A transcription of coach Tom Cable’s press briefing Friday the day after a 24-7 loss to the Dallas Cowboys:
(I was traveling from Dallas and did not attend)
Cable: Quick injury update from the game. Greg Ellis was the only one who didn’t finish. Had some fluid on his knee. Ike Ekejiuba, really no worse for wear. Took another shot to the knee. It’s just basically a pretty good bruise. Cornell Green sprained an ankle, doesn’t look to be too serious.
Q: Is there a common theme to the big plays allowed?
Cable: There’s a couple of miscommunications. More than anything, we’re a man team, play press coverage, and we didn’t really play them up real tight. The runs, really, were empty gaps, people not defending the gap properly. But just too many of them. That’s really the tale of the game defensively. Offensively, ran it pretty consistent. Threw it OK, threw it better than last week, but still, against a good team like that on the road, you’ve got to throw a little bit better. And some of that, I think more in the first half just getting untracked. That’s progressing, and special teams was very solid it seemed like all day in terms of covering. Really didn’t get much chance to return. Just really too much to fight back from, too much to overcome.
Q: Was the short week a factor defensively in terms of communication?
Cable: Well, you hope not. They had to do the same thing. So I wouldn’t make an excuse like that. We just did not get it done there.
Q: What was behind the decision to move Trevor, have him play (weak side linebacker)? And do you anticipate doing that more?
Cable: I thought for what we asked him to do, he played well. The only difference in what we had done in weeks past is just stand him up more, not so much on the end but behind he line of scrimmage. Really it just gives us a little more physicalness. We figured going in that they would really try to run the football.
Q: Is that something you anticipate doing more of?
Cable: I think it’s something after looking at it on film was a positive thing and certainly will get better.
Q: Can you address struggles in the passing game with Bruce Gradkowski?
Cable: I would think that’s the only thing I would probably relate to the short week. It’s just the timing of our passing game. You know, it’s better this week than the week before, but like you just said, when you look at it on film, it’s literally a foot here a foot there from being a heck of a throw and a great completion. So if you look at that, that’s something that will just naturally get better and better. But that’s an exciting part of our team, because you can see it coming now.
Q: When you look at the tape, how was the protection?
Cable: Good. You know there was one sack early, we stepped up into one right there at the end of the first half, and then just the one in the second half. A couple of times he got a little antsy in there, but again, Mario’s playing a great player who got him one time. He got him on an over-set. We had a double with a tight end and a back, and it got split, and then one time just pushing up in the pocket. I think it was Spencer came underneath someone.
Q: Any consideration of moving the pocket so that Gradkowski can utilize his mobility?
Cable: Absolutely. But if you look at the width of their ends in this game, they were ready for that. Definitely. It was going to be part of the plan was to move him, but they were playing those guys, if you noticed, backside end was never a factor in our run game.
Q: You said pass protection was ‘good’, what was the grade?
Cable: What would the grade be on protection?
Cable: I’d say ‘B’. You know, it was, for that group of guys, you had three other hurries. That’s really pretty productive against that particular group.
Q: Kelly said the front seven needs to get their act together in terms of communication and being on the same page . . .
Cable: Well I think, communication is all 11. You know, it’s getting the call, the huddle call, being able to get lined up, and fitting off each other, playing in front and behind each other, all the things it takes to be gap sound. You know the thing I took–one of the quotes I saw from him was, ‘We’re stopping them, we’re stopping, we’re stopping them, then bang!’ And that’s a very true statement. You know, you see a lot of high integrity defense, fitting it right, tackling it well, and then the next thing you know, bang, something comes out.
Q: Is that a thing where guys are relaxing after the two good plays?
Cable: When that happens it’s a person letting up somewhere in there, whether it’s a lack of focus or concentration or maybe over-running something, that’s part of it, too, is maybe you understand what it is and what you’re doing but you may get a little antsy and overrun it.
Q: What’s a successful week in terms of points allowed?
Cable: If you’re in that 14-17 range you’re doing pretty well in this league. If you’re doing better than that you’re probably one of the very top defenses. It gives you a chance to go out, offensively, and score two touchdowns and two field goals to have a chance to win it. I think we’re capable of doing that.
Q: Bush no carries in first half?
Cable: Really if you look at how we started the game and you start looking at how those three guys are used, look at how we started the game with the two tailbacks in the game at the same time and using some spread formation, and then a lot of three wide receiver with one back. I think nothing more than we started the game that way.
Q: His fumble vs Cincy had nothing to do with it?
Q: How is Chaz and does he have the burst he had before the injury?
Cable: Looks like it. He seemed to be very much in control of what he’s doing out there and so for him to be back like that, that’s a real positive.
Q: Is Fargas a guy you can hold up as an example?
Cable: Sure I do. In terms of a bellcow, he brings it every day, practice, game day, loves to play, plays inspired football whether he’s getting it or not. If he’s out there protecting, blocking, catching it, whatever, you’re going to get 100 percent from that guy. He definitely would be an example.
Q: Will Bruce start against Pittsburgh?
Q: How much did TD help DHB’s confidence?
Cable: As I mentioned after the game, every time those young guys do something like that, score a touchdown, hit a couple of big plays, go through a game without s drop, whatever that is. Those are breakthroughs and you just want to keep piling them up and pretty soon that confidence factor will kick in and you got what you wanted.
Q: Did you sense relief from DHB after TD?
Cable: Sure. I think it’s exciting any time a guys scores his first touchdown in the NFL. It’s a big deal for those guys.
Q: Worried about losing guys?
Cable: No. I mentioned this a couple weeks ago. The character of this team is really too strong. I just feel like we’ll go to work every day and put forth the right effort, put forth what it takes to succeed. It’s just a matter of being more stubborn than that negative emotion or negative feeling.
Q: Did you see improvement this week?
Cable: Parts of it. Look at the 5-something average per rush. The completions were up, throwing the ball for 200 yards, again another touchdown pass, some things that we haven’t had here. Those numbers are starting to come where they should be or need to be for us to successful. It gets back to continuity to solve your problems. That’s getting more chunk yardage, big plays in the passing game, and more consistent defense.
Q: How much does running game success a result of Bruce?
Cable: Yeah I think it bodes well for the run game but it also helps the passing game too. As I mentioned earlier, they weren’t going to let us run the boot game or move the quarterback and reverse stuff because they were playing two, three yards outside the tackle and tight end. They just weren’t going to let us do it. That’s space. By alignment they are creating space for us. It definitely is starting to complement each other.
Q: What will you do with extra time, rest or more practice?
Cable: Both. We’ll have an extra day again on Monday so we’ll take advantage of that, introduce Pittsburgh, come back Wednesday, Thursday, Friday like we normally would and travel on Friday. It will be pretty similar to a normal week with the added day of Monday.
Q: Weekend off?
Cable: We’ll be back in Sunday.