JH: Oh, not much. As far as their style and everything, it’s the same team. They’re tremendously great. That’s the thing now; I think they’ve improved even over last year’s team, even as a good as they were last year, a Super Bowl team. They were AFC Champions. They’ve done a great job with the draft, bolstering the team. They brought a few guys in and improved. They’ve done it again.
Q: How far back does your relationship with Bill Belichick go?
JH: Well, he may not remember this, but originally, probably around ’91, ’92, somewhere around there he was coaching the Browns and he came to the University of Cincinnati when I was a young coach there and he was scouting some of our players. We had a chance to sit down and talk about those guys. He and Scott O’Brien were really close and Scott was a mentor for me coming up early on there and always has been, actually. So we had that connection and that’s where I first met him. Obviously I was in awe of the man at the time and that probably hasn’t changed too much.
Q: What is it about your defense that maintains players year after year like Ed Reed and Ray Lewis who seem to be defying age with their level of play?
JH: To me, those guys deserve the credit for that. They’re incredibly talented. They love football. They know the game inside and out and they work very hard at staying young. That’s probably their Fountain of Youth, is hard work and they work extremely hard to take care of themselves.
Q: What has James Ihedigbo brought to your team?
JH: He’s helped us. We had a little bit of a need there at safety and he’s a really good special teams player. He fits our style just like he fits the Patriots style. I think we’re both similar defensively in terms of being determined to be very physical and determined to be very disciplined. We like smart players so he fits our mold.
Q: Can you elaborate on how he contributed last week vs. Philadelphia in terms of the injury situation and him stepping in?
JH: Yeah, he stepped right in. He’d been only here for a couple weeks and he stepped right in. We didn’t have to eliminate anything we did defensively, call-wise. He played well.
Q: What is the status of that situation at this time concerning Bernard Pollard’s availability for Sunday?
JH: We’ll just have to wait and see. I’m not sure what that is right now. We’ll have to get through today and see where we’re at. At the end of the day we’ll have a category for him in terms of how much he practices.
Q: You have a long history with special teams. How have you seen the expectations on field goal kickers change over the years? Is there an assumption they should make every one?
JH: Yeah, that’s an interesting proposition. If you look at the numbers historically, they’ve made more and more over the last 10, 20, 25 years. If you look back in the ‘70s, what were they making, 60 percent or something like that? [Pro Football Hall of Fame kicker] Lou Groza, what was his average? Probably I’m going to say 50 or 60 percent maybe, tops? Yeah, that maybe speaks to what you’re talking about. I’m always amazed by these guys, how good they are and what they’re capable of doing.
Q: Are they unfair expectations?
JH: It’s all relative. It’s a tough league and there are a lot of good ones out there. The competition is stiff. The guys who are kicking in this league, every single one of them is very, very good.
Q: There has been a lot of talk this week about pace of the game slowing down because of the officials. Do you every worry about the tempo and players losing their rhythm when a game goes on for 3.5 or 4 hours?
JH: No, it’s not something that we can do anything about so I just don’t even make it a consideration.
Q: What has stood out to you on
JH: I’m impressed with how well he’s been coached and how disciplined he is and the attention to detail he plays with for a rookie. He’s obviously tremendously gifted, but they’ve done a great job with bringing him along so quickly.
Q: What would be an example of the attention to detail?
JH: I’d say the way he plays his run sets. His consistency with that has been excellent.
Q: Along those same lines, what does Arthur Jones bring to your team?
JH: Oh, OK the Art Jones/Chandler Jones question. I like that [laughs]. First of all, Art’s a great guy and this is a great family – credit to their parents. What they’ve accomplished, you have probably the top fighter in the world. You have two NFL football players both playing at an incredibly high level with great college careers and they’re just great people. Art’s a hard worker, he’s a happy guy. He always has a smile on his face, a pleasure to be around. All those things that make for success in life, Art has them. We met Chandler during the draft and he was the same. And we met Jon [Jones], he’s been to a few of our games and he’s the same. It’s really a neat, neat family.
Q: Can you talk about the decision to play more no-huddle offense?
JH: I don’t know, what would I talk about? What would you want to hear about?
Q: Why you are doing it and how successful it’s been.
JH: We’re doing it and it was more successful in the first game than the second game probably, more successful in the first half of the first half of the last game than the second half.
Q: What was the impetus to introduce the no-huddle offense more than you have in the past?
JH: Probably because we’ve seen the success a lot of teams have had with it and we’ve had to defend it. We’ve always had it as part of what we’re doing. There were a lot of factors that came together to move us in that direction, but every week is different. Every game plan is different. I would say a lot of what the Patriots have done over the years has been something that’s positively influenced us in that direction.
Q: Is it hard to introduce since you have not used it as much in the past?
JH: Every year it’s always a process of going from the ground up, no matter if it’s something you’ve been doing for years or if it’s something you’re doing more of like we are with that or if it’s something you introduce as new. Every year kind of ends up being like a startup and you have to build everything from the foundation up.
Q: Do you feel that your team outplayed the Patriots in the AFC Championship last year?
JH: No, I don’t.
Q: Why is that?
JH: Because they won. They won the game, did a nice job, made the plays they had to make to win the game. Obviously that’s compliments to them. They did a great job.
Q: Going back a previous question regarding field goal kickers... Again, any undue expectations every time they step on the field?
JH: Well, that’s part of the game. You question about outplaying somebody. Kick making and field goals is part of the game. Catching a pass is part of playing just like blocking and tackling and everything that goes into. It’s such a great game. There’s so much involved on so many levels with so many different people that the key to their effort is what ends up making the difference. The team that wins the game is the team that deserves it.
Q: Your brother’s team is going to play the Patriots later in the season. Do you suspect you will be getting a call from him in the weeks leading up to the game?
JH: Oh, I don’t know. I had no idea they were playing. I really didn’t.
Q: How does last year’s AFC Championship game tie into Sunday’s game? Most players say that it is a whole new year with new players. How do you view that?
JH: I probably view it like those guys. I’d be disappointed if they needed extra motivation for any game, especially for such a respected opponent as the Patriots.