Head Coach Scott Linehan

Monday, November 27, 2006

(Opening statement and injury report)

“The injury report is a little more complicated this week. I think there are just a couple here that are significant as far as what we know for sure. Victor Adeyanju has a radius fracture in his right forearm and he’ll definitely be out for the next two or three ballgames. That was pretty significant and it happened in the first quarter. Isaiah Kacyvenski had a concussion on a kickoff coverage team and we’ll evaluate him at the end of the week, but he’s definitely out for this game. Like always with those, you have to be ultra-conservative with them and he’ll be week-to-week after this week. The other one was Richie (Incognito). He had to come out a couple of times with his foot. Basically it’s a mid-foot sprain to his right foot. We’re going to have another MRI done and we’ll know more between now and tomorrow as to how significant an injury it is. It’s something he can probably play with if there is nothing wrong with the foot itself, as far as a fracture. We’ll know more by Wednesday about his status. Joe Klopfenstein had a slight concussion and wasn’t able to return. He seemed to be pretty good after the game, and we’ll evaluate him as we go. It was the first time he’s had anything like that, so I think we’ll know more after Wednesday’s practice on whether he’s good to go, but at this point he looks okay. Marc (Bulger) has rib contusions and he’ll be alright, Madison (Hedgecock) has a slightly sprained left ankle and he’ll be okay. Tye Hill had to come out because of fatigue, but his left thigh has an old injury that’s been getting aggravated so he was unable to finish the game yesterday. Paul Smith has a right hamstring injury and he’ll be evaluated between now and Wednesday, but it looks much better for this week. Adam Timmerman has ribs that were injured in the Carolina game, but he was able to play with it yesterday and he looks to be alright. Will Witherspoon has a slight right hamstring strain that he’s been playing with for about a week. He should be alright if we modify his work. Claude Wroten has a right hamstring strain as well. It’s that time of year to start them up a little bit, and the two injuries that are certain are Victor (Adeyanju) and Isaiah Kacyvenski.”

(On LB Isaiah Kacyvenski being injured in yesterday’s game)

“He made the tackle on the kickoff team and you could tell right away that it affected him, so we’ll be pretty conservative with these reoccurring head injuries. They kind of hit helmet to helmet on the play. It was a very good tackle and very good play, but you could tell that he went right down and wasn’t getting up.”

(On DE Victor Adeyanju’s performance in yesterday’s game before his injury)

“He had been playing well. He’d been doing a very good job on first and second down, but he hasn’t shown, on third down, the pass rush you’d like to see on the opposite side of Leonard (Little), but he’s been playing very well on first and second down. He was playing fine yesterday and it put us in a little bit of a pickle on our D-line and us moving guys around. Unfortunately, this happens in this game. They tried to put a cast on and see if he could play, but it’s sort of a pain tolerance thing and I think the pain is pretty high.”

(On Adeyanju’s cast)

“It’s like the old-fashioned cast where you just cast it and let it heel, but it’s going to take time for him to be able to play with that. That thing is pretty painful.”

(On who will take over Adeyanju’s spot on the defensive line)

“Brandon (Green) and Claude Wroten will do it. I think Brandon definitely moves in there. I think Brandon had his best game of the year, so that’s what we’ll do. He was getting to the ball in his production. The very last pass of the game he pressured the quarterback and forced a hurried throw and he actually held up pretty well against the run. He always has great energy and a great motor when he plays and yesterday was his best effort.”

(On why DT Claude Wroten could possibly play some defensive end with Adeyanju’s absence from the lineup)

“He can rush the passer, he has enough size to anchor against the run, but he does have pass rush ability, which ends need to have. You can’t just move a tackle out there because it will be five on four when it comes to pass protection, but he has the ability to get pressure on the quarterback at that spot. He’s done some of it and it was always a contingency to move him there if something ever happened, and now it’s reality.”

(On activating DE Eric Moore for Sunday’s game against Arizona)

“We considered having him up this week. We gave him work; snaps and reps in practice. He’s certainly going to be moving into the rotation now with this injury. He’s ready to have some playing time, probably more-so on passing downs at this point, but we have to get him ready to play this week, just like Brandon (Green) had to be ready to play this past week.”

(On possibly adding another player to the roster)

“We have a couple of other things we need to factor in as far as special teams with Isaiah (Kacyvenski) being out. There could be an addition to our roster. If we don’t add a defensive end there’s a possibility of bringing somebody onto our practice squad, but that all depends on who we’re able to possibly get to help our 53, but mainly the guys that are going to be up for Sunday and our special teams.”

(On the situation at cornerback with CB Tye Hill’s injury)

“We’re just going to have to manage it. It’s actually an old injury that’s been getting fatigued, and really it was fatigued yesterday. He felt pretty good and we worked him out before the game, but I think that it’s enough of a concern that we’re going to make sure that we have everyone ready to go. Ron Bartell played well when he came in; Jerametrius Butler will be available and will see some time as well. We’re going to be tested there, so we have to back ourselves up in case he’s not 100 percent.”

(On G Mark Setterstrom’s performance in yesterday’s game)

“A couple of things right off the bat were dealing with getting the rust off because he hasn’t played in a regular season game since he was in college. We had an early snap on one play and a couple of things happened early, but after that he played very well. That last drive, he really did a good job. He handled the pass rush and the line gains we were getting. I saw him this morning and he felt very good about it. I hadn’t yet seen the tape when I talked to him, but we watched it and he graded out very well.”

(On WR Willie Ponder being inactive this week)

“We brought him (Willie Ponder) in here for a reason, but last week’s game had nothing to do with it because he really didn’t have an opportunity for a return. We really had the issue with Tye (Hill’s) leg injury that caused us concern. We worked him out, felt it was going to be a fatigue problem, so we had to carry another cornerback. Had we been 100 percent there, we would’ve had the luxury of having Willie (Ponder) up, but we had to back ourselves up in the secondary. Otherwise we would have had three cornerbacks up that game if Willie (Ponder) had been up.”

(On G Mark Setterstrom’s performance in yesterday’s game)

“He graded out the highest of all of the offensive lineman in his first start, which is pretty impressive. He was a big factor in our ability to run the football. That’s the reason we drafted him, that’s the reason why he’s here, and he’s really worked hard to get himself ready to play. He’s gotten a lot stronger, worked on scout team, and worked a lot on his upper-body strength, and he was able to really hold up and play well. He played as well as any rookie I’ve been around on his first start, that’s for sure.”

(On what changed for him this week because he turned the play calling duties over to offensive coordinator Greg Olson)

“My duties didn’t change other than the actual play calling. We compiled the play list that we want to go with each series and we do that anyway. Greg (Olson) is an excellent coach, he’s called plays at a number of places he’s been before, and I felt based on where we were in this season that there needed to be some kind of a change. Not just offensively, but as a team. I think my leadership needed to be felt in all three phases. It’s like I said last week, I felt we lacked a spark or some lack of direction in the Carolina game and I took that to heart. I basically laid that on me, so some things had to change. We weren’t going to change to plays we were running, the philosophy, or how we were going to gameplan. We make decisions collectively as an offense and one guy has to call them. I have all of the confidence in the world in Greg (Olson) and he did a great job.”

(On communicating more with non-offensive players during the game)

“It was much better for me that way because as a play caller, you really have to isolate yourself. You’ve got to take all the distractions of the game away so you don’t get distracted yourself. The problem with that is that that works fine if you’ve been doing it and you’ve been somewhere for 10, 15 years, and you’ve got guys that are managing other parts of the game for you, I think that probably works okay. For me it wasn’t…the more and more I was doing it, the more and more I didn’t feel it was working for me. I was able to put a lot more time into what we were doing in special teams. Keeping, not so much…I’m not looking over Jim’s (Haslett) shoulder or anything like that, I just want to know how we’re playing, what we’re doing, and you have a better feel for, really, how you are playing. You get in situations where, for example on the last drive, where you decide whether you’re going to go for a fourth down and things like that. I think as a head coach you have a much better feel for whether this is the right thing or the wrong thing to do as opposed to as a play caller, and you act a little bit more emotionally.”

(On if Olson’s play calling style is similar to his own)

“I think we’re similar, but I think he had his own touch, and I think it really helped, especially with our ability to stick with the run this week, and his feel for knowing what the game plan was going to be as a group. It helps to be on the same page. We basically executed the game plan that we put out, for the most part, during the week that we practiced. I think it gets more and more a certain…your own stamp on it, for sure. He’s calling the plays. When you’re calling the plays, one guy calls them during the drive. There’s no play calling by committee. That doesn’t’ work. The thing that works is in between drives we put together the adjustments we need to make, the play types, and the play lists. A lot of it you’ve got to call by feel and how the game’s going too.”

(On being able to talk to CB Tye Hill about his interception and taunting penalty)

“To be able and go down and have a discussion with one of our players that needs to be both positive and you need to…there’s got to be a discussion about what happened. An excellent play happened, and then a very bad decision happened after. Those are the kinds of things that have cost us…it cost us two weeks ago. Those are the kinds of things that need to be addressed by the head football coach. Period. Those are the kinds of things that were hard to do, to be honest with you, as a play caller, because you’ve got to get in that zone, you’ve got to move over, get in your little phone booth, and kind of keep people away as much as you can. To me at this point, in my tenure as a head coach, I feel better, and felt much better and much more comfortable with that situation yesterday.”

(On the difficulty of change in handing the play calling over to Olson)

“Unfortunately I’ve been through experiences where I’ve seen the same thing, and I know if you want to, and I said this last week…if you continue to do things the same way, there’s an old saying, you’ll continue to get the same results. I think we needed a change. As significant a change as who’s calling the plays, I don’t know, sometimes that gets overplayed too, but there needed to be a change on the sideline, the demeanor. I think you’ve got to take all the difficulty, let the ego take a back seat, and say ‘This is going to be for the better for the team’. Like I said yesterday, it was for our benefit yesterday. We’ve got to continue to make it our benefit. I don’t really have really that big of an ego. Sometimes it gets tested, but when it comes to things…I just want to win, just like everybody else in our organization.”

(On continuing to have Olson call the plays)

“You never know what’s going to happen, but I certainly think it’s a step in the right direction for us.”

(On if he could go back to play calling down the road)

“I could come back to it this week. I’m comfortable doing it. I just think it’s for the best right now. Things happen. A lot of reasons things happen are guys…if you’ve been together with a guy and your play caller that’s been calling plays gets another job, and you’ve got to decide who’s going to replace that person. Those kinds of things happen. We’re not any where near that kind of a decision to be made right now. We’re kind of finding ourselves and adjusting as a group too. We haven’t been together that long, our staff, so we’re figuring out what works best and what doesn’t.

(On if he used to call the plays from up in the booth)

“Yesterday was the first time I haven’t called plays since 1995 in a football game. The first play of the game was the first time since I’ve been a football coach in 10-11 years that I haven’t called every play. That was a little bit different. I was in the booth. Always liked being in the booth because, again, I liked to be isolated, but I also saw the same…I should say we as a staff, felt the same thing. There was an urgency that needed to be changed. The difference was I was still going down there still being a play caller, but being with the offensive group on the sideline. Now it’s real similar to what I felt Ollie (Olson) was able to add, as well as the change being something that would be for the better.”

(On if he’d ever given any consideration to having someone else call plays)

“I said the plan was initially I would call the plays. I may stay there, I may not, but at some point, if this is the staff we’re hiring, this is the guy I’d like to have take over those duties once we’re comfortable doing that. It’s hard to put a date as to when that is, but I guess I decided after having about 100 yards of offense, and not crossing the 50, was probably a good opportunity to do it.”

(On if he’d talked to Olson about him calling the plays)

“We talked about it Monday. We hadn’t decided, but I said prepare for it. Lets go through the week. I said, ‘I’m going to put my attention on some other areas this week, primarily our team’s mood, things like that.’ Greg embraced it, I think. It’s part of the job description for the most part, and he’s very good at it.”

(On having input on the play calling during the final drive of the game)

“The whole idea is here’s a very manageable fourth down, as opposed to had you been at fourth-and-10, I’d possibly punted with three time-outs and two minute warning because we had bad field position. But we were in position there where, okay, it’s fourth and a foot-and-a-half. We had been pretty good in that situation, converting on third down, and we had a good play, so the discussion is ‘What are you thinking? We’re going to go for this. We’ve got two plays. What’s the best option?’ Part of it is the discussion Greg has with Paul Boudreau, with Wayne Moses, the kinds of things that happen in between drives. The next time we get short yardage, this is our best play. Say we’ve got a good call…we’re going to run this play on the next short yardage play, so we’ve got a good call, so let’s get it out there. So he calls the play, and we convert the fourth down. The last one, we used our last time out. The same discussion was we basically used two or three of the same of our short yardage plays, we actually went to a red zone call that we were going to use anyway down in that situation. We had plenty of time to talk about it. we actually had put one alert on with the quarterback had seen they were possibly going to play a certain look at the receiver, so sometimes we raise up and throw the ball in that situation. We had a very good discussion there as a group on the sideline, and Greg made an excellent call there, too, to get the first down, go ahead and run.”

(On making the final decision on the play calling in critical situations)

“You can take a lot of the emotion out of it being, maybe, just three yards away from that call sheet. I’ve got the sheet. I do, I think, the appropriate things to help, but you can’t sit there and go, ‘No, no, no. Don’t call that,’ or ‘I wouldn’t have called that play.’ That doesn’t work. You’ve got to let the guy call the play, get a feel, get a rhythm. That’s how it works. We’re still in the beginning stages of this thing, so we’ve got to continue to build on this, and hopefully make it work.”

(On how well he knows Olson)

“We were very good friends before this, but more, not just because we grew up in the same part of the country, we basically grew up under the same offensive system. We spent time talking a lot of football over the years, but never had worked together. Had spend a lot of time, would visit them when I was in college, when he and Jim Chaney were at Purdue. Spent a lot of time talking about the same things. We said if we ever had a chance to get together down the road that it would be a great fit. I’ve known him for a number of years, over 20 years. We grew up within 15-10 miles of each other, and basically few up under the same college system with Dennis. There’s no question we think alike, and it was, for me, a great fit for us.”

(On running the ball more yesterday)

“Our receivers, for the most part, create a matchup sometimes that’s not favorable, so you get some favorable looks to run. We stuck with it. We were able to come out and establish it, and our games came out with a sense of urgency right away. I thought our ability to run the football had a lot to do with our ability to come out because we were ready to play, and we had that intensity about us to start the game.”

(On teams placing heavy coverage on WR Torry Holt)

“Torry gets very few looks that are what you consider one-on-one. We missed our one shot yesterday, and that’s the frustrating part, I guess, if you’re going to say something’s frustrating, is that you only get so many, and when you miss them, you know you’re not going to get many more. I think we’re seeing almost 95 percent zone coverage, which is allowing people to play either the two-deep look, or a deep coverage player and a guy underneath. I’ve never seen an outside linebacker in a 3-4 defense sprint to a point 25 yards down the field to cover one receiver. Usually, that’s a reaction. That’s a Torry Holt coverage, the interception. That kid’s an outside linebacker, who knows who the ‘X’ is, and has been told to go double the guy. We’re getting a lot of that. That’s one reason why you see Steven’s (Jackson) numbers up in the passing game, because people are saying ‘We’re not just going to let you throw the ball down the field to these guys. You’re going to have to prove that you’re patient enough to move the chain some too in the passing game.”

(On CB Walt Harris’ coverage of Holt)

“He played…they were flipping corners and playing…and even though he’s up there in age, he’s a darn good player. He had a lot of help too, but I think that’s credit to a good coach, and I think people have been very smart about that. I think a lot of people look at what Kansas City did. Kansas City basically played soft zone coverage, made sure they had two guys deep with Torry the whole game. We’re seeing a lot of that.”

(On Holt’s frustration with his lower numbers)
“Any competitor wants to help the team win. It’s not that Torry just wants the ball, he wants to help the team win, and he knows he does that by making catches and scoring touchdowns. He knows we’re going to do everything we can and continue to work to do everything we can to get him going, but in the mean time, these other guys have to take the pressure off. Steven’s (Jackson) playing very well. Isaac (Bruce) had a big game, and has played pretty consistent all year. Kevin (Curtis) came up big two times yesterday. Eventually things will always come back to you.”

(On continuing to work down field)

“You work all parts of the field. Not always down field. We had two good shots yesterday that we missed. Have to keep trying those, and just continue to tackle all parts of the field with one of your best players. That’s what you do.”