OFFENSIVE COORDINATOR BILL O'BRIEN
(on preparing for the Giants defense this week)
"The first thing it takes is smart players, instinctive players. But we're a game plan offensive, so we put in a new game plan each week based on what we're seeing. These guys have not only bought into their individual roles, but are instinctive and smart enough to change it up every week, change their position. 'I'm an 'F' one week, I'm an 'X' the next week, things like that. That's really been the key, it's really been about the players."
(on finding ways to keep the players fresh mentally through the year)
"We're going into our 112th practice tomorrow, so you've got to try to relieve the monotony at some time. We try to do it every week. Those guys are coming in and studying their game plan every week and we try to keep it fresh for them."
(on making in-game adjustments)
"(Head Coach) Bill (Belichick) *does a great job of teaching the coaches and the players how important in-game adjustments are. I believe we've done a pretty good job of that as a staff this year. We've got a really strong offensive staff with *(Offensive Line Coach) Dante (Scarnecchia) and (Running Backs Coach) *Ivan *(Fears) , and (Tight Ends coach) Brian Ferentz (Wide Receivers Coach) Chad O'Shea. We come together between series and make sure that what our game plan is, is it staying the same way or do we have to adjust to what they're doing? So it takes a lot of smart coaches, but more importantly, the players have to be able to adjust, and like I said before, a lot of smart and instinctive players."
(on not being able to wait until halftime to make a change)
"You can't wait until halftime. You have to be able to decipher what they're doing after the second or third series and then disseminate that information to the players and understand how you want them to play the game, so that's true. Halftime is short, so you have to do it before halftime."
(on the first thing that comes to mind about Tom Brady)
"Great teammate. Very, very smart. He has a great memory. Obviously, he's one of the best mechanical quarterbacks that has ever played the game. Very prepared every week. You have to prepare for him 10 times as a coach just to keep up with him. He's had an exceptional year and an exceptional career."
(on the details Brady remembers)
"I tell a great story. Last year, when we were getting ready to play Buffalo, he had remembered a play he ran against Buffalo in 2002. It was a double move by a receiver that they hit and he felt like that was a similar play that we could use in that game. Sure enough, right hash, home game, going toward the lighthouse. Look it up, 2002, and there was the play. He has a great memory and he's a very prepared guy and a great teammate."
(on his first dead period in recruiting at Penn State)
"Dead period, yeah. Don't quote me on the rules, but I know it's 48 hours. But again, this is about the Patriots this week. I'm thrilled to be the head coach at Penn State, but I'm really focused on the Patriots and trying to do the best we can to put together a great game plan on Sunday."
(on how difficult it is to execute both jobs at the same time)
"I've been asked that question a million times, and it's really about the people at both ends. Bill *(Belichick) *has really helped here as far as the offensive staff and some administrative people that have helped me in New England when I haven't been here, and then I think I've put together one of the best staffs in the country at Penn State, and they've hit the ground running up there."
(on how he was able to put together his Penn State staff while working at New England)
"That wasn't really difficult. I worked with a lot of those guys. I was fortunate enough to keep a couple of the guys that were already on the staff there. Other than that, everybody at Penn State that is on my staff, other than John Butler, who I knew personally, I had worked with. So I had those guys in mind whenever something like that would come up."
(on if he needs to put together two practice plans depending on tight end Rob Gronkowski's availability)
"We've gone through the practice week this week, and we're a game plan offense, so we're putting together a very strong game plan and we feel good about it to this point. We've got a few more days to go on it, so we'll be ready to go on Sunday."
(on how he will hear about the new signings at Penn State)
"Tomorrow night, I'll get a fax of our signees. I already have a pretty good idea of who they're going to be. Again, it's really more about the Patriots and making sure we're ready for today's practice, tomorrow's meetings and Sunday's game. So it's day-to-day."
(on working with Josh McDaniels)
"Josh McDaniels, not only is he a great coach, but he's a great friend. We have a very, very good working relationship. We're lucky, Bill's lucky, the Patriots are lucky to have him back and I'm lucky to have him for these last three weeks. He's done a great job of just giving us some thoughts on what he sees, especially defensively, but also with our own team."
(on why he went back to the college game)
"In coaching, when opportunities arise, you never really know when that's going to happen. So when the Penn State job was offered to me, or we first started talking about the job, I just realized right away what a special place that was. I felt like I could go in there and have an effect with our staff there and have an effect on some 17-year-old guys and watch them grow into 22-year-old men and graduate with a great degree. So at the end of the day, my wife and I and our family, we decided it was an opportunity we couldn't pass up."
(on if he envisioned himself as an offensive coordinator in the Super Bowl when he took a job with New England)
"One of the things I wanted to do in '07 was, if I wanted to be the coach I wanted to be, I had to work for the best. Obviously, the best is Bill as far as what he does and how he prepares a team, how he puts a team together. I didn't feel like it was a step back. I felt like it was something where I could go in there and learn and become as good of a coach as I could possibly be. I felt great about it, so that's why my wife and I decided to do it.
(on what it was like to be at Penn State last week)
"Last week was about Coach (Joe)
Paterno. It was about his memory and what he meant to Penn State and to college football. So it was an emotional time for me, being in the coaching profession. There's a guy that has been the head football coach there for 46 years. It was a very emotional time for that team because he recruited those guys and he was their head coach. Again, I was only up there for a couple days, but you could see what a special man he was and what he meant to Penn State."
(on what he has learned from Bill Belichick as a head coach)
"Oh, I don't have all day. I think the one thing that he does here is he shows you the parameters for what he wants. 'This is how I want the football team to look. This is the theme or the themes of this football team.' Then he lets you go coach. He lets you be creative, whether you're a position coach, a quality control guy or a coordinator. He's a very, very bright guy who has pushed me and demanded a lot of me, and I really thank him for that, because whether it's Xs and Os or how to put together a team or how to prepare a team or how to deal with a player, I can't count all the ways I've learned from him, but there's a few right there."
(on if he will take any offensive systems from New England to Penn State)
"Pro football is a lot different than college football, but there are things I won't tell you here, but you'll see that we'll definitely take to Penn State and implement there. Then we're going to try to put our own stamp on certain things there.
(on how important it is to protect the Giants' defensive front four)
"Obviously, they have a really good front four, but (Giants Defensive Coordinator)
Perry Fewell has really done a good job of getting them to play good team defense. The front four, the linebackers and the secondary really work well together. A lot of those guys have played a lot of football together, so it'll be our toughest game of the year against the best opponent we've played all year.
SAFETIES COACH MATT PATRICIA
(on overcoming injuries and struggles throughout the season on the defensive side of the ball)
"I think you have to give all of the credit to the players, but I don't really think we focus on rankings or any of that. All we are worried about is going out and trying to do the best that we can, and go out and try to win each week. I think the rest of it doesn't matter to us. Everyone is out there trying to do their job, and just trying to execute everything that we are trying to do. So you give all of the credit to the players, obviously, because those are the guys that work hard every day. (We) are just pleased with anybody that had to step-in, take a roll and do whatever it is that they had to do. They did a great job."
(on defensive lineman Vince Wilfork's leadership role on the defense)
"Obviously, Vince is a great player, and I think he leads by an extremely strong example. Everyone tends to follow those guys that are out in front, so whether it is Vince, Jerod (Mayo)
or whoever it is leading the defense. Vince is a tremendous player, a tremendous leader and we are very fortunate and lucky to have him."
(on the impact of having defensive back Patrick Chung and linebacker Brandon Spikes back on the defense)
"We just kind of go every week. Every week is its own individual week, and every game is its own individual game. So whatever it is that week we are just going to try to put the best people we can out there in the best position to win."
(on facing the New York Giants and the problems that their offense presents)
"They are a tremendously good offense. That is a great football team over there, and we've certainly got our work cut out for us. We are just, hopefully, going to go out and do the best that we can. They are extremely talented in all three phases of the game, but obviously we've got to worry about their offense, which has a great quarterback, great receivers, an excellent offensive line and a tremendous running game. So we've definitely got our work cut out for us."
(on getting pressure on New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning)
"I just think that whatever it is that we can do to disrupt their offense is going to help us in the long run, so hopefully we can go out there and do that."
ASSISTANT HEAD COACH/OFFENSIVE LINE DANTE SCARNECCHIA
(on if Super Bowl XLVI will be more of a challenge than other years)
"No more than any others. We're not the devoid of talent. We have a Pro Bowl left tackle, a Pro Bowl center, a Pro Bowl left guard, a number one draft choice and Brian Waters who is a Pro Bowl guard. We're not swinging a bat with no one. We've got pretty good guys, and guys that have experience. They're good guys, tough guys. We've had to juggle some balls, which is something that all coaches have to do. I don't think anything we've done this year is dramatic or anything that anyone in the league hasn't tried to work through. "
(on having two rookies starting on the offensive line)
"You can't lose your mind over that. You get them ready to go and do everything you can to give them as much information that will allow them to be successful. Then they go out there and they have to play."
(on if he ever had the desire to be a head coach)
"At one time. Probably a long time ago I felt that my time had passed. I'm not moving. I'm staying, we're done. We are where we're going to live the rest of our lives. I'm very fortunate. To be able to stay in one place that long is really rare and we treat it as a blessing."
(on remaining with the team after various coaching changes)
"I don't know how to explain it. I didn't work for (Bill) Parcells before. I knew Pete Carroll. I didn't know *(Dick) *MacPherson and he hired me back. He's the best, he is really a great guy."
(on telling Bill Belichick that the guys are 'his guys')
"I never say that. When he comes over and whatever he has to say, he says. We always say the head coach is the overseer of the program, he's the conscience of the program. When he sees things that he thinks aren't quite right, he says it—believe me he says it. Then it's everyone's job from then on to embrace it and do things the way he wants. Believe me, these aren't my guys. I've never used that term. These are the guys that we're fortunate to coach and we just do the best we can with it. They do a great job. They put up with me and I give them credit."
(on a specific prototype for an offensive lineman)
"I value these traits: they have to be smart, tough and athletic enough. They don't have to be the greatest athletes in the world but they have to be athletic enough to play the position. Smart, toughness, if you don't have those two things I think you have a hard time playing, especially in our system. And then athletic enough. They don't have to be the greatest athletes in the world but they just have guys that can be where they're supposed to be and go where they're supposed to go in the manner we want it done."
(on Dan Connolly coming up from the practice squad)
"He's a very talented guy though. He's a really gifted athlete. He just came from a very small school. However it was, wherever it was he had been before, it didn't work out very well. But he came in here and spent his time on the practice field, did everything he was supposed to do. He improved himself as a player and he's a very good center. The first thing I noticed was his athleticism. "
(on Nate Solder's progression)
"He's gone through the usual rookie tough times and his bad times weren't even remotely close to Matt Light's bad times. But he's a gifted athlete, a very smart guy and very tough. Thank God we took him when you think about it. We didn't have (Matt) Light at the time. All of the sudden we get some injuries at tackle with Sebastian *(Vollmer) *and here's this guy you have to start and play against really good players. The fact that he's playing tight end and tackle on either side, to his credit how could you want any more out of a young kid than we have this year?"
(on if he anticipated Marcus Cannon contributing this year)
"Well we all hoped for the best in Week 6 when he was going to be able to come back. I think what really hurt him the most was not being in training camp and the OTA's among other things. Let alone, the illness that he had and to come back when he did. He's behind, he's truly behind. But he's a wonderful kid with a great upside and again, another tough and smart guy that we're very pleased to have."
(on why he chose a career as an offensive line coach)
"Well I actually played as an offensive lineman, believe it or not. I was a watch charm guard. When I got done playing at California Western University in San Diego, they asked me to coach the offensive line, so I automatically gravitated toward that."
(on what he enjoys about the offensive line)
"I like the challenge of position, it's a hard position to play. Very unselfish people and the least athletic of all positions, no doubt. I think the challenges that go along with that are obvious. It's where my expertise is, so it's where I'm more comfortable."
(on the offensive line playing together as a unit)
"We have two sayings: work together and see the game through one set of eyes. All five guys have to see the game through one set of eyes. If they see it differently then you have chaos; anarchy reigns and it never works. So, if they just all see the game the same way, and we constantly check that and question if they all understand. I think they get crazy with the obsession of all of that, but it is what it is and they all have to see it that way. If we do a great job on our mental assignments and don't screw many things up, in particular in pass protection, we usually do ok. But if we're a little out here or one guy, God forbid is to the right, then all hell is going to break loose where we want it to break loose."
(on Logan Mankins' season this year)
"I think he had a great year, he picked right back up where he left off last year. I think he's had a really exceptional year, very consistent, great effort throughout, has taken on the leadership role. He's an outstanding player, good person and pleasure to coach in many respects."
(on Matt Light's role and ability)
"He plays a very tough position and he's been a consistent player and leader on this football team for a long time. We're all very glad that he did come back to us and he's had a nice year."
(on coaching under Offensive Coordinator, Bill O'Brien)
"Billy has done a great job in the two years that he's coordinated here. He's taken in the system and added his nuances and personality to it. I think the players really like him and they really want to play well for him. Just like the guys before him, he will be missed when he goes. We're better for having him and the system is better for having him. I really like Billy."
(on what makes Tom Brady great)
"I think he's really bright and driven to succeed. I think he's so offensive line-friendly from a standpoint that he tries to put those guys in the best positions possible via how he identifies those guys on defense. Then the most important thing we've come to appreciate about Tom over the years is that he gets the ball out really fast and in a rhythm most of the time and that makes it a lot easier to play up quite honestly. From my selfish standpoint, I think those are the things that really make him stand out. He's a pleasure to be around. We've been lucky for a long time with this guy, that he's our quarterback."
(on being a difficult coach to play for)
"I think I'm easy to get along with. I'm not going to write my own story. I know I want things done a certain way. It's important that we all do things a certain way. Especially when critical things come up, that everyone knows what they expect of one another. I think those things are really important."
DEFENSIVE LINE COACH PEPPER JOHNSON
*(on comparing defensive tackle Kyle Love to players like Mike Wright and others who have made the most of their opportunities)
*"Kyle Love, he's one of those guys that have really come around, really grown. He's still a work in progress. He doesn't have the years like those guys have, but yeah, he's one of those guys. I can't say that he started off with us not thinking that he was going to make the team, as far down as Mike, but he's one of those guys that have definitely improved. He's a rock. He's a rock right now, and hopefully he can continue that for some years."
(on if this week has forced him to reflect on his career with the Giants)*
"No. One of the things that helps me the most is the uniforms. They don't wear the same uniforms that we wore, so it doesn't give me flashbacks in that aspect. When ESPN shows different highlights of our games back in the day, I hear about them through everybody else. I don't get to watch TV much anymore, so I don't really have the flashbacks. It doesn't hit me the same way, like the last time we were here in '07. You know, you at least had(Michael)Strahan that was here, a guy that I actually spent training camp with. Believe it or not, that was the year that they kicked me out of there. So it's the same, but it's not the same. I can't just line up across the field like … Here's a story for you. We actually played against Chris Simms. We played against Tampa Bay. Chris Simms, watching him, I was a guy that was talking to a lot of our(players)*, especially talking to the defensive line, how we can get to him, his scramble patterns and stuff like that. It didn't really hit me—Phil Simms' son—until he grabbed his helmet, and he was running out on the field. I know this sounds storybook, but I promise you, I felt like that was him as the six-year-old, eight-year-old, grabbing his father's helmet, and the helmet was big on his head, and I had to snap out of it. He was running out on the field. I actually lived that moment for, whatever, maybe a split second. But I actually lived that moment that he was running out there with a helmet too big, and I'm like, 'I just told my guys to go out and kill Phil Simms' son. Phil wouldn't like that. I know he's up there thinking that's what I said.' That was a flashback to me. It's something different that's going on now. It doesn't hit me the same when I look across the field. I see Mike Pope. He's one of the guys that actually coached us, but other than that it's not the same."
*(on if his first Super Bowl meant more than the rest)
*"No, no, not at all. You know what? The best analogy I can give you for that, for all our rings, is it's like kids. You can't love—I don't know if you have one, two kids or five kids; I have five kids—you don't love one more than the other. It's impossible. You have memories of how the first one came about, and you have memories how the last one came, how the youngest one came about. But there's no love for one ring more than the other, and that's how I feel about my kids."
*(on if he keeps his Super Bowl rings in the same place)
*"Yes, I finally got a tray where I can actually put them all up in there and put them in my safe."
*(on how Vince Wilfork has emerged as a leader of the defense)
*"Leaders are not guys that grow into leadership. Leaders are born, and Vince was born a leader. Vince has always been a leader. The big thing about him, he understood his role when he first came in. This was Richard Seymour's team. He didn't try to oversee Big Sey, but by the same token, he still has to be Vince. People noticed that even when Richard was here. That's how he became a captain, and he's going to always be a captain. I'm quite sure the same way we look at Harry Carson as always being our captain, that's how these guys are going to see Vince 20 years from now. They're going to always see Vince as their captain."