Q: Have things calmed down for you guys a little bit? Are you back on the grind getting ready for the Patriots?
MF: Yeah, regular preparation week. We had a good practice today. Everybody is on the same page.
Q: When you take a look at the Patriots defense, what jumps off the page for you?
MF: When you look at them on paper or their statistics right now, they're number one with takeaways, so obviously the plus-minus ratio of that has contributed to them with their 5-2 record. I think they've got a three or four-game winning streak going on right now. They're playing really solid, good ball, and they're taking the ball away – interceptions and forced fumbles. Also, on the offensive side, they're taking care of the ball. So, when you play a team like that who plays sound football, you always have to play sound football yourself. You don't want to give them a turnover because they're going to turn that into points. And the other way around, we've got to try to take the ball away from them.
Q: You guys have had some issues with ball security. How frustrating is that, because I'm sure that's stressed every day there?
MF: Yeah, it's stressed every day. It's one of the main things we talk about is taking care of the football, protecting the quarterback and establishing the run game. In the games that we've won, we've done that. In the games that we've lost, we haven't done it. It's not a secret formula to winning games or how we play well. We just have to play consistently like when we've won the games that we have won.
Q:** What have you seen out of Jay Cutler this year? He has a high completion percentage but always seems to make one or two mistakes a game that cost you guys. How do you feel like he's carrying your team right now?
MF: I think he's doing a good job. Jay is making all the calls. When we're in protection meetings, he knows all the calls and doesn't put the whole burden on the center or the offensive line to know everything. In the games that we've won, obviously we've protected the ball and helped him out keeping him clean. In some of the other games, we've let him get hit early, whether it's giving up sacks or whatever the case. Sometimes that makes a quarterback get a little antsy. We have to, like I said, get the running game going and then protect him in the passing game, obviously, because he can make all the good throws, and he's being a good leader. We just consistently need to play like we know we can.
Q: Last week was a frustrating loss for you guys to the Dolphins, and then there were reports of yelling inside the locker room. Are you guys concerned about the season falling apart quickly?
MF: No, not worried at all. You guys know how the media is. They really kind of blow stuff up bigger than what it really is. It wasn't really an issue after the game.
Q: Considering your versatility as a runner and receiver, do teams scheme differently to try to stop you? How much do you draw from your one game against the Patriots as to what to expect this Sunday?
MF: I've seen some different things, like this past week the Dolphins were dropping a defensive lineman to play underneath. After they would drop the linebackers, they had a defensive lineman underneath to try to I guess stop the underneath routes, too. I've seen that before. And also, I've seen them put an extra nickel back in to play man-to-man coverage on me because, obviously, he probably could guard better than a linebacker can. I've seen that type of stuff, too. We'll go back and look at film on some of the other running backs who catch the ball out of the backfield and see how they played them as well. You don't what to expect, but the best thing is to try to be prepared to adjust for it.
Q: Who around the league do you look at that compares to what you do – is it a Darren Sproles or a Giovani Bernard?
MF: Yeah, Giovani catches the ball out of the backfield. Jamaal Charles, that game he caught the ball a few times. I think he scored on a couple passes. They ran the ball pretty well on them, too – the Chiefs did – so we'll take a look at that, too. I don't know if this year they played Sproles. I don't think they played Sproles, but we'll take a look at some past film of that, too.
Q: There's a guy up here in New England in Shane Vereen who has some similar skills to you. I know you don't have to prepare for him, but could he be one of those guys like Sproles eventually?
MF: Yeah, I watched the game that they played last week, and he had a nice, diving catch I think it was. He has great hands out of the backfield. He runs good routes. He's a running back. He definitely can catch the ball out of the backfield, and he runs pretty good routes, too. His brother is on our team, so we're going to try to get some tips from him.
Q: You guys are 3-1 on the road and could easily be 4-0 on the road. What's been the secret there?
MF: There's really no secret. We've played solid football when we go win on the road, and at home it's just changed for some reason. On the road, we've taken care of the football pretty well, and our defense has gotten a lot of takeaways. Last week on Sunday, our defense played well enough for us to win the game, but we had too many turnovers. For us to win the game and after this game and the bye week when we start playing some home games, we need to carry that over to our home games, too, and play consistent football where we're not turning it over.
Q: The Patriots lost Jerod Mayo for the season and now a local report here has come out that Chandler Jones is going to miss at least a month with an injury. How do those two key players being out impact how you prepare for this defense?
MF: We prepare the same way. We just have to find some film of the guys who are behind them playing and see how they play, too. That's unfortunate. You never want to see a good player go out, especially like Jerod lost for the season and with an up-and-coming guy like Chandler Jones. Those guys are good players. We have to prepare for the game the same way like if they were playing.
Q: Could what happened in the locker room after the loss last week potentially be a rallying point for the team?
MF: I think we have to rally either way. Like I said, it's really no big deal what happened after the game. Nothing really happened. People yell and scream in the locker room all the time. It just so happens that they heard some stuff. After a loss like that, being our third loss at home, we're going to have to rally no matter what.
Q:** You're obviously a well-rounded back. Do you take pride in that, and was that always the case with you?
MF: Yeah, ever since high school I caught the ball out of the backfield a lot, too. And then in college, my first year we ran the spread offense, and then we kind of went to the pro-style after that. Really when I got into college, my position coach, Greg Davis, stressed that a lot. He was like, 'To be an NFL running back, you have to be able to run, block and catch.' I really focus on that aspect of trying to work hard on each one – not just running the ball or not just catching the ball. Work hard on blocking, too, when pass protection time comes. To be an every-down running back in this league, which a lot of guys are switching to two or three backs and guys playing just third-down running back in a league like that where it's going that way, it's really important to me. I've grown up that way in that era where a running back played all three downs, so I take a lot of pride in trying to be good at all those.
Q: There have been a lot of historical comparisons with your numbers relative to guys like Thurman Thomas and Marshall Faulk – Hall of Famers. How much pride do you take in that?
MF: I'm just humbled by it. Those guys are Hall of Famers, and to be mentioned among their names is just a blessing to me. To even be mentioned with those guys' names is amazing. It makes me want to work that much harder so that I can eventually maybe one day be where they are.
Q: What kind of person and player is Roberto Garza?
MF: He's a great guy, just like he is on the field. Off the field, he is very team-oriented. We have O-line dinners every week where we go out and have dinner and we just kind of talk about whatever. Everybody is kind of family-oriented here. He has kids, I have kids, and everybody kind of hangs out. Off the field, he's a great guy. On the field, he's the same way. He's one of the vocal leaders in our locker room, and also, he's one of those guys who is the center console of our offensive line and gets everybody on the same page.
Q: Do the backs have to pick up the bill for the offensive linemen?
MF: Sometimes, but that's how good of a guy he is. Sometimes, he doesn't even let us. He'll pay ahead of time or something. We like to pay for the O-line, but sometimes he won't even let us. Roberto is just that type of guy where he knows that we like to pay for him and stuff, but he'll just go ahead and do it.