Q: This is our first opportunity to talk to you as the Jets head coach, but in this situation it is a little different than your average?
HE: I think obviously with the incidents that happened in our country here last Tuesday it affected everyone. I think by the National Football League not playing last week it was an indication of the right thing to do for us as a league and I think also for the players.
Q: Your team is really close to the tragedy, how have you been able to deal with it and the players emotions dealing with it?
HE: I think the healing process is day to day. I think players get better. The more we get together as a team and stay focused in on football, I think it helps. Yesterday we went down and did some volunteer work down there. So I think that kind of helped us as a team. I know a lot of guys wanted to do that, so we did that as a team yesterday. We just had a walk through just a few minutes ago and we talked about it this morning. We are trying to get focused in now on New England.
Q: What was the volunteer work that you guys did?
HE: Basically we split half the team up and they went and spoke to the family members that were still waiting to hear about the people that were missing. The other half of us went to the Salvation Army and really loaded a couple of trucks up, as far as supplies and stuff they were taking down there. So it was a team effort and I think it was one well worth while in the fact that we went down there really as just volunteers, American citizens, and just trying to do our little bit just to help.
Q: What kind of reaction did you see from your players doing that?
HE: I think they felt good about doing it. They brightened a lot of people's spirits once they realized that these were the Jets and really coming into contact with them and talking to them. We were down there for about three and a half-hours or four hours and just to visit with them, especially the people that had lost people, that were still looking for them. I think that was a real touching moment for a lot of our players.
Q: How much of a factor will what's happened be on being able to concentrate and back on track to their profession?
HE: I think every guy will take it a little bit differently, but I think that is why you create a team atmosphere. For that guys that struggle a little bit, the other guys can help them. I think the more you just concentrate on football and the more you are in the meetings and the more you understand what we need to do on the practice field, I think that helps you concentrate more.
Q: What are some of the things that you bring to that team and some of the things that you have learned already as the head coach?
HE: The first thing I've learned is we have some character players which really help you a lot, tremendously. I think when you bring in a new staff and you're a new head coach I think they kind of mirror what you expect them to do. The thing I think the team learned about me right away is that I am going to be a guy that is in constant communication with them. I am going to call it like it is. I've always kind of been that way, I live my life that way. It's black and white with me. When you screw up, you screw up. When you do good, you do good. I think they found that out. I am a pretty positive person, really outgoing. I have a lot of energy. I try to live my life that way. I don't ask the players to do anything that I wouldn't do and I think they understand that about me.
Q: When you were a player did you ever think about a time when you might get the chance to be a head coach and that you might take some of the aspects of the various coaches that you played for?
HE: Absolutely. I think Dick was a big influence on me, Vermeil, obviously. And Tony [Dungy] has been a big influence also in my career and development as a head coach. I'm in constant communication with those guys, generally every week or so. It's a good fit for me because I've got some guys that I can rely on when some things come up that basically I'm trying to make a decision and I can call those guys and lean on their shoulder.
Q: This is a macho league. Are you ever worried that your constant communication could be misconstrued and you being a soft coach?
HE: No I don't think so. I think the players to a man will tell you that I am not. I think any player that I've ever coached will tell you I'm not. I have expectations. I'm a very disciplined guy. I expect guys to meet expectations and I put expectations in front of them. I don't let them put their own expectations there, I put it on them and say this is what you are expected to do. Our job as a staff is really to try to let them reach their expectations.
Q: One of the things that are unique are not only the pressures of coaching in New York, but also you are taking over a team that has had a few coaching changes recently, how did you approach that?
HE: I told them that that's part of the business. Sometimes you are in situations that you really can't create the scenario. I think that was the scenario created and I told them basically this, I said, 'There's really nothing you can do about it.' That is part of the National Football League, no different than injuries, when guys get hurt there is nothing you can do about it. At this point you've had a couple good head coaches and it didn't work out for one reason or another. That's not your fault. That's not their fault. That's life, the speed bumps of life. I told them what you have to do now is to be a professional. Professionals do that, they have to adapt to the situation that they are surrounded with.
Q: Can you tell us a little bit about Curtis Martin, his role and what makes him unique?
HE: Obviously I think the person is the best characteristic to describe Curtis Martin and what he brings to the table as a human being. I think the football takes care of itself. I truly believe that. I believe that if you're a football player or a writer, a doctor, a lawyer, it really doesn't matter. If you have your issues at home taken care of and you don't have a lot of issues on your plate to deal with, obviously you can be productive at whatever you do. That's the main thing we try to do here is make the players understand, your issues are important. But they have to get corrected because if they are not you bring them to the office and you bring them to the football field and you can't concentrate and stay focused on your job. Curtis is the type of guy where he understands what his role is on this football team. He doesn't talk a lot and he really doesn't have to. He just lines up every day, practices hard and he plays the same way.
Q: In terms of productivity, what happened against the Colts?
HE: With Curtis?
Q: No, for the whole team?
HE: I thought we had a bad second quarter, basically. If you let them score 21, 28 points in the second quarter you are playing up hill. A lot of people say they were flat when we came out. I don't know about that. We scored on the first quarter and then we got off the field defensively and in the second quarter they went to a hurry up offense. Really I don't think that was anything special. I just think that what we didn't do is on third down we didn't get off the field. If you stay on the field too long, guess what, you are going to get a little tired. I think that is what happened to us defensively and then we gave them a couple scores. It was one of those deals where we intercept the ball and we fumble it back to them. And we punt the ball and the guy runs it back with thirty seconds left. So I think there were a couple things that happened, but we created that for ourselves. We created a hole and in the third quarter we came back a little bit and made it close at the end and had a chance maybe to score at the end and get it to a 31-38 game and we fumble the ball. The guy runs it in for a touchdown and basically that is how the ballgame went.
Q: How do you view the Patriots now in terms of this game and what they have to offer?
HE: I think they've done a nice job of really gathering some veteran guys on defense that will help them, that have been in that system. They believe in that system and they do a nice job with it defensively. They are in the 3-4, they know how to play it. Obviously they can create some havoc with you. They put six, seven, eight, nine guys on the line of scrimmage at times and you can't run the football. That poses a problem and then they put you in third and long situations and they either drop off in soft coverage or they come blitz you. They've got some good players who have played in the system and they do a nice job. Offensively, obviously the quarterback I think is a tough football player. I know last year we came up there with Tampa and we hit him a bunch of times and at the end of the game he's still standing there throwing balls and if he hits one at the end, all of the sudden they might win the game. He's a productive guy. Troy Brown is a good receiver for them. He's made a lot of big plays for them. He's a good punt return guy. You know it is the home opener for them and they had a tough loss two weeks ago against Cincinnati and they'll be fired up about playing us.
Q: What has surprised you about being a head coach and the demands on your time?
HE: I think the thing that surprises you and I've heard this before, there's about five things that come up that you never expect, that you are not prepared for and obviously a couple of those things have already come up. I think just the time restraint and really how to really allocate your time. I mean you are talking about really trying to put in a new offense, new defense and special teams and with a new coaching staff. So I think all that is cumbersome at times because there are certain things that your coaches really don't know because they don't know me that well. I don't know them that well. I know them as coaches, but to come together as a team it takes a little while because you are always prodding on this and doing that and that is probably the hardest part.
Q: Do you expect that as the season goes along that your team will better with you and you with them, that it will be a stronger team down the road?
HE: I think so. I think every week that we are going to grow together and build on that. And one thing they'll know about me is that I am always going to be a positive guy. I am always going to look at the bright side of it and that's how you have to. I've lived my life that way. I don't know how to do it any other way, really. That's how I coach and that is how I expect my coaches to coach. We'll coach them hard and we're going to ask them to be detailed and disciplined, but we are going to be positive about some things that sometimes some people might not be, but I think you have to. In today's world, you can look at anybody and knock some dirt off of them.
Q: What was the greatest lesson of your young life that influence you?
HE: My parents. My parents, basically.
Q: One or two things that you could pick out?
HE: I don't know if you guys know a lot about me but my mom was German and my father was obviously Afro-American and to get married when they got married, back in the '40s, was really taboo. And I think they taught me a lot early in life was that it really didn't matter what people look like or where they were from. If you love somebody or were committed to something, it was going to work. And don't judge people for what the perception or what someone might say. I think I've kind of tried to live my life that way, put my hand out there and shake their hand and build trust with people. They taught me that. A lot about trust, a lot about loyalty, a lot about staying committed and those are the things that I have tried to build my life on.
Q: We've all seen the devastation that happened down in New York. Was being there in person a lot different than you expected?
HE: Yeah, but we didn't really get down to the site. We were pretty close, you saw some of the charred buildings, but we weren't really on ground zero. To tell you the truth, to go there and look, but all the people that were surrounding there, the firemen and the people that we visited with, you could look in their eyes and tell that it was very, very strenuous. You could just tell in their eyes. There was a different look about them. It was different then being tired at the job. It was one of those deals of sometimes some of them losing hope that they couldn't find anybody anymore and things of that nature. That's what really got to you. That's the kind of stuff with me that these people for hours and hours and days and days they have been down there trying to find people in an environment that's pretty tough.