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Jets Head Coach Al Groh Press Conference

Phone ConferenceJets Head Coach Al Groh speaks to the press.



            **Q:  Different circumstances as a head coach in NFL, how has it been?  You certainly got off to a good start?**  

G: Yeah we did. I was very pleased for the team that they got a chance to really put in to it, to come away with these kinds of feelings about not only what they accomplished, but also what their potential is.

Q: We had an opportunity to watch some of the game last week and it seemed to be quite a resilient performance by your team in a tight situation?

G: I like the resolve and the will that our team showed and I expected that going up there. I had seen very good signs of it during the last parts of training camp and I really wanted to look for that, create situations where I could find out about it. I did not want to be going to the first team, first game, wondering what the will and the resolve of our team would be. I hoped to have a sense of what it was and they lived up to that.

Q: Is there a different perspective being a head coach rather than a defensive coordinator? Do you have to keep your head on a swivel just to keep up with all the information about your ball club?

G: You got it exactly right. You have to broaden your perception to everything, down to the lowest levels. It is important to have an understanding of what's going on in the training room, as well as what's going on in the personnel department, what's going on with special teams, and making the active roster for the game on Sunday to give us the best chance to win. That may not be the same way the offensive and defensive coordinators see it because they're not thinking about special teams or the fact that we may need an extra defensive back-up this week instead of a wide receiver. So you are exactly right it does cause you to broaden perspective as well as your level of authority and responsibility.

Q: Given your age, did you ever think you would see a head coaching job and would it have disappointed you had you not?

G: Actually you are kind of right with it. I think one of the advantages that I feel very good about is that I was fortunate, that usually at this age it doesn't come to you, you're exactly right. And I thought it would take kind of an unusual set of circumstances, so I really wasn't counting on it. I kind of had a plan for how I would like to stay in the league. As a matter of fact a guy who was kind of a model for me, that many of you are familiar with and enjoyed, was Fritz Shurmur. And I kind of in my mind thought that boy I'd really like to try to be a Fritz Shurmur. I think that's my best chance. But since it did come to me at this point I think that one of the things that I feel good about is that I'm not a kid coach. In other words, I've been around for a long time. And usually at this point you should be at the peak of what you've been exposed to and what your knowledge is and your insights and perhaps even a little bit of wisdom. That would serve you well at an earlier age but they don't wait around long enough for you to get this kind of perspective. In the long run it worked out I think under the best set of circumstances for me.

Q: It was an unusual set of circumstances that resulted in your getting the job, has there been any fallout from that, or is that all thing of the past?

G: Yeah, I think it certainly is with our team and with our organization very much so.

Q: This weekend many paths cross, with your relationship with Bill Belichick and past circumstances, that's all an element in this game isn't it?

G: No, I don't think it's an element. I don't dismiss it, I think it's part of the side show, but I don't think it's any element whatsoever in the game so long as we don't allow ourselves to be distracted by it. At this time I just got done talking to the New York media about at this time next week all anybody is going to be asking me about is football. This week all anybody wants to ask me about is all that other B.S. So I told them, we really the only thing that is of interest to me is the football because that is the only thing that's going to determine who wins the game. How each coach got where he did, what the events were, and all that, that may be part of history but really those will have no factor whatsoever on which team wins the game.

Q: Having worked with Bill Belichick for so long, could you comment on what you see as his type of personality or some people would say lack of personality?

G: I always enjoyed my time with Bill very much and had lots of good laughs with Bill. And so I guess I started saying this to myself and to confidants and what not, cause nobody else would listen to me, when I was with Bill in Cleveland and then in subsequent years particularly down here that the portrayal that he got publicly was certainly not the same man that I worked with. So that's my recollections of it.

Q: He clearly puts forward a different face in a public venue than he does privately. Not that a lot of other people don't?

G: I think eventually all of us put forth the face as to who we really are. We handle the circumstances as we are, but that's not to say there's not other sides to us than the way that we handle particular events and circumstances.

Q: Teams take on the personality of their head coach, [Bill] Parcells had his way of doing business and you have yours, how long does it take a team to adjust to the changes and does it have to be a quick changeover?

G: I think the quicker the changeover the better, because then you solidify how you're doing things. However in this particular case, at least from my perspective, and you'd have to ask the people who are seeing it from the other side, players and so forth, I don't see it for me being a major change. Because while my personality and Bill's personality may be somewhat different, most of the philosophies on which he ran the team are the same philosophies that I based my team on when I was the head coach in college and which I firmly believe in. I think I'm running the team in a very similar, not the same, but in a similar fashion. But I am not trying to emulate him or anything, I'm just doing it cause that is what I believe in.

Q: Your fundamentals are the same, you, Bill [Parcells], and maybe [Bill] Belichick, all of you have probably similar fundamentals as to how to run a football team. Would that be fair to say?

G: Well I think that yeah, we spent the better part of, with a little bit of departures and reunions and so forth, the better part of the last fifteen years most of these same personalities have interacted here on a pretty on-going basis. Yeah I think the beliefs and how you run a football team and what causes you, makes you win or causes you to lose, are pretty similar.

Q: Do you get fun from the side show or as you say B.S. that goes with this game or is it all B.S. and drudgery to you?

G: It is, it's all B.S. to me. The way I look at it, and I'm not saying this in a demeaning or negative way, but I recognize this as Wednesday, the games on Monday. That leaves Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday. How many times are most people, readers or writers, how many times are people interested in hearing me talk about what a good pass rusher Willie McGinest is? So it's all the sidebar stories that, that you've got to come up with something and that creates all the B.S. and that's fortunate. It probably fills in a lot of column space that just the X's and O's of football wouldn't fill in. But I don't see it's going to have any bearing on which team wins the game. It's just going to provide a lot of entertainment for the readership.

Q: Can you recount the mood last year when Vinny Testaverde went down and the mood last week after he came back and led you guys to a win? And just the change in confidence that he brings?

G: I think that the common characteristic of the really top quarterbacks, on any level, they don't have to be a pro quarterback, is that they ingrain in their teammates a confidence and a mentality that is at its base level each player is thinking if I just really bust my butt to get ready for this game and I bust my hump in the game pretty good chance "old Joe" will see to it that we win. And all the really good teams have a quarterback like that. I know the Patriots believe that about Drew [Bledsoe], I know our players believe that about Vinny, and when we didn't have Vinny we didn't have that . Now fortunately for us, as time went on, Ray Lucas became that player for us, that the players felt you know we can see that Ray thinks he's going to win, we start getting with it and then he proved a couple times that he could. The players saw the same way with him, and it breathed life, and energy, and passion back into us. Everybody said you know if we just go about our business and really get after it this guy at this position is going to see to it that we have a really good shot to win. And I think that is the heart and soul of being a quarterback, now we have two of them on her team who can do that and I saw the differences even though it was just a preseason game the Giants/Jets preseason game had a little more to it than if we were playing somebody from the west coast. When we played the Giants without Vinny this year and Ray had a terrific game for us, the player's mentality before the game was like hey we feel bad for Vinny but we've got Ray. So I think that is a very important thing and for both of these teams, they've got it.

Q: You coached against Curtis Martin and now have him, he was deemed expendable here, how vital is he to your team now?

G: Curtis is one of the most important parts of our team. Not just because of his production, but I think it is very important every year every team has to find its heart. And even though you have many of the same personalities you have to find the heart of the team every year. Very clearly Curtis is one of those players that we go to see where the heart of the team is. And that's what he was on Sunday for us.

Q: Would you ever consider giving a guy like that up?

G: I'll just say that I'm awful glad that I've got him. I always want to have one like him.

Q: As a coach you travel and gain and lose things everywhere you go. How do you feel about your stay here, the people of Hingham, and the relationships you had? Was that a special place?

G: You know how I felt when I left. Anne and I had a very special feeling for the overall area, the close friends that we developed in Hingham of all the places we've ever lived, and we've liked every place we've ever been, I think we met more people who will be lifetime friends of ours there than maybe all the other places combined. In fact, a number of them are planning to be here for a number of games this year. It is still a place that we love to visit. We had occasion I guess to be up there twice this summer and for us it is always a great couple of days when we can see or be in that town and visit our friends.

Q: People know what kind of person and coach you are. Stepping into a difficult job in New York, are your age and experiences a confidence builder for you?

G: I think that I've been around. I understand the challenge of the job and never from the first moment was daunted by it. I think after doing this for 30 years, I ought to know what a head coach is supposed to do, it shouldn't be that big a mystery to me. I have a set of beliefs and principles and beliefs that I think a team should be operated on and those obviously come from someone who was one of the all-time great coaches so that was a reinforcing thing. The other thing that has been really important is regardless of how big the environment is, how big or little the city is, ultimately you have to separate yourself from that and just go coach the team.

Q: Describe the input you have received from Bill Parcells, has he stepped back and let you do your thing or have you sought his advice?

G: I think all of the above. Besides Bill being the boss for many years and my working under him we've been friends for over 30 years. For a long time, circumstances made it a boss-type relationship rather than a close friend relationship. Once he was no longer the coach, he even joked, he said, "This is pretty good, we kind of go back to the way we were a long time ago." That is the kind of feeling we have for each other. He's been very helpful to me because one, there is a sense of isolation that surrounds the head coach sometimes, there are circumstances that the head coach is dealing with that other people don't have an insight to not because they're not smart enough, but just because they're not exposed to it or aren't forced into having that big picture perspective. I'm not so arrogant to presume that I have all of the answers and sometimes it is good to get another person's opinion and yet, if you don't have somebody who really understands what you're dealing with you don't have any place to turn. Right now, I've got somebody who is not judgmental of what I'm doing, but has been there before and understand some of the things that are coming up. He'll say, "Here's something you might want to think about." Sometimes I'll go to him and say, "I was just interested in another opinion." It is very helpful to me that way. I'm also fortunate in that respect in having Dan Henning down the hall, literally at both ends of that particular hall I've had somebody that I can use as a resource whenever I desire that has been a head coach in the National Football League.

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