Q: What is your opinion on Ty Law being named one of the 15 finalists for the Pro Football Hall of Fame?
BB: Great. Yeah, a great player. Really no weaknesses in Ty [Law]'s game. Strong, physical tackler, jam receivers, good coverage player, great hands, interceptor. I really enjoyed coaching him in 1996 as the position coach and just spending a lot of individual time with him as his coach. We had a good group that year - Lawyer [Milloy], and Otis [Smith] … and Scooter [Mike McGruder] and those guys. But it was good. He's a good player.
Q: Did you feel that he was among the very best or the best at his position for a period of time?
BB: He was pretty good. I mean when they start, I won't say changing the rules, but changing the rules because of the way he plays then there's probably something to be said for that. I mean they didn't change them-change them, but we all know what happened.
Q: What does it say about Marcus Cannon's toughness that he was able to bounce back with a solid year this season after what may have been a difficult end to the season for him last year?
BB: Well, I think Marcus [Cannon] showed a lot of mental toughness from the day he got here. He came in, had to go through the cancer treatments and all of that. I mean honestly, it's hard for a rookie to come into the National Football League and just make the adjustment, period. Marcus came in with all that a rookie normally had plus his personal situation and the treatments and the checkups and so forth. I thought he handled that with great maturity, and so he's shown a lot of mental toughness. Probably everything else is not really in the same category as that, but yeah, he shows up to work every day. He's totally team oriented. He does whatever you ask him to do. We ask him to do a lot; play both tackles, play guard, play inside. He never blinks. He just tries to do whatever he can do to help the team and works as hard as he can. I think he has a lot of respect in that locker room.
Q: Do you feel that the linebacker group has improved to the point that you want it to be at now or is there still some room to grow in that area?
BB: Well, I think like everything else, it doesn't really matter where anything was. It's where it'll be next Saturday night. That'll be the challenge, is to have everything the best that it can be next Saturday night. Honestly, I don't really care where anything was during the regular season. It doesn't matter how good it was or it wasn't. It doesn't matter. The only thing that matters is where it is next Saturday night. That's what we have to work toward, making each one of us, every player, every coach be able to give our absolute best performance next Saturday night. That's all we care about. So we can keep working on everything, we need work on everything, but we've got to do a good job next Saturday night.
Q: How well has Martellus Bennett fit into this team this year and into your program?
BB: Yeah, he's done a good job. I think our team has a good - there are a lot of guys that have good rapport in the locker room. There's a lot of mutual respect in there. Guys are different, but that's OK. They get along, they care for each other, they work with each other, they're good teammates. That's the bottom line.
Q: You only threw the challenge flag once this season during a game. Is that just a matter of how things played out on the field or was there an adjustment in your strategy at all?
BB: No, that's just the way it went. I think I've said a couple of times this year, I think that overall in the games that we've had I really haven't had many issues at all with the officiating. I've had a couple of questions that were more procedural that Dean [Blandino] clarified for me, but otherwise we've had some calls go for us, we've had some calls go against. Overall, I think that they're in positon and they've done a good job. They've kept control of the games. We've had some emotional games, some tough games, but I think that overall they've done a good job of letting the players play, keeping it competitive, not over-officiating the game, just letting the players play. I think that's what we all want. No, there hasn't really been much to talk about, so that's a good thing.
Q: The players are off a couple of days this weekend due to the bye. Do you set any specific expectations for them during their time off or assign any sort of homework for them?
BB: Sometimes. Sometimes we do. I mean it varies.
Q: Is that something that you'll do this week during the bye week?
BB: I'll do what I always do. I'll do what I think is best for the football team. That's what I always do. That's what it'll be.
Q: Is there anything you'd like us in the media to work on this weekend?
BB: No, I think you guys have it pretty well under control. Best group I've seen in a long time.
Q: Nobody works harder than us, right?
BB: I know. I know you've got to ask those questions, and so you ask them. You're just trying to do your job. I totally get it.
Q: Will you relax at all this weekend with their being no game or do you just keep preparing as best you can despite not knowing your opponent?
BB: I mean we're in the home stretch right here. I don't think this is the time for the coaches to back off, or anybody for that matter. This is what it's all about. This is the highest level of competition that you can have. It's the best teams. We're going to have to play and coach our best, and we don't know who it is so there are right now three teams that we could potentially play that we have to be ready for. Regardless of who we play, there are things that we need to do but then we also need to know as much as we can and be prepared for the players when they come back in to give them the best information and the best scouting report and the best game plan we can to give them the best chance to win. That job isn't done yet. We've still got a lot of work to do.
Q: Devin McCourty mentioned yesterday that you've said you don't care about playoff experience because you've seen young guys perform well and older guys perform not so well. Why does the relative experience not really carryover into the playoffs?
BB: I wouldn't say it doesn't. I would say there's no guarantee that it does. I mean how'd you think [Tom] Brady played in his first playoff games? How'd you think [Julian] Edelman played in his? How'd you think Lawrence Taylor played in his? If experience was all there was to it than those games wouldn't have been won by those players or those teams that those guys played on.
Q: How much better is the depth that you have at wide receiver going into this season opposed to previous years?
BB: We're probably better than we were last year, but that wouldn't take much. Again, it doesn't matter. Whatever we have, we have. We've got to go out there and perform as well as we can with whoever we have, wherever we have them. Depth's just a bunch of names on a piece of paper. At this point in the season it's how we play, how we coach, how we play, how we perform. That's what it's all about.
Q: How competitive would you say that wide receiver group is as a whole?
BB: Like work ethic? Good, great. They work hard every day. They don't take plays off, run scout team plays. Those guys work hard. The whole team works hard. This is a hard working group. They're not looking for much. They've earned everything they've gotten and that's the way it should be.
Q: We heard yesterday about Matthew Slater receiving the news that he has earned the Athletes in Action Bart Starr award. How much does that reflect the respect that he has in that locker room and how does the fact that he was surprised in front of the whole team reflect the closeness of this team?
BB: Well, I don't think there's any question Matt [Slater] is one of the most respected players on our team and probably in the league. He's right at the top of that group of guys. It's not just the players; it's everybody in our organization. Again, we have a lot of great players and great people on our team, but we're proud of him for the award and the recognition that he received. We're all happy for him.
Q: How rare is it for a rookie like Joe Thuney to step in and play nearly every snap this season at the guard position on the offensive line?
BB: Yeah, I mean really in any positon. But look, for any player to play a lot of snaps at any position, rookie or anything else, there's something to be said for that. Just durability and being able to stay out there day after day and week after week is tough in this league. Joe [Thuney]'s done a good job of that, though. He's shown up every day, not just in the regular season but in training camp and all spring. He's been really durable.
Q: Are some teams more fun to watch and breakdown on film as opposed to others?
BB: Well, it's not all the same. I'd say it's all different. Each team has kind of their own way of winning. They've got their own, obviously, personnel and their coaching staff. Even though the systems may be similar, they're different because the players are different and the actual people who are responsible for that system are different. I'd say each team is unique. Every game, even if you play the same team over again, it's different. There are certain circumstances that are different. Each one has its own challenges and I think that's the intriguing part to me, is to try and figure out what it is about this team and how they play, how they win, what gives them trouble. You break it down from a team standpoint; offense, defense, special teams. And then individually and try and put it all together the best that you can. But yeah, each one is different. I mean I find that fascinating, to be honest with you. That's really what it's all about, to try and figure that out, who you're playing, what they do, how you're going to attack it. Some teams you know fairly well and it's a quicker process, especially if you've dealt with them more recently. But teams that you haven't or if they've made significant changes to their team since the last time that you played them then you've got to start - not start all over again - but you've got to figure out a lot more. I think that's the very interesting part of it. It's a lot of work. Its time consuming, and of course every team wants to be balanced. There are certain things that you want to do but you've got to have complements to them because you just can't keep doing the same thing in this league all of the time. It's just impossible. Trying to figure out how those are, what they are, when they come, how you're going to deal with them.
Q: How much do you come across a team like the Raiders, who haven't faced this year, when you are doing film study on opponents?
BB: We really haven't had a lot of crossover with them. We didn't play that division. The only team we played was Denver. Since our division didn't play them, then there was no crossover. Whereas teams like the NFC West, like we saw a lot of San Francisco, a lot of the Rams and Seattle because Miami played them and Buffalo played them and all of that. That division, we didn't really get a lot of crossover on. But even if we had, we wouldn't have been studying them too much other than to see how they were playing. Like Denver, you see how Oakland played Denver and what they did or what Denver was trying to do against them and then you kind of match that up. Yeah, it's really a whole new process when you just focus on one team. Sometimes a little knowledge is a bad thing. You just see a few plays, you see a couple things and you think 'Well, this is what that team is.' But it's really not, and then when you get in there and dig through it you find out that yeah, these few plays, but that's not really a representative sample. I think you have to be careful about that. Sometimes a little knowledge can be dangerous.
Q: Do teams ever change tendencies heading into the playoffs?
BB: Yeah, sure. I think, look, I think teams do it on a regular basis anyway. We see it every week. Here's something they're doing and then in the game you see something and the first thing you think of is 'OK, they're trying to break that tendency. They're trying to offset that.' Now they might not be able to do all of them. You might have, I don't know, ten tendencies. You might see three or four of them that it's obvious to you 'OK, they're trying to get in this formation, or run a different play, or give you this look and not blitz out of it because they've been blitzing out of it, or put this player in the game and instead of doing what they normally do with him, do something else,' but I think that's pretty common. Normally, those tendencies don't necessarily hold up for a long time. The team does a certain thing and that's their tendency and then you put in a couple of key-breakers, especially if it's early in the game. A lot of times you'll sit there and say 'OK, they were trying to break that tendency, but I don't think that's what they really want to do. I think they're probably going to go back to what their tendency is.' They just wanted to kind of try to scare you out of overplaying what they really want by showing you something that was a complement to it. But, you know, that's a little bit of the cat and mouse game that you play. But yeah, I think that's part of the playoffs, but it's really everything's part of every game. I don't think there's too many weeks that there isn't some element of that that comes up.
Q: How much more productive have practices been at this point of the year compared maybe to last year when it seemed like there were a lot more guys that were unavailable?
BB: Right. Yeah, again, look I mean I don't understand the question Phil [Perry]. I don't really care about last year. I don't really care about the year before that. I don't really care about the decade before that. Honestly, it doesn't matter. So where are we now? What's the best thing we can do to help our team? How can we get better yesterday, today, to play our best football a week from Saturday night? That's really what it's all about, so where we were or weren't some other year, I mean who cares? It's where we are now and what's the best thing we can do. Whatever that is, then that's what we're going to try and do. Sometimes you emphasize one area because you can't emphasize another area for one reason or another, but what you can do, you do. What you can't do, then if you can't do it then you can't do it, or you do the best you can in that area, but even though it's not what you want, it's the best you can do. So that's where we're at on everything. We're going to try, yesterday and today and Friday, we're going to make these days as productive as we can or try to get as much out of them as we can. There are a lot of things we're trying to balance between preparation, corrections, new things, rest. I mean it's a long list. In the end we'll try to get the most out of them that we can. That's what our job is. Whatever happens some other year, it doesn't really matter.
Q: What have you learned about Michael Floyd over the short stretch that he has been a part of the team?
BB: Michael [Floyd]'s worked hard. He's worked hard. He's gotten better. Obviously, each time he goes out and runs a play for a second, third, fourth, fifth time there is a higher level of execution, confidence. Then there are some new plays that we can add on there because we have a base to build from. He comes in early, he stays late, he works hard. He's gaining ground on it. I mean he's never going to catch up. There's too far to go, but he's closing the gap and he's been able to help us on some things. We'll just see what the game plan is next week and how it all comes together and take it from there. But he's doing a good job. He's making progress.