“As we prepared for the Tampa game and we talked about it last week, I really thought it was a matchup of two evenly matched teams. I thought they had strengths in certain areas and I knew we had strengths that could match them. We had to play at our highest level. They are a very physical defensive front. Their ability to make big plays, both in the run and pass, they have done that over the last month. They have more big plays than any team in the NFL. There were some things we felt we had to do to have a chance to win the game. We did a lot of those things. Defensively we did a good job in the running game. We missed a couple tackles and gave up a couple runs we should not have. For the most part we did a good job. We did give up a couple big passes. I think they are going to make some. Unfortunately one of them, I don’t think they needed to get. The other one was a good play by them. We thought we could make plays in the passing game and certainly through a big part in the game we were able to control the ball. We were able to make plays and score points. When you have two evenly matched teams, certainly the negative plays determine the game. We had the two big negative plays–the blocked punt for a touchdown and the interception for a touchdown–that turned the game. It is disappointing to me. As I said, there are plays that should not happen but they did. We have to continue to work hard to clean those things up.”
On whether the blocked punt was a miscommunication:
“It was not a miscommunication. It comes down to a guy making a decision and he made the wrong decision. One of the last things we did on Friday is run that stunt. It is something they used against Oakland that Oakland actually used a fake and came up short. It was a split second decision and the guy on the ball made the wrong decision. The one thing I will say is unfortunately when you win there are some things you overlook in terms of the outside world. When you lose nothing is good but there are some guys that had great efforts.
On scoring only three points in the second half:
“Games come up different and we didn’t make the big plays. The first drive we get we’re backed up on the two. The second drive is where we ended up throwing an interception. (That’s what happens) If you turn the ball over and then you don’t convert third downs. We did a great job converting third downs in the first half. Field position and turnovers do take their toll.”
“He was 40 of 46 over the last couple weeks. Then he had the interception. Obviously it was a ball he would like to have back and if he had it over again he would have thrown the ball away.”
On whether it is necessary to limit Philip Rivers’ playing time:
“Philip Rivers gave us a chance to win that game. He made so many plays that a lot of guys can’t make. It is hard for me to answer that question because I don’t think people have an understanding of what that question means.”
On Philip Rivers’ positive plays outweighing his mistakes:
“You put together a lineup that gives you the best chance to win.”
Is the way that you’re preparing week in and week out the same as you were preparing last season?
“I think that we’re working better in our preparation and in everything that we do. We have some new coaches and they bring some things that I think have helped us. That’s the frustrating thing from a coaching standpoint and from a player’s standpoint because we all know what this league is about. And there are eight to ten plays that can completely change a season. So if we’ve had 600 plays to date on both sides of the ball, there are 590 where we’re not talking about fundamental preparation. We’ve had some tough plays and they’ve changed our games dramatically.”
How is the conversation going with Philip Rivers when you talk to him about some of the negative plays that he’s made?
“The thing about Philip is that no one works harder at it and there’s no one who cares more about it. He wouldn’t be out there and completing 82 percent of his passes over the last two weeks if he wasn’t spending a lot of his time with his preparation and helping the other guys prepare. He’s obviously trying as hard as he can to go win. In a couple of cases, he’s trying to do too much. As I said, it’s not 20 plays. It’s one or two plays in two or three of the games.”
How frustrating is it when every week you talk about him trying to do too much?
“It’s frustrating. It’s frustrating for him and it’s frustrating for all of us. We’re spending a lot of time working on it. We handle the things that we need to handle and we’re coaching. As I said, he’s working hard at it. It’s about preparation and then it’s about going out there and executing.”
On the importance of winning in Denver:
“This is a really big game against an outstanding football team. They’ve added a kick and punt returner who’s had a big impact. One of the biggest plays of the Cincinnati game was the kickoff return. Defensively they’re playing as well as anyone in the league right now. They’re able to pressure the quarterback as well as anybody. Offensively they’re as balanced as you can be and they’re capable of making big plays in the passing game.”
What did wide receiver Danario Alexander show you that earned him extra reps?
“He really showed it to us when he got here and there’s a process that you have to go through. Number one, you want to get a guy where he’s getting in shape. He came in here and he hadn’t played in a while and needed to get a little more healthy. He had a sore hamstring. He had to learn the system and the offense because he’d been in a system similar. Then you give him the opportunity to play. He got the opportunity in the Kansas City game and made plays and he’s done well in practice. You look at what gives you the best chance to win the game. And I thought that with Malcom (Floyd) and he in the game and the matchups with Tampa, it was a good matchup for us. We’ll evaluate it on a weekly basis.”
Do you think that injuries can help a player’s character when they finally do get healthy?
“Those are all hypotheticals because some guys, the reason that they survive those things, fight through them and continue to play afterwards is because they have great character to start with. It’s more of a case-by-case thing.”