[wysifield-embeddedaudio|eid="409356"|type="embeddedaudio"|view_mode="full"]HEAD COACH ANDY REID
Q: Can you speak to the process of how you turned around the season after a slow start?
REID: "I kind of mentioned to the people here that, at one point, we're playing—there's no excuse, first of all, to start 1-5. I've never had that experience. But, looking back now, we had a lot of younger players playing, more than anybody in the league at that time, and we had some guys coming off injury and sickness and a suspension in one case. They all got back in and kind of got in the swing of things. The young guys grew up a little bit, and we put together a couple wins."
Q: How hard is it to get back into the swing?
REID: "Well, there were some pretty serious injuries, right? Talk about (Mike) DeVito and DJ (Derrick Johnson) with their Achilles tendons, and (Dontari) Poe with his back, he had back surgery, and then Eric Berry with his battle with cancer. So, there was some stuff that takes a little bit of time, maybe not five or six games, but it takes a little bit of time to kind of get yourself going. Yeah, not an excuse. It sounds like that, but that's not where I'm coming from. We should have done better in those games."
Q: What has made Alex Smith such a good leader of this team during the winning streak?
REID: "I tell you, he's stayed consistent and positive, continued to work on his game. That's just how he's wired."
Q: On the interior defensive line being stout against the run as well as pushing the pocket from the inside.
REID: "Yeah, they can park the car, too, but that's alright. I can say that because my father and mother were from back there. They dealt with the same r's you guys do. It's a good bunch. We've got a good little rotation there, and that's a good group. They work hard, they are stout, enjoy playing and good as we can. We're working on that. We've got a lot of room to improve."
Q: What has Mike DeVito done for you this year?
REID: "Yeah, he's a Cape Cod-er, I got it. He's a heck of a player, great person. He's long in his career here. He's got himself in great shape, plays his heart out in every snap. Loves to play. Great example to a lot of people around him."
Q: Over the years, it seems like you and Coach Belichick have had a lot of mutual respect. What has sparked that for you with Bill?
REID: "He's a good person. He's honest and he's a heck of a football coach. He loves the game. He loves to coach. I enjoy being around people like that."
Q: Do you recall how that respect first started, or the first time you crossed paths?
REID: "I can't tell you I do. I don't remember that."
Q: On Coach Belichick being asked the same question with the response, "We've been around too long to remember.'
REID: "That's why we need more fish oil."
Q: The label 'game manager' has been tossed around with Alex Smith, what makes him so good at utilizing all the tools he has and is that label always appropriate?
REID: "I'd just say he's a good quarterback that's won a lot of football games. He can throw it, he can run it, he can manage the game well. He understands the game, he gets it. I think every quarterback that has had a career like he has, I mean he's 30 years old and he's been a starter in this game for a long time. Those guys that survive learn to manage the game and play it the right way. He does that."
Q: Would you say there's been anything significant in his maturation over the years that he does any differently?
REID: "I think the one thing is that he has been in this system for three years. He went through, I don't know, I think it was eight or nine, you guys would know better than me, but eight or nine coordinators in his career. Some crazy number of offenses he was trying to learn. That's tough. That's tough on a quarterback, so I think just the stability of being in the same offense in the last three years here has been good for him."
Q: You guys obviously haven't lost a game in some time. How much weight do you put on generating momentum, good or bad, at this time of year?
REID: "I normally put a lot of weight on my feet. I don't put a lot of weight on that, though. They've got good football players, they were banged up a little bit. They're getting them back. That's part of this game. I don't think much about that."
Q: How much of a different coach are you now from your Philadelphia days, and in the playoffs?
REID: "I don't think much. I don't think much. About the same guy. I love doing what I'm doing. I feel very honored to be able to do what I do."
Q: What have you seen from Tom Brady this season?
REID: "He's playing great football. He's playing out of his mind. He's done a great job. He's done it with a variety of guys, too. Tremendous year for him."
Q: Is one of the things that makes it difficult playing against him that he's basically an on-the-field coach? How do you deal with that defensively when you're preparing?
REID: "That's a tough thing. That's why he's won so many games. We've got to come up with a good game plan and execute against a future Hall of Famer."
Q: I know rosters are a lot different than they were when you last met the Patriots, but have you studied that film and how relevant do you think it might be?
REID: "I don't think it's too relevant. It's two different teams. They've got different players, and we've got some different players. A few of them there are the same but I don't think that—every year in the league is so different."
Q: How scary is their offense when they've got it going on all cylinders?
REID: "I mean, they're very good. It's a great system and they've got good players. I don't use the word scary, but it's very good."
Q: What has Anthony Sherman brought to the table for you?
REID: "He's another New Englander there. Toughness, tough kid. Good football player, good leader."
Q: What do you see from the Patriots defensively?
REID: "You hear about a lot of these defenses, and I don't think they get enough recognition for what they've done. They play hard, aggressive, played a lot of guys in there. They're getting some guys back here that didn't play in the Miami game. It's a good group."
[wysifield-embeddedaudio|eid="409351"|type="embeddedaudio"|view_mode="full"]QUARTERBACK ALEX SMITH
Q: What does it say about the team that you were able to turn the season around after a 1-5 start?
SMITH: "I think probably more mentally and character-wise. As far as ability, I think it's easy when you're losing to get down and kind of tank and tear each other apart and point fingers. I think it's hard to stay together and stick it out and keep it about football and keep focusing. It's tough, especially when you have a lot of expectations before the season. Certainly it says a lot about that, about the guys we have."
Q: When people call you a game manager, do you take it as a slight still?
SMITH: "I would totally agree (that it's not a slight). You take the public's meaning of the word and the negative connotations of it, but yeah, hands down, there absolutely is – there's so many different situations, especially at this level that you have to know and they're hard to teach. Sometimes it comes from experience and playing a lot and being around, and the more you play, you just kind of bank all that stuff and you learn from watching other games and guys and what they do and talking about situations. But no question, I think that's a huge aspect of football, especially situational football. But at this point, the whole negative side of that I certainly could care less about. I'm at the point in my career where I don't get caught up in that stuff anymore, honestly. I'm worried about winning and doing my job. I could care less what anyone's really saying as far as that goes."
Q: The Patriots manage the clock and the game so well, so being a game manager has to be critical for you this week, right?
SMITH: "Oh, absolutely. And I think a lot of times those little things can get magnified in the game sometimes in these situations and can end up being huge difference-makers, huge difference-makers. Little things I think get shown in a lot of situations like this and that's when you have to be on it."
Q: You've cut down on your interceptions over the last five years. Is that part of the maturity or growing process from you or was there a 'eureka' moment?
SMITH: "No, there probably wasn't any one moment. It certainly was probably over a period of time. I think it kind of even goes by what we just talked about – just understanding situations. As a young player, you press too early, you force too many balls, you don't really realize that over the course of the game, I think, doing little things you put yourself in good situations. And more often than not at this level, you give yourself a chance, you give yourself a chance in the fourth quarter – whether it be a two minute situation in a one score game – to try to get back in it. You have to be patient and understand all that and I think it's difficult as a young player and you learn it. Sometimes you have to go through it to get that done."
Q: Did winning in the playoffs last week validate that for you?
SMITH: "Yeah, for sure and probably even the next step because that was the next step – a couple years ago to get in, you lose in the first round. For us this year to get back in it and go on the road and get that win was big. Probably the next step, certainly, I think. A little bit we have been in that hole we dug for ourselves early this season, I feel like we've been in a little bit of that sense of urgency, playoff-mode for a while now. And I think, for sure, it confirms the way we're preparing and the way we go about our business, our approach to the game. Absolutely."
Q: You've rushed for double the amount of yards this year as you did last year. Is there anything you attribute that to?
SMITH: "Probably not one thing, it's probably a lot of things. Just trying to play fast and you always try to take advantage of those situations when they're there. Just being good with your eyes and feet, recognizing the opportunity and then trying to take advantage of it. But I don't know if there's any one thing."
Q: What kind of similarities do you see between the Texans defense and the Patriots defense?
SMITH: "Not a ton, to be honest. The Patriots are way more multiple in their personnel and fronts and coverages. They just do way more, they make you prepare for way more. You can identify that it change week-to-week, and certainly they have gameplans trying to defend who they're playing. But with that, they're so multiple, they make you prepare for way more."
Q: On possibility of Jeremy Maclin being out.
SMITH: "Yeah, I mean, obviously we'll see. It would hurt to lose a player of his caliber. Definitely, all of us need to pick up the slack and make up for that. So we'll just see as the week goes on and we'll get a better feel for what the situation's going to be."
Q: How have you seen this defense change with Logan Ryan and Malcolm Butler at the cornerback positions?
SMITH: "I feel like they're both confident in both of those guys that they can do a lot. Like I said, they're very multiple, they can do a lot of different coverages and try to take away guys whether it be man or zone. Both of those guys know what they're doing, you can tell that they're well-coached back there and when they do man up they're good at it. You can tell on film that they feel good about them. And it shows, both of those guys are playing really well right now."
Q: How can last year's game help you in this matchup?
SMITH: "Yeah, I think a lot's been made off of that tape. Certainly, it was quite a while ago so obviously some of those guys are still there and carryover both sides are watching it and will try to take things from it and try to play the chess match off it. How are they going to combat this and stop that and vice versa. But at the same time there's definitely been a lot of change since then so a lot more to get prepared for between now and then."
Q: What has it meant to be in the same system with the same people for three years in a row now?
SMITH: "Yeah, new territory not just for me but I think a lot of guys, it is unique. And certainly, as we're playing and they're kind of a model and to have that kind of longevity and consistency is rare. You have to earn it but I think it certainly allows you…you know, all of those things, like we said, all of that situational football, the finer details of the game on offense, defense and special teams, with that stability you're just able to get to that kind of point. It's just difficult when you have a lot of turnover."
Q: How much of Travis Kelce's success after the catch is because of you?
SMITH: "Yeah, I would like to take a lot of credit for that but he's a unique player. As far as skill set goes, unique for a tight end. But he's worked really hard I think to be that guy, to be out there and to be able to handle all of those situations not just the pass game but to be in the run game and pass protection. Understand you're going to find out how teams are playing him and trying to take him away, especially when you become a feature guy. You know, recognizing how teams are playing him differently – different tactics that they can use to try and slow him down and how to combat that. So he deserves all of that credit."
Q: On rushes this season.
SMITH: "Like I said, it's certainly an aspect that when that opportunity does show itself you want to try and take advantage. And it just changes week to week, some weeks there's more opportunities than others and there may not be a rhyme or reason to it but certainly it goes into how you're getting played. It helps when a lot of times the focus is on guys like Jeremy (Maclin) and (Travis) Kelce and the running game and all of the sudden you kind of get put out and about sometimes and try to get some yardage to make some plays."
Q: Where is your trust level in Chris Conley at this point?
SMITH: "Yeah, absolutely, he's a really smart kid and I think he's learned a ton this year as the season goes on and watching him play and certainly when he has those opportunities he's gone and made the most of them. So no doubt that he'll be ready to go, he'll get a lot of work this week, extra reps whether it be in practice or off to the side talking through all of that stuff. So no question that he'll be ready."