I have a couple of scheduling announcements. We are obviously on a pretty tight schedule this week. We are going to skip the Tampa film and try to get right into the Carolina film with the players. We want to get them as well prepared as we can for the game on Thursday. We only had two injuries in the game. Max Lane has a sore thumb, and they are going to X-ray that. John Munch has a sore ankle, and they are going to take a look at that too. I don't think either one of those is real serious, but just for the record. We are also going to make a few cuts later on today. I haven't had a chance to speak with the players yet. After we do (speak with them) we will announce it this afternoon, or as soon as that occurs. As far as the game goes, I don't have many different feelings from last night. The number of turnovers was unacceptable. The number of penalties was unacceptable. There were a number of mistakes on defense. The tackling, including the kicking game, is not good. Those are things that we have to improve on. They have been emphasized and they have been addressed. I don't think it is a team wide problem, but there are who certain individuals continue to be guilty of some of those infractions or mistakes. We just can't keep going that way. Otherwise I think there were some things to build on and work with. As competitive as this league is, those mistakes or errors are just too big to overcome for any team, certainly for our team.
Q: Will you now go to a set offensive line for this last game, with guys that will probably start the opener?
B: That's a good question. For a couple of guys who played last night, it was their first action. It wasn't all that extensive. They just got their feet wet. We will have to give a little more time to those players. I don't know if we will be able to make a full evaluation based on what we saw last night. In all honesty we haven't even had a chance to sit down and talk about that, but I'm just reacting to the question. I think it would be hard to do, or to say right now, 'this is it' on the offensive line because of the lack of total number of snaps that we have had.
Q: Has not having had a starting offensive line together been tough for the offensive continuity?
B: Well, that is the way that it's going to be in this league. There will be times throughout the course of the season when everything is not going to be perfect in any phase of the game. Our ability to adjust and handle those situations will be the measure of what kind of success we have as a team.
Q: Do you envision a scenario in the opener where Bruce (Armstrong) starts the game, but is not ready to finish it, or do those guys not play until they can go for four quarters?
B: We will do what we think is best for the team. The thing that has worked in our favor to this point is the fact that we have some flexibility amongst the positions on the offensive line. It is not like everyone is locked into one spot. We do have some versatility. Whether we will be able to utilize that versatility with our first group, or whether that will be more with our backups and carrying fewer offensive linemen into the game. How we will use it, I'm not really sure at this point, but hopefully that is a strength that at some point will be to our benefit.
Q: Is there a scenario where you could only keep four receivers because the fifth guy isn't playing on special teams?
Q: Was Ted Johnson present yesterday at the game?
Q: We kept looking on the sidelines, but didn't see him.
B: He wasn't on the sideline, none of the injured players were.
Q: Originally it was said that Johnson's hamstring was only tweaked, but he hasn't been on the field since. Has it been that serious, or has it been more precautionary with him?
B: It hasn't been good enough so that he can go full speed and practice. Ted is a hardworking player, and he has spent as much time and energy as I think he possibly could. There are only 24 hours in a day. He has done as much as he can to get back as quickly as he can, but until he can run full speed and until he can play the game at the tempo that it is being played either A, he is not going to be effective, or B, it's going to get re-injured. As much as all of us want (him back) as soon as possible, it just hasn't happened yet. I was here in '96, and there was a player on this team who was out for 12 weeks with a hamstring injury. Some last longer than others. I don't know that medically you can say 'this injury is going to be over in X amount of time.' You can try to gauge it, but it really is day-to-day. I know a lot of times you guys think that I'm trying to bury injuries and conceal information, but some hamstrings clear up in a week, some clear up in two weeks, some clear up in four weeks, and some clear up in twelve weeks. I don't know that any coach or trainer can sit there and absolutely say 'this is when it is going to end.' Then if I give you a day and he's not back by that day, then you guys are all upset, and it's a big crisis. 'How come he's not back sooner?' Then if he comes back one day ahead of schedule you are there again, 'the coach lied to us. He said that he was going to be back in two weeks, and now he is back in one. I suppose we have big miracle workers on this training staff. Next month there will be a two month injury and he will be back in six weeks.' It's not an exact science. The common normal person is thinking 'how long is it going to take to do normal things. To go out and go to the grocery store and wash the car and do this and do that?' This is professional football. The ability for a player to get back on the field and compete at the level that he has to compete at in this game is not like doing normal things. It is putting the maximum stress on whatever injury he has. Sure a guy can jog around the track and go play golf and go do this and do that, but to be chasing Warrick Dunn all over the field, and when the player is going to be ready to do that, it is honestly day-to-day.
Q: Do you ever fear that Ted Johnson might be in a stage where injuries will not allow him to reach the level of play that he played at early in his career?
B: No, I haven't seen that. The history is what it is, and we'll see how it goes from here, but I don't see that.
Q: Do you have one overriding concern about this team?
B: Well, we talked a little bit about this last week. There are always concerns for a coach, particularly at this time of year. It's a big C or a little c on the concern, but there are a lot of them. I think the major thing on this team is the efficiency. Can we play on an efficient level for sixty minutes for sixteen weeks, or are we going to flash here and there and make mistakes. One bad play can override twelve good ones, and that happened last night several times. In the end it's the same result. I think that's what this team needs to prove, is whether or not we can establish an efficient level of play and a solid level of play longer than the opponents. I don't think there is any doubt that we can play well for certain periods of time, but we will have to sustain it.
**Q: Are you interested in Otis Smith?**
B: Now is the time of year that there will be players of interest to every team. When you get down to the sixty-five cuts, there will be players out there that people on your scouting staff or coaching staff are going to have some interest in. Then it is a question of, how does that player fit for you, and what do you have to do to accommodate that player. That will be part of our discussions this week. In all honesty I haven't even seen all of the Tampa film yet. We are trying to get ready for Carolina. We have to do a scouting report today. We have the kickoff dinner tomorrow night and personnel decisions. Some of the personnel decisions have been brought to light, but haven't been transacted by the league. Once a player is placed on waivers by the league, if he is a veteran player, he terminates immediately. If he's not a veteran player, then it takes another 24 hours for him to clear waivers. We can't bring players in or have any kind of contact with him until he is officially cleared. I think in the case of the player you mentioned he hasn't even officially been put on waivers yet. It could just be a rumor.
Q: Can you look at the game last night and say for a half your first unit played their first unit pretty evenly or even better?
B: I think there were definitely some positives in the game, but, as I have said, they were overridden by some negatives. That is just not going to be good enough. Collectively we play as a team. The guys we had out there should be trying to win just as hard as the guys that they had out there. I don't think that everything that happened last night was bad. I don't mean to say that at all. A lot of those penalties came in the first half. The turnovers and giving up a couple of long plays, that just shouldn't happen. There were some freak plays in that game, plays that we probably won't see again all year, both for us and against us. That type of play is going to happen, and it is change a game here or there during the season. For this particular game it is hard to say 'this is the way the game went. If you take one or two of those plays and flip them around for either team, it could have dramatically changed the game. It was just one of those odd games.
Q: Is it going to be a really close call between the young receivers like Sean Morey, and Shockmain Davis, and Dane Looker?
B: I think that is a real competitive position. Special teams will be a big factor. As a coach you get into the same question with those guys, where are they now versus where are they going to be in the middle of the season, where are they going to be next year, and how long can you wait? That's a tough a call. That's what we're getting paid for, and that's the decision making process. One guy may be ahead of another guy right now temporarily. You may think that half way through the season the other guy is going to catch up. You may think that one player will clearly be ahead of the other ones, if it's not all the same plan, then you have to decide now. Now it becomes a time issue and not really an evaluation issue. You also have to calculate what the interest is in the player. With some players, if you think by putting them out there you are going to lose them, then you have to consider whether to put them out there or not. If you think that you are not going to lose them, then maybe you handle it differently.
Q: Will you be down to 65 players today?
B: We don't have to be down until tomorrow, and tomorrow is when a couple of lists for the NFL where there are players that count on the 80 man roster, you always have to be under 80 other than the Europe exemptions. There are some players that won't count on the 65, but they will count on the 80. That line doesn't get drawn until tomorrow by the league. To answer your question, yes we will be under the 65, but not by the NFL count because they won't take, for example, Robert Edwards. Robert Edwards still counts today, but he won't count tomorrow. We will be at 65, but technically he still counts.
Q: Do the Europe exemptions go past tomorrow?
B: The Europe exemptions go to the final cut of 53. We have three players that don't count on the roster: (Sean) Morey, (Marc) Megna, and Garret Johnson. We are actually at 68, but by league rule it is only 65. Rather than give you 68, they give you 65, but they don't count these three guys. It's just the way it is setup.
Q: Have you looked beyond Thursday schedule wise?
B: We have it roughed out. I usually don't finalize it because I like to wait and see where we are when we get to that point. Generally, we will come back in after the Carolina game. We will start up on Tampa early in the week. We need a couple of days in there, whether it's Saturday and Sunday, Sunday and Monday, Friday and Saturday. We need to reorganize, make our personnel decisions, and make some game plan decisions.
Q: What was your impression of J.R. Redmond?
B: I thought he did a couple of things that were positive. It was his first game, and the speed that the game is played at in this level is a little different than what any rookie is used to playing against in college. I think there were some positive things. There were clearly some situations that he will need to handle better next time.
Q: Did Tebucky Jones have his best game yet?
B: I think that Tebucky falls into that group of players that had some positive plays and did some good things. There are other plays that need to be corrected.
Q: Coach sometimes you bring the defense together and map something out on the chalkboard. Is that why you had Charlie Weis on the sideline, so he can do that with the offense?
B: No. As a coaching staff you are looking for your most efficient operation. One of the things that is important there is communication. You have communication between the coaches, and then you have communication between the coaches and players. No matter how you set it up with every staff I've ever been on there is always some sort of discussion as to what is the best way to set things up on that individual staff relative to the players that you are working with and what their experience is, or how the communication goes within that group of players. However you set it up there are disadvantage and advantages. Obviously you see more from the press box, and you see less from the field. Communication is quicker on the field than it is from the press box. That's the way it is. However you are setup, you have your advantages and disadvantages and you try to weigh them out. This is a case where we have done it the other way for a couple of games. Now we did it this way, and we'll take a look at the advantages and disadvantages of doing it both ways. We'll talk about it and try to decide which is the best way to do it. Defensively, in this particular case, although it has been done before, me being in the press box is not an option. It's been done before. There have been head coaches in the press box. I'm not considering that as an option. That is clear cut. On the other side of the ball, when I was a defensive coordinator I called from upstairs and I called from downstairs. I think there are advantages and disadvantages of doing it both ways.
Q: Do you have a guy that you consider an assistant defensive coordinator?
B: We don't have an assistant defensive coordinator.
Q: Do you have a guy you talk to a lot during the game?
B: There are certain jobs that have to be done during the game. Somebody has to do them. There are certain jobs that have to be done from the press box and certain ones that have to be done from the field. Wherever the people are, then that's the job that they do. If you were to switch them, then they would have to switch jobs. You can't really identify the other team's personnel from the field. It's just too hard to see the congestion across the field. It's much easier to spot that from upstairs. Whoever is upstairs is going to be looking at personnel. Whoever is upstairs is really in the best position to chart the plays and study the tendencies. It's a hard thing to do, especially at the end of the year when it's raining and cold and all that. Trying to write and keep charts in inclement weather, that's been done before too, but I can tell you first hand that it is tough. So those are the kind of things that you do upstairs. The communication that needs to be given to the players is a lot easier to do face to face than it is to always be doing over the phone, it has to go from coach to coach to player. The same work has to be done, it's just a question of how you want to do it. Should we poll the fans and see which way they would like us to do it?