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Replay: Patriots Unfiltered Fri Apr 16 - 12:00 AM | Sun Apr 18 - 11:59 PM

Dave Wannstedt Pre-Game Press Conference

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Q: A couple of housekeeping things, [Patrick] Surtain had a finger problem he is going to be all right to play?

DW: Yeah we expect him to play. He broke his pinky finger and they put a screw in there on Monday morning. He is doing a lot better today and we expect him to play, yes.

Q: What about [Oronde] Gadsden I know he had a hamstring?

DW: Yeah he is going to go out and practice tomorrow is what the plan is.

Q: So you will know more later in the week on him?

DW: Yeah.

Q: In recent history you have had a little problem against the run, what has been the problem?

DW: Well it has been a combination of a couple of things. Leading up to last week's game a lot of them have been situations where it has been third down, it has been nickel situations and we have given up some runs that were in long yardage situations. So the yards show up, but it really hasn't had an effect on the game. We haven't given up any big plays. Denver ran the ball on us for 150 yards or something like that, but their longest play from scrimmage I think was 14 yards. So people have run the ball on us, they have moved the chains to some degree, but there is a tradeoff. We don't bring the safety up very much. We like keeping those four guys back there playing coverage and I think that is why we are leading the league in pass coverage right now. So there is a tradeoff and we have just always felt more comfortable with trying to holdup with the guys up front and trying to prevent the big play.

Q: You started the year off, one of the things you said that we read was that the things that you wanted to do this year are three things defense, your running game and turnovers. Certainly your defense is living up to that hope, but in the areas probably not as good as you would have hoped?

DW: No the turnovers have been horrible. Last week we went three weeks in a row…prior to last weeks game we were 7. Last week obviously we ended up –4. I mean that has been terrible and I think it is two-fold. For whatever reason we haven't come up with as many on defense. We have committed way too many on offense, but defensively, a year ago, we led the league with interceptions in the secondary. We have the same guys back and now we are below average. So it is just one of those things. There is not an answer for us. It is not that the guys aren't playing as hard as they did last year and it is the same guys and the schemes haven't changed much. We just haven't come up with as many on defense and we've committed a few more on offense compared to a year ago and the running game, I think we have struggled there because of our offensive line. We've lost three starters for the year on the offensive line and that is taking its toll on us. We are struggling there and a couple of the guys have been in there, [Tom] Ruddy was hurt for about a three game span and Todd Wade had a bad knee so the guys that were in there were hurt and the other players were new to the group.

Q: Nevertheless you have nine wins?

DW: And we find a way to get nine wins, right.

Q: So I guess that is the bottom line, isn't it?

DW: Yeah every year it changes and it just seems like the minute you get one area where you are halfway comfortable in then something else becomes a problem and you are constantly just trying to fine tune things and put our fires as I say.

Q: Yeah well that is the way that job is isn't it?

DW: Yes.

Q: One of the things about the job is that when we talked last year you talked about what you perceived as mistakes the first time around and of course Coach Belichick is in the same boat one of the things you talked about last year was delegating the jobs like team travel, hotel rooms and all of that stuff that you did the first time and now you don't do that any more?

DW: Well you know we have a great supporting cast here with the Dolphins. I mean that is one thing about this organization. There are excellent people and as many people as you need to get the job done. That is the philosophy that our owner has and I have surrounded myself with good assistant coaches that know what they are doing and we are all on the same page. Our two coordinators Jim Bates and Chan Gailey obviously are both experienced guys so there is not a learning process that you are kind of going through and I think that was a little different. In Chicago I had a first time coordinator in the pros who was a college coach and then I was really doing the defense myself for the first couple of years so the scenarios were a little bit different I think that way too.

Q: Not only that, but what about the communications aspect with your players?

DW: I don't know. I spend more time with the players, I don't know if the communication is any better or not. I mean I think you have to be your own person and however that comes across has to be genuine, but I have more fun now with the players from the standpoint of communicating. I think I know them a little bit more. I have a better relationship with them now maybe because of spending that time with them. Now does that have anything to do with winning football games, I couldn't tell you that it does.

Q: However the fact is that Belichick talks almost parallel to what you are talking about, about delegating authority, you can see that he is different. You two guys are good friends, you have talked about this issue I am sure in the past?

DW: Bill is doing a great job, he really is. There is no question that he has got a plan and the players have bought into it and just like you say…Mr. Kraft has given him total support, very similar to the situation we have here really.

Q: Is it better the second time around as we say?

DW: You know what, I wish I could look back and say, 'Boy you know what your first time through the games seem bigger and god you get a lot more nervous,' but it doesn't change. The emotions of the game, the ups and the downs and the stresses of dealing with everything really are no different now…they probably should be, to be honest with you, but they are really not any different now than they were when I was in Chicago.

Q: You guys owned [Tom] Brady in the first game, but there has been quite a metamorphosis he has really changed since that time?

DW: Well he has. He obviously has gotten more experience I think that is the number one thing you would have to credit his improvement to. I think the second thing is that the coaching staff there Charlie Weis and those guys do a nice job of letting him play within himself. In other words they run the ball enough and they are playing good defense where they haven't been behind very often by two or three touchdowns and put the whole burden on his shoulder to bring them back. I think that if you can afford to do that and they have and keep situations like that, it is going to give him a chance to gain confidence and mature at a faster pace then if otherwise.

Q: You have seen Troy Brown develop over the last few years into a really outstanding receiver, as good as your pass defense is what threat can he pose to you guys that really causes some concern?

DW: They move him around and find different ways to get him open and he is an excellent route runner and he is so quick that if you have him double covered that is one thing, but I don't care what coverage you are in or who is covering him, he is so quick and such a good route runner that he is very, very difficult to cover one-on-one even when you know he is the primary receiver.

Q: Is it surprising to see him develop so late in his career?

DW: Well you know what the thing that we really knew about Troy in the last few years was his punt returning ability and you can see the quickness there and see the ability and I think that he just got an opportunity this year. I think in the past they had a pretty good group of receivers there and I don't think that he really got the opportunities. He was probably, and I am just guessing, he was probably labeled as a return man and a fourth or fifth receiver and now he is finally getting the opportunity to do more.

Q: A significant change in your team since we saw you last has been [Chris] Chambers, perhaps the rookie of the league this year, it has got to be great feeling to have three guys and a young one like him coming along?

DW: That was one of our big concerns. After last year we felt like we had a decent defense and were decent running the ball, we talked about the struggles there this year, but the one area where we felt we were short handed was having enough speed on the outside and Chambers brings size, speed. We have got Dedric Ward a fast guy you know him from the Jets. James McKnight is the fastest of all of them. So we have added a lot of speed to the receiver position and I think that has helped us.

Q: As you know Clarence Brooks is a local guy over the years you guys have become attached at the hip so to speak, if you could talk about him a little bit?

DW: I first met Clarence when I was coaching with the Dallas Cowboys and he was coaching at Syracuse. He came down and worked with us during camp as an intern coach and I was the defensive coordinator. After about a three week period he had basically taken over all of my individual drills and my warm-ups with the players. I mean that is how much confidence in a two week period that he displayed and confidence that the players had in him and I remember saying something to Jimmy [Johnson], I said, 'Hey if we ever get a chance, an opening, we have got to hire this guy he is too good.' So when I got the Chicago job two years later he was one of the guys that I went after and then I was fortunate to get him from Cleveland to come down here to Miami with me.

Q: When he was freed from Cleveland you really jumped at the opportunity?

DW: Yes without hesitation.

Q: Early in the season they were 1-3 after you beat them, do you think at any point early in the season that this game would mean so much to both teams?

DW: To be honest with you probably not, but I think when you have been in the league as long as I have you don't know. From week-to-week everything changes and I knew that they had a good football team, the thing to me that has really been remarkable is to lose Drew Bledsoe and accomplish what they have and to be in this position with a new quarterback. I think that is just an outstanding job by a lot of people.

Q: Looking at the Patriots there defense has really come on strong especially the last four weeks can you comment about what you see on that side of the ball?

DW: Well they don't make many mistakes. They play awful hard, they are physical and they are pretty sound. I mean you don't ever see them giving up a cheap touchdown run or anything like that. They play within the scheme good. They are smart guys, experienced, you can tell.

Q: Every coach's dream is to have games that are meaningful in December and this certainly is do you think your team is battle hardened for this kind of challenge?

DW: Well we think we have played the toughest schedule in the NFL and everybody says that, all coaches, but we have played on the road. We played Tennessee on the road when Tennessee was supposed to win the Super Bowl. The opening game of the season, down there in their place and we beat Seattle, we beat Indianapolis after they had won three straight. Obviously playing the Raiders at home, playing Denver at home when everything was on the line. So we have had some tough ball game this year, there is no question about that and this will be right there with the toughest of them

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