Interim Head Coach Joe Vitt

(Opening statement)

“It’s tough to win a football game when you throw five interceptions. I think 45 throws for [QB] Ryan [Fitzpatrick] is still too much. We had some areas, yesterday, of improvement. We didn’t improve enough. We can’t let inexperience and some of the injuries that we have be an excuse for losing, and it won’t be. So we’ll go back to work on Wednesday.”

(On what areas he feels showed improvement)

“I thought we improved on our tackling defensively, except for two series. Came out of the first series, three and out. Second series we come out, we get a PI [pass interference], we’re offside on third down again, we miss a tackle on a toss crack that was going to be a tackle for a loss. The game goes on; its manageable. It’s 13-13 now in the third quarter. Their second possession in the third quarter, we hit their quarterback twice. The second time we hit him, the ball is fluttering up. They make a play, we don’t. They throw a dig; it should be a 15 yard gain. It goes for about a 50-yard completion. Besides those two series, isolated in the game, we tackled better. I thought we played better fundamentally on defense. I thought we got lined up quicker. So there was improvement. It’s not good enough; it was improvement. Offensively, I thought our offensive line really did a good job of protecting the quarterback yesterday. I thought our protections were sound. I thought we gave Ryan [Fitzpatrick] a firm pocket. They competed, they battled. We knew it was going to be tough in the running game, but there were some creases there. We got positive yards. I think we had only two tackle for losses yesterday on offense. So I thought that was a plus. The teams, except for the one return, did a good job. The one return is inexcusable. So there are some things we improved at. We’re not good enough yet though. And we’ll continue to try to improve.”

(On whether the interceptions that QB Ryan Fitzpatrick threw were physical or mental errors)

“Both. He’s going to have to take his time a little bit. He has a good pocket. It’s a firm pocket. Know when to step up. Get that hitch out. Lead the receiver. I think [his] pre-snap read is going to be critical for him, where he’s going to go with the ball. They really, despite what everybody said, they played basically two coverages. They played [cover] two and [cover] four. They are going to show a two deep shell. So he has to get that cleaned up. When its not there, check it down to the back. And these are learning experience for him right now, but it’s at the expense of the football team and wins. So we have to continue to work. I thought by halftime, because we were involved in two two-minute drills, our balance was better. I think it was 19-14 or something like that at the half, but we had two two-minute drills in there, one resulted in a turnover and three points, the other resulted in three point for us. But I still think 45 throws is too much. Really with 10 minutes left in the game, it’s a two score game. I think we started four or five times in plus territory. We gave the offense good field position. We have to try to stay balanced.”

(On what Fitzpatrick needs to be looking for in his pre-snap reads)

“You see a two-deep shell; it’s either going to be the [cover] two or the [cover] four, two-deep or quarter coverage. Now your time clock goes off. If its cover two, you’re going to see the middle linebacker go to the deep middle, what we call middle read, now the corners are going to get rolled up. The middle of the field may be open. If its quarter coverage, it’s going to be a three-under and four-deep, backs to the flat, what we call 78 combinations is the slot guy going to the corner, the outside guy going to the post. He have to be able to see that better.”

(On whether the team sticks with Fitzpatrick the rest of the season)
“Well, not the rest of the way. If Marc [Bulger] can get healthy, Marc has the job. This is Marc’s job.”

(On whether QB Jamie Martin is out of the picture now)

“No, he’s not out of the picture, but we’re going to go with Fitz [Ryan Fitzpatrick] until Marc’s ready to go.”

(On whether he knows anymore about Bulger’s status)

“No, I haven’t talked to him toady. I’ll find out more tomorrow.”

(On the play of LB Brandon Chillar)

“Pretty good. I think it was big step for him yesterday. We put him into some positions that he hadn’t done all year long, in an under defense, putting him on the line of scrimmage on a tight end. Something that he does better than Dexter [Coakley] does. Dexter is more of a better off the ball player. I thought that Brandon did a good job in the run game. I thought he did a good job managing our dogs and blitzes where he’s going to have to tell the end to go to the flat or go to a hook. He was well-prepared for the game, and I wasn’t surprised because he had a good week of practice. But I though he played very well.”

(On how the defense gets more sacks when they have that much pressure on the quarterback)

“It’s a good job. Let me tell you something, we’re coming scot-free, and he’s a veteran quarterback. On his third step he’s getting the ball out. He’s not going to take a sack. He’s not really going to throw the interception. He’s going to get rid of the ball. It’s not a team or he’s not a quarterback that’s going to take negative yards. The pressure package, I thought, was excellent. I think we put him on the ground something like 18 times, so that was good. It was encouraging. We obviously disrupted his rhythm. I thought we disrupted the whole offense, except for the two series that I talked about earlier. I think it was something you can probably build off of.”

(On how mentally tough this game will be for Fitzpatrick to bounce back from)

“I don’t know. We’re going to practice Wednesday.”

(On whether he worries about Fitzpatrick’s mental state after having a bad game)

“I don’t know. That game’s over. It’s history. You better learn from it and move on. You know, as an interim head coach there are a lot of thing I worry about, and things that I can control and that you’re always thinking about. I’ll say this again, I don’t worry about him. I think he’s tough. He’s mentally tough. He’s going to work hard to prepare himself. His teammates still believe in him. He’d like a couple of those throws back, but I don’t worry about him.”

(On if there was a lane on the fourth-and-two play that failed to convert)

“There was a lane there, Steven [Jackson] has to hit it. He knows that. I think Steven is the type of guy that the more you give him the ball, the more he gets into the rhythm. We just have to get him the ball more. If he hits that thing, it’s there, and he knows it. I thought Madison [Hedgecock] did a real good job on the lead block. Madison continues to get better. I think that Madison is a young type of Moose Johnston. He’s opened up some lanes for Steven. He knows who to get and how to get them now. Steven has to get confidence in that, but yeah, it was there.”

(On RB Marshall Faulk getting more touches against Minnesota)

“I thought we had a good quads package for him, had a good traps package for him. He’s a pro. He wants to play. He wants to compete. He wants to contribute, and the more touches we can get him, the better.”

(On if they will use the same tackling drills this week)

“We’re going to have the same drills, but it’s going to be awful tough to go in pads this week. We’re kind of banged up. It was a very physical game. Our guys put it on the line. I suspect that we’ll be in shells this week with the injuries. We’re into December now, but the tackling drills will remain the same.”

(On how the effort was against the Vikings)

“I think when you get to the National Football league, and you get to this level, effort is a given. We talk about responsibility. We talk about character, integrity. It’s not surprising to me, or it shouldn’t be surprising to anybody the effort that this team gives. You were all there at practice last week. I don’t know how many of you watched it, but you were there. I thought we had a great week of preparation. I thought our players’ intent was great. We went up there to win a football game. Our football team was heartbroken that it didn’t get done, but it is what it is. The effort doesn’t surprise me. The effort is going to be there. That’s just who they are.”

(On the unusual number of dropped passes by the Rams’ receivers)

“It’s going to be something you work on. It’s timing, especially on the deep ins and deep outs. Where is the ball going to be? Some of [Ryan] Fitz’s [Fitzpatrick] balls sailed yesterday; some were on the back shoulder on ins. Torry [Holt] and Isaac [Bruce] are doing everything they can to try and help Fitz [Fitzpatrick], the same thing with Kevin [Curtis]. We just have to keep working what we call hook ups, routes against air in practice and make sure we have it fine-tuned in practice.”

(On if he is conscious of the number of Fitzpatrick’s passes during the game)
“I’m conscious of it. I counted it more this week more than ever, I thought. Going into the half, we had the two two-minute drills, so it kind of got out of balance there a little bit. Then, when it became a two-score game, in retrospect probably try to run a little bit more and try to get it to a seven-point game with four or five minutes left to go in the game. We had good field position in the second half offensively, and hey, just try to pound it down there. I let that get away from me a little bit. I was probably a better first-half coach than a second-half coach. I just have to keep my discipline in the second half.”

(On his philosophy now that the team officially won’t make the playoffs)

“We have one goal, and that’s to win football games. That’s our only goal. In practice, our goal is ongoing skill development, every player to get better every single day. There are two types of players in the National Football League, those that are getting better, and those that are getting worse. The ones that are getting better, they are ascending players, and they maximize their earning power. The ones that are getting worse, those are descending players. A descending player, if he doesn’t try to get better, it could be catastrophic for his career and his earning power. We’re going to work to get better every single day. The practice structure is not going to change. The weightlifting structure is not going to change. The fine system is still in place. The accountability factor is still there. This is not what we wanted it to be. There are not a lot of people that get what they want in life all the time anyway. How are we going to handle this now?”

(On if he talks to offensive coordinator Steve Fairchild about the offense during each play)

“I don’t talk numbers-wise. I just remind him, ‘let’s pound it, let’s pound it, let’s pound it.’ We had a couple running plays in there that we kind of liked that I wanted to remind him about. He’s been great about that. I try to get with the defense as fast as I can as soon as the defense comes off to look at the pictures quickly and make any adjustments that I have to make with the linebackers. Kurt Gouveia has done a real good job helping me with that. So, as the game goes on, you get into a little better flow, but it can get hectic at the beginning of the game, especially if some bad things happen on defense that we have to get answers for. I think our play calling has to go with the situation of the game, the field position, the personnel that we have in the game, those things.”