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Gregg Williams Conf. Call Transcript - 12/23

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**Q: How's business this week?

GW:** We are getting started back up here today on a short week, so we have had to try to cram two days into one. That Monday was a Monday and a Tuesday so now we are really like a Wednesday, so we have a lot of things to get done today.

**Q: Six and nine after the way things started out. Where did things go from rainbows to dark clouds out there?

GW:** Well we are disappointed with where we are, but we have made a ton of progress in a short amount of time here as we have overhauled the roster. But we were not able to handle a few nicks and bruises and injuries. I think the Patriots have done a tremendous job on that, on how they overcame some of those lineup changes and personnel changes. We didn't do a very good job of that earlier in the middle part of the year. But we played so well in so many phases of our team that we weren't able to put enough points on the board to win a couple of those close games, but the fact that we were so strong on defense and so strong on special teams, we were in those ball games. That is a positive note, we were in those games down to the end. We went through a stretch where we lost four ball games by less than 10 points total I think.

**Q: Offensively, you seem like you have the weapons. You have a number four draft pick. You have a former Pro Bowl quarterback. You have a running back who has run for over 1,300 yards. You have a Pro Bowl wide receiver. What is wrong offensively?

GW:** There was a stretch where we didn't protect the ball very well. We turned the ball over and in the National Football League, if you turn the ball over, the chances of you winning if you don't get it back enough times is slim. And that's what happened during that time of the year when we weren't doing very well. The times where we protected the football, we played pretty good.

**Q: Conversely looking at the Patriots, I know you said after the game when you beat them that that was a pretty good team. But could you foresee what followed for them?

GW:** Well we thought they were a very good football team when we played them and even after we played them. I watched them grow throughout the course of the year. Those guys have played well, they are playing very confident. I think they do a very good job defensively on taking the ball away and setting their offense up. Their offense protects the ball. They do a good job of protecting the football and taking the high percentage play.

**Q: I know you don't try to ever get to high or to low after one game in the season, but clearly that first game was a high water mark. It must have raised certain expectations, including your own. Is it safe to say it was all down hill from there from where you looked like you were going?

GW:** No. From a coach's perspective I am on record that day saying, 'We are not as good as everybody thinks we are. We just have to continue to play and try to improve.' We played very well that particular day. We capitalized on some of the breaks in the ball game that were good. They turned the ball over uncharacteristically in that ball game and we were able to capitalize on a few of those plays that way. But I said at the time, after that game and even after the second game, that a lot of people believe that we are a lot better than we are right now. We have to continue to prove. In the National Football League, the team that improves the most from week-to-week incrementally is usually the team that wins the ball game. We had a tough stretch there where incrementally we didn't prove enough on a particular area around the ball at times to score points to win games.

**Q: Did that win and the expectations and the jubilation that it sparked at all become maybe kind of an albatross for your team for the year?

GW:** There was a stretch during the middle part of the year that could have possibly been that way. But for the most part, these guys have done a great job on trying to block out distractions and try to focus on the game at hand and play extremely physical. That's been one of our traits is that we are going to play physical week in and week out. We have played very solid in a lot of areas. We have improved this defense tremendously and this is the year that we set aside to build, to make the defense stand out. And we have. I have been really proud of that staff on that side of the ball and the player to coming to get it. Special teams wise, we have a chance to be ranked up near the very top of the National Football League in both of our coverage units, if we can finish strong. I think that the Patriots special teams are outstanding and very well coached and very steady. They do things the way you are supposed to do them in protecting the ball and being real sound fundamentally and letting the players play.

**Q: What about [Lawyer] Milloy? What has he meant for you during the course of the season when you talk about your defense?

GW:** Well he's done a very good job. We needed to have more production out of the safety area of our defense to improve defensively and he has been a large part of that. I didn't think that the first two years here that we had enough production in that area. We thought that our corners were at top notch at times. We even thought that our third and fourth corners were top notch. But we needed to take a step in our safety area and we did. He has done a good job behind the scenes even. The things that you have to do as a pro to prepare to play on Sunday, he does a great job with. Even the game day preparation on game day itself leading up to kickoff. Those are things that coaches can only do so much, but the other players get a chance to see through example about what the top players in the league in that position, how they go about preparing. He has been very, very valuable in that area. In the last month he has played about as well as any other safety in the league here this last month.

**Q: What's been the problem with Drew Bledsoe? He had moments up here where he has been looking like he's looked in several of your games. Ten years into his career there would be occasions where you would think he would take better care of the ball and be able to get rid of it to protect it more often. Has it been frustrating?

GW:** I'm sure he's disappointed.

**Q: Are you disappointed?

GW:** At times he's just pressed too hard. He's tried to maybe at times do too much. But I think that all good players, all top players, think, 'I'm going to put the team on my back and I'm going to overcome everything and win it for my team.' It's tough at the quarterback position, I think, because there is this tendency to do that. We see that with [Steve] McNair and Peyton [Manning] and some of those guys that people talk about that in context with their play. And Drew [Bledsoe] has done that before in the past and I'm sure at times he has tried to do a little bit too much. But there has been some breakdowns around him where we haven't protected him very well. There has been a couple communication areas where it looks like he makes an inaccurate throw, and it's not always his fault.

**Q: I was going to ask you about [Travis] Henry. There was another time Sunday where it looked like you got down there close and he fumbled the ball again and you got back but then you threw three times after that.

GW:** He has done a very good job this year and that was one of the areas that we needed to see improvement in Travis Henry as is securing the football. Last year, we thought he put the ball on the ground too much and he has done a very good job of that this year. In this last ball game, it came out a couple times. He'll focus and he'll do fine. They just basically lowered the line of scrimmaged and they wanted us to have to pick the ball up. We just didn't make the plays to get it in the endzone.

**Q: You said you set aside this year to build, but all things being equal I would think in the third year…in 2000, you guys expunged the roster…in 2001, you expunged the roster…really I would have thought it would have gone 3-13 to 8-8 to hopefully better than that. I am sure that you felt the same way. It sounds as we talk here today that you are putting a good buffing shine on everything. Is there not an overarching disappointment about what's gone on?

GW:** All of us, from the players, staff, ownership, we all…every year you start your year out wanting to be in the playoffs. That was our focus this year too, but we weren't that good to get there. We are what we are right now, record wise. We've earned that. We have got to do the things now to take the strides to make sure that it doesn't happen again so we can get where we want to be.

**Q: Difficult question for you, do you think you will be back to have that opportunity?

GW:** Those are the things that we will decide in the offseason. We will sit down and do. I've just got to get the team ready to go this week to the best of my abilities. I know that as soon as the years over, Tom [Modrak] and I will sit down and we'll go through every aspect of the team. And at that point in time, the decision makers will make their decision.

**Q: Is it hard to coach with that kind of a burden?

GW:** No. I really focus on every single week, even this week, by being able to…having to cram two days into one in preparation and getting ready to go today. You just keep focused on the task at hand

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