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Jim Fassel Conf Call Transcript - 10/8/03

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**Q: How are your special teams shaping up? You had a couple of injuries early in the season. You lost your kicker. How is that coming along for you so far?

JF:** I've never seen it like this. I will tell you what, we have been through so many guys in special teams. It has got to be a black cloud over our heads somehow. We were on our third snapper and our third place kicker, after having horrendous problems with it last year and then freak stuff going on to our guys. It is just amazing. I don't understand it. It is just incredible.

**Q: In a press conference today, Bill Belichick made you guys sound like the greatest team in the universe. Complimented you at every position and everything. Can you give us your thoughts on the Patriots?

JF:** (laughter) I think they are the best team in the National Football League. (laughter) They don't have a weak spot. No they are a good football team, a very good football team. They played extremely well last week. That was a hard game and they fought all the way through it. I am sure Bill is proud of them and the way they fought through that. It is amazing with the amount of injuries and all that to come out and beat Tennessee that way. That was a good game.

**Q: Coach Belichick made the comment that you guys play well when your backs are against the wall?

JF:** Well I've always thought of them as a team that has responded. Like I tell them, there is not a team in the National Football League that doesn't go through tough times. I just told the press here, I remember after the first game that the Patriots played everybody had them buried. They got beat. They hadn't played very well. They came right back and played two outstanding football games and now they are 3-2. In this league right now, nobody can say who is going to end up on top. Prior to the season, it is so equal. I don't think people understand that. Injuries play a factor. Teams get on a roll. The combined record of all the playoff teams, all the best teams of last year, is 26-30 right now. There are four undefeated teams in this league and three of those weren't in the playoffs last year. Nobody would have thought…Minnesota is undefeated, what Kansas City is doing. You just can't predict it.

**Q: Turnovers. I know you aren't happy being minus three. Is it more the turnovers that you are committing, or the fact that you are not creating enough?

JF:** It's both. It's how many we are giving up to how many we are getting. On offense we have a goal of giving up no more than one and on defense our goal is getting two. We've only accomplished that goal once on defense and once on offense. That's not good, because you have to be far superior to other teams to win with a negative turnover ratio and we certainly don't fit that category. So we have got to play well and we have to get our turnover ratio intact.

**Q: Two interceptions that got dropped for you in the end zone last week. There is nothing really you can do about that, guys were in position. You've got to expect the next time they are going to be able to hold on to those balls, right?

JF:** Well that's right. Like I told them, the first half we had three turnovers. Two of them resulted in a…our defense did a hell of a job of going on the field and holding them to a field goal. But we turned the ball over and gave them two field goals. That's six points. We dropped two interceptions that would have prevented the end of that drive that we dropped them on which were just catchable balls. They would not have been phenomenal catches. That was two of them. That's six points. So that's 12 points that we spotted them. 12 points just by catching the ball and just by not turning it over. You don't have to change the play in the game. Just hold on to it and catch it and that's 12 points. You can't spot a team 12 points like that in a game and expect to win.

**Q: Can you comment on Michael Strahan? What he brings to the team overall?

JF:** Michael. He brings a lot more to the team than what everybody sees. He is not only a dominate player, but he is such a leader. His work ethic and the example he sets and all that is what every coach wants in a team. To me, I have a lot of respect for him because truly for a guy who has accomplished what he has accomplished and his age and making the money and doing all these things, to me sometimes those guys just put it on cruise control. Not him. Practices everyday. Practices hard. Positive in the locker room. He is truly a player who you want on your team.

**Q: How has [Jeremy] Shockey's addition helped figuring your team up to finding more space for the secondary?

JF:** I think with Shockey in the middle…that was the little piece I always thought we were missing. If you've got a guy who is a threat in the middle, it makes it a little harder to double team or roll coverages outside. So I think he has been a perfect blend. Plus most tight ends you can move around and do different things with them, it makes it a little bit harder to match them up.

**Q: Which came first then, the blocking or the catching? Or did they come together for you?

JF:** No. He's a receiving tight end, but I think he blocks well. There is nothing about him that he doesn't do. He probably needs more improvement in the blocking than he did the receiving.

**Q: He is kind of a flamboyant guy. Does that find well down there in New York?

JF:** Yeah. He got scaved a little bit today, this year about some comments and those type of things. But he is a guy, a competitor. He speaks his mind. He is one of those guys, you love to have him on your team, because you know he is going to compete every day in practice. He is going to compete every game. He has a lot of energy.

**Q: Do other offensive players feed off that energy a little bit?

JF:** I think so. Any time you've got a player like that, who creates confidence in your team and gets a spark, guys feel like he can make plays to help us win. Just the competitiveness.

**Q: You said he was the piece you were missing. How has that affected [Kerry] Collins having that reliable guy over the middle?

JF:** I think a lot of quarterbacks will tell you the guy that sometimes you get the ball to, and it could be anybody, is usually the tight end. You play catch with him and do those type of things. You know you have a tight end, but all those balls are going to be outside to the receiver. Not all of them. A tight end that you have confidence in that slides around in there and gives you an outlet guy or a primary guy, it adds a lot.

**Q: It's a big New York/Boston week in sports. You guys paying any attention to what's happening on the other side of the city?

JF:** What's happening there? I don't know. (laughter) Yeah, Yeah I do. It will be interesting. In fact a guy asked me if I wanted to stay up there and watch the Red Sox and Yankees play on Sunday night. I said, 'No, I think I've got to come back with the team.'

**Q: Let's talk about [Kerry] Collins a little bit. You have been with him for four years now. He seems like he's matured. He seems like he is a very dependable kind of professional quarterback.

JF:** Oh he is. Kerry has come so far not only in his personal life, but also as a professional and being a quarterback. I have a great admiration for him. He has come a long way and I'm proud of him. He has done a hell of a job for us. Sometimes his numbers don't look too good, but I tell you what, he is an outstanding quarterback. I go to battle with him and he has won a lot of games for us.

**Q: You are getting the full compliment of AFC East teams this year. Any observations? Any kind of trends? Or anything you have noticed about AFC East teams?

JF:** I think they are good. Jets are struggling right now. But the AFC East is just like the NFC East, I don't know who is going to end up on top. It is going to be a hard thing to pick who is going to be on top

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