HE: Good afternoon.
Q: Good afternoon, Herm. How are you?
HE: I'm doing well, thank you.
Q: I just talked to Curtis Martin a few moments ago, and we were talking about what it takes to win and what kinds of things the Patriots did to be successful. Talk about developing a team chemistry and how it's about developing a team and not so much talent. From your position, assess how the Patriots were successful last year and the formula they used.
HE: Well, I think the first thing it that each person had a role on that team, and their role was very important for the success of the football team. I think that when you can build that and you don't worry about whether you're a starter or if you come in on third down or if you come out of the tunnel and you're not the guy introduced, that you can make a contribution to your team, then … Guys played within their athletic ability. They didn't try to overdo what they do well. I think they have a system there where they fit their players into certain spots where they can make them successful. I think when you can do that and you believe in yourself, you can accomplish a lot of good things, and they did that last year.
Q: Is that a model that you're trying to develop there as well, to have that kind of team chemistry?
HE: Absolutely. I think that's what you always try to do. Wherever I've been, and I've been in three spots in coaching, I think that's what you develop. When you have a winning team and you win, those teams have those characteristics. There's no doubt about it.
Q: For a head coach, there's often a fine line between being a players' coach and having tunnel vision. Curtis was saying that sometimes coaches can be too coachy or they can be too easy. He says you're in the middle. Is that something you've developed?
HE: Well, I think that I have a pretty good perspective of it in the fact that I played. I think that helped me develop some of my philosophies and the things that I believe in. When I decide certain things, I always reflect back to when I was a player. In certain situations, I'd wonder when I was a player, how did I feel about this or that? I think that helped me. But I think the nest thing is to communicate. When you communicate with your team honestly and tell them the what, the why and the how, I think eventually, they buy into that and they trust you. Then you go from there.
Q: One of the things in talking to Curtis, and he's got a good perspective of eight years in the league, I said, 'Sometimes it seems like talent isn't the most important thing, it's the intangibles that the Patriots had.' He agreed. He said, 'Believe me, the Washington Redskins had all the talent a few years ago and they did nothing.' Do you believe in that same thing?
HE: Absolutely. He makes a great point. I was fortunate enough to go to Super Bowl XV with Dick Vermeil, and we had 22 free agents on that team to go to the Super Bowl. That tells you a lot about talent. Now we felt that just because we were free agents that we had some talent, but a lot of other people didn't feel that way. Talent is measured in a lot of ways. Sometimes you measure it with a stopwatch and a ruler, but really talent, I think, is sometimes in your heart.
Q: It seems to me that right now you're off to a good start, but your performance level probably isn't what you wanted. What do you think about your ballclub in terms of its resiliency, where it is and where it's going?
HE: Well, I think the thing these guys understand is that there's all kinds of ways you have to win games at times. Sometimes you don't play up to the expectations that you'd like to, but you've got to find a way to keep fighting and win. These guys have done that. We went through a lot of those games last year, a lot of close football games, and it got down to the wire and we were able to win more than we lost. In close games, I think the team understands that if we can keep our poise and keep games close… we expect to win them when they're close.
Q: Herm, when you got Chad Morton last year, was he did last week, was that you envisioned from him?
HE: Absolutely. He showed that right away in the preseason and then he got knicked. He hurt his ankle. He was really never the same after that, he was kind of off and on, then he had a little hamstring problem, so he never was up to full speed. He came in this year in the offseason and was here all offseason in the program and had a great camp and obviously had an outstanding game.
Q: Coach, are the Patriots one of the more difficult teams in the league to prepare for on both sides of the ball given their talent and the creativity of both Charlie Weis offensively and Romeo Crennel and Bill Belichick on defense?
HE: I think so. I think they do a nice job and I think what helps them a lot is that they've been together as a staff. I think that helps when you're familiar with your coaching staff. And they've done this thing together for a while now. I just think that they do a great job of really attacking you on defense, giving you different looks and bringing you different people in their blitz scheme. Offensively, they have different ways to attack you. When they needed to get in a rhythm the night before last, they went into the short passing attack and got some rhythm going and made some plays. I just think they can run the ball offensively, and they can do a lot of things. They use a lot of their players very, very well.
Q: Does that surprise you that they would stay with no running backs for more than a quarter?
HE: To me, what they were really doing was they were throwing those little passes, like a run. A three-yard pass is like a run, except that the runner doesn't have to run through the line of scrimmage. I look at some of those like the old run-and-shoot days, when you used to throw it out there and you'd give it to the guy in space and you'd alleviate a lot of hits.
Q: When you see that type of thing, does that pose a problem for you preparation-wise, in terms of spending time on that? They very well might not use that at all against you guys, conversely they might use it for a quarter and a half.
HE: Right. Well, I just think there are certain rules you have built into your defense. That's one thing that in the NFL, a lot of teams now go to that spread open offense, and you have to be able to adjust to that in your schemes and we just understand that our offense gets into that situation too at times. We've never been in it 25 times in a row. What you've got to do is during the course of the game, you have to pick your spots on what you want to do and if you feel that's how you're going to move the ball and it's going to give you your best chance to win, then that's what you should do.
Q: I would think it's hard for a quarterback as young as [Tom] Brady, because you can't make any mistakes. One mistake and somebody's running the other way with the ball.
HE: Absolutely. And I think that he's done a great job. He's got a lot of confidence now, going into his second year, winning the Super Bowl has helped him, but I just think that he's been in this system now and he's the guy and he feels good about where he's at right now as a football player and obviously he's doing an outstanding job for them.
Q: What did Brady show you last year in Foxborough when he came in for the last possession? What did he show you in how he handled the team?
HE: He had a lot of poise. That's what he has. He has poise and he has a presence about himself. He feels like he can do this. I think that's a credit to him, to his coaches, giving him a lot of confidence. Obviously, after his year, he's got to feel a whole lot better about himself.
Q: I would think that in your situation Sunday in Buffalo you've got to have mixed feelings. Predominantly, you must be happy to win and that you found a way to win, but the flip side is, that in the quote-unquote real game, you got beat. You won it on the special teams, the blocked punt, which was to your credit, but clearly, there are some things you want to get in gear by Sunday.
HE: Oh yeah, there's no doubt about it. But you'd do that if you win by 10 points, too, and you play pretty well. There's always going to be a part of your game when you play that is never up to the expectations that you expect. I think you're right, that we played really, really well on special teams. We ran two kickoffs back. We didn't play quite well enough on defense, obviously. We could have done some things better on offense; our offense played pretty well at times, so I think you have to correct those things and you move on. The great thing about it, like you said before, was that we won the game.
Q: Herman, how good is Richard Seymour?
HE: I think he's a very good player. When you turn the film on, you know where he's at right away. He flashes. He's a good player. A very good player.
Q: Why? Why is he good?
HE: I think he's big, he's physical, he's fast, he's athletic, he has all the things to become a very, very outstanding, dominant player in the league.
Q: Herman, when Bill Belichick brought Vinny Testaverde to Cleveland, a lot of people were wondering why. Here we are, years later, and a lot of quarterbacks have come and gone, and he's right on top of his game. How has that happened? How has his longevity come to pass?
HE: Well, I think he understands his ability in the offseason … This football thing to him is not a hobby. It's what he does for a living and he understands how to work at it in the offseason. I think all the great ones do. He takes care of himself. I think that when helped him a lot this year, obviously, is that in training camp, he was really only going one-a-day. That helped him keep his arm live and his legs live and I think it's going to help him this year, during the course of the season.
Q: Is he more in tune with your offense? He had to adapt to that past year with the quick pass and that sort of thing.
HE: Absolutely. And I think the whole offense is that way and that's why during the preseason we moved the ball fairly well at times and I think everyone is really acquiring how we work on offense, which is good.
Q: Herm, what do you think about the Patriots' new toys on offense, specifically Deion Branch?
HE: Well, I think he's obviously a talented player. He has the ability to break tackles in space, which you see right on the film. He's a tough guy. I saw the block he delivered on one of the toughest strong safeties in the league. So I think he's a talented guy that way. I think the tight end that they acquired from New Orleans, Cam Cleeland, he's a talented guy. And they use all three of those guys differently. I think they played well. Donald Hayes, we played against him last year, a big receiver. They probably want to use him a little bit more in the red zone. He's a big guy. He made a big catch for them Monday night. So they've got some talented weapons on offense.
Q: Does that make them more difficult to defend this year than last year?
HE: Well, I just think when you spot people out, when you have talented guys in space, it always makes it difficult, because you have bad matchups. All of a sudden, you're putting linebackers on some guys when you don't play man-to-man, and zones and if you can crease it, it becomes a big play and it makes it difficult. You're exactly right.
Q: Terrific. Thanks, Herm. It was nice talking with you.