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Josh McDaniels Conference Call Transcript - 9/18/2012
JM: Well, they're always one of the best defenses in the league and I think that there's a lot of reasons for that: they're extremely well coached; it's a big, physical group on defense; they've got great leaders and players that really do a great job of getting them in their calls; their system is complicated; they can give you problems with scheme; they can certainly give you problems with some of the great players that they have at all three levels; and then top it all off to play in that stadium, you've certainly got to deal with the noise too, so it will be a great challenge for us this week.
Q: When Aaron Hernandez went down on Sunday, how much of the game plan changed? How hard is it to make that personnel adjustment on the fly?
JM: You always have to be prepared for certainly different ways to play the game and I think when we go through practice each week, we never put our whole game plan in with a single personnel grouping in mind. We always try to be multiple, which I think is just part of what we've always tried to do here. But I think that philosophy always helps – I won't even call it adjust – it always helps you adapt in the middle of the game, because if you lose a tight end and you have to play with two backs in the game or if you lose a receiver and you play with four tight ends, whatever it may be, that you've practiced enough of those things during the course of the week that your game plan is representative of the fact that you're always one injury away from losing some things in your game plan. And I think that's common; I think that's every week. There are some things that you kind of hold or cross off and you use the other things that you've practiced a lot during the course of the week and I think that really happens more than you might think it does.
Q: On third and four for Danny Woodhead, is that one you might want to have back or do you say, ‘You know what, we would have had that if a few things went differently for us?'
JM: Any time you go into a game with certain things that you want to try to maybe take advantage of, there's always an element of the unknown, whenever you make calls – any play. I think we're always trying to call things, certainly, that the players one, can execute and two, gives them a good chance to be successful on any play, whether it be a run, a pass, first down, second down, third down, whatever it is. And sometimes it turns out that maybe the call wasn't right, or the execution wasn't maybe as good as you wanted, or you got a different look on defense, or something else that made the result of the play a little different than what you had hoped for. I think that's playing football and that's part of coaching. Anytime you take a game plan into the game, you hope it works out exactly the way you practiced it and exactly the way you hoped it would unfold, but inevitably there are always some things that change.
Q: When Julian Edelman is out on the field with Brandon Lloyd with the two receivers and two tight ends, what do you like that he brings to that package?
JM: First of all, we played multiple different guys and we moved them around the other day a little bit. We did the same thing in Tennessee. I think we have lot of guys that can do different things and help us make some plays and move the ball, and Julian is certainly one of those guys. He made quite a few plays the other day in the game and really helped us and came up big in a couple of those two-minute situations there. He's a guy that gives you everything he's got on every play. He's got good speed and has caught the ball well for us so far this year. He certainly gives you an element – he's a returner – so he certainly gives you an element of run after the catch. I would say that's something he does fairly well, not to say we don't have other players that do it very well too, but Jules has earned the right to get out there and play. We used him a lot in the three-receiver sets opposite of Brandon with Wes inside and used him a little bit in there in some of those two-tight end formations as well.
Q: Despite you having been here before and coming in late last year, are there still some growing pains that you're experiencing from an offensive personnel side?
JM: I think we go out there every week to play our best football and I think this is the time of the year where making strides in every area of your game, whether that be individually or as a unit, I think is really important. It would be hard to imagine that most teams are playing at their peak at this point and I think we're all trying to work to get better in a lot of different areas: coaching, playing, the way we practice and prepare. I think it's just a normal process that every team goes through each year and we've got to do a good job of improving each week that we have an opportunity to go out there and practice and get better. Certainly, the other day wasn't good enough and we want to go out there and improve our offense and our team this week.
Q: You've coached Brandon Lloyd before; with him being new here, can you expect his chemistry with Tom Brady to be good from the get go or is that something that just takes time to develop?
JM: I think any time you have a pass receiver and a quarterback, the more they work together the better they're going to be. I think Brandon and Tom have certainly connected a number of times this year and have made some important, big plays for us. I think the more we work at it on different elements of our game, I think that hopefully we improve each week during the course of the season. But I know we've thrown it out there quite a bit and Brandon has made a lot of plays, and at the same time we've missed a few opportunities too, but I think that's the NFL and that's passing the football. Some of those plays are not high percentage, but the more we work at it, the better we're going to get.
Q: There's been a lot of discussion in the media about Wes Welker and maybe why he hasn't been on the field as much as last year. I know you weren't here last year, but why are those numbers down this year?
JM: Wes played a big role for us the other day. I think it just goes back to the fact that we feel like we've got a number of different guys that can contribute and help our offense and have earned the opportunities that they're getting. I think Wes – whatever it was, we threw the ball his way 12 or 13 times or somewhere in that neighborhood the other day and he made a number of big plays for us. Each game plan ends up different. Sometimes we play guys the majority of the game; other times we feel like using some different rotations may give us some advantages, whether that's a matchup that we end up with in the front or a personnel grouping that we expect the defense to give us, or even formationally, ourselves in terms of what we try to do. I think there are a number of factors that go into our game plan every week, but certainly he is going to be a big part of our game plan each week that we go in and play.
Q: Maybe more on the personal side, going up against the Ravens with Dean Pees as their defensive coordinator. What are your thoughts about going up against one of his defenses and what have you taken from him during your career as a coach?
JM: Dean is a great individual and great football coach, and I've had the opportunity to get to know him as a person and certainly coach alongside him here in New England for a few years. He always has his unit prepared. He gives them a great understanding of the team they're getting ready to play and the strengths and weakness of that team. He works extremely hard and you can tell that his unit plays sound fundamental defense. They don't give you any easy plays; they make you work for it. He's certainly got this unit playing fast and they're physical and I think that the hallmark of a good defense is they make you work for everything that you get and I think you can certainly see that with Dean's group there in Baltimore. This will be a great challenge for us and Dean will have them well prepared.