Q. We've asked you a bunch of times about the running back carries and you told us about running backs coach Duce Staley and his role in that. But is there ever a point where you need to overrule him or take that into your own hands?
COACH KELLY: No. No, not at all.
Q. Why is that?
COACH KELLY: I think Duce does a great job because [RB] Ryan [Mathews] was hurt yesterday. So when I talked to Duce about it, we talk about it all the time, Ryan hurt his groin on a 22-yard run before he broke the long run and really couldn't go. So Duce was monitoring him on the sideline [as far as] what he could do and what he couldn't do. I think Duce does a great job with those guys, and I have full trust in Duce doing that.
Q. So he hurt himself before the 22-yard run?
COACH KELLY: He hurt himself on the 22-yard run.
Q. And he still ran for 63 yards?
COACH KELLY: Yeah, if you watch him when he pulled by [Panthers LB Luke] Kuechly, he said he felt it again; he didn't think he was going to make it in the end zone. And then Duce monitored him after that. So Duce is dealing with that in terms of whether he can go in the game after that or he can't go in the game after that. We used him a little bit, but that's really the whole status of the whole thing. I tell you guys exactly what's going on.
*Q. Were you surprised that RB Ryan Mathews wasn't out there more? *
COACH KELLY: I talk to Duce on the headset all the time and he said, "I've got him." So I'm good with that.
Q. Outside of that groin injury though, the overall sample size is that Ryan Mathews has had 32 fewer carries and more yards, overall, than RB DeMarco Murray.
COACH KELLY: And he has been hurt the last two weeks. He was questionable going into the Giants game, and then he got hurt again last night.
Q. Outside of injury, do you feel like he needs to have a bigger role --
COACH KELLY: I just deal with the present case; he's injured right now, and we'll see if he'll be available for the Cowboys game.
Q. How did LB Mychal Kendricks play yesterday?
COACH KELLY: Mychal was okay. I think [he was] a little rusty just because of the lack of reps in terms of seeing things, keying it, and diagnosing. Obviously once he recognizes it, he can take off and go. He made some plays, had a sack; all of the things we expect out of Mychal. We just need to get him back into the flow, get more practice time and get more reps so that when he gets out there, he's [snap of the fingers] bang, bang, bang.
Q. Are fundamental issues at wide receiver related to talent or concentration?
COACH KELLY: I don't think it's talent. I just think it's sometimes a concentration issue with some of those guys. I think sometimes they may actually be thinking too much instead of just relaxing and going to play. Some of them need to just take a big, deep breath and do what we know they can do. And they have made some big-time catches in games for us and can continue to do that for us. But, I think sometimes they are overthinking a little bit.
Q. So the talent level at that position is satisfactory in your opinion?
COACH KELLY: Yeah.
Q. Why did QB Sam Bradford only attempt three passes beyond 20 yards, three of the 46 attempts?
COACH KELLY: Depending on how coverage expressed itself. They are playing, again, a lot of top-down coverage. Safeties were high over the top, weren't giving us anything there. So really just how people are playing us. Depends, week-to-week, who is playing and what they are doing to you.
Q. Were the safeties playing too deep or --
COACH KELLY: The safeties were deep in both. They do a good job – [Panthers defensive coordinator Sean McDermott] does a good job mixing coverages. We saw both two and three man; they were very varied. But, all the mans were man frees or 22 man, we saw a lot of that. So usually there was some help over the top in those situations.
Q. Were the receivers having trouble finding space deep against that as well?
COACH KELLY: There was no space deep on that, not when you have safeties over the top of everything. You're just going to have to throw it up for the sake of throwing it up? That doesn't really work.
Q. You have gone into previous byes saying you're going to evaluate everything including personnel and coaching. I assume you're going to do the same thing this time. Do you anticipate any changes coming out of the bye here at this point?
COACH KELLY: No. I told our guys after the game I think we are a good football team. We just need to clean things up. I think we had two procedural penalties that hurt drives. We had a first down that was called back because we had an illegal procedure. We had a hold and two uncharacteristic special teams penalties that we normally don't get. One of them we had the ball pinned on a fair catch on the 12-yard line, but now the drive gets out and starts on the 27 because we have an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. We had two encroachment penalties, which we have not had in our D-Line; I think they have been very disciplined. We are close, but when you're playing a really good football team like Carolina, close isn't good enough. You have to stop getting in your own way and stop stopping yourselves.
Q. Even when you're winning games and doing well, you want to clean things up. But now at 3-4, how much more cleaning can there be?
COACH KELLY: It's every week because every week is a battle. We're right in the middle of everything and so is everybody else. It's literally a one-game season as you keep going, and did you do good enough to win on Sunday, or did you lose on Sunday? And then you assess it, take a look at the film, make the proper corrections and then get ready to play the next opponent.
Q. What were some of the issues in the red zone when you guys got inside there?
COACH KELLY: We had two drops that hurt us. We were down in there and we had another one where we threw it over the top and caught it, but we couldn't get the second foot down. So it's a little bit different story if we do catch those. But we didn't execute the way we need to execute in those situations and we have to come away with 7s instead of coming away with 3s.
Q. As a staff, what can you guys do to help eliminate some of those drops, be it different reps or drills in practice when you get back?
COACH KELLY: Yeah, fundamental stuff. I think with some of those guys, again, I said I think sometimes they are probably thinking too much. [WR] Jordan [Matthews] is a guy that's, I don't know anybody who catches more balls during the week than him. He's here at 7:00 A.M. working on the Juggs machine. Sometimes, I think he just overthinks it and needs to take a deep breath and just go play. He has outstanding hands and has been a very clutch receiver for us.
Q. Does Matthews' hand hurt?
COACH KELLY: No.
*Q. When you look at the offensive line, they gave up five sacks, but at the same time, they opened up holes for 177 yards on the ground. How did you see G/T Matt Tobin at left tackle? *
COACH KELLY: I thought those guys competed. Two of those sacks were late in the game and we're down two scores and we're throwing and everybody in the stadium knows we're throwing. I didn't put a whole heck of a lot onto those two, but I thought by and large, they fought. They competed against a good front, [Panthers DT Kawann] Short is a really good football player. And I said the two best linebackers that we'll face can run sideline to sideline. But I thought overall, especially after losing [T]Jason [Peters] and then Tobin has to go from right guard, where he has been training, out to left tackle and [G/T] Dennis [Kelly] has to step in. I thought those guys competed and played well.
Q. So DE Vinny Curry is basically no longer at outside linebacker?
COACH KELLY: No.
Q. Is that just because LB Marcus Smith came back?
COACH KELLY: Because Marcus came back, so just reps in practice. We had lost a couple defensive linemen, so we had to shuttle him back. We lost Ced [DE Cedric Thornton] and [DE] Taylor [Hart] for an extended period there, and then we lost [DE] Brandon Bair, so Vinny is kind of back inside at the D-Line now.
Q. With Jason Peters out, you went with Matt Tobin at left tackle and Dennis Kelly at guard. What about that combination did you like in that situation, and did you think about using a different combo there?
COACH KELLY: No, I mean, you only have seven guys active on game day, so the only other guy available to us was [G] Josh Andrews. Tobin is the backup left tackle if we were to get through a game. And then Dennis comes in at guard, so that's just how we do things.
Q. On the Panthers WR Ted Ginn reverse, do you just tip your cap to them on making a good call at the right time? Or was there somebody that over pursued you?
COACH KELLY: No, we should have had contained on the back side. The ball should never get back outside of us on that side, the side where the ball went away from originally. We got to kind of contain it and force it back to our help and that was where our biggest break down in that play was.
Q. After the game, it sounded like you thought Bradford put the ball where he needed to on those drops; did the film determine that?
COACH KELLY: Yeah, I think you could argue two of them, but we had at least eight, could have been ten. And obviously, we're not going to win if we're doing that, you know what I mean? There are too many for us -- we have to be able to sustain things and we have to be able to make catches out there.
Q. Those passes are balls that the receivers should catch?
COACH KELLY: In our opinion, yes.
Q. Would you ever tell guys to not do the Juggs machine as much, maybe back off?
COACH KELLY: To not catch? I don't know anybody that by not training --
Q. When you talk about over-thinking, I don't know if there's a way to just go out and do too much?
COACH KELLY: Yeah, I think they will get away a little bit this week, that's part of being on a bye week. I expect them all to come back next Tuesday in a good frame of mind ready to go and play the Cowboys.
Q. Do you feel like you have receivers that can draw double teams? And do you need that for the passing game to be more frequent?
COACH KELLY: Yeah, [RB] Darren [Sproles] draws a double team every time he's in there. I don't think anybody needs to draw anything.
Q. Doesn't that open up the field for the other guys?
COACH KELLY: I guess so. I mean, we never had anybody else that drew double teams at receiver, so it's still single coverage. So I don't think -- no one just doesn't not cover someone else [and say], "Hey, we are going to double this guy, but not cover someone else." Even if they do double one person, the other guys still have single coverage that they have to get open. I don't think us not having a guy that got doubled last night was any issue. I think we had guys open; we just didn't catch the ball.
Q. If you have a deep threat or a receiver who is on that level where he attracts more attention, doesn't that --
COACH KELLY: Yeah, but we haven't had that here in my three years. Everybody has been single covered and when guys have opportunities to make plays, they need to make plays. I think we had guys open last night. I don't think that was an issue in terms of guys not being open. I think it was we didn't do a good job of securing the catch.
Q. You decided that you're going to give RB DeMarco Murray his contract; does that change how you're going to utilize the running backs?
COACH KELLY: No, not at all.
Q. You said a couple weeks ago that T Lane Johnson could be used at left tackle and it sounds like T Jason Peters, you said, is going to be okay. Is now the time to get him ready just in case you need him in left tackle? Where does that experiment stand?
COACH KELLY: Well, they are off this week. So we'll -- it's not an experiment. We'll just see who is available when we get back together next Tuesday.
Q. Is he getting any reps at left tackle during practice?
COACH KELLY: No. I mean, he's getting reps with the ones at right tackle. So we're not going to -- when our twos go in, Lane can't go over with the twos and play left tackle, or he wouldn't be ready to play a game and needs a break when they are in there.
Q. Is RB DeMarco Murray bouncing rushes outside? Or is he running where the play is designed?
COACH KELLY: DeMarco? Yeah, he's running the ball where it's designed to go.
Q. Understanding that the problems go beyond Bradford; do you contemplate at all the idea of putting in a different quarterback to see how the offense responds given the inconsistencies?
COACH KELLY: No, not at all.
Q. And why not?
COACH KELLY: Because I think our quarterback is playing well.
Q. Over the seven games, you have been pleased with him?
COACH KELLY: I think our quarterback is playing well. Yeah, I have been pleased with Sam, very pleased with Sam.
Q. When you evaluate the problems early, the lack of scoring in the first quarter, what do you see as the problem, other than the mistakes, because it seems to be consistent early in the game?
COACH KELLY: Well, I think there are a few things that express themselves in different ways, depending on who we are playing or who their opponent was. We went, I think it was 47 plays in the first half against Carolina, which is totally different than I think we ran like 20 plays in the first half against Dallas. So we executed and stayed on the field against Carolina, but then really the things that stopped us there, a couple of those penalties really knocked us back and got us out of scoring range were issues that happened to us in the Carolina, as opposed to we didn't block people in the Dallas game. I think it's different when you go game to game.
Q. So the problems in the first quarter are different from both of those games?
COACH KELLY: Yeah, in Dallas, we didn't block anybody. In this game, I think we were off-track. We would move the ball, but then a penalty or we had a key first down, we threw the ball to [TE Zach] Ertz on a little spin route. We get a first down going, but we jumped off-side at right tackle. So now we got back and instead of being third-and-5 and we convert for first down, we're moving, now we're back to third-and-11 and next play we get sacked, so now we are off the field. So I think in that game, that was an example in that game and other games, Dallas, specifically, we didn't block very well.
Q. That was a good rushing offense that you faced, but your defense allowed a 125-yard rusher, which is the most allowed since you have been head coach; what were some of the issues with this front?
COACH KELLY: Two of them, I think 80 yards, came on two plays; the counter play to [Panthers RB Jonathan] Stewart that they bounced, we didn't fit it well, and the backer didn't get over the top. Didn't post it the way he was supposed to post it. And the reverse, those two plays were two kind of back breakers for us and uncharacteristic for what we have been like defensively in stopping the run. We have not given up a lot of X-runs just because of how we play and everybody swarms to the ball. Our guys have a pretty good understanding of what they are doing, but those specific two runs, I think, really kind of tilted things in terms of --
Q. And you were fine with the performance, aside from those two runs?
COACH KELLY: Yeah, I think if you take those two runs out, what did they run for?
Q. It was 3.9.
COACH KELLY: Yeah, but unfortunately, you can't take those two runs out. Those are mistakes that we made. We didn't contain it like we were supposed to on the reverse and have the backers come over the top the way they were supposed to on the counter that went for 40-something. We knew going in, I know Jonathan really well, I coached him in college, he ran for 1,700, and I said it before, we knew, number one, he's tough to bring down and number two, he's a lot faster than I think people give him credit for. He's a 250-pound back, but he can pick them up and put them down. You looked at that counter run where he took off; I've seen that in person many a time. But that's the type of player he is. But you can't misfit it that way against a really good back like that, or he's going to make you play.
Q. As far as T Jason Peters, what do you know about his return?
COACH KELLY: They will see and monitor him this week. I think some of those guys will stay here; those guys that need to stay here will all stay here with [Director of Sports Medicine/Head Athletic Trainer] Chris [Peduzzi] and get treatment. But from what I understand, he should be good to go for next Tuesday.
Q. In a way, did that show the importance of LB DeMeco Ryans, him not being in there and the opposing offense being able to hit some big runs?
COACH KELLY: Yeah, but it wasn't -- I mean, it wasn't that we were in the wrong call. I think Jordan [Matthews] did a really nice job of getting us lined up all night long, in terms of where we were supposed to be. It was an outside linebacker situation on the reverse. It wasn't an inside linebacker situation, so we need DeMeco back. He's a very pivotal guy, in terms of everything we do here. But I don't look at those two specific runs and say, "If DeMeco was here, they wouldn't have happened.