**BB:** This is all that's working today? A couple updates, we claimed Howard Duncan, an offensive guard from the University of Oklahoma, he's a rookie that was released by Tampa Bay on, what would have been Tuesday, it might have been yesterday, it might have been today, what is today, Thursday? Ok, so he'll be here today. Brock Williams sprained his ankle yesterday, so he'll probably miss a couple days here. Otherwise we're starting to get some guys trickle back this week. That's always good.
Q: Who are some of those guys?
BB: Well, like [Donald] Hayes is out there. I think that, guys like [Matt] Chatham, Rob Kelly, who else do we have, we're getting closer, whether it's this afternoon or tomorrow morning, that they're starting to make some progress. So it looks like they're pretty close to getting better.
Q: How was it having Charlie [Weis] back on the field?
BB: It was, good, it was good, it was good. It was a little bit unexpected, the doctors, I guess Charlie had asked the doctors about coming back and they kind of gave him the ok, so he was out there for, I guess about the second half of practice yesterday. So, you know, it was good. I think we're going to have to work him back slowly, but at least we haven't had any setbacks since the big one, but we've been able to make a little bit of progress this week. And talking to Charlie, he feels better, so we'll just keep going and try to gradually increase it as the medical people permit, again it's not my call.
Q: So he won't be out every day?
BB: Well, I think we'll just have to see how it goes, you know, maybe he can do part of the practice, part of the meetings, or maybe it will be a practice every other day, or you know, I just don't know, it depends on how he feels the next day, and he checks in with the medical people and they kind of, you know, he can do what he can do.
Q: Did he stay for the whole meeting?
BB: No, we actually didn't meet last night.
Q: Were people like, "hey, great to see you back."
BB: He got a big ovation from the crowd and he came out in his little blue motor scooter. A lot of players saw that and they said, you know, since Charlie's not here can we lease this out when he's not using it? Oh yea, it's got turn signals and a basket, it looks pretty nice, everything but air conditioning. I mean that's a nice looking scooter.
Q: Did players come over?
BB: Oh yea, sure. Of course he'd been at the meetings, so pretty much everyone had seen him, but you know still, being out there on the field, and he's close enough where he could yell. He doesn't have to be that close, I mean he can yell at them from 50 yards away.
Q: For his progress, that was a big hurdle.
BB: Yea sure, I agree.
Q: Bill, practicing on the Bryant field, is it for the fans, or for another purpose?
BB: No, really Mark, just to save our fields. You know we've been out there going on the same two fields everyday, and we try to move it around a little bit, but in the end if we could give it a break sometimes, I mean we weren't out there this morning, if we could give it a break this afternoon sometime so the fields can bounce back a little bit, soften up with a little more water on them.
Q: What was the thinking of just one practice today?
BB: Well, what we had planned to do was either have a walk through, or extend the meetings, and we're behind on the film, we had a lot of individual drills like one on one drills, and seven on seven, and all that plus our regular team stuff and special teams. I think we just got to the point where we talked about it and we'd be better off just showing the film and going through he corrections and letting the players see the things that they had done, rather than going out on the field and walk and talk through some situations. We wanted to have a light morning, we're going to have a pretty good day this afternoon, we wanted to have a lighter morning so we could pace ourselves through, what we've been through, what is it now 12 practices.
Q: Is there differing theories on that? Or are there two schools of thought?
BB: I think you need both, I think you need both. I think that there are some, some people pick up things quicker than others, whether it's instructions, sometimes you can read the instructions and know what it says, other times you need to see a picture before you understand it, other times, if you have a video and you can actually watch somebody doing it, you know you're putting together something, so there's all different teaching tools and, we try to use all three. We give them a verbal and a written assignment, then we show them the film, and then we walk through, and saw the actual relationships in the spatial setting. So, I think all those methods of teaching are good, and sometimes some individuals prefer one over the other, and sometimes it depends on really what it is you're talking about, sometimes one gives you a better look at it than another, and in the end, they're all part of the tools.
Q: Coach, where do [Jabari] Holloway and [Arther] Love fit into the tight end position right now?
BB: Well, I think they just fall in there with everybody else. They're again, relatively new players, even though they've been here for a year, they haven't gotten any practice opportunities, you know because of the injury situation last year, and Arther would be on PUP for the majority of the season till October, so you know, this is really their first chance to run team settings, not just being in a classroom, or not just watching film, but really going out there and doing it with all the other players around. So that's been a learning experience for both of them, and the other thing that's going to be really important for them is how they perform on special teams, so I think they're right there in the mix with the rest of them, but I think it's going to take a little while just because of the fact that they haven't played in a year and actually, in Love's situation, the offense they ran at South Carolina State, they kind of ran kind of an option offense, he hasn't had that much exposure to the passing game so those guys have a little bit of, not to say new learning, but experience in the system, they don't have much to fall back on, to say, as Cam Cleeland, or a Christian Fauria, or even Scott Dragos, who's been in the league for three years.
Q: Where are they as far as maturing goes? Are they closer to [Daniel] Graham?
BB: I'd say they are lumped a lot closer together than, I'd say they're a lot closer to Daniel Graham than [Cam] Cleeland and [Christian] Fauria and [Scott] Dragos, let's put it that way.
Q: What kind of potential do you see in Deion Branch? Does he remind you of Troy Brown?
BB: Troy Brown's a pretty special player. It's a little early to make that comparison, but I think Deion's got some pretty good things working for him, he's got pretty good quickness, and he can catch the ball, he's returned kicks, so he's got a little of the ability to run after the catch. Right now, he's caught in a little bit of a bind because he's also learning multiple positions, he's taken some reps for Troy at Z, Donald [Hayes] missed a couple days, we gave him a couple plays over at X, he's playing some of the slot receiver on third down, so he's getting overloaded a bit mentally with a lot of, trying to keep him versatile, but at the same time, I think that thing swill start to settle down a little bit for him, and as for the other guys too, as we get into this week and actually start cutting back a little bit. I think Deion's got some physical ability, and he's a smart guy, and I think if he'll keep working hard and get his assignments down so the quarterbacks can depend on him and now where he's going to be, and be consistent with his routes, that he has a chance to be productive.
Q: How's [Christian] Fauria look so far?
BB: I think he's coming along, you know Christian was in, of course he was with Seattle for a long time and they ran the west coast offense for the last few years with Mike [Holmgren] out there, and our offense is just a little bit different than that, and so I think he's being asked to do a few different things from what he's done out there with Holmgren's offense. Again, there's some adjustments that are going on for him, but Christian, I think is having a good solid camp. It looks like we'll definitely be able to work him in and have him be productive at that position, but again, there's still quite a few moving parts with the tight ends, we still haven't seen Cam [Cleelnad] out there, you know we're looking forward to that, Graham's a work in progress, and so how that group fits together with Arther [Love] and Jabari [Holloway] and Scott Dragos and Marc Edwards, who if you use two tight ends in a game, whether you use two tight ends and a back, or two backs and one tight end, that's all part of the mix too. So we're going to have to sort a lot of those things out. I think there's a lot of moving parts in that whole tight end, fullback situation.
Q: Is it too early to say which player's taken the lead in that?
BB: It'd definitely be too early to say that, the lead would be to Fauria because of his experience, the NFL experience and knowing how to play the game, but he's gone through things every day too that are kind of new to him, but he's picking them up well, and I think really things will start to take some kind of shape here probably around the second preseason game. I'm not saying we're going to have everybody's role perfectly defined, today's really the first day in training camp where we have not installed a new play. Today we were able to go in there and say, 'ok look fellas, there's nothing new going in, here's some things we're going to work on today and try to get better at, but you don't have to relearn anything, it's what we've learned before.' So I think this is a time now, where hopefully, we can start to see some real gains as apposed to just trying to understand what to do to really see some gains in the execution.
Q: Is [Cam] Cleeland close?
BB: Yea, Cam's doing well. He's making good progress, he's been running routes, I'm sure you've seen him out there running routes and catching the ball and that. He just needs to, you know, when a guy comes back from a leg injury one of the things, and probably one of the biggest things is his overall endurance, you know. You want to get the guy up to where he can physically do things full speed, but then the problem is how long can he do things full speed for because he's been rehabing a leg injury, and so you have to get your legs back and so it's not going out there and running one route, it's not going out there and running five routes. Now it's working with the trainers, and with the strength coaches where he can go out there where he can run 50 routes in a practice like everybody else does. That's kind of the stage that they're going through now, it's not so much healing the injury, it's conditioning to be able to play football.
Q: Bill, you brought in five former Jets this offseason, could you talk a little bit about that?
BB: We got a deal on the flights up from New York so, thought we'd cut back a bit there. A couple guys we're familiar with, like a guy like Rick Lyle, Chris Hayes, guys that we coached in New York, Steve Martin, Tony Scott are new guys that we ended up with, it wasn't like we had a lot of background with those players. So ok, three of the five were at the Jets when Romeo [Crennel] and Eric [Mangini] and, you know, we were all there, so, we have a good feeling for those guys, and they were available, and feel like they have a chance to contribute in our system and Tony [Scott] was a claim at the corner position where we thought that, you know, he's been down there for a couple of years, this is his third year in the league and we felt we could use an experienced corner who we could also use in the kicking game. We signed Steve [Martin] in the offseason as a defensive lineman, basically as a replacement for Brandon Mitchell, so that's kind of how we see that group.
Q: You're familiar with the system that they ran there, and they're familiar with you?
BB: Sure, with Vic [Victor Green] and Chris [Hayes], I mean I coached those two players in the secondary, and Rick Lyle of course I had all the way back in Cleveland. We signed him a free agent in 1995 when he was a linebacker coming out of Missouri. So there's good background with those guys, I mean I know that all three of them work hard, football's important to them, they're dependable, and they play at a good level and they all have multiple, they have versatility and they can do multiple jobs out there. Be it, play special teams, and in Rick's case play multiple positions on the defensive line and Vick and Chris can both play multiple positions on defense, safety, as well as some of our sub-defenses where they play down at linebacker type positions. I think they have a lot of positives and some things going for them.
Q: Is it strange for them coming from the "other side?"
BB: Well, no not really. As many people that have gone back and forth between these two organizations, it's probably easier to find the ones that haven't than the ones that have.
Q: Bill, one of the things that you seem to always stress is balance, is that because you know that if you only stopped one thing, you wouldn't automatically shut down everything all together?
BB: Well, I think whatever sport you look at the more balance you see, the harder it is to defend. In any sport, if a pitcher's got one pitch, guys can hit him, if he's got three or four good one's, then that makes him the better pitcher. In basketball, if all you got is a fast break, and they slow you down, you don't have much, you got to be able to run a half court offense. You know, you just go right down the line and I think football's the same way, you want to have a balanced attack, so that you can attack the defense on different fronts, and be able to go to the area where they're most vulnerable, or where were your best match up is. At the same time, if you're so predictable and you can only do one thing you know, you better be just so dominant at it that nobody can stop it, and it's just hard to be that good at anything. So teams that are pretty much one dimensional, they just have to be so, they have to excel at such a high level at that one thing, that you know, you watch the college wishbone teams and all that, if they ever get behind in a game, then it's just hard for them to have the complimentary part of the offense. So I think if you have balance, it's tough to defend, without a doubt, and it gives you more options so that you're not so dependent on just one thing, which you know, an injury, or sometimes the weather conditions, or those kind of things can knock you out of. I mean, like the run and shoot teams, teams, teams that really have a philosophy about throwing the ball every down, I mean it's great if you're playing in ideal conditions, but there's just some days you can't execute that stuff.
Q: The year [Victor] Green had 207 tackles, is that an indicator of something? Or of something not working?
BB: It could be the system. Look at it this way, on defense someone has to make the tackle. Every play can't be an 80-yard touchdown; someone has to make the tackle on every play. If you're not a good defensive football team like the Jets weren't in 1996, when they were 1-15, the secondary was making a lot of plays. In that particular year the style and scheme of defense that they used was a lot of eight man front, and Victor was always the down safety, and the other kid, Jones, played free safety. He was the eighth guy down in the box and he did make a ton of tackles, and partially it was the scheme, partially the defensive line didn't make very many, and so he got more opportunities. I think the way I look at defense is somebody is going to make the tackle on every play. To me it doesn't really matter who that is as long as the other guy doesn't gain to many yards. So if everybody takes care of their responsibility and is in the right place, to a certain degree those plays, it doesn't really matter who makes the tackle, if the runner is in this hole the end will make, if the runner is in that hole the nose will make it, and if he's in another hole the linebacker will make it. It's up to him wherever he cuts. If we play it right it shouldn't matter, we're ok. Now if you have an outstanding football player like a Ray Lewis or a Lawrence Taylor or somebody like that, they're going to make their share of tackles plus a whole bunch of other ones that most guys wouldn't make, and that is sometimes an indicator of a real special defensive player. In Victor's case it's a combination of both, he's a good player, he's a good tackler, and in a couple of those years he had a lot of opportunities.
Q: Regardless of the system he seems to play well?
BB: Oh yeah. He's a productive player, and I think no matter what the system is, if you have a player like Vic you're going to put him in a position where he can do that because he is good at it. He's not the guy that you want playing in the deep middle of the field all the time, because like you said he's a 100 tackle a year guy. He hits hard, he's a sure tackler, he doesn't miss many. So as a coach you put him in that position a little more than maybe you would put a guy who doesn't have those skills.
Q: Can you compare him with Tebucky Jones' style?
BB: Compare Vic to Tebucky? I'd say they both have good speed for their positions. They're both strong for the position, they're both tough. They both would rather make a big hit and light somebody up rather than knock down a pass. Tebucky's a little taller, Vic is a little more compact. Vic has a little more experience, but this is Tebucky's third year in the system. I think there are a lot of similarities between the players other than age. Vic is a little older and more experienced than Tebucky is, but when Vic was with the Jets he started out as the best special teams player on that team in 95-96. Brad Seely coached him there, so Brad knows him, he was a top special teams player. As his career has gone on he has played less special teams and more defense. He is that same type of athlete fast, strong, good in the open field. Those are what good special teams players are. Tough. Vic doesn't miss any games. Tebucky hasn't been hurt. I think there are a lot of similarities.
Q: Do you have a specific plan for those guys?
BB: I think performance will decide who the better player is, and if there is a discrepancy in performance then that will be reflected in the playing time. I think that both players will contribute for us. There will be situations where they will be on the field together, and they may be on the field together with Lawyer [Milloy]. Because of their skills in the kicking game we'll utilize those players. For us unlike some other teams in the league, fourth down is just as important as third, second down, and first down. We don't differentiate between, we're not going to use a guy on fourth because Troy Brown starts at receiver, and we're going to get somebody else to return kicks. Troy Brown can return punts. Fourth down to us is just as important as second down. We use him on fourth down, and it may be that if he's better on fourth down than second down, maybe you take Tebucky out on second down so you can use him on fourth down or vice versa. It's just a question with those guys of how many plays they can play. Tebucky is a guy you would like to have out there on every play. Troy Brown is guy you would like to have out there on every play. Victor is a guy you would like to go out on the field every play, but they cant be out there every play. So you try to find the things that they can do best. With a good player the best thing that player can do for that team is the thing that he does best. The best thing Antowain Smith can do for us is to run the ball, so to use him to cover kicks isn't really getting the most mileage out of Antowain Smith, not saying that he cant cover them, but he's more productive for us as a runner and that's really where we want to get the most out of him. What it comes down to with players like Tebucky, Troy, Victor, Tedy [Bruschi], and Mike Vrabel and guys like that, in the end you put them where they can be most valuable to the team, either for their specific skill or sometimes you don't have anybody else to do it, and you need them. When I was with the Giants, and I was the special teams coach we had Lawrence Taylor as the outside guy covering punts. In a playoff game against the Eagles Wally Henry fumbled three punts. If you saw Lawrence Taylor running 50 yards at you full speed, isn't that surprising. Well now you can say, 'well why would you have him out there covering punts,' well those three plays changed the game and we beat the Eagles. The Redskins did it too, the Redskins had Dexter Manley out there covering punts, and Monte Coleman who is another guy who played eight years in the league. Anyway the point I'm making is you think Lawrence Taylor out there covering punts would be pretty unconventional, why would you do that. Well if a guy can make a difference in the game on those couple plays, that's why you would do it.
Q: Was he [Taylor] screaming the whole way too?
BB: Yeah, it was a joke. Who are you going to put on him? Before the ball even left Jennings' foot they were out there fair catching it. I'm going to tell you it wasn't any better playing against Dexter Manley. Dexter Manley could run 4.6, and the guy is 270 running 4.6, who are you going to put on him, a corner. Are you going to put a linebacker out there on him? The linebackers couldn't run with him, the corners couldn't even get in the way, after five yards its just him running full speed against a returner. When I coached special teams for the Giants there were some wars there. [Mike] Ditka was at Dallas, and Lynn Stiles was at Philadelphia, and Joe Gibbs they were always good on special teams. First it was Jack Pardee, and then Joe was there. There were some wars especially with Ditka. It was that kind of battle. In the end, like basketball, you watch these basketball games, certain guys go out at certain points of the game. They take the guy out at the end of the first quarter and they put somebody else in, and then some other team takes the guy six minutes into the game and they bring somebody else in. You try to maximize the guys performance for however long you think he can play, whether its 40 minutes, or 46 minutes, or 36 minutes, or whatever it is.
Q: You were right, the 207 came in '96.
BB: That year, I was there in '97, I remember talking to Vic, and he was saying, "man I'm having a bad year, I only have 80 tackles", the year is two-thirds out, man 80 tackles. Last year he had 207 tackles, that's good. When a safety doesn't make the tackle that's good, you don't want a safety with 200 tackles. I think that could've been the worst defensive team in the history of football. I'm not sure about the stats, but they had to be in the top two or three. Ism talking about that 96 Jets team, in terms of yards, and points per game and all that. When I said somebody has to make a tackle, well that's who made it, Vic. He probably made 40 percent of the tackles. That's a lot of tackles, assuming the stat guys, you know how they can pad that.
Q: He had 94 assists or something like that?
BB: He had 94 assists in addition to the 200 tackles.
Q: No he had a 113 solo, and 94 assists.
BB: Ok. He was in on two hundred hits, which is a lot. Lawyer [Milloy] would take every one of those tackles too. He would say let me be in on 150 tackles.
Q: You don't want your safety in on that many tackles?
BB: You'll be giving up a lot of yards. Lets face it, when a safety makes a tackle they have either completed a pass or they've broken the line of scrimmage. You might get them on a safety blitz, four or five of those might have been on a safety blitz, but the other 195, that's not what you want.