PATRIOTS OFFENSIVE COORDINATOR JOSH MCDANIELS
Q: What looks different and familiar about this Jets defense compared to previous years?
JM: Yeah, they're good. There is no question about it. They're consistent, they're certainly well-coached. I have a lot of respect for their staff, Coach [Todd] Bowles and what they do defensively. They always present a great challenge for you. I think they've got very talented players at all three levels of the defense. Certainly, that starts with their defensive front, which is, if it's not the best one, it's close, and it probably is the best one we'll play all season. They're just that disruptive and they create a lot of negative plays to stop the run [and] rush the passer. They're hard to block. They've got so many guys up there that can create problems for your offense that they get you off track pretty quickly. They can create turnovers. They do a good job of stopping the run and trying to make you one-dimensional. They're one of the best teams in the league on first down, which is always a critical down for us and for any team when you're trying to play the game in third-and-short and those types of things. You've got to do a good job of making sure you start the series of downs with a positive play and there are very few teams that are better than they are on first down on defense, so they'll give you a lot of different looks. There are some new players that we haven't played before - [Jordan] Jenkins, [Darron] Lee, [Leonard] Williams is playing exceptionally well along with the usual cast of characters - David Harris, [Sheldon] Richardson, [Muhammad] Wilkerson, [Calvin] Pryor, [Marcus] Gilchrist, [Buster] Skrine, [Darrelle] Revis, certainly. They've got a lot of good players, a lot of talented players. They make it tough with their scheme. It's hard to know what they're going to do on every snap because they're so multiple on defense and they challenge you in a lot of different ways. We've got to go back to work on them and really re-familiarize ourselves with their players, the talent that each guys has, and what we've got to be heads up for on Sunday and prepare for a great challenge on Sunday afternoon in New York.
Q: Bill Belichick was pretty complimentary earlier of you, Matt Patricia and Nick Caserio regarding a recent list of head coaching and general manager candidates that came out. You were not on the list, but Belichick said that any list should include all three of you. What are your thoughts on the subject?
JM: Yeah, I'm aware of the report and I'll try to clear that up. I definitely said it before and I'll say it again. I definitely would love to be a head coach again. There are only 32 of those in the world. They're opportunities that don't come along very often, and if you would ever be so fortunate and blessed to have another opportunity to do it, and for myself it would be for a second time, it would be an opportunity that I would look forward to. It would have to be at the right place at the right time, which is what I've always said. I try to make decisions [based on] what's best for my family and myself. Again, somebody would have to offer that opportunity. You're lucky if you get that. That's my mindset. Anything that was reported about my thinking or my plans or the things that I want to do - the other day I saw that, those things I would say are unfounded. That being said, that's all I'll say about it. I love being here and I'm excited to get to work on the Jets and look forward to practicing tomorrow with our guys.
Q: What did you see from Dion Lewis in his return last week?
JM: Yeah, it was great to have him back out there. We've got three guys that all have different roles and I think that all three guys impacted the game in a positive way, whether that was with the ball or without it. I thought that Dion [Lewis] made the most of his opportunities, made some good runs with the ball in space and caught the ball out of the backfield and just - he got an opportunity in his first game back to handle the ball, to do some things in there, run some routes, be in the backfield in protection, so it was good to have him get through that first game, playing 20-something snaps in that first game, and put him back into the mix and in the flow of our offense. We'll try to build off of that, but I have confidence in all three of those guys and look forward to continue to use all three of them the best we can each week.
Q: Tom Brady mentioned that he was aware that San Francisco was going to press up close and try to stay heavy man-to-man and he was going to have to extend the play more often. How much do you and Tom talk about that beforehand and how much do you have to adjust to that on the sideline?
JM: I think it would depend on the game and the opponent, but you certainly are aware as you're preparing each week. You're aware of the amount of times that a defense plays things that potentially would create a situation for the quarterback where you would need to extend the play. I think we always try to anticipate those situations, whether it's a field position thing, whether it's in the red area, or is it a third-down type of a situation? Or, is there is there some specific personnel grouping that when they play it, they do a lot of things that would create that opportunity? We try to make sure that we're alert for that as we go into the game with our preparation, and then there are other times when you go into the game and you haven't seen much of that, but the other team has made a decision that that's maybe the best way to play or a specific way to maybe try to disrupt what we're doing on offense. Then you have to try to respond and adjust accordingly as the game goes on. We're in constant communication during the course of the week with our preparation, and then constantly in contact about what's happening in the game during the course of a game day. It could happen either way. The most important thing is that he executes when he sees those things and that he does a good job of extending the play. He's been able to make some real critical plays for us this season and in the past. It's always been a strength of his to be able to move and create a little bit of extra time without losing the opportunity to throw the ball down the field. Again, Sunday was another great example of him taking advantage of some of those opportunities and really making critical plays for our team.
Q: Do you ever have to balance Tom Brady extending the play versus him taking hits?
JM: I think that's always something that you want to be conscious of. Every play is not the same. Most of them are always a little different. I just think his awareness of the defenders, his awareness of how long he might have to hold the ball, and what's the risk versus the reward? Sometimes the reward certainly isn't worth the risk. I think you have to make quick decisions on the fly and sometimes it's hard to practice those because you're not getting hit in practice as a quarterback, so I think that's a learned skill for a quarterback in the National Football League. You've got to go through those plays in games and understand that when you take a hit, it's going to be a big hit because when they get an opportunity to hit a quarterback, they're going to try to hit him legally and try to hit him hard. Depending on what the result of the play is that you think you can get done, you may choose to hold it sometimes a little longer and sometimes you may just give up on it a little sooner. We're never looking to try to get him hit excessively. He isn't either. He's trying to protect himself because again, I think that's smart to try to protect himself and protect the team. He's got to make good decisions when he's out of the pocket. I think for the most part, he really does. He does a good job of taking care of himself and evaluating that quickly as he moves.
PATRIOTS DEFENSIVE COORDINATOR MATT PATRICIA
Q: What have you noticed about Matt Forte and what he brings to the New York Jets?
MP: Excellent running back - a guy we saw a little bit when he was with Chicago. He has good size, runs with real good patience, and he does a great job of setting up his blocks well. So for an offensive line like theirs that's big, long, and does a great job of covering up defenders, he really does a good job with the vision, setting up those blocks, being able to cut - whether it's cutting back, or bouncing out, or getting vertical to the line of scrimmage very quickly - and then has great acceleration to get through and lower his pads and get out into open space. [He is] definitely a guy that sets up a lot of blocks and creates a lot of space and positive yards. Obviously, their run game is really good and one of the better things that they do. He's been a big part of that. [Bilal] Powell is another guy that goes in there and runs the ball and gives them another kind of dimension there with his ability to be elusive as a runner and kind of make space to create plays. Two really good players in the run game, but [Matt] Forte is definitely a problem as a back. He's a very, very good back.
Q: What have your impressions of Vincent Valentine been this year and do you have to call on him to carry more of a load?
MP: I think just talking about him in general, what we've seen so far and what we're trying to do is we've got a young guy who is working hard to get better. He's shown some improvement. He has good length and good size, so when goes out there and plays with good technique and is able to get that extension and get the blockers off of him, he does a good job of finding the ball, being able to shed and make some plays in there. Consistency is what we're trying to find, just pushing him to be a more consistent player down in and down out. He does a good job in the transition to the passing game when it does go on early down situations into that scenario and trying to work offensive linemen and get pressure in the pocket. [He is a] good, young player trying to get better, trying to improve, really trying to understand the game at this level from a knowledge standpoint - understanding what we're doing, how that affects what the offenses do, how that relates to what we do, understanding the individual matchups with the offensive line, he can be in a couple different positions for us and play against some different opponents. Just that week in, week out trying to understand what we're trying to do as a defense, what the offense does and how they attack us and just kind of that whole knowledge along with improving fundamentals and techniques is where we're at. He's a good young player who's trying to do everything the right way.
Q: What are your thoughts on what the defensive tackles have brought to the table thus far?
MP: It's really kind of the same for all of our guys here. You guys know how we kind of do it. Malcom Brown going into his second year trying to just kind of build on what he was able to do last year. With him it's still a lot of learning the system and the fundamentals and being consistent as a player. He's a really hard-working guy, he really studies the game, he's smart. Malcom is really smart. He understands sets and he understands the alignments of the offense; just really trying to put all that together to be a better player. He's obviously further along than those other two guys but he's done a good job for us and we'll put him in some different spots and do some different things. Woodrow [Hamilton] is just another young player trying to get better. He has gotten to see some live action which is good, and we put him out there in practice and just try to improve and be consistent. He has definitely shown the ability to do some of the things we're asking him to do and for him, he just needs to do it on a consistent basis down in and down out.
Q: Do you feel disappointed in yourself that you weren't able to get more from players such as Jamie Collins and Jabaal Sheard and do you have any other introspections about the way things have gone defensively as you're still trying to figure things out this deep in the year?
MP: That's a pretty negative question there, Tom [Curran]. I'm going to try to put the positive spin on that. I mean, you know that's what coaches do. We try to look at the good side of it. We really try to coach everything that comes our way. I would say for us, every year is different. To go into a season with expectations for certain things and to be hardcore into those, I don't really think that's applicable. Each team is thought to be the best team that year and very rarely does it work out that way. We kind of deal with the season as it goes and with the guys that we have and we do the best that we can with it. Our expectations are the same every week. We're going to go out and compete and do the best we can and try to improve week in [and] week out with whoever is out there, and that's what we try to do. I think the part of the season in the NFL that is great is [that] it's a long season. It's a season that is continuously evolving. If you look at the teams through the course of the different seasons that have played that have wound up in the end where you want to be, I'm sure those teams have gone through a lot of different things throughout the season. We're just kind of in that mix. It's getting towards Thanksgiving. We're going to try to play our best football here moving forward with whoever is out there and try to get better no matter what. I certainly, me as a coach I'll answer that one, always look at myself first and I'll always try to make sure I'm doing everything I can to help our team prepare to win and do the best job I can week in and week out, which is what I really try to do. From that standpoint, those guys know that. We're always trying to do whatever it takes to help the team win.
Q: The onus is on the media to let you have voice to directly answer questions about personnel rather than going off of speculation. Do you see why it's important to ask these types of questions?
MP: Yeah, I know I may not think to answer it fairly. I would say to go back to the spring when we get those questions that come up in regards to, 'What's the team going to be?', 'What's it going to look like?' and 'Where do guys go?' The answers I give you are very truthful. No one has any idea when we come into the spring. We're just trying to get better by the particular day. So those expectations for the team, each individual player, the coaches, whatever is put out there, are not made by us. What we're trying to do is get better and that's what we're focused on. When you get into the season we know things change - personnel, scheme, whatever the case may be. That's where we go in and just try to adjust. For us, trying to keep it at that even keel mentality is what works best, honestly. You don't get too high, you don't get too low and you try to stay consistent. That has probably been the most productive way to handle things. I think that's a good way to look at it. Certainly for me, and to answer that question, again, we're always trying to get everybody to play their best and do their best and that's what drives us as coaches. No matter who the player is or what the situation is - your best player, your bottom player, guys on the practice squad - we're always going to have higher expectations than anybody else and those are the ones we're going to hold them to. We're trying to make them better and certainly when it's all said and done, those [are] expectations we're putting on ourselves to make sure they get there and that's what we're trying to do. We're trying to help them be better football players and just be better teammates in all of it.
Q: What do you need to see from Jabaal Sheard from your perspective to get him back on the field? What does he have to do to earn his way back?
MP: I think in regards to those kinds of questions, I think Coach [Bill] Belichick has obviously said it over and over and I think he's said it best. For us, we're just trying to put whoever is going to go out there and help us, give us the best opportunity to win. The roster and how it works, I think coach answered that best. Sometimes you have guys out and sometimes you don't. Whatever the case may be, there are other factors that are involved in it. We're just going to go out there and do the best we can to get everybody going. I don't think there's anything else to really say about that.