I know this question’s been asked before, nothing new, but again the second half seems to be kind of the stumbling block. Got off to a good start. If you had the answers, you would have already filled out the test, but what can you do to try to analyze why exactly things seem to go wrong?
“Yeah, it’s something that we have to be able to come out and make plays. There’s opportunities on the field and we have opportunities to create more opportunities. We can’t take any opportunity for granted when we have it. Whether it’s a third down conversion, whether it’s being able to pick up a few more yards on first or second down, all of those things count, especially for us right now where we haven’t played as well in the second half. We have to do everything we can and pick up every yard we can on every play in order to be better there.”
Before the year, you guys had the players only meeting to discuss your stance. Have there been any player meetings since then, just about in terms of how you guys are playing on the field and what’s been going on? How many times do you guys meet as just a team without the coaches?
“We haven’t had any players only meetings. I think we constantly have discussions within the locker room, on the field, in the meeting rooms as far as what we can do to improve our play and improve our execution. Those are discussions that you’re constantly having to try to make sure you’re on top of everything and doing everything you can in order to try to play better and get a win.”
Is it the similar stuff each week too, that you’ve just got to execute and finish games?
“That’s the thing that makes it hard. When it comes down to execution, you either go out and you do it or you don’t. And that’s something we have to do a better job as a whole is going out, executing and making plays.”
You’d mentioned last week that the way that you deal with the losing is trying to focus on getting the next win. Does the losing eat at you? Do you take it home with you? Do you leave it here? How do you balance that?
“You have to stay focused on your next opportunity. Take as much and learn as much as you can from the game that you just played. But, you have to quickly move on to the next game and refocus and make sure all your efforts are there to give you the best opportunity to go out and win.”
Is it harder with young teammates like you have for them to maybe understand that, to move on, to flip the page?
“I think every person’s different. Whether people move on right away or whether that’s something that they hold inside and use that as motivation later on. Everybody has difference ways of dealing with it and trying to improve their performance for the next game.”
This is RB Carlos Hyde’s first full season as the starter not interrupted by injury. Have you seen growth from him as the season’s gone on at that position?
“Yeah. He’s a very talented running back. When he has a lane, when he has a crease, he’s very effective. Very talented as far as being able to pick up pass protections and being on top of all of his assignments as well. So, that’s something that he’s becoming a true pro and being able to just handle everything that’s thrown at him and being able to carry that workload.”
Does it take chemistry, quarterback-running back chemistry, to run this offense the way head coach Chip Kelly wants it run and if so, how has that grown over this season?
“Yeah, it definitely takes chemistry as far as pass protection and trust. That’s something that we have a great chemistry, a great relationship there and I think that comes from going out on the field and doing what you’re supposed to and being on top of assignments and ultimately succeeding together.”
LB Eli Harold has obviously knelt with you all season. Is it meaningful to you to have a teammate, and S Eric Reid too, to have teammates that have been there with you throughout this whole season doing that?
“Yeah, it’s very impactful and I think they are people who have very strong character. And to have the ability to really recognize what’s going on, how it not only affects them, but it affects their families and affects other people that look like them is something that’s very powerful and I’m very happy to have teammates like that, that have that type of character, that have those type of ethics and humanity.”
One more on that, kind of on that topic. Atlanta was your last game outside of California. Could you tell based on where you’re playing after the national anthem and what kind of reception you received before the game, after the game, whatever, just the changes in where you are in America based on what you heard feedback-wise from fans in opponent stadiums?
“Yeah, I think that’s something to me that was very evident depending on where we’re playing. Atlanta was somewhere where I had a lot of support, a lot of people saying they agree with what I’m doing, support it and are happy that I did it and to keep going and to stay strong. And there’s other places where the fans don’t agree as much. Buffalo in particular was one where that was very evident. So, it shows the different cultures and different beliefs throughout this country and it also makes it very evident that there’s a difference in perspective between white America and black America.”
Atlanta is known for being very friendly, or whatever. It’s very urban. Is that kind of what you’re getting at? Could you tell outside of the stadium as well?
“No, I don’t move around too much when we’re there. But, as far as the hotel staff, the people that are around, a lot of support and a lot of people making sure they went out of their way to say that they did support it, which means a lot. I hope those people and people that support it use their voices more and more and speak out more and more to try to help create change.”
Was Buffalo evident because of the volume of the boos or because of specifically what you heard being shouted from the stands?
“I think volume, what I heard, things that I saw after the fact as far as in the parking lot, t-shirts, all of those things. It was very evident that this was something that they don’t agree with, which to me I don’t understand.”
Does that tell you that you need to have more of a voice there or just stay away from a Buffalo-like environment? Does it kind of challenge you to say, ‘I want to go there and sink my teeth into the cause?’
“I want to go where people truly want to create change and that’s somewhere that change definitely does need to be created, but I think there are better places for this to be initiated and grow from there.”
You spent time in Los Angeles. What do you anticipate the reaction down there for you?
“I’m not too sure. It’ll depend on the crowd that’s there that day. So, we’ll wait and see.”