Roman: “What some might label conservative, we look at as opportunity.”

SANTA CLARA – In today’s press conference Greg Roman explained many things, including his decision to call three straight run plays in the fourth quarter against the Seahawks after the deep pass to Michael Crabtree.

Here’s what he said.

Opening Statement:

“I’m in at past noon, so good afternoon. We’ve got the Rams this week. Really well-coached team. We’ve got a lot of respect for [Head Coach] Steve Spagnuolo and his staff. Continue to be really on the cutting edge of defensive football. Had a tough game against them a couple weeks ago. We’ve got a good feel of what they’re all about. I’ll throw the questions out. Practice so far, yesterday, I thought was very spirited. We look to have a great practice today moving into third down. Any questions?”

They’re obviously 2-13. Things are going pretty poorly for them, but most of their injuries have been on offense. Defensively, are they as good as they’ve been?

“I’d say the front seven is pretty intact. They’ve had some real problems with their corners staying healthy. They’ve got a real depth issue there. Really and truly when you look at it, Pittsburgh, took them awhile to get going. Cincinnati, tough game late into the third quarter. Our game was a tough game late in the third quarter. Seattle, tough game late into the third quarter. They’re playing hard, playing good defense. They present a lot of schematic problems. I don’t want to get into a clinic here, but they can overload blitz you like nobody’s business. They’re a very quick, active front. [Rams DE Chris] Long is a tremendous player. [Rams DE James] Hall is a tremendous player. They’ve got some really good run-stoppers inside with [Rams DT Justin] Bannan. [Rams LB James] Laurinaitis is a sideline to sideline player. Teams sometimes think ‘Hey, let’s run it over here, it doesn’t look like there’s a lot going on over there.’ Then, the backside WILL backer is making the play for zero yards. He’s running the play down. They run really well. These guys are a really good defense. I know their record doesn’t indicate that and some of the statistics don’t show that. But, when you really watch the games, the Pittsburgh game, the Cincinnati game, our game, the Seattle game, you get a sense that these guys are pretty good. They present you with a lot of problems even though their record doesn’t indicate it. Commend their coaches and players for the way they prepare.”

I don’t think a lot of people are familiar with TE Justin Peelle. Obviously he’ll see a lot more playing time with TE Delanie Walker out. Can you tell us about him? Where his strengths are? Do you see things with Peelle that you didn’t with Walker?

“I think every player is a little different. I worked Justin out coming out of Oregon, might have been 10, 11 years ago. I really liked him coming out of college. He was on some very successful teams in San Diego and Atlanta. He’s got a lot of experience deep into the season. He is a very heady player. Very smart player. Very cagey player. Very good line of scrimmage player. Pretty decent hands. Delanie Walker is going to be obviously missed. We’re not sure how long he’ll be out. He hasn’t practiced this week yet. Doesn’t look like we’re going to have him this week. Delanie Walker was a key cog in our offense. Regardless of the skill set of Justin or anybody else, they’ve got big shoes to fill. I know they’re excited about it. Delanie did so much that nobody will ever know. We’ll miss him and look forward to having him back.”

At the end of training camp, why did you guys decide to keep WR Joe Hastings around on the practice squad? What did you see from him?

“We saw, really, everything he did, special teams and offense, he was doing with precision. He was trying to do everything with precision. Very sharp, good speed, good hands, consistent catcher. As it is in training camp, you always try to give the advice to players: you need to do something every day to make us notice you. Every day you need to do something. He was doing more than that. He was doing a lot of things well every day. Very consistent player. Takes coaching very well. Makes a mistake, puts it behind him, moves on. He has really progressed nicely during the season.”

Yet even during the exhibition games, he didn’t catch any passes. Is there a reason he didn’t?

“It’s just the way the cookie crumbled. It wasn’t anything he did. It was just the way the coverage unfolded or whatnot. We get a sense day-in and day-out, out here. Now when you go out and play in the game, now is when it’s got to show up. From what we’ve seen on the practice field, he’s done everything we’ve asked him to do at a high level.”

Where is he capable of being plugged in?

“He can plug in anywhere really. We can mix and match things pretty seamlessly.”

Would you expect, at this point, that WR Michael Crabtree and WR Brett Swain will be your starters on Sunday?

“It’s hard to tell. I think there’s a good chance of that. The way I look at it is, we’ve got 11 starters listed and 11 guys run out of the tunnel, but if you’re playing, you’re a starter. We’ll mix and match things pretty loosely.”

Each guy has their strengths and weaknesses, right? So when you have this personnel that seems from the outside to be in flux here, do you have a Plan A for a game plan, a Plan B if somebody else plays?

“I think so. I think that’s pretty accurate. I think you’ve got to look at all the different personnel groupings and move things around accordingly to try to find matchups. I think that’s spot on.”

Was Hastings a guy that the coaching staff identified early as, we might have something here, and tried to hide him during the preseason games, so you could stash him on the practice squad and he wouldn’t be exposed?

“I don’t know anything about that. I don’t know anything about that. Really, every day Joe was just one of those guys that just kept showing up every day. Only the strong survive in that setting. He was the one that survived.”

Did you work him out prior to the draft?

“I’ll have to go back and look. I personally didn’t, no. I’d have to go back and check our records.”

There are a couple play calls in Seattle that would be labeled conservative on third down and longer plays in Seattle territory where you ran the ball. It’s kind of a two part question I guess; sometimes you guys have seen conservative play calling at times. However, you have also committed 10 turnovers. You haven’t committed a turnover in 18 quarters. Are those two things in some ways tied to each other?

“I think the word conservative is upon the interpretation of each. In the eye of the beholder, as they say. We really thought that there were some opportunities in those situations to have some big runs. We hit a few of them and unfortunately one of them got called back with a penalty. Every week we study film. We study the team with a fine-toothed comb. What some might label conservative, we look at as opportunity. We’re always looking to strike where they’re not. Everything we do is always going to be what gives us the best chance to win. Sometimes that’s throwing it. You can go back and look at games where we get in the red zone and we’re throwing it, throwing it, throwing it. Some games, it’s running it. The bottom line around here is wins. Every decision is funneled, or dovetails from that.”

Taking the conservative part out of it, 18 quarters without a turnover. Have you been a part of anything close to that?

“I don’t know. I think not turning the ball over, I’d be interested to see who’s turned it over less in the history of the NFL. If somebody could go back and find that…”

Well, you’re tied.

“Are we?”

The Patriots did it last year.

“Did they?”

So don’t commit a turnover.

“It helps. Have a great day.”

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