Q:The conventional wisdom in the NFL is that it is hard for rookie receivers to contribute immediately. Why do you think that is, and how do you think your young receivers are doing relative to that notion?
JM:Well, I think for any rookie there is always an adjustment period. Whether it is at receiver or any other position, I don't know that there is a position in the NFL where you can say that rookies come in and it is a simple transition for them to be major contributors on a consistent basis. I wouldn't say that is just applicable to the receiver position or whatever number you are referring to. But, I think that there is always adjustment, there is always a learning process that goes on and continues to happen from one week to the next during the course of the first year. Our guys are going through that process. They're working extremely hard to improve, and they have made some plays for us. Certainly we are going to count on them to continue to do that.
Q:How much of the onus do you put on yourself in a situation like this? Do you have to put pressure on yourself to say, 'OK, these guys can do X, Y and Z, and we are going to shape the offense towards those things?'
JM:I think our job as coaches has always been to try and take the strengths and weaknesses of our team and try to figure out how they best match up with each opponent that we play each week. Whether you have a veteran team with more experience, a younger team, or somewhere in between where you've got a good mix and a good blend, kind of like we have now, I still think that is what our chore is each week. We've got to do a good job of that. We've got to put our players and our team in position to make plays that they are capable of making. And if there are things that we are growing and learning how to do, then you have to make some decisions sometimes whether to hold some things or when is the right time to go forward? When is the right time to pull back? Those are all things that you do on a weekly basis, and we are certainly going to maintain a very high standard here on offense. That's our goal every week, is to go out there and play good football, not turn it over and score points and be productive in the situational football areas. We need to continue to do that, so whatever that means on a weekly basis, quite often it changes from week to week, that is what we are trying to find.
Q:It can't be that black and white as to whether someone is close to getting it, or far from getting it. It must be tough for you say, 'OK, we are going to keep with this for one more week,' or whatever, and it seems like a lot of forecasting as opposed to having definitive answers.
JM:The one thing we always rely on is practice. If we can execute things in practice and if we can do things well when we work here on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, then we certainly have confidence we can do those things on Sunday. There is no other way to do it. To me, the things that maybe we don't do as well, and again this doesn't have applications to one position or another, this is just in general, but [if] there is something that we are doing very well, we will continue to do it. If there is something that we're working on and we're getting better, but we're not quite ready to do it on game day, I think that happens each year. I think that, like I said, that's what we go through practice and work hard to do, is to try to give ourselves as many opportunities to do the things we feel comfortable with on a weekly basis. Sometimes that number could be larger, sometimes we can hold it back a bit and try to do more of the same things that we all feel good about doing.
Q:Does your game plan change much, if any, if Rob Gronkowski plays?
JM:I think any time you have a player that can make the kind of impact that Rob has made in the past, if you have a player like that back, it has to affect your plan and hopefully only in a positive manner. I don't know if it would affect the group that we use or not use or whether we would use a certain tempo or not. I don't know that that would really be impacted, but I definitely think that you would like to have a guy like that on the field as much as you can if he is ready and able to contribute in the way that Rob has always been able to.
Q:I guess what I'm reaching for is, do you have a certain type of game plan in mind in terms of the types of plays you would use, if he plays?
JM:I'm not going about it in that manner. Our game plan is going to be set up for the opponent and it's hopefully going to be set up in such a way that we can take advantage of some opportunities. The ones that are available at the tight end position would certainly have application for Rob if he happened to play, whenever that is. The more any player that is coming off of a few games away where he is healing or whatever the case may be, the more they play, the more comfortable they are and the more they are in the game, then the more you can start dictating some of the things you would do with him.
Q:Have you ever been on the opposing sideline of a family member like you will be on Sunday?
JM:Only in the preseason. It will be an enjoyable thing for us to see one another, and I know we are both going to be competing and trying to help our teams the best that we can. I wish him all the success in the world because he is my brother, but for one weekend we're going to try to do everything we can to be successful on our side. I know they will do the same.
Q:I know it is probably a flawed stat, but the Patriots offense is two-for-eight in red zone touchdowns this season, and the Buccaneers have been fairly productive with their red zone defense. What do you see in terms of how the Patriots can get better in their red zone production, and how does the Tampa defense present a challenge to that?
JM:There is no question that this a difficult defense to do a lot of things against. They stop the run well, they pressure the quarterback, they create a lot of negative plays and long yardage situations and they do a great job in the red zone. We have to do, I think any time that you look at a small sample size of a situational football aspect of a game, you have to understand that it is a couple games, and those areas are always affected most by our overall execution when we get the opportunity. Just our attention to detail, the practice time that we put in working to improve those situations, which we do every week, we're going to continue to do that. When we have our chances and our opportunities, we need to make the most of them. We've missed some great opportunities in the first couple of games, but [we're] certainly not dejected about, one, getting down there four times a game or whatever it may be, and then having the chances to score. We just have to do a better job of converting when we get our opportunities, and there is no shortcut to that. We've got to do the work in practice, we've got to get better during the week, and then we've got to go out there and execute when we get our opportunities on Sunday.