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Dom Capers Conference Call Transcript - 11/19

**Q: First of all, wanted to talk to you about your depth. It seems like you have a lot of great young players and I didn't know how you felt like your depth was?

DC:** We are going through the normal problems that a second-year team goes through, I think. We feel good about a number of our young players and their ability to produce for us. We have had a significant amount of injuries. The biggest difference between us and a team that has been doing this longer is that they normally have more depth. So we have had to rely on some players to play a lot of football for us that at the beginning of the season we weren't counting on playing a lot for us.

**Q: At the same time, you do seem like you have a good nucleus of young players. When you and Charley [Casserly] began this journey, this is what you wanted to set up. You wanted to have a good, young team. I remember looking at you in preseason and it seemed like in all the games when it was starters vs. starters, you all were right in there in all those games. Has that carried over?

DC:** Yes and I'm encouraged. I'm encouraged by the production of our young players. We've invested most of our draft picks in the offense and I think we are starting to see the results of that. We have a lot of young players who are producing for us on the offensive side. Our offense has made very good strides from year one to year two. We've had the majority of our injuries on the defensive side. We have our starting quarterback out this week, but we've been missing our two top defensive linemen for the large majority of the year. We have had other positions that we have had to scramble around with injured starters.

**Q: One of those players that you can talk about, maybe not young and homegrown, but a local guy that has played well for you that was up here, Greg Randall. Can you talk about him a little bit? How he has fit into what you want to do? And how he has worked with your team?

DC:** Greg has done a good job for us. He has come in, and you guys know Greg, he doesn't say a lot. He certainly has the size you are looking for, and he is a smart guy. He has picked up our system and has come in and done a good job for us. We've got more experience in the offensive line and had a little bit more continuity. We never were able to have any continuity in our offensive line through our first year. We took Tony Boselli and Ryan Young in the expansion draft. We thought we would have two veteran tackles to be with us for quite awhile and it just didn't work out. With Tony, the injury situation, and Ryan the same thing when he played a small percentage of the snaps.

**Q: When he was available, having started 19 games and been in the Super Bowl and won a ring, and he becomes available, do you have to ask yourself what's the matter? Is there some extra homework there? Or do you think it just wasn't the fit here that it is down there for him?

DC:** I think there are a lot of different factors that go in to things. We've all seen players go from maybe one, two, three teams, and have it not work out. Then all of a sudden, they get the right situation. He kind of fit in to where we had a big need. He is from right here, in the area, and he had experience, and that was something that we didn't have in the offensive line. It kind of fit for us. We are in our second year. We are looking for lineman with experience and he's come in and done a good job for us.

**Q: You have been in a unique situation. You have been the head coach in two start up operations. It's got to be a tough deal. Worrying about where the buses show up and all that stuff…

DC:** Well, I'll tell you it's a unique experience. It's totally different. You have a team put together. Going through it the second team, it was extremely beneficial having gone through this at Carolina. You just have a much better feel of what to expect. You understand that you have to have a plan and you have to be patient. You have to have the courage and the conviction to stick with the plan.

**Q: What mistakes, if you will, might you have made the first time around that you knew to correct this time?

DC:** I think the biggest thing is, as most coaches, you are anxious to win as many games as you possibly can. You're goal is to go out and win every game. At Carolina, we won 20 the first two years and planning to go to the Super Bowl the second year. We had a tremendous amount of success in the first two years. The best first-year team ever. We won 13 and beat the Cowboys in the playoffs the second year. What ended up happening is that we had a lot of veteran players on our team that really gave us good production the first two years. Now we are heading into the third year, and of course when you are planning to go to the Super Bowl, everyone expects you to be in the Super Bowl the next year. The first year we played in our new stadium, we never lost a game. We were 9-0, so our fans never left that field mad the whole year. We probably came back about more what we were the third year, which was about a 500 team. We were playing a first place schedule because we had won the division. When you are playing teams that are 13-3 or 12-4, it's just a lot tougher. So we weren't able to replace some of those veteran players, so it kind of worked against us. We won early and we had good production and then when the expectation level went up, we weren't quite as good and we started to descend. We felt here that we wanted to take a different approach. We wanted to go young early, try to gain experience, let those young players grow with us and hopefully be able to put this thing together that will give us the best chance to doing what everybody wants to do.

**Q: Despite the fact that it is a startup and all, the first game you played this year was against Miami and you beat them. Does that serve the calling card at the progress that you made?

DC:** Well, to me it was a tribute to our players' preparation and their attitude of going into Miami, because we knew that that was probably the toughest place in the league to open up the season. They had won 11 straight season openers at home.

**Q: I guess Domanick Davis has not only been something of a surprise to you, but to the whole league, since 100 players got picked ahead of him?

DC:** He has been a very pleasant surprise. We liked him because of his production in the kicking game at LSU. You could see that he had some real run instincts. From Day One that he came in, you could see that he had very good vision and good strength. He was a mature guy. It wasn't too big for him. He came in and you watched him in meetings and on the practice field. Unfortunately he broke his hand in a pass rush drill, missed a large majority of training camp. The week that he came back, we started using him as a third-down back. He really went out and won his job with his production on the field, because every time he touched the ball he made some plays.

**Q: When you go against the Patriots defense, what can you really expect? One week they'll go 3-4, the next they'll play 4-3. How do you tell your players, 'Okay, this is what we are going to see'?

DC:** Well, we just have to be ready for whatever they give us. They are a talented, experienced defense. You can tell that they have smart guys. They don't beat themselves. They force their opponent to beat them. They are sound. They make you work for everything you get. They don't give you anything easy. I've got a lot of respect. They have good players, and they are very well coached.

**Q: Are they rare as a defense that they can do so many different things, depending on the situation?

DC:** I think that's what you look for. I have had the good fortune to be around a few defenses like that. They remind me of some of the ones I have been around. So, I mean our defense the second year at Carolina, we had a number of veteran players that really played well together. They understood what we were trying to do. They were bright, didn't make many errors. We had one of the best defenses in the league.

**Q: Getting back to having a plan and being patient with it, can you talk a little bit about Charley's role in that? He has some ties in this area. And how your relationship has evolved with him, how much you know him when you started? How he has been guiding that plan?

DC:** I knew Charley from when he was at Washington and of course back when I was at New Orleans with the Saints and the Steelers in Pittsburgh in the early 90s. I knew that he had a broad background and had been with winning teams, with the Redskins and the Super Bowls that they had won there and with Joe Gibbs, who I have a lot respect for. So I was excited to have an opportunity to work with a guy with the experience of Charley. It's worked great because we have an outstanding personnel department. The coaching and the personnel really have to do a good job of working together, especially if you are starting from scratch and you have no players.

**Q: There seems to be a trend where coaches are just biting the bullet when things don't go right with a player, they let the player go. I'm talking about Kevin Johnson, his relationship with Butch [Davis], and now Keyshawn Johnson, down in Tampa. Is that going to continue? Are coaches that much convinced that they've got to sever relationships with players today, even though it is going to cost them tons in the salary cap?

DC:** I think what you are constantly evaluating, one of your major jobs as a head coach, is you have to keep your finger on the pulse of the team. A team chemistry is so important. It is a challenging job because of the nature of the game. The ups and downs of the season. Teams that have the best character and chemistry can normally hang in there and fight their way through and hang on to that rope and not give into the pain of losing. Not lower the standards. Not just take an attitude that you are just going to do enough to get by, that you have to continue to push yourself. That's the challenge and you know when you have that and you know when you don't have it. There is no worse feeling then if you don't think you have it. I can't speak for both of those situations, but I do know that it's a challenge to try to have the type of team chemistry and atmosphere that you think is going to be conducive to winning.

**Q: When you get that kind of production out of a guy that you think is a fourth round draft choice, do you start feeling like you stole one?

DC:** I'm encouraged by the production because we spent the third pick of the draft on Andre Johnson. There was no question from Day One in terms of his ability. He certainly had a lot to do with the increased production on offense. When all of a sudden Dominick [Davis] comes through and gives you the kind of production he has. It is encouraging to have two rookies that are producing at the level they are, because that is what you want when you are starting out. You want to get those young guys that are playmakers. We went through last year, we just had a hard time making big plays. We just didn't have enough playmakers. That was one of our goals going into the draft, was to try to find a little bit more punch and offensive firepower.

**Q: Can you talk about your experience here three years ago when the head coaching job was open and you came to talk to them. Did you feel that they were serious about what they were looking for? Or did you feel like they had already decided on Belichick?

DC:** I did. I asked that question before I came up, because I didn't want to waste anybody's time. So, I came up. I felt I had a good visit. Everything, I thought went as well as it could. Then they made the decision on Bill [Belichick], which there is no question that they made a good decision. You take a look at what Bill's done, he has done a tremendous job there.

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