Q: At the beginning of the season after Drew Bledsoe went down and you had your backup quarterback running the show, what were some of the special things that you had to do?
CW: I'm going to answer that in two parts. The toughest job that a head coach has is to hold the fort and keep the ship from sinking in times of duress, and that certainly qualifies as one of them. I think that Bill [Belichick] did a great job of keeping the team together when it could have fallen apart very easily. Fortunately for both Bill and of course myself, we went through a similar situation in '99 with the Jets when in the opening game against New England, Vinny [Testaverde] rips his Achilles. And here we were early in the year, saying, 'What are we going to do now?' We started off initially putting Rick Mirer in there for a couple of games and then we went to Ray Lucas, a relative unknown as far as quarterback play goes, and we ended up finishing the season going 8-8. To be honest with you, there are a lot of similarities and parallels with how we handled that situation at that time and how we handled it this time. Obviously, this year finishing 11-5 is a lot better than finishing 8-8, but there are a lot of similarities to that situation and the one we just went through.
Q: Did you have to change the offense?
CW: We really didn't change the offense. What we really did was we started off easy and then worked in to the magnitude that we would normally have. I often hear that we changed the offense, but the offense never really changed. What you do with both players and opponents is try to take from your volume with both your skill players and the people you have and your opponents and try to figure out what would be your best chance of winning that game. People will say that we didn't do the same thing with Tom [Brady] we did with Drew, but against San Diego, we knew going into the game that we were going to have to throw the hell out of the ball or else we weren't going to have much of a chance of winning because Rodney Harrison was going to be just like an extra linebacker in the front and we went in knowing that that's what our plan was going to have to be. So whether it was Tom Brady or somebody else, that's what we were going to have to do to give us a chance of winning. I think that game was one of the games that was a critical game in my mind to spurring us to a successful season.
Q: Did you know that Brady was going to be so successful in a game situation?
CW: We were going to find out. One way or another, we were going to find out. Obviously we were encouraged enough during training camp to elevate him to number two. And Damon [Huard]'s 5-1 in this league and it isn't like Damon is not a good quarterback. So for us to elevate him to number two during preseason, we obviously saw enough as a coaching staff to say, 'This is the next guy in.' We didn't throw him to the wolves, and fortunately in that game that he played against Indianapolis, things went right where we didn't have to throw it 50 times. You really don't want to go into the first game having to do something like that. But that was a nice introduction game and the next game was a rude awakening. We went to Miami and basically got the crap kicked out of us. But I think he matured very well and as he's gotten more comfortable, we've gotten more comfortable offensively. You have to change. Every year as your team develops or evolves, you change. I mean, two weeks ago, we ran it 44 times. Friends of mine think that it's almost sacrilegious to hear that Charlie Weis would run it 44 times in a game. But you have to swallow your ego and suppress your own feelings and put your players in the best position to win and I think that's what Tom's done and I think that's what we've done.
Q: As Antowain Smith has emerged, has that changed the offense that you wanted to put together in terms of developing a stronger running game?
CW: I think that going into the season, Antowain was one part of it, because we weren't really sure whether it was going to be Antowain or J.R. [Redmond]. You saw us in preseason, we were going back and forth and that's not evolving any chemistry. And then on top of that, we had the offensive line situation, which was really in a state of flux during the whole training camp as well. The team evolved as everyone grew together. With Antowain, we made the decision after the first couple of games that we were just playing him, and 'Let's go with it and see what happens.' And then the offensive line started developing more chemistry because they got used to playing together. Things have kind of meshed pretty well as far as that went. Plus, how I call a game and how our coaching staff sets up a game plan, has also changed to try to play into that mentality where if this gives us the best chance of winning … Hey, I'm not looking up here for kudos. We're just going to do whatever we can to put our team in the best chance of winning. I think that through Antowain's development and the offensive line, we've been able to evolve into more of a northeastern mentality where you can play in cold weather at playoff time, and that's where we are.
Q: How important is the play of the offensive line to having success?
CW: It's critical. I've witnessed a couple of offensive lines grow together at different stages, and there's different mentalities of offensive linemen. I was with the Giants in '90 when they had the slugger offensive line. I was a fan of the Giants in '86 when they had the skill people offensive line. It all depends. But this group right here, you have the three veterans inside, with [Damien] Woody and [Mike] Compton and [Joe] Andruzzi, and the two younger guys outside. When you have veterans playing next to the young guys, they're people who can mentally help you play the game. I think that it's been a nice mixture. I think that together with Dante [Scarnecchia], who very seldom gets mentioned, and Jim Davidson, who helps in all of that, I think that that group has really been one of the key, critical factors in the success of this football team.
Q: Do you think the offensive line enjoys running the ball more?
CW: I think that any offensive line, given their choice, would want to be a smash-mouth type of team. I think that's what they like to do. But you don't see us without finesse. You see Woody pulling, you see the guards pulling, you see the tackles pulling. So they're kind of a mixture of a slugger, but still with enough athletic ability to get on the edge if we need to get an outside and pull or a toss or the certain type of plays that we end up running.
Q: Can you talk about Matt Light?
CW: Usually, an offensive lineman takes about three years to be ready to play. I think the fact that he's been that competitive in his rookie year … He has a bright, bright future and his best football is still ahead of him.
Q: Talk about his run blocking.
CW: Well, you remember when he was in college, they threw it on almost every down. So you get used to what you do. But I don't think he's without toughness and I think he's got the ability to be a good run blocker. And like I said, I think he's just continuing to get better and I think his best football's ahead of him, which is an encouraging point for all of us in this room right here.
Q: Although we all discount exhibitions as having any importance, Coach Belichick said that everybody kind of looked in the mirror after the Tampa game. Was that a scary game for you to analyze and did you think that you had a long way to go?
CW: I think that's a good point. One thing against Tampa was that we knew we were going to see Tampa's scheme several times throughout the year. I know you guys don't think like that some times, but the Jets use Tampa's scheme and St. Louis uses Tampa's scheme. So we weren't going to go game-plan Tampa and show those teams what we were going to do. Especially with us going to play the Jets the second game of the year, obviously we didn't play well against the Jets, but you know that the scheme's going to be the same. I think the fact that we just tried to line up and then got the crap kicked out of us kind of let people know, 'Hey, you'd better wake up or else it's going to be a long year.'
Q: The running game has been very good, but are you concerned at all with the passing game not being as efficient as it was earlier in the season?
CW: Well, it depends on what you consider efficient. When you're completing 60 percent of your passes …
Q: I'm talking about touchdowns.
CW: Well, we're running it in. That counts too, right?
Q: Since you're running the ball well, are you concerned about scoring in the passing game?
CW: I'm concerned with scoring touchdowns. So when we're in the red zone, if giving the ball to #32, to run it in 12 or 13 times, if that's the way to do it, sign me up. I'm not into stats. I'm not into how many touchdown passes we throw. I'm into scoring points and winning games. That's all I'm interested in. Because if I was just interested in the stats, I'd be worried more about Brady's stats and self-promoting him. We're not interested in that. All we're worrying about winning. That's it.
Q: Talk a bit about your path towards being a coordinator?
CW: I think that back in my younger days, through the help of guys like [Bill] Parcells and Belichick and Al Groh and Romeo [Crennel] … I mean, I started out on defense. I was just a film breakdown guy, as low as can be. But because I bounced from defense to special teams to offense, and I was the guy breaking down the tape on both sides of the ball in my first couple of years, I think that gives you a well-rounded view on really the big picture. And I think after that, I was fortunate to be handed positions where there were good players. I came here and we were 2-14 and I had those crummy players Marv Cook and Ben Coates. Then they moved me from there to those crummy running backs and we drafted Curtis Martin. Then I messed him up so bad so they moved me to wide receivers and they drafted Terry Glenn and signed Shawn Jefferson. So a lot of coaching has to do with how good your players are. Don't have any illusions that the coach is the reason why that happened. But it helps you move up, trust me.
Q: Is it easier for you to sacrifice your ego at this point in your career than it would have been earlier if you had been in charge of an offense?
CW: To give you an honest answer, the answer to that would be yes. Everyone likes to think that you have an imagination and you're creative, but the bottom line is that you've got to play to your team's strengths. Right now we're playing smash-mouth football. That doesn't mean that we don't want to throw it. That doesn't mean we won't throw it down the field. One of the big critiques is that we don't throw down the field enough. Let me just tell you that when we throw those balls out to the wide receivers that everyone talks about, like the big split end screens, to me that's a toss sweep. And every time we run the ball, we want to get over four yards. So if I throw the ball to Troy Brown and he gets five, I just ran a toss sweep and it's a gain of five, as far as I'm concerned. Because usually that's what you wind up getting, at least five. Now it's second and five. It's a lot easier to call the game when it's second and five than when it's second and eight.
Q: Do you think you have adequate speed?
CW: I am kind of slow to tell you the truth. Go ahead what is the question again?
Q: How about offensive speed at the wide receiver spot, do you feel like you have adequate speed?
CW: Predominantly we have been playing two wide receivers and I would say David Patten has above average speed. Normally when he runs he can runs by most people that he is covering, you don't see very often where he can't run by them. I think troy Brown is your typical move guy that no one can cover. So I mean it is a good combination when you are playing those two guys. For the most part this year a good portion of what we have done is with two wide receivers in.
Q: How about Terry [Glenn]? Has that been something as an offensive coach he's there, he's not there?
CW: The fortunate thing is you just coach what you have and whoever is out there that is who you coach.
Q: The point is that you don't really know whether you have him or not?
CW: I am saying that the point is that regardless of whether it's Terry or some other player you could not have them tomorrow. I mean I could come out to practice today and Antowain [Smith] could go down and be gone for the rest of the year. You don't know what is going to happen. So you have to coach with the big picture in mind saying…you are setting up a system and guys have to plug in and you might have to cut a little if something happens or you might have to add a little if something happens okay, but you still have to have the foundation and the basic premise ready to go.
Q: You have a situation where you are the offensive coordinator on a successful team and there are job openings in the NFL and you are name has been mentioned. Where do you stand on that and have you been contacted by anyone?
CW: First of all they wouldn't contact me. First they would contact here and I have a guy who represents me by the name of Craig Kelly who…he knows that, I have told him very clearly that I don't want to talk to anyone. All that I am interested in right now is our next playoff game because I think it would be very selfish on my part at this point to be worrying about anything other than trying to get to the next playoff game. Obviously it is a mute point or a rhetorical statement on my part to say that you wouldn't appreciate interest of people because I would be lying if I said otherwise, but that is not the point. The point is that I have learned a long time ago you can't be putting yourself ahead of the team and right now my main focus is to spend the next week and a half to be able to play at the best performance Saturday night at 8:00. That is all that I am worried about. I mean those things are things my wife worried about more than I do.
Q: Coach Belichick talked about guys starting out working for nothing, can you talk about your decision to try that and kind of what you were thinking then and where it has led you to now?
CW: I kind of got a little bit lucky, unlucky and then lucky, let me tell you what happened. Joe Morrison died February 5, 1989. I had just flown back from a recruiting trip from Richmond, Virginia and found out. I was working for him and he died. So basically they brought in Sparky Woods who wanted to bring in all of his guys from Appalachian State and take over the program so I went back to New Jersey. I am from New Jersey. Al Groh had talked to Tim Rooney who was the personnel director who was looking for some body to basically break down the tape for nothing. So I said I am just the guy. I will breakdown tape for nothing. So I did it through the summertime, from like March through the summertime, I took a high school coaching job because I really didn't know what I was going to do and then in December after that high school coaching season was over I left that school and went back to South Carolina to try to figure out what I was going to do with my life because I really didn't know. Then Bill [Belichick] called me up a month later through the recommendation of Tim Rooney who I had done this work for and said, 'You should take a look at this guy.' So when he hired me I was under no illusions of grandeur that I was a big time coach. I understood what my position was. I mean we went to the Super Bowl in 1990 and I am not going to sit there and jump up and down and say that I was instrumental in us doing anything because I broke down film for Bill Belichick. I told Al Groh's extra linebackers what the defense were in oractice and I helped Mike Sweatman on special teams, but the benefit of doing all that was the fact that I learned defense, I learned offense, I learned special teams and it gave you a foundation which puts you in the position to be where you are now.
Q: Is there a single play that sticks out in your mind when everything fell into place?
CW: There were three plays that I will talk about. The one that changed the teams temperament for the year happened to be Bryan's [Cox] hit on [Jerome] Pathon in the Indianapolis game. That established a new era of toughness on this team that probably had been lacking prior to that hit, but offensively there were two plays in that game. There was a fourth down play in one of those last two minute drives in the San Diego game where we ran an in-cut down to like the ten yard line for a first down. I don't remember exactly, I think we threw the ball to Patten, I don't remember it exactly. I know we were in left formation. I know we were in trips left. I remember the play, but that conversion when the game could have been over and then when we threw that pass to [Jermaine] Wiggins on the play action to get the score to tie, those were the plays…there were no doubt with anyone on the team that we were winning the that game after those couple of plays happened and I think that kind of snowballed into the rest of the year.
Q: Is this team very similar to the '96 team?
CW: This was a more similar situation to '94 then to '96 because '94 we were coming off a 5-11, the team didn't know how to win and the team in '94 learned how to win. He only problem with '94 was the team was satisfied to have made the playoffs after having to win the last seven to get there and I do not believe that this team will be satisfied ending at that point