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Jon Gruden Pre-Game Press Conference

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Q: We just got done talking to your quarterback and one of the things that is kind of interesting is that it is later in his career and he is playing his best football at a time when you two hitched up together and he's made the Pro Bowl three times and you are in the playoffs and all, why has that relationship been so good, what did you see in him and he sees in you that he gets the most out of what he has got?

JG: I think the big thing is he is a talented guy. He is very athletic player for the position and he has always stayed ready for the next opportunity. He is in great shape. He has an unbelievable approach to football and when he did play in Kansas City, when he did play in Minnesota he won games and I really believe that quality, number one he is a winner, attracted him to us the most. He is a guy that has stayed ready and was convinced that he could play and was determined to make the most out of his opportunity.

Q: We see it afar and fans look at you two on the sidelines jarring during the heat of battle, but as he pointed out four minutes later we are huddled together, but that relationship seems to work quite well despite the fact that you guys get worked up?

JG: It's really blown out of proportion. Really if you knew Rich [Gannon] or you knew me that's really just football to me. I think, I can't speak for everybody, but I think everybody knows and Rich included knows that I think highly of him obviously and I consider him a friend in a lot of ways also. He is just a great competitor. I take pride in being competitive also. Sometimes in the heat of the battle there are some urgent matters that need to be resolved quickly and sometimes our personalities spark and we kind of, I don't know, we just have words, but it is an emotional outburst that we have controlled for three years and that's one of my biggest attractions to Rich is his passion for football and that is something that I guess you have to be here to understand.

Q: The way your team played last week it was certainly an indication that you are ready for the playoffs?

JG: I think so. We have got a good team here. I realize we lost a few ball games down the stretch, but I have tried to remain as consistent as I can and looking at the film of those last three losses that we had there were some very good things that we did on film, we just didn't find a way to win those close football games, but we have got a resilient bunch of players here and have got some great veteran leadership. I like the chemistry that we have and I think we have a confident bunch and we are going to need to be when we go to New England on Saturday.

Q: That is one of the aspects that is kind of unique about your team offensively particularly. You have got guys like Rich and [Jerry] Rice and [Tim] Brown, a lot of older veterans that you can work with, does that make a difference in the playoffs?

JG: I don't think that those guys that you just mentioned are gonna have the big eye on Saturday night, I think they are going to be calm and cool and they are going to know what it takes to win at that particular level. From that standpoint it is a tool that we have used with some of our younger players and we are going to rely on that experience obviously, but I don't know if it is an advantage or a disadvantage deep into the playoffs. The team that makes the most plays and gets it done on the scoreboard is the one that is going to earn to advance.

Q: Is there a possibility at all that Sebastian Janikowski could have the big eye?

JG: That's why we drafted him in the first round to be the guy in these situations and he did struggle against the Tennessee Titans. He had a groin pull and he has had some injuries late in the year and that has hurt our football team. We drafted him in the first round to be the deciding factor in tight football games and he missed the last game of the year against the Jets and we suffered as a football team in his absence. He's had injuries, he's had cellulitis, it has been a tough final month of the season, but he rebounded nicely last week and we expect him to be the iceman, the deciding winning edge for us in tight ball games, yes.

Q: That must have been a real buoying aspect to last week, to have him come out and kick three field goals, is he guy that tends at all to get down on himself which a Tennessee game could have been a hangover for him?

JG: A little bit, he hurt his groin against the San Diego Chargers covering a kick and I am still a little bit surprised, I didn't know he had any muscles to pull. I think when Sebastian misses practice, I think it hurts anybody. Charles Woodson is a classic example. Here is a guy who has overcome it and still played extremely well, but a kicker relies on timing. The concert between the snapper, the holder and the kick is something you have to practice and stay sharp at and yeah I think he is an emotional man and I think most of us are.

Q: Are you coming in Thursday?

JG: Yes sir we are.

Q: So you will have a chance to work on this field before the game?

JG: I hope we do. I don't really know 100 percent certain whether or not we are going to workout in the stadium or not we will see how the weather is and what the availability status is. We will get a light walk through if we have to go out in the parking lot of the hotel, we will get something done.

Q: I am just thinking in terms of Sebastian on this field, you know this one of the toughest places to kick from, just to have some experience on the field beforehand?

JG: Sebastian rides on the first bus over to the stadium three or four hours before the game and he will sit right next to me and he will get out there in plenty of time to kick the ball on game day and as you know sometimes the winds blows in different ways in that stadium and how the wind blows on game day might be a little bit different than it blows the day before. So we will get him over there early, he and Shane Lechler and we will get some opportunities to kick the ball through both goal posts and hopefully he can find his groove Saturday night.

Q: Certainly your offense against a [Bill] Belichick defense, kind of an interesting match-up when anybody is playing Belichick's defense for the first time, I am sure you feel the same way?

JG: You really do. You only have so many minutes in a practice to prepare and you only have a couple of days a week to practice and when you see the 3-4 defense with Willie McGinest and Bryan Cox and Roman Phifer and [Mike] Vrabel on the field and then the next play you see a 4-3 defense and then you see a nickel defense on first down you have to really be sound in terms of your game plan I think and you might have to limit some of the things that you want to do just so you get an opportunity to familiarize yourself with all the multiple looks that this defense has. Romeo [Crennel] and Bill have done a great job with their defense and I am really impressed with the inspiring play that they are getting from all of their players. I thought Anthony Pleasant has had a great year for the New England Patriots. I keep asking who is that guy. He plays with a great energy level and what can you say about Lawyer Milloy and both of these corners are guys that make a lot of plays. So they have got a multiple front, they have got some passionate players and some exciting scheme. It would probably be a lot of fun to play in if you were a defensive player.

Q: We've talked about the experience on your team, you are playing a team that has a first year starter at quarterback, do you go right after him or does that give you an edge at that position?

JG: We have got an edge in experience, but that didn't help Leon Spinks or Michael Spinks when Mike Tyson got in the ring with them. It really doesn't make a hill of beans. [Tom] Brady is playing like a seasoned veteran. He was selected to the Pro Bowl by his peers. His win/loss record I think speaks for itself. I have been so impressed with his poise, but I think Charlie Weis does a great job with their offense. It is easier said then done to come after Brady. They have got so many different personnel groupings, they have got a huge back that is running hot right now that can take a little bit of the pressure off of him and these receivers are a lot better than anybody knows about, I mean Troy Brown catches over a 100 balls. They have got some very good, creative schemes and it is going to be a challenge for us to get after Brady and apply the pressure that we need to get the job done.

Q: Through the eyes of the coach, the first time you flip on the film of the Patriots what is the first thing that jumped out at you?

JG: Just a lot of stuff man, a lot of stuff on both sides of the ball. They play their hearts out. This football team plays hard and there is not a lot of nonsense. They get people to the football on defense a lot of different ways. They play good, solid zone fundamental football and they are good tacklers and they can blitz you and they can blitz you repeatedly and they can really get after you. I like [Adam] Vinatieri. I like Troy Brown. They make big plays in the kicking game and from an offensive standpoint this is the first team that I have seen that utilizes the personnel quite as much as New England

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