Q. What happened on the break down that led to the blocked punt, and then also what happened on the punter throwing the first-down pass? (Rob Maaddi)
COACH FIPP: I would just say, at the of the day, obviously I didn’t have our players prepared well enough to play the game. Certainly, wasn’t my best day out there. I’m disappointed in the results. Obviously, I expect better. On the blocked punt, we allowed a free rusher in the A-gap. We can’t do that. I think there’s a number of guys who could have helped out on the play. I am not going to get into all the specifics but like I said, at the end of the day, they weren’t prepared to handle it, we didn’t handle it, and we got to be better than that.
Q. The kick-off return team seemed to really challenge you in that area, kicked it to RB Boston Scott I think five times, unable to really get much beyond the 20. What needs to be better in that phase of the game? (Ed Kracz)
COACH FIPP: We had one return that I was disappointed in. We kind of gave a fair-catch signal, we were a little bit indecisive on whether we were going to come out or not. Then we ended up coming out late and that was the real negative play on that. I thought the other returns we were out at the 22 or the 27 on most of those. I felt fine about that. They had kind of a little stack look on the back side that we didn’t handle well enough, but I didn’t think that was devastating in the game, obviously I’m more disappointed on the blocked punt and fake punt.
Q. So on the blocked punt, that’s how P Cameron Johnston got hurt, or concussed, I guess? How did you guys find out that he was not in good health? What happened on the sideline where you finally ended up using TE Zach Ertz for the extra point snap? (Les Bowen)
COACH FIPP: How it goes down for me, is obviously that’s all handled by the medical staff, and then I just get notified. Any time a player goes out whether it’s a concussion or ankle or he’s cramping up, I usually get two things, he’s either down for now or I get he’s out for the rest of the game. Either way for us the bottom line is as soon as we get that information – the first thing you think about is what’s the next team that’s up that could be affected. If you’re on defense obviously that punt return group or field goal block group and getting those guys ready. After you get that group ready, then you’re looking at the next groups that aren’t quite as immediate.
For us our contingency plans went in place and [K] Jake [Elliott] became the punter. I thought Jake did a really good job of handling that situation in the game. He’s a stud for how he handled it. He punted the ball well; I thought the guys covered well for him and everybody kind of stepped up their game down the stretch there for us against a good returner.
That put Zach – really there was a lot of moving parts. [TE] Richard Rodgers went out of the game early on. Richard was a wing on field goals, so then Zach had to go in and become the wing on field goal. Then when Zach became the holder, then we had to get [T Brett] Toth in as a wing on field goal and move Zach to the holder. So, there’s a lot of moving parts anytime that stuff goes down. I thought those guys handled it well. We practice that stuff; we practice all those situations at least once a week. Those guys get a handful of reps in one way or another. I thought for the most part those guys did a good job. Obviously, the snap wasn’t good enough on the extra point attempt there.
Q. Has K Jake Elliott ever punted before in a game?(Les Bowen)
COACH FIPP: I don’t know. Not in the National Football League, not for us. We practice it, he hits a few balls each week. He’s just great at all of that stuff. He’s got a lot of confidence and a lot of poise and nothing really seems to bother him a whole lot, which is really why he’s a good kicker too. The moment doesn’t really change who he is and like I said, I thought he went out there, he responded really well. He had a good operation time, he had good hang time with the distance, combination, he did a really nice job for us.
Q. You brought up the snap, I can’t remember the last time LS Rick Lovato had a poor snap. Was it just the circumstance where it rains, it pours or so much new personnel or what do you think happened there?(Mike Kaye)
COACH FIPP: I would say at the end of the day, I wouldn’t make any excuses for any of that stuff. The bottom line is we’re all professionals, we’ve got to be able to go out there and execute our job. Like you said, Rick has been really good for us. He’s been a really good player for us his whole time here. He has not had a bad snap since he’s been here, at least a snap that has been unmanageable. He put [TE] Zach [Ertz] in a really tough spot. At the end of the day, when somebody new comes in like that we all got to step up our game and be a little bit better and help make their job easier. We kind of made their job a little bit harder right there. But like I said, Rick’s been a great player for us, have a lot of confidence in him. He just didn’t have his best snap right there at really an unfortunate time. Unfortunately, that’s kind of the way the game went for us on special teams. I take full responsibility for that, and I didn’t have them prepared well enough.
Q. Just to follow up, the one bad snap that Rick Lovato has is the first time he’s throwing to a back-up holder. Is that just a coincidence and the second part is who’s TE Zach Ertz’s back up as holder?(Nick Fierro)
COACH FIPP: I would say it would be easy or be convenient to come up with an excuse. I think we can all do that in any area, in any time. We’re definitely not going to approach the game that way. I don’t think that’s the way we should approach our lives. We’re competitive players, we’re professionals, we get paid to get a job done. At the end of the day, it’s our job to get it done and that’s really who we want to be or what we want to be known for. We practice the situation, so it’s not like he’s never practiced with Zach back there.
Then I would say we have contingency plans behind Zach, and I’m not going to get into those, but we do have a plan and we’ve worked that also throughout the year. Obviously, it’s changed because at one point we didn’t have Zach, he was on IR and down and out, so we had a plan in place for those weeks also.
Q. Curious how you develop these contingency plans and obviously the kicker is going to be the backup for the punter and vice versa, but I noticed LB Nate Gerry before he got hurt was long snapping a little bit and TE Zach Ertz as the holder. How do you kind of come to that point when you make those decisions? (John McMullen)
COACH FIPP: You look at the background of these guys’ careers and the first thing you find out is, have any of these guys done this at any point in their career whether it be in college or high school? Then the next step is just watching them do it here, and then ultimately our decision is pretty simple. You’re just trying to find the best guy for the job and that’s really it. We’re going to put the next best player in to get the job done on Sunday afternoon for us.
Q. There are some teams around the league that will have like a kicker or a punter on the practice squad, just in case obviously something happens. Would that be something you would be in favor of, as far as just in case something happens to either Jake Elliott or Cameron Johnston, like what happened on Sunday?(Martin Frank)
COACH FIPP: I would say that question is probably better for [Head] Coach [Doug] Pederson or [Executive Vice President/General Manager] Howie [Roseman]. I’ve always felt good about our contingency plans going into a game and even if a guy is on the practice squad, obviously that wouldn’t have helped us in that game because he wouldn’t have been active going into it. That would maybe help you after a game, if a player was still out and not going to be able to perform in the next one. I feel good about the contingency plans that we have in place moving forward. Whether or not they decide to do that will be a better question for them.
Q. How do you think the special teams has performed this season overall? (Zach Berman)
COACH FIPP: I would say for us personally, anytime you win four games, and you’re going into the 15th game of the year, it would be hard to say that we played well enough, probably really in any area. Obviously, I’m really critical about our area, that’s all I have to worry about. We haven’t done a good enough job. We have won four games, so at the end of the day, we need to be better.
Q. Follow up on the fake punt, is that something that they have shown on film before and when did you realize what was going on?(Jeff McLane)
COACH FIPP: This coach has run some fakes like that in the past. I was certainly aware it was the fourth quarter. Really at the beginning of the fourth quarter, it was a tied game, fourth and two, I think on the 33 yard-line. I was cognizant of it being a potential fake situation which is why we kept the defense out there on the field. Then I would just say that it’s probably easiest to explain that at the end of the day, I didn’t put them in a good enough position, that’s really all there is to it. I mean, you have some choices when you call a defense like that situation there, that particular call was skewed a little bit more heavy to stopping the run. Fourth and two situation there and they ended up coming out and throwing the ball and put the guys in coverage in a challenging position.
Q. When Jake comes in and punts that well, there’s sort of an obvious question as to whether it’s a possibility moving forward that he can do both and you can save a roster spot. Is that the kind of thing that you would ever consider?(Bo Wulf)
COACH FIPP: Well I’ll say he did a great job. Now I think if you compare that to the rest of the league, the punters in this league, it’s not quite the same I don’t think. I think it’s really hard for anybody to be the best, or one of the 32 best in the world, at both jobs which is probably why you really haven’t seen anybody do that in a long time.
Q. You mentioned that it wasn’t your best game as a coach. How do you evaluate yourself in a game like that when there are so many variables and injuries and those sort of things?(Dave Zangaro)
COACH FIPP: Well at the end of the day for me, bottom line, it’s just about performance and you can’t make an excuse for injuries or all the things that happened in the course of a game. I don’t think if you’re any good you can do that. I’ve always said that we have a high standard. Personally, I have a really high standard for myself. Some days I’ve lived up to that. I don’t think I’ve ever played a perfect game or called a perfect game or prepared these guys perfectly for any game that I’ve been a part of. You’re always trying to get better as a coach and improve. Unfortunately, sometimes when you lose a game like that and make some negative plays obviously you learn some lessons the hard way. This is a really tough business. I love it. I love the challenges of it and the bottom line is I just got to find a way to do a little bit better and get better and continue to grow just like every player does also.
Q. I respect you not wanting to point any fingers on the blocked punt, but just to try to figure out what happened in general, if they overload the middle does the protector have to pick that guy up that comes through? What is he looking for there? (Les Bowen)
COACH FIPP: I get what you’re getting as Les, I appreciate it. The bottom line is really it wasn’t even an overloaded look. They had our left gunner doubled on the outside, so they really only had seven guys in the box, we had eight guys to protect it. The bottom line is we didn’t execute well enough there and anytime there’s an execution problem I would say that personally for me, I would say I obviously didn’t do a good enough job of coaching them to get it done there. I’m not going to depart from that narrative. I’m fine with that, I can accept it. Like I said, I’ve had some good days, I’ve had some bad days. That wasn’t one of my better days right there. We didn’t have those guys ready to go, and I need to do a better job.