Coach Whisenhunt's Monday Press Conference



(opening statement)

It's nice to get a win. Even though I would have preferred it not have been as close as it was, we're still happy to get it.

(on improvements that need to be made from the second half performance)

Probably just about everything. From the standpoint offensively, we'd like to be more productive. We missed opportunities at plays. Defensively, I thought we played a good game. We'd just like to be able to get off the field on that last drive. Special-teams wise, I thought, obviously, the one, get the ball at the one-yard line. Those are all things that we get a chance to work on and continue to improve. We're certainly pleased that we got a win, and we played well on a lot of facets of the game.

(on if it's easier to make corrections coming off a win)

Sure it is. We've still got to be diligent in our approach. I think one of the things that's pretty apparent is that our team responds pretty well when we try to focus on certain areas, like special teams was an area that we felt like, and I said this last week, that we've got to do better with. I thought our special teams did a nice job. The 50-yard return was big for us. Field position, we had opportunities to significantly contribute there. If that's what we can do, if we can respond, we've still got a lot of work to do, but we are making some progress.

(on the impact of rookies in games)

It's good to see them getting in there and getting some play time. That's part of the process, and it's always good, especially when your young guys are doing some good things.

(on Marqueston Huff's increased playing time)

We felt like when we drafted (Marqueston) Huff that he was going to be a good special teamer to start out with, and then we would see where he fit in defensively. He's gotten better and better with special teams. The missed down punt not withstanding, but he's very passionate about the game and working hard, and he's around a good group of guys. George Wilson is a good leader for that group, so he's got some good role models as far as how you prepare and work, and you're starting to see results, which is really what you want to do.

(on field position)

That was good. That was something. I know it feels like we've been fighting an uphill battle in field position in a number of games earlier in the year, so it was nice for that to have changed a little bit in this past game. I wish we'd taken better advantage of it than we did, but at least we made some progress there.

(on winning the next two games before the bye week)

That's part of it, talking about that, the fact that we want to try to get to that point at the bye week. It's tough in this league, but we still have the mentality of one game at a time. You can also look at the big picture from the standpoint of if we can do a good job these next two games, maybe we can give them some type of reward over the bye week to provide incentive. I don't think there's anything wrong with that.

(on trying to console Michael Griffin after losing the onside kick)

He's a good football player for us. I think he played one of the best games, that I've been around, as a safety the week before. After that tough loss, he didn't get a lot of recognition for that. It's tough to see a play come down, but that's the NFL. Those plays happen. I think the important thing is moving on. It doesn't change the way we feel about Michael (Griffin) or how well he's been playing for us this year.

(on the importance of validation of success for players and coaches)

They've been working hard. They definitely want to do it the right way, but it's always good to have a win. I think the most important thing for us was to get a win at home. That was something that was really kind of burning in my gut, and even though once again it didn't go as easily as we would have liked for it to or it could have at some points in the game, we still got that win, and that was something that was important.

(on the location of the ball on the onside kick and whether the player should get it out of bounds)

It really depends on the situation. If it was higher and closer to the sideline, then that's something that you talk about, but the one thing you have to be careful about is if it goes forward, then it's a re-kick. It's only if it goes backwards do you get repossession of the ball. In that position as you're going forward and trying to make a play on the ball, you have to be careful with that. As where the ball came down, we actually executed the play well. Michael (Griffin) had a clear path to it and was there. It was just one of those things. 99 out of 100 times, just based on what I've seen from Griff, we make that play.

(on corrections on third downs)

Last week against Cleveland, we did a good job on third down. This week we didn't. We had a couple of third-and-longer situations. A couple of those were sacks. Our protection was lacking a little bit. They got us. They ran a couple of stunts that got us. We've just got to keep working on the things that we've been doing. It seems like a couple of times we came a yard short or half a yard short. I know we came up half a yard short against Cleveland, which led to that fourth-down play. Some of it is the details of what we're doing as far as our splits. For instance, we're too close to the boundary when we don't have that room to turn it up. Little things that happened during the course of the game that, as we continue to work on our third-down packages in those plays, hopefully we'll have better success with.

(on managing third downs)

It is important, but a lot of times if we're in that range we have a run-pass check, where if we're outnumbered in the box we're going to go to the pass. Some of those are going to be taken care of by what they're playing against us.

(on Charlie Whitehurst holding onto the ball)

I don't think you can simplify it that way, just down to a play of whether or not you're holding onto the ball or getting rid of it quick. Every situation is different. In some plays you have to hold onto the ball a little bit longer because of what you're waiting to see develop. In other ones, they're designed to get out quickly. Some of it's down-and-distance-oriented, some of it's by the play. Each situation is different. I think Charlie (Whitehurst) does a good job of reading the defenses and going through his progressions. We've got to do a lot of things better. Protection helps with that. Sometimes it's depth on our routes, things like that that we're still continuing to get better on.

(on taking a delay of game penalty versus a timeout)

It would probably be fair to see we've got a couple of different personnel in this game, and we're trying to substitute for guys that weren't there. That's part of it in the one situation. I can only remember two that we burned in the second half. I know in the second half, especially the second timeout, we were down there tight to the goal line, and you don't want to take a delay of game there because that moves you back. I know that that was making a decision on fourth down, but had it been inside of a yard we probably still would have gone for it. It really depends on where we are on the field and what the situation is. Sometimes it's tough when you take one of those penalties that puts you behind the sticks, as they like to say. Your point is well taken from the standpoint of you don't want to lose timeouts because you can get into a situation like they did where they had no challenges left. That's something you can't do.

(on being optimistic about Jake Locker returning Sunday)

We're going to see. We tried to get him back for Sunday, and he just wasn't ready. It's going to be a progression of where it goes from there, when he gets back out. It's coming. It's getting better.

(on how Jake Locker is spending his recovery time)

He threw Saturday, so we're checking it then. He didn't work out yesterday, so he came in and did his rehab today. I haven't talked with Todd (Toriscelli) about it from that standpoint. When you ask Jake (Locker), he says it's getting better. It's really going to come down to when it's good enough that he can grip the ball and throw it and not have issues that way. (on using Charlie Whitehurst as the starting quarterback)

Nothing's changed with our quarterback. We're working to get Jake (Locker) healthy, and when he's healthy, that's what our goal is, to get him there.

(on Charlie Whitehurst's comfort level at quarterback)

We brought Charlie (Whitehurst) in here with the idea that if he had to play he could do that. His familiarity with the offense would help that. I think Charlie's played well. He's performed like he was supposed to do in those roles.

(on if switching quarterbacks negatively impacts the team)

I don't think it hurts it any, other than having a different left tackle or a different running back or a different linebacker or a different DB. I know the quarterback's an important position, but that's the NFL. You're going to have guys that have to step in and play.

(on making quarterback changes and Jake Locker's unpredictability)

Once again, I'll go back to what I said, I can't judge Jake (Locker) on what's happened before I got here, only what I've seen since I've been with him. I know he's worked hard to get back ready to play. It's just unfortunate. He banged his thumb off of a helmet in the pocket. Sometimes that happens. He's working to get back. That's the way he is, so I respect that.

(on making quarterback changes based on continuous injuries)

Until you get into that situation, I don't know how I would answer that. That's something that, like I said, is not where we are.

(on Taylor Lewan's performance against the Jaguars)

Taylor (Lewan) did alright. I was impressed with how he did. For the most part he played a good game.

(on Sammie Hill's kick block)

That's part of the block. Every week we change the block up. We ask him to do different things. That particular block scheme, that was what his assignment was. Sammie (Hill) did a nice job. Thank goodness he got his hand up and got the ball.

(on savoring his first home win)

I did. The fans were great coming off the field. It's been tough on all of us, and I know especially our fans. I enjoyed that. It was good to get the win, and it was nice to see some smiling faces in the stands.

(on players making plays such as the blocked kick)

There were a number of guys that made plays during the course of that game yesterday that helps drive the point home. I think we certainly realize that we had opportunities to not have that game come down to that play. Even though it did, that's the NFL. It was good to see Sammie (Hill) step up and make a play. It is important.

(on assessing the offensive line)

That's a tough position. We haven't been together very long. We interjected a new face into that group this past week. We're working. It's a work in progress is how I would judge that. It's an offensive system change for those guys. We've got three guys that are really young players at that position, if you talk about Taylor (Lewan), (Brian) Schwenke, and even Chance (Warmack). When you think about it, in my opinion, some of the best lines that have played in the NFL, the one thing that seems consistent with that is continuity, guys that have been together for a while that have played together for a while. That's what we're trying to accomplish here. I think we've got the right pieces in place. We've got to get time and continue to improve together. That's really what's important.

(on how many games qualify as continuity for the offensive line)

That's a good question. I don't know. All I know is from memory I've heard them talk about lines that have been together for years before, and that was what was important. I'm not saying it's going to take years. I'm just saying it takes time. If you think about how long our guys have been together and how many games we've played, it's not very long.

(on veterans changing offensive systems)

In this new system, that's changed. I don't know how many times these guys that have been together have changed systems because they've changed systems here a couple of times in the past few years from what I've been told. Each thing has its own intricacies, and that's what we're going through right now.

(on injury updates and players returning to practice)

As far as guys that missed, we'll see as the week progresses. I hope so. They made progress last week. Hopefully they'll be able to participate in practice and then play this week. Certainly, we'll welcome any of them back. We came out of the game yesterday, I think, in pretty good shape. I know Ropati (Pitoitua) broke his finger, I believe. I don't know that that's going to cost him any time. Other than that, I think we just had some nicks and bruises.

(on Ropati Pitoitua's broken finger)

Same hand. He played the whole game with it. He's a tough guy.

(on Bishop Sankey playing at running back in place of Shonn Greene)

Leon (Washington) contributed in there a little bit, too. Those guys had to step up. Jackie Battle had a short yardage for a goal-line run. We had a plan in case that was the case with Shonn (Greene), so it was good to see those guys produce. We need to have a better run day than we did. We didn't do a great job on the run game yesterday, but I was happy to see those guys all made contributions.

(on Bishop Sankey's performance in the game)

I think nerves were a little bit of a factor early in the game and then he settled down a little bit. It's different when you're the starter and having to take those reps. He's getting better. I don't think there's any question he's getting better. He's going to continue to do that. We're excited about Bishop (Sankey).

(on the offensive package with Karl Klug, Chris Spencer and Byron Stingily)

We've used those type of players in those roles before. It was really more driven by where we were from an injury standpoint. We worked some of those guys through camp. You want to be prepared in case something like this comes up.

(on Blidi Wreh-Wilson's performance in the game)

That was good to see Blidi (Wreh-Wilson) respond like that. One of the things when you miss a game, he was anxious to get back out there. Obviously, he's gotten a lot of criticism about the way things have gone for him earlier. For him to come back and respond the way he did yesterday, I certainly feel very good about what Blidi did, and I'm happy for him.

(on cornerbacks leading the team in tackles)

It depends on the scheme and what you're trying to get done. I think we did a good job against the run yesterday. It depends on where they're making those tackles, to be honest with you. The one thing I think it says about your football team is when your corners are good tacklers that speaks a lot about the toughness of your team.

(on screen plays)

I think they ran 11 screens total for 45 yards. We had some success on the screens and some a little bit differently. I think the big thing is we've got to continue to work on playing our keys. We'll get better at those as we work some of them. It's just very unusual that you see that many screens.

(on Wesley Woodyard and Marqueston Huff's hits and the importance of getting players on the ground)

There are two actually. The first one would be Marqueston (Huff's) down on the punt. Marqueston with that one, trying to catch it at the one, he did a great job of getting there. What's most important is the fact that you keep the ball in the field of play as opposed to catching it. You can learn from that, and it's the same thing with Wesley (Woodyard). Where we were at that particular time in the game with them having no timeouts and the clock running down, the important thing is we get the player on the ground. If we do that, then it probably never comes to, potentially the game might end there or it might end on the next play. That is something that you teach or that you learn from. I thought Wes played a good game. That's one of the things where for a good thing, you can teach from something that you're not feeling sick after a bad game.

(on larger players playing at fullback)

To be honest with you, we had a lot of volunteers. There are a lot of guys, especially on the defensive side, Sammie Hill one of those guys, that want to do those kind of things. I think that maybe goes all the way back to William "The Refrigerator" Perry. We've looked at a couple of guys. We felt like Karl (Klug) had a good feel for it. He's been working at that for a couple of weeks now. I know he was nervous going in there for his first play, but he did a nice job.

(on players being in a better mood after the win as opposed to previous weeks)

After last week, yeah, because last week was tough, Monday after last week's game. They came in and were business-like. Definitely a few more laughs in the team meeting today than there were last week. The thing that I really care about is that we continue to practice the way we have. That's an important thing.

(on photos of the win around the facility)

It's a good thing, yeah. It's been way too many weeks since we've had some new photos. That's one of the many we get to enjoy in the building.

(on Jurrell Casey's ability to have success)

He definitely has a great sense of timing, which allows him to be as disruptive, but he plays with good technique. Very passionate, he works very hard. When you look at Jurrell (Casey), you don't necessarily think that he would be that productive of a player but from having watched him as an opponent and then having watched him as a guy that's on our team, you just marvel at what he does.

(on Michael Oher jumping early at tackle)

I can't speak to that. I didn't necessarily see that. I don't know. He's not bad off the ball, because that would be something that stands out. I'll leave that up to the people that are making those assessments.

(on carryover from this win going into the next game)

I think this game is a lot about confidence, and I think that does factor into that. That's one of the tough things about yesterday's game after that tough loss the week before is to play with confidence in that game. Our guys did that, so hopefully we can build off of that and even continue to play even better.

(on games ending in a tie)

I've been in two that have ended in ties. I have been exposed to it. It's a little bit like kissing your sister, right? It's not a win but it's not a loss. I think from a standpoint of that's the way the rules are in the NFL, so I'm all for it.

(on his thoughts on the rules of tie games)

That's above my pay grade. I am performing under the rules that we all agreed to.

(on Dexter McCluster's versatility in the game)

I think sometimes you don't know for sure where the ball's going to go. We've always had packages in the last few weeks trying to get Dexter (McCluster) the ball, it just didn't seem to work out, and yesterday it did. It was good to be able to see Dexter do some of those things. We're going to continue to try to do that because, obviously, he's a good player, and hopefully we'll continue to have success with that.

(on Dexter McCluster switching positions based on different packages)

Sometimes it's different. Sometimes he's in different spots. He's done it from the backfield, he's done it from outside the formations, all where we feel like we can get the right matchups.

(on creating matchups for Dexter McCluster against the Jaguars)

We had two big second down plays that got us first downs that were really important. Also, some things that were move-the-chains type things. We had some opportunities in the red zone, too. Those didn't quite work the way we wanted them to, even though Dexter (McCluster) did a good job with them, so hopefully we'll continue to be able to build things that augment his skill set.

(on Damion Stafford's performance in the game)

Daimion (Stafford) did a nice job. He continued to build off of what he did in preseason as far as showing us he can play that position.

(on if Jake Locker will practice this week)

We'll see. We worked him Saturday and didn't feel like he was ready to go. He'll continue to rehab, and we'll see where he is on Wednesday.

(on Jake Locker's ability to grip the ball)

That's an important part of playing the position, so I would say yeah. You've got to take into consideration taking a snap, taking a handoff. I guess you don't realize how much you use your back until you tweak it. Probably as a quarterback you don't realize how much you use your thumb or your hand until you have to hand off or take a snap or do all those things that seem everyday commonplace.

(on Jake Locker wanting to play)

That's Jake (Locker's) nature, and I respect that. I think that's his mentality. We have an excellent trainer in Todd (Toriscelli), and his counsel is very important on that, as well. He's been good. You can tell he wants to play. Once again, I respect that, but he's been good. He understands.

(on the discussion of if Jake Locker can play)

It's not a real long one most of the time. Jake (Locker's) been very professional and very good about it, even though I know he has that burning desire to play.

(on his thoughts on the Redskins)

Don't know a whole lot about them. We played them last year, and so I remember a little bit about them, but they've changed coaches, so I don't know from a standpoint scheme-wise what differently they're doing.

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