Patriots director of player personnel Nick Caserio addresses the media during his conference call on Tuesday, December 22, 2009.
Q: What were your thoughts on Maurice Jones-Drew coming out of college and how he has developed as a player?
NC: Sure, he was a real productive player coming out of UCLA. Some of the same qualities you see in Jacksonville, you saw in college. He was very - for his size - he was a very strong runner. He broke a lot of tackles and he ran with power. He's short, but he's thick - if that makes any sense - because he has a little bit of width to him. He's not like one of these short guys who's thin. So they [UCLA] threw the ball to him. He was good in the passing game. He was right around a 1,000-yard rusher consistently and he was also a productive player in the return game. Since he's been in the league, each year, it seems like they [Jacksonville] have put more on his plate and he's responded more favorably each year. He was real productive coming out and that production has really translated over into what he's done thus far with the Jags.
Q: One of the knocks against Maurice Jones-Drew was his height. Is there a disadvantage to a running back being shorter?
NC: I think whatever their size is, in the end, it comes down to their skill set. For example, if you look at Kevin [Faulk], Kevin is on the shorter side as well, but when you look at a runner, whether he's big or small, you look at his ability to break tackles. You look at his vision. You look at his instincts. Does he have lateral quickness? Can he break tackles with strength? Does he break tackles with his quickness? Does he have speed? So whether he's big or small, some of the attributes you want in a runner - those players are going to have them. How the size factors into it, that's probably in the eyes of the beholder in terms of what maybe you put a little bit more stock in having a bigger back as opposed to a smaller back. So I think it all depends on what you feel is best for your football team.
Q: When you made the decision to bring Fred Taylor here, did you have a conversation with Jacksonville people about his plusses and minuses? What were some of those conversations?
NC: Sure, I think anytime we bring in a veteran player who has had experience in the league, you talk with, whether it's teammates who have played with him or...It's probably going to be hard to talk to anybody within the organization depending on the relationship there. But just like any player, you try to do as much research as possible and gather the information through whatever sources those may be. We'll listen to - whether it's our top players or whoever it might be - but in the end, you just try to gather as much information as possible and then ultimately...it's very similar what you do with the college players as well. There's a part of that - that the information gathering is a part of that process. Whatever those means, whatever that mechanism is to find out as much about the player as you can, then you'll go ahead and explore that to the fullest.
Q: Has it been difficult to gauge how successful of a pickup Fred Taylor was because of his injury situation?
NC: We're happy that we have Fred on the club. Obviously, he's missed some time here because of the injury, but Fred's been a productive player since he's been in the league. He was productive early in the season with the opportunity he's been given, so when he's ready, he'll have those opportunities and hopefully he'll go out there and perform. Fred's body of work is quite extensive and we're happy he's on the club and we're excited to have him on the field, whenever that's going to be.
Q: There's a rumor that Floyd Reese and Jason Licht are being considered for a personnel job in Seattle. Can you comment on that?
NC: The only thing I'll say about that is those types of situations are league-related. There's a process that clubs need to go through. So outside of that, I really don't have any comment. It's more of a league situation and how they handle it and our focus and my focus specifically is on Jacksonville this week and that's what we're trying to do to get ready for the game on Sunday.
Q: Given your first year in this position, how have Floyd Reese and Jason Licht helped you out as you've moved into your new spot?
NC: Really, I think our whole department has worked well together, whether it's the college side or the pro side. Both are experienced. Both have been in the league and have good knowledge of the league. I think our whole department collectively has worked well together and hopefully we'll continue that moving forward.
Q: You worked with Wes Welker on a daily basis in 2007. Looking back, was there one thing that stands out about him or an impression he left with you in your time working with him?
NC: Even this year, I've spent some time around him as well, whether it's in training camp or during the year. I think the thing with Welker since the day he's been here is just his consistency and his work ethic. He knows one speed and that's 100 miles-per-hour and that's regardless of what he's doing, whether it's on the practice field or in the film room, and that's how he plays. So a lot of how he plays on Sunday is a result of what he does during the week. If you look at his skill set, the one thing that kind of separates him from maybe some other folks is his quickness and change of direction. It's just the ability to stop and start and that enables him to get open. Because in the end, as a receiver, you have basically two jobs: to get open and catch the football. Wes has been able to do that at a pretty consistent level since he's been here. You saw in '07, you saw in '08, you see it in '09. I think that hasn't changed since he's been here and I think that's just who Wes is and that's how he plays the game and for as long as he's upright, that's how he's going to continue to play, I'm sure.
Q: Why has it been difficult to establish a third wide receiver this season?
NC: Whoever has been on the field, everybody has had opportunities at different points and we're confident in their ability. They've been productive, whether it's Sam [Aiken], whether it's Julian [Edelman], whether it's [Isaiah] Stanback in the Colts game with the first game he was active. He caught a few balls in his first game. We put the plays in, we design the plays, and then when we get in the course of the game, however they play the coverage, that will dictate where we throw the ball. When those guys have been in there, whether it's the receiver or whether it's somebody like [Benjamin] Watson or Kevin [Faulk], everyone is a part of the passing game, so however it unfolds during the course of a game, then that's how it unfolds. Everybody's had opportunities at different points and made the most of those opportunities when they've been presented to them.