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Rob Ninkovich Press Conference Transcript

Posted Jan 7, 2014

Patriots Linebacker Rob Ninkovich addresses the media during his press conference inside Gillette Stadium on Tuesday, January 7, 2014.

Q: Can you tell us what it means for the defense to lose a guy like Brandon Spikes?

RN: To be honest, it’s something that we’ve dealt with before in the past. It’s not something that you want to deal with, but we’ve been able to move past the guys that have been injured. Guys that have come in a stepped in that role have done a great job for us, and we’ve been able to win football games. That’s what it’s all about at the end of the day is winning. So, unfortunately, you have guys that go on IR – it happens to every single team, and we’ve dealt with it throughout the year. This is the playoffs now. We’re going to deal with it now – it’s just part of the game. Other guys that are in the roles, they’ve got to step up and guys like myself, I’ve got to step up. Me and Chandler [Jones] have to step up and make more plays and put some of that weight on our backs. We can do that.

Q: What do you lose with Brandon?

RN: Well, I mean you lose a guy that has some intensity and in [every] situation he is out there he is going to play hard, but again, the way that this league works you just have to deal with those losses. That’s, I think that for us to have the injuries and the things that we’ve had this year and for us to still have success, it speaks volumes of our coaches and what they do to prepare everyone each week. Breaking down people’s individual roles and what they’re expected to do, that goes a long way. Whatever your role is, you go out there and you perform and do it to the best of your abilities and you win football games.

Q: What have you learned about Andrew Luck in your film study?

RN: I think Luck this year, I think he is playing with more confidence. Obviously last year being his first year and getting into the situations and things that he can kind of control better this year is having that experience and just being more confident. Again, that goes a long way as a quarterback – once you’ve seen everything. He’s been in certain situations and obviously they’ve given him a little bit more control with the things that he does at the line of scrimmage in terms of checking things versus what he sees. So, as a defensive lineman, linebacker, you have to obviously be aware of the things he is trying to check to. If he sees a certain thing, as a defensive end you have to be aware of his ability to, when something breaks down, pull the ball down and run for a first down. I wouldn’t say he’s a guy that is looking to run first and foremost. He wants to throw the ball down the field and make plays with his arm. When there is a breakdown where the d-line lets him see a 15-yard opening, he is going to step up and pull it down and run for a first down. So, as a d-line you have to be smart in your pass rush lanes, still get pressure on him and effect hi9m in the pocket, but not give him those scramble ability lanes just to get a first down.

Q: Does he look more confident now than he did a year ago?

RN: Well, I mean as a Quarterback you gain more confidence the more times you’re on the field, the more game-winning drives you have, the more you do things that show you that you can do it. So obviously with being out there doing those things that are winning them football games, he is going to have more confidence in himself and his players. It works together.

Q: Along that line, I heard it said that the thing about Andrew Luck is he doesn’t make the same mistake twice. From what you see in his growth, is it hard to fool him, and do you really have to disguise the defense to get the advantage over him?

RN: Well, when you’re playing a smart quarterback – every single day on the field we’re up against a smart quarterback. So, you have to have the understanding that if you do show something early, they’re going to try and check to the best possible play. When that happens, you have to react and try to defend that in the best possible way. Not showing what your coverages are, that’s huge. Being smart with rotations, that’s huge too, especially when you are playing against a guy that can see if it’s single-high or split safety. You just have to be smart with what you’re doing on defense and hold everything until the last second and not fall for any hard counts to where guys are going to jump and move and show them where we’re moving. Just be smart. That’s the fundamentals of football there. When you’re playing great quarterbacks they understand what you’re trying to do to them if you show them what you’re doing early. So, they’re always checking – they’re always trying to get the best play against your defense. That’s what a good offensive team does – they get the best play worked up against what the defense is showing.

Q: How is his hard count?

RN: It’s very hard [laughing]. He’s good at using the hard count and having guys jump offside. But, hopefully here at home the fans will be loud and he won’t be able to use that as much. He’ll have to use more of the tapping and stuff like that to the center.

Q: Given the fact that both teams have had these huge comeback victories, do you see a lot of similarities between the two teams?

RN: Anytime you have a close game or a comeback game, that shows you that you are mentally tough team and you handle adversity well. So, I think that Indianapolis has been in some tough games, they’ve won close games, they’ve come back in games. That just shows you that they are a mentally tough team and they play all four quarters. They never give up on each other. That’s the one factor in football here – if you play four quarters, you never know what’s going to happen. We’ve all seen that when we played the Broncos, so.

Q: If someone on the team who is playing in their first playoff game were to come to you for advice, what would you tell them?

RN: I’d just say at the end of the game if you look at yourself in the mirror and you’ve got no regrets, then you’ve done everything you can to give your best performance for your team. You just leave it all out on the field and whatever the outcome is, if you play as hard as you possibly can, then that’s it. You know, you’ve got to go out there, you’ve got to just empty the tanks. That’s what I like to say. By the end of it my tank is empty.

Q: How important is to not only be smart, but to be disciplined, especially on defense?

RN: Well, doing your job, that’s number one. If your job is to set the edge and not let the ball get outside, that’s what your job is. You don’t let the ball get outside, you bring it back to all your teammates. When you start to get greedy and try to make a play on the inside when you’ve got everyone else in there waiting for the ball, and then they cutback, then that’s on you and you’ve got to do your job., It comes down to juts basic fundamentals. There are always three to five plays in a game that are going to go either way. So, you either make them and you win or they go they go the other way and you lose. So, you have to do your best to make those plays and that’s how you win these close games. It just comes down to a few plays here or there.

Q: When you look at Tom Brady, do you see any difference in his approach this week?

RN: No, I think Tom is business as usual. He’s an intense guy. I think he’s just trying to relay that to everyone else. You do your work now, you put in the time now, you study the tape and you practice hard now so when the game comes you’ve already done it three times in the week. So, you go out there and just play and have fun. That’s what football is all about – flying around and playing with your teammates.

Q: Were you at all surprised that Coach Belichick moved practice indoors? Tom Brady said he was.

RN: Maybe a little bit. But, we always have those curveballs around here. You have to get used to them.

Q: Do you think part of moving practice indoors was just trying to get guys more rest at this time of the year?

RN: I mean, it’s also the conditions and the frozen field, and with 40 mile-per-hour winds it’s hard to throw a route to somebody. On Saturday I don’t think the forecast is going to be what it was today. So it should be a little bit different. I think it’s really the field is what causes some of those issues. When it rains like it did yesterday and turn to five degrees within two hours it freezes everything.