Dolphins head coach Tony Sparano addresses the New England media during his conference call, on Wednesday, December 29, 2010.
(On what he's seen from the Patriots on film and how they've changed since the first matchup this season)
"I have always thought they're an outstanding football team but I think that the way they've changed looks to me like on offense obviously with, with getting Deion (Branch) in there and he looks pretty comfortable in his role there. To be honest with you the use of the two tight ends (Rob) Gronkowski, (Aaron) Hernandez and the way that they're utilizing those guys right now as opposed to maybe where we were in the beginning of the season. Obviously it's a little different spreading the field with them, creating matchups and then the running back situation to me offensively as well is obviously different. (Danny) Woodhead has much of a, much greater impact right now then he did when we played them. I believe it may have been his first game at that point and (Benjarvis) Green-Ellis playing outstanding. Defensively I just feel like that group had gotten better and better. They're a big physical bunch of guys and looks to me like the back end of things is, in the coverage end of things they've done a really good job back there."
(On whether it sometimes looks as if Tom Brady is the team's offensive coordinator on the field)
"When you, when you have a player of his ability out there I think there's no question that you're going to rely on him a great deal and it looks to me like at times, you know with what Tom does at the line of scrimmage, almost looks like they're getting a couple plays at the line of scrimmage and Tom is getting them into the right play. The thing I've always been fascinated with with him is his ability to get them in the right protection. He's, he's done a tremendous job that way throughout his career and since I've been watching him. He doesn't seem to miss a beat there it looks like that's, obviously to have that kind of player like that on the field it's like having a coordinator out there in the huddle."
(On how much he expects Tom Brady to play on Sunday)
"I would expect to see a great deal of him. From my end I think that I'm sure the Patriots, they want to win their 14th football game so I would expect that they're going to go out there and do everything in their power to be able to do that. Most teams going into the playoffs the way they're going into the playoffs want to be as hot as they can be."
(On his general feelings about what a team is obligated to do in terms of playing their starters if the game does not have playoff implications for them)
"I wouldn't, being in that situation I would not worry about that one bit. I would think that I would do whatever's in the best interest of my football team. I don't think there's an obligation one way or the other. I just think you got to do what you feel is best for your football team. I'm sure that's, that's part of the philosophy there."
(On whether he noticed a difference in the health of Wes Welker from the first matchup until now)
"No, he looks, to me he looks a lot quicker right now and a lot more sure what's going on. It looks to me like that, that injury is pretty far behind him right now. He's a great player and he has been for quite some time. I think that, looks to me like he's playing quicker, a lot more sudden and looks a little more confident running around on it right now."
(On the difference Logan Mankins makes in the Patriots offense)
"It's a, well I mean the Patriots offense has been a good offense even when Logan wasn't out there but Logan Mankins is an outstanding player. He brings a physicalness to a group and he's a smart player and is certainly, like I said just the physical presence that he bring to the group is tremendous and I think that's probably what he's known throughout the league for is his physical play and the fact that he's a smart guy. You get him back into the lineup with (Dan) Koppen and (Matt) Light and that group of guys and it seems to me like the whole group is, has kind of settled down."
(On Chad Henne saying the Patriots' secondary looks more confident later in the season and any other changes he's seen with the unit)
"Well no I think that (Devin) McCourty obviously is playing really well. He's got his hands on a lot of footballs and (Kyle) Arrington has done a nice job as well. They've done, both corners have done really well that way. To me it looks like they're playing a lot more, giving them opportunities a lot more in some of their, their single high defense but they play a great deal of cover two so those guys reroute you and they can run with you and do a good job. The Patriots are always going to bang you around out there. They're going to make it physical and the two corners look like they've done a nice job that way."
(On whether the Patriots are a different team on defense without Brandon Spikes)
"Brandon the first time around when we played him it was obviously one of his first few games but he's a physical downhill player. I really liked (Gary) Guyton. I think that this guy, he's been a good player and a really good addition in there. It looks like he and (Jerod) Mayo are communication really well and he's active. He gets around the football a bunch. When you're playing side-by-side with Mayo who I have a tremendous amount of respect for as a player I think you end up, he can, he can help you a bunch in there as well but it looks to me like Guyton's fit in really well there."
(On Jerod Mayo and how he is effective)
"I think the way he gets off blocks is, is really the most effective. I think that the guy gets off blocks and can find the ball in a hurry and I think he's a brilliant, brilliant guy. I remember sitting in the room with at the combine and talking football with him and I just couldn't get over how intelligent a player this guy really was. To have him in the middle of that group there and setting the table for you, that's a heck of a luxury to have. When you get one of those guys you realize how valuable they really are to your football team. I think getting off blocks and him getting to the ball and finding the ball has been the biggest thing I've been impressed with."
(On whether he expects to be coaching the Dolphins next season)
"That's a question for somebody else, not for me right now. I know I'm coaching the Dolphins this week against the New England Patriots and I'm excited about it. That's the thing that I can control so that's really all I'm worried about."