TC: I see a team that's had some changes. I see a team that's played different styles of defense for the seven games of the season. I see a team that hasn't allowed 100 yards rushing in six of the seven games. I see a very stout front and I see a team that's certainly given up some yardage, but nevertheless has put themselves into a position where they've won five of seven games and the other two games were extremely close and quite frankly, one of them could have been a win as well, so I see a good football team.
Q: How different does this defense look when
TC: I think they're, as I said, stout across the front, they have good, solid people, they have size, they have power and when Albert's in there, he's certainly a part of that package and he's a difficult guy to contend with.
Q: Some of the Patriots have been asked about that Super Bowl a couple years ago and a lot of them don't want to talk about it or haven't watched it. Is it safe to say you think about it every day and watch it whenever you can?
TC: No, that's not that case at all. We're in the moment very much, just like anybody else that's involved in this current 2011 season. We're focused on our opponents week-in-and-week-out and that's where all of our attention goes.
Q: When you do think about it - and I'm sure it does cross your mind - what's the memory that you take away?
TC: I don't think about it. I haven't spent a whole lot of timing thinking about that. It seems like a long time ago. I certainly was very proud of our players and very happy for our team and our franchise and our ownership and I'll always cherish those memories - there isn't any a question about that. The New England Patriots were a team that had gone through the regular season undefeated, which is a feat that is very, very, very rare indeed, and they deserve credit for that. That's the extent of it for me - I'm trying to live in the moment.
Q: What part of Eli Manning's game has changed the most since you've started working with him?
TC: I think that he's demonstrated over the course of this season, with the exception of the one game with the multiple turnovers, that he really has focused on taking care of the football and making good decisions, good judgments and being prepared to throw the ball away if necessary and not jeopardize our chances for success by having the ball. Of course he's very confident that he can drive the ball in, but sometimes it's just a little too tight. I think he's really worked hard at this.
Q: Bill Belichick was saying earlier today how much you helped him when you were a wide receivers coach and he was a defensive backs coach with the Giants. In turn, how much was he able to help you when you guys worked together and what has your relationship been like off the field?
TC: Bill and I had a very, very good working relationship. This was one of those things where Bill was coaching the secondary, I was coaching the receivers, and we had a certain time or part of the day in which we could work against each other. We always had a really great attitude about helping each other and whatever we needed, we got from the other guy. If I was asked to demonstrate some routes or put ourselves in position where perhaps it might have some man coverage adjustments that the secondary needed to see and be able to adjust to, we were more than happy to do that. I really do feel like the way in which we worked was something that became - for our entire team - became a good example for the rest of our coaches and players in terms of cooperating so that we might be the best that we could be. We worked well together, as I said. He's been a good friend and a guy that I have great respect for.
Q: With that in mind, obviously you know Bill very well. What are the trademarks that you see in a Bill Belichick coached team and especially this Patriots team?
TC: I just think he does such an outstanding job of structuring and defining his team, if you will, and the way in which they play and taking full advantage of the exceptional talent that he has, building his team around that. Just being a good, good solid, solid football team, no matter how they go about their business - physical, well coached and well aware of the circumstances and the situations that they are presented with.
Q: One of the constants, perhaps, from that Super Bowl team to now has been your ability to rush the passer. You seem to have continuity with that through the years. Why is that? Is it just a matter of personnel or scheme?
TC: It's well planned. It's well thought-out. We feel like certainly we've have had some outstanding, outstanding defensive ends and interior players as well, who are able to provide us with flexibility and allow us to present some issues in pass protection, not only from an athletic standpoint, but from a scheme standpoint. It's well thought-out. We draft for that and we've been able to do a good job of that.
Q: Last year, the Patriots were able to do a really good job forcing turnovers and forcing takeaways. This year they've struggled a little bit in that department. Is that something for you as an opposing coach that shows up on film? Is that scheme? Game-to-game situation? Can you spot something like that?
TC: We're very much aware of it. The fact that they're plus two, regardless of what you want to do in terms of describing it, it's obvious that they do a good job of - like [Kyle] Arrington being ‘Johnny on the spot,' being in a position where he's been able to take advantage of some tipped balls and put his team in a position where they have a chance to deny the opponent a drive and turn it around the other way. I think everyone, coaches strive for that. There are some games where it just doesn't happen. For example, we didn't turn it over last weekend and we were able to get one turnover - it was huge. But only one takeaway and it was right at the end of the game.
Q: On a team with so many weapons like the Patriots, what does the return of
TC: He's a veteran player, he knows their offense [and] he's played in it for a long time. He knows the role that he plays,
Q: Can you take anything from the preseason matchup this year with the Patriots? Or are you just starting fresh and learning them?
TC: I think you just start fresh. We didn't play our starters at all because we had played on a Monday night and I don't think the Patriots' starters played more than one series. I think you have plenty of tape right now, whether you like it or not, so that's where you start.
Q: What has Mark Herzlich been able to bring to your locker room and on the field?
TC: Well, Mark Herzlich is a very - first and foremost, he's a tough kid and really, a guy who's a dedicated football player, loves the game, [and] loves to be around the game. Really never misses a thing, hasn't missed one play of practice - hasn't missed anything; he's completely reliable. He's a guy who's very smart. You tell him one time and he's got it. He's been a good solid citizen here and he's working as hard as he can as a young rookie to understand the National Football League and to continue to grow and develop.
Q: What is Osi Umenyiora's status - his health, how is he feeling? I guess he missed practice today. And with the depth along the defensive line that you mentioned earlier, how much does that help you if a guy like that, a star player can't go.
TC: Well, Osi was obviously out for quite a number of weeks early in the season and then we got clearance and he was all excited about having clearance to play. As a matter fact, the very first practice or week that he was ready, he just turned it on. He's an outstanding football player and adds an awful lot to our team and when we do have Osi and we have [Justin] Tuck and we have JPP [Jason Pierre-Paul] and Dave Tollefson has given us a really big plus this year, as well. When we have those kinds of guys, Mathias Kiwanuka, we feel that we have some ability to be creative.
Q: How has Victor Cruz helped you?
TC: Victor Cruz has made some big plays. He's been a young man who has tried to learn the game. He had a very short season a year ago, he had no work in the offseason, he's probably a little bit behind, but nevertheless, I'd like to think he's a sponge. He just learns every day, learns more and more about his position, his role, learns about coverage, learns about the way people are playing him, but he will go get the ball and he does have a capacity to make plays.
Q: We just had a little laugh around the speakerphone because the person who asked that question went to UMass. You laughed as well - why was that your initial reaction there?
TC: I think all you do is look at the tape and you see he's made a lot of contributions.