LIONS HEAD COACH ROD MARINELLI MONDAY PRESS CONFERENCE
Opening Statement: "Really, the only injury we're talking about is Edwin (Mulitalo). He had a concussion. It looked like he felt a little bit better today, but we'll get a better feel on Wednesday."
On why the team given up on the run quickly several of the past few games: "Well, the week before (vs. Dallas) we didn't, and Green Bay we didn't until we got behind, just like this last game. We were down 17-0 fast. We came out trying to establish it, and we couldn't. We got behind and we had to do what we had to do."
On if he is on the same page with OC Mike Martz: "Yeah, each week, every Tuesday, we sit as a staff, and we talk about how we're going to win this game, and just like the Dallas game, we felt we needed to control the ball, control the clock, and we were able to do that for most of the game (against Dallas). We went out with Green Bay the same way, and we felt this week also, we had to go out and control it, but we got behind so quickly."
On if losing six in a row equals regression: "Well, in losing there's nothing positive. What you do is look back at the film and see where we're breaking down at and try to get that corrected."
On if the team is regressing: "By record. In terms of your record, you've regressed, and there are some areas we've improved on. What I see is: some areas we'll get better at one week and then the next week it's an issue for us. That's what I see. The inconsistency these last six weeks in terms of, maybe, trying to establish the run, stopping the run, just based on the mental things."
On if it is important not to have another ten-loss season: "I think it's important to win this game. It's very important. It's a home game. We have a chance to go 5-3 at home. That's important. Every game is crucial for this franchise, I believe, and this team. These guys are fighting for their jobs, also, so it's also very important."
On if he would consider playing another quarterback for evaluation: "No, I want to play the guys that have earned the right and the guys that are going to give us the best chance to win. These two games are critical for us, especially this home game. We've got to get win No. 7, and we have an opportunity to do that at home. That's a must for us. We have to do everything we can to get ourselves rewired in, and let this last one go. We've got to learn from it. We've got to look at this tape, because it's not pretty. The tape is not pretty."
On the offensive line's performance: "We tried to run early, and it wasn't there. We didn't get the movement, but we had to abandon it so early. We were down 17-0 so quickly, and we were struggling to stop them. We had to go try and put points on, kind of open it up and try to put points on. I think the pass protection was exceptional yesterday. I think that group has really been coming along each and every week."
On whether the team's road struggles are psychological: "That's a great question. I don't believe in the psychological stuff, first of all. I'm not going to put somebody on the couch and start talking to them. I don't believe in that. We've had two great wins on the road. We went out and opened the season out west at Oakland, and it didn't affect us. We went to Chicago, that didn't affect us. But the other four losses obviously did. It's just playing bad football. The tackling, in those four losses, was not very good, especially in the open field. Playing good run defense has not been good on the road. We've not been able to run the football on the road in those four losses. In the two wins, we did."
On frequently addressing the inability to make tackles: "Oh yeah, because I think it's really important in this league. Tackling is critical in this league, especially when you're playing really good backs. This team ran the ball I think over 50 times on us in this game and we have a couple big breakout runs, but really that's demoralizing for you. That's not the tackling, we need to change the line of scrimmage with the down guys; that line of scrimmage has got to get changed with good pad level penetration and to push up the field disrupting blocking patterns - and that's not happening either. It's not just the tackling, it's the penetration, the gap control - they had some guys out of gaps incorrectly - and their running plays, they ran really four runs the whole game. It's just basic runs, which is good football. We played our basic fronts and covers, so we need to execute and that's on us as a staff and players."
On how disappointed he is with his defenses' performance through his first 30 games: "Oh, it's inexcusable. That's the word I would use. We just have to obviously get better with it and keep challenging our players. The inconsistency part is as much as anything and you can look at a defense with playing the game against a certain run and we'll fit it and hit it. They'll run exactly the same play against exactly the same front and then we don't hit it and fit it. So, it's about being consistent in this league."
On whether doubling his win total this year is a sign of progress: "No, progress to me is winning and we've not won enough. I've stated that from the very beginning, that I have high expectations for this team, so the progress is not there."
On the importance of winning this week's game: "I want our ship to get righted at home and I want to play with our energy, I want to be physical, I want the tempo - which we didn't have last week. We're a fresh team right now and we're a healthy team, so there are no excuses."
On whether he is concerned with the opposing team's high completion percent: "Sometimes in the cover 2, the percentage is going to be higher. Hopefully you're eliminating the explosion plays, then when they're trying to go back and throw the deeper routes, the fronts need to be part of that too, but that's not as concerning to me as the run defense."
On whether they're not winning the one-on-one battles up front: "Well, its execution; we have to execute as a staff. Its formations and all those things, but we need to execute. It's just some basic runs and again that's good football in this league - bone-on-bone football. We've got to make sure our pad level is down, we're disrupting penetration up the field, we're tackling the guys - the free hitter has to be able to make the tackle. It's all the basic things - we call it the big five - and really we just have the big four. You have to be able to slam it; they kept running and they kept doing what they did. They wanted to run the football and we've got to play our gaps, our defense, our calls and we've got to change the line of scrimmage."
On why he believes the team won't quit for the last two games: "Because I think they're paid professionals. I remind them of that and we owe this game more than that. For somebody to quit and be a professional football player - that's inexcusable."
On whether he still believe what he's doing as a coaching staff and whether he needs to change his messages: "Well, I always believe in what we're doing. I love what we're doing and so that's why I always put it on us. We need to keep teaching it, keep pushing it, because some of the basic things that we're teaching are not happening. By tweaking it, were getting our hats in the right gap, playing your gaps correctly, playing faster, tackling more physical - because we're e fresh. We're a fresh team and we went into that game extremely fresh. We're healthy, we're a healthy team, so there's no excuse to me to travel across the country and not go out and play a very violent, explosive game. There's no reason for that. I need to remind them of that and make sure we understand that. We need to get our pads down - a lot of things sometimes we're looking in the backfield instead of playing low - that's what it comes down to. Tackling correctly, fitting the run, a basic pirate - having a guy fall back correctly - one time we'll do it, the next time we won't. To me, the biggest thing is being consistent and these last six games all have been extremely important games for us and we have not been able to hit the nail with the hammer consistently."
On whether they just don't have the talent to have a winning season: "You know, I never believe that; I always go right back to the teacher. These are the students we have, and what I look at is that we're teaching this, we're going through it and we're repping it - then it's not talent fitting your gap or getting the penetration - it's not talent hitting a gap properly, exploding the ball properly; it's about knowing what to do. I've really - what I've tried to do the last couple weeks - I tried to freshen this team up and really emphasize knowing what to do. We've gone through it, gone through it and gone through it and as a teacher, if a guy is not getting it, then you have to keep doing it and keep believing and keep pushing. Some weeks we get it, and some weeks we don't. That's the consistency part."
On at what point it becomes the player's inability to perform the teacher's requests: "You know, I think that's a copout. If a guy fails one week - these are the people we have on this team - these are the 53 I have and I believe in the 53 that we have. Those are the decisions we made in the offseason to keep these men, and I like them. Their effort, they're trying to do it and we have to put it on us still. I put it on them privately; we do that. I mean, I don't need to do that in a spotlight situation, what I do in team meetings - they understand. What we have to do is make sure we're consistent, that's the biggest thing."