Coach Whisenhunt's Monday Practice Report



(on his thoughts on the bye week)

I think we'll see as the week progresses, but obviously they were rested and came back and practiced well today. That's good, but we've just got to keep on working. There are a lot of areas that we want to improve on, and we're focused on doing that. It's easy to talk about, but I guess we'll see on Sunday.

(on Zach Mettenberger getting more reps)

We got a lot of reps in last week. We had a couple of days where we ran a bunch of plays, 60 plus plays in practice, and it's invaluable. We got a chance to do some situational work, which is what we needed, to work on third down, works on some red zone things. A lot of times it was even a case of repeating plays, where you get two looks at it, so you get a chance to really get a feel for the play. That's good.

(on his message to the team for the second half of the season)

I think, obviously, none of us were happy with how the first eight games went. It's different to have a break almost right in the middle, at halfway, so I think it's an opportunity. Sometimes you get caught up in the weekly preparation, and you lose sight of what you really need to focus on to get better, because you're trying to assess what you did the week before and then prepare for the next opponent. We got a chance to look at what we've done, areas that we need to improve, and I think really the message is for us, we've got to get better. We want to show improvement in the areas where we haven't been close to being good enough. There are some things we've been doing better, some things we made some improvement on. For example, special teams, I think where you look at earlier in the season where we were special teams and where we have been the last few weeks, we've made improvements. Obviously, offensively, third downs have got to get better. We've got to make more plays than we've made. Defensively, we've shown some improvement there. There are just areas that we've got to clean up. Looking at where we are and where we need to go to, we've got to play better.

(on teams turning around their records in the second half of the season)

We've talked about that. I think we've talked about the fact that those situations happen. It seems to be people are going to react weekly on a game-by-game basis. You've heard this phrase, 'you are what your record is,' and that's what we were the first eight games, but that doesn't mean that's what we have to be over the next eight, and that's the way we're going to approach it. We understand we have areas that we haven't played well, and we've got to focus on getting better in those areas.

(on trying to have an 8-0 record the second half of the season)

You mentioned Pittsburgh a minute ago. I think last year they were 2-6, and they finished up 8-8, so they 6-2 over the break. I've been with teams, we were at one point in Arizona one year, we were 1-6, and we finished 8-8. I'm not saying our goal is to finish 8-8. Our goal is to win every game, but we realize what we did, there were reasons why we finished the way we did, and we've got to get better at it. There's no reason to say you can't do something. We've just got to work at it on week-by-week basis and get better. That's the number one thing. We've got to get better in areas that we performed poorly in. If we can do that, then we'll have a chance.

(on bringing referees to practice)

It starts on Wednesday, which can help us, because that's another area. The penalties are something that's got to change.

(on if he has used referees in practice with previous teams)

In different places we've used that, yeah.

(on consequences for penalties)

I think we have a plan. I don't want to get into the specifics of how we're going to address it with our team, because you've only got 53 guys. They understand the sense of urgency with that. I think bringing the officials out, if nothing else, makes us more aware of what we're doing. If it helps us focus and get better at that, that's what you have to do.

(on players' relaxed reactions to penalties)

We've talked about that during the course of it. It's OK to own up to the mistakes, but at some point in this game it's about making plays. It's a production business. We've all got to be accountable to that. Some of that's confidence, and that's what's hurt us in a couple of games. We've been in situations where we're one play away from winning a game, and we haven't gotten it done. You can sit here and talk about it all you want, but we've had a lot of competitive situations with our team over the last week. In the games, hopefully that will give us a chance to be successful.

(on if Zach Mettenberger playing one game helped going into the bye week)

I think certainly it makes him a lot more confident. Certainly we feel better as an organization, as a team with that coming in. Getting the time during the bye week was good, because like I said, we got a lot of plays, he got the majority of those, which is invaluable, and hopefully that'll help us as we go forward.

(on today's practice)

It was light. We did some situational work and some competitive work. It was a little bit over an hour's worth of work. It was good to get back into the flow of it.

(on what he wants to see from Zach Mettenberger the rest of the season)

You could probably mirror it by what happened in the game. He played better as the game went on, and by the end of the game he was playing pretty good football. I think that's the way we've got to look at it from this point going forward. This is going to be a tough situation, because this is a tough place to play. This will be the first game where he's had to deal with the noise like he does, and hopefully having gotten a week of work in as the starter, having played in a game, will help him be better prepared for that.

(on if he expects teams to go after Zach Mettenberger in games)

I'm sure that's what a lot of teams will do. I'm sure that'll be part of his plan. They're going to do that against us until we can prove we can handle those things, until we make a play to hurt somebody. We've had opportunities to do that, and we've had marginal success with that. Cleveland came after us a few plays, and we had some success. That's the kind of thing you've got to do to keep teams from doing it to you.

(on his message to the fans for the second half of the season)

We're playing a lot of young players. We're trying to grow as a football team and get better. This is not where we wanted to be. We're hurting and disappointed just like they are, but we're working hard to make our fans proud of us. That's what we're trying to get done.

(on the negative reactions from fans)

I understand that. That's normal. We've felt like we're working to get better as a football team. The only way we're going to get anybody to calm down is to win some games. That's what we have to do. We understand that. We know it's not easy, but we feel like we're going to work hard to show progress and try to make our fans proud of us.

(on how he spent the bye week)

I just took a little break and had a couple of days off, so that was nice. Stayed around here.

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