Q: Good afternoon, Herm. First of all, right off the bat, how did your team come off of that loss mentally and physically?
HE: We had some bumps and bruises with some guys. Mentally I think we were a little bit down, but today we had a good team meeting and I think their spirits are back up.
Q: One of the things about your team is that is has been somewhat resilient after the bump in the road, and I guess every team that's in contention has had one. The good ones seem to overcome it.
HE: Yeah, and hopefully we can do that. You're absolutely right, I think, but now you don't really want them. Towards the end of the year, it's really tough to recover from it. But, I think we're in a situation where we're coming up there to play a very good football team. They've kind of had a little bump in the road also, and that makes for hopefully a very good football game.
Q: You're a different team than you were when the Patriots first saw you, in many areas. I would assume one of them is Curtis Martin.
HE: Yeah, obviously our running game is a little bit better now. Curtis is not so much banged up. Our offensive line is playing a lot better, so that helps us a lot.
Q: You have to keep body and soul together at these times in the season and you're right there where you've got to get some help and you've got to help yourself. Is that the most challenging part of coaching?
HE: Yeah, and it's the most fun, too. You can still say that you're still in it. That's the mentality when you start training camp. 'Hey, we want to be playing in December and we want to be playing in some meaningful games where we can propel ourselves into the playoffs.' I think that when you're at this point in the season where you can actually look up there along with a lot of other teams, it makes it very, very interesting.
Q: One of the things that's hard to gauge is that despite the way we saw the Patriots on Monday night, they had been prodding along and winning games prior to that. How do you view them as a ball club?
HE: I view them as a very solid football team and a good football team. They played a pretty good team at home down there and they [the Titans] did a good job of basically keeping the ball away from them. That's tough. We kind of ran into that up in Chicago. They kept the ball away from us, too, a little bit. We did get off track offensively, but these guys will bounce back. They've won the Super Bowl and they've been in some hard situations. I think they'll bounce back good.
Q: Your season could have gone down the chute early and obviously it did not. Why do you think the club was able to hang together and come back the way you did?
HE: I think the coaches did a great job of really preaching the message that we had the opportunity to work ourselves out of it and we needed to do some things better on both sides of the football. They really bought into that and we hung together. Then, we got a little streak going and we won a couple of games. Obviously when you win, you gain a little confidence. We gained some confidence and went down the road and we were playing some pretty good football until last week. We hit one of those bumps. It's unfortunate, but it happens. Now, we have to try to regroup and try to win another game.
Q: Particularly with you playing as long as you did, with an incident such as you had in the middle of last week, if you go out and beat the Bears, everybody would say that it was a great morale lifter and fired the team up and if you lose, then it was a huge mistake and you've got inter-corps tussles. How do you look at it both as a former player and as a current coach?
HE: Well, I think you look at it as a former player as things like that happen and basically, that's not going to affect how you play. I really don't think so. I think it's a waste of energy during practice. You get a little tired, with guys going at it and guys are trying to pull other guys away. For the most part, you've got to give them a timeout, because these guys think they're boxers and they're terrible boxers, they really are. You get a little tired. I think as a coach, sometimes you get a little disappointed. But, anxiety at this time of the year is up in a lot of places. When you're on that tight line, things happen some times that are a part of that.
Q: How much did you address that, or did you say, 'Hey, guys, work it out amongst yourselves. It's not that big of a deal, straighten it out'?
HE: I addressed it a little bit, but then I let the players work it out. As far as I'm concerned, they worked it out.
Q: We've got to get this for the record.
Q: Do you think the Patriots defense is going to cause you any problems?
HE: Oh, yeah. I think what they do and they types of things they do can confuse you and I think that that makes you hesitant at times on what they're trying to do. That's how they play and they do a good job of playing that way.
Q: You may recall that Coach Belichick thinks that you made a comment back in September that no one else seems to remember.
HE: I don't know. I don't play those things in the paper.
Q: He doesn't trash talk often, that's why it was kind of amusing.
HE: Well, I don't get into that. I just think Coach does a good job with his football team and I'm going to try to prepare my team to play and we'll let the players play, because they play the game.
Q: Do you have any real concerns about your club, because you have a shot, but it's not a real good one. Are you concerned that maybe if things don't go well early, you'll lose them?
HE: No. I think our guys will compete. This team is going to compete. They're going to do that. They're going to play hard and they're going to compete. That's what they're going to do.
Q: Herm, a question that would deal with a particular issue is that the Patriots have one of the most consistent players in the league in Adam Vinatieri. He's an excellent weapon to have in these close games with his play and their ability to make the big kick.
HE: Well, I think you're right. That's a good weapon to have. You need to have a confident kicker and they know if they get into a certain range, then he's going to kick the ball and make it. He's made a lot of big kicks, and that's what's great. People always talk about the kickers when they miss them, but when you have a guy who can make it consistently like he can do, that's an extra bonus for you.
Q: Is there at all a nagging feeling when at the end of the season if you've played well for some time and then you have these games like the Patriots had Monday and like you had on Sunday, that maybe that is more indicative of who you are, or do you just say, hey, that was an aberration?
HE: Well, you're hoping that it's an aberration, especially if you've played consistent through a course of time. But, I think what happens to you is that you get nervous as a coach. You ask, 'Why did we do that? How can that happen?' I think it just happens. You hate for it to happen when you've been on a winning streak. You try to get out of that. If you can get out of that and you can win it, then you feel a lot better about it. When you don't, you've got to let it go. I think that as a coach, if you don't bring some positive energy back, the team will start dwelling on that and you can't dwell on things like that.
Q: You've played in a tough market in Philadelphia and you're coaching in one of the toughest, if not the toughest. Is there a tendency, especially in this league now where teams come out of nowhere and win, to overreact more so than ever in terms of wins and losses? Like when you think all hell's breaking loose if you lose and think you're the greatest team in history when you win?
HE: [Laughter]. Well, I think as much media coverage as we have now in sports, not only the writers, but the television markets and everyone has a talk show and before games, all of a sudden it's a two-hour preview of what's going to happen. I think that if you buy into all that, then that can get you. I think what you have to do is just focus on your football team and try to get them headed in a direction where you think they can be successful and always remember that.
Q: Herm, on a day-to-day basis, how much does your experience as a player in this league help you? Obviously there are coaches in this league who have been successful as players and coaches and there are guys like Belichick who never played football above college.
HE: I think if helps you if you use it to your strengths and to your perception as a player and how you handled certain things when you lost and when you won, how players in the locker room were going to handle that. I think it gives you that kind of insight. But, I think whoever you are as a coach, you have to bring your personality to the team and be fair with them and make them understand that we're trying to do this things together, players and coaches, and that whatever you decide to do as a head coach, it's going to be best for the team. I think it can help you at times with the little things that you know that the players think about. So, I think that helps you a little bit.
Q: The Patriots have had trouble stopping the run against the good backs, like [LaDainian] Tomlinson and Ricky Williams. They're given up more than 100 yards six or seven times. When you look at them, without giving away state secrets here, what do you think the weakness is? Why have so many teams been able to run well against them?
HE: Well, I think the run game is very, very interesting. It's one of those deals where if you give a team an opportunity to keep the ball, and they keep running, yards start adding up. If you can get a lead on a team where they have to disband the run game, then all of a sudden, you're a better run defense. I think any run defense is best when all of a sudden you can get a lead and you're playing with a lead and they're not so apt to run the ball all the time. That's what happens. A lot of runs are three- or four-yard gains, sometimes minus, but if they keep running and they have success and they convert on third downs, obviously at the end of the day, it becomes a big number. I think that when you run and you continue to run, every once in a while, a guy's going to get a crack and run for 20 yards or 30 yards. Then, all of a sudden, it becomes a real big day.
Q: An intriguing thing about the matchup here is that from the Patriots standpoint, if they don't stop Curtis, they're never going to see the ball and they're in big trouble and maybe he'll do something special. Then the flip side of that would be that they could be thinking that if they're expecting that, then maybe they'll turn [Chad] Pennington loose. How do you weigh the fact that they're going to be concerned about Curtis with the fact that they haven't stopped a good back yet?
HE: Well, I just think that you have to come in with a plan that you think is going to work for you offensively and defensively. Things can change during the course of the game. I think you have to be ready to do that according to what they're going to do to you. I think that you go in with the mindset that you want to do certain things and you try those things and you see how they defend it and then from there, you make adjustments.
Q: Can you talk about Laveranues Coles? It seems like he's had some games this year that indicate that he's reaching a different level of play.
HE: You make a great point. I think that he's starting to become one of the better receivers in our league. Week in and week out, the guy's always coming up with a big play. I think that we have a lot of confidence in him right now and he's a guy that can obviously make the big play for you. He has a lot of confidence in himself and I think that he's starting to separate himself into that higher echelon of being a really good receiver.
Q: Is it just hard work, or was there a particular game where he got confidence?
HE: I think it's been hard work for him, but then all of a sudden, game after game, he's starting to make a play. You see that and then he starts making some spectacular plays and you say, 'Wow, how did he do that?' The more you throw him the ball, the more you see what he can do with it.
**Q: Great. Okay, Herm, thanks very much. It's been good talking with you. You take care.