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Bills Head Coach Wade Phillips Press Conference

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            **Q:  Your team seems to be very much in the AFC race at this point and I guess that is how you have to look at it going into the latter part of the season?**  

P: Playing each other, it is so tough. That is where the tough part of your schedule is, playing the teams in this division. We didn't have a team with a losing record last year in the division and we may not again this year, you never know. It's just a real strong division and it makes it tough on everybody. I see that New England has played a lot of close games just like we have and they've got a lot of good players. They are similar to us in that way. But we are four and four, which gives us an opportunity I think.

Q: Huge game last week, you had to win that one?

P: Yeah that was a big game for us because we had lost three close road games. So that was big for us.

Q: Has it been decided who will play quarterback this week?

P: Well not yet, I mean Rob's [Johnson] hurt. Rob couldn't throw on Sunday so we'll have to see this week but I think it's likely that Flutie will start at quarterback and play. I don't see Rob all of a sudden being able to throw the ball.

Q: Your teams defense has seemed to maintain a high level of play over a long period of time regardless of the changes in personnel that were made on it?

P: I have been the defensive coach here for a while. But I don't care about credit. We take a lot of pride in defense here. We've had a lot of good players. We've lost some of those, you know Bryce Paup and Cornelius Bennett and some of those had to leave. And Thomas Smith and Kurt Schulz this year, Bruce Smith, we've lost some but we have a lot of good players and they play well together. We have been in the same system for a long time. I think that helps the players too. As far as the learning curve, they come in and they are already in the system there haven't been any changes, that kind of thing. So even our young players I think are indoctrinated pretty well into what we do. People will tell you we haven't changed a lot. You look all the way back to my days with the Houston Oilers, we haven't changed a lot since then as far as our terminology and all those things. We have adjusted with the years but we were playing a 3-4 then and playing it pretty well.

Q: A consistency of really good teams seems to be that the system is the important thing, maybe more so than the players?

P: We didn't have any players in the Pro Bowl, I think we had some that deserved it last year.

Q: Who deserved it?

P: I think Sam Cowart was a great player last year but they overlooked him. Thomas Smith had a great year and so did Kurt Schulz. Bruce Smith didn't make it last year but he is a great great player. And Ted Washington is a great player for us too. But we led the league in defense and didn't have anybody in the Pro Bowl. I think that will change if we keep playing top notch defense.

Q: As a defensive guy, can a defense carry a team and make up for other changes in a team?

P: Well pro football has certainly changed some. I just think you have to have a solid foundation for defense, they give you a chance to win. I think the better you are it certainly gives you a better chance to win on offense or defense. That is the way we set this team, is to try and play great defense. They didn't have the great defenses with their great offenses and they went to the Super Bowl four times in a row. So it doesn't just take defense, if you have a great offense you can do it. It just depends on how great they are I guess.

Q: Can you give us some insight into Sam Cowart, what his abilities and what he is capable of?

P: He is a very instinctive player obviously. We don't coach him, we just let him go. I'm almost serious about that. Ever since he has come in here, in the middle of his first year here we had to start playing him because he was too good to be sitting on the sideline. We started him in the middle of that year and we are gaining experience along with his instinctiveness and his abilities, he's just gotten better and better. I think he is a tremendous player right now and everybody that watches him on film or sees him I am sure will say the same thing. He's a force on the field. We try to protect him some, to keep people off of him, but he can make plays all over the field.

Q: With a little more exposure would you say he is going to be one of the new defensive stars in this league?

P: I think he is right now. Whether that gets out or not, I don't know.

Q: Over the last two games with Flutie , how has his play been and is the magic resurfacing?

P: Certainly we had confidence in him going in anyway. We've been in the top of the league all year in offense and Doug came in and I thought played tremendous in the last two games. His leadership, the intangibles are always there. He is always ready to play, which I knew he would be. He played real well in both games. Really it's other areas that we've had more worries this year as far as being eight and zero instead of four and four. Our quarterback position has played well enough for us to win, I believe.

Q: At the end of last season there is a perception that what happened with Rob and Doug was a kind of low down move?

P: That is your perception. We went in to the season and we've gone into every season that I've been here with these two guys, saying that we can win with both quarterbacks. My team believes that and I believe that. I believe in both of them. I'm not knocking one when I play the other one, which everybody wants to believe I guess. But they can believe what they want to. I believe in Doug. I think Doug's a great guy and a great leader, and we can win with him. When it comes down to one game and whether we can win with which tackle or which wide reciever or which defensive back, I have got to make those decisions. But it doesn't mean we can't win with the other guy.

Q: Can you appreciate where people would get that perception?

P: No. I mean that is your perception.

Q: I am not alone.

P: Okay, well go ahead, have at it. I mean that is what football is and opinions are and all that stuff. As far as our team is concerned, and that is what I worry about I think they believe in both quarterbacks. I have preached that from the start and we do believe in both of them. I'm not knocking one of them when the other one plays. You and other people don't seem to get that.

Q: When Doug plays well it is no kind of a reflection that maybe a mistake was made last year?

P: I don't know why you would even say that. When Rob walked of the field against Tennessee we were ahead. I mean that's what a quarterback does. I said we could win with either guy, when Rob walked off the field with Tennessee we were ahead. This year Rob's played well. He's the third or fourth leading quarterback in the league this year. He's played well. Doug went in, he played well. We can win with both quarterbacks and I believe that and I believe in both of them. Everybody wants to knock one of them because the other one is playing sometimes. That isn't the case with me but that is the case with you evidently.

Q: The running back situation, you've had a change. Has it perked up?

P: We are not a running team by any means, we were before. We were more of a running team but we had a different offense. We had Sam Gash who we lost because of the salary cap and you all know Sam Gash. So we had to change our offense. We changed our offense which changed some of the things we do as far as running backs and as far as running the football. I think we have some good backs, especially the two young guys. I think they are good young running backs. They can catch the football, we need to be able to catch it because our offense has changed that way. We want to throw more to the backs and that kind of thing and they've done a good job of doing that too. I think our overall offense is better and I think the statistics prove that. We are seventh in the league or sixth in offense right now.

Q: How are you going to stop the Drew Bledsoe and the Patriots offense?

P: Bledsoe is a great talent, I have great respect for him. Once the game they beat us there, when he had a broken finger. When he played that, I shook his other hand after the game and told him that I thought he played a tremendous game. I know that is the kind of guy he is and the kind of player he is. He'll step up. I don't know about what problems they have had or haven't had, I just know the guy can do it.

Q: Do you consider any opponents weaker than others?

P: No, we're four and four. We don't look at it that way. They beat Indianapolis there I recall. They beat – they should have, well, shoulda, coulda, woulda, but they could have beaten Indianapolis at Indy in their last game. They've got talented players and they play hard.

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