JM: I think the positives are your familiarity with the personnel and maybe the style of play that the team uses. I think one of the things you always do at the beginning of each week is try to familiarize yourself with who is playing on each team that you are playing against, how they use their people, what style of defense they have, how does the coordinator call the game. There are a lot of, I would say, personality traits of each team that you are trying to find an answer to at the beginning of each preparation. When you play your division opponents, certainly the second time at least, you definitely have that already in your corner, and that goes both ways. They know us, we know them and if it is a situation where the staffs have been together for quite some time, then there is even more carryover to it. I would say in that regard, that's kind of helpful as you get into the week. Certainly each game is different, each game plays out differently. Which players were inactive the first time versus the second time? [Is it] a home game versus a road game? There are a lot of different qualities to each game when you play them twice, so there are a lot of differences certainly in terms of that kind of preparation. So, the familiarity is definitely something that is advantageous when getting ready to play a team the second time.
Q: We all know
JM: I think Tom is pretty steady at all times. He certainly, like all players and coaches, there is emotion in our game and that certainly comes out at different stages of games. Whenever there is a situation like unfolded Sunday, I don't think poise and composure are something that we need to concern ourselves with, with Tom. He has always done a great job of handling those situations and directing the offense in those pressure situations at the end of games.
Q: Was the use of the no-huddle against New Orleans a game plan type thing, or was it just time to see how the offense with all the new personnel would respond?
JM: It was definitely something for that game plan we felt strongly about. You know, we've worked on it off and on during the course of the year as we always do with our no-huddle and two-minute type offense, and we just felt good about using it last week. It always helps give you some advantages when you play well and when you do things well. When the guys execute as they did and you gain first downs and gather some momentum and some rhythm, then it always seems to be something that was a good idea. But I think that ultimately goes back to the players, and they executed a lot of things well early in the game, enough for us to get in a good rhythm in the first four series. So using the tempo is something that we will always consider as we prepare for each team.
Q: How much back and forth goes on during the game between you and Tom based on what he is seeing in the defense and what they are doing? On games like Sundays when you are in the two-minute drill and there is a sense of urgency, is it even more important that he has that vision to run the offense in those situations?
JM: We rely on our players to give us great feedback during the course of the game most definitely. With Tom, I usually sit with him after each series and we go through those still photos and try to gain a hold of what is going on, what type of game plan the other team is trying to implement, how that is affecting some of the things we're doing, what we may have in our game plan that may be very good against what they're doing, or vice versa. Certainly we talk about if he sees certain things that may not be jumping out on the pictures. Those are always things that are welcome, not only from Tom but from all of our players to give us good feedback. But that is constant. I think that is a constant conversation on game day, and you really need that. You need to rely on conversation between your staff and your players because they certainly hear things and see things. They are out there on the field, they know what's going on and their perspective is very critical to the in-game adjustments we may make. And then the last part of your question was about the last drive. Any kind of a two-minute situation, you don't have, especially when you're in a situation like that with no timeouts and there were a number of times when we didn't get the ball out of bounds, you have to know what to do going on to the next play. We practice that drill a lot. Our players I think are well versed on what we would like to do under those circumstances, and Tom certainly has a good grasp on what we are trying to do there in each situation depending on what we need. [Do] we need a field goal or a touchdown? How many timeouts do we have? What plays we're most likely to call in those situations. I think he has a real good handle on all that.
Q: On the play where he throws the ball quickly to
JM: No, he didn't change anything. Those types of situations come up periodically where there might be a guy you see has some space either on the outside or the inside. We've done that in the normal portion of the game, it just seems definitely more critical when the time a specific factor at the end. He saw that Aaron had a lot of room out there and just tried to give him an opportunity to gain a few more yards and get out of bounds.
Q: I'm not privy to how someone like
JM: I think it is probably uncommon, and I mean Austin is impressive. With the time we've had to spend with him so far, he's really working hard to learn our offense and our system, which is new to him. He is a player that adds, I would say, veteran experience to our group. He knows how to play and handle himself during the course of the games. He knows how to handle himself during the week of practice, and really he's a guy that has an opportunity to carve out a good role for himself and he's got flexibility that allows us to move him. We maneuvered him a little bit, not on that two-minute drive because we were under the gun in terms of time, but if he goes in there on another play during the course of the game when we had a couple guys go down, we switched some things on the sideline and he showed poise and composure in a situation where certainly we were under a lot of pressure. That was really his first exposure to playing in a game for us. So, I have a lot of respect for him, and he's done nothing but try to work his tail off to learn our offense and help us any way that he can. We look forward to future contributions from Austin.