September 25, 2002
Are you anxious to get Dusty back?
Dusty has been a very good player for us. He has been a great leader for us. He is a guy we all respect and a guy we know can be a big part of what we do offensively. The guy has been a stalwart on the offensive line for the last couple of years. We are definitely looking forward to getting him healthy enough where he can play for us.
Re: the red zone.
We are not calling it the red zone anymore. We are calling it the green zone. We are changing our whole thinking about it. I think we just need to keep doing what we are doing. I think we have a good plan. At times we have had missed opportunities, obviously. But, they are coachable things. They are correctable things. So, itís not the plays or attitude. Thatís all well and good. Right now, we are just missing little things on plays. Itís holding us back and itís costing us points. But, well work through it and we are working through it. Weíre working hard in practice and I know weíll get it figured out soon.
Do you assume games will be decided by less than touchdown each week?
I donít care who you are, youíve got to assume that. Each week is a dog-fight. It is rare to be going into the fourth quarter breathing easy. We know that every game is going to end in a two-minute drive or it is going to end with us running out the clock, trying to protect a small lead. Thatís just the way it is in the NFL. We donít think along the terms of, we are going to come in this week and blow somebody out. It just doesnít happen that often. We have to take advantage of the opportunities when we get them, and we havenít done that well enough so far. Like I said, we are working on it and I think we will get it figured out.
Re: playing in 100 degree weather.
It will have an effect on us. How could it not? Albany is not exactly the hottest place on Earth. We have been here and itís been nice and cool. But, I think we are in good shape. We will take the necessary precautions and weíll work guys in. You will probably see guys get some snaps with Ron Dixon and Daryl Jones, just because itís hot and they are running down the field and doing different things. You just have to prepare your body for it. I think it you do and if you will be fine.
Is that even more of a reason to get the running game going?
Thatís certainly our goal every week. Weíll just continue to work on that balance that we are trying to achieve. I think we have made some good progress running the ball for the past couple of weeks. Throwing the ball has been good, so right now, the emphasis is obviously on short-yardage situations and in the red zone. We will try to get those two errors corrected.
The Cardinals have always you guys and played you tough, right?
No question. They have always played us tough. Last year, we had to score a touchdown late in the game to win. With Jake back there, he can make a lot of plays. One thing about these guys is they come to play every week and sometimes it doesnít work out for them. But, they love to win games they are not supposed to win. Two years ago, they beat us twice and last year they gave us all we could handle. So, we know what we are up against. We know what kind of team they have and the way they play. We are going out there expecting it to be a very, very tough game.
What about being on a roll and trying to keep this thing going?
We are getting there. Two in a row is good. I feel like we have a lot of positive energy going. I think that was going to be a tough game. And Seattle came in here and we didnít start off well, kind of flat, but we worked through it and got it going when we needed to. I think thatís a really good sign for us. But, itís still early. We havenít gotten to the point yet where we are on that roll that you get on. We are still working on some things, but overall I think we are headed in the right direction.
Is this a team can that pick up a lot of points when it does get on a roll?
I think we can. I really do. I think we can play more complete games. Thatís the biggest thing right now. We can move the ball. Weíve shown that. Itís just a matter of finishing. From a big play standpoint, I think we as good as we have ever been around here. So, you look at that and say, Ďyeah, we can score a lot of points.í Last year we didnít score enough and this year we are not scoring enough, but I definitely think we can.
If the red zone situation more like, once yet get in once, it will start to come together?
I think we need to have a stretch were we play well and score some touchdowns. Itís kind of like getting over that hump. Right now, we are kind of staring it down, but once we get over it , weíll breath a little bit easier. Weíll have that confidence that you need when you are going in.
As opposed to fighting yourself a little bit?
Yeah, you start worrying about it so much that it becomes counterproductive. I donít see it being a big issue right now as far as our confidence and our mentality. Weíll work through it and it will work for us and then I think weíll be good from then on out.
When you are driving down the field, do you all of the sudden realize, Ďoh my god, we are on the 18-yard line?í Does it click with you?
You know where you are. Our awareness is pretty good. There is a lot of talk in the huddle like, Ďhey, we need to get this one in.í I think that is the kind of thing that will eventually carry us through this slump we are in now. We are getting close. You look on film and itís just little things, so many things that we could do better. And we are talking about something completely different right now. Like I said, itís coachable. Itís not, we are limited this way or that way. It is all right there for us. I think it just becomes a matter of execution after a certain point.
What about the balance? It seems the passing yards are piling up and the running game is just not there yet.
Well, we certainly need to run the ball in the red zone. There is no question about that. There have been times when we have struggled a little bit in the red zone. What I see from our guys is really encouraging. I think Sean (Payton) is trying to make the point that, Ďwe are going to run the ball down here and you better get used to it.í There have been some more run calls and I think thatís why. You never want to send the message that you are abandoning the run game, especially down there. Youíve got to let everybody know that thatís the main thing. I am comfortable with it. We have all the people in place. We just have to get over that hump.
Re: Amani Toomer getting off the line quicker.
He is putting more pressure on defensive backs. He is getting off and getting up the field, making them back up. He is creating separation that way. There is no question about it. His get off and his take off is really helping him in what he is doing.
Do you expect when Tim Carter gets back, heíll have a big impact?
I would think heíll have some sort of role. I donít know how much. Yeah, he has missed a lot, but heís a smart kid. When he comes back, weíll work him into it. Itís not like we are going to throw it all at him at once. And he is not starting, so we can be selective with what we do with him. He looks good running now, but I donít know how far away he is. I know the coaches are excited about him, so I definitely think heíll make a contribution at some point.
Is speed what you like most about him?
He has good speed, good take off off-the-line. He is just a tremendous athlete. He is a smooth runner. Every route looks the same. He gets out of cuts real well.
What is the value of Sean Payton emphasizing the running game?
Itís a mentality. Running the ball is a mentality. If we are sitting here and itís Week 11 or 12 and is still hanging around, it would be different. But this is the third game going into the fourth game, you need to establish that. I think it is important for the guys to know that. Even though we have had some success throwing the ball the first couple of game, running the ball is going to be a big part of what we do. Thatís another point that needs to be hammered home, especially when we are struggling like this. I think it becomes an attitude and a mentality and I think we have the guys to do it.