Head Coach Jim Schwartz Press Conference Transcript

Posted Sep 14, 2009

Opening statement
“By midnight tonight, there are going to be 16 teams in the NFL that are going to be dealing with a loss and losses are a fact of life in the NFL. I was with a team in Nashville that started 0-5 and fought back and almost went to the playoffs. I was on a team that started 1-4 and ended up in the AFC Championship game. We’ve seen teams like the Pittsburgh Steelers lose three in a row and go to the Super Bowl and win the Super Bowl. We’ve seen teams like Indianapolis – I think they lost three out of their last five the year they won the Super Bowl.

“Every team loses; it’s a fact of life in the NFL. The way that you deal with it and what happens as a result of the loss is what separates the good teams from the bad teams. Teams that don’t make the same mistakes over and over again, teams that learn from their mistakes are teams that win those battles. I told the team, there are a lot of things that go into dealing with a loss. No. 1 is: know exactly what happened; you can’t deal with it (and) you can’t put it behind you if you don’t know what happened. We needed to identify what happened, we need to address it and then we need to put those mistakes behind us and that’s the players’ job to be able to execute and not let those mistakes happen again. It’s the coach’s job to identify the mistakes, to come up with solutions and it’s the player’s job to execute those. That’s going to be our challenge.

“Every team deals with losses, we’re no different than anybody else. Our challenge is putting it behind us, staying in the right frame of mind and going forward.”

On what elements are most readily fixable
“There are plenty of them in there. Alignments on defense – too many times we aligned blocked, particularly in short yardage situations. We were poor in short yardage. We never gave ourselves a chance in some of those situations. Penalties before the snap and after the whistle, they can certainly be changed. We had two false starts, we had two offsides and then we had a plethora of after the whistle penalties personal fouls, running into the official, coming on the sideline, all kinds of things that can all be fixed.”

On whether there are things that he realizes he’ll have to work around
“There’s always things that you have to work around. The NFL is a continual game of cat and mouse, punch, counter punch, whatever you want to term it; but there’s always things each week, maybe injuries that come up that you have to work around; maybe personnel issues that you need to work around; maybe a particular opponent and a unique set of strengths that they have that you need to work around. There may be some things we need to work around.”

On whether the fact that the team didn’t fold after a tough start did anything for him
“I don’t think there are any moral victories in the NFL. The fact is we put ourselves in a 14-0 hole and everything that happened there was exactly what we didn’t want to happen. We talked about special teams keeping them on a long field; our first two drives defensively were on the 46- and 47-yard line. That’s not a long field. There’s very little margin for error when you’re facing the top NFL offense. We didn’t accomplish that mission.

“On defense we knew that they were going to gain yards – points were the bottom line – we couldn’t allow touchdowns. We were poor on third down, we were poor on redzone defense and on those first two drives we allowed touchdowns on both and our offense went three-and-out right in between. You couldn’t start off the game any worse than we did.

“Now, did we fight back? Yeah, we fought back. We hung in the game for awhile, but it’s nearly impossible to overcome that initial 14-0. It changes the whole dynamic of the game. You can’t run the football the way that you want to – 20 rushing attempts is not enough for us. We need to be able to rush for more. It’s hard to rush for more when you’re starting the game down 14-0.”

On how far he away this defense is from being a top 10 defense
“Oh, I don’t know. The way we played, not very close.

“You deal with a lot of issues in the NFL; it’s not always a talent thing. You need to put the players in good positions, they need to know exactly what to do and they need to be able to execute schemes. There are some ways to work around it. Talent is the bottom line in this league, for sure, but can you change everything in one year? Probably not, but that’s no excuse. That’s no excuse at all for the defensive performance that we had. The main issue is redzone defense, third-down efficiency – I think they were close to 70% in both of those. You can do a lot better than we did.”

On the game looking like a carbon copy of last season
“The results were obviously not what we were looking for, but I wouldn’t say it was a carbon copy. There were a lot of different mistakes in there and were the results similar? Sure, the results were similar. Sort of what I referred to in the beginning, it’s not this loss, it doesn’t stand alone, the performance on defense, or offense, or special teams doesn’t say, ‘Hey, that’s going to be the same thing for 16 games.’ It’s our job as coaches and it’s their job as players to be able to correct those mistakes and move on.”

On whether he was able to detect anything on tape as to why QB Matthew Stafford was erratic
“Probably a lot had to do with being down 14-0; it took away our ability to run the football. A lot of our play-actions – linebackers were deeper which causes the quarterback either to get the ball intercepted or to sail the ball. That was a big part of it. A lot of our stuff was based on play-action and being able to run the football. We weren’t able to run the football; therefore the play-action game wasn’t there. When you’re behind consistently, either two or three scores in the game, it makes it hard to be able to take the check-down and be efficient and to work that way.

“I thought that obviously we didn’t do a good job on third down, but I didn’t realize until after the game that we were able to keep most of our third downs manageable, which sort of makes our third down percentage look even worse than it really was because we didn’t have a lot of third-and-10 pluses. I think we had one third-and-14, a couple of third-and-10, but most of them were third-and-6 or less and we weren’t able to get the job done.”

On running the ball on the one third-and-4 and whether he would do it over again if he could
“Actually it was a pretty good call because they were in a cover-2. They were light in the box and the game plan going in was… They played a lot of cover-2 on third down situations and if they gave us that light box, were going to try to take advantage. A lot of times people run games and twists and stuff like that and particularly early in the game you either force them to stay out of cover-2 or keep them from gaming and twisting so much. The play didn’t work out, but I still thought the call was good.”

On whether that makes the play worse because cover-2 is what he wanted to run against
“Well, it’s not a blanket statement (that) ‘we can’t run against cover-2.’ It was that situation. The line stunt that they ran just happened to be a really good for that run that we had called. I think scheme wise, it’s philosophical, or philosophy-wise – whatever you want to say – I think the thought was good going into it. Like I said, if that’s a different result, if we’re able to crease them, if we catch a different line stunt and we crease them for a 12-yard run on third-and-4, maybe it changes the way they call the game the rest of the time. Maybe they’re less aggressive to call high-risk stunts. Maybe they’re less likely to leave the box so light on third-and-4 and maybe we have some chances down the field to some of our wide receivers.”

On whether or not Stafford’s errant throws seemed purely physical
“I think there was about maybe two or three incidents that he didn’t hit the target he needed to hit. He’s an accurate passer. I think time will prove out that he’s an accurate passer. I don’t have any issues there. There were a couple more that either his legs got tangled with somebody and somebody pressured or he was being hit when he threw so they probably look a little bit worse. But yeah, you’re right. There was a couple instances that I think he looks and says, ‘Hey, I’d rather have those throws back.”

On whether or not he is confident he has the personnel on the defensive line to stop the run
“Well a lot of stopping the run is not just all on the defensive line. I think that is a common misperception. If you want to stop the run, and have a good defensive line, a lot of it has to do with where the linebackers are fitting; how much time you’re calling eight-man front, all those different things. So don’t put it all on the defensive line. I think we gave up about 60 yards rushing in the fourth quarter and like I’ve said on offense, part of the issue of us running the ball was being down 14. Part of the issue of giving up a lot of those rushing yards that we gave up was being down, whatever it was, 17, 18 points in the fourth quarter. When you’re down there teams are just going to be real conservative. They’re going to run, run, run, run, run and those numbers can stack up on you; (and you) start wearing down. I think after we passed the 66-play point, all the sudden that last drive, they were pounding us pretty good and I think it works hand-in-hand. It’s a result of a lot of different things; game situation, linebackers, secondary fits, in addition to the players of the defensive line.”

On whether he was a little disappointed with the defense on New Orleans’ last drive
“Yeah and that’s what I spoke about things that can be fixed. Most of those weren’t physical errors. There was one or two plays in there where their speed was evident and our lack of speed was evident, but most of those plays were missed gaps and things like that that can be corrected. It was a little bit different run-scheme, a little bit different package than we had worked on but that’s no excuse.”

On how pleased he was with WR Dennis Northcutt and RB Aaron Brown’s returns
“That was a bright spot. Our coverage units were inconsistent but they did well at times. Our kickoff cover held them inside the 20 a few times but the return game, we knew we needed to flip the field and our goal was to flip the field at least one time on special teams. (Dennis) Northcutt flipped it once on a punt return, Aaron (Brown) flipped it another time on a kickoff return and then we had the fumble that we recovered near the end of the first half. So I thought those were good things. But like I said, it doesn’t overcome the first two drives of the game starting at the 47- and the 46-yard lines. We shouldn’t have put our defense in that situation.”

On whether RB Aaron Brown has a chance to become something special
“He has a skill-set that’s good for kickoff return. He’s got straight-line speed; he’s got elusiveness; he’s got a little knack for it and he did it well in college. I think that all those are in his favor.”

On whether Brown has to finish the deal too after getting caught from behind
“Yeah I mean, you’re talking about….(when they caught him from behind)….Yeah, you know he had run about 120 yards on that return and run through a couple other tackles and things and the guy had a little bit of an angle on him. He’s a fast player; he’s not going to get caught very often.”

On TE Brandon Pettigrew’s lack of involvement
“Yeah, you know there were a few times looking back at the film that we probably should’ve got him the ball. We were trying to push the ball deeper down the field and all of our tight ends were a little bit more open underneath but some of that again goes to being down and trying to catch back up in the game and it’s hard to be patient and take 5-yard gains when you need three scores in the fourth quarter. But yeah, we need to get all our tight ends more involved including Brandon. He did some good things in the run game. He also was open a few times and like I said we just need to get him the ball, we need to get him more involved. People are going to try their best to scheme to take away Calvin (Johnson). That’s just a fact of life. That’s just the way it’s going to be. He’s a great player. Our other skill guys need to be able to step up. You know, Kevin (Smith) had a lot of receptions but everybody else needs to be able to step up when those opportunities arise.”

On what he saw from rookie S Louis Delmas
“I think you saw the whole gamut with Delmas. You saw the emotion that he plays with and obviously that crossed the line. I told him, I said when a player makes a touchdown, no matter what he wants to do with the ball, he’s earned that right. You don’t want him to dance, you don’t want him to show you up, whatever; stop him from making at touchdown – that’s an easy solution. After he does, hey, it’s his. He was anxious to get on the field, I mean the kickoffs going, the ball’s whistled down and he sprinted onto the field and runs into an official. I mean is it smart? No. Is it exuberant? Yes. It’s all those things and you saw all that with Delmas. He’s an exciting player. He picks up a fumble, scores a touchdown. He made a couple big hits in the game. He was consistent tackling. I think he had one missed tackle, but he was consistent in tackling. All those things are part of his package. He needs to grow. He needs to work. He needs to continue to learn from his experiences and you know it was his first game ever in the National Football League.”

On how important it is to get the run-defense corrected with Vikings RB Adrian Peterson coming into town
“Yeah, major. I mean Mike Bell, Reggie Bush, Adrian Peterson, all of them are NFL backs. All of them get paid and all of them, if you give them a crease can make you pay on defense. But Peterson has a little bit of a unique skill-set for a player. A little bit like I talked about with Calvin Johnson. You know you better know where he is. You better be on every single time because if you’re not, one play can be an 80-yard touchdown.”

On whether or not CB Phillip Buchanon would have returned punts if he had played
“There’s a chance, but because of his situation early in the week we decided to go with (Dennis) Northcutt. Northcutt’s finger was feeling fine, but he (Northcutt) has the ability. We’ve worked with him, we want to leave that open, but because of his injury last week it wasn’t part of the consideration at that point.”

On whether that was that also a factor with WR Yamon Figurs
“No. He was new to us and one of the reasons we brought Dennis (Northcutt) here was to be able to do that for us. I was pleased with the way he returned. He was secure catching the ball. One time he was able to just get it up the sideline it was there. The other time he made a great play made about four or five guys miss.”

On what it says when WR Derrick Williams is inactive and Figurs, who has only been here two weeks, is in the game
“Well there were a lot of reasons for it, special teams was one. Being able to return punts and kickoffs, but also be a gunner and also provide a little different role in the offense. Derrick plays the slot and we had a need for an outside receiver and we kept four wide receivers up. There’s different ways to get an extra slot receiver; we can get in two-tight end personnel and use Casey (FitzSimmons) in there, which we did sometimes. We’ll see how teams want to play, see if they want to play in nickel or in base. So, we have back-up plans there, but we needed the outside receiver. It’s more of a game situation. “

On whether Williams played outside during the preseason
“Yeah, he played outside, but his role mainly now has been the slot. I mean, he can play – all of our receivers can play inside or outside, it’s just trying to fit them in where their abilities fit the best.”

On how many snaps DT Grady Jackson played
“I’m not going to put numbers on him, but I think when he was in there he was fresh and the problem was that, particularly early on, they didn’t run the ball very much and we did a decent job of stopping the run. We didn’t do a very good job of stopping the pass, I mean six touchdowns speaks for itself; but I was pleased with where Grady is and the snaps that he gave us for what we need to do. Again, his performance and his role will be a lot more important when we can get the lead and being in a little different mode of the game.”

On whether Jackson will be a key player in this week’s game
“Oh sure. We’re going to need all of our guys this week, but he’s a big body in there. I thought our defensive tackles him and Sammie (Hill) and Landon Cohen and even (Andre) Fluellen at times, I thought they did some good things inside. Like I said, our issues, just because you give up rushing yards isn’t necessarily the fault of the defensive line.”

On what QB Daunte Culpepper’s role is during the game
“Daunte has been very, very good in the role of support. He’s into the game; don’t read too much into where he is on certain plays and things like that. He’s always into every single play, he’s got the earpiece in. Sometimes, in fairness, you want to be able to let the coach’s coach and you want to be able to step away. Sometimes you feel like too many people are saying the same thing. That will mix messages; particularly when you’re working with a young player.”

On whether he has any update on injuries
“No, I’ll have the injury report on Wednesday and I’ll update all of the injuries on Wednesday.”