How do you review a game like that? Can you even use the coach's film in the first half?COACH KELLY: Yeah, we can see everything. Our video guys did a good job, so we've got to take things that we can work on and make adjustments on.
The players were out there playing and getting sweaty a little bit. Can you characterize how cold were you on the sideline?
COACH KELLY: I don't think it was cold. It wasn't that cold. I've been in a lot of colder games. I don't know if it's a weather ‑‑ I don't know the science behind it, but I think when it snows out it's not as cold ‑‑ most of the games I've been cold in there hasn't been any elements, but the temperatures have been in the single digits. It was probably in the 30s. I don't think how cold it was, was a factor. It was just how bad the conditions were, especially from a footing standpoint.
Was it miserable for you as coaches?
COACH KELLY: No, we weren't miserable at all. You've got to deal with it. One thing, it's the same for both teams, so it was just who could try not to shoot themselves in the foot as much, and I think we did a good job, besides the one pass by Nick [Foles], we did a really good job in ball security, and that was one of the differences in the game was that they put the ball on the ground. I think we recovered three, but I think it was on the ground seven times.
We didn't make those unforced errors ourselves, and sometimes I think a bad snap, things like that ‑‑ we were a lot more under underneath the center than we normally are, but we just felt like that was a situation ‑‑ the one shotgun snap early in the second quarter, that came flying back probably a little hot, Nick didn't handle it real well. That was the biggest concern for us.
In practice how much time do you spend on things that might not be in the game plan such as being under center as much as you were?
COACH KELLY: We're under center every day and we're under center in every game. I don't have a percentage, but that wasn't a big deal for us. That wasn't like, oh, my God, we've got to take a center‑quarterback exchange. We do it all the time. We run a lot of plays from under.
Were the plays that you ran, were they dramatically different from what the play calls would have been in ideal temperatures?
COACH KELLY: No, the only really adjustment we made is we put in a little pop pass with Brent [Celek] at the end. We had talked about doing that, and that was just a deal with Brent and Nick. But all the other adjustments were just some formation things to get us some surfaces to run at and to get some better double‑teams. But there wasn't anything out of the ordinary.
You talked before about how big your playbook is. If you would have had just to do it under center the whole game, would you have felt comfortable, like enough variety in there to go that direction?
COACH KELLY: Yeah, we can run our entire offense from there.Is there too big a deal being made out of the idea, north‑south running as opposed to going outside every day? Or is that something that ‑‑ it seems like when you do the north‑south, is that weather related, or ‑‑
COACH KELLY: No, I mean, obviously you need to attack defenses kind of across the front. You just can't always run the ball inside. I think that's ‑‑ we've got a back that can get outside, and that's one of his strengths. We also have some athletic linemen. When you watch our statistics on our sweep play, getting
Very difficult for I think the D‑linemen to get their feet in the ground a little bit so we could create some movement up there, and I thought our guys did a good job, especially on the double teams.
You look at the numbers in the league over the last several years, the rule changes, teams are throwing the ball more given the rule changes, pass interference, things like that. It's on paper easier to throw the ball more. You guys kind of fly in the face of that in a way. You run the ball an awful lot, and you get huge chunk plays out of it. When you came into the league did you think, I know I'm bucking a trend here or did you say I'm going to do what I do? How do you contrast what you're able to do versus the trends?
COACH KELLY: I think we're balanced to be honest with you, and I think one of the things that opened up our running game yesterday and has opened up our running game this season is our ability to throw the ball over the top because I think the easy answer is if you're running the ball really well, we've got to get another safety down in the box, and if you do get a safety down in the box, then you're leaving DeSean [Jackson] and Riley [Cooper] one‑on‑one outside. People will continue to do that if DeSean and Riley don't hurt you. But those guys have been a huge component of what we're doing, and if you're any receiver, you want one‑on‑one coverage. So if you're a receiver you want to be able to run the ball really well, where they can't help, and I think that's kind of the ongoing chess match that goes on.
Be that as it may, other teams aren't getting chunk plays in the run game it seems to the extent that you guys are. Is there something intrinsic in your offense, in your rushing offense that allows that?
COACH KELLY: 71, 65, 62, 79, 69, 87. We've got some guys that can block, and we've got a very, very talented running back. You know, there's a lot of things you have philosophically. We'd like to do this, we'd like to do that. You still have to have the players that can execute it, and I've said this all along. This whole deal is a personnel‑driven thing, and we've got some really talented guys on the offensive line. We've got a really talented tight end when it comes to blocking.
Our receivers had an outstanding game. One of the unsung heroes of yesterday, and I don't even think he had a pass thrown to him, was
You guys are No. 1 by far in 40‑yard plays on offense, but you're also I think top five, fourth or fifth, in fewest big plays allowed, and those are the momentum plays. How big do you think those two trends are as far as really being able to take command of games?
COACH KELLY: I think it's big. I think one of the things we talked about all year long defensively especially was not getting the ball thrown over our head and I think our guys have done a good job of that. At times you're going to give up some slant balls and some things inside, and I think people are, why are you letting people throw the ball in front of you. Well, I'd rather have it thrown front of me and rally up and take the tackle than have the ball thrown over the top and give up easy plays. And I think over time we felt like we had a group of guys on the offensive side of the ball that can put some points on the board. So if we make offenses go out and earn it, not just one‑play deals going down the field, then we've got a shot at winning, and that's kind of the whole concept we have. Let's create turnovers over on defense, let's do a great job on ball security on offense. We have the ability to be explosive on offense, but let's not allow the other team to get back into it with an easy play.
As hard as it was to run in that game, you guys got almost 300 yards and they didn't run anywhere near as effectively. Based on your evaluations, how did your defensive linemen do?
COACH KELLY: I thought when you go through it there wasn't a standout, but I think really what our defensive line did really was kind of the key to the game. Fletcher [Cox] was outstanding, Ced [
Have you ever had a defensive player come up to you and suggest offensive strategy before, and what does that say about
COACH KELLY: I've had a lot of players come up and suggest a lot of things to me. It's just you've got to be smart enough to know who to listen to. I mean, trust me, I don't think I've ever had a receiver that's ever been covered, and it's an amazing phenomenon. I'm wide open; I know you're wide open because the ball went over there and the entire defense went over there. That's why you're standing by yourself. Now, if you were running and blocking like you were supposed to be, you wouldn't be wide open because it was a run play. So you should be.But it just depends on who you will listen to, and I think Cary is one of the guys on this team that he's all football, and he's a student of the game, and you just watch how detail oriented he is in practice. He doesn't talk very much, but when he talks, you should listen to him. He's got a great football mind. He understands the game, and he made a really valid point about it didn't matter what you were doing, I think kind of thinking maybe you should just be thumping the ball down and playing it. He said, you can run by these guys because they can't transition. He said he couldn't transition. They had one big play to Calvin [Johnson] that was ‑‑ your feet kind of got stuck in the ground, so if the one guy has a running start and you don't have a running start, it's an advantage to you.
I've had a lot of guys make suggestions, but I think what I have to do is who should I listen to, and I'll listen to Cary because Cary really understands the game.
How much did you know about
COACH KELLY: No, I mean, I knew he was a really good player in this league, but when you're a college football coach you don't watch any NFL because Sundays is the day after your game and you're breaking down your film and you're not watching anything. I never really watched a full game of anybody, no matter who it was. When you watch the film you know he's an explosive runner, he's talented, he can do a lot of things on his own. He can make a lot of people miss. He's probably as good as there is in the league in making people miss in the open field. I was excited when I got here to get a chance to work with him.
It did seem like the defense made adjustments during the game. Early on the Lions were moving down the field, they were just turning the ball over, then that suddenly stopped in the second half. Did you guys do anything different?
COACH KELLY: No, I think both sides of the ball kind of stuck to our game plan. I think it's a game that goes back and forth a little bit, and they were moving but it wasn't like they were getting huge chunks of yards or huge plays. It was just a matter of sometimes it's just kind of tightening up your technique so you can execute a little bit better.
COACH KELLY: We don't talk about earning anybody's carries. One thing I know about Chris is in the last couple of weeks specifically, he has really, really practiced very well, and I think, like we said at every position, it's an open competition, and you keep showing us that you deserve time on the field, then that's what it's all about.
Our guys when you watch us go out there now, we're not going through the motion. We're practicing full speed, and it's game on. If you keep seeing Chris make plays in practice, it's ‑‑ he warranted the time he got yesterday.
On that last play to Celek, was that an option for Nick or was that a called pass? Could he have handed the ball off ‑‑
COACH KELLY: Yeah, it was just a read play. If he had Brent he would take it; if not he could hand it off.
Do you believe in character wins or are they all just the same?
COACH KELLY: I believe some ‑‑ yeah, I believe that you can write any narrative you want.
Do you personally believe in character wins though?
COACH KELLY: There's obviously different types of ‑‑ I think every win is different. There's always lessons you can learn from it. I think shame on you if you don't look back and analyze what happened and what are the positives and what can you take with it, but I also think you also have to take what did we do wrong and how can we continue to execute. I think that's what happens sometimes when you have a big win or some people ‑‑ we made a couple mistakes but don't worry about it, we won the game. We've never been that way. Winston Churchill said, problems in victory are more agreeable than problems in defeat but no less difficult, and we always adhere to that as coaches because I think the easiest thing to do is let's move on, let's get ready for the Vikings. Well, there's a lot of things that went on yesterday that we need to continue to correct, and that's the first thing we do in the Tuesday session with our guys is let's make corrections from Sunday, whether you won 49 to whatever when we won against the Raiders, there was still things we left on there. There were plays that LeSean made ‑‑ LeSean made one big run. He could have had a 70‑yard run. He cut back to it and got tackled by [Ndamukong] Suh and the defensive lineman. If he had broken to his left, he might have had another one. Those are things we're continuing to work on.
In terms of roster construction, scheme construction, how much attention do you pay to what the games might be like late in the season or the playoffs in terms of the weather?
COACH KELLY: I don't think it's different I guess is my point. I don't think ‑‑ wins early in the season are just as important as wins late in the season. I think you don't look at a guy and say, hey, he's a good cold weather guy so let's go get him, because there's not enough data, either. I loved what Peyton [Manning] said after the game. People talked about he can't play in a cold weather environment. Well, he didn't have to because he was in a dome. But I'd take him in a cold weather environment. He's a pretty good football player.
But some teams are built for domes, some teams are built for ‑‑
COACH KELLY: I think that's writer‑speak to be honest with you. I don't think teams are built ‑‑ I don't think anybody builds their team that way; let's build our team for the dome. It's what's our offensive philosophy and what do we want to do, and what's our defensive philosophy and what do we want to do. I don't know; what's a defensive dome player like?
Probably fast. I mean, they have to contend with the speed of playing on a turf field.
COACH KELLY: Yeah, but everybody plays eight games at home and eight games away, so if you only build a team for your home games, then shame on you.
That's the majority of your games.
COACH KELLY: It's not the majority, I don't think. It's 8‑8, that's 50/50.
Dome teams historically don't do well outdoors, especially late in the season. There's something there.
COACH KELLY: I'd look that ‑‑ we don't get that technical. Can they run and catch and tackle? We're going to recruit them or whatever we're going to do.
You've been asked a lot about your sports science conditioning program. This kind of seems like maybe, again, while their linemen might have been wearing down, your offensive line was kind of moving them back. Do you see any correlation there?
COACH KELLY: No, I just see, I think, our players have taken care of themselves and really understand what we're trying to get accomplished, and I think it showed. But I don't think it's because it's December. I think it showed earlier in the year, too. I think when you look at where we are from an injury standpoint, obviously we've been pretty blessed from that standpoint, but I think it's ‑‑ I watch our players each week, and I believe we're fresh when we go play games on Sundays.
Is there a psychological aspect at all to the sports science emphasis where you're letting guys know that these things are important and you're doing them so they're going to be fresher?
COACH KELLY: I don't let them know. You guys write it all. We don't ‑‑ when we meet, we talk about our opponent; this is what the Vikings do. I don't stand up there and talk about what your heart rate is. We're coaching football.
To the character question, what did you learn about your team from yesterday?
COACH KELLY: I didn't learn anything. I knew exactly what those guys were going to be like. I think maybe some other people did, but I didn't have any question in my mind what was going to go on in that football game because I've been around these guys every single day.
Three of your older players are offensive linemen:
COACH KELLY: I mean, we keep an eye on everybody, so it's a detailed ‑‑ our strength and conditioning staff does a great job and we don't look at older versus younger. We treat every individual as an individual. Age is just a category, but it's not like, hey, let's pay more attention to him than we pay to somebody who's 25 because somebody who's 25 could have more problems than them. I think one of the things about those three guys is they take care of themselves, and they did before I got here, too, so it's not like it was a revolution for those guys. I think Todd has always been a really fit guy, Evan has always been a really fit guy.
Talk about the grounds crew yesterday; how important was the equipment staff yesterday?
COACH KELLY: I guess they were ‑‑ I didn't see them very much. I think our guys knew going in, I think Evan was the only guy I think that kind of changed his cleats, but everybody else knew once you get out there for pregame warm‑up what you had to go with. I think they were equipped.
Again, I think the great thing about yesterday is how much fun our guys had, and you could tell in pregame warm‑ups they were excited to play in that.
On the two return touchdowns were they weather related or were they systematic?
COACH KELLY: I think a little bit weather related. I think we outkicked our coverage, and one of the things we're really good at is covering kicks, because we’ve got some speed on our kick teams that can get down the field. [Jeremy] Ross had a 20‑ or 30‑yard running start, and usually we're on top of guys, returners, a lot quicker than that, and I think we just kind of got stuck. The one punt return, Donnie [Jones] banged it, so the byproduct is now he's going to run and start, and it's hard to change direction. Colt [Anderson] had a shot at him but kind of slipped and fell and got flushed, and obviously we weren't in our lanes the way ‑‑ so there's some schematic things we need to continue to work at, but a little bit of it was weather related.
Do you adapt your game plan with the uncertainty for next week about Adrian Peterson? Do you have to plan that he's going to be there? Do you plan that he's not there?
COACH KELLY: No, I think the one thing is you look at who their backup is in Toby Gerhart in the last couple games has played extremely well, and I know him full well. He played against us when I was at Oregon and he had a 39‑carry game for I think 2,085 yards it seemed like to me. I think they've done a good job from their personnel standpoint. They have another running back that is a workhorse‑type guy so they don't have to drastically change. You go from a big back to a little back and I think some things would change. I think they can run the same things with Toby that they ran with Adrian. I think Toby is one of the really, really good backs in this league, he just isn't on the field that much because of who Adrian Peterson is. I don't think it changes that much to be honest with you.
Almost from the day you were hired there seems to have been this narrative about what you want to do on offense, the read option and all that, but as it's been going on, you're not doing what everyone says you want to do and you're having success. Has it been kind of underlooked, the idea that you adapt to the players that you have?
COACH KELLY: The interesting thing is I didn't write the narrative. The only thing we want to do is score points, and we're an equal opportunity scorer. If we've got to throw it to get it in; if we've got to run it to get it in, we'll run it to get it in. I don't think a touchdown looks different no matter how you get them, whether it's
I know you’re going to meet with the training staff later, but were there any injuries from yesterday?
COACH KELLY: There was no one yesterday. We met briefly after the game, and they just gave me an update of who's going to be a real concern, and there was no one after the game at all. Earl [Wolff] is supposed to practice this week, but they'll go through and meet with him later on, and I think Earl and Najee [Goode] will be the only guys that will even be listed on the report. I think Earl is supposed to try to get out to practice tomorrow, so we'll see where he is.
When the conditions weren't good in the first half ‑‑
COACH KELLY: In the first half?
Well, particularly in the first half where the passing game was really difficult to navigate, were you flirting with the idea at all of putting Mike Vick in at quarterback to kind of go with the ground attack a little bit more?
COACH KELLY: No, because for our ground attack we put Nick in there.