Head Coach Jim Schwartz Press Conference Transcript

Posted Nov 9, 2009

Opening statement
“After watching the tape of this (game) it’s really hard to believe that we had the ball and a chance to win the game at the end. It was a game filled with errors. It was a game with poor plays on offense, defense and special teams. We played in a hostile environment, one of the hardest places to play in the NFL and had the advantage of getting a lead – a 17-0 lead – based on turnovers early in the game; but it was an accumulation of errors in all three phases that lead to them coming back and us losing that game. Like I said, the fact that we even had a chance at the end of that game was amazing to me after watching the film today.”
On whether there are any significant injuries as a result of the game
“Still waiting to hear a little bit on Ernie Sims, but that has the potential to be significant there. He has some more testing to be done and that has that potential; players right now are finishing watching tape and as soon as that’s done he’s going to be getting some more tests.”
On S Louis Delmas’ injury
“I think he’s… we’ll see on Wednesday, but it’s more into the short-term, bumps and bruises type thing.”
On whether it’s encouraging to have been in the game at the end despite the errors
“Honestly, I don’t know. I don’t know whether to look at it as ‘glass half-full’ or ‘glass half-empty’ because you put all of those things (together): ok, cross country trip, play on the road, obviously a loud place, adverse conditions and the fact that we were in that position, ok, there’s positives there. The fact that we were up 17-0 and let it slip away, there aren’t many positives that you can look at there. I think one of the turning points of the game was when we took the 17-0 lead, we kicked the ball off and allowed a return to midfield. That changed the whole momentum of the game at that point. We had them on their heels, we were rolling up, even though we had missed a field goal early with chances to put points on the board, we were 17-0. We had covered the first couple of kickoffs well, knocked them around the 20-yard line, but we had one little slip up and all of a sudden the ball is at midfield, they get some momentum and all of a sudden our defense is on their heels and I thought that was a significant part of letting them back in that game.”
On whether the kickoff returns are a talent or coaching issue
“There are some things that we can do better from a coaching standpoint of putting players in positions, but football comes down to blocking, tackling, getting off blocks and tackling. Players know what to do; there’s one thing you can only put players in position – like a little bit like we talked about the drops last week – the only thing that you can do there is you can make changes. You can’t catch a ball for somebody, you can put them in position, or you can make personnel changes. I don’t want to make excuses, but we were a little short – and it was my decision –a little bit short special teams wise because we inactivated Vinny Ciurciu who had been brought in to cover kicks because I wanted to keep an extra defensive lineman up because of a little bit of an injury situation and also knowing that those guys were going to be probably rushing a lot of passes in that game. That’s obviously part of the coaching right there and then there’s personal responsibility from players. It’s being in the right spot, it’s making a tackle.”
On QB Matthew Stafford’s inaccuracy and whether that’s a result of his knee injury
“It’s possible, sure. All of our reports and our conversations with him have been that that’s not the case and there were times in that game that he stepped up and really delivered some footballs, but there were times as you observed that the balls floated or weren’t there. A couple of them had to do with inside rush. I think our biggest issue is too many second-and-long and third-and-longs. We had five interceptions in this game; four of them came on third-and-extra-long. Not third-and-eight or third-and-nine, but third-and-11-plus situations and this goes back to what we talked about before, when you put anybody in that situation: rookie quarterback, Pro Bowl quarterback, that’s a very, very difficult for an offense to be in. To be able to make a play when the defense knows that you have to lay back and you have to make 15 yards and then if you try to make it there’s great potential for interceptions and things like that and Matt was guilty on a lot of those balls for trying to do too much and trying to push the ball down the field in those situations. There are times to be aggressive; there are times on first down and stuff like that, but by putting ourselves in some third down and extra longs, we can only run so many screen passes, we can only run so many draws. People started playing us for all of that stuff. We just need to do better at getting ourselves out of that position. I think those were some of the situations that led to some of the picks.”
On whether Stafford had issues with decision making or inaccuracy
“There were a couple of decisions that needed to be better in there and there’s a difference being aggressive and then being prudent when it comes to the situation; he had a third-down play to Bryant (Johnson), they played single-high coverage and he dropped the ball right down the chimney and Bryant made a great catch and we scored a touchdown. Where we were already sort of in field goal range and you’d be able to say, ‘Well, let’s not take a chance here. Let’s not make that.’ But the situation was right. It was post defense, he had a one-on-one, he had a guy with a step and he made a good throw. There are other situations if they give you different coverage’s that you have to be able to make the right choice and you have to be able to check it down. A lot of it comes from not being in those situations very often, we’re way too much in third-and-long and it comes from the negative plays on first- and second-down. We started in the first play of the game, minus-one on the run play. We had way too many of those plays and that puts anybody, like I said, rookie quarterback, Pro Bowl quarterback, you get behind the eight ball. There are a lot of Pro Bowl quarterbacks in this league and if they get to third-and-13 or third-and-14, I mean, they almost concede the down because they don’t want to make a mistake down the field. We’re really not at that point as a team that we can do that because we need to take advantage of every opportunity that we have, but we just have to be smarter in those situations.”
On whether in hindsight they should have kept running the ball in the last possession of the first half
“Yeah, we were in that situation where we were trying to… we weren’t using our time outs very quickly, we were saying… particularly when we started that drive we were backed up pretty good and we said, ‘Hey look, let’s get out of the hole, let’s get going and then we can start using our time outs.’ I mean you want to be aggressive enough to be able to score without just saying, ‘Hey, our whole objective in that drive is to burn the time.’ We don’t want to treat it like the end of the game and we’re up seven points and we just want to burn time off to give them points. You still want to score, but we need to be aware of the clock and I wasn’t that displeased with that. I mean, we still need to be aggressive; we still need to be able to make plays and throw the football. Our defense needs to go at that point, make a stop and hold them off the scoreboard.”
On the camera catching some “chilly” moments between Stafford and WR Calvin Johnson
“There’s no issue there. I’ve talked to the players; I haven’t looked at TV copies or anything else. Good gracious, if there was a camera on every single person on every single play, you could read between the lines on a million different things."
On whether he’s talked to both players to make sure there’s nothing there: “Yes.”
On whether it’s expected to have tension between the quarterback and receiver
“You want to be happy and cheerful and you want to win football games and there are things that you have to work through and there are going to be times that you need to talk things out and stuff like that, I don’t even see it as being an issue. I know it’s not for the players and I don’t understand why somebody would make an issue, when it’s not even an issue.”
On why Stafford was unable to get the ball to Johnson
“Well, we got him the ball down the field on one where we stepped out of bounds; we’ve had other opportunities there. This game featured a lot of Cover-2 and like I said, there weren’t a whole lot of times that we were able to push the ball down the field. On Bryant Johnson’s touchdown pass we were able to get one down the field. Calvin had a one-on-one down the field that he just stepped out of bounds on and we weren’t able to finish that play. When that happens, typically it opens up the middle of the field a little bit more and I think you saw that from our tight end production. You saw the tight ends make a lot of plays and those kinds of things. When they’re rotating their coverage outside, that’s going to be open. That’s why we needed those guys inside to step up. I thought Brandon (Pettigrew) did a good job that, particularly early in the game; he took advantage of those things. Defenses know Calvin is a great player and they’re going to do everything they can to take him out. Again, it’s a little bit of what we said before, you want to get him the football, but at what expense. If the defense takes him away, you need your other guys to be able to make a play for you.”
On other wide receivers around the league being able to make plays
“I don’t know if he’s played as many games as those guys. We’re still a work in progress on offense. We still have a long way to go and fitting other people around him and different things like that but I haven’t been displeased at all with him (Calvin Johnson). He came back from the knee. He looked good. Is he 100 percent? Probably not, but he’s close enough that he can go out and make plays like he did in the game. We need more from him but we need more from everybody. Defenses know he’s a great player. They know what he’s capable of doing and they’re going to try to take everything that they can to keep him from making plays down the field.”
On whether this was what he had been waiting for from TE Brandon Pettigrew
“No, because we expect more from him. Is it a step in the right path or a step in the right way? Yeah it is. Is it sort of back on the right track for him? Yes, because we were seeing a lot of those plays maybe three, four games ago he was really making strides and then he sort of derailed a little bit. This was getting him back on track. Use a big guy that can make plays in the red zone; a lot of the things that we envisioned him doing – just using his size, throwing the ball. We had a third down-and-20; good gracious, third down-and-20 is extremely hard to convert. I was a defensive coordinator for a long time. I’m almost calling for a hot dog and a Coke when it’s third-and-20 because you figure you’ve got that one won. That big joker went down the seam; Matt (Stafford) put the ball on him. Matt makes a great play, sees they have 12 guys on the field, he runs up and runs a quick play – which we had talked about during the week as being a situation – Matt does a great job of executing that. There are two young players that really make a play in a very, very difficult situation. I’m pleased to get him back on track, running, blocking and pass receiving.”
On where the run game stands right now especially with RB Kevin Smith
“Still a work in progress probably. Nothing on our team should be. Is it reality? Yeah, it’s reality. I think more than any other position we’ve struggle with injuries in our run game. Kevin’s (Smith) dealt with some injuries, Maurice Morris has dealt with some injuries. Our fullbacks have dealt with some injuries and it’s really been that way since the very beginning of the season. It’s been hard to get on track because every time that we do it seems that we take a step back and we need to get past that. We need to get more out of our run game particularly when teams take advantage or try to take advantage of our ability on outside part of the field and take those plays away. We need to be able to have tight ends that can catch the ball. We need to be able to have running backs. Kevin’s catches are good. He’s doing a good job running after the catch. He’s getting a lot of those balls. All our running backs need to find a way to get some more. It was good to see an explosive—we need to do more of that.”
On whether he would have liked to see Kevin Smith run straight up the field on the 31-yard-run
“I’ve given up long ago trying to second guess running backs. I’m not a good running back and I think there’s so many times…how many times you watch Barry Sanders and probably said ‘Oh my God don’t do that’…oh touchdown. Running backs, they have instincts. You need to coach them on the proper reads and stuff like that, but when you get in the open field like that, that’s just an instinctual thing. I think you can over-coach a running back.”
On whether he was where he expected to be half-way through the season
“Honestly? Honestly I have not looked any more than the next game. I honestly had no idea. Somebody mentioned—I knew we had Minnesota this week and then I was thinking, ‘Wait a minute is the next week Thanksgiving? Oh no we go to Cleveland and then—coaches focus is so short term and so ‘this Sunday’ that to say, ‘This is where we were going to be after eight games, or this is where we expected to be,’ it never even registered. Are we happy where we are? Absolutely not. Do we have a long way to go? Yes we do. Are we working? Sure. Are we seeing positive signs? Yeah. Are we seeing inconsistencies? Yes. Are there changes to be made still? Yes. To label us happy or unhappy or anything else—we have work to do every Sunday and we’re not there yet.”
On whether he expected to have so much production from rookies after eight weeks
“I thought we drafted well after the draft. Now, how quickly they were able to get on the field and things like that, I won’t say that it was a surprise. I mean there was a reason we picked those guys and we picked a lot of players awfully high. I would expect that if we make the right choices drafting that those guys do contribute for us.”
On why Matt Hasselbeck was able to have 15 consecutive completions
“He’s got good receivers, got good tight ends, he’s a good quarterback. We were throwing everything and the kitchen sink at him. We were blitzing, we were playing man, we were playing zone; trying to find a way to combat it. It wasn’t like we were sitting in the same coverage and he was taking advantage of one thing continually. He wasn’t going at one person continually. You’ve sort of got to give credit there. We’re a defense that—we can’t always be as aggressive as we’d like because you give up the big play in some of those situations. I think he had a couple of long passes. I know the screen pass was one and I think he had one other one that were combined maybe 70 or 80 yards. The rest of the time I think he was averaging about five yards per pass, which is a lot of dink and dunk. If you try to stop all that you’re going to give up more of the long ones. We can’t have quarterbacks complete 15 in a row on us, but we have work to do there, let’s put it that way.”