What Matt Rhule said after the loss to New England

Subject: Opening statement

Obviously not a very good day for us. Lots of credit to the Patriots. I thought they did exactly what they needed to do to win the game. Special teams. Field post. I ran football when it was important. Good on the third down. I think our defense did a good job in the second half. They had 100 rushing yards in the first half and came back and held them to 46 in the second half. We were much better in the third in the second half. Ultimately, the game comes down to turnovers. We gave the ball three times. We were more 2 in the first half without capitalizing too much. Offensively, it was about turnovers and penalties. Just missed opportunities. Not very well. The defense I thought sometimes clung to it. Gave us a chance. But in the end, they played better than us so a lot of credit to them.

RE: Decision not to put Sam Darnold in the dock

I thought he was going to have to get out of this. I just thought the shame of two of the steals was. The second, I don’t know if it was necessarily on him. He throws the ball, the lineman jumps and intercepts it. It’s like that. But the first and third, the shame was inside the 30-yard line about to get points and keep this game close. He moved the attack, made these two games. Like everyone else, I was wondering what to do and thought that when we got the ball back there was seven minutes left, I just wanted to see it take us down at the end and put us in the end zone. I pulled him out two weeks ago and he played a really good game last week. I wanted to give him the chance to come out and at least try to get us into the end zone at the end. It just seemed like the right thing to do.

RE: Was Sam Darnold’s lack of rehearsals this week a contributing factor?

He would have to say it. He had representatives on Thursday. He had representatives on Saturday. At the end of the day, I think I don’t want to drop things on one person, but we just can’t keep throwing the ball. We must protect football. If you’ve got an interception, if it’s a third interception down, that’s one thing. A first or second interception on the ground cannot happen. So for me these are decision-making things that we talked about and discussed and talked about and here we are in Game 9 of the season and it didn’t happen. I wouldn’t say it was a bad read or anything like that. There was nothing with the game plan. Obviously we knew they were going to come out and try to escape. i thought christian [McCaffrey] did a good job of getting things done for us sometimes, but our ability in the first half to convert the third downs and in the second half to get the ball spinning, really the passing game in general. As bad as it was, it still comes down to me to throw the ball in the air and we just can’t be that team. We never wanted to be that team. We can’t be that team and unfortunately we were that team in the second half today.

RE: Does Sam Darnold always give you the best opportunity to win?

I’ll watch the tape before I make a big statement. To be completely honest, I want to make sure I see everything and consider all the factors. I know Sam prepared hard. I thought he was gone there, I thought he was tenacious. He squeaked all the way so I don’t want to put anything at his feet. You can’t have a quarterback throwing the ball in the air. He knows it. I know that. Do we have to get with the coaches and figure out is this training, is it him, what is it? We just can’t keep doing this. But I have to see it all before I can probably answer better tomorrow.

RE: Was Sam Darnold’s story with Belichick and New England a factor in leaving him?

No, no, I just really thought about us.

RE: Christian McCaffrey’s performance today

I thought it was a good first return game. We had it on a double touchdown that was beaten early in the game. I thought he was obviously good as he always is in the passing game. I thought he was good at the racing game. It will always generate offense. I thought he had done a good job. Obviously, it was good to find him.

RE: Do you have enough Sam Darnold samples to determine if you can win with him?

I have already answered that. I think I have to wait until tomorrow. I saw some good things. I saw bad things. My job, our job, is to try to get people to play their best. We knew there would be ups and downs. Again, I thought Sam had done some good things today. It’s just a matter of really two games that can’t happen. Two games that’s on the verge of – is always going to be a one-score game, a two-score game. If we just eliminate these games but haven’t. It’s a good question. I want to make sure I say it. I don’t want to answer those kinds of questions in my brain right now after the game. Obviously, we are all disappointed. I’m disappointed. We also don’t need a 15-yard penalty when he’s 2nd and 6 at the 20-yard line. All of these things, you can preach them, you can talk about them, but at some point we’ve got to go and do it. For having so many penalties, you know. Another thing our guys need to learn, when you have a reputation for getting penalties, you’re going to get a lot of them, even when they’re tight. You know, we had ten penalties today. Just not a very good team loss.

RE: Does a conversation have to take place between the extended receiver group and Sam Darnold (Robby Anderson’s frustration)?

I saw that. I wouldn’t. Robby was frustrated because we had our third interception. I think we all were. It was not generated by anyone. It wasn’t anything like that. We communicate a lot. Everyone knows that we are not going to win if we return the ball. It was the key to victory which was to protect football. We did it in the first half. We didn’t play well in attack in the first half either, but I don’t know what it was at half time, 10-6 or 13-6, I think they scored right before that. half-time. We simply cannot return the ball. I think we were all frustrated by this.

RE: The offense was still down eight with a +2 in first-half turnovers

Without a doubt. I think the first half was really an example of a third down, I think we were 1 of 6 or 1 of something on the third down. I entered at half-time and talked about it a lot. I knew we were going to throw it a bit more in the second half. I thought we kind of started moving the ball. I went down to 30 and had the interception at Ian Thomas. It just wasn’t a good day. I think it’s more offensive, kind of the whole group. I think when you lose two linemen like that it obviously won’t be perfect. [Matt] Paradis played a lot of football for us. The racing game never really started. But like we talked about, you have to convert a few third tries, have explosive games, get people to play and pass and then have a chance. We had the ball up to the 26 yard line. The defense did a great job. Stephon [Gilmore] pick up the ball. Christian [McCaffrey] had a good run. We have a chance to score and we decide, it’s not a mistake, we decide to get – we sort of go our separate ways, and then we kick a guy or whatever. This team must grow. You can’t do that stuff. Especially against a team like this. It’s a good team. I say that to our guys respectively. We have a bunch of great guys. But what a guy does, affects everyone and so if it’s a penalty, an interception or a missed mission on defense, when you go up against good teams and that was a very good team that we were up against. When you play against good teams, that sort of thing happens.

RE: Play where Brian Burns was injured

Just as I watched the replay I thought maybe a foul should have been called out. I don’t want to call other players or anything like that. I’m always going to protect our guys and it looked like it was an injury that happened after the game. So I was just defending Brian.

RE: Is a player allowed to hold a player’s leg to prevent him from going for the ball?

If the guy is on the ground, you can grab him. You can hold them. You can move them away from the ball. I have to go back and watch the tape to comment on it.

RE: One touchdown in three games – what needs to change?

All. We have to score. We have to score in the red zone. We have to convert the third downs. We need to be able to throw the ball better. We have improved the racing game, I think. But the passing game is really not very present. Everything will be better. We didn’t play a good defense today, but we played well enough to have a chance. Kind of like the Minnesota game. It just has to be better.

RE: Matt Paradis Injury Update

He’s having an MRI right now. At least it looked like it was a bit serious on the pitch so we’ll have to wait and see. I don’t know the extent of Cam’s [Erving] again.

RE: Brian Burns Injury Update

I’m not sure yet. He entered the x-ray room.

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