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Patriots Locker Room Quotes - 1/8/2008

New England Patriots players comment from the locker room at Gillette Stadium on the upcoming AFC Divisional Playoff game against the Jacksonville Jaguars.


(On if the team's primary focus is to stop the Jaguars running attack)

Vrabel: I think that's certainly one of the focuses and a main focus, but they can hurt you in a lot of ways. They run a lot of good, solid pass routes that if you sit there and you load up on the run they're confident in what they're able to do to get the ball downfield. This is an offense that's able to make big plays and I think that people just lump then into the category that they're just grinding it out on the ground for four or five yards a carry. They hit big plays against us last year down there, so that's also part of it.

(On how David Garrard has grown as a quarterback over the course of the season)

Vrabel: I didn't get to see a whole lot of him up until this week. Obviously I watched the game against Pittsburgh the other night but now watching film if you go back during the season, just his efficiency and the way that he's played and managed the game. All you have to look at is in fourth-and-two with their season on the line they had a lot of options to get the ball to and they chose to keep it in his hands and run a quarterback draw. I think that says a lot about the confidence they have in him.

(On making the Jaguars one-dimensional and making David Garrard beat them)

Vrabel: You try to do that every week. If you can force a team to drop back and throw it 50 times every week [a] few things are going to be happening: we're going to be stopping the run and chances are our offense is ahead and they have to score points. I think you try to do that every week and whether that's the case or not, we can win by not doing that, but certainly you go into a game and you try to take away what people do well.

(On the similar running styles of Fred Taylor and Maurice Jones-Drew)

Vrabel: They're both real good. I just saw that Fred Taylor is going to replace Willie Parker in the Pro Bowl -- That's long overdue. [He's] certainly running as well as he's ever run, a lot of explosion, a lot of speed, you don't see anybody catch him when he gets in the open field. They both block, it's not like neither of them are capable of picking up linebackers. They both do that. I think they're both assets to their team.

(On the lack of publicity the Jaguars have gotten and not having any Pro Bowlers prior to Fred Taylor replacing Willie Parker)

Vrabel: They are confident in what they do. They bring their lunch pail to work everyday. They play hard football [and] you respect that. We've been in that situation before. We've had guys like that. You just go out there and play and regardless of the type of attention and media hype that you get, you just go out there and you play hard.

(On whether or not the Jaguars are like the Patriots used to be, in regards the number of Pro Bowlers and recognition)

Vrabel: They are playing well at the end of the year and that's what you have to do. They won their first game. Everybody's undefeated right now, so we [have to] go out and play hard and play well and we've got to prepare.


(On whether the Patriots would rather play a physical team or a finesse team)

Mankins: I don't know. Everyone talks about the [physicality] of the Jaguars but we're no powder puffs. We're going to hit you back, so we'll see what happens.

(On who has the advantage, the Jaguars because they played last week or the Patriots because they had a week off)

Mankins: [The] advantage [goes to] the team that prepares the best. We're trying to do that right now and we're going to continue that the rest of the week. Whoever executes the best on Saturday night is going to win the game.

(On the challenge that the Jaguars defensive line presents)

Mankins: It's a big challenge for us. They've got big guys that can - They're solid against the run and they're solid against the pass, so you have to try and crease them in the running game and you have to hold up in the passing game. We can't hold the ball all day and we can't let runaway rushers go.

(On how Tom Brady's quick release helps the offensive line in pass protection)

Mankins: It always helps but we can't count on that all the time. We have to block people, too. Even though Tom gets rid of the ball fast, sometimes he needs to be able to hold the ball and we have to be able to let him do that.

(On how playoff games are different)

Mankins: It's just faster. There is no tomorrow if you lose, so you're going to lay it all out there no matter what. Hopefully you come out on top and don't have to go home.


(On the physicality of the Jaguars)

Faulk: They are a very physical team and we know we're going to have to play hard and it's going to be a very intense game.

(On how the Jaguars and the Patriots both seem to live by the 60-minute men motto)

Faulk: I think every team lives by that theme. If you don't play 60 minutes you're not going to win the game.

(On why the veterans have played so well in the playoffs)

Faulk: I can't give you a direct answer, but I think it's just from working hard, understanding what's at stake, knowing what we have to do as a team and all the normal stuff that we would do as a team. Trust in the guys you're playing with, do your job [and] work hard -- Just the normal stuff.

(On the playoffs being just another game)

Faulk: You have to look at it as another football game. You can't put pressure on yourself because it's a playoff game. You have to be mature enough to understand what's at stake, but at the same time understand that you have to play a football game.


(On how close games down the stretch prepare a team for the playoffs)

Hobbs: We knew going into those types of games that it would be a playoff-like atmosphere. Obviously, we showed that we can win those types of games and we can come out and play at a high competitive level through 60 minutes.

(On his impressions of the Jacksonville-Pittsburgh game)

Hobbs: It's the playoffs. You look at teams and sometimes they're overmatched during the season and they come back in the playoffs and it's closer than you would think or what the media or what the fans would think. It's not necessarily that any of the teams got better; it's just a desperation matter now where every play counts, every moment counts out there. It's a game of inches.

(On the Jacksonville wide receivers)

Hobbs: There's no stopping them. All of them are good - big, physical guys. They know how to use their body to go up and get the ball and it sticks to their hands and they wind up making some great catches. [David] Garrard puts it right on the money for them and sometimes he has to stick it [in] some tight situations. The receivers aren't afraid to go across the middle and get banged up a little bit because they have a quarterback that can beat you.

(On whether David Garrard's ability not to throw interceptions changes the game plan on him)

Hobbs: Not necessarily, you just understand that the opportunities you do have to make plays on interceptions and causing fumbles, things like that, you do have to capitalize on because he's a guy that makes minimal mistakes.

(On Jacksonville's ability to play a full 60 minutes)

Hobbs: You see this as a game that is going to go down at the end of the fourth quarter and whoever is playing the best football and the end is going to be the one that wins the game. That team is obviously not going to back down and we're not going to back down from them. It's going to be a good game.


(On what the key is to relaxing in a playoff atmosphere)

Thomas: I don't know a key. You just do your job, whatever it may be. Your job doesn't change just because it's the playoffs.

(On Fred Taylor and Maurice Jones-Drew)

Thomas: Both of those guys are fast. Both of those guys can make cuts [and] break a lot of tackles. Both are strong. One of them is just shorter than the other. They run the same plays with those guys in there so both of those guys are very explosive and can take a short run and make it into a long run.

(On Jones-Drew's ability as a blocker in the backfield)

Thomas: It doesn't matter how tall you are. Blocking is about attitude so both of those guys are tough, physical guys.

(On what kind of problems Jacksonville presents)

Thomas: They're a challenge all around, with the two running backs that they have along with the fullback [Greg] Jones, who's a big, physical guy, and the quarterback adds another runner to it. They have big receivers and they have a big, physical offensive line. Our trying to prepare for them is very difficult and so we just really have to study the film and stay on top of it and not just rely on one guy to tackle.


(On his memories of his first playoff game)

Brady: My first one ever? I have a lot of memories of it. It was in '98. I was playing with the Jets and we played against the Jaguars, actually, which at that time I didn't know was going to be my future team. It was a really exciting, electric-type environment in the stadium. There was the realization amongst the players that it's a do-or-die situation. You win and continue. You lose, it's time to pack up and go home. There's just a lot of excitement around that environment.

(On the physical nature of Jacksonville's game)

Brady: They've always emphasized that. In particular, I think Jack [Del Rio] is very strong on emphasizing that to the defense, but offensively they try to play the same type of style. That was always emphasized to the offensive guys and you can see it on film. That's the kind of team they are. They're going to come at you and try to out-physical you.

(On the fact that Jacksonville has just one Pro Bowler)

Brady: I wouldn't necessarily say they have no stars. I'd say that sometimes the lack of Pro Bowl votes is a result of several reasons. They play in a small market; they're not on national television very much, not nearly as much as, say, this team or a New York team or Dallas. That causes little recognition amongst the voters. They've got a whole lot of talent and have the ability to go and some of them have gone in the past but just weren't voted in this year, like Rashean Mathis, John Henderson, or Marcus Stroud. They have Pro Bowl-quality players that don't always get the recognition that they are due.

(On whether there is an underdog mentality in Jacksonville because of those factors)

Brady: I think there is that type of mentality, an underdog mentality, and the feeling that they're sometimes playing for respect.

(On how to deal with the pressure of the playoffs)

Brady: To me, the game is all about one play at a time. That may sound overly cliché or familiar, but you can't control the final outcome of the game when you're stepping on the field for the first play of the game. All you can control is that the particular play or what you do on that particular play or how well you execute on that particular play. There are so many more things to think about than to think about the pressure and what this means and what the potential consequences are. The best thing you can think about is just what you have to do on each particular time when you get the play in the huddle. If you focus on that, it should take care of itself.

Wide receiver Donte' Stallworth

(On the physical nature of Jacksonville's play)

Stallworth: They've shown that all year. They've shown that on the film that we've watched. They're a really good team. They've got a lot of experienced guys mixed with some youth out there. Their secondary -- Speaking from my point of view, their secondary is really good, their veterans, they've got a rookie [Reggie Nelson] back there who's playing really well. It's going to be a big challenge for us. We're going to have to try to get open. We know they're going to try to challenge us. Those guys are ballhawks back there so it's going to be a big challenge for us.

(On the difference between the regular season and the playoffs)

Stallworth: The difference between the regular season and the playoffs is that you can lose a game in the regular season be all right. You lose in the playoffs - that's it. I think everybody understands that. Everybody knows that. You make mistakes and that's it for you. You're home for the rest of the time.

(On how to deal with the pressures of the playoffs)

Stallworth: The pressure is what you put on yourself. I don't feel like there's any pressure on us. We're just trying to go out and make plays and right now we're just trying to take it one day at a time. We've got to get the game plan down, see what the coaches have in store for us as far as certain calls and things like that. I think the guys will be taking that in during the next couple of days and we'll go out and see. As far as pressure, pressure is what you make of it so I've never felt any pressure before, ever.

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