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Wade Phillips press conference 12/3/07

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Wade: We held a walk-thru today trying to get ahead of the Lions game. We held Colombo out, he got a little banged-up but it’s mostly precautionary. Injuries are similar to where we’ve been. Working on our fundamentals and techniques and improving and that takes work and concentration. Seeing positives on individuals getting better, closing lanes on kickoff coverage, blocking on kickoff returns. The d-line is getting better as pass rushers. The o-line has been in unison all year, but they have gotten even better. The immediate goal is win this game and win our division. Lots of other things out there that people will talk about but the immediate goal is playing Detroit.

Does the last game against Detroit add anything to this game?
I don’t know, besides the bulletin-board stuff, not a whole lot. You just get ready to play, these are not the same teams as last year. It’s different year to year. I expect us to get ready, Detroit plays well at home. They scored a lot of points last year on the Cowboys. I don’t know if the bulletin-board stuff helps, (pause) but it’s up there. I saw it today. (laughter)

Stephen Bowen and Jason Hatcher getting more playing time?
They’ve played more as we’ve gone along, they’ve proven themselves to make plays, we have a good rotation. Everybody is fresh, we’re getting a good rush. I’d like any of those guys to step forward to be so good we can’t keep them off the field, like DeMarcus Ware. I hope those two keep going.

Jay Ratliff?
He’s playing well for us. I don’t know if a lot of people are playing better at nose tackle this year. He’s so active, gives us a pass rush. Playing the running game well, he’s also on our dime defense, one of the best two inside, like to have him in there.

Terence Newman injury?
He was fine today. We just had a walk-thru and walked-thru well. (laughter)

Did you envision Greg Ellis playing this well?
I’m not a visionary, I don’t envision a whole lot. He’s a good player, pro-bowl type player. You hope to get the best players in position to make plays. He’s a force on the field. For the number of plays he’s played his production is outstanding.

When Anthony Henry gets fully healthy will he start or still play like he is now?
I’d rather he be playing, he’s one of our best players. Once he’s well, like Newman, they need to be out there. It still helps you to have your starters out there. (Any thought to giving him a week off to help fully heal?) From what I know from the doctors and the rehab people, we’re going through the right process. Some high ankle sprains are worse than others, Crayton played this week with one.

Terry Glenn?
I don’t know. There’s nothing immediate coming.

Is this defense getting more comfortable in your schemes?
Getting better, part of it is who can blitz and not, part of it is them learning techniques or us fitting the techniques to them. I feel more comfortable. We’re playing the same things that we play well, we’ve added a couple of different personnel groups, 3-wide, 4-wide stuff. We’re getting enough things to give offenses problems.

Kevin Burnett?
We try to utilize the personnel, he can do man-to-man, he can blitz from the inside or outside, and he’s a versatile player that helps in sub-packages. Every guy has limitations, they do some things well and some things not well, we try to fit it together.

Have the players put their egos aside for all the substitutions?
It’s a lot easier when you’re winning. One begets the other. If you’re not winning, they’ll talk. They see it when you win, the results. They’re playing to win, they want to be a part of it, but not everyone can on all plays. They’re good players coming out from college, they want to play. We may be wrong on some, we just have to learn. (Do you talk to the players individually about it?) I talk to the team, I don’t get into it individually, it’s about what’s best for team. All decisions are based on the team, they have to trust me. I tell them I could be wrong and they could prove me wrong. (Was it hard to get that trust as a new coach?) They were looking for something new, when a new coach comes in. Everybody thinks something new is better. It’s unfortunate for coaches because they get fired. I had a reputation before I got here and I think that helped. When you have 31 years people know you, they talk to other players. It was a little bit of an advantage.

Did the defense let down when the change in QB came in the game?
We let down on some of our techniques and they made a few plays. We had a chance to make plays, we sacked them 4 times, but one was a face mask that gave them a TD. We had opportunities for three INT’s that didn’t happen. But they were a 10-1 team, there’s a reason for that.

You subbed for Roy Williams more on passing downs this game?
We see more 3 and 4 WR’s now, we’re trying to implement things for our people, couldn’t do it all the first day. We’re learning more sub-packages, but it has to be different things. I can’t just sub for Roy and only play man-to-man with a FS in the back. We needed to implement sub-packages and give the offense different looks. With 4-wide we can’t play a bunch of safeties in man-to-man. Roy can play man-to-man on TE’s. Sometimes we kept him in on those situations, they threw a 5-yard out and he made the tackle right away. When we had him out they did the same thing and we missed the tackle and they got a 40-yard run after the catch.

Anthony Fasano?
He did a really good job blocking on kickoff returns, we put him in there the last few weeks. He didn’t do much special teams last year because of his shoulder. You like for him to be involved, and he’s done real well there. He’s athletic as far as catching the ball, running routes. He made a good catch on the TD and he almost came up with another. I’m pleased with him.

(Disclaimer: These press conference recaps are just paraphrases of what Wade Phillips says and aren’t vetted for total accuracy on quotes. I shorten and condense things he says but try to get across the intended meaning. Occasionally, what I post loses the context of something Wade said and may appear counter-intuitive. If you have questions about something from the press conference, feel free to ask in the comments.)