Buffalo Bills head coach Dick Jauron addresses the New England media during his conference call on Wednesday, December 24, 2008.
Q:Merry Christmas to you, Coach.
DJ:Before we all start the questions, I hope you all have a great one and a great New Year too.
Q:Is it going to be a white Christmas in Buffalo this year?
DJ:Well it's white right now and it was very white last night, but we got a good deal of rain. It rained real hard through the morning, so it's washed away a good deal of the snow, but there is still a significant amount around.
Q:They're not predicting much of a snowstorm or anything like that for game day?
DJ:No. As of right now, it looks like your temperature will be pretty good for game day [though] you never know what's going to happen obviously here and you never know about the wind here. But right now it looks like, temperature-wise, it should be pretty mild.
Q:Congratulations on the win last week and how did it bolster spirits on your team?
DJ:It was a tremendous win for us because things had not been going very well at all. To go out there and beat a pretty good team that could have sealed a playoff spot... they were very into it and it certainly didn't start well for us, so give our guys a lot of credit. They just kept battling and hung in there and made enough plays in the end to win the football game. It made for a very nice flight back. We actually had to spend the night there after the game because we could not get back into Buffalo. So it made that whole thing a whole lot better for everybody.
Q:So you didn't get back home until Tuesday?
DJ:Until Monday. We couldn't get out Sunday night, or we could get out but we couldn't get into Buffalo, so we spent the night in Denver and flew out the next morning. We got back here around 3:00 or 3:30, around 3:00 [p.m.] our time in Buffalo.
Q:How much sweeter would it make the season to put the nail in the coffin of the Patriots on Sunday?
DJ:Any game that you can win, any game in our league, is a terrific win. And then [a win] in our division --the division is very tough, as we all know-- is a great win for us too. The rest of it, how it impacts anybody else, we're not real concerned. We're mostly concerned about us and we obviously know how good the Patriots are and how well they're playing right now --they're really on a roll-- and how well we'll have to play just to stay in the game with them. We're excited about the opportunity.
Q:You mentioned the Patriots are on a roll, where have you seen the areas of improvement from them this month?
DJ:When we played them earlier in the year I thought they were an outstanding football team. Obviously I think their quarterback is a lot more comfortable, which is to be expected. The more he is on the field… he's been in the league a number of years and he's experienced all of the off the field work and the classroom work so he clearly looks like he knows exactly what he wants to do with it, but it's different when it gets on the field and now he's got almost a full year of on-the-field, game day experience in the NFL and he's really playing well, so as I said, we're going to have to play at a very, very high level to stay in this game with them.
Q:How is your team different from the team that came here a month ago?
DJ:Well, like everybody, we've suffered some injuries that you never want to suffer and lose players, but everyone has attrition in that way through the year. I would say in that regard we're different. We're down some players. Otherwise, attitude-wise, I'm certain that the guys aren't as confident as they were. There's no way you can suffer the losses that we've suffered and not have it affect you to some degree and be honest about it. That's another reason why the win in Denver was very good for all of us. Other than that, their attitude has always been great, their work habits have always been great, so, other than those things, I can't see that we've changed a whole lot.
Q:Can you talk about your offensive line? They are the largest in the league, is that an advantage and is it by design?
DJ:It's only an advantage when we perform well. Size is not really significant, obviously, given a certain size in our business because as we all know those are huge men that play up front on both sides of the ball. They also have to be athletic, so size isn't the number one criteria. Obviously you have to have a feel for the game. You have to be willing to play it under a lot of conditions, in every condition you can imagine. Not only weather-wise but how you feel physically, all those issues come into play. No position is easy to play in our league. The big guys up front, though, they take a pounding week in and week out and in practices too. They have to be a special group but again size is not the number one criteria for us.
Q:Your running game and Marshawn Lynch in particular have really come on as of late. What spurred that on?
DJ:I think it's just people getting more and more used to each other, the timing and more consistency. And we've stuck with it a little bit more, which you have to do. If it doesn't work early you have to be fairly patient in the run game in our league and give your guys a chance to get a feel for what the opponent is doing up front and just keep timing it up and stay with it. I think we've done more of that too and been a little more patient with it.
Q:How impressed are you with what Matt Cassel has had to contend with, playing in the shadow of Tom Brady for all these years then all of a sudden being thrust into the position that he's been thrust into?
DJ:I'm very, very impressed with the way he's played the game and clearly it's been an advantage to him also to be in the system, to be with Tom and to watch how it's done. To study it, to look at it, to help in it, all the things that quarterbacks do and they've had time to bring him along and he's viewed success. All he's ever seen there is success. Everybody fits right into it. He's done an outstanding job and he's clearly a very good athlete on top of all of that. You have to take your hat off to him.
Q:Do you think he's made himself into an attractive commodity if he were to make himself available?
DJ:I'm not even sure I can comment on that. I can tell you that I think he's a good player but I don't know if I should be talking about anything in his future.
Q:How would you characterize this season, you started off great and now to finish without a sniff of the playoffs, is it disappointing?
DJ:Certainly, it's always disappointing in our business when you don't get into the playoffs. That's what you're aiming for. It's what everybody wants but there is nothing you can do to change it. Certainly it's a disappointment. At the heart of our business and the integrity of our game, and maybe of everybody's life in general, is effort. I said all year our guys have done a nice job of working at it in practice, working in games and keeping their attitude going no matter what. When we were getting the bounces when it started and let's face it we won a number of very close games to start it off and then we've lost a number of very close games as we've gone on through the season. You have to accept both sides of it because that's who we are, but sure it's disappointing. It's disappointing to us.