Jacksonville Jaguars head coach Jack Del Rio addresses the New England media during his conference call on January 8, 2008.
Q: One of the things about this game is that your running backs are fun to watch. You don't have many combinations this league that have such an entertainment value. Obviously, they mean a lot more than entertainment to you.
JD: No question about it. They're both very good football players. They're very unselfish and they had a good year. Both of them had good years.
Q: Fred Taylor is a unique person in the fact that his numbers are still very high and he talks about the fact that Maurice Jones-Drew has helped his career. What is the dynamic that you've had using you running backs against opponents?
JD: The first thing is that when Maurice first arrived here, he sought out Fred and let him know how much he respected him as a player and how much he wanted to learn from him. I think that was a great way to start that relationship. Fred has maximized here, toward the end of his career, he's really maximizing everything he has as a football player and he's having a great season because of that. Everything he can bring to Sundays, he's bringing, so the two have combined and been an excellent one-two combination for us all year.
Q: What went into your decision in going to David Garrard? Obviously it's worked out well for you. Could you just talk about what went into that thinking?
JD: That's obviously something that happened several months ago and there's been a lot of talk about it. [The] bottom line is, as a football team, we've moved forward and we've put together a strong year and we're going up against an incredible opponent this weekend in the playoffs, so we just want to focus on them.
Q: Garrard has obviously played well. What do you think his strengths are?
JD: Well, he's a good football player. He works hard at his trade and I think that his best football is still in front of him.
Q: On the fourth down play against Pittsburgh, what was that originally? Can you say what that was supposed to be before he took off and made that big fourth-down conversion?
JD: No, I really don't want to get into the specific plays.
Q: Was that just a case of his field presence and the ability to see it and take advantage?
JD: Well, obviously when you execute a play, there's a lot that goes into it. It was well-blocked and well-executed on a lot of different levels and then, obviously, the ball carrier did a nice job on it.
Q: Just one more question on Garrard. His interception ratio is very good. What do you attribute that to?
JD: It starts with good decision-making. Obviously, the offensive line, the backs, the tight ends, everybody's involved in protection… You've got to do a nice job. I think the entire process of knowing where his problems are and knowing where he needs to go with the ball and making good decisions, I think that's all part of it.
Q: I think this is something you might have some perspective on. Tedy Bruschi was an undersized guy playing defensive end who's now 34 and playing at a high level at linebacker, and you were a linebacker of note at the time. What's your view of him in what he does and what problems he poses?
JD: Tedy, I've watched him for a number of years. I think he's done a great job of preparing every week and being a play-maker, particularly in big games. He seems to come up with big plays in big games and he has been a very productive football player for a number of years. Any time a guy prolongs his career - and they have another one there in Junior Seau that I know very well, being a Southern Cal guy - but anybody who extends their career and plays at a high level like, they have has really paid the price and worked hard in conditioning and taking care of their body. You know it's important to them so you have to respect that.
Q: You have a team that has grown, and this is your fifth year, but is there a difference in playoff tempo, playoff pace? As a coach, do you see the difference even during the week as you prepare for a playoff game?
JD: I think the biggest thing is that you always want to compete and play well. I think the biggest difference is that we all recognize-players and coaches of all the teams, the eight teams that are left… I think all of us understand that when you get into the postseason, it's a single-elimination tournament. I think with that brings more intensity and that's involved with everything: the preparation, the amount of energy that's brought on game day and then throughout the course of the ball game.
Q: Can you comment on Mark Duffner and the job he's done with your linebackers?
JD: Are you from Maryland? Or Cincinnati?
Q: Worcester, Mass. Holy Cross.
JD: Coach Duffner's done a nice job for us. He's got a wealth of experience. He works his guys very hard and brings a lot of energy every day to the job.
Q: Let talk about the Patriots. You're playing an elite team, maybe the greatest of all time, and then maybe not. What are some of the things that you feel you need to deal with them?
JD: It's think it's probably the greatest collection of talent in coaching that's ever been assembled. I think they've got really an All-Star cast. I think you've got some certain Hall of Fame players. You've got a whole slew of All-Stars and Pro Bowl-type guys and the coaching staff is very strong. We've got a lot of respect for what they've been able to accomplish, not only this year, but over the last five or six years. Obviously, we've got our work cut out for us and it's a huge challenge and a great opportunity. We're just going to do the best we can to put a good plan together and bring a lot positive energy and try to go in and compete.
Q: In that sense, you didn't have any Pro Bowlers until Fred Taylor got in as an alternate. What's your reaction to having your guys passed over?
JD: Fred's been a great player for us and one of the great players in the history of this franchise. It's not been a long history, but we've been a team for a short time and Fred has been the face of the Jaguars. I'm really pleased that he's been selected and we'll get the opportunity to go play. He's a very deserving player and we've appointed him team captain. I'm just real happy for him for his individual honor. I know he'll tell you that he's the most excited about the opportunity for the opportunity to go and fight for a championship. Obviously, we've got a very talented team in front of us that we're preparing for right now.
Q: You guys had Kyle Brady last year and there was a play that Maurice Jones-Drew ran for 74 yards and almost ran over Kyle when he was trying to block for him. What did that tell you about the way that Maurice runs?
JD: Well, Kyle was trying to tackle him on that play. I think Kyle knew he was going to be a Patriot this year. [Maurice] is an exciting football player obviously. I think it caught him off guard a little bit that he didn't actually go down and it made him hold up on the play a little bit. He's an exciting football player obviously.
Q: Just going back to what you had said about the Patriots. How has Randy Moss impacted this offense and what has he brought to the Patriots this year?
JD: They were a great team without him. It just added another weapon to be able to add another guy like that, a future Hall of Fame kind of guy, to be able to add that kind of talent like that to your team when you're all ready strong. It just makes it difficult to defend. They're very good. He's very good and obviously it's just another big weapon that you've got to try to defend.
Q: It's probably not a coincidence that Taylor ran for nearly 500 yards in your last five games and you finished very strong. That seems to be the key to your success, is it?
JD: We work hard to have balance. Certainly, we pride ourselves on being able to run it and a lot of things result in opportunities off of people's attempts to try to slow that game. It's really where we've started and we're evolving as an offense. We've worked hard to become more than just a running team. We made strides and we are making strides in terms of developing the passing part of our offense. We need to do that to be able to score and be able to win against the great football teams like the one that we're facing this weekend. It's obviously been a big part of what we do, what we're about, but we also recognize the need to develop the other part of our game.
Q: After your game against the Patriots last year, you made the comment that one of your players should have speared Tom Brady. Did you wish that you could have that one back?
JD: No. First of all, that was not a real accurate depiction. When I was asked the question, I re-used the same word in the statement. [The] bottom line is he had gotten a first down earlier in the game where we thought he was going to pull up and slide and he didn't. And we need that the guys are being aggressive, making the play, which he should. [We] need to go make a play to stop it. That's all. I have lot of respect for him and those types of things tend to get blown out of proportion.