JM: When you don’t play as well as you can, there are certainly a number of factors that go into that. I think that any time that we make a mental error on a play or create an issue for ourselves by either missing a communication or failing to adjust to something that the defense does to us, you can cause yourself a lot of issues and really hurt your ability to get into a rhythm which I think is really what happened yesterday with us. Certainly never really got into the game where we felt like we were going to string together a bunch of drives in a row. Plenty of that we didn’t help ourselves with and certainly Jacksonville needs to get some credit for the way they played us. They played extremely hard, they played physical. They did a good job with some things in their scheme and they deserve a lot of credit for disrupting our rhythm, or the rhythm we didn’t get into.
Q: Does the fact that you are playing a repeat opponent this week buy you any time to do some advance scouting on potential playoff opponents in the middle of a regular work week and a holiday week?
JM: I think this time of year, if you’re fortunate enough to have the opportunity to be in the postseason, I think it just kind of comes with the territory in terms of having to do a little extra on your own. Whether that be the weekend of the game, maybe late at night each night of the week, trying to get a little bit ahead. I don’t think there’s any less preparation because this is the second time around against a division opponent. This team is a team that they’re obviously a really good defensive team. They have a lot of talented players at all three levels of their defense. We certainly had our hands full in the first game with them and it was a nip and tuck game there most of the way. They created some issues for us so my whole focus and our whole focus this week is going to be on trying to get our team and our offense to play as well as we can against Miami. If there’s time to find some extra time at some point later in the week to try to squeeze in a little bit of work on somebody else then that’s great but I know I’m going to spend my time trying to get our team ready to go and play against Miami and see if we can put together a good performance. It’s always a challenge to play a division opponent the second time this close to one another. You did so many things you wanted to do in the first game and now you have that dilemma: do we change a lot, do we keep it much the same? And they’re going to go through the same things too. They have our complete, total focus this week.
Q: What goes into the decision to ride it out with a guy who has put the ball on the ground the past few weeks, like
JM: I think you have to look at it kind of in totality. Stevan has carried the ball a lot of times for us this year and done a lot of good things for us and really helped our offense move the football and score points. I think that when you look at issues, whether it be ball security or pass protection or the ability to run the ball outside or whatever the issue may be, there is always a reason. As a coach, I think your goal is to try to give the player enough resources and enough instruction that he might be able to effectively improve that situation, that issue, if it exists. I think that’s really our mindset with anybody. Look, if there is a problem, what can we do to help it? We believe in all our players and they’ve certainly all been productive for us in one way or another, some more than others but everybody has a role that’s important on the team. I think as a coach, your goal and your job is really to find a way to improve an area of weakness or something that has the ability to get better. Those decisions in terms of overall play time and those kind of things, Bill [Belichick] will usually make those decisions. Our goal as a coaching staff is to fix any issues that exist and try to make our players better by giving them an opportunity to fix something.
Q: If you play on Wild Card weekend, you know you will be facing either the Colts or the Bengals. Is there any advantage to facing a team in the playoffs that you have not already faced in the regular season?
JM: That’s a tough one. Like I said, our focus is going to be on the Dolphins this week and then whoever we end up playing, I think you just have to have a good week of preparation at that time and go forward with your process and play the best game you can. I’m sure there’s probably data that supports either one. I think what matters is that we finish out the season the right way and then try to prepare and have a great week of preparation, whomever we play. I think our focus is going to be on the Dolphins and whatever we end up doing in the playoffs or what have you, then we’ll find out after Sunday.