After six games in this 2014 NFL season, we are not where want to be or where we expected to be as a team.
As a whole, we're disappointed in our record. But we are better than a 2-4 squad. That's one thing about this team that is very unique compared to ones that I've been on in the past, the way we approach the practice field and the classroom in spite of our struggles on game day. Based on the attitude of our players, you would not know that we are a 2-4 team.
We know we're better than that.
Guys here take their craft very seriously, and that is a very positive and a very helpful thing. That comes from the tradition of this franchise, and the recent success of the core of this team, including the coaching staff.
Just two years ago, this was a 13-3 team. A lot of those guys are still here. So I believe that in itself is what allows that fire to burn. Everyone here knows what it takes, and the work that needs to be put in to be one of the best teams in the National Football League.
Now it's a matter of translating all the hard work that we put in throughout the week, all the game planning, into producing wins by executing. And we need to do that in a timely manner.
There are a few things that we can improve right away that would go a long way toward executing properly, and turning this around.
One of those is protecting the football. In the games we've lost, we've had a number of turnovers. We never want to lose a turnover battle to any team, and whenever you have multiple turnovers in a game, that puts the odds against you to pull off a win.
The other thing is the penalties. With the parity in the National Football League, every team is very talented. When you have self-inflicted penalties, that really hurts your chances.
It's hard to get conversions in 1st-and-long and 3rd-and-long situations. There are only so many plays in the playbook for those situations, and when you start having flags fly and whistles blown before you even start a play, it really hurts.
So we have to just make sure that we're focusing and concentrating on each and every play. If we get those things corrected, I think that's half the battle. And those are things we can turn around very quickly to really help ourselves get back on track.
We have a lot of smart football players on this team. We have a very talented football team, physically. So it's just having the trust and belief that each and every person is going to do their job. You don't have to overcompensate and you don't want to try and over-think. You just have to know and trust that if you do your job to the best of your ability, everything will work out like it's designed.
THE TIP OF THE SPEAR
The prevailing message in our locker room right now is that we just need to stick together. It's as simple as that.
The 53 men that are going to play on Sunday, and the 10 that are on the practice squad are getting ready to go through a very grueling away portion of our schedule. We are the only men that are going to get ourselves out of this hole we've kind of put ourselves in.
Each and every season, guys' roles on a team change. Each team has different personnel from the season prior. You go through things as a team over the course of a year that force guys to step into different roles.
I felt going into this season that I needed to be more of the spirited veteran football player that I have been throughout my career, and I do that by playing the game as I believe it should be played; smart, tough, physical, but within the rules of the game.
I believe in the process. I believe in teams taking care of themselves. I believe in being consistent, and being consistent is what allows guys to be around for a long time or allows guys to have successful careers.
Anything you want to accomplish in this game starts with consistency and hard work.
Some of that is being vocal, but it's also by way of showing a strong work ethic, setting an example, being the bellcow. I've been through these situations before, and other guys on the team have been through lulls in their career. We know that the only way to get it corrected on game day is by doing everything right in the days leading up to the game.
I believe that my play thus far this season has been consistent. I've been playing with determination, playing with an edge, playing tough football between the tackles, and doing the the little things that are not graded, but doing them right. I'm pleased with the way I've been able to do those things.
That said, I know I always have room to get better and produce better, and my goal remains to do that. But as long as I can consistently to be the tip of the spear for this football team, and bring passion, emotion, and mental toughness, I see myself having better stats, and a better second half of the season.
As one of the veteran leaders in the locker room, I'm just harping on doing the small things right. Sometimes teams can get content and just start assuming that we'll get something fixed by the end of the weekend or we'll get it done correctly on Sunday, but we can't do that.
Right now, it is a point of emphasis from all the leaders in the locker room that we need to be hard on ourselves, not only to get better as veterans, but also to show the young guys how to do things the right way.
A lot of those young guys are coming along very well. Antone Smith is having an amazing year. I'm one of his biggest fans right now. Every time he touches the football, I get excited to see what's going to happen next, just like everyone else that I've talked to about him.
As running backs, we're all very supportive of one another. We all look after each other. We all root for one another to do well. One thing about running backs is we all take great pride as a group in being productive.
All the hard work Antone has put in, not only on special teams but in being a core role player, has really come to fruition for him. All the accolades that he's getting are well-deserved because he works his tail off. He's all the things you would want in a player; in the weight room, in the classroom, and on the field.
CALM, COLLECTED AND CONFIDENT
Over the last three weeks, we've seen a lot of adversity. We had a number of guys go down on the offensive line and our defense, and the loss of those players has really thrown things off.
William Moore, one of our defensive leaders, went down and I think that was a big setback for that group. Any time you have injuries along the offensive line, it's going to hurt your productivity on offense. With these injuries, we've been forced to throw some young guys into the fire right away to play in games, and as a result, we're going through growing pains with them. That's to be expected. But we don't make excuses around here.
The fact is, we have let three games get away from us — games where we were in the game late, and weren't able to execute to come away with a win.
Winning those tough games and finishing games off in the fourth quarter is one of the most difficult things for a team to do in the National Football League. These games are a hard-fought battle, and sometimes, it's just a matter of believing deep down inside that you're going to do what it takes to win. You can't let doubt creep in. You can't be thinking about how we've been in this position before, and were unable to come out on top.
At this point, I believe it's all confidence, and the belief in not only yourself but your teammates to get the job done. We just have to find that confidence, and learn how to win those tough games right now.
The only way to even be in contention for the postseason is to win. So we've got to make sure that we correct the things that we're doing wrong, that we approach each and every opponent with urgency, and we do it in a way that we're calm, collected, and confident.