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Replay: Patriots Unfiltered Tue Apr 23 - 02:00 PM | Wed Apr 24 - 11:55 AM

Byron Leftwich Conference Call Transcript

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**Q: You are guys are playing pretty well?

BL:** Yeah. I think we are coming along as a team. We are finally getting use to each other. We are finally jelling as a team.

**Q: Do you consider this week with New England to be one of the biggest challenges that you will probably face just from looking at the tape and what they do defensively?

BL:** I think it's the biggest challenge because it's our next game. It's our next game. It's our next opportunity to go out there and get better and showcase our talents. It's going to be a challenge to go up there. Those guys the hottest team in the AFC now and we understand that. We've just got to make sure we prepare ourselves and make sure we are ready to come play football on Sunday.

**Q: Bill Belichick was saying today that you have a lot of confidence building it seemed. How much more comfortable do you feel right now than you did, maybe in the first two weeks in the season?

BL:** I think anytime you get more opportunities to go out there and play, the more comfortable you get. I'm getting better every week. I actually think I am getting better every day. Every opportunity I get a chance to go out there and compete against our guys in practice and compete against the teams we play on Sundays, I think I am getting better. That's all I'm trying to do. I'm doing all of the little things I have to do to get better. Even if you are a rookie… and I don't look at myself that way, I look at myself as a quarterback and as a leader of this football team. I have to go out there and do my part, because they aren't holding anything back because I am a rookie. We are going out there and playing football.

**Q: What has been the hardest part since you started? What was the part that the first couple of weeks was really difficult, in terms of preparation or whatever, and now is better? Is there anything in specific that you have improved on?

BL:** I think the first thing is just ball security. I think in the first few games I had too many turnovers. I might have taken too many chances. We haven't had any turnovers in the past few weeks. I think when we do that, the odds are in your favor any time you go there and don't have any turnovers. The way our defense is playing…man…we've got a great chance. So we have just got to go up there and play turnover-free football and see what happens.

**Q: Looking at the Patriots defense on film, is there anything that stands out in your mind about it?

BL:** All the great players that they have over there. Those guys, they do a lot of different things. They try to confuse the quarterback. They try to force the quarterback in to making bad decisions. So what I have to do is making sure I am prepared, make sure I am prepared. Their players, you look at their players, and they have a lot of players that have been around this league for awhile that know how to play the game of football. They know how to run the defense that they run. It's going to be a challenge. It's going to be a challenge to us, but it is something that we will have a lot of fun with. We'll see what happens on Sunday.

**Q: What about your offensive line? They have given you some pretty good protection the last couple of games. Do you have any comment on them?

BL:** That's the best thing on our whole team, our offensive line and our defensive line. Our offensive line allows us to do the things that we do on our offense, because it all starts with them. I think they really do understand that. They do a great job of opening holes for Fred [Taylor]. And they do a great job of pass protecting so that we can go down the field. They allow us to do the things that we do as an offense.

**Q: If I am correct, you became a starter the third week or so. Being a high draft pick and you get the big contract. Was it at all helpful to go through the first few weeks not as the starting quarterback, as the guy in the background? Was that time good for you, even though you would obviously like to be playing?

BL:** Me personally, I always am a guy who thinks the best way to learn is to go through it. It is so hard for a guy to learn about a game situation, if he's not in the game. That was just my personal opinion on it. At some time, no matter if you play as a rookie or if you play three years down the road, you are going to have those bumps in the road that deal with game time situations. If you were never in those situations, how can you learn from those situations if you are not out there going through those things. I was the guy that…I wanted to play, but I understood my situation. I understood my situation. I was just going to do the things that I had to do to get better and try to prepare myself every week as if I was the starter.

**Q: Was it tough when you are the new guy and there is a veteran guy there and every body is talking about it? Is that tough on you? Or do you just have to learn to let that slide? How was dealing with that?

BL:** The competitive nature in you makes you want to go out there and play. You have to understand it wasn't about me going out there playing, it was about doing the best for us to be successful. I understood that. Yeah, I wanted to play, but it's about the team. It was about what was the best thing for us to be successful. I told myself, if I am not number one, not number two, not number three, just prepare yourself every week as if you were the starter. That way you can get better everyday.

**Q: What do you think that Jack [Del Rio] does best as a head coach?

BL:** I think he understands his players. I think he is the same guy. He is the same guy, week in and week out, every day for the simple fact that our playoff chances are up and you can find that people change, the coaches change. There wasn't a lot of success happening around early, but he is the same guy. I think as player you have got to respect that. He demands greatness out of you, but at the same time he is not going to change his philosophy. He is not going to change just because things aren't going well. And even when they are going well, he is still the same guy. He gets a lot of respect from the players, because you can understand that. You can agree with the things that he is doing.

**Q: Does the fact that he is an ex-player give more weight to his words? He is the only NFL coach you have played for, obviously, but do you like the fact that he has been out there on Sundays?

BL:** He is a guy who can tell you that, 'I remember 15 years ago, in this certain situation…' As a football fan myself, I've seen him play a lot. I have seen him out there hitting people. I think it helps the guys on defense too, because they know that he was that guy that was a high-energy guy, a guy that gave a lot of effort. He is not asking nothing from anybody that he did not do, expect from himself. And I think everybody expects that.

**Q: Is that different, to have a high-energy coach? He seems very high-energy, just the way he is, he seems to bring a lot of passion to it?

BL:** He loves coaching the game of football. As players, you love to play for coaches that love that. This has been my first head coach. I don't know how every body else, how the other coaches around the league are, but I am just happy that I have the chance to have the opportunity to play for him, because it has been fun ever since I have been here.

**Q: How much changed when you won that Indianapolis game? It seemed like you were 1-7, then all of a sudden you win that game and things really pick up. How much does that do to really change the whole atmosphere around there?

BL:** They were a pretty hot team and I think we were so close. Every game we have lost, we have been right in there in the fourth quarter, but we just didn't make the plays at the end to win the football game. The margin of error is so little, and that is the difference between wins and losses in the league. The Indy game, we made the plays that we had to make to win the football game. We felt we could make those plays in the fourth quarter, but they weren't happening. It was a great feeling to go out there and do the things that we needed to do in the fourth quarter.

**Q: These days African-American quarterbacks are pretty common in the NFL. There was a time when they weren't. James Harris, in your front office, was one of the first. Have you talked to him about what it was like back then? Obviously, a lot different than the situation that you face.

BL:** You know not really. Not really. I'm just happy to have an opportunity to play in this league. I think that the quarterback position is not a black and white thing anymore. It might have been in the past. But in the era I'm in, I don't think it is a black and white thing anymore. It's just who is the best guy out there that can help you win football games and make the right decision to help your team to have a chance to be successful

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