Head Coach Jay Gruden
* The following is a transcript of a conference call with local reporters this afternoon.*
"[Chris] Carter is going to need surgery for his fractured fibula. [Byron] Marshall has a hamstring [injury] and that will be day-to-day – we'll see the severity of it here pretty soon. Zach Brown is going to get an MRI on his foot. [Ryan] Grant's got an ankle [injury] – he'll be day-to-day. [Samaje] Perine was out with an illness and he should be OK."
On processing what happened yesterday:
"It's a tough pill to swallow, but we have to swallow it and we have to move on to Arizona, try to put our best foot forward and give these guys something to sink their teeth into from a preparation standpoint. Make sure we get the guys available and get those guys ready to play who are available, and play them and get them ready to play. From a coaching standpoint, we've got to do a better job of getting these guys ready early in games and make sure they're better prepared where they can have a plan and play fast and hard."
On S D.J. Swearinger's comments about preparation:
"I don't know exactly what context he was talking about; I didn't see the interview. A lot of times when you read things, it could be taken out of context. So, I don't know, I'll talk to D.J. about it tomorrow when I see him. If he felt that way, then it's on us as coaches to make sure these guys are fully ready to play and it's on the players also to make sure they study the plays and make sure they're well-prepared, when they walk into the game, they know exactly what's coming and make the necessary adjustments. So I think it goes hand in hand. We've got to do a better job as a staff to make sure these guys are on top of dotting the I's and crossing the T's, without a doubt. For some reason, it didn't seem that way at certain critical times in that game and that's something we have to fix as a staff."
On the importance of winning despite the current record and all the injuries the team has sustained:
"That's the only thing that matters is winning and winning the next game, so that's what we're going to focus on. But it has been a little bit of a challenge with all the new guys coming in and out – offensive line, running backs, offensively, and then defensively, the linebacker situation, safeties and defensive lineman. So, it's something that a lot of teams go through this time of year and it's something we're going to have to go through, and we're going to have to fight through it and make sure we get the guys that are ready to play ready to play the positions they're going to play. I think that the tough thing is, we're practicing with guys all over the place and on game day, they're playing something different. In different situations, we've got to figure out a way to make sure they're involved in every aspect of the game. Whether they're practicing those reps on third down or not, they have to be ready to play and perform because, actually, the practice reps that we have are very limited. We can't be out there for four or five hours. We have to take advantage of the walkthroughs when we have them. We have to take advantage of the reps when we have them. We have to study the film after practice like we do. I feel like we're putting the plans in, we're studying, we're practicing, we're watching the tape and they should be prepared, but for whatever reason, it doesn't look that way."
On if he considered going for a two-point conversion after CB Bashaud Breeland's interception return:
"Yeah, I thought about it a little bit. I just didn't think it was a realistic chain of events that would've had to occur, to be honest with you. You know, with the situation that we had offensively with Trent Williams out and we were down to one back, Ryan Grant was banged up with his ankle, down to three receivers, Josh [Doctson] was a little bit banged up. I just wanted to make sure I got out of that game with enough healthy bodies and didn't want to risk anymore, especially with having to get two onside kicks, two two-point conversions with two minutes to go. I wanted to, you know, try to get out of this game, get back on the plane, and get ready for Arizona."
On there are specific areas in which he believes the team lacks preparation:
"You know what? Obviously, if I felt like we were lacking preparation, I'd fix it before the game would start. I don't think we're lacking preparation, I just think, for whatever reason, we're not taking our preparation to the game-day field. And that's something we have to do. You know, you've got a short walkthrough on Tuesday, you have a walkthrough Wednesday, you have practice Wednesday afternoon, you watch practice, you watch the walkthrough, and you have practice Thursday and Friday and there's not much more we can do from a preparation standpoint. It's a matter of, you know, when you put the plays in, you put the game plan in, it's about execution. And we've got to do a better job of executing and making sure people realize where they're supposed to be and how they're supposed to be there. And the most important thing, also, is making sure we continue to stay fundamentally sound. And we haven't been fundamentally sound in a couple different areas. Just something we're going to continue to preach and continue to coach."
On if the players are beating themselves up mentally given the circumstances:
"I don't know. I don't think it's a lot of a mental thing. I think guys are still trying to compete and play hard. Like I said, as hard as it is, you have to give credit to the Chargers first. You know, Philip Rivers came out and threw the ball extremely well and they had a great game plan early, jumped on us early and we tried to come back, then they hit us with a big play and kept the foot on the gas. You know, we never could get back into it, never really could catch our breath and get back into the ballgame. I think we had some opportunities offensively, we missed some throws and had some shot plays that [we] didn't hit on, and they hit on theirs. You know, that's just the difference in the games. I think guys are a little disappointed, without a doubt – frustrated, to say the least. But we're not the only team fighting through this. This is something that happens in the NFL this time of the year to a lot of people and something that we have to overcome."
On if there is a benefit in getting second- and third-team players more reps in practice instead of injured players like T Trent Williams and TE Jordan Reed:
"Well, those are the guys that are getting the reps. Jordan doesn't take any, neither does Trent for the most part. We're trying to rep the guys that need the reps. And then when the guys can play, it's a luxury, like Trent showing up and playing on game day was nice. He played actually really well. We're trying to get everybody ready as we can. And sometimes as a pro, whether you're on a practice squad or you're a backup, you have to get yourself ready to play whether you get the reps or not. You know, that's every team, that's every position – NBA, Major League [Baseball] – everybody has to do that. So we do the best we can getting everybody involved in this thing. If you're an X, you might have to play Z. If you're a Z, you might have to play Zebra. You might have to play left guard if you're a center. But we don't have the time to rep everybody at every individual position. It's almost impossible. You know, Ziggy Hood is playing all over the line, [Anthony] Lanier comes in, he plays nose three-technique, I mean that's just the way it is. Guys have to know other positions. [Martrell] Spaight has to come in and play Mike, might have to play Mo. So that's just the way it is."
On if the preparation is different now than it was prior to the injuries:
"Yeah, it's a little different. It's a little challenging, not to mention a lot of guys aren't practicing so you don't have a lot of bodies where you can go, 'Hey, let's do 12 reps of first down, second down in each group.' You have to cut those down because a lot of guys have to do first-team offense and scout team. It's been quite the challenge in that regard. But I feel like from a mental standpoint these guys should be ready to go and just from a physical standpoint – for whatever reason – we've missed some opportunities on offense and failed to make some plays on defense. Is it mental? Is it physical? Whatever it is, we just have to continue to stay together and continue to prepare."
On if Swearinger spoke to the coaches previously about practice intensity:
"No, not that I know of. I think Friday's practice wasn't as crisp as he would probably want it as far as red zone. We had a period that wasn't quite as crisp, we repeated some plays, but then you watch the film and you correct them and you move on. That's just the way it is. Colt [McCoy] is the scout team quarterback and threw some good balls in there and some good things happened for the scout-team offense, and scout-team defense made a couple of plays. That's the way it is all the time. We try to compete in practice and guys are going to make some plays on both sides of the ball in certain times, but for the most part it's about teaching where they're supposed to be and how they're supposed to be there. If he felt that way, then he should have probably… we should've probably known something that day."
On how he thought QB Kirk Cousins played:
"Well, the entire offense wasn't quite as efficient as it should be. Our running game wasn't very good. Samaje [Perine] went down a couple times. He wasn't feeling good. We lost our third-down back there on the second kickoff of the game. We had a lot of featured plays for him on third down that [were] erased. So we were a little bit shorthanded at running back. But of the most part I think Kirk competed but I really – and I'm not here to throw stones at anybody on the offense, I know from what we expect offensively, it wasn't even close to what we want or what we should look like from an efficiency standpoint, from a run production standpoint, from a quick passing game standpoint. Then you fall behind by 17 and 23 points, you're playing catch up against a heck of pass-rushing football team and it's always going to be hard. Every week I say the same thing, when you look at the numbers the way they are where you're strictly relegated to drop-back passing, it is going to be tough for us to catch up."
On Cousins' accuracy:
"He was not quite as accurate as he has been, obviously. I think everybody who has seen Kirk play for his three years, he was a little… he missed some throws that he normally makes. He threw behind a couple of guys on some deep balls and he threw a couple over some guys' heads from time to time, the one he threw one the dirt to Jamison [Crowder] there late, he had some pressure, but it's just a process and we're just going to have to continue to coach the guys and make sure we get plays comfortable with and just continue to correct and coach."
On potentially shutting down players who have been playing through injuries:
"Well, like I said, when you guys asked me this a couple of weeks ago, I think it's on an individual basis, without a doubt. I think there will be some circumstances where we do that. We're not going to put a guy in harm's way if he's not quite 100 percent, whether we were still in the playoff hunt maybe or not, you know what I mean? It's going to be on an individual basis, especially with Jordan [Reed], Trent [Williams], Jonathan Allen, those are three guys that first come to mind, and now it's Byron Marshall. These guys are going to try to fight through it, but we'll have to see where they are from a 100 percent standpoint, whether or not they feel like they can go, whether it's going to help the team or not, or hurt themselves, and that's something we have to take a look at."
On if there's another option to try at punt returner other than Jamison Crowder:
"Again, we don't really… I'd say right now D-Hall [DeAngelo Hall] is our only backup returner at this time, and for us to get somebody up, we'd have to waive somebody or put somebody on IR just to return punts at this time. I don't know if that's quite the option for us. I still think Jamison is a good punt returner – just had some unfortunate fumbles and a couple of drops here over the course of the season, but I think when it's all said and done, Jamison will be our punt returner."
On the severity of LB Zach Brown's injury:
"That's a good question. He's going to get an MRI right now, so we'll find out here shortly. We just have to wait and see with him limping around here, Zach [Vigil] and [Martrell] Spaight will have to get some more, Josh Harvey-Clemons will have to step up his game there too if he can't go. So, let's add another one to the mix of questionable guys."
On Breeland's starting status:
"As far as starting goes? We'll get him in here this week and have a good week of preparation and work and then go from there."
On what's at stake for him and the team during the next three weeks:
"All we're focused on, John, quite frankly, is we're focused on one game. That's all we can do is just try to get these guys ready for Arizona. Everybody's talking about the lack of preparation, you know, you start trying to prepare for week two and three – Denver and whoever else we play at the end of the year, the Giants – you know, that might be part of the problem. We have to just prepare for Arizona, check out their looks. They play very strong defensive football, have a good blitz scheme and held a good Tennessee Titan offense to seven points last week or this past weekend. So have our work cut out for us from that standpoint and stopping Larry Fitzgerald from a defensive standpoint, and possibly Adrian Peterson if he's back."
On the decision to keep G Tyler Catalina over G Arie Kouandjio at the end of the preseason:
"The reason we kept Catalina ahead of Kouandjio and [Kyle] Kalis, quite frankly, is his position flexibility. He can play tackle. He played tackle – against, I think, it was Seattle – a couple plays and Kouandjio and Kalis are strictly guards. So, we liked his position flex. With Ty Nsekhe getting hurt and… Trent [Williams] obviously banged up, we had to have a third and fourth tackle. Catalina was the guy for that."
On Kouandjio's performance since returning to the team:
"I mean, he's played well. He's had his ups and downs. You know, coming in here, missing some time with us, he was on Baltimore's practice squad for some time, but he's stepped in and done some good things. You know, he's more of strictly a left guard-type guy, so he's a big, physical guy, so he's done some decent things. We can use him on the inside zone-type games and schemes. Catalina is probably a little bit more athletic, but you know, I think both of them have their pros and cons."
On CB Josh Norman's role on the deep passes by the Chargers:
"Well, one of them, he was supposed to have a deep safety in the middle of the field and we didn't have one and he got beat deep on a post. So, you know, that's just what it is. The other one was a flea flicker. He kind of came up, it was a crack. He was supposed to crack-replace, and he stepped up on the run and they flea-flickered him back and he got beat on that one. Good play by them, little trick play for them. We didn't have any safety help on that one either, so it goes hand-in-hand."
On Norman's role this season:
"His role is fine. You know, he's a corner, that's what position he plays. You know, the other receiver had 100 yards, too. I think Williams had over 100 yards. So I think the majority of NFL teams have two or three really good receivers, and a lot of times you start trying to run around and matching with one guy, then everybody else has to get set on their guys and it creates confusion. We're trying to keep this basic for some guys and if you're not playing man-to-man on every snap, you're playing some zone, then it's easier for everybody to play right and left. Safeties have to obviously change their mentality from time to time from box safety to hole safety from time to time, but the corners being right and left, sometimes it stays a little bit more consistent, especially in zone coverage if you want to mix in some zone. If you're playing man, you can match. It's a lot easier. But if you want to mix in some zones, it's a little harder to play zone if a guy goes to the slot and he goes to the left and he goes to the right, he's in the right slot, lines up in the backfield. It's easier said than done."