Q: ** Usage-wise, do you see many of the same things with J.J. Watt this year as compared to last year? Is there anything different that you're seeing Houston do with Watt this year?
JM:I think he's a great player. I don't think there's any - there's no question about that. I don't even really look at the statistical part of it relative to what he can do and his impact on the game. He forces you to deal with him on every play, his effort is incredible, his ability is unique. I mean, he's as talented a defensive player as you have to play against. I would say at some point in the game, most every one of our linemen will have to block him, because they do move him. He flips in their base defense based on the way you set your formations, but in their sub fronts, sometimes he's outside, sometimes he's inside, he could be on the right, he could be on the left. He's as disruptive to your planning and to what you want to do as any other defensive player that you play against, and you certainly have to account for him. That being said, this is still one of the top defenses that we're going to play all season. Statistics here, there, I mean you can look at whichever stats you want. They're a very good team in terms of their situational football. They do a good job of getting after the passer, they put pressure on you with blitzes and/or the four-man rush that they use, they challenge you with some of their schemes that [Defensive Coordinator] Coach [Wade] Phillips uses. This is everything you want in terms of a difficult preparation. We're going to have to be at our best, and we're going to have to have a great week of preparation for them.
Q: Have you reached a point with Stevan Ridley where confidence or comfort in putting him in is now jeopardized based on what he's done in the last few weeks?
JM:I think when things happen like this in back-to-back games, or in this case a few games in a row, I think that you certainly have to address what you can address in terms of trying to fix the problem. I have great confidence in Stevan as a runner. He's been very productive in our offense, he's done a lot of good things, and at the same time obviously ball security is the most important factor for our offense and for our team when we have the ball. We have to be part of the solution. We have to work with him, and he certainly wasn't the only one that put the ball or got the ball knocked off of him the other night. We had way too many balls out or balls on the ground and turned the ball over a significant number of times, and we were fortunate to be able to overcome that, which is very rare. I think our entire offense, we need to do a better job of taking care of the football, protecting it when we have it, making smart decisions, and not giving the defense the opportunity to either strip it off of us, knock it off of us, whatever it may be. That's a team thing, and our confidence as an offense, certainly you want to be able to protect the football no matter who you give it too, and that's our goal and that's our focus, and we'll work with everybody to try to fix the issues that certainly came up the other night.
Q: If you've had situations like this previously with a player, is there a fine line between letting him work it out, giving him chances to prove it's not a problem anymore and pulling the plug? Is it a slippery slope in handling it case-by-case?
JM:I think the only way, if there are any issues - and again, I stress that our offense didn't do a good enough job in general. We had a number of people that fumbled the other night, including Tommy [Brady] fumbled twice. And again, sometimes those are good defensive plays, and then sometimes there are things that you can address and try to help the player with to fix and correct the problem fundamentally. I think all in all - look, we have a lot of confidence in these guys or they wouldn't be here, so we just have to continue to work with them, and they've got to understand how important - and they do - they understand how important ball security is. Nobody's going out there trying to do this, so I think you've got to make smart decisions. Ultimately Bill [Belichick] will decide how we utilize all our guys offensively, and we want to try to give our team the best chance to win. So whenever that time is to put people in, to move them out - we've rotated backs all season, I mean we've done that a lot. Look, everybody's going to have an opportunity to continue to help our team win, and we have the obligation as coaches to try to help fix any issues that we have offensively. That's what our job is, and we've got to do a better job of it.
Q: Kenbrell Thompkins has played a little less recently, but his production has been pretty good. What have you seen from him since he was inactive against Pittsburgh, and what led you to put him out on the field in the second half on Sunday night?
JM:I think we mentioned this last week, KT [Kenbrell Thompkins] certainly has had a great attitude and worked very hard all season to try to do anything he can to help us win. The decisions that are made each week - and Coach makes those decisions based on what we feel is best for each week and each game plan individually - I think those happen constantly across the roster. KT was down, but then came back up the last couple weeks here and has really helped our team move the ball and score points and convert third downs and those kinds of things. I don't think there's a specific formula for 'Less is more, more is less,' whatever it is. We're trying to allow all the players on our offense that can help us win to have a role in the game, and I think that AD [Aaron Dobson] has definitely done some good things, and KT has too, and their growth and development is only a good thing, a positive factor for our offense going forward. We feel good about both of those players making improvements as they go, and they still have a long way to go and a lot of work to do, but they can help us as they continue to get better and improve.
Q: His playing time on Sunday was such a contrast between the first and second half. Was that a game plan adjustment at halftime, or was there something else there?
JM:Not really, just sometimes - we knew we were going to play multiple guys at that position, and sometimes we've done this kind of throughout the year too, where if a guy goes in and kind of gets going, you certainly don't want to try to pull him out. I think that's just kind of a feel thing. If a guy goes in there and is making plays for you and generating positive things for your offense, you try to keep him going. Our guys are very unselfish, they understand that, they all accept their roles and they just play hard and try to do the best they can with their opportunities, and I thought that that's what Kenbrell did the other night.
Q: Tom Brady is so calm when he's playing, but this year it seems like he's shown a lot of emotion after the play. Do you think he is showing more of that this year, and why would that be?
JM:I think he's always - I mean, Tom loves playing football. He has a great deal of fun doing it. I think he loves this job and he wants to win, and I think that intensity can come on in different situations. But I don't feel that it's any different this year than it's been in the past that I've worked with him. I think, like I said, he's a great leader for our team and a great leader for our offense, and usually when he shows his excitement, it's because we did something good or positive in the game, and I think his teammates really enjoy seeing that from him, and he's not afraid to do it. I don't really see a change from him. I think he's demonstrated consistent leadership, emotion, intensity, and enjoyment for playing the game all year, and I think that will continue.
Q: How much of that can rub off on his teammates, particularly with the younger guys such as Thompkins or Dobson to see that and maybe get fired up themselves?
JM:I think they see him have fun. We're all out here to do a job, and we certainly need to do everything we can to win every week, and that's what we try to do. I think Tom demonstrates on a weekly basis that he's going to put everything he has into the game, and when it's time to play the game he's going to go out and do everything he can on Sunday to help our team win, and he's going to have fun doing it. I think this year has been - I think that's kind of a microcosm of this entire year for us. We've had some different guys come in this year and really help our team, and we're getting to know each other better every week. We have fun practicing with one another, we enjoy our meetings and go out there and work hard during the week and prepare to try to do our best on Sunday. To let it out and to play hard and to have fun with your teammates, I think that's what it's all about when you're trying to win.
Q: How do the Texans stress you with this scheme in terms of protection? It seems like they have a lot of the same players that they did last year when you faced them in the playoffs.
JM:It's always a very big challenge. Wade Phillips does a great job of putting his players in great positions to be aggressive, and their style on defense - they blitz quite a bit, force you to a good job in terms of your pickup. They play a lot of tight coverage, you have to beat man-to-man in order to beat them. We've talked about it, they've got some really talented players on this defense, and I think it starts with the front. If you can handle the front, then you've given yourself an opportunity to have some success, and if you can't, then it's going to be difficult. With [Antonio] Smith and [J.J.] Watt, those are two of the more talented defensive linemen that we'll play all season, and they're on the same team. Like I said, I think their scheme allows those guys to move around to try to create different matchups on defense. I know we talk a lot about our matchups on offense, but they do the same thing. They'll move their players around; they'll try to put them in position to get a one-on-one, whether that's a blitzer or a pass rusher. They do the same similar type of thing with their secondary: move [Johnathan] Joseph around, match him up some, put their secondary on specific people that they like. It'll be a test all week to get ready for them, it always is. It's a difficult, challenging scheme, and their guys play extremely hard. We played them here twice last year at home, so that's an added challenge that we're going to have to deal with in terms of handling the noise, and playing them where they have a lot of crowd noise when they're out there on defense is something we didn't do last year. It'll be a new element for us as we prepare for this game, but we're looking forward to the challenge and excited for this week.