DEFENSIVE LINE COACH PEPPER JOHNSON
(on what makes Vince Wilfork so good)
"Heart. Vince is one of those guys that the good Lord put on this earth to play football. It's his mentality. It's his being, physically and mentally. He wants to know everything there possibly is to know about football. Run or pass, it doesn't matter, and he applies himself in that aspect. He's a good ball player."
(on where Vince Wilfork has improved the most over the years)
"Really staying strong. Just believing in himself. He needs to maintain strength, quickness, knowledge of the game. He can always learn a little more, but he's been applying himself."
(on Vince Wilfork being a big guy and maintaining his strength)
"A lot of that's natural. A couple of years ago, they challenged him in the weight room with dumbbells and he pretty much threw up the whole weight room. This was after awhile where he didn't lift for a few days and he was throwing up this stuff and I think everybody got the picture that I saw, that you don't really have to mess with that guy. He's going to keep himself (strong)
. He's mature. Vince came here mature. He came out of the University of Miami early, but he came here mature and, like I said, he had that mentality. Back then, it was a lot of guys, that was a plus getting guys from the University of Miami. That professional attitude and mentality (they have) because of the Michael Irvins, the guys that went back, the Ray Lewis' that went back and were always talking to the guys."
(on how long ago it was when he was challenged in the weight rooms)
"About three years I'd say. He was doing some other kind of workout and it started out as, 'Hey Vince, you're supposed to be doing upper body,' so we got the dumbbells out and kept going down the rack and they didn't have any more weights for him. When you get the news it was like the best ever because it was like, 'Vince just lift the whole weight room,' and it's like, 'What? They have no more weights for him?' Then, I see he had a smile on his face as big as ever. He just threw up the whole weight room."
(on the Giants pass rush being a key to who wins this game)
"Unfortunately, that's on the offensive side of the ball, so I don't have to deal with that. My focus is not on the Giant's pass rush. My focus is on the Giant's offensive line, so I have to deal with those guys."
(on what he sees from their offensive line and if he sees a different unit then the last time they played them)
"It's just one guy that's changed. It's the same group. The Giants are one of those teams that can keep their offensive line together, not many injuries, they had one injury, and they work well together. That's the task at hand is trying to separate them. Try and get the guys individually and see if we can accomplish something that way."
(on B.J. Raji saying the Giants' offensive line wasn't the toughest around and if he sees that from them)
"It's a different aspect from a player than myself coaching it on film. Everybody is going to be a little more tougher or a little less. The toughness parts of it really don't show up on the film, so I can't agree or disagree with him. I just know the group works well with each other. They complement each other. They see a guy break down and you think someone has him and all of a sudden his teammate comes and helps him out, so they do a good job of that."
(on how Vince Wilfork's leadership has been helpful to him as a coach)
"Vince is a great person. A lot of just his well-being is going to be a plus for you. I still don't see what's done behind closed doors or when they leave the facility and stuff like that. A guy like him, he has film day at his house every week and he constantly talks to younger guys. That's what this game is all about, the younger guys playing for a veteran such as himself."
(on all the Super Bowls he's been a part of and if there are any pregame speeches that reminisce in his mind over the years)
"You're kind of asking the wrong person. Things like that, to me, are what's said behind closed doors and they stay behind closed doors. That's for the family."
(on how the defensive line has come along since the beginning of training camp)
"They've done real well. We've come together and really started working with each other very well. We've had some ups and downs. We've had some bad plays. Specific language plays, but we also have some real good plays out there, and I think that's expected of guys. The A plays are the ones that you strive for, go over, and talk about in the meeting rooms. It's not just for my emphasis, but things that the players preside over. I definitely let them elaborate and talk, and talk about things that they envision. Then, they go out there and execute it, which is tremendous."
(on what Vince Wilfork has done this year that has allowed for coaches to put more on his plate)
"Really with all honesty, he's doing the same. He may have played more plays. I don't know, I haven't had time to start counting that stuff. He's that single figure because in the past we had Richard Seymour, Ty Warren, and some other names that were out there, so they shared that limelight. Now, it's just him, and the other guys haven't grown into that respect yet. I think he's doing the same thing that he's been doing besides the interceptions. But he's playing good football."
(on Bill Belichick comparing Brandon Spikes to him when he was a player, and if he sees that comparison)
"A lot of guys and some of my friends noticed him at the University of Florida and that his play reminded them of me. I see it. One things that he can also do is he can sub. He takes away from that stereotype of the big inside linebacker playing on third down. He plays on third down. If you want a football player out on the field, you have to figure a way to keep him out on the football field. I remember one day, it was just a joke, but (Bill) Parcells was really messing with me. I was with the Jets and he was taking off the field on third down and saying, 'Dick Butkus in today's game wouldn't play on third down.' I was like, 'BS,' but they knew how to keep Butkus on the field on third down, so he was smirking. Brandon's a field general, and you need to find ways to keep your field general on the field. He wants out on the field, and it's our job to figure out ways to keep him out there."
OFFENSIVE COORDINATOR BILL O'BRIEN
(on the transition from Patriots offensive coordinator to the Penn State head-coaching position during a Super Bowl run)
"Bill (Belichick) has been tremendous with his advice to me. He's been tremendous with his help back in New England assigning a couple of people to help me with Penn State things as they roll through, like emails and phone calls. I said this yesterday, 'It's about people at both ends; we've got a great staff at Penn State, we've got a great staff here.' In my opinion, that type of question is really overblown. It's just something that's been a seamless transition and we'll start working there full time on Tuesday."
(on his first National Signing Day as the head coach at Penn State)
"This is the first signing day. I would say when the names come in, we'll be really happy with who we have. We're fortunate that a lot of those guys stayed committed to us at Penn State. I look forward to coaching them when the list comes in."
(on his appreciation for the recruits who stuck with their commitment to Penn State)
"I really do. I think that means a lot to me and our staff. One thing that I made clear to the administration at Penn State was that whoever had committed to the previous staff, we were going to stand by that commitment because they're a part of our family. We can't wait to coach them and watch them grow as men. It's a testament to them that they stuck with us."
(on his first day of work at Penn State after the Super Bowl)
"I'm going to try to get there Monday night or Tuesday morning. I've got a human resources orientation meeting that I've got to be at on Tuesday."
(on the fact he would miss the Patriots victory parade on Tuesday if New England wins the Super Bowl)
"We're just getting ready for the game and trying to put together a good game plan."
(on whether the fact that the Super Bowl is his final game coaching the Patriots would affect his play calling)
"No, no, again it's a game-plan offense. We're playing a great football team. Some of you guys might think its cliché to say this, but I'm telling you the more you watch the Giants, it's just going to be a very difficult game for us. They've done a great job. They're very well coached, have excellent players. Hopefully we have a good enough game plan on Sunday."
(on the schematics of the Giants pass defense when playing the Patriots)
"I would say it's more of a spin-the-dial (scheme); there is some man, some zone, some man-pressure, zone pressure, split-safety coverage, some post-safety zone coverage. It's a spin-the-dial mentality and that's really what's been pretty effective against us in the past. So it's hard to lock in and say, 'This is what they're going to do.'"
(on the comparison of the Giants defense now to the 2007 version that won the Super Bowl against the Patriots)
"(Comparing) to '07; I was a quality-control guy, so I broke them down. Obviously I have a lot of memories of that. Perry Fewell, the defensive coordinator now, he was at Buffalo at the time. I would say it's a little bit different, but with similar players, the same skill-set they hand in '07 and they're playing really well right now."
(on what he means by the Giants spin-the-dial defensive play calling)
"I would say you have to be ready for everything when you play the New York Giants."
(on enjoying his last week coaching the Patriots)
"I love this staff. When you get a chance to work with guys like Dante (Scarnecchia) and Ivan (Fears) that have been around for a long time, Chad O'Shea, Brian Ferentz, George Godsey and, obviously, Josh McDaniels coming back in; I'm going to miss these guys. We've been through a long season; there were a lot of ups and downs. I've learned a lot from these guys and how they carry themselves, especially this guy sitting across from me (Scarnecchia) as far as being an NFL football coach. When you sit back and think about it, there is definitely some emotion there. I love the staff. I'm going to miss the players. The players have been great, a lot of fun, great senses of humor, and I'm definitely going to miss that, but when the game's over, it's time to move to Penn State."
(on whether or not National Signing Day is overhyped)
"I love that question. I'm telling you; when you work in the NFL, I had this discussion with somebody on the phone a couple weeks ago. As it relates to college football, and I think the recruiting services do a great job supplying information, but as far as four stars and five stars; how many stars do you think Wes Welker had? How many stars did Julian Edelman have coming out of high school? I think you've got to look at the recruiting class two years forward, and say to yourself, 'Did we do a good job recruiting this class? Are they playing now? Are they going to class? Are they doing what we thought they were going to do? Are they contributing to wins on the field? And are they good citizens off the field?' No one really knows that right now, so whether we're ranked the 50th recruiting class or the No. 1 recruiting class, I really couldn't care less, to be honest with you. We feel very good about the players we brought in here. Hopefully they all sign up today. We can't wait to coach them."
(on whether or not his mind and heart are in the same place with the Super Bowl and his Penn State tenure looming)
"The hat and the heart are in one place and that's to, along with the offensive staff here, do the best job that we can to put together a great game plan for the Patriots. There's only one focus that you can have when you're in a game like this. We've got a great staff back at Penn State that's in charge of what's going on there right now. I'll start there early next week."
(on calling the screen pass less often this year than in previous seasons)
"It's probably something we could've used more. I think it's been a staple of the Patriots offense for a lot of years. We changed things up a little bit. We went to the tight ends more. We did some different things. Probably, with hindsight being 20-20, we could've used it a little more."
(on the creation of the Patriots' two-tight end, three-receiver formation)
"When we get together on Monday, actually Tuesday morning in getting ready for the next team, we all come in together and everybody has somewhat of an idea as to how we should attack that team. So it starts with personnel. You look at your own personnel and you look at the personnel you're going against. So we have a very, very bright group of guys that just came together and said, 'This is a personnel group we should look at and here are some thing we can do out of it.' From there we all kind of got together and it's a brain-storm session. Like I've always said, 'I'm just really the organizer of the scripts and the papers.' We all work very, very well together to come up with the themes and personnel groupings for the games."
SPECIAL TEAMS COACH SCOTT O'BRIEN
(on if they use the Ravens' missed kick as a teaching point and does kicker Stephen Gostkowski have the ability to call a timeout)
"No, I just think that's part of our whole operation. The kick was to tie the game, but that's still important too because our strategy on the other side is a little bit different than being a game winner. Based on us, normally, the operation is with the offense and with me most of the time. The kickers are involved, they know what it is, but they've got their own train of thought. The only guys that stand around us are the holders and the kickers if there's any alerts we need to give them for the situation itself, so they handle it and that's their job. It's not steep."
(on what he saw in long snapper Danny Aiken)
"Well, what we saw in him was what we see in everybody we evaluate coming out every year. We first saw him at the Senior Bowl and talked to him at the combine, but we do it to everybody if you have a need or if you don't have a need. You need to know what the league is, so when players come into the league we have to do are due diligence and have enough background on him both physically and mentally to have the information to make a decision. What we saw was a good, young player that lacked a lot of experience in protection. He never had the pro-style punt team since his freshman year at Virginia. You have to take that into account, so there's a learning curve there. We knew that. But, we like his consistency, we like his overall weight, and we like his mental ability to not only process and learn things. So it was a good fit for us when we made the decision. It has worked out well because anytime you change any part of the specialist group it's always hard for the other two. Especially, when you're dealing with a kicker. He fit right in and he's a great worker. He's always trying to better his technique, which they need to do every year. So we saw the potential in him, he came in, and he's done a good job for us. Of course, like all rookies, he's had his ups and downs. But, he's come through his downs, which is a good sign. Hopefully, he'll continue to grow, improve, and be here a long time."
(on if the special teams have had any qualms throughout the year)
"It's been okay. He's had his ups and downs. He's had low snaps on a PAT or an off snap on a punt, but by most yards he's been pretty consistent for us and that's what we're looking for. There's a huge trust level on that position. There's a lot of responsibility just like any PAT or field goal, it all starts with him. Obviously, the punter can't do his job until he gives him the ball. But, he's got to snap and protect in both areas so we can't expose the inside of our field goal protection. He's got to anchor that, so there's certain things he has to do there and in our punt game in the protection itself. No matter what happens, his responsibilities are throwing the snap and he's in a vulnerable position and he needs enough time to recover."
SAFETIES COACH MATT PATRICIA
(on his goal for the game)
"Obviously the Giants have a great offense right now. (Giants OC) Kevin Gilbride does an excellent job coordinating with them. Eli Manning is doing a phenomenal job at quarterback along with their offensive line whether it's in the running game or protecting him. They are a really solid group, and have been working together for a long time. Obviously, it's a tremendous challenge for us to get ready for a team like this with the skill players they have, the balance in the offense and the way they attack defenses. That's kind of our main focus."
(on how much he learns from the first meeting against the Giants this season)
"I think you always try to look at all the games that you played against an opponent no matter who it is and try to analyze closely as well as the games throughout the season. It's certainly part of your study."
(on if he has watched every Giants game this season)
"We try to make sure we watch all the snaps. Definitely."
(on if he has watched a Giants game more than once)
"I think we've probably seen a few snaps a couple times. Sometimes you do."
(on how much the Giants have changed from the beginning of the season to now)
"I think teams no matter who it is, or who you're playing evolve throughout the year. That's what you're trying to figure out is where they've evolved to."
(on the Giants running game statistically)
"They've got a great running game. I'm not really hung up on stats or anything. I think we got to focus on doing a good job of just making sure we can defend what they do."
(on the importance of statistics)
"I think stats are for everybody else to get excited about and take a look at. We're just trying to do a good job defending whatever our opponent is going to do that week."
(on the defense evolving)
"I think no matter what your coaching position defense, offense, special teams I think you're trying to improve with that unit every week. I think that's what we're looking for is trying to get that steady improvement as we work through the season and now the postseason trying to get better every day, every week."
(on the challenges of the Giants' offense)
"They obviously present a lot of challenges from the quarterback position to the run game to the pass game. I think all of it presents a big problem for us to try to stop it. They're a great offense. They are really clicking right now and have had success so it's a big challenge for us."
(on the Giants style of play)
"I think they do a good job understanding the balance of the game. If they can run the ball they're going to run. If they need to throw, they are going throw. They do a good job of moving back and forth in between both aspects of the game. I think they really understand which is their strong point when they need to go to it depending on the game situation."
(on what he notices from his defense over the last three or four games)
"I think just in general what we are trying to do every game, every week is just try to improve. We have guys that work extremely hard. We are very fortunate to have guys that love the game, work hard at the game and will come in everyday and try to make themselves better. That's what's really been going on and hopefully we continue to do that."
(on Vince Wilfork's performance this year)
"Vince has obviously had a great year for us, and is an extremely strong leader for us and someone we can count on a great deal. We are very fortunate to have a guy like that, lead our defense and guys can follow him and take his example up and try to emulate it."
(on Brandon Spikes)
"Brandon is another guy that's trying to work hard every day, improve and get himself up to a high standard of play. Someone who is trying to come in and learn the defense to the best of his ability and just try to get better. He's a big part in what we do and just try to get him better every day."