BB: We released Ula [Maugaula] Tuitele from the practice squad and added Setema Gali, a defensive lineman, our only roster change. Other than that I don't have a whole lot of news from yesterday.
Q: When you hit the field today are you going to be working on Carolina or just working on some things to make your team better from your teams standpoint?
BB: Both. Yeah, we are going to do things that we have talked about that we are not doing as well as we need to do them and we want to try to improve them. Also there are a number of things that Carolina does that are a problem, but we want to try to get a jump on a couple of those early and start incorporating those into the aspects that we are going to be working on today. Like for example, we are going to be working on kickoff and kickoff return today. Carolina is one of the top kickoff return teams in the league so a lot of the things that we need to do on kickoff coverage will certainly apply to Carolina's kickoff return as an example.
Q: Since you were supposed to play them early in the season, can you use any of the preparation that you had done back in September this week?
BB: Sure, yeah, it definitely is.
Q: They haven't changed so much that it becomes mute?
BB: Well I think that there is no question that there is a lot of changes, but there certainly is some carryover and a lot of the work that we did heading into that game based on their opener and the four preseason games, from a scheme standpoint, there's certainly some carryover in their overall philosophy and their plays and that type of thing. There are a lot of changes and the work has to be all re-done over again, but the things that will show up again will just reaffirm how strong those really are and the things that are really different will incite us on the trends that Carolina, like any other team, has incurred over the last ten, 11, 12, 13 weeks.
Q: Would you rather be playing Sunday?
BB: Well it is not up to me.
Q: If it was?
BB: But it's not. When they are scheduled we will play them. When they are not we are not going to show up and run plays against the air. It is something I don't have any control over. I am not going to worry about it. We got things to do, we are going to work on those and be ready on January 6.
Q: Having the bye so late do you think that helped with the run for the playoffs as far as momentum goes?
BB: I really don't know. We have got the time, we are going to use it the best way we can, that's what it is. There is nothing we can do about the schedule. The league made it. Don't ask me about it, ask them why they did it this way, but whatever it is…when we are supposed to play we will show up, we will be there.
Q: What are some of things that you will have to work on, are there specific plays?
BB: Yeah, well we have kind of gone through everything and highlighted the areas that we feel are the most significant where we need better execution or maybe need to modify things that we are doing a little bit to try to have more frequency to the things that we are doing well and less frequency to the things we are not doing as well. Some of those are real specific, some of them are more general. We could certainly use work in the passing game on both sides of the ball. Our kickoff and kickoff coverage and kickoff return, that part of the kicking game, need to be addressed as examples. Not that there aren't other things that need to be handled too. I mean there are specific running plays and defensive run techniques and all that we are going to try to address those specifically, but from an overall nature those areas statistically and I think performance wise have held up with more consistency, but we don't want to just let those go this week either, we want to try to have a good tempo in these next two days of practice and then come back and really poor it on with the preparations for Carolina when we start next week. This is a self-improvement week, but it is also to get a jump on some of the things that the Panthers will do.
Q: Ken Walter seems to be more of a hang time guy, can you talk about him a little bit, is that his strength?
BB: Yeah, Kenny, I think when he hits the ball well he hits good like all punters do, when he misses he tends to miss high with hang time as opposed to low line drive punts and I think that is the better place to miss. It is a lot easier to cover those and there is a lot less downside to those kicks. He has been real good inside the 20 especially as the season has picked up. I didn't think it was that great when he first got here, but after a couple of weeks, and he hadn't been kicking in quite awhile other than on his own down there at Davidson where the fields weren't even lined half the summer, but anyway I think as the weeks came by and he got his timing back and got used to and re-adjusted to kicking in game conditions, he has obviously kicked very consistently for us.
Q: Do you feel like he solidified that area for you?
BB: Yeah, I think he has had a real good year and we feel like that has been a real good strength for us our punt coverage and overall our punt protection and our punt coverage, both the kicking and the covering I think has been a real strong point for us all season where we have been at the top of the league here for a number of weeks here and it's been consistent for us.
Q: He was with you in Cleveland as a ball boy?
BB: Yes. He went to Kent State and he punted some in high school and then he was punting at Kent State. We had him as a ball boy and he would work with Tom Tupa and those guys after he got done with his ball boy stuff. Tom helped him out a lot.
Q: And he just did what everybody else did as far as picking up equipment?
BB: Oh yeah, picking up jocks and lining fields and cutting grass, you bet.
Q: Washing cars?
BB: Yeah right, working for the players. Their main job is working for the players and then their side job is to help the team, but yeah he was a local kid that worked for us a couple of years there and I think probably picked up from being with the veteran guys and just being around a camp and he just seemed to get a little better each year through a lot of his hard work and also being able to perceptively pick up techniques and coaching points that he could apply and condition.
Q: Is he one of those guys that is always looking to get better?
BB: Yeah he is. Kenny is a hard-working kid. He is very conscientious and understands his weaknesses and tries to work on those weaknesses so that he can have a good solid game. Whether it be all of the things, not just punting, but inside the 20 or holding or all of the other things that go along with besides the major job you know going along with washing the cars.
Q: Are you going to have your scouts out at sites of possible playoff opponents this weekend?
BB: We always advance scout the next team that we are going to play or actually usually we go out two weeks. One guy will go out two weeks ahead and then another guy will go out one week ahead. So this week we will continue to do that.
Q: Because you don't have a game on Sunday will you allow yourself to watch the Arizona/Carolina game or will you be doing something else?
BB: No I probably will. I will probably see some of that. It is a unique opportunity it is not one you get very often, but you can kind of take this week to prepare yourself for the game, look at some things that you would say, 'Okay these are the type of things that we would like to use in this game,' it would be game plan ideas and then you actually get to watch the team play and take a look and say, 'Hey what if we had done this here or done that there does this still look good or have they taken it away?' Maybe the other team has got the same idea that you did and you did and you see somebody else do it and see how it would work out. Yeah I think it is kind of a unique situation. You can get some ideas in then watch the game and then analyze that and it really gives you a jump on the team.
Q: When you get out on the practice field today are you going to have guys that will be jumping to get back into it and other guys that will be reluctant after a couple of days off?
BB: Well I hope not. I expect everybody to be ready to go and to get back into it. We have had enough time to do other things now it is time to get back and start sharpening our techniques and getting our game back to where it needs to be this time of year. I would say that if it doesn't start out real good or if it isn't going real good then maybe we will just start over and do whatever need to do to get things off to the level that we need to be at.
Q: As a coach you are obviously striving for perfection. How close do you think your team is to playing that type of perfect game? Do you feel like over the weeks that it gets closer to coming together, to playing the perfect game?
BB: I don't know about that. I think we've played well sporadically. I don't think it has come together on a full-game basis, no. And I think statistically, not that that…the bottom line is the score. We've done some things that we need to do to win, but statistically we're in the bottom half of the league in a lot of categories. In fact, we are near the bottom of the league in several categories. So those are things that we need to improve in. We're near the top of the league in some categories and we'd like to stay there or maybe take them up a little bit higher, but the things that we're not doing well and again some of those are general areas. And then when we go through and look at our specific plays, we look at our Cover 2, Cover 3, Cover 1, and Cover 8. You know we see how each of those are doing too. Or offensively our 50 passes, our 60 passes, our 90 passes, our 80 passes, we can look at each of those groups of plays and see what is being productive and what isn't and try to answer the question too, 'Why?' Maybe we should just, at this point, some of those things that aren't going well, I think you just say, 'Bag it.' I mean how much more time do we want to commit to something that after 15 games hasn't really produced that much this year. You might as well move on to something that you are doing a better job on or that you seem to be executing better or maybe it fits your personnel a little bit better. You know we do that every week. It's hard to do it in the depth that you would do it this week because you are right in the middle of game planning. You try to keep that balance, but this week you just have a little bit more time to analyze it.
Q: It is obvious what Antowain Smith has meant on the field. Tell us about him in the locker room and chemistry wise what he has meant?
BB: Antowain is a hard-working guy. He's not a real vocal guy. I wouldn't say that he is shy, but I mean he's not real outgoing. I think he is moderate there and I think he's well respected because he is there every day. He doesn't miss any time. He's consistent. He works hard. He's a dependable guy and I think football is real important to him. He's legitimately bothered and concerned when he doesn't do well or when he makes a mistake and I think that's the way all of us should feel. Nobody wants to just blow it off like it doesn't matter and he definitely takes it seriously and he takes it to heart and tries to keep it from happening again. I think those are real admirable qualities in anybody in a team sport.
Q: Now that the team is back, how is everybody health wise? Antowain?
BB: Good, I think we will have everybody out there today. Yeah, I think we will have everybody out there working. You know there are some guys that we could moderate a little bit, but again I don't think it's necessarily good for guys not to do anything for seven, eight, nine days and then all of a sudden tee it back up and think it is going to be great. I mean if we really thought that was the way to do it then we should cancel a couple weeks of training camp and just show up for the opener and that kind of thing. So I think we really need to continue to keep our timing and our rhythm and our execution as sharp as we can and then at the same time try to address the areas that we feel like we are a little deficient in.
Q: In terms of your 53 guys, is this as healthy as you have been all year?
BB: Well again, other than the guys that are on…yes, other than the guys that are on Injured Reserve. We've got a number of players that are obviously out and can't play, but for the guys that are on the 53-man roster it's as healthy as we've been probably all year, but certainly in quite a while.
Q: There is a general perception that Tom Brady is not playing all that well of late.
BB: I think it's been…he's done a lot of good things. It hasn't been perfect. There is certainly room for improvement. You know he's, like a lot of other players on the team, he's been asked to do certain things and for the most part he's done them fairly well. When you are ahead 20-0 in the second quarter it's not the same position that you are in when you are down by 14 at halftime. So what he's going to be asked to do in the second half is not the same as what he was asked to do in the first half. But it's been, I think it's been OK. It could be improved.
Q: Has he been fairly consistent?
BB: Yeah, I would say so. Yeah, I wouldn't say that it's really been a lot of peaks and valleys. I mean I know you can look at it statistically and say this game he threw for 300 yards and this game he threw for 70 and that kind of thing, but I think when you look at it down-in and down-out, play-in and play-out, that there are some things that are, most of the things are pretty consistent. Usually when guys are open and he has time he'll throw it and hit him and when they are not, he won't. Sometimes he makes better decisions than others, but I think overall that…he's been fairly consistent. I mean it's been 12 games and he's been pretty consistent.
Q: Has his decision-making improved?
BB: Well you know each week it is a little bit different because of different schemes and the way the teams attack you or defend you in this case. It changes what you have to do. Again, I'd say it's relatively consistent. I mean not a lot of balls are being thrown into two and three defenders where guys are knocking each other down trying to intercept it and that kind of thing. We've at times thrown the long-ball better than at others, but overall I'd say that it's been fairly consistent. When you win 10 games out of 12 then the bottom line is to make enough decisions to give your team a chance to win. I think for the most part that's the way it's been.
Q: His style and ability, does he compare to any other quarterback that you have coached?
BB: I don't know. Nobody that I really just, I could paper-doll him to right now.
Q: You said a while ago in talking of Bryan Cox and his decisiveness, that even if he does the wrong thing that he will do it with decisiveness and still be disruptive. In regards to Tedy Bruschi, is he a little like that? He seems to be a decisive player that is 100mph ahead all the time?
BB: Yeah, I think that that's a good comparison. It's just that their style of play is so different. Bryan, his style of play is more to take people on and knock them back. Whereas Tedy's style of play in that same decision making that you described would be to slash through and hit a gap or hit a crack or slip a block rather than take Bryan's course which would be usually right through it. And both styles can be disruptive. I think that the toughest things for running backs is when defenders are right on blockers. When you are not on one side or the other then they have to make a decision where to go. When the defender is on one side or the other it's pretty easy, you go the other way. On the other hand, being able to slash and penetrate and get into gaps, that can be disruptive too because then it forces real quick decisions to be made by the guy with the ball. That's very disruptive as well. So I think there is really a contrast in styles, but they both play aggressively. They see things quickly and then when they decide to do it, then they hit it 100mph, right or wrong.
Q: With Tedy, is it his quickness that allows him to slash, maybe even to the wrong side and still make the tackle?
BB: Yeah I think it is a combination of his quickness, his instinctiveness and Tedy is a strong kid for his size. I mean he's got good lower-body strength, good leg strength and so what that really translates into is power or explosion because of his speed and strength, then that translates into power as opposed to a guy who is real strong but not that fast, you know it's more of a real brute strength than it is power or explosive strength. I think that's the strength that Tedy brings, is more of an explosive strength because he is fast and has good quickness for his size.
Q: Previously you wouldn't talk about playoff scenarios. Now that you have clinched the playoffs, will you allow yourself to do that?
BB: I am talking about Carolina. I mean the only thing we can do is…the only chance really we have for the division is to beat Carolina and that's still one of our goals, is try to win the division. That's the immediate goal, whatever else happens after that, all those things, they'll take care of themselves. What we can do is have good practices, improve our football team in the next couple days, get ready for Carolina, go down there and try to play well against the Panthers. That's really all we can do. That's what we are going to try to do.
Q: A lot of players talked about looking forward to spending time with their families over Christmas. How much time did you allow yourself to get away from this?
BB: I think everybody had, the coaches and players, I think everybody kind of had a little space there on Monday and Tuesday. By Wednesday we were starting to roll back into some different projects, again trying to balance off the Carolina and the self-improvement side of it. And then yesterday was, from here on out is pretty much full, regular preparation type days.
Q: Did you make it into the mall undetected?
BB: Yeah, not undetected, but we made it in. We got our shopping done and made it out.
Q: Any horror stories about guys gaining 25 pounds or anything?
BB: Well we'll find out Nick, we'll find out. We are going to give them a couple of days to get back to their playing weight, but we're going to find out.
Q: Has that happened before?
BB: Some of these guys? Yeah. Thanksgiving and Christmas home cooking? Yeah.
Q: I know you are focused on Carolina, but you also need a loss from the Jets to win the division. Would it be unusual for somebody from Oakland to call out here for some inside info or would you be making an anonymous collect call to Jon Gruden?
BB: Well I doubt that we'd be hearing from Oakland this week. They've got Denver and I'd imagine that that's probably enough to keep them busy for right now. But I mean, yeah there is some interaction between different coaches and different teams, but I don't know how really valuable that is. I think, especially at this point in the year after you've played 14 or 15 games…a guy like Jon Gruden, he's a pretty smart guy. I'm sure he can figure out whatever it is he needs to figure out. They've won a lot of games out there. He's a real good coach. I don't think he needs any help from me