LIONS HEAD COACH ROD MARINELLI WEEKLY PRESS CONFERENCE
Hondo S. Carpenter
Opening statement: "The only injury, really, is Fernando Bryant and we're checking him out right now. He's going to get a scan on his head here in a little bit (and we'll) see how he's doing. I think he's going to be fine. After watching the tape, some of the positive things I'll start with: once again, Mike Furrey, I think each and every week he comes in and he plays at a very high level. I'm excited about that. He's been very consistent all year. Obviously Jason Hanson had another very good game for us. Under pressure and duress he always seems to be there and obviously we appreciate him.
"On defense, there are a couple guys that kind of jumped out. DrÃ© (Bly), I thought had one of his better games this year; the interception, the fumble (recovery). I thought he was tackling a little bit better. Then we had a defensive end, Corey Smith - this guy was flipping burgers about five weeks ago and he comes in and he's playing very well. The guy put on some great pressure, hustled around, caused a fumble, had a chance for a possible sack-fumble right before the half and put on some great pressure. He hustled all over the field and played a lot of plays in the special teams. So that's what I'm looking for. Cory Redding, he has stepped up since he's been inside as a three-technique and he's gotten himself 6.0 sacks over this period of time which is good. He's on his way - I think second in the league right now (for) defensive tackles and sacks. So those things were very positive.
"I think the team is playing hard. I like that.Â I like how they're preparing. What I don't like, though, is the fourth quarter when the game's on the line, on the road. The one thing I appreciated, they went on the road against a very good team and we went on the road and competed very hard for a little over three quarters in terms of eliminating mistakes, playing with good fundamentals and being on the details. But the fourth quarter, once again, is getting us and that's coaching and its players, too, both. We have to be able to eliminate our mental errors when up in the fourth quarter. I chart those. They go up. The penalties - we had some major penalties going into the fourth quarter that hurt us. That's where we have to be smart. And then our turnovers jumped up in the fourth quarter.
"So, to be a championship football team, which is our goal and that's what we're going to do, we've got to be able to learn from these experiences - every experience you have. And if you fail that game, you've got to learn from those experiences. Each and every week, you've got to learn from those experiences. Then we take it into this week, going into our fourth quarter, we've got three divisional games to go and Dallas at the end. I'm looking forward to that and seeing if I can get this team to get better and better. We've got to continue to practice and prepare and that's what we're going to do. Now, some of these men are getting some great opportunities. Some of the men have chances to show what they're doing. Some are taking advantage of it, some are getting exposed. That's part of this deal as we go along. So I'm grading them very hard, they know that. I want to see the winning performances, I'm going to keep listing them each and every week and make sure these men are competing for their jobs and competing to help this franchise become the winning franchise I want it to become."
Whether DE Kalimba Edwards was benched yesterday or DE Corey Smith just played more: "He just played a little bit more. He did not get benched, but we just played Corey more."
Whether he altered the plan and put Smith in more after he was "getting things done": "Maybe a little bit more, but I was planning on playing Corey anyway because he's been playing pretty well and rushing a little bit. But no, we did not bench Kalimba -we just played Corey a little bit more."
On Edwards being shut out of the scoreboard and giving nothing for the reps that he's getting: "Yeah, we've got to be able to convert on our rushes. There's no doubt about that - especially in the fourth quarter on our one-on-one rushes - and that starts with me coaching it. I've got to get that done better but we've got to convert as rushers. We were trying to rush three there a little bit, I don't know if you were watching it, we were having a four-man rush and then we were dropping our nose at times. One (reason) is to take away all the check-downs in cover-2, so that forces them to hold it a little bit. Now, the longer he holds it, some of those one-on-ones we've got to win. So, no, we've got to covert, that's all part of rush-and-cover. Each and every guy has got to be accountable, responsible, as well as the coach."
Whether QB Jon Kitna will be the quarterback for the rest of the year and moving forward and whether he would consider giving QB Josh McCown some playing time: "I see Jon as our starter for next year. He's going to come in and finish this â€¦ because he brings so many - everything that we want. He's a heck of a quarterback. It wasn't his best game yesterday. But it's an entire unit thing as I look at it. I think he's got so much upside to him. We've put a tremendous amount of pressure on him (with) how much we have thrown the ball. And the more you do throw it, breakdowns can happen and interceptions can happen. But he's also done a lot of very, very good things in terms of moving the ball, throwing the ball, spreading it around the field for Roy and Furrey and Kevin and some of the other receivers we have. But in this offense, so much of it is precision. A receiver has to get to a certain spot on the field at a certain time. He cant' get re-routed, he can't get bumped off course. We're throwing to spots and it all works together. But, no, I feel very good about him and we're going to continue to feel good about him."
On how many fumbles and interceptions are Kitna's fault and how many are other breakdowns and poor protection: "I couldn't give you that exact number but they're not all his fault, that's all I can tell you. And I can get that during the week for you if you'd like me to come up with that exactly. But sometimes it can be pressure on a guy. There was one earlier in the year, we had a shovel pass and that's counted as a pass. It was run incorrectly, hit the guy in the shoulder, bounced up and that's an interception. One time it bounced off a guy and that's an interception. So there's more to it than just that. But, no, we all see the numbers, we all see the same thing, but I also see a guy who has electrified this offense, too. And, boom, when he's on - and he has been on - he's getting the ball to Roy, he's getting the ball to Furrey, spreading it around; doing a great job in our screen game - just a great job. We're setting those screens up well and that's Kevin and our offensive line getting downfield and blocking. What we're doing though is we're just going down and you look at we're 3rd-and-30 and we come back and get ourselves right back in the position to kick a field goal. It was 1st-and-30, we came back and got ourselves in position. So those are under-duress situations for a quarterback, too."
On there being so much emphasis placed on doing well under duress, but most of Kitna's problems occur in the fourth quarter and the red zone: "It's our team. See, I can go back through and show you mental errors on defense - the same thing. It's not Jon, it's the Lions."
On Kitna being a part of that: "And so is the rest of the team, that's what I'm trying to show you - and coaches. So it's the team; it's the franchise right now. We're getting ourselves in that position, into that fourth quarter, we're getting there and then we're missing it by that much. We're getting in. The pleasing part is, we go on the road against a heck of team and we fight our way into this thing and do a heck of a job and then we don't close the deal. So you just keep working at that thing and then it'sâ€¦ sometimes it comes bone-on-bone; big men on big men. We've got to make some plays - we've got to. That's coaching too, now. Because you're coaching the big men every day to do the things they've got to get done. So it's just finishing the deal off."
Whether that means they're not learning from their experiences: "Experiences can be different, what you're learning from, right? It can be a penalty on something over here, it can be a mental error on a blitz last week and now it may be a mental error with a line of scrimmage check (where) a guy didn't listen. Or getting a hand signal a guy didn't look around because, right at the end when the pressure is on, you have to be exact, especially playing a heck of a good football team like that. A team we had a chance to beat. And you have got to be on every detail. That's what playoff football is all about and that was the thing I was trying to sell to these men this week - it's a playoff atmosphere - and that was one thing I've been telling you men: I don't want to walk into these games relaxed and loose - I don't want to do that. Because it gives you false hope that if they just go out, and I call it a wag, wild guess; just a wild guess and making a play. That's not what I want. I want it to be so much pressure where they feel going into that stadium last week - this is what playoff atmosphere is like and we saw it again and we weren't good enough to close the deal; coaches and players, we were not good enough to close the deal. So we come back, we see it, we learn it, and we're now finding out who can. And why it's not happening and where the communication's breaking down and why. But I'm going to find out exactly the men, and I'm putting them in those situations and we'll find out who can do it as we go. That's why I'm grading them so (thoroughly). Every snap is graded so thoroughly and they see it. I'm putting up who's got the winning performances out here. Who's doing it on the road like this? I'm just going to keep the screws down, I'm looking forward to the fourth quarter. I can't wait, really. We get these divisional games, we get a chance, another crack at these, and we're that far away and we've just got to close that gap. I know it's repetitive what I say, but that's the game of football. It is about repetitive. It's who can keep doing something better and better and better and improving."
On, if Kitna's the quarterback, where QB Josh McCown stands and why he gives them the best chance to win at receiver right now: "(He's) got really good speed. He's a very good athlete; he's got height and he's got range. That's what I really like about him. You know, you were asking about Mike (Williams) - Mike right now is more of an inside guy. He needs to get faster to get down the field for us. He's in most of our packages as an inside guy. Josh gives you some really good speed, especially when Corey was sick and he wasn't as strong as he could be. So you're looking to put guys in position, I think that's a great part of our league, is there's coaches who can go out and take a guy and position flexibility; take him from one spot, be creative enough, move him to another position and see if he can help you win a game."
On why he wouldn't use Williams in that inside position: "On the outside position, right now it would probably be just some lack of speed - he's got to get faster out there."
On why not play him inside: "He is. He's been playing in some of those positions."
On Williams having only one ball thrown to him the entire day: "Well, sometimes the coverage can dictate that, too."
On how much of it is that McCown knows the offense and he can be relied on more: "Well I won't say more than (Mike Williams) but you're right exactly. The guy is sharp, he knows, he's a very good athlete. He gives you another guy in the mix, that's what he does."
On if WR Corey Bradford played after running the wrong route after the interception: "I can't answer that. I couldn't answer that. Honestly."
On if he grades DT Shaun Rogers while he's not playing: "No, because I would have to grade a lot of other guys who aren't playing or are injured too."
On if Rogers is someone who will play this week: "You know, as I look at it, we'll probably be looking at him one more time this week and then I think we'll make that decision."
On if Rogers doesn't play this week will he be put on IR: "I would think so."
On if Rogers wants to play: "Yes."
On what he's done to demonstrate that he wants to play: "His knee hurts him. His knee is not healthy. We went out and worked him last week and it swelled up, it got big on him. It's all he did; he went out, he worked out, they ran on it or biked on it hard (and) all those things. His knee blew up and you can't put a guy out there like that. Of course this guy wants to (play). I think he loves playing football. It's something he wants to do and I think he's going to be a heck of a player for us."
On how many of the players have won his trust this year: "I would say a lot of them have won the trust for three quarters and not all of them have won that trust at the end of the game that you want to see. That's what we're - that's why I'm trying to really condense this thing. These last seven weeks I have to see who can do it as we're going. Who can make these plays? Who can - (and) maybe it's just not making that play - who can hear a call on a blitz and not mess it up, instead of rushing (and) he's dropping or dropping and rushing? Who can perform under those elements? That's what I'm really looking for. You've got to look at yourselves. Are we helping them enough? That's the thing that I keep doing. Are we on them as a staff? Are we helping enough? Are we teaching it well enough? That's why nothing has changed in our preparation. I've seen coaches in these situations start cutting back and relaxing on them, 'they're ok,' - no. Everything we've done from day one: the same meetings, the same walkthroughs, the same practice, the same film after practice (and) all those things. So, I want to just keep pressing forward with all (of) those issues."
On how he distinguishes between players such as QB Jon Kitna, who appear to not be getting the job done, and other players who are on the line: "Because, sometimes, you're looking at it (like) you don't think he can (get the job done). We would look at a lot of things (that) he has done, I guess, and how he's really - I mean, he's throwing for a ton of yardage and he's moving ball very well. So, you're looking at those things, but I want to get it done and win. That position (quarterback) is about winning. That's what (Tom) Brady does a great job of. I believe he has that and so that's what we'll continue to work with and we've got to get our running game going for some balance - that helps. But what's helped us right now (is) the screen game; (that has) really helped us. That takes the heat off, takes the pressure off, takes the blitz off. It's like a draw and if you get Kevin (Jones) outside - that's special now. When he's outside like that, he shows some real special traits. He's caught 55 passes already this year and he's very good like that. The improvement he's made in the passing game has been tremendous."
On what specifically is wrong with the offensive line as their running game is the second worst in the NFL: "I'll say what I do like about it is: yards-per-carry. He's very high up in the league. He, individually himself, is very high and that's the part I do like. He's over 4.0 yards per carry."
On giving up 46 sacks already andÂ what specifically is wrong with the offensive line: "Well, it's just getting the job done. I guess you can't say, 'oh, not running the ball here well or the sack.' We're getting beat one-on-one, a guy gets beat, a good rusher gets him. What hurts you also (is) you get penalties. A penalty puts you in a deep third-and-long, now it's tougher to get off the hook. It's a combination for those guys. As you run the football you keep people at bay a little bit and the last few weeks - for whatever it is - (we've) played some very good rushers. Some very good four man rushers and we've got to be able to block those good rushers."
On using his expression 'the money downs' and how during the San Francisco game Kitna got drilled and then again yesterday when the ball was at midfield he got beat around: "There's no question. That's the thing that we've got to get done. That's the pressure that you're looking at and grading. That's our challenge right here, right now. We do a lot of really good things for about three and a half quarters. It's those certain situations (that) we've got to take it over the step to get this thing over the hump. We've got to keep identifying it, keep looking at it, keep exposing them to it, keep showing them (and) keep challenging them that you're doing some things very good. But, this is not good enough to win. We've got to keep coaching them better - confidence, whatever that may be - but, keep pushing on those areas. The worst thing to do is panic, as a coach; 'Oh, we got to change it. Oh, we got to change that. Oh, this doesn't work. This doesn't work. Oh, we've got to get way from that,' - no. You just keep going with what you believe in and that's what I'm going to do. Do what we believe, keep coaching it and keep doing everything the same because it will happen. You just keep doing it that way and no panic."
On if he buys into the explanation of how last week players specifically said perhaps mental and physical fatigue contributed to not being as sharp in the fourth quarter as they are in the other three: "No because it's an explanation, it's an explanation. I don't buy explanations. I buy results."
On if LB Teddy Lehman was hurt on Wednesday, Thursday or Friday: "No, it was - Friday he started - he just aggravated it. We didn't quite know Saturday morning he was sore. So, we said we'd better check it and we ran him hard Sunday morning and he kind of yanked it."
On if he feels that fatigue is a factor in the fourth quarter: "No, I don't."
On how LB Ernie Sims basically knocked CB Fernando Bryant out and if Marinelli has a problem with his aggression level: "No. It's called friendly fire. The only thing I ask them to do is (to) keep your eyes open when you're going into the pile. Because - this is important- when you want to gang tackle, like I want, when you gang tackle (and) come into the pile, you've got to gang tackle with your eyes open, because now you can see color of jersey's - their's or yours. So, when you go into the pile, you look for their's. If you just go wild in there and start closing your eyes you're going to knock out your own guy. John Lynch might have been the best in the word - that was his nickname, 'friendly fire.' So, Ernie's right there."
On how Bryant's injury looked fairly severe and does it mean that he'll be doubtful for this week: "Usually with the head they are. There are concerns every week when you get a (concussion), for at least a week. So, I would think right now he'd be probably doubtful, I would believe. They'll be doing a scan on his head today, so we'll see a little bit after."
On if CB Stanley Wilson or CB Jamar Fletcher would be helping: "Yeah, Fletcher would be up. So, there'd be those three corners up."
On who would start: "I would probably wait until (later) this week. I want to evaluate and watch their tape and see how (they) kind of perform during the week."