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Transcript - Postgame (Cardinals Week 12)


Sunday, November 25, 2018 | ROKiT Field at StubHub Center | Carson, Calif.


Opening Statement:

"They played a complete football game today. They signed up to play for four quarters, and that's what they did. It wasn't all pretty. They started out a little slow, but we made some adjustments, guys responded, they executed, and we came away with the win."

On RB Melvin Gordon III's injury:

"His knee is swollen right now. We don't know exactly what it is. We'll get a full evaluation tomorrow, and we'll go from there."

On if it's the same knee Gordon has been dealing with:

"No. This was the opposite."

On if he had any concerns on that play:

"No. Not really. That's a play we've had in for a long time, and we've been trying to get it called in a game. Melvin loves the play. We weren't taking our foot off the gas pedal. It's a play that if we get around the perimeter, he would still be running. They made a heck of a play and hit us in the backfield."

On if he tweaks the game plan when QB Philip Rivers has a hot hand:

"No. I think the reason why you start out like that is because you're a balanced team. You're running the football. You're throwing the football. You're throwing screens. You're keeping them off guard — special plays — and I think that's why you're able to complete those plays like that. Guys were getting opening and making plays for him, too. There were some great catches out there today."

On if he's concerned with Gordon's availability moving forward:

"Hopefully what happened there is not serious. Like I said, I don't know the extent of the injury right now. If he has to miss some time — he's a starting running back in this league and if you can get him for 14 or 15 games that's pretty good. His durability has been pretty good this year."

On if DE Joey Bosa is fully healthy:

"He looked like it today. He had a couple sacks today. He had more snaps. I think the more he plays the better he's going to get."

On if this is one of the best games he's seen Rivers play in:

"He was hot. Like I said, guys were protecting up front for the most part. We had a couple sacks, but guys were getting open, too. They were separating and making catches. There were some catches guys made, catching it on the right hip. They all contributed today, but you can't say enough about Philip and what he did today because when you prepare the way he prepares, you're going to have some days like this."

On the defensive stand following the lost fumble:

"Like I said, after those first 12 minutes of the game, our defense was hot. That drive where they did the sudden [momentum] change, that was huge for our football team — the momentum right there, it just shifted on our sidelines. That was huge."

On WR Mike Williams' performance:

"That's what we expect from Mike. He's a 50/50 guy. He can go up. He can jump out the gym. He can go out and get the ball, and that's what he's been doing all year. He's been doing it in training camp. He's been doing it in practice. It's not a surprise for us to see him to do it in a game."

On TE Sean Culkin's reception:

"That's probably his first catch all year, including the preseason. He was open, and it just goes to show, when you're doing the right things and working your tail off like he does — he took advantage of the opportunity and went up and got the ball and made a heck of a catch."

On the defense switching gears after two scoring drives:

"No. We signed up to play for four quarters. Like I said, that was just 12 minutes of the game. For 48 minutes, that defense was playing pretty dang good."


On the game:

"I thought it was an all-around good team performance. We didn't get off to the best start. They drove and scored, we went three-and-out, then they scored again to get up 10-0. Then we got going, offensively and defensively, the whole deal. I thought the return game gave us some good field position. Defensive stops, they got the turnover, we had a sack-fumble that the [defense] stopped them right away, then missed the field goal. We leaned on one another. We got going pretty good. There's still some things that we can clean up, and that we will need to clean up heading into December. We know what we got coming December, starting next week. It was good to get back and get a win after that performance last week."

On the two touchdowns by WR Mike Williams:

"The second one was just awesome. We tried to get the play out of bounds, obviously. It was third-and-two, but we wanted to get out of bounds, kind of stay aggressive. [WR] Keenan [Allen] did a great job keeping his feet in on that one, down in the 3-yard line. We said, 'Shoot, let's throw Mike a fade.' He went up and got it. Great job keeping his feet in. A lot of guys made great catches today. [RB Austin] Ekeler had a few where they were not very accurate and he caught them. Keenan kept his feet in on that third down conversion for the half. Then the touchdown, Mike had two back in the end zone. Numerous guys did a heck of a job catching the football. That's why I always say, 'We.' We completed those. The guys upfront blocked and ran the ball efficiently. It was a lot of good things. Again, I think we have to be extra critical of ourselves on the things we can clean up. Just start getting ready for Pittsburgh."

On if he knew he went 25-for-25 when he threw the touchdown to Keenan Allen:

"I didn't know. I didn't know it was 25 in a row. I knew we hadn't missed. I did know that we hadn't missed, but I didn't know where it was. I did know that that first miss was that little short throw to [Austin] Ekeler of all things. It was an efficient day, I guess, to say the least. We had those. There were so many guys today who were making the catches, the guys protecting. A lot goes into completing the ball, more than just me throwing it. It was a fun day, to say the least."

On the sudden-change stop for the Chargers defense:

"That was huge. I probably should have left the original play on, I checked to a different play that takes a little bit longer. We were in an empty backfield, which you don't like to hold it too long in that set. I probably shouldn't have even tried to throw it. I was trying to get it to [RB] Melvin [Gordon III], I probably should have just eaten it at that point. Then our D [defense] goes three and out, they missed the field goal. From there, it was whatever it was — we had just scored seven and we continued it. It was 42 in a row I guess, 42 or 45 unanswered. Slow start, we were all lagging a bit. We wanted to start fast. We talked all week about getting off to a fast start. We didn't, but that's alright. That's the way games go and it was good to see us bounce back, both sides. Making the plays we needed to, to get the turnaround."

On TE Sean Culkin's catch:

"Huge catch. He's one I didn't mention. I was thinking about the one in the boundaries and the one by [Austin] Ekeler, but yeah, huge catch. He went up and got it. All week, you run that and then all of the things that they can play, they played the coverage that goes to Sean. Which is great. Everybody is alive. We thought, 'Hey, it's going to be [TE Antonio] Gates on the corner out or they're going to throw it to the tailback. Sure enough, he ends up open and he went up and made a heck of a catch. I think that's what I know guys appreciate. I know as the quarterback, I appreciate that about our offense. So many guys contribute. So many guys can get it on any given play. I think that's what makes us unique. There are so many guys that are involved. Then you see how excited guys are and making that play. It's truly a team, an unselfish group all the way around. Just speaking offensively of all the guys that touched the ball, it makes it fun to be the one that's throwing it to them."

On Melvin Gordon III's questionable availability:

"We're all going to have to pick up the load a little bit. Thank goodness you have a guy like [Austin] Ekeler that's right there behind him, that we know we have a great deal of confidence in, both in running the pass. We're obviously not happy that Melvin's dinged up right now, but having the chance to get [RB Justin] JJ [Jackson] some touches, make some runs. That's going to help his confidence, get into it a few times again. Again, I think that's good. If he were not to be able to go, we're still going to run our offense. We can't all of the sudden say, 'Hey, let's throw it 50 times.' I think those guys, we trust those guys enough. The guys upfront are blocking and running well enough that we still have to continue with the balance and those three will have to pickup up that load. We'll have to continue to be efficient in the passing game."

On if the balance between defense and offense is what he envisioned before the season:

"Yeah, that's who we wanted to be. It's who we saw us being. I don't think we're there. I don't think it's a destination to get to and you go, 'Okay, we got it.' I think we're doing some things and becoming that team that we want to be heading into December and hopefully into January. So we have to make that happen. Sitting at 8-3 doesn't guarantee anything. Seeing [DE] Joey [Bosa] back and those guys rushing, [S] Derwin [James] getting that interception today, the defense getting a big stop there with the sudden-change. Then so many guys contributing on offense. When you throw for, whatever it was, 230 and run for 180, I mean that's pretty balanced. It was a good day. I don't think we punted until the fourth quarter. There were a lot of things we did good. We can clean up a few penalties, there's things we can still clean up. We know there are things we can still clean up that we will need to at the end of this stretch, heading into December."

On if he thought he would have to throw the ball away on the touchdown pass to WR Keenan Allen:

"I was going to score and spike it. There for a minute I was like, 'This is my chance, I have never scored a rushing touchdown. I was going to spike it as hard as I could. No, then I saw him and [Cardinals S] Tre [Boston] kind of tangled up, and I was just like, 'If he comes back down right now, we have a chance.' I knew he was close to the boundary, and what a great job of keeping his feet it on that one and making that play."

On the ability to play with ease under pressure:

"I think you grow more comfortable [in dealing with pressure] over time. I think it's experience, as it [is something] that comes with time. I do feel like that I play compact for a big, tall and long guy. I don't need a lot of room to get a pass off. I think it's just from earlier on in my career when here, with knowing where check-downs and guys [in the play] are, that will help you. You can't rip balls down the field if it gets a little dicey in [the pocket], but you can find Melvin [Gordon III], Austin [Ekeler] and [TE Antonio] Gates in spots without hardly ever [needing] to move your arm [to make the throw]. So, yes — I am a little bit more comfortable in a 'muddy' pocket than I am anywhere else outside of [the pocket]. I tell you what, I don't want to overstate the 'muddiness' because our [offensive line] does a heck of a job with protection. Last year, we were fewest in the league in sacks and sacks aren't their only stat. This year, we're off to a heck of a start. I mean, I was on the ground a few times today, so the guys up front are doing heck of job of making [the pocket] clean, but when it is a little 'muddy', I don't mind it."

On any disappointment with the incompletion to RB Austin Ekeler:

"Well, I didn't know [it was the only incomplete pass]. It's about winning the game as I wasn't worried about that [statistic]. I did know we hadn't missed [a pass] and it would've been nice because [it means] we wouldn't have missed the rest of that drive. Those are kind of those far-off dreams you think about. Like, [what if I would ever play a game] where I don't miss one [pass]? Then you quickly say [to yourself] — [it's] probably not [going to happen], but there [is] the fact that we were standing there in the fourth quarter and we hadn't [missed a pass]. Again, I know I keep saying 'We', because some of the great catches — and they were great catches — that could've easily fallen [as] incomplete. There are the guys protecting up front. So, 'We' completed 25 in a row. I mean, there are a lot of guys involved in all of those [passes]." 

On whether there was a feeling "of perfection heading into the fourth quarter:

I mean, it was going [well]. I thought the two-minute drive [at the end of the second quarter] was huge. We had some good drives, but [with] the two-minute drive, usually [there will be] some 'throw away' [passes] and have to do some things [to preserve time]. We didn't have to throw one away. I don't know if we hit 10 [completions] in that drive or how many there were, but that was to me a huge drive. We were just efficient. Again, [especially] with running the ball well. I think we were averaging six and half yards per play. [So] when you're doing that [and] when you only have seven third down [situations], you need to think about those [factors]. One of those [third down situations], I dove short and we made [the conversion] on fourth down. We had two [more third down situations] in the fourth quarter, [where] we kicked the field goal [on one] and punted [on the other]. When you only have five or six third down [situations] when the [gas] pedal is down, that means you're doing pretty dang good on first and second down."

On him not having a perfect passer rating:

"Yeah, I don't know about all that. I know we won the game. It's a fun day when you do some of the things we did today. We needed to win the football game and we didn't start off very well, but then we got back on track. It was great to get a win, especially after last week, and we know what's ahead. When you have to go to Pittsburgh, go to Kansas City, go to Denver, all in December. Then you host Cincinnati and Baltimore, that's going to be a heck of a December. We're going to have to make sure we're up for it. It starts in Pittsburgh."

On if the block on the corner would go on his highlight reel:

"Nah, it wasn't really good. I had a couple good ones this year, but that one wasn't my best. It's a frightening thing, outside the hashes, in space. A bunch of big, fast dudes running around."

On the third and goal play called when facing the 10-0 deficit:

"We thought [Arizona] was going to play Cover 2. So, we called a high-low on both sides on the outsides and we had [TE Antonio] Gates running down the middle. We were just going to sit it down right on the goal line. [Arizona] ended up not playing [Cover 2]. They kind of played three over two [on one side] and I wasn't sure how they were going to play the front side, so I eliminated [the] one side to [WR] Keenan [Allen] and I think it was [RB] Melvin [Gordon III], who was in at that point. I was thinking [to throw it to] Gates and the safety hung on Gates. I think when the cornerback saw Gates going vertical, he thought [WR] Mike [Williams] was going to stay vertical and run a seam [route]. Then, all of a sudden Mike went to the corner and got lost behind him. I wasn't sure how much room we had, so instead of hitting [WR Mike Williams] in stride, I [thought] to let the ball go high to let [Williams] go up and get it. He did it on that [pass] and on the fade route later [on]." 

On the challenge of playing Pittsburgh:

"It's going to be a heck of a challenge. We won that game in 2012, it was a weird game. It was late in the year like this and we weren't in the mix. We had a lot of guys banged up and we found a way to win that one. Then we've had some other trips that haven't gone so well in Pittsburgh. It's tough. You're dealing with some weather, you're dealing with a great fan base. Then you mentioned it, they have a heck of an offense that leads those guys over there and a defense that plays really well. They've drafted some guys over the years that kind of fit the same mold of the guys that we remember in those days when they were unbelievable in defense. It will be a heck of a challenge, but these are the games we love to play in. A December game in Pittsburgh on Sunday night, an 8-3 team and I don't know where they're going to end up. They're going to be right there. It was a one score game in Denver. It's kind of all you can ask for going into December."

On having the most completions to start a game today:

"It was a fun day. It was efficient, to say the least. There were a lot of great catches. A lot of catches on the boundary. A lot of guys caught the ball, that what I was saying. I think we should acknowledge all of those guys. They were part of it, all 25 or 28 of them. The guys upfront protecting, because we ask a lot of those guys, the run-pass game. They never blink. Whenever a play is called, they go all out."

On DE Joey Bosa's impact on the team:

"It was just exciting, exciting for him. You see a guy, you know how hard he trains and how hard he works. We were just talking in the fourth quarter, where he was like, 'This is the first sack and I'm feeling this good since Oakland last year.' That's 11 months ago. The guy trains so hard. You know the ability he has, what he brings to the team. It was great to see and you saw how excited the guys were when you got those sacks. Then you add him to a defense that was already playing pretty dang well without him. It's good to have him back out there and seeing that was fun."


On the building momentum to Pittsburgh:

"This gave us our confidence back. This is definitely what we wanted to do coming off of last week, to get back on track."

On Chargers QB Phillip Rivers performance:

"He is confident. He told us before the game he was going to ball out and that is what he did. He wanted to come back off last week and bounce back."

On the team's performance after the loss to the Denver Broncos:

"Like I said we wanted to bounce back and get a win and that is what we did"


On getting more playing time this week:

"It helped that we were winning. It's just great to be back out here."

On QB Philip Rivers' historic game:

It was unbelievable. I don't care what anyone says about him. I wouldn't want anyone else as my quarterback, he's unbelievable."

On getting the big win this week:

"It says a lot about this team. We came back, took control and dominated. I think we were getting a little comfortable with ourselves. It doesn't matter who you're playing. It's about staying humble."

On playing Pittsburgh next week:

"We all know who the Steelers are and what they can do. It'll be our toughest challenge in a while. Just going to enjoy this win and get back to work tomorrow."


On catching the ball out of the backfield:

"I feel like it's one of my strengths, absolutely. I like being out in space."

On RB Melvin Gordon III playing despite being questionable:

"He's a beast. He's one of the best in the league. I wasn't surprised at all. Two touchdowns, he was out there killing it."

On the possibility of getting more touches next week:

"[My mentality is] the same thing every week. We might get a little more reps now, but we have to pick up the slack for the rest of the team."


On the defensive performance:

"From the start, we need to be better. That is the only thing I'd say. Don't wait to get hit in the mouth first. I feel we will be alright."

On his interception:

"It felt great. I was trying to score. I was mad at myself I couldn't get in the end zone. I got the ball to the offense and you see what happens when you put the ball in [QB Philip] Phil's [Rivers] hands. He was 28-of-29 today. That is our main thing, trying to get the ball to our offense"

On the return of DE Joey Bosa:

"This is my second game with Joey, but it is feeling real. There are plays to be made and one of us is going to make a play."


On his first touchdown of the day:

"Just getting the opportunity. [QB] Phillip [Rivers] put up the ball up for me to go make a play. I just went up and made it."

On QB Philip Rivers:

"He's a baller, Hall of Famer. He gives us opportunities. He makes everything easier for us as receivers."

On preparing for Pittsburgh next week:

"Pittsburgh is a great team. We're going to enjoy this win and [then start to] prepare on Monday for Pittsburgh."


Opening Statement:

"Only injury update I have tonight is [LB] Josh Bynes, his thumb. I think he should be fine. I'll find out from the trainers and let you guys know tomorrow. We talked about coming in here on the road, starting fast. I thought we did a great job of doing that, taking the first drive down and scoring. From that point, the wheels just fell off a little bit. Defensively, we look at the missed tackles. The yardage after the contact wasn't good. The missed field goal opportunity, to be able to get points. We were able to take the ball away once and didn't come up with any points there. And then of course the critical turnover on our side. With that, I'll take your questions."

On losing confidence once the Chargers got up:

"I don't think so. I think the guys were still fighting. They were still competing. We just couldn't put any drives together. We couldn't really get off the field."

On what they can gain from this game:

"I hope we gained a lot because it's definitely not what we want from the embarrassing standpoint. We've got to do a much better job on the defensive side, number one, tackling, and really in the red zone. You've got to hold those guys to field goals."

On what happened with that second quarter sequence where they got the turnover:

"Again, you've got to take advantage of those opportunities and sometimes, they can be deflating. We've just got to do a better job of putting the ball in the end zone, most importantly, and just getting three points."

On what changed between the first three drives where they gained a 10-point lead and the rest of the game:

"Well, you've got to continue to try to get moving up front. Try to establish a running game. Want to try to create — slow those guys down, those dynamic pass rushers — we wanted to be able to do that first. Then, also, create the play-action off of that. We've just got to do a much better job up front. That's where it starts."

On the cornerback position:

"It's a revolving door. Guys have got to step up. [That] wasn't great play there. We made the switch there with [CB David] Amerson, and we've got to continue to try to figure out exactly who is going to be opposite of that."

On if this was an embarrassing loss:

"That's definitely an understatement there. Definitely was embarrassing. Definitely wasn't what we want. This organization, that team in that locker room, those players and coaches — we've got to do better."

On why so many points were allowed:

"Again, fundamentals and technique, guys tackling, guys doing their job. Coaches coaching, and it all starts with me."

On if Chargers QB Philip Rivers' performance was a factor in the defensive performance:

"No. 1, Philip is a great quarterback. We've got to do a good job defensively of really hugging up to our coverage, being tighter, contesting throws, being in position to make plays on the ball."

On what has potentially stunted their progress:

"The inconsistency is there. I think you've seen some great play out of this team, out of this defense, some good, great things out of the offense. I think it's more inconsistent, and that's the thing that we've got to try to make sure we can correct. Find a way to be consistent in the things that we're doing. You go back and look at previous games—we made strides. The consistency is not there."

On why the team is so inconsistent:

"A number of things. Tackling, number one. Protecting the football, number two. Blocking up front and trying to get positive yardage, and getting off the field on third down."

On DT Robert Nkemdiche's performance:

"I thought he had his best game all year. Did some great things. That was great to see on that side of the ball, guys stepping up upfront like that."

On how Nkemdiche can build on today's game:

"Again, consistency. That's what we're looking for across the board, as individuals and as a team."

On the mentality of the team moving forward:

"No. I think we've got great character in that locker room. I know they're going to continue to fight, starting with me. As I said before, we're not going to quit. We're going to continue to try to persevere and find ways to win football games."

On why QB Josh Rosen did not look comfortable when he was in the pocket:

"Again, I think you've got to give those guys credit on that side of the ball. You look at [Chargers DE Melvin] Ingram [III], you look at [Chargers DE Joey] Bosa — two premiere pass-rushers in the National Football League. Those guys did a good job up front. At times we've got to do a much better job of trying to help them out a little bit with protection."

On what he saw today that convinces him the team is still playing hard:

"When you look at the drive we had, when you look at some of the things we did down the stretch – getting off the field on third down — I don't think those guys quit. I'm not going to even stand up here and say those guys quit. Those guys finished. Do we [need] to play better? Of course we do."


On being back in Los Angeles:

"It's nice to come back home. It's where I grew up, training, playing tennis. Last time I was on the field was the high school championship game so better memories than today, but we'll keep pushing forward."

On changes in the Arizona offense:

"I think you have to give credit to the Chargers, but our first and second down plays weren't as efficient, and it puts you in some tough third downs against some really good pass rushers."

On adjustments the Chargers made to Arizona's offense:

"They just started making plays and we didn't. I threw a pretty easy pick there which I shouldn't have, obviously, and we just didn't really go anywhere from there."

On avoiding the Chargers pass rushers:

"It's just a really good football team and we just can't stay behind the sticks. I think those first few drives, on whatever third down we had, I'm positive they were both third and shorts. When you've got [DE] Joey Bosa and [DE] Melvin Ingram [III] and those guys there's only so much you can do in third and long. The key is to have success early on plays and we stopped doing that."

On getting more than one first down in a drive:

"Positive plays definitely give you a bit of a psyche boost, I guess you could say."

On the sack-fumble:

"You have to score off turnovers. That speaks for itself. We went through a couple plays of basically giving them the ball exactly back where it was on the turnover. Have to score on possessions or else it's just a turnover."

On offensive players doing what they've been coached:

"On offense we're just a little banged up front and guys are just working their butts off. There's no quit. Guys are running hard, guys are blocking hard, the chips just aren't falling in our favor. That's all I really have to say."

On the pressure from the Chargers defense:

"Those are very good pass rushers. Joey Bosa is probably one of the best in football. When you stay ahead of the sticks and stay in third in shorts you can kind of minimize that, but you get in third and longs and it's tough. They made plays and we didn't."

On getting hit by the penalty flag:

"Oh that's what that was? I remember it hitting me and I immediately threw it away. I thought somebody was swiping me."

On Chargers QB Philip Rivers' completion record:

"That was nuts. I went up to him after the game and said good game and I was like, 'Bro, that was crazy.' That's why he is who he is. I wish him the best of luck moving forward. We've shared two coordinators now in Noel Mazzone and [Mike] McCoy." 

On the team's execution and what the offense can do to improve:

"We just have to win our one-on-one matchups all over. We just have to individually step up. I need to make better reads and be more decisive on certain things. With that pick, no one was really open down the field, but my back was so I just have to step up, check it down and trust my protection. On the offensive line, we have to win our one-on-one battles. At receiver, we have to win our one-on-ones. At running back we just have to keep running hard and execute every play. There's not much schematically, we just have to play better. [Offensive Coordinator] Byron [Leftwich] is doing really well with play calling. I want to say I appreciate Byron not tossing me out there at the end of the game trying to go two-minute with 10, 11 minutes left. We just have to win our one-on-ones."

On if he played tennis at StubHub:

"I did. I grew up training here back when it was The Home Depot Center."

On what's left to gain with five games left:

"Just building blocks. To state the obvious, guys are playing for their jobs but on a larger scale than that we're just trying to play respectable football. To ourselves it's a competition within the job. We can't be proud of the product we've put on the field so I don't care if we have 100 games left or one, we're going to go week by week and try to play the best football that we can because there are not really many other options." 


On what the defense could have done differently:

"Just have to make tackles if anything. We started the game off fast, we just have to continue that."

On his mentality after the game:

"I get to play the job I love. I am out here working. I have something to prove. I have something I am trying to get to. I am not disappointed at all. It is football. It happens. For me, we have to find a way to turn it around and finish strong."


On defending the Chargers offense:

"Hats off to [Chargers QB] Philip Rivers. He played a tremendous game. If you guys see on the film, he went out there and took his time operating that offense. He was picking us apart with little short passes and it hurt us."

On responding to adversity:

"I don't think we have a hard time responding to adversity. We have to go back and watch the film and see what we did wrong. Hopefully we can get that fixed."


On his performance:

"We have been preparing and practicing putting a game plan together. Just taking coaching and using that and getting off the ball."

On Chargers QB Phillip Rivers:

"He is a vet. He is going to do his thing. He is going to make plays and have positive games. We have to keep preparing and getting better. The scoreboard tells you that we can get better and work harder. We have to be tighter, more disciplined and bring our A-game."


On digging out of this hole this season:

"We have great guys in this locker room that love the game of football and understand what this game has done for us. It just sucks right now that we are going through the season the way that we are going through right now, but we dug ourselves into this hole. We just have to find a way to get ourselves out of it."

On putting your best foot forward as a player:

"Like I said, if it means anything to you, you always want to put your best foot forward. Period. No matter what, regardless of what the situation is. If you want to have an opportunity to have a job somewhere else or even coming back here, you want to put good film on tape."

On coming back to Arizona to try to fix the team:

"I have two years left on my contract. I am still on a contract until 2020."

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