Q: Hello, Mike. How are you?
MS: I'm doing fine, thanks. How are you?
Q: We couldn't complain too much around here right now and I'm sure that you're not complaining after Monday night. Tell me a little but about your situation on Monday. Where that offense was going, it almost seemed too easy.
MS: Well, it wasn't easy. It may have looked that way at times, but we hit on a couple of things and sometimes you have games like that where everything clicks and it did for us in the first half. However, in the second half, we weren't quite as effective offensively. We got a little conservative maybe, and we had chances in the second half to put a few more points on the board. We missed three field goals, so that obviously didn't help much. But it wasn't quite as easy as it may have looked at times.
Q: It sure did in that first half. But, you came out of the game with more injuries than you had when you came in, and certainly that has to be a concern this week with a couple of defensive linemen being out.
MS: Well, yeah, it is a concern when you're playing a team like the Patriots. They are able to exploit things with their offense because they're so multiple and can do so many different things. So it is a concern, obviously. But, it's a challenge as well. Our players have had the situation like this in the past, where we're had injuries. Injuries create opportunities for other players, and in most cases they step up, and hopefully this will be the case.
Q: One of the questions that someone had that I think is unique is that Donald Driver and Terry Glenn are two young men who had problems as youngsters. Have they bonded because of their position and who they are? They are certainly doing well together as a one-two combination.
MS: Yeah, they have done well together. I would say they have bonded with each other. The two of them have worked well together and I think that they have become good friends in the process.
Q: Mike, could you talk about Brett Favre in terms of how there are a lot of coaches who have problems with their quarterbacks, a lot of things when the quarterback is struggling and starting out. You obviously have a guy that's not struggling. What is there to coaching him? What do you need to remind him of week-to-week?
MS: Well, I think, and sometimes it may be hard to believe this, but he can't assume the total responsibility every single week that he's the guy that has to win the game for us every week. I think that he just has to play his best game and that's going to be good enough. I would say that the fact that he doesn't have to assume complete responsibility for everybody and everything is part of it. But there's not a whole lot to it in terms of him, because he brings so much to your team. Not just from a game standpoint, but he practices … People asked me after the game, 'Are you surprised that he had such an outstanding first half?' And, nothing surprises me, because I see him every day in practice. Our practice last Saturday, which was our last real practice before the Monday night game, he threw 30 balls and completed 30 balls in practice. So, what he did on Monday night didn't surprise me. That's the way he practices and he brings that to the game with him.
Q: Coach, Terry Glenn is coming off of the best game that he's had with your organization. He tends to be a fairly private person, but this Sunday is probably going to be an emotional day for him returning here to New England. Are you expecting to give him the opportunity to have his number called a lot for him to have a productive day against his former team?
MS: In our offense, we don't highlight any particular player at any particular time. We go through the progression and if he's open and he's in the early part of that progression, then he'll get the football. So, we don't necessarily force the ball to anybody. A couple of weeks ago, out tight end caught nine balls and he hadn't caught any previous to that. People asked me if we had decided to go in there and throw the ball to the tight end. I said, 'No, we just matched up and his number came up as part of the progression.' Terry just has to go out and play hard. There will be opportunities for him hopefully, and we'll recognize those and try to get him the ball when he's open.
Q: Do you find, Mike, that you have to deal with Terry a little bit differently than you do with your other players, just in terms of how he's got kind of a shy personality?
MS: Terry, as you guys know, at times can be very introverted, but I think we constantly try to bring him out, but he hasn't been that way necessarily. Obviously when he had the headaches, he had some concern there and went through a little bit. But overall, he's been pretty good. It's open season around here for giving someone a hard time, so it doesn't matter and we try to bring people out and sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't.
Q: This is the first AFC team you're playing and you're the first NFC team the Patriots will play. Is the fact that you don't see each other a lot – you both have it going pretty well although the Patriots have had some problems the past couple of weeks – is a little more preparation needed, is it more difficult, or is it just the same old football?
MS: Well, playing the champions is certainly going to be a challenge. We knew that coming in to the season and we did some preparation in the offseason for them as we do most of the time, particularly with our first six ballgames of the year. But it will be just like any other game where you go out and try to win a football game, other than the fact that these guys are the champs, and that should bring out the best in us, I hope.
Q: Mike, when you talk about preparation, you know they're on the schedule and you know they are the Super Bowl champions. What are some of the things you can do earlier, like you just touched on, to prepare for that particular game on your schedule on the 16th?
MS: Well, last week we had a longer week because of Monday and we knocked out our game plan for Chicago early in the week and a good number of our coaches, on Saturday and Sunday, we worked on New England. We obviously did some things in the offseason and before the season started in relation to it, but it's no different to what anybody else would do on a Monday night game or what anybody else was doing in the offseason, so I don't think that we did anything different than anybody else would have done.
Q: Mike, can you give me … You touched before talking about Favre about that he can sometimes assume too much responsibility for taking care of everyone and everything on the team. Can you give me an example in the past of when that's backfired or been negative for him?
MS: Well, there haven't been too many negatives in regards to Favre, but maybe trying to force a play or force a pass at times, but he has not done that this year at all. His interception percentage is down as low as it's been, and as he's getting older, he's getting wiser. I don't know that he'll ever admit that, but he does. He's taken what the defenses have given him and he's a more patient player than he's been in the past. At times, he might have felt the weight of the whole game on his shoulders and he had to make a play, but throwing it to Ahman Green or handing the ball off like we did when we were playing Atlanta in overtime, when we ran the ball on that last drive to win the ballgame. He was very complacent doing that and he didn't feel like it had to be him all the time. So, I think he's grown in that way.
Q: Your impressions of Tom Brady: the MVP of the Super Bowl and a lot is expected of him to grow and to prosper this year. Tell a little bit about how you view him as a quarterback and his progress.
MS: I just marveled in watching him last year. I've watched a fair amount of their games on tape in the offseason study, and they were so effective on offense and on defense. But certainly the emergence of Tom Brady has contributed to the success of the New England Patriots, and he just shows tremendous poise and leadership, much beyond his years. He just seems very secure with himself and what he's doing and how he's doing it. He makes good decisions.
Q: Mike, from a personal standpoint coming back to Foxborough and the area where you grew up and played at Algonquin and coached at Holy Cross, is it distracting to you and do you have to budget your time better? What's personally going on for you in that respect?
MS: Well, other than long lost relatives calling for tickets and making those types of requests, which go right through my secretary – I don't deal with those – there's absolutely no distraction whatsoever. This is business. It will be a special feeling walking out into Gillette … You know, I used to go to Patriots games as a kid at Schaefer Stadium and even went to one at Fenway Park in the old days when they were the Boston Patriots. So there's a special feeling there, but when the ball's kicked off, we've got a job to do and it's all about winning the football game.
Q: Will your parents and all your siblings be there? I know you talked about the long lost relatives, but for the ticket requests that you know about, do you have a long list?
MS: A fairly long list. I don't even know how long it is, because they all go through my secretary, she takes care of all that stuff, and obviously we can't meet everybody's needs, but I have a lot of very close friends living in the Northborough/Southborough area that I went to high school with and they're still my closest friends that I've had in my life. I always remember those guys and stay in touch with them, so I'm trying to get as many of those guys into the game as possible.
Q: So your folks will be there too?
MS: Yeah, all my relatives and friends will be at the game. That's right.
Q: Mike, you coached obviously one of the classic, historical teams in a place that Bill Parcells once said was his favorite stadium because it just permeates with what's good about pro football. Do you stop and think about that, being a kid from Northborough and realizing that you're in almost a historical landmark, I suppose, for pro football?
MS: Yeah, I have thought about that. I've gone out on that field by myself after a day's work and sat in the stadium and looked at the names of the hall of fame players and coaches that are up there, Blood McNally and Ray Nitschke and Bart Starr and all of those players and Vince Lombardi and the coaches and Forrest Gregg. I just marvel at the situation sometimes, but you can't get caught up in that too much, because you've got a job to do and it cannot become overwhelming in that way. But it is a very special place with a history and tradition. They raise the bar very high here and the expectation level is so intense. But that's a good thing, because our players, for the most part, try to jump over that bar. I think that when we're not a very good team, like in the year 2000, when we were struggling, we were able to get more out of them because the expectation level is so high here.
Q: Mike, what is your perception of Glenn's play as his coach as opposed to what it was looking at him from afar as an occasional rival?
MS: Well, obviously we played them on the Monday night game down there, which we were fortunate to win in I believe it was the '97 season and he was a force in that game. I was coaching the offensive line during that football game, on the field, and I spent a lot of my time with our offensive line. On occasion I'd look up and see Terry Glenn making some catches, but I didn't think a whole lot about it. I had enough things to worry about on our side of the ball. But obviously, in the Super Bowl, having seen the '96 Super Bowl against the Patriots, they made some plays in that game. So, most of my study occurred on the tapes that I put together of what he did last season for the Patriots and also the previous season.
Q: Mike, with your injury situation, are you concerned with your depth, especially on defense?
MS: Well, that's certainly an issue, but injuries are a part of the game, and our ability to adjust and handle those injuries will define us as a football team as it defines every football team, because you're going to get hurt and you're going to get injuries. We were actually in a situation in the game the other day where we were down to four defensive backs and we were talking to Terry Glenn about having him go in and play corner for us. He was willing and ready to go do that – just lock him up on a guy and play some two-man and just let him run with a guy – but we never got to that point. But yeah, it is an issue for us, but I think we'll get some guys back and do some things that will help take some stress off.
Q: Mike, you talked a bit about the history and the tradition and sitting in the stadium and seeing all those famous names. Does it not get any better than that for a kid from Northborough and is this all 'beyond your wildest dreams' type of stuff? You know, coaching in the NFL, in Green Bay, with the type of people you have on your team?
MS: Well, it can get better than that if I can get my name up there at some point. Which would be quite a challenge, when you consider the people who are up there. But in Green Bay, people say you do a good job and you win some football games, but in Green Bay they don't measure you by how many games you win, it's how many championships you win. I guess it gets better than that when we can win the championship at some point.
Q: But, as a kid at Algonquin Regional, you could never have imagined these kind of things.
MS: No, I could not envision being the head coach and general manager of the Green Bay Packers at that time. That was not within my scope. I mean, the only thing I was thinking about then was where do I go to college and take my non-athletic body and be able to play some football? Fortunately, I was able to do that at Central Connecticut State University.
Q: Thank you very much, Mike, and good luck to you.
MS: Okay, guys. Thank you