JM: I think that the question you go in asking yourself each week as you prepare for an opponent is, ‘Is there any way in today’s league that you can gain an advantage on Sunday for your players?’ Could you simplify it possibly for your players on Sunday by doing any number of things, whether that be playing at a different pace or playing with a certain personnel grouping that maybe you believe the defense has a limited package of calls for? But I think that’s always kind of a question you go in and there could be a number of reasons that that would come up. You mention a bunch of them there. I think the most important thing is that we’re doing something, whatever that is, if we choose to play fast, we’re doing something that we know how to execute ourselves. I think everything starts with our own execution and our own ability for all 11 of us work on the same page on every play. Sometimes that seems to be better playing at the line of scrimmage and other times it’s much better playing from the huddle. I think there are probably a number of factors that could decide what you choose to do each week and we’ve kind of done both.
Q: There’s been some talk about how Oregon coach Chip Kelly has met with your coaches over the last couple of years. How did that relationship start for you and what effect has it had on your offense?
JM: Well, there are certainly a number of different coaches that everybody has relationships with. I for one have never actually met Chip. I know Chip was around here maybe once or twice this spring. I never had an opportunity to sit down and speak with him, so I don’t really have personally any relationship with Chip. This isn’t something that’s brand new for this team, this organization and certainly not this offense. I know we had done it in the past; I know Billy [former Offensive Coordinator Bill O’Brien] did a great job with it in the last few years. It’s something that if we feel can help us be successful and help us win the game then we usually carry it into that week’s game plan. So that’s about what I can say about that.
Q: Can you talk about what you see from the Seattle secondary and what the challenge is that they present?
JM: First of all, this is a really talented defense. They’re fast. The secondary is big, fast – I would describe them as long. They get their hands on a lot of balls. Even though they’re younger, I would say they have a lot of experience playing together. They’re all good tacklers, which I think you always look for when you play an opponent and see if you can make yards after the catch or if you get through the line of scrimmage and have opportunities there. I think all of them do a good job tackling. [Kam] Chancellor and [Earl] Thomas really do a great job of reading the quarterback and they’re aggressive safeties. One of them is normally down on most plays, so they get involved in the running game, they’re very physical players. I think it will be a great challenge for us this week, certainly playing in Seattle first of all, against a defense that’s really, really playing well.
Q: From what you have seen from them, how much pressure from additional rushers and blitzers are the Seahawks bringing so far this season?
JM: Well they don’t have to. They definitely do it, but they certainly don’t need to, to create pressure on the quarterback. Their front-four – and they play more than four guys obviously – and their rotational players that they move in and out of there, do a fabulous job of getting penetration and getting up the field. They put a lot of pressure on the edges of your pass protection and they’ve created a lot of negative plays doing that. They’ll mix the pressure in there, but like I said, they do a good job of getting pressure on the quarterback in both scenarios.
Q: First with the Bills and then with Denver’s two edge rushers and then again this week with really more than two edge rushers and guys who can get after the quarterback, do you feel like it is Groundhog Day when you get to your game planning and review of your upcoming opponent?
JM: It seems like that’s certainly a focal point each week: making sure that you try to do a good job of handling the disruptive pass rushers that each team has on defense. Seattle is certainly one of the top groups in the league at doing that.
Q: How much of a priority is the offensive balance that you guys have been able to put together lately? Do you look at that on a game-by-game basis and how big of a key has it been for your success?
JM: Balance is good as long as that’s the best thing for you to do to try to win the game and be successful. I don’t think you want to just be balanced just so that you can say you’re balanced if it’s not really working for you. I think being effective is most important at whatever you choose to do. But the last so many weeks – and really all year – we’ve been in the game or been ahead in the game and have had the ability to maintain our run-pass balance if you will. Again, we go into each week trying to figure out what the best way to play the game is and hopefully we choose a plan that will give our guys the best opportunity to be successful and so far I think that being balanced has been part of that formula.
Q: What are your thoughts on height as it pertains to the quarterback position? How important is it and is it something that should not be dismissed?
JM: Well, there are certainly really good quarterbacks that are different heights in this league and certainly in college football as well. I think it’s really all about the way the particular player plays and the things that he does well and then what the offensive system asks of the player. If there’s a certain skill set that a player has and your offense either has the ability to adapt or change or fits his skill set well, then I think that height can be over-discussed at times. There are a lot of good quarterbacks in this league and very few of them look the same. There are some guys that certainly have great height, but there are also a lot of guys that throw the ball very well – including the guy that just broke that record the other night [Saints quarterback Drew Brees] – that don’t stand 6-4 or 6-5.
Q: Is there any additional emphasis on non-verbal communication this week because you are going to play in such a loud stadium? How important is communication overall leading into this weekend?
JM: Yeah, this is an incredible venue to play at. I’ve had an opportunity to be there three or four times and it never disappoints in terms of how loud and how vocal they’re going to be. I think it’s a great environment to play in and certainly for us on offense it will be important for us to do a good job of communicating and paying attention to all of the little details, so that we make sure that we can work together and try to execute our assignments the best we can. Certainly they make it difficult, but I think that the best way for us to do that is to practice with the noise here and do the best we can here; focus on our assignments and our execution and hopefully go out there and play well. If we do that we give ourselves the best chance to be successful.
Q: Does playing in Baltimore earlier this year help that cause?
JM: I think playing on the road in this league is always hard. Really wherever you play you’re going to have to deal with noise on offense if you’re playing away. I think the way that we’ve practiced with noise here helps us playing a lot of road games already. We dealt with it in Tennessee, Buffalo and Baltimore. I think all of those experiences help. It’s going to be noisy, it’s going to be loud and it’s going to be very difficult to hear. I think that’s kind of a given. As long as you accept that and practice that way and do a good job of trying to communicate what our call is and what we’re trying to do on each snap, we can hopefully minimize that as best we can. I certainly know that it will be loud on Sunday.
JM: I think you look at it overall and I think he’s done a nice job of carrying the ball quite a few times this season. He’s done a good job of that and then there are a couple of instances where the ball got loose a little bit. But you continue to work with every player on those fundamentals and the technical part of their game, which includes ball security and includes catching, blocking, running good routes and all the rest of those things that can contribute to protecting the football. So it will be a point of emphasis for us going forward. It always is and it always has been and it will continue to be. I think that he’s certainly not the only person that the ball got out on the last so many weeks here. I think there are a number of things that we try to focus on each week and that’s certainly going to be a big one for us going forward with every player on our team.