JM: Mike certainly has some experience with our terminology from the time I spent with him in St. Louis. He's a hard worker and a guy who can learn multiple roles and his versatility is certainly valuable at the tight end position. He can play in some things, I think, in the kicking game, that helps us too. He's the kind of person that – you certainly like to have guys on your team that can do different things and are unselfish and have some different skills that allow them to fill in and play backup roles in multiple different situations. And he's a young guy, too, that hopefully has a lot of future in front of him. Whatever players that come up in conversation, the only thing you can do is give an honest evaluation of what your experience was with the player, and then certainly Bill [Belichick] will make the decisions on those things.
Q: There have been multiple times this year where your backs have lined up out wide. Is it difficult to teach those guys how to play that position? Are there any backs that are better suited for that? Is that coming out of the college game more now that maybe it had in recent years?
JM: I think the backs do a good job of doing a lot of different things that we ask of them, not only in the passing game but also in protections. Using them out away from the formation is, I don’t think, uncommon in our league. We just practice as hard as we can on those things, those skills, and I think that the more comfortable certain guys get and the more things they can do away from the formation, then those are the things we’ll try to do and utilize with them. I think this is something that we’ve always kind of done with our offense. It’s nothing that we’re really taking from anybody else; it’s just something we use and if we end up with a favorable matchup on the outside, hopefully we can take advantage of it.
Q: Can you talk about if and how working with Billy O’Brien last year maybe eased your transition back here and maybe if some of the things he has done over the last few years are even still helping you this year?
JM: Being here last year at the end of the season and being able to be around for the playoff games, one, it allowed me to get familiar with some of the personnel that was here that I wasn’t that in tune with because they weren’t here when I was here last. Billy had implemented some different things that certainly became a core part of the offense last year and that are really good things to do with the personnel we have, whether it be the tight ends, the slot receiver, the backs out of the backfield. Billy is a really good football coach and has a lot of great ideas and did a lot of great things while he was here. Certainly you saw him have a lot of success this year and I'm sure he will going forward. I talk to Billy quite a lot and we share ideas and thoughts on things. His friendship and his coaching philosophy and the things that he knows and does in football are a very valuable part of our relationship for me.
Q: How much of a challenge was it to lose
JM: Well, I think the first thing is that any time you have a situation come up like that in the game, you have people behind them that have certainly prepared hard and studied their game plan and been a part of our preparation that you need to go in there and step in and play well. I think credit goes to Mike [Hoomanawanui] and Shane [Vereen] for being able to go in there and fill in more than admirably in those situations. I think injuries are a part of our game. [It’s] certainly not an uncommon thing to go through over the course of a season where you have to make multiples changes over the course of a game or you have to go stretches and weeks without certainly people. Yesterday you take inventory of what has happened and what parts of the game plan may need to change. Certainly Rob is a unique player and he has some skills that allow you to do special things with him. I don’t think it’s really fair to say you just plug somebody in and off you go, but I though Michael did a great job with the things we asked him to do yesterday. He certainly did a good job in protection and in the running game and really played a valuable role for us there. Shane stepped right into the role that – Danny would have handled some of these things and Shane was designed to handle some of them anyway. I think really the next man up stepped up for us yesterday and did a good job and again, they deserve the credit for that.
Q: Bill Belichick just announced that he is bringing Brian Daboll back to the staff. Will he be an extra set of eyes and someone you can bounce ideas off? How do you envision him helping in the coming weeks and how did you handle a similar transition last year?
JM: Yeah, it’s great to have Brian back. He’s a very good football coach, very knowledgeable and can help us a will certainly help us in a lot of different ways. Certainly having another set of eyes with experience and has a lot of understanding of our system and how we go about doing things, I think, is only a positive for us and can help our football team going forward. I look forward to doing that with Brian. Last year when I came back, really anything they asked me to do, I was excited to do. You know, anything you can do to help at this time of year is useful, whether that’s drawing practice cards or sitting in a meeting and having a few ideas on a certain situation in the game plan or anything like that during the course of a week. Everything is so important; every detail is very critical at this time of year and having another football coach on your staff to help is nothing but helpful for us.
Q: Last year your presence on the staff seemed to mean Billy O’Brien was heading to Penn State. Does Brian Daboll’s presence on the staff mean you're headed somewhere?
JM: I’ve already handled that question. I’m excited to work with Brian and this should be hopefully a very simple transition for him to come back here and fit in with all of us. I know all of us are excited to see him and have him help us here this week and see how many different ways he can help us be here. I'm excited to be here and like I said before, I’m very, very happy with my role here.