**BB:** We're winding up our preparations today. We'll have a light work out at the stadium. I think we have had a couple of good workouts down here, and Monday was a review day for us. The team is excited. We're looking forward to the challenge of playing the Panthers. We have a great respect for John Fox's staff and the entire organizations and the football team. It's been a tough week in terms of preparation, because they do things well, and they're a physical team. We're excited and looking forward to the opportunity to play, and putting the finishing touches, and walk through tomorrow, and should be ready for Sunday. Questions?
Q: I was wondering if the players have a different feeling about the pressure this year as opposed to two years ago, and how they might approach the game this year.BB:
I don't think so, I think the main focus is on the Carolina Panthers, but what we have to do as a football team about what we have to do to compete, and I think that's where the focus is, and it's not about external or internal pressure or anything else like that, it's what we need to do to play well in the game. And that's where our preparation has been, and that's where we need to be in terms of execution on Sunday.
Q: I'm just curious, your players talk about how well you prepared them situationally. Can you talk about a time this year where something came up that you hadn't prepared for?BB:
There's always things that come up from time to time that maybe are close to but not exactly the same as something you worked on or talked about. So you just try to take the situation that you have and modify it a little bit. I'd say the play at the end of the I forget which playoff, the Tennessee game, where Brady threw the long pass with 3 seconds to go in the game, threw it up to run the final seconds off the clock, was a little bit of a modification of the things we had done in that situation, but we hadn't done that exact play.
Q: Off the game, but in relation to Elway probably going in the Hall of Fame tomorrow, can you recall what it was like for a quarterback of that stature?BB:
John was a player that literally could was truly a dynamic threat. Every time the ball was in his hands, he could take broken plays and turn them into big plays, he was a great athlete, great scrambler, could throw the ball anywhere on the field. He was an intelligent, smart quarterback, saw things, saw them quickly, was decisive, was a real competitor, was a guy that had tremendous sense and feel for the game, in terms of his decision making, game management, and being able to play under pressure. Of course he had a tremendous arm, accuracy. He didn't always have the I would say the greatest core of receivers throughout the course of his career. But they always had a great passing game, and he could always get to the ball to whoever it was, whoever was using his backs, tight ends, receivers. He was very adept at seeing the field and getting the ball to the people who could be productive and make the plays. Certainly one of the toughest quarterbacks I had to coach against.
Q: I was wondering about your approach to the pregame speech and what you're going to say to the guys before they hit the field.BB:
A lot of times the pregame, what I'd say in the pregame and what my gut feeling or instinct is at that particular point in time. Leading into a game there are a number of thoughts going through your mind, but sometimes you can nail down one specific thing, and sometimes there are a collection of thoughts and you pick out one based on the way you feel at that particular point in time or maybe it's combining a couple of things together. There's no set formula. It varies in every situation, and I just take it as it comes.
Q: Bill, how important do you think it is that you've kind of drilled home a consistent message all season? You stand up here and answer the questions about being favored, you kind of stuck to that. All season it's been the same message. How important is it that you do that to us as well as to your players?BB:
Well, I just think that's what our mentality is, that's the way we're thinking. I don't think it's any put on, anything that we're trying to do for somebody else or for show. That's the way it is. The only thing we can control is the next practice, the game that's at hand. And what's immediately in front of us, what happened in the past, and what could be going on in the future really is irrelevant.
The only thing that matters is this game and this week and today's practice. So I think that our short term approach is, in my experience, through the NFL and pro football, 29 years, it's been the most successful one. All the successful teams I've been around have had a good element of that, one game at a time, one week at a time, one practice at a time, and one play at a time in the games. And everything else would have a chance to take care of itself. But if you start putting the cart before the horse, you don't go very far.
Q: You've personally had a great deal of success in Super Bowls defending great quarterbacks. How has it been different for you getting ready for a physical running game and getting your team prepared for that?BB:
Well, I think Carolina has a balanced offense. They have a strong running game. They're well coached with Dan Henning who I've coached with and against for the last decade. They have good backs that run hard, they have good lead backs with tight ends. The backs are productive and they're efficient. But in the passing game, this has been a big passing game all year with the decision-making that Jake has, the ability to throw the ball down the field, and particularly Smith and Muhammad, the leaders in the league. A lot of them are catch and run plays, where they get open underneath and make people miss and go for the long yardage. Defensively you have to be able to defend them all the way vertically from the line of scrimmage down the field. And it's a well balanced attack, it's well contrived and well executed.
Q: In the Super Bowl two years ago, can you recall how you adjusted on the fly and deviated from your original game plan?BB:
That's a tough one. I can't hardly remember what happened two weeks ago, let alone two years ago. You know, I really haven't given that game too much thought in a long time. I'm better off taking a pass on that one.
Q: With the two weeks, is there never enough time or can you wind up over thinking?BB:
I think in this case two weeks is the right amount of time. I think we're ready to go. Certainly there's a lot to get ready for. Carolina has an extensive scheme, and they're very good at what they do. Two weeks has given us enough time, meeting time, film time to see them and to be able to prepare for them. I think that we've tried to schedule it and have the timing so that we'll be ready to go Sunday afternoon, that's the idea, and I think we will be. I think at this point we probably could Carolina is the type of team you could prepare for 8 weeks and still need time. I think we've condensed the amount of time so that we've tried to use our time in practice perhaps efficiently, and so we should be ready to go.
Q: It seems that all the players on your team have gotten your message and buy into the system pretty much across the board. How much have you enjoyed coaching this particular group?BB:
This has been a great group to coach. I think the players have responded well on a consistent basis, in other words day after day, week after week, to try to follow the game plan, to take care of their job, to handle their responsibility. And that's really what coaching is all about, if you can get your players to do what you want them to do from a scheme standpoint, from a preparing standpoint, then when it doesn't work, at least you have an opportunity to make changes and make adjustments to see if you can get it in the right spot.
If you can't ever get to that point, and you can't get it to where you want it, all you're doing is coach it to get where you want it not to modify it. I think these guys have done a good job, they've been unselfish, they've worked hard. I think we have a tough group in the locker room. I think we'll need to be at our very best on Sunday against Carolina. That's what we're shooting for and preparing for, and hopefully that's where we'll be.
Q: That trophy to your left, I know you've held it before. What does that mean to you, the significance behind that?BB:
I think what that stands for is the team that played the most consistent, toughest, smartest football for that season.
Q: Another Hall of Fame question for you. Harry Carson is up again tomorrow. Do you think it would be fitting that he join Lawrence Taylor in Canton?BB:
Harry was a tremendous player. He was consistent through all the years that he played with the Giants, not only as a player, but as a leader, and as a guy that I think was totally respected by his teammates, by his coaches, by his organization, and by his opponents, in every phase of the game and every step that he took. When I got there he was very young in his career, and of course retired as I was leaving the Giants, the year before. So I was there, I was fortunate to be there for the majority of it, and he was a tremendous asset to that organization, both on and off the field and is very deserving of the honor.
Q: After your opening game this year, did you write that off as a bad day or any concern on how good you were going to be this season?BB:
The opening game this year, we didn't play very well. If we hadn't played better than that I'm sure we wouldn't have done much better than we did that day. We improved. We were able to improve our coaching, our playing, our overall team execution on the field, and that helped us the next week against Philadelphia and so forth through the season.
Q: You've made a couple of references today about how balanced Carolina's offense is, but their image is pretty one dimensional. Have you had to pound that into your team to respect their passing game?BB:
No, not at all. Just watching them on film, that's pretty evident. The Dallas game, they throw a three yard out and Smith takes it for 70 yards. St. Louis, they threw the ball well, they ran it, too, I thought they had good balance in that game. I thought they had a lot of balance, had a lot of points. In watching their games, I thought that there's I good balance to the team. And again, if there's one particular area that you're not very adept at defending, then naturally they'll favor that and make you pay for it, and St. Louis is a good example of that. They got those counters going and weak side plays going, and ran them all day and ran them with a lot of success.
Q: Bill, I know most coaches don't like to talk about themselves, but a win in this Super Bowl to you, there's already discussion talking about placing you among the elite coaches that have won multiple Super Bowls. What are your thoughts on that one?BB:
Not much. My thoughts are on Carolina, and I think that there's always a point later on to reflect on things that have happened in the past, and that's great. But right now I don't think this is anytime on reflection on anything, I think this is time for performance. This is the biggest game of the year. It's what we've worked for from the end of the last day of the season in 2002, the day of the Miami game. It's been put to winning playoff games to getting to this point, and I think at this point anything anybody is thinking about is playing the Carolina Panthers. That's what is at stake, and we haven't accomplished what we're out to accomplish this year until we're able to perform on Sunday. I appreciate the compliment, don't get me wrong.
Q: I'm sure that the guys who were here that you have a half a dozen guys that this is their third time and they've been here and lost. Is that message as important as the one from the guys two years ago coming and winning?BB:
Well, I think we mentioned it briefly. When you get to this point in the season and two teams play in the final game, I think there's a big difference in the end of the season for the two teams, for the winner and the loser. And I've been on both ends of that, and some of our players have, as well. And it's certainly the moment of truth for the whole year is right here in one game. That being said, the point has been made and we moved on and addressed really the bigger point, which is how to play against Carolina and how we can beat Carolina and that's what we've really been talking about, but we're aware of that