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24 December 2014

Week 17 Conference Call Transcripts: vs. New Orleans (12/28/14)

(On what he telling his players despite being out of the playoffs)
“I think this number one: these guys understand the business of professional football and our plan, our weekly schedule – although it has changed a little bit because of the holiday tomorrow – is very much the same. I was asked the same question by our media. We’re playing to win this game. We’re not taking a look at younger players or changing the routine if you will, I think it’s important to end the season on a good note. Obviously it’s a disappointing year and yet you’re constantly putting your tape together for your resume, if you will, on film. The players are, the coaches are, all of us are and I think that the minute we ever change or alter from that – it’s different than when you secure a bye or something like that – but I think that’s been a point of emphasis is our focus in getting ready to play our last football game and I’m sure Lovie [Smith] and Tampa are doing the same thing.”
(On why they have struggled in the turnover ratio)
“It hasn’t been good and I think it’s the difference between winning and losing really. In close games, if you grab the top 10 teams or take a look at the playoff field, you’re going to find at least 90 percent of them are teams that are near the top of the league in that category. We’ve got to do a better job obviously of taking it away, that number has really dropped from a year ago and then it spiked on offense. That’s not a good combination, that starts with me and not only a point of emphasis, but those are the type of things that keep you from winning. You can have the correct plan in place, guys can be ready to play, ready to execute assignments and when those type of things happen in games, they really just prevent you from having a chance to win.”
(On how Tampa Bay has changed since the last time they faced each other)
“I think that from both teams, obviously you get to this point in the year there’s a gap between the first and the second game that you do see new players in similar roles, I think that’s the case with us as well. I think that you see the emergence of some players, I made this comment today to our offense: I think defensively as you put the tape on, you see great effort to the ball, you see real good technique, Lovie’s been outstanding always with the leverage, the fits. They’re really, really fundamentally good and you see the takeaways of late. In the last six weeks, they’re in the top of the league in big plays differential with their passing game and so a young player like Mike Evans along with Vincent Jackson, the quarterbacks that have the confidence to let them go up and make a play, those are the things that jump out at you right now. I think that obviously, going back to our point about turnovers, there are a lot of numbers in the first game, a lot of things that we wanted to do or felt like they were important, yet there were a handful of turnovers and we lost that battle in [the first matchup] and we were fortunate to win despite it.”
(On New Orleans’ home record this season, given previous years of success at home)
“I think, No. 1, it obviously is disappointing more than anything. You always want to take advantage of your home crowd, and when you play inside in a place that’s sold out like ours is, you want to take advantage of that noise, because it certainly can be a factor on third downs. But, to answer the question, really, despite that, the things that we haven’t done well enough this year as a team, we haven’t finished games well enough, we’ve lost three games in the final two minutes, either with a lead or in a position with our opponent on fourth down and we weren’t able to finish games. We talked about the turnovers. Those same things, those same mistakes, whether you’re on the road or at home or at a neutral site, will affect you. And despite what might be a home field advantage, it really is something that becomes too significant to overcome. But, look, one of the things we talked about leading into this season is this team, this staff, will earn its number. Just because the ’13 team didn’t lose at home, or the ’11 or ’10 team, or ’09 team – this is a different team. It’s [home field advantage] something that it doesn’t necessarily go forward. Obviously there are players that were on those teams that are still here, but we’ve got to do a better job and especially for our fans. We think we’ve got a great fan base and they deserve to see a better team, especially when they’re coming to a home game.”
(On whether New Orleans plans to play Brees and other starters this Sunday)
“Absolutely. All of our guys are playing. Like I said, our approach to this game would be much like we needed to win this game. All of our guys will be full go.”
(On having balance between offense and defense)
“It’s really, is it hard to win in this league? And you’d say it’s always challenging. But if we’re looking at the teams going into this postseason, you’re going to see a lot of the same things that take place every year with the higher-seeded teams. They have balance on offense, they’re able to run the ball and effectively convert third downs. Their takeaway number is probably high and they’re probably playing good defense. I know that there are some exceptions every year, but our better seasons here, we’ve had those numbers in check. Last year, defensively and offensively, we were much closer in regards to the production. I know ’09 was the same way, ’11 the same way. I think that’s our search and that’s our goal, because I think, ultimately, that’s how you win a championship.”
(On his feelings about the New Orleans season)
“It’s been an up-and-down season. The unusual thing is that we’ve played better on the road. Had a good game on the road against Pittsburgh, and obviously a big win against Green Bay on a Sunday night. But the consistency has eluded us. I don’t know that you look to say, ‘Hey, we’re going to start a roll,’ but what you’re hoping for as a coach each week is that you’re improving and eliminating some of the mistakes that hurt you earlier in the year. But we never quite got over that hump.”
(On what he sees in Tampa Bay for the future)
“I would start with this: I’m biased, I’m a huge Lovie Smith fan, and, absolutely you can see the foundation being laid. I think when you look at some of the young players on their roster, some of the veterans – each year when this Pro Bowl balloting comes out, I look down to see if 54, Lavonte David, has made it. I told them this last year: he’s as underrated a weakside linebacker in our game, but he’s a heck of a football player. And then you could go on and on. I think that they’ve got the right guy in place. You can see the improvement and I think, unfortunately, they’re in our division, but it’s interesting year to year in our league the leaps and strides that teams can make and I think you’re going to see that.”

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