HEAD COACH BRUCE ARIANS
(On if he expects strong performances from T Tristan Wirfs, and his evaluation of the entire offensive line play this season)
"I expect it every single week. He's playing at a Pro Bowl level and that's what we anticipated. He's doing it week in and week out, so that's kind of what I expect every week now. We had the one pre-snap penalty [on Sunday] or we would have had another no turnover, no penalty, no sack game. The offensive line got game balls – they had a great, great day. The only pressures really came from the tight ends."
(On where Wirfs has exceeded expectations)
"I think he's always been a really good run blocker – even in college his run blocking was outstanding – but his pass blocking ability is amazing for a young guy as big as he is [and] as athletic as he is. He's going against top guys every week, so I think that's the more surprising thing – how well he's pass blocking."
(On if RB LeSean McCoy will continue being utilized throughout the final three games of the regular season)
"That's something that we'll evaluate each week and see what the best 47[-man active roster] it is for that ballgame to win."
(On if he believes the second-year players have had their growth stunted due to the irregularities of the offseason and in-season schedule this year)
"I think so. All those second-year players I think were stunted this year a little bit – not as much as the first-year players. Their development, not being able to be in the building, be around coaches [and] actually getting that practice time and not being able to grow – I think it hurt everybody."
(On how younger defensive players have performed this season without the standard developmental period they receive in the preseason)
"Anthony [Nelson] has had a heck of a year. He's gotten a lot of pressures and uses his length to bats some balls. Pat [O'Connor] is one of those guys that's a rolling ball of butcher knives – he's playing full speed all the time [and] I love him. He practices as hard as anybody that we have and [I'm] really happy to see him get that sack."
(On if there is a way for WR Scotty Miller to be on the field more and more involved offensively)
"We didn't have that many snaps in that ballgame. We didn't use the four wide [receiver] and a tight end [formation] – we didn't use that much in this ballgame. That was his package that we used a bunch [against] Kansas City. Each week is different. I've got all the confidence in the world that when he's in the game, he'll make a play."
(On having OLB Shaquil Barrett and OLB Jason Pierre-Paul on each side of the defensive front and their versatility)
"It is a luxury and we don't plan on Shaq going anywhere. I don't think he wants to go anywhere because having JPP (Pierre-Paul) on the other side really helps him out and I think vice versa. Putting them over the guards this week – they did some different stuff and they're a heck of a duo, man. When you can get people one dimensional, they're hard to block."
(On the belief that the team still does not have an identity)
"I don't really care what people say. I like the way we play football. One of our major goals was to not let [Adam] Thielen or [Justin] Jefferson get over the top – I think they had a combined 80 [receiving] yards. We'll give up some runs to keep guys in front of us. Defensively, we whipped them in situational football. They were really good in the red zone [on] defense and offense, [but] we won both battles on both sides [and] we won third down – we were 60 percent [and] we got all those sacks [on defense]. I think we beat them in situational football. On defense, we missed 14 tackles. That's the only negative thing about the whole day. I thought coming out, that was going to be a tough one – tackling [Dalvin Cook] and getting him on the ground. Other than that, I thought we played really, really well."
(On the changes Defensive Coordinator Todd Bowles made to keep Vikings WR Adam Thielen and WR Justin Jefferson in check)
"He mixed his coverages really, really well. We kept safeties back there in different forms and we played some man, too. We're not going to let those guys go over the top and did a great job of keeping them in front of us."
(On analysts being critical of the team opting to take shots down field in short-yardage situations, like when the team took a shot downfield to TE Rob Gronkowski on third-and-3 and the Scotty Miller 48-yard touchdown pass)
"Well, I think if the people that were saying it actually watched the film, they would see those both were short passes that were taken away. And actually, the first one to Gronk – they busted the coverage, and took the flat and short curl [routes] away, so it was late to Rob going on the corner route. Scotty was like the fourth option. Both, again, were short or intermediate throws that ended up being thrown down the field because that's what the coverage dictated. Neither were called to go deep."
(On how important it is for the offense to take shots down the field)
"We were 60 percent on third down. We hit Mike [Evans] deep. We hit Scotty [Miller] deep. I thought we played really, really well other than that third down [when] they busted the coverage and then one other third down. Other than that, our quarterback was clean, we ran the ball well. [In the] red zone, they were one of the top [red zone defenses] in the league and we were 2-for-2. [We went] 60 percent on third down and they're tops in the league. I thought both those areas of situational football – our offense and our defense – [played well]. I think our special teams were playing lights out. They don't get mentioned at all, but [Bradley] Pinion had a great day."
(On if the team suffered any injuries during Sunday's game)
"We're waiting to see. RoJo (Ronald Jones II) may have fractured a pinkie, so we will wait and see. It happened earlier in the game [and] he went back and played with it. Whether they have to put a pin in it or not, we have to wait and see. I don't know what that will do. Chris [Godwin] played through it and we'll see what happens with him. I think that's about it as far as anything that could be major."
(On how the Atlanta Falcons have responded since Interim Head Coach Raheem Morris took over)
"I think they really have identified with Raheem and Raheem brings a ton of energy. Having coached both on their offense for a couple of years and on their defense, he's got great relationships with all of the guys. I think that they're playing really, really hard for him and I think he's a hell of a football coach. I think 'Matty' Ryan is still playing at a high level and [it will come down to] whether we can get our hands on Todd Gurley and keep those receivers in front of us. Same thing defensively – they've started pressuring the quarterback a lot more in recent weeks. I think they're playing their tails off for Raheem."
(On if his players have gotten to the point where they expect to win)
"We take the field every week expecting to win, no matter who we're playing. Again, winning is hard in this league, so you better enjoy it when you can. You only get about 12 hours. It's not like you can go out and celebrate anymore. You got to the backyard and have a drink and [then] get up and go on to the next one. The players get a couple extra – maybe 24 hours – the coaches don't. This time of year, you're happy as hell in the locker room. There's a lot of relief and there's a lot of enjoyment too."
(On the importance of building relationships with players off the field and hoping to be able to play golf with QB Tom Brady)
"That's what I've always done. The quarterbacks that play golf – I always love to play with them, especially in the open days just to relax. It's one thing to sit around an office and ask questions. It's another thing to go out and enjoy yourselves and have that time together where you can still get some things done that are very, very important and it doesn't have to be in the situation where it's a classroom."