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Eric Mangini Monday Press Conference

(Opening statement) – “Good afternoon everybody. Just in watching the tape it felt like a lot of really positive things in all three phases and a lot of good examples of complimentary football and a lot of good examples of how we want to play. I thought offensively, our ability to run the ball, especially in that the crucial situation in the end was really an impressive group effort. Peyton (Hillis) did a really good job with his opportunities, but Lawrence Vickers again was just outstanding. The offensive line collectively those guys made that happen. Talked a little bit after the game about how there was a will there, a resolve there to get those first downs and we went with that and they got it done. I thought a lot of good drives, a lot of good situational football by the offense and I like the fact that we were able to come out at the start of the second half and go down and score. I thought that was important, being able to score at the end of the first half, get the field goal there. With all that being said, there are a lot of things that we need to still address. Being more efficient in the red zone, being able to convert all of those opportunities into touchdowns as opposed to just field goals. The same thing after the sudden change getting a touchdown there as opposed to a field goal. But a lot of things to teach off of both ways and we will do that and not gloss over any of the errors we had in that area. Defensively, good in the running game we were able to generate some pressure on the quarterback in the four sacks, creating two turnovers that led to points, I think were all good things. Not giving up the amount of yards that we give up in the passing game is going to be important. We just keep going in terms of quarterbacks. It’s Matt Ryan this week, then (Ben) Roethlisberger and then Drew Brees and then Tom Brady so it’s right on down the line. Each week we are going to get challenged and its good groups of receivers each week and there wasn’t one guy that is responsible for those yards, it was collective. There are a lot of things that we can improve and a lot of things that we need to improve. That being said, I like the amount of pressure they were able to generate on the quarterback in combination. Some were zone blitzes, some were three man rushes, and some were four man rushes. I thought Matt Roth had a really outstanding game. On (special) teams, (we are) getting closer to playing the way that I expect us to play on special teams. I think the coverage units were outstanding, got some production out of the return game, we were able to block the field goal, we’re moving forward there and to me that should be a week in and week out strength of this team."

(On if he thinks T.J. Ward’s hit was a cheap shot) – “Well he got penalized for it and it cost us a touchdown so I think don’t think he got away with anything. I want us to be tough, I want us to be physical, but I want us to play within the framework of the rules and that penalty gave them a new set of downs, end up scoring a touchdown instead of kicking a field goal and they call those penalties tight and they should call those penalties tight against defenseless receivers. It cost Cincinnati too when they hit Ben Watson at the end of the half and that led to a field goal. In talking to T.J., one of the things I’m going to stress is, I don’t want him to change his aggressiveness, but we’re going to operate within the boundary of the rules. That’s my expectation, you like physical play, but you can’t put the team in that situation where you’re giving them a new set of downs. It’s not good and I don’t want to see our guys hitting guys in the head when they’re defenseless. We can be just as tough and do it in the framework of how it’s supposed to be.”

(On how T.J. Ward should have played differently instead of that hit) – “That’s part of it, that’s tough in that whole situation. I can’t remember who hit Ben, but he was coming in to make the play, the receiver lowered his head sometimes that contact is going to happen. The ball was already out when he hit him, but T.J. was already going towards the receiver. He didn’t really launch at him but he lowered his shoulder. It’s a gray area. It’s kind of like roughing the passer. There’s some gray area there. Kenyon’s (Coleman) penalty a few weeks ago, he was already in the air when the ball was released but you do the best job that you can to try to get it the right way and we’ll keep trying to fix it. I don’t have a great answer is the long short of it.”

(On if he has ever noticed T.J. Ward crossing the line on his hitting before) – “No, that’s not what I’m saying at all. T.J. is an aggressive, physical guy that’s a big hitter. It’s one of the things that is really attractive about him. It’s one of the things that you love about him and there are ways that you can do that and not lose anything with your game and still be within the framework of what expectations are and what the rules are.”

(On if players with big hitting reputations get looked at closer by refs) – “If you talk to Rodney (Harrison) he got a lot of penalties that he didn’t deserve. It’s very rare that you get a guy that saying ‘Wow I really deserved that penalty.’ Most times they’re saying it’s crazy, why you doing that to me.”

(On T.J. Ward’s penalty) – “T.J. isn’t a dirty guy. He’s not a dirty guy. He’s a young guy. He’s an aggressive guy and he’s an inexperienced guy, but he’s not a dirty guy. He’s a good person, he’s a good kid. I’m not going to try to take anything off of the way that he plays because I think it’s a real strength, but there are things he will learn to do it even better within the framework of what we all have to play with.”

(On what the repercussions are going to be from the league for T.J. Ward) – “That’s really out of my hands. I would imagine he’ll get some kind of fine letter, I would imagine.”

(On how it’s hard for big hitters to always hit correctly) – “Yes, I think that any time you are trying to regulate aggressiveness there is that line and what we have to do as coaches and as players is to walk the line, on the right side of it and that’s the way that we’re going to coach and play it. It is a fine line because you don’t want to take away anything that a player does really well in that area, but you want them to be safe and you want them to do it within the rule. I think the heightened awareness of concussions and the protection of defenseless receivers and quarterbacks and all the different things that have been done to try to help prevent longer term injuries are real positives. Hopefully everybody continues to get better at playing it the way that we’re all hoping to play it and more people are able to finish their career and not have longer term affects.”

(On the secondary) – “I thought there were times they did really well but when someone puts up numbers like they put up its hard to say they played real well. The flipside of that Terry (Pluto) is that it cuts both ways. It’s the same as the running game or the passing game, the front has to do what they need to do and the back end needs to do what they need to do. If either ones out of joint because there was a couple times where if we held up a second or two longer in protection we would have had another sack opportunity. There were a couple times where the rush should of gotten there quicker than it did and there is going to be an opening after a certain amount of time. It wasn’t one player and it wasn’t one area, it’s a group effort, and when you get to numbers like the numbers we got to its more so. I think Cincinnati is a very good passing team and when Carson Palmer gets hot, he usually gets red hot and he’s got a lot of places to go with the ball. It’s not like he’s limited to one or two guys. Jordan Shipley is a young guy who has emerged as a weapon for them and he made some plays, Terrell Owens made a bunch of plays. He’s got a lot of options. The other thing that he does well is he buys some time. There were two or three times yesterday where he bought some extra time and made some plays down the field. We are going to face that. Matt Ryan can make some plays with his feet, he did in college and he has done it in pro football. Ben Roethlisberger, same thing, he makes plays with his feet and you give them the extra time with the type of arm that they have, it’s going to be a problem. It’s going to be a problem for everybody.”

(On Jake Delhomme’s status) – “He should practice on Wednesday. I felt like we had a really good chance this week, I think those odds just go up. Wednesday, I want to see with a bigger load how it responds. That’s where we are on Monday and hopefully we will be saying the same thing on Thursday.”

(On if Jake Delhomme was healthy if he would start against Atlanta) – “Yes he would.”

(On if their blitzing hurt them as much as the week before) – “One time we were. It also helped us create four sacks and helped us create some other plays so, I’d say that we got more out of it this week and we gave up about the same amount as we have in the past. Now I’m looking for that arrow of giving up the same amount to go down and the yield to increase.”

(On how important it was for the team to see their work pay off) – “It was really important and it was important to me because they deserve to win. I really believe that. Over the first three weeks there was no sense of woe is me. There was none of that, there was just an ‘alright let’s get back in here, let’s get this fixed, let’s keep moving forward.’ At half times of games there’s never a sense of momentum change, there’s none of that, that group doesn’t have that its more, ‘let’s go do this, let’s go finish this’ and you want to see that rewarded. It should be rewarded, and you know that if you do that and you consistently improve it will be rewarded. Last year it took us longer, and my expectation is that we continue to improve, continue to work and continue to learn how to win. There are steps involved in this whole thing. You learn how to practice, you learn how to study, you learn how to compete and then you learn how to win. That next step sometimes takes a little bit longer and once you get it and you go in with that expectation a lot of really good things can and will happen. I like this group of guys a lot. It’s a positive group, it’s a determined group and it’s how I envision the team to be.”

(On if guys were getting nervous when Cincinnati was only down by three points) – “I got the sense that guys were getting angry like, ‘We are not going to let this happen again, it is not happening again.’ There was an absolute sense across the sidelines of no, no, it’s done. You can look in people’s eyes and know what the mind set is. I was looking across at a bunch of guys that were determined, and that’s not to say they weren’t prior to that, but that’s how these guys are built. When you go to that whole core characteristic, when I talk about those things, the competitive concept that’s it. It doesn’t matter what you’re doing you want to win and let the other guy go have a lousy Sunday.”

(On players communicating about in-play adjustments during a game) – “That’s huge. It’s huge and what’s really important about that too is what’s being communicated is good information. The same thing happens when guys come off on the sideline, we sit there with the pictures and we’ll talk through what happened. You don’t know if it’s going to happen on your side or the other side of the ball, but you want to share what happened and what the problem was. It’s really important that what’s being shared is accurate. We all have tape and are going to see what the truth is. I know that’s seems silly to share what’s accurate, but sometimes guys will share stuff that doesn’t make them look as bad in the moment, but it doesn’t really help the next moment. When you’re giving good information, whether it’s player-to-player or player-to-coach or coaches-to-coaches, then you can go and say, ‘Okay, this didn’t work, this is the reason it didn’t work. If we do it this way, it should.’ Or, ‘This didn’t work and it’s probably not going to work the next time. Let’s do something else.’ That’s some of the stuff that’s talked about on the sideline. You want to know whether a play didn’t work because the technique wasn’t executed correctly or something they did or it’s just not a good play against what they’re doing and move on to the next play. All of that stuff helps and the more accurate it is and the more guys get into a pattern of doing that, the better you’re able to move forward quickly as opposed to a series later or two series later or the next week."

(On if Evan Moore could play at wide receiver) – “He has. That touchdown pass that he had, he was lined up in the one spot. He’s been out there throughout the course of these four games. Some of the things with Evan is how is he being treated? Are they treating him as a wide receiver or are they treating him as a tight end? That really affects the coverage. Does a corner go out with him or does a linebacker go out with him or does a safety go out with him? That’s the nice thing about him being a tight end is they have to figure out what they want to do with him. As you put him out there, then you get to figure out what you want to do against that guy who is covering him. I think the one that he caught the touchdown on; they were covering him with a safety, which was a good thing.”

(On how he competes with teams where that are considered to have more talent) – “We get better. We consistently improve and we work. We outwork our opponent. We are tough and consistent and play smart. I think we have a lot of talented players on our team and I think that they’ve made plays and they can make more plays. To me, it’s not about a collection of guys with talent, it’s about a team. The more that we play team complementary football that’s smart and tough and it’s built on a foundation of hard work and consistency, the wins are going to come. That’s just the way I think team sports work.”

(On if it was a tough decision to accept an offensive pass interference penalty on third down to not allow Mike Nugent a field goal attempt in the fourth quarter) – “Mike has got a big leg and I felt pretty strongly about pushing them back and giving us another chance. I felt like we were due, we were due for a play and we got it. I did that one time in New York. I took the penalty and they ended up getting the first down. You’re thinking, ‘Oh God, why did I do that?’ The next play, Abe (Elam) picked it off and went 90 for a touchdown. Just like you draw it up (joking).”

(On Seneca Wallace’s progress in his three starts this season) – “He’s gotten, to me, more and more comfortable running the offense. I don’t want anybody to think that by putting Jake in, this is some knock on Seneca. I think Seneca has done a great job. He’s gone out and he’s played well, and he’s played well against really tough defenses. I have no problem with him starting or playing. The way that he’s played, we have been able to decrease the amount of turnovers the last couple of games. He’s done a really outstanding job in a pretty tough situation, coming in after game one and having a three-game run, potentially a three-game run.”

(On if Seneca calling two timeouts yesterday were examples of how Jake would be able to get you out of a bad situation) – “I don’t know how much time he had when the play came in, so what’s important from our perspective is to get the plays in as quickly as you can. Sometimes, a timeout comes when you’ve got the play called and it’s a crucial situation and you look over and there’s really not a good answer. That will happen sometimes when we play people where you’ve got something called where you don’t really have a good answer to and you take a timeout. It’s not just Seneca; I didn’t think that we had the same volume as the week before where we took some that we really shouldn’t have taken.”

(On Matt Roth making good plays late in the game yesterday as opposed to his penalty late in the game against Baltimore) – “We worked on the hard count with Matt quite a bit this week. He got tired of hearing me. Every time it came up he got quizzed. He had a great game. He had eight tackles, two sacks, three tackles for a loss, three quarterback hurries. He’s just a relentless, tough guy. We play him in a lot of different sports and Matt has a short memory. The one thing you know about Matt is he may mess up a play, but someone is getting hit. He is one of those guys. It may be completely messed up, in the wrong spot, but at the end of the play, there’s going to be a collision. The next play, he’s going to go as hard as he went before. His mistakes, they’re going to get fixed. They need to get fixed and he fixed them, in terms of not jumping offsides. Even when he does them, he does them at such a tempo that you appreciate that.”

(On Scott Fujita’s attitude of never being satisfied with just one win) – “I think it’s honest. It’s honest in a sense that he is happy about the win, but the win is in perspective. Scott expects to win each week, that’s his expectation. When you come on an experience like he’s come off of, I’m sure that’s how that team was. They went into each week expecting to win as opposed to it being a unique thing. What I like about that is the mentality of this should be a consistent expectation. That’s what I would expect from him based on what he’s experienced. It is a mindset and it’s an important mindset to have going into every game expecting to win regardless of who the opponent is, regardless of what the challenges are. That’s what the outcome should be.”

(On who else really stood out when he was watching the film from yesterday’s game) – “I thought Scott Fujita had a very good game. Really, I thought that whole group of linebackers, at different points, made some very important plays for us. The defensive line, a lot of guys played and a lot of guys contributed in different packages. It was probably the most even distribution of reps for the defensive line that we’ve had so far just based on the personnel that they had. I know Kenyon had a sack and the two fumble recoveries and made a couple of other nice plays. I’m sure everybody is going to be lobbying now for no practice all week after that. Those were a few guys that I thought did a nice job and so many people contributed, but it wasn’t a huge volume of reps for any one guy in that d-line group and really, the linebacker group. (David) Bowens probably played more this gamer than he has in games past and he had the batted ball on third down, but he contributed in some ways that weren’t numerically noted. Some of the other stuff that he allowed us to do in the packages that he was in, I think, were meaningful.”

(On how different his Sunday night was than the previous three after a win) – “God, it was a lot better. It was so much more fun. My mom was at the house and she comes in for most games, so we were able to visit with her. We watched a Jim Henson movie about dogs, Dogtown. It was a good one (joking).”

(On if it was football night in his house) – “Not in my house it wasn’t. The Muppets were on last night. We watched that, and then we put Zack to bed and put the other boys to bed. It just feels a lot nicer. Sam (Rutigliano), you can relate to that.”

Photographs by spatulated, Triple Tri, and chrischappelear used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.