BB: Any questions about the game?
Q: What is Quincy Carter doing this year differently than he has in the past years?
BB: I really didn't see a lot of Quincy Carter last year. I watched a little bit of him on defense in the offseason, not a whole lot on offense, just to try to get a look at their personnel but my real exposure has come to him in the nine regular season games this year which I have seen all of those. He is doing a lot of things well. He is making good decisions. He is a good athlete. He can scramble and pick up the first down on third down conversions or on broken plays on early downs. He has got a real good arm. He throws the out cuts, the comebacks, easily with no effort at all. He has some good throws down the field. He can throw the ball on a rope with no hang time, just drill it in there. He shows touch on the balls, screen passes and crossing routes and things like that where he has got to kind of navigate the throw through the defensive linemen and underneath coverage and all of that. I think he has done a good solid job for them.
Q: One of the things Patrick Pass said after seeing him at Georgia, was getting used to the idea that he has a lot more touch and he always had a real strong arm.
BB: Yes. I would agree. Watching him at Georgia, it looked like he was more of an athlete playing quarterback. He looks like more of a quarterback now. He would get by a lot on his athletic ability in college, run around, outrun people, make throws, run a one way across his body and all of that kind of thing, some good. But now he looks like much more of a disciplined quarterback. He is obviously being well coached with Sean Payton and Bill [Parcells]. They have done a good job with him. But he has got all of the skill to make all of the throws, the deep throws, the timing throws and can make some plays with his feet too.
Q: They have some different names on the offensive line. Are they at all like Denver? Do they have a system that makes it for a good line?
BB: I think that is an interesting point. I would say that Denver's running game is the antithesis of Dallas' running game. Dallas, their running game is based on a lot of gap-blocking, trying to create a gap in the defense with a double team or a down block somewhere and a kick out block somewhere else, to try to create creases there to what we call cut the defense, block it all one way, and then have somebody else block it the other way and try to slice the defense in half. Whereas Denver's running game was predicated on all zone, everybody going in the same direction, not knowing exactly where the holes would be but somewhere the defense would get displaced and then the back would crease it. Not that Dallas doesn't run any zones and not that Denver doesn't run any pulls but Dallas is much more of a cut the defense running game and Denver is much more a zone scheme running game. So it is two totally different, I would say philosophies, both are successful but just different philosophies in their approach to the game.
Q: Have those new guys been able to keep up the reputation from back when [Mark] Stepnoski was there?
BB: They have had a little bit of transition there at center and right tackle. They have gone through a little transition at center with [Al] Johnson getting hurt and then [Gennaro] DiNapoli and now it is [Matt] Lehr and he has done a solid job for them. Ryan Young has been the right tackle but he has missed a little bit of time. [Kurt] Vollers has stepped in there and done a good job so they have a little rotation going there at tackle. And they have actually missed a little bit of time there at left guard there too with Larry Allen and [Tyson] Walter has been kind of their swing guy inside at both center and guard. Whoever has been in there, really they have been pretty productive. When you watch the film, a lot of times when you watch film on the offensive line, everything looks okay and then all of a sudden you see a lot of problems coming in one particular spot and you look over there and you go, 'Gee, so and so is out and they have replaced him with somebody, yikes it looks like trouble.' Whereas with Dallas, they have had different guys in there but you never really seem to notice who is in there. There is not a lot of bad plays, there are not a lot of repetitive problems at any position and obviously at left tackle there are not too many problems over there with Flozell [Adams] at all. But no matter who is in there, they seem pretty efficient. There doesn't seem to be a lot of problems in one isolated spot. We have all seen games where one guy runs by somebody for three or four big plays. There really isn't very much of that.
Q: On your offensive line, how have you seen them progress since you have been able to get five out there for a couple of weeks in a row?
BB: It has definitely been better. We have gotten a little more continuity and that definitely helps. Even if you have to have some change in that group of five, the more comfortable they are playing with each other and playing together and at least getting practice reps together and all of that the better chance you have for not having a disaster.
Q: Who is your fourth tackle?
BB: Our fourth tackle? It depends on when you are talking about. If it was a future game, it could be somebody off of the practice squad. If it was to get through a game, then we would have to shuffle the deck a little bit. We would have to take somebody and move them outside.
Q: Are you going to tell us who that is?
BB: Well, it could be Damien [Woody], it could be Joe [Andruzzi]. Really it would depend on the combination. When you get to that point, a little bit of it would depend on who is left. In other words, depending on how the whole thing worked out, but if you had a backup right guard, then maybe you bump Joe out. If your backup was more of a left guard then maybe you bump Damien out. It could depend. When you get to that point, you are going to be scrambling regardless of how you do it.
Q: You obviously don't find that you are a little thing right there? How many games does [Brandon] Gorin have in the league?
BB: How many games did Tom Ashworth have in the league?
Q: Right. But you started in September. Let's say you are in the end of December now at the big game. Obviously you are comfortable with that.
BB: Brandon played in preseason and he showed a good level of play. He hasn't had a chance to play a lot in the regular season. He has practiced and he is improving. If he gets a chance to play, I am sure you will be the first to evaluate how he is doing. But that is the way it is with all guys. Until they play, we can always say we'll never know and that is true. I am not disputing that.
Q: I just think in the past you put an emphasis there. You have had Grant Williams. Maybe it is a little bit different this year than it has been in the past.
BB: Yeah, but at some point you have to turn the page there. If you are going to go with the younger players and you are going to start developing younger players at those positions, then you are going to have to give up the older ones.
Q: On Tom Ashworth specifically, when he first got here he had minimal experience. Now he has faced some very good defensive ends and defensive line's. How has his progression been?
BB: Well I think that Tom has held up in there pretty well. Some games, some plays are better than others. I think overall I think he has done a pretty solid job for us at right tackle. It hasn't been a major problem. As I said, some plays he could play better on. Overall I think it has been fairly solid. Again, the line really is the function of everybody working together. A lot of times it is Joe and Tom [Brady] or it is Joe and Dan [Koppen] or it is Damien and Matt [Light] picking up games and working combination blocks and that kind of thing. It is not just how one guy is doing it is how they work together and overall the line is working pretty well together. I think that Dante [Scarnecchia] has done a real good job of going through a little bit of a transition there earlier in the year but molding a unit that has been pretty solid for us.
Q: What will you do with Chas Gessner?
BB: We activated Chas from the reserve list yesterday. So that puts him on the active roster.
Q: Is there any chance that….
BB: None. Zero. That leaves us at 52.
Q: Can you discuss the importance of getting maximum protection this week against Dallas specifically tight ends and your full back?
BB: Maximum protection in terms of?
Q: Protecting Tom Brady.
BB: You mean when they blitz?
BB: Well Dallas is a team that like to bring some pressure and I would say in the games where they run it and people haven't handled it very well, then they brought more of it which is just good strategy. Anytime a team brings extra linebackers, or in Dallas' case when they bring Roy Williams, it is like bringing another linebacker. He is really a load when he comes in there and [Darren] Woodson, it puts a lot of blocking responsibility on your tight ends and your backs and how well they do I think will have some impact on how much we see it. I think the better we do protecting, probably the less they will bring it. The worse we do, we will see it the whole game. Yes, there is no doubt it will be a challenge there. Roy Williams is the best blitzing defensive back that we have faced all year and I am sure that we will face all year. He is like playing a linebacker.
Q: Just in your opinion, has the blocking tight end, has that kind of become a lost art?
BB: I think what you are looking for from a tight end is somebody that is two things. One, they are dependable in whatever it is they are doing whether they are a blocking tight ends, receiving tight ends, h-backs, whatever their job is, is one that they are dependable. Two is, the more versatility that a player has, then the better off you are going to be. Defensively, if you are playing against a tight end who can't block, who can't pass protect, that is like having a receiver in there and that is the way they are going to defend him. If you are playing against a tight end who really is no factor in the passing game, he is a blocker, it is like playing against another guard. You don't really account for him in the passing game and you start to spread it out somewhere else, I am not saying that either one doesn't have value, I am talking about on early downs now, third down you are having the receivers out there, but I think that defensively when you see those one dimensional types of players then you defend them accordingly. So is there a place for them? Sure there is still a place for them but they need to dominate it in that phase or defensively you are giving them the advantage because you have a player in there that can only do one thing and if you are not getting a lot of production out of that thing then you are coming out on the short end.
Q: As a defense, you guys like to bring a lot of guys on a blitz, how do you balance what you like to do as far as bringing pressure versus going against a team with three good receivers and [Jason] Witten is no slouch himself as a tight end.
BB: And Richie [Anderson]? Yeah, sure, Richie and [Aveion] Cason when he plays. Anytime you blitz you have to pick your spots. You better be ready for the downside—what is the worst that can happen? What match-ups are they going to have? How comfortable do you feel with those? And you make that decision every week. Some of it is situational—sometimes you blitz in certain situations or with certain personnel groups in the game or sometimes against certain formations, and then in other situations you feel that you are better off in coverage. For us I would say it is more of a game plan decision. We are just not going to go out and blitz every time it is third and 10. That is just not our style. We are going to blitz when we feel like we can get it on our terms, whatever those are.
Q: How much are the Cowboys utilizing Richie Anderson?
BB: Quite a bit, I think. The last few weeks have been a little bit of an aberration, he didn't play two weeks ago and then last week he played but I think he was a little bit questionable going into the game. I would say as a coach anytime you are in that situation with a player like that where it is hard to know whether he is going to be there or not, it is hard to have a lot in the game plan for him, just because you are not sure what his status is going to be. When Richie's been available and they know they have had him, he has been productive for them both running and receiving. He is a solid dependable player.
Q: Are they using him, when they do use him…
BB: Just like the Jets.
Q: And generally the way you guys probably would have too, if you had the opportunity?
BB: Well I don't know about that. But I would say they are using him very similar to the way he was used at the Jets. Same number, jersey colors are different but he is in the same places doing the same things.
Q: Hypothetically, had he come here, is there a guy doing the things that Richie Anderson would have done if he had been here?
BB: Well every player is different. If the world was flat maybe, you know. I don't know.
Q: But would you bring Richie in to, for instance what Larry Centers was generally doing?
BB: No, I think they are different players. I really do. Larry Centers has caught a lot more passes than Richie Anderson has.
Q: Have you stayed in touch with Larry? Is there any shot of looking at him if he gets well?
BB: Yeah, there is a point in time where he would be eligible to come back and if the situation presented itself, I am sure we would be interested in having him back.
Q: What week is that? Do you know?
BB: No, I am not sure.
Q: Just one more thing about Quincy, you talked about how he is looking more like a quarterback. Is he in a situation where offensively where they are not asking him to make as many decisions?
BB: Well I am not trying to be critical of Georgia but in the system he was in down there, they are in a shotgun on a lot of plays—the college passing game. A lot of quick screens, a lot of rollout passes, a lot of deep balls. That is what a lot of the college passing game is. It is quick screens, it is go patterns, and then it is some kind of misdirection bootleg or sprint out plays. That is what a lot of the passing game is. In this league, there is some of that—it is a small percentage though, when you add it all up. I think that over the course of time, he has adjusted to the pro game. Again, he has gotten good coaching, he has gotten good training down there and he can efficiently go in there and run it.
Q: How important is it to have a guy like David Givens who gives you a different look at wide receiver?
BB: David is really our biggest receiver, and we all know we don't have a really big group, but he is the biggest guy. He is a physical player, he helps us in the kicking game and he helps us, in terms of as a receiver, as a physical receiver. Coming inside, blocking, going up against some of the more physical corners, he can match up better with them size and strength-wise than some of our other players, who have to use quickness and maybe speed to their advantage. Not that David doesn't have that, but I am just saying that our other receivers, that is the advantage they have to use because most guys they are going to face are bigger than they are.
Q: What are some of the factors that make it more difficult to win later in the season?
BB: I think every game is its own game, is its own match-up. You have to deal with some elements, especially where we play, at the end of the year. I think it depends on how your team matches up against some other team. Could be tough in September, could be tough in December. There are going to be tough ones, and some are tougher than others, at all different points in the season. It varies depending on who the opponent is and what the circumstances surrounding the game are.
Q: You have enjoyed pretty good success in the last half of the season all three years you have been here. You don't think there are any characteristics there?
BB: No I wouldn't say that. To play better at the end of the year, the way I see it is you want your team to improve during the course of the season. The only way to improve is to go out and work hard, practice hard, correct your mistakes and get better. If your team can do that, then there is a chance that it can get better on a week-to-week basis. It is not always the case sometimes. You get into the season and things start to deteriorate for one reason or another—there are a number of reasons why that can happen. But if you get better during the course of the season, and another team will start to take steps in the other direction, you know you have a chance to catch up to some of those. That is what we are doing. We have had eighty-something practices this year. You would like to think that, after all those practices, you would be better in the eighty-something practice than you would in the teens. Sometimes it doesn't always look like that but, again, it is the rate of improvement. What you can do with your 80 practices and your nine games, and what the other team can do with the same opportunities. Again, sometimes there is some attrition, whether it is injuries or scheme problems or whatever. To me, the idea is to try to continue to improve through the course of the year and that should make you a better team at the end. It does not always work out that way.
Q: Is there anything scouting-wise, to get a better read on other teams as the season unfolds?
BB: Oh sure. Yeah. Absolutely. There is certainly an element of that—sometimes that can work to your disadvantage. Once you are out there and you have played a couple of games and everybody can see what you really are—they see what your strengths are, they see what your weaknesses are and you know where they are headed. If you can't do anything about it, or if you can't do enough about it, then you are going to have some problems.
Q: What about the conditioning?
BB: I think conditioning is more of a factor at the beginning of the year. You go into the beginning of the regular season, and nobody plays a full game in the preseason games. I doubt there is one player in the league that plays a full game. So they are playing 25, 35, 45-plays, whatever it is, and they are playing a lot of games at night. Then you start of the season, if you start at one in the afternoon in September, we know what those conditions can be. You are going down to a 45-man roster, guys are picking up some extra plays on special teams or situationally. Guys are getting asked to a lot more, and it is playing at a higher tempo. We all know that preseason games are not played at quite the same tempo as the regular season, so that is a big jump up. That is a big step to take. Once you get into that 'mid-season form', your game conditioning is there, the weather cools off a little bit, even though you might have some games in warmer climates, but it is relatively a little more in the middle, rather than some extremes in September. I think that probably everybody in the league settles into a certain level of conditioning at that point. When you get to the end of the year sometimes you get into wear and tear, hitting a wall and all those kinds of things.
Q: There is a player who has played every preseason the last two years all game.
BB: Who is that?
Q: Adam [Vinatieri].
BB: Four plays a game, yeah. But seriously, I am talking about guys at normal positions. You look at a guy—an offensive lineman or a running back or some of those guys—10 carries in preseason, five carries in preseason. Come out the first game he is carrying it 25, 30 times. You do as much as you can in practice and training camp. It is not the same as game conditioning. I do not think any player's game conditioning is as good in September as it is in October unless there were injury factors, but provided he was healthy all the way through. Sure, the kickers, but that is about it.
Q: In general with young quarterbacks, do you find that most of them are more rattled by extra pressure as opposed to disguised coverages?
BB: Yeah, I think the pressure thing is overrated. I really do. I think going back to all the quarterbacks that I have been with, especially the young ones, it is easier for them when you blitz because it is one on one coverage out there and that is it. They do not have to read anybody. They see the receiver, they see the guy they are throwing to, they see where the defender is, and they throw the ball where their guy can get it and where the defender can't. It clears it up for them. The thing where the blitzes could get tricky is if there are protection problems. If you have to throw hot's and you have to change routes and all that based on your protection, zone blitzing and all that, then that can get a little bit tricky. When you just all-out blitz them, I think a lot of those young quarterbacks really they love to see that. They don't have to read anything, all they do is go back, figure out the guy they are going to throw to and throw it. They know they are going to get hit but, again, a good quarterback—a guy like [Phil] Simms or [Tom] Brady or guys like that—they don't care about that. They are going to go back there, find a guy that is open and throw it.
Q: So I guess the key would be to kind of force them to make more quicker decisions on every play than they might be used to?
BB: Right, and I am not saying that I couldn't come with blitzing without blitzing. Again, when you start getting into how the blitzes match up with the protections, now sometimes there is a lot of decision-making for a quarterback. But when you send everybody, then he is going to have one guy to go to on that, and he is going to throw it to him, and he is either going to hit it or he is not.
Q: Are there really that many ways to disguise coverages?
BB: Well you have 11 guys out there. Yeah, I would say there are. I definitely would say there are. Even if you always rush the same four guys every time, you can do a lot of things subtly that one type of coverage takes away inside routes, one type of coverage takes away outside routes, one type of coverage is better on shorter routes, and other coverage is better on deeper routes. It can be very subtle but it can be pretty hard to get open, and sometimes hard for the quarterback to read. Yeah, I think you can definitely do that. But the way the game is being played now which is a lot different, as I have said before, than what it was when I came into the league, when the same guys rushed every time. The four-man line, those four guys always rushed. They never dropped into coverage. Now with the zone blitzing we have defensive linemen or three-four with linebackers into coverage. You look at the defense and there are 11 guys out there, nine of the 11 could be in coverage. Ted Washington is not going to drop, somebody else is not going to drop, okay but the other nine guys, at some point or another, could always be involved in the coverage and the quarterback has to know where they are. That is tougher than it used to be.
Q: At this point in the season after the bye week, and your team has kind of declared itself what kind of team it is going to be, is there one thing that has surprised you pleasantly that it has been able to do regularly and is there one thing that has disappointed you that you did not expect?
BB: I would say there are a number of things, but if you want to pick one thing probably the penalties would be one. I am disappointed in the number of penalties we have had and some of the ones that we get. I am also surprised that, frankly, we have been able to overcome it.
Q: And pleasantly surprised at any one thing?
BB: That we have been able to overcome them.
Q: Back to protection, in [Daniel] Graham's development, have you liked what you saw as far as him recognizing and picking up a blitz or a safety or something like that so far?
BB: I think overall Graham's pass protection has been a strength. Dan is athletic. He is strong. His ability to protect is not the problem. The problem for any young player is recognition—identifying the fronts, figuring out which linebacker is which, what to do on different looks, the different games and stunts that they run, blocking your guy but then giving him up when somebody else is coming around, and all of those kind of things. It is not so much the one on one pass protection although I am not saying that is not a challenge, but it is all the other things that go with it. Like I was saying, it is different stunts, different gains, different protections and what your techniques are with some different looks.
Q: Is it a situation where another team watched you guys on film and try to exploit them not being able to recognize?
BB: I think defensively, what you would normally try to do is take a look at—it is hard, defensively, to come in there and say 'Okay, I think this is the play they are going to run'. The chances of hitting that right are like hitting the lottery. But I think you can situationally take some things and say, 'Okay, here is the down and distance, here is the personnel they have in the game, here is the formation now that we have seen them come out in, these are the three or four things they like to do in this situation, or these are the three or four things they like to do in from this formation. Then you just play the percentages. If you have right thing on at the right time, you get a good mismatch. If you don't then you don't have the mismatch that you are looking for but you are kind of making them do something that they don't normally do. Sometimes they execute it, sometimes they don't. That is really the way you approach it. It is really hard to go in and say, 'Here we are going to call this defense and this is the play we are going to get and this is how it is going to get and this is how it is going to turn out.' It is a lot easier to do that offensively, to say 'Okay, here is where they are going to be, we line up this formation, here is where we can get them, here is the play we are going to call, this is how it is going to go.' You have a reasonable chance of hitting that, but defensively to be able to say 'They are going to run this play and that back is going to be blocking this guy, and this guy is going to be running this route,' that is tough. You have to react to that.
Q: This defense is it right there with Tampa Bay's speed wise? How do you prepare for [Adrian] Murrell? I mean, you know him from the Jets.
BB: I think he has had enough carries in the last couple of weeks that, I don't know he had 20-something carries, you can see what he can do. Speed-wise, I would say that they are right up there with anybody you would want to put them with. They are fast. Their defensive line, their ends can run, [La'Roi] Glover is fast, the linebackers again with [Dexter] Coakley in there, it is like they are in nickel all the time really. [Al] Singleton and [Dat] Nyugen are fast. The secondary, those guys can run. I know when they come in on sub, they are just bringing in more faster people. I think when they are a regular defense, they are probably as quick and they have as much speed as anybody we have faced. Miami is a fast defense, but Miami has the two big defensive tackles, [Tim] Bowens and [Larry] Chester, those guys. Other than that, man for man they are very fast, but those guys are big boulders there in the middle of the defense. They are not in there because they run 4.9. They are in there for other reasons. But when Miami brings in their sub people, or the Jets bring in their sub front, teams like that, there is a lot of team speed there. I would say that Dallas' team speed is certainly comparable to anybody's on a first or second-down basis, their regular defense. And Coakley is the guy that, again, puts them into a nickel situation even though they are never in nickel. Whenever they are not in nickel, they are still in nickel when he is in there