Jim Mora Press Conference - Monday, September 13, 2004
Jim Mora: Thanks for coming up. Obviously, it was a big win for us on the road. Itís tough to win on the road and that, obviously, has proven to be a tough place for this franchise to win for the last 10 or 11 years, I guess. It hadnít proven a tough place for me to win the last seven or eight years. But itís just good to get a win on the road. Itís good to get off on the right foot. Weíll take them any way we can get them. I told the guys before the gameÖI said: ĎIf we can win by one, to me thatís a crushing victory.í And we won by two, so we feel good about it.
There are obviously a lot of things weíve got to get corrected. I sat up last night when I got home at 3:30 and I watched the NFL Network voices of the game or sounds of the game. And I listened Ė I didnít see my postgame press conference Ė but I saw every other coachesí in the league and they all said the same thing: ĎWeíve got a lot to work onÖí And itís a broken record, but itís true. Itís the first week of the season and thereís a lot to work on. Whether you won or you lost, thereís a lot of things youíve got to get accomplished to get corrected and thatís where we are. With that, Iíll take any questions that you might have.
Q: What were the things you were able to do in the first half that the ***** took away in the second half?
Mora: Thatís a very good defensive football team, as I know very, very well. And Iím not sure that itís what we were doing or what they were doing Ė thatís just a good team. Thatís an excellent defensive football team that we played there in San Francisco. I think itís one of the best defenses in the league from a talent standpoint. And they just started making some plays. The wind became a real factor. It was really, really gusty and I think thatís why some of the balls sailed on us in the second half. Thatís the way NFL games play out a lot. Very seldom do you just blow somebody out for 60 minutes. It just doesnít happen in this league. Thereís a balance to these games. Thereís a give and take. Itís the league. Thatís parity. Thatís what they want and thatís what theyíre getting. I was really, really pleased with our first half, obviously. I was pleased with our defense the entire game. Obviously, the couple drives there at the end, we would have liked to have held them out of the end zone, but we came up with the big play when we needed to on the two-point try and we got the win and thatís the number-one objective and it always will be.
Q: It seemed like the ***** were re-energized when Ken Dorsey came in for Tim Rattay.
Mora: I think it gave the whole stadium a lift. There was an energy in the crowd when he came in. Ken is a guy who is a winner. He won at Miami. When he came in last year, we recognized right away that he was a winner. He has a winning attitude. Heís a great kid. Heís got a lot of poise. Heís been in a lot of big games in a lot of big stadiums. He played for National Championships and all those things and heís just taking the next step. Heís going to be a good player in this league. And he gave them a little lift. He completed a couple ballsÖthey got a little momentum going and thatís the game of football. There are changes and swings in momentum and that happens. And the great things is, that through all the changes and swings of momentum, we won the game.
Q: It was odd to see Patrick Kerney to drop into coverage so much.
Mora: When you rush zone or zone dog or fire zone Ė people call it different things Ė itís a concept thatís very common in the league. In order to bring an extra guy and still play zone, you typically have to drop a lineman out into coverage. And itís something that Ed [Donatell]ís done his whole career, Iíve done it my whole career, every team in the National Football League does. So Iím surprised thatÖif you watched the Falcons last year, Iíd be surprised if there wasnít a number of times that guys did it. It might not have been Pat all the time and it maybe they didnít do it as much as we did it in one game, but thatís how people play in the league. Itís very typical to see ends dropping in the National Football League. And thatís one of the great things about having athletes like Brady [Smith] and Pat and Karon Riley and even a guy like Travis Hall is a very good dropper. It gives you a chance to overload one side with pressure and still have good coverage, sound coverage, kind of a shell coverage rather than a lot of man-to-man match-ups. Itís just a rush zone concept.
Q: Is Alge Crumpler just a good fit for this offense and was his performance indicative of things to come?
Mora: I sure hope so. I think what Greg Knapp and the offense staff have done a great job of is taking the components of the offense that fit our players abilities the best and utilizing them. And I think another indication of that was yesterday with the utilization of Alge. Alge is an outstanding player. He was a Pro Bowl tight end last year. Heís a big, physical guy. He can run, he can snatch the ball, he can block. And we intend to utilize him in a number of different ways. Youíll continue to see him lined up in different places and do different things and weíll create mismatches with him where we can. But thatís just a credit to not only Alge being the player he is and grasping the game plan, but also to the staff putting him in positions to make plays and Mike delivering him the ball.
Q: Is the fight in your team that allowed you to win the game something thatís been carried over since day one of you being here?
Mora: It didnít look like that to me. But yeah, thatís what youíve got to do in the National Football League. Every game is a dogfight. My dad used to say that all the time. Itís a dogfight. Unless youíre on the field, on the sidelines with the headset on, with the helmet on, itís hard to understand how intense and how emotional a football game is on Sundays in the National Football League. Itís a flat-out dogfight. And youíve seen dogfights...itís back and forth and then you get them pinned a little bit and you come back. And you know what? We just had a little more fight in us yesterday. And thatís a good football team that we beat and I was proud of the way their defense fought and I was extremely proud of the way we fought and itís hard to win on the road and Iím going to tell you what: people donít understand how hard it is to win on the road. That was a huge victory for this organization. Huge victory.
Q: How long is guard Michael Moore going to be out?
Mora: We donít know yet. The guys, they arenít even in yet. The doctors are coming in soon, but we didnít get home untilÖI got home at 4 a.m. Iím not going to get those guys in here too early. So weíll let you know later on in the week how he is. But I think if thereís any injury thatís a concern, itís his. I donít think we have any other injury concerns that are significant. We have concerns, but nothing thatís significant.
Q: With the way the wind was yesterday, did you think about starting the second half going the other way?
Mora: No. Have you ever been to Candlestick before? The wind at Candlestick changes like Ďthat.í That was a no-brainer to go the way that we went.
Q: What did you and your dad talk about after the game?
Mora: I really didnít get a chance to talk to him much. I said: ĎDid you win your first game as a head coach?í And he said: ĎNo. [Falcons broadcaster] Dave Archer beat me.í Dave and my dadÖ the three of us were standing there. It was a good win. And the conditions were favorable for a while. The wind out there is a swirling wind. All you have to do is watch the little fliers on the goal post to understand. We had a discussion at halftime about which way we wanted to go. I said: ĎIím going to take the wind in the third quarter because you donít know what the windís going to do in the fourth quarter.í It changed all day. You make a decision, you go with it. It was the right decision. We had some really good strategical things happen for us that most people probably didnít notice. Number one was the first quarter at the end of the quarter when we let the clock run out so we would not have to punt into the wind if we got stopped on third down and we didnít get stopped on third down. And then, I think, the ***** Ė if they had a play to take back Ė theyíd take back the third-down throw coming out of their own end zone at the end of the third quarter, because they ended up punting into the wind and giving us field position. Those were two real positive things that happened for us.
Q: What about the fourth down reverse to Peerless? There seemed to be third down problems all day, but that fourth down conversion seemed to give you guys a boost.
Mora: Any time you convert on fourth down, especially if you make a big play like we made there, it gives your team a lift. Weíre going to go for it in situations like that. Thatís just what weíre going to do. If weíre not necessarily in what we think is real solid field goal range and we donít want to just punt, I have confidence in our defense that they can go out and make a stop if we donít convert. Weíre going to be an aggressive football team. Weíve said that from day one and itís not going to change. And that was a great call by Greg, very well-executed by our offense and Peerless did a nice job turning the corner and getting the first down. But that was a big play for us. Third downs were a problem. They wonít be a problem this year. I think if you look at offenses Greg Knappís been a coordinator forÖas a matter of fact, he holds the National Football League record for highest third down conversion percentage in history. So heís pretty good at third downs. That wonít happen a whole lot of times. And thatís a credit to [San Francisco]ís defense. Iím going to tell you what now: thatís a good football team. That is an outstanding defense that we played. Outstanding.
Q: How underrated is Warrick Dunn as a pass blocker?
Mora: Itís one of the best things that he does. Thatís why it was surprising that Julian [Peterson] got into him that time. But once again, thatís a credit to Julian. Julian, in my opinionÖthere are some fine linebackers in this league and heís in the top two or three in my opinion. And Warrick is an outstanding pass protector. Thatís why we have him in there on third down. Heís a triple threat. He can run, he can block and he can catch out of the backfield. I was a little surprised that Julian got under him like he did and pushed him back into Mike because itís really one of the great things that he does. And he might have been trying to set up Julian for later on when heíll go down and cut him, but we feel real, real, real confident in his abilities to block. Plus, heís so smart. He just picks everything up. He scans the field, he sees what heís supposed to see. Heís sharp.