Overall, how do you feel like you and the offense performed today?
“Not well enough to win. Now we’ll go watch the tape. We did some really good things, some things we can clean up too.”
What happened with the calf at the end of that play?
“Tweaked it a little bit again, we’ll see where it is tomorrow.”
Could you have come back out and played?
“Yeah, I was going to come back out.”
Did you feel like you gained any momentum in the second half? The second half you were getting some good drives and eventually scored …
“Yeah, we moved the ball well the whole game. First half, we had three possessions and then we had a holding call that took us back. When you have one of those, it kind of derails the drive and then we had a third down and we didn’t convert. Then, we scored points on the other one. Second half, looking back, we moved it really well, it came down to the turnover in the red zone. When you’re playing that team you can’t have that mistake, because they’re going to run it well. They’re going to keep it away from you. They’re going to score points. Lamar (Jackson) is a great player. He’s going to make plays, so you’ve got to take advantage of all your red zone opportunities and that was my mistake.”
What did you see on that good play by the safety?
“A really good play by him, good disguise. But I’ve got to see that.”
There’s going to be plenty of talk about your calf. Is that something that you’re going to have to weigh in, not thinking on a week-to-week basis. Do you let yourself think about long term?
“We’re going to have to wait and see. I’m not sure how it’s going to feel the next couple of days. It’s pretty sore right now, but no telling how it’s going to feel so I think we’re going to take it day by day.”
How did you tweak it?
“It was on the play before the last touchdown.”
What changed this week about your chemistry with Tee Higgins compared to last week?
“I don’t think anything really changed. Me and Tee are always on the same page. You’re going to have bad games like last week, that’s going to happen in the league. It’s all about how you respond to them. We didn’t win the game today, but we build momentum and we got to build on that.”
Since you hurt your calf, I know you have had good days and bad days. Has it felt like it does now on any of those bad days or is this different?
“Again, it’s tough to tell. You have some of those days, but it’s hard to give you guys an answer on that until the next couple of days. I’ll give it a couple nights and a couple sleeps. We’ll go from there.”
Last year this team started 0-2. What gives you the faith and confidence that this year can be just as good?
“We’ve done it before. Obviously, you don’t want to start 0-2, it’s not what we’re planning on, not what you want to do at all. But now we’re going to bounce back, that’s what we do it’s all there is to it.”
Do you see or feel any difference on the team between this year’s 0-2 and last year’s at this point?
“No, we just didn’t play well enough to win either of these games. We’ve got to find ways to make those plays down the stretch to win these kinds of games. Every time you play an AFC North team, it’s going to look like that. You’re going to have seven possessions, so you’re going to have to make the most of them.”
Do you see any commonalities in the way that you started this year and last year that may be the reason you have started 0-2 in the last couple years?
“Well, when your quarterback misses camp, it’s tough to start fast. So, it’s not an ideal situation.”
It looked like over the course of the game, you got more comfortable, and the second half was far more efficient than first half.
“I know the stats in the first half are what everybody looks at and they weren’t great. But like I said, the first two possessions we had that holding call, I have to watch the film and see if I think it’s holding, I don’t know. Then we had the third down that we didn’t convert and then we moved the ball really well on the third possession, so I think we did some good things in that first half too, obviously stats weren’t great, but second half, I thought we were rolling. Like I said, you can’t have a red zone turnover against that team. That was on me.”
You came back from that turnover on the next drive and had a touchdown. It seemed to be the turning point the last time you had that ball …
“Yeah, I felt pretty comfortable all day. O-Line did a great job. I had a ton of time back there. That’s a really good defense. They play to their strengths. They’ve got really good players. They’ve got safeties that know how to disguise. So, it’s always a challenge when you play them.”
I think it was early in the third quarter when you jumped to miss a defender and then ran out of pocket. First time we’ve really seen that. Did that do anything confidence-wise for you?
“Yeah, that felt great and obviously, I tweaked it again. So, we’ll just have to reevaluate the next couple of days.”
You had not just slow starts but even going back to 2021 you had a stretch where you dropped a couple straight games. What’s the biggest key to making sure that you can bounce back the way you need to in order to get to where you want to go?
“Have great practices. We had a great week of practice last week. We’ve got to build on that, go back, watch tape, make the corrections, and then and then build on that in practice. That’s where you get better. So, we’ve got to have a great practice this week and we’ve got to have great practices going forward.”
Is this the first time you tweaked the calf since originally injuring it?
“Whenever you have these kinds of things, it’s always ongoing. It’s always something that you’re managing. Like I said, I don’t know how I’m going to feel the next couple of days. We’ll have to wait and see.”
Are you concerned that it’s going to be something you have to manage all year?
“I don’t know. It’s tough to tell. It’s tough to look into the future and see that. I’m doing everything I can to get healthy and get that thing the way I need to so I can go out and perform the way I need to win. We’ll see.”
Last year you were confident after starting 0-2 that you guys were going to be able to work through some things. How would you describe how you feel right now knowing that you’re 0-2 but you also now are dealing with injury?
“Yeah, I’m still confident. I feel really confident in all the guys we have in that room. Like I said, we’re going to have to see how that calf feels the next couple of days. I don’t know how it’s going to feel. We’ll see.”
Last year, fast starts were such a theme. After the 0-2 start, you guys wanted to start fast, and that was kind of a point of emphasis. Will it be that again?
“Yeah. I think we always want to start fast. Teams play us soft, keep everything in front. I think we did a good job of taking what they gave us today. But if you start fast, teams think twice about playing that way. So, we’ve got to start fast”
Are teams covering Ja’Marr Chase any differently and in the future do you think you might try to get him more involved early with jet-sweeps, bubble screens, things like that?
“Yeah, I think we threw him a couple today. We’ll go watch the film and check it out. It’s tough to tell from just sitting here and not having watched the tape. We’ll go back and reevaluate that. We need to get him involved. He’s our best player on offense, so we need to find a way to get him off.”
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