JF: You know what I got out of Tedy was what I figured to get out of him and that was just what a great experience it was. You really appreciate after getting to know him what a great teammate he was there and how great the program is.
Q: On a serious note, were you able to cull anything in terms of any interest you might have had in the way the Patriots go about their business?
JF: No, we didn’t talk too much about that. At times, we got into a little bit of philosophy or philosophical things but we didn’t go into much detail.
Q: You’ve been coaching since you were 30 years old in the NFL and you go 20-plus seasons in a row and then you take a season off. Can you talk about what it was like to take a season off?
JF: I just felt it wasn’t an easy decision but I came to the conclusion that I needed to take some time off. But I did however at that time expect or hope to get back in. I was able to do all those things that you don’t get to do while you’re tied up and coaching in the fall; as well as what was just mentioned, having the opportunity to climb Kilimanjaro with the Wounded Warrior Project. My youngest son is playing at Auburn as you see and I got to go down and see games down there and travel around the SEC. I stayed involved at the league level and helping with the officiating department. The commissioner asked me to stay on so I did a little bit of that. But again, I enjoyed my fall and I didn’t play real close attention to the game until probably mid-December when you obviously have to express an interest and try to get back in. It was time well spent. I really enjoyed it. I came back and I’m just very fortunate that this has worked out for me here in St. Louis.
Q: You guys have obviously touched down in London and the Patriots will be joining you in a few days. Can you talk about your thinking in going the Monday before the game as opposed to later in the week?
JF: We talked to other clubs. I’ve been over here several times in the preseason in the American Bowls and we just felt that the fact that Mr. [Stan] Kroenke has a facility here, we felt that it would probably be best to come over early to put the travel behind us and the time difference behind us and get settled. That’s what we’ve done thus far. I just moments ago got off the practice field and I’m very pleased and proud with the way the guys have responded to the time change. They brought a lot of energy to the field; we had a great practice.
Q: Is the rebuilding there going quicker than you might have expected?
JF: It’s hard to say. We’ve got a long ways to go. I’m disappointed in the record right now; we let a couple slip away. The guys that we have right now are young and they’re enthusiastic. Many of them on this roster were not familiar with the difficulty in the past the last few years so it was kind of a new start for everybody. I think we have some people in place right now that are going to be pretty good players for us over the next few years.
Q: Have you guys faced an offense this deep? Or have you personally in your recent years of coaching seen an offense that changes how it attacks a defense week to week like the Patriots seem to do?
JF: No, they do a great job, it’s obvious. Everybody is on the same page. Even the new pace they’re playing with. When you have 75 more rushing attempts than the league average, you’re playing at a high pace and that’s what they’re doing. No, our young defense has obviously not faced it this year.
Q: Have you been able to pinpoint any keys or points of emphasis in stopping that high-paced attack?
JF: Do you want me to just send you our game plan?
Q: I was thinking more, what are some of the focus areas?
JF: Yeah, he [
Q: Over your playing and coaching career, you’ve gone against some great quarterbacks. You obviously haven’t had a lot of success here against Tom Brady recently. Can you talk about Brady and what separates him from very good quarterbacks and a striking factor or two about him??
JF: He makes great decisions. He’s usually always right with the decision he makes. He has tremendous arm strength, vision, he’s accurate. He can extend the play with his legs. I don’t know what else you can say about him. He’s just very, very difficult to defend. Over the years, they’ve done a great job of surrounding him with great people.
Q: Historically speaking, is Tom Brady right there near the top with all the great quarterbacks?
JF: Oh yeah, there’s not a doubt. We faced Peyton [Manning] twice a year for a long time. Hey, Aaron Rodgers isn’t bad either. I’d say there’s no doubt that Tom is probably one of the top that I’ve faced over the years.
Q: When you look at this Patriots defense, what concerns you?
JF: They’re very smart. Coach [Belichick], he’ll adjust their plan on a weekly basis which creates problems for you because you really don’t know what to expect and you’re constantly adjusting offensively. They’re very talented. They’re big, strong, they’re downhill; it’s a downhill front seven. They have a young secondary that looks like it’s going to be good.
Q: How are you handling your defense without Gregg Williams?
JF: We’re very fortunate that I’ve got [Assistant Head Coach] Dave McGinnis and people on my staff. Gregg’s son, Blake has been an assistant for a number of years, he has a good feel for it. We’re doing it by committee.
Q: Can you talk about the progression made by Brandon Gibson and Chris Givens so far and how they’ve been able to step up?
JF: Chris doesn’t have a lot of catches but I believe Chris in four consecutive weeks has a reception over 50 yards which last week, as his third, hadn’t been done by a rookie since [former Bears and Raiders receiver] Willie Gault. So, he’s making a big play here and there. We’d like to try to get him more involved; like to try to get more balls to him but he’s coming on. Gibby is doing well too. Gibby is making plays, as are the rest of the guys around him. We have a young group. We have an ascending player in Brian Quick who I think is going to be a very, very solid player for us. Austin Pettis can make plays. When we lost Danny [Amendola] two weeks ago, other guys had to step up and we’re getting some production.
Q: Do you know when you’ll get Danny Amendola back from his injury?
JF: Danny practiced today on a limited basis.
Q: As a guy that spent 16-plus seasons in one place and Bill Belichick has been in New England for awhile. I’m assuming not a lot of people understand how difficult it is to stay fresh.
JF: Just let me say this, I think that 15 years ago it was difficult but now because of free agency and the turnover on your roster, staying fresh is not a challenge. Typically, there’s about 20, 25 percent turnover every year. So, every three or four years with the exception of, as is the case with the Patriots and the quarterback, you have a roster turnover. Bill has done a great job with that. He does a great job week to week and year to year understanding the strengths and weaknesses of his football team and just continues to rebuild the team and plug different people in.