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Patriots Locker Room Quotes - 1/4/2008

New England Patriots players offer comments from the locker room at Gillette Stadium on January 4, 2008.


(On Coach Bill Belichick being named Coach of the Year by the Associated Press and if it is vindication for criticism he faced earlier this season)

Vrabel: No, I don't think - I mean I wouldn't know. Like I said, I'm happy for Bill. It's [an] award that comes from everybody playing well, the team playing well [and having] success. You start to see a lot of that come from the team having success. You see a lot of individual honors.

(On what having home field advantage means in addition to the bye week)

Vrabel: Well, you don't have to travel. Obviously it doesn't mean that you're going to go out and play any better. You have to go out there and play whether you're here or on the road but you don't have to travel, you don't have to leave a day early. You're not pushing the schedule, your schedule's not getting crammed, just those things. Playing football, whether you play well on the road or whether you play well at home you're going to give yourself a better chance to win.

(On playing in front of the home crowd)

Vrabel: I think they've come to appreciate what we do on the field. Certainly I wouldn't like them cheering on fourth-and-one when we're trying to go for it like they do but they'll figure it out sooner or later.

(On what it's like being a part of a 16-0 team that everyone wants to beat)

Vrabel: It's been like that. We're trying to beat them just as bad as they are trying to beat us, believe it or not. That's the idea behind football and in sports and athletics, going out and trying to compete and playing hard. We've been successful in the past but everybody's starting over.

(On the pressure going into the playoffs and if it's similar to what the 1972 Miami Dolphins said they felt)

Vrabel: No thanks.

(On what the team has been working on this week)

Vrabel: That's the important thing. When you don't have an opponent to prepare for you can certainly take a look at yourself and be critical of the things that you've done well and things that you haven't done so well. I think we always go back, defensively, to the red zone. We can play really, really well or we can play really, really bad and there is no real in-between. We have to figure out how we continue to do things well when we're stopping them - what we're doing down in the red zone and not stopping them, how do we correct that. That's the big thing for the defense. We're certainly looking at what we've done well and what we need to improve on and continue to do the things well that have been working for us.


(On Coach Bill Belichick being named AP Coach of the Year)

Harrison: Much deserved. The guy puts a lot of time and effort in, he sacrifices a lot [and] he works extremely hard. It's definitely well deserved. To be able to bring a group of guys together and keep them focused for 16 weeks just shows what type of leader he is. He's a tremendous leader, just the best coach I've ever been involved with.

(On if Coach Belichick is the best coach at making in game adjustments)

Harrison: Probably pretty obvious, huh? Pretty obvious that he is.

(On how coach Belichick was coaching the players hard in the Giants game)

Harrison: I'll tell you, players never stop playing and coaches never stop coaching. I've probably learned more in my five years here about football than I learned in my previous nine years. That just shows a lot to the fact that they bring up so many different situations, they point out so many different things that you normally wouldn't think of in football situations. It's just been tremendous to be here and to learn from a guy like that.

(On when he realized that Coach Belichick is on a different level)

Harrison: When I first got here. His attention to detail, he saw things that I never even thought he looked at. In all various three stages of the game he sees thing that the DB's see, the quarterbacks see as well as the defensive tackles see. He's just a tremendous coach.

(On Coach Belichick's relationship with the players)

Harrison: Bill's pretty much - he is what he is. He's a straightforward guy. He'll let you know when you're doing a pretty good job and he'll let you know when you're messing up. That's all you want. You don't need a coach to be your best friend or anything like that, but a guy that respects you, a guy that knows your talent level, a guy that knows your strengths and weaknesses and a guy that really understand what his team wants, what his team needs and just how to coach us.

(On getting recognition and individual awards this season as opposed to past season where it didn't happen as much)

Harrison: It really doesn't matter. It just comes down to W's. It doesn't matter about recognition. Guys can get recognition but [if] you end up losing games it really doesn't matter. It's just about the final product that you put out on the field and us going out there, being productive and winning ball games.

(On if it would be a case of team recognition if Tom Brady were to win the MVP award)

Harrison: Mostly all individual accolades come from a segment of the team. Whether it's Coach of the Year, MVP, what have you - Pro Bowl guys - because you're only as good as your players and your teammates. A lot of guys around here recognize that it's a collective group of 53 guys working, as well as the coaches and it's not just one individual player making all the plays. You have to have an offensive line that blocks, you have to have defensive linemen that pressure the passer in order to get interceptions, you just have to go out there and make plays.

(On Coach Bill Belichick being named Coach of the Year by the Associated Press and if it is vindication for criticism he faced earlier this season)

Harrison: I don't know about any vindication. I know that he's a tremendous coach and he's been that way. You look at his resume and everything that he's accomplished and what he's done over his career. Nothing can take away from that. I think the fact that he keeps us so focused and he's able to keep us humble and keep us on the right path, it just shows what type of - not only what type of coach that he is but what type of person that he is. That means a lot to us.

(On how the Giants game helped to prepare the team going forward)

Harrison: I think we were exposed in some different areas, and we showed some weaknesses, whether that had been from a lack of making plays or miscommunication or what have you. I think it gave us a chance to sit back and really self-evaluate exactly what we need to do to get better -- all the different elements of the game that we need to improve on and right now that's what we're doing. It's about the Patriots right now. It's not about anybody else but us.

(On if the players expect Coach Belichick to be equally hard on them in the coming week)

Harrison: Nothing's changed. We practiced yesterday - we were in full pads, today we come back, we're practicing in full pads and he's yelling and screaming at us and telling us how terrible we are. He never stops but he knows exactly what he's doing, whether it's keeping us grounded, keeping us focused and keep grinding. That's what we have to do at this time of the season, because it's never easy. You try to strive for perfection, [but] you never get there. You just keep working toward it.

(On how hard he thinks Coach Belichick will be on the players from here on out)

Harrison: It's a matter of how we play and what he feels like at that moment. We can come and we could play great and then he could come in and tell us 'You guys, you think you played great but here's some areas of weakness or areas of vulnerability that we showed.' He'll point them out. No matter how well you play there's going to be areas you can improve on and he tends to focus on that as opposed to patting us on the back telling us how great we are.

(On if Coach Belichick really got after the players this week)

Harrison: He always does that. It's a little something that we're definitely used to and it's something that - I mean it is what it is. You take it for what it's worth. You take it [and] you learn from it, because if you listen to the man you can always learn. The main goal for him is to really get this team better. It's not to make friends or be the most popular, it's about making this team better and that's what it should be about. That's all our goal is: to be here and be part of something that you can do to get better.


(On what makes Tom Brady a special player)

Thomas: I think it's a combination of things. I think Tom is a good player. I'm glad he's on my team. I think the people around him make him better and he makes the people around him better. I think that's a true asset to the offense as a whole.

(On what it's like to face Brady in practice every day)

Thomas: It's always fun to go against a guy like Tommy, frankly, because he's such a competitor. You try to get into his head and make him frustrated. It becomes a competitive thing and you always look forward to that. It makes you better on Sunday. You try to give him a good look at different things teams may do so we go out there and have fun and fly around and jab back and forth at each other a little bit, but it's all in fun and making us better.

(On whom he'd vote for as MVP)

Thomas: I don't cast one. I'm glad I don't have one. I don't know who would get it. That's one thing about it, we're not about individual awards. It's all about the team awards here. The only thing that really matters is what happens on Saturday when it comes time for us to play. All the other individual awards, they'll take care of themselves.

(On his first impressions of Bill Belichick)

Thomas: I don't -- I don't remember. It's been a long season. The first time I met him, I was in Hawaii. The first time that I met him, it was totally different than this environment. It was a totally different thing.

(On Coach Belichick's ability to re-focus the team each week)

Thomas: I think it's very important. You can't let last week or the week after that beat you in the week that's present. Every week after you win or lose, whatever it may be, after Tuesday you have to let it go just like you do with anything else, a win or a loss. On Tuesday, you let it go and move on to your next opponent and he does a great job of helping us do that.

(On how important it is to have home-field advantage)

Thomas: It doesn't matter. From that standpoint, you don't travel, but at the same time, it's not like a statistical thing that you know that if you're home, you win. The same thing that will beat you at home, or win games at home, is the same thing that goes on the road. That's really the offense with crowd noise -- that may be the biggest thing. But other than that, nothing really plays into the fact that you've got your home fans and you're more comfortable at home, but as far as going out and playing the game, nothing changes.

(On Coach Belichick winning Coach of the Year)

Thomas: It's a great accomplishment for him. I'm happy for him, proud of him. Look forward to moving on.

(On what makes Coach Belichick a great coach)

Thomas: Numerous things. It just depends on whom you ask, but I think it's just the ability to get his team ready, week-in and week-out, to play the game and that's one of the biggest things he does.

(On how much he's learned from Coach Belichick compared to other coaches.)

Thomas: I've learned a lot. Coming here, I wasn't used to having a defensive head coach that spent time with the players. That's something that was new to me so I definitely learned a lot from him, countless things. You can't name just one thing, but he's definitely helped me a lot each game.


(On Coach Belichick being named Coach of the Year)

Meriweather: He deserves it. He's a great coach. He's one of the best coaches I've ever been around. He deserves it.

(On what makes him a great coach)

Meriweather: His knowledge of the game and his will to win, all the little things that he does well.

(On what he's learned from Coach Belichick as a rookie)

Meriweather: I can't even explain all of the ways. He's done a lot for me. We meet a lot actually. We go over a lot of things that I need, the things that [they] already know as vets -- things to look for, keys to look for, all the little things that I just don't know because I'm a rookie. He's helped me out with them.

(On how far he feels he progressed as a player this year)

Meriweather: I think I've made some steps, some small steps, but not those gigantic, big steps yet. I still do things that rookies do. I still make mistakes, but eventually I'll make those steps that I'm going to make under the tutoring of Hot Rod [Rodney Harrison] and the rest of the players.

(On if he feels his versatility is his strongest suit)

Meriweather: I really didn't know I[what] would be my strongest suit. Just coming into the league, you never know what a team may need or what a team might want you to do so I just came in with an open mind, thinking that I'm going to be a player for the New England Patriots.

(On what's it been like being a part of this team)

Meriweather: To be honest with you, it really hasn't dawned on me yet.

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