Q:What is your mindset going into this game given the type of season that you have had and the fact that the Patriots are still playing for a first-round bye?
MM:The mindset hasn't changed from day one until today. We're going to be prepared, as well as we can be prepared and we have been. We've had great work during the week. Guys have come in very focused; exactly what we want. We have been very productive in practices it just hasn't carried over into the games for us. We've been very confident stepping on the field every Sunday because of the way we prepare. That hasn't changed and it won't change this week.
Q:Any status update on Maurice Jones-Drew?
MM:He's going to run today and then I'll know more after that. But that's about the extent of it.
Q:When you look at the season as a whole, do you pinpoint injuries as the main reason things have not gone your way?
MM:Well I mean you can look at it that way. We have missed a number of guys, some of our key players for the entire year, but we haven't used that as a crutch by any means. Teams are going through that every year and they have been. We really haven't put one together like we're capable of. We've seen signs of the ability that we have in all three phases, we just haven't put them all together. That's been the frustrating thing. It's been for one reason or another, it's not just the injuries. We have not had a lot of luck go our way; the ball has not bounced our way a lot. We've been trying to make it go our way the entire year, but it just doesn't seem to go that way. But guys are playing hard and giving their best effort—especially the guys that are filling in for some of the injured players—and they're doing the best that they can and that's all we as a staff ask of these guys when they step on the field.
Q:What was your reaction to the Patriots' near comeback in their game against the 49ers on Sunday night?
MM:Not surprising. The Patriots have always had that no flinch mentality, especially when you have Tom Brady back there, [and] Bill Belichick. There's never a real panic because they're going to play 60 minutes every time that they step on the field regardless of the opponent and regardless of where. So it did not surprise me that it came down to the way it did. You cannot let up at all if you have a lead like that.
Q:Rob Gronkowski returned to practice last week. Will you guys prepare as if Gronkowski will play on Sunday?
MM:Yes, yes we will.
Q:What have you seen from the Patriots offense without Rob Gronkowski? Did things change without him and do you expect things to change again when he returns to the lineup?
MM:Well, he's obviously a threat that we have to be aware of on all plays. You know we've got to be aware of everybody. I had Wes [Welker] in Miami with me, so I know everything about Wes and his capabilities and his toughness and everything about the guy. It just puts more burden on us that they've got him coming back and we've got to prepare for that and we're going to.
Q:How has Aqib Talib impacted the Patriots defense?
MM:I think he's a good addition, a very good addition. They do a number of things and they've got very good players doing them. He just adds to the mix. You have to be aware of who he is going to go against and I think it's brought even more confidence—and they needed it—to that defense.
Q:Will this game be the toughest test for your team so far this season?
MM:Overall, probably the best team we've played. I'd say yes. Looking at the complete roster and all three phases, I would say yes.
Q:What was your assessment of Wes Welker back in Miami? Even Wes has said that he has probably exceeded his own expectations here in New England. Did you envision him becoming the player that he is today?
MM:I'm not as surprised that he is. The one year I was a coordinator there in Miami we were lining up with Chris Chambers and Marty Booker outside and Wes was our slot and he was our leading receiver by a number of catches. At the end of the year when you were talking about ranking players and how they affected your offense, he was right up there at the top with Ronnie Brown at the time for me. So I knew his worth. He was just a very difficult guy to cover. His work ethic and his toughness, I mean that's the thing I like about him. He's as tough as nails. I had just come [in] and I had some experience for eight years with Hines Ward, [who was] a tough guy to cover and another tough guy that's not afraid to throw his body around and Wes is a lot like that.
Q:Have you seen significant improvement from Wes Welker since your time in Miami or is it more about the opportunities and the offensive system that he is playing in here?
MM:Oh it's definitely different. It's definitely different. Plus I think he has some personnel around him that allows mismatches to happen. But the system is definitely different and I think obviously the quarterback is.