feel that it has taken a while for this team to put everything in place?
CASSEL: “Obviously, it’s taken a little longer than we anticipated. We didn’t want to start the way that we did, but we are where we are right now. After getting that victory, it was a great victory, but our main focus now just turns to Indy. Hopefully, we can continue a level of success as we move forward. It’s going to be a big game going into Indy, and hopefully we can get another win.”
Q: Are you as hungry for win No. 2 as you were for No. 1?
CASSEL: “Absolutely, probably more now that we’ve had a taste of victory. It feels good and I think everybody in there doesn’t want to lose that feeling.”