Q: **What do you feel Isaac Sopoaga brings to the defense and how do you think he played against Pittsburgh?
MP:Well obviously Isaac got here this week and tried to do a great job of stepping in and learning our system. He's a guy that's an experienced guy, has been the league for a while and has a professional manner about him. He really did a good job as far as trying to take everything we were going over and trying to do it to the best of his ability and trying to go out and do the best job he could. Certainly we are going to look for improvement in all areas and try to get better than we were the previous week. We just try to look at the performance of the defense as a whole, [which] is obviously something we need to improve on and try to get that done here.
Q:On the fourth-and-one stop, is it safe to say that Isaac Sopoaga held his ground well on that play and helped to disrupt the play? I know it took the entire defense, but did he do his job as you well would like to see it done on that play?
MP:Yeah certainly that was a big play for us in the game. Like you said, everyone across the board most importantly just doing their job in that particular situation. Isaac being in the middle, but obviously along with Chris [Jones] and Joe Vellano, really Dont'a Hightower made a great play attacking the line of scrimmage there. I mean, that was a big play for us. I thought across the board everyone really tried to do their job, play aggressive and try to win the line of scrimmage there. Obviously Isaac was in the middle of that, but there was certainly a great supporting cast all around him like Dont'a, Brandon [Spikes], Chris and Joe and everybody in the front there. That was a big play for us, a good play, and obviously something that we're trying to do.
Q:Can you comment on Chris Jones and Joe Vellano and their development thus far? Also, I don't know if this is a coaching thing, but it seems like they have a knack for getting their hands into places, like on one play when Chris tripped up somebody in the backfield. Is that something you teach?
MP:I'll say [they're] obviously two young guys that are working real hard. I think we've seen some improvement through the course of the season with both of them. I think they are guys that are really trying to learn the game from the ground up and learn the techniques and the things we are asking them to do. Certainly we're pleased with their progression. We're going to look for better and want better for them. They've done a good job of being able to make some plays in some situations and be around the ball, which is what we're looking [for] and trying to get done on every single play. Certainly, from my standpoint, there are going to be plays where we want them to be in better position or make more plays or be able to execute a little bit better. That's kind of what we're going to focus on, but certainly we're pleased with the way that they're trying to improve and learn and grow in the system. They've definitely really tried to do that, so it's been a positive for us.
Q:With regards to those guys, I guess they get snaps based on development or performance in practice, but in their particular case because of injury situations they were really shoved in there with a heavy workload. How have they responded to that and were there any trepidations on your part about that?
MP:I think across the board, just in general like we talk about every week, whoever is in there has to go out there and do their job to the best of their ability no matter what the circumstances are and certainly, whatever the circumstances that happen in front of you. We're obviously going to have everybody that is out there ready to go and expect them to be able to go in there and do whatever it is that we ask them to do to the best of their ability. Certainly the situations just are what they are, and we're trying to go out there and improve every week. Obviously those two inside would be the same as everybody else. We're trying to get all the players that we can involved in the game and into the game, so it fits together more in a puzzle than those two particular players. We're trying to do the best we can in all those situations.
Q:What do you do during the bye week from a coaching perspective, and how important is the break for you mentally just to get away from football for a bit?
MP:I think we will get together as a staff and kind of review the week outline and what we're going to get ready to do. But obviously at this point in the season we're going to take a good look at everything we're doing and areas that we need to improve on and work on and try to either address or fix or whatever the case may be. Certainly that's a big part of it. Looking ahead is going to be a part of it too, depending on the situations that we are going to be looking at for the opponents coming up and try to get a head start on that. So, it's really important for us to have this time to reflect a little bit, take a look at what we've been doing, some things we've been trying to improve on, which is going to be always our point of emphasis; just trying to get better. As Coach always says, we're trying to be better now than we were at the beginning of the season. Hopefully in a couple weeks we will be better than we are now. That's really our main focus. Obviously as a coach you're looking ahead at the opponent coming up and start taking a look at them too. Hopefully then at some point we'll get a little period of time to get away from the building for a second and regroup, but obviously we're focused on the task at hand and that's really the most important thing.
Q:With the injuries you have had on the defensive side of the ball, how does that impact what you do or what you would like to do on that side of the ball?
MP:I think in regards to that, I think it's the same every year. It's all part of the game, it's all part of the game of football and we're obviously prepared to adjust to that particular situation, whatever it may be, every week. That's the whole idea when you are trying to develop a defense from day one in the spring. You're trying to get everybody out there that we think can help us in some way or another and can learn our system and play within everything that we're doing from a defensive standpoint. Certainly, when we get down to it and get to the season with the guys that are on the roster and active for the game day, we have the same expectation for all of them. Whenever that time comes that you have to go in and perform, we expect you to go in and perform at a very high level. I think that it's something that, from our standpoint, we just kind of handle. We have a great next man up mentality where the guys just understand that they have to step in and do their job. That's really what we try to keep as the point of emphasis.