Q:** You guys have used several running backs this season. How do you decide who is going to be the featured back for each game?
JM: We have confidence in all of our backs, and they can all do a lot of the things we do in our offense. And then there are some things that we do with them that are a little bit more specific. I think there are so many variables that go into how we use them on a weekly basis – the style, the game plan, the personnel groupings we're using, what we anticipate getting from the defense and the types of things that we choose to do during the course of the game. They are all ready to go, and sometimes, we kind of know what their role is heading into the game, and then however the game unfolds and the way we're being played and what we choose to do as the game goes on sometimes will certainly impact who ends up playing in different situations or who plays more or what have you. They're all ready to go. We have a lot of confidence in all of them, and we would anticipate all of them playing that go to the game.
Q: Do you see any similarities between the Indianapolis Colts defense run by Chuck Pagano and the San Diego Chargers defense run by his brother John Pagano?
JM: I think there may be a few similarities, and I think overall, this is an aggressive style of defense. They pressure a lot, and they're good at it. When they do blitz, they're really good at it. They get to the quarterback and create some disruptive plays in the backfield doing that. They'll play a lot of tight man coverage and challenge your receivers and their ability to get open in the passing game. They'll keep the wheels spinning on you pretty good. They've got good players at all three levels of the defense. They're athletic. They play a lot of people. They've played a lot of people in the front seven, and they have a lot of guys that have played in the secondary as well this year, so they've got some depth. And like I said, I think the big worry for us is they're really an aggressive unit. He calls the game aggressively, and there is never a point in time where you can really sit there and relax. This is a group that's going to challenge you on every snap. We'll have to have a great week of preparation this week. It's a team that we don't really know that well, that has a lot of new players since the last time we played them, and it'll be a great challenge for us this week.
Q:** Looking back on the Packers game, did you feel there were some missed opportunities to run the ball more? Also, what are your thoughts on Mike McCoy from the time you guys worked together [in Denver]?
JM: I've said this before numerous times. We've always wanted to go into each game and maintain great balance and run the ball 25, 30, 30-plus times in the game because that means you certainly have control of the game and you're out there on the field a lot. The other day, we didn't obviously design the game plan to go out there and only run the ball that amount of times. Our inability to start fast offensively contributed I would say as much or more than anything else to our lack of overall play number at the end of the game. We didn't start well in the first half, and we didn't start well in the third quarter. When you have a bunch of three-and-outs at the beginning, you kind of put yourself in a hole, and so I think that affected the overall ratio. I definitely wish we could establish a better balance than what we had the other day and that's our goal every week. With Mike, Mike is obviously doing a great job. That doesn't surprise me at all. He was great for me in Denver. I enjoyed my time working with him. He's a great person and a really good football coach, who this is not a revelation to me that he would be enjoying this type of success as a head coach. [He is] a guy that the guys would love to follow, a good leader of men, has got a great personality about himself, very positive coach and person, sees the game through a broad perspective, not afraid to do some things that may be out of the norm, and he's going to let his players play. You see that from their group. I think they're a group that has fun playing the game. You can see that on tape. I'm sure they enjoy playing for him. Like I said, it's not surprising to me that he would be doing well in all of this.
Q:** There are coaching rumors going around this time of year, and your name has been brought up in association with the University of Florida job. Is it tough to put that distraction away? Is there legitimate interest there? Would it be difficult for you to leave for another job during the middle of what could be a successful season for the Patriots?
JM: Not really. I really don't even honestly have any idea about that rumor. I mean, I heard it, but I have nothing to add to it. My focus is solely on the Chargers and getting our team ready to go this week on offense and trying to do the best thing I can. You're right, it's a time of year where this happens quite a bit, and I've been through it before. It's just, keep your focus where it belongs, which is on the next opponent, and we've got plenty to work on and get prepared for because this is a really good defense we're facing.
Q: What do you remember getting out of the last time you spent a week away from campus, so to speak, in 2008? What are the challenges and what are some of the benefits of spending the week away from the facility?
JM: Yeah, this isn't the first time. We did it twice in 2008, and I think the big thing is you get an opportunity to save yourself a little rest. You're in a hotel, so during the course of the day you're working, and then as a coach you just go up when your day is done and go to sleep instead of driving home, driving back, and obviously we save ourselves the flight later in the week. I think you get acclimated to the time change pretty seamlessly early in the week, so by the time the weekend comes and you're getting ready to play the game, it's not something that you're trying to adjust to or adapt to. I think that it's really an opportunity to have a week where you kind of bond a little bit more. We're with each other a lot anyways, but now we're here together every day of the week, all day, eating each meal together. We have an opportunity to maybe just spend a little bit of down time later in the week with one another – players, coaches – and it's just something that gives you an opportunity to clear some of the other distractions away and just put your focus solely on what you need to do this week to try to do your best on game day. It's been something we've enjoyed doing in the past. The working setup – our computers and all the different things that go into the video and computer systems and all those things – our guys do a great job of getting that all set up for us, so it feels kind of like you're at home anyways. It gives us an opportunity, like I said, to cut down on the amount of travel time, especially later in the week. It's something we've enjoyed, and were looking forward to the next four or five days here of preparation and then hopefully be ready to roll on Sunday.
Team photographer, David Silverman, offers his best photos from the Patriots game against the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field on Sunday, November 30, 2014.
Q:** I figured since you guys are on the west coast, it'd be a good chance to ask you about Tom House, who lives in Los Angeles and works with Tom Brady, as you know. Do you see him as maybe another resource that is important to Tom, and where have you seen him help Tom improve in specific areas?
JM: I've met Tom I think once. I don't really know him personally that well, but just through Tom [Brady], I know Tom [Brady] has a great deal of confidence in him. Players have different guys that they see for different things, whether it's a physical therapy type of a deal or it's just a small tune up on certain aspects of their game or their agility or whatever it may be, and I know Tom [Brady] feels comfortable with him. As long as that's the case, I'm sure that it's a positive thing for us. But I'll let Tommy [Brady] answer the question in terms of the impact and all the rest because I haven't been a part of those sessions and don't know exactly what it is that they deal with.
Q: Will you have any time to catch up with your old college teammate, Tom Telesco? Looking back on your time at John Carroll University with Tom and Nick Caserio, did you guys ever imagine you would hold such important roles on NFL teams? Was that even on your radar at that point?
JM: I know it wasn't on mine. I don't know if it was on theirs or not. Look, I was a young kid, probably naïve and ignorant in many ways of what the future was going to hold for me. I love football and was hoping that maybe I'd get an opportunity to be involved in the game at some level. I never assumed or was thinking it'd be this one. It's obviously a neat thing whenever you're around guys that you went to school with, and I'm sure I'll have an opportunity to see and say hello to Tom on Sunday night.
Q: San Diego seemed to be really efficient in the red zone against Baltimore. Is there anything you can add? Also, is there anything about San Diego that makes them tough down the stretch? They seem to play really well in December.
JM: Their defense is, to me, challenging in every area of the field. I know you mentioned the red zone, but this is a group that doesn't give you many easy plays period because of the style of defense that they utilize. We're going to have to do a great job of earning every yard we get, earning every point we're fortunate to get on Sunday because, like I said, they're not giving anything up easy, and they're going to make you work for everything you get – red zone, third down, first and second down. Taking care of the football – especially here in San Diego – that's a huge challenge for us because they've created a lot of turnovers here. Our ability to start fast is another area that I think is going to be a challenge for us on the road, Sunday night, in San Diego, against a team that's playing very well. We've got a lot of things, a lot of areas of focus we're going to need to do well on Sunday. And we have areas just on our own offense that we want to try to improve and look to build off of what happened in Green Bay. There is a lot for us to work on. And just in terms of them playing well late in the season, it's always tough to play out here. We've played out here multiple times, [and] none of them have been easy. It's always a great atmosphere. It'll be loud, which will make it more challenging for us on offense, and we're going to have to do a great job of communicating in the noise and executing against obviously a very difficult defense to do that against. It's easy for me to see why they would play well late in the year, especially at home out here. They've got a really good head coach, they've got a really good defensive coordinator that we've got to get ready for on offense, and they've got good players and a great scheme. This is a huge challenge for us, and we're going to have to be at our best on Sunday night.