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Replay: Patriots Unfiltered Wed Feb 21 - 04:00 PM | Thu Feb 22 - 09:55 AM

QB Coach John Hufnagel Conf. Call - 01/30/2003

Hufnagel: I think my job as coaching quarterbacks is to get them as comfortable as I possibly can to go out and execute successfully on game day.

JH: Hello gentlemen.

Q: How's it going?

JH: I am doing fine.

Q: Congratulations.

JH: Thank you. I am very pleased about it.

Q: What exactly was the telling factor that made you decide to be a member of the New England Patriots coaching staff and work with Tom Brady and the other guys?

JH: I was very excited about the opportunity to come up and talk with Bill about the job. Obviously it is a very good football team. There are very good people at the quarterback position and I'm looking forward to being part of a situation that will be successful.

Q: Did you have much background with coach Belichick prior to meeting with him about this position?

JH: No, none whatsoever except playing against him when I was with the other teams. The only real contact and relationship I had was with Romeo Crennel, the defensive coordinator. Romeo and I were on the same staff in Cleveland with Chris Palmer.

Q: So how did this start for you? Something where you contacted him or they contacted you?

JH: What actually occurred was I was at the Senior Bowl and I was contacted by Charlie Weis. We had a little 10 or 15-minute chat at the Senior Bowl. He just wanted to discover what my situation was at Jacksonville and what my interests were and things like this. And then I guess at the same time he was going to report back to Bill and put my name on the list and go from there.

Q: What is your philosophy, if you have any, in regards to coaching quarterbacks?

JH: I think my job as coaching quarterbacks is to get them as comfortable as I possibly can to go out and execute successfully on game day. I take a lot of pride in doing that and that's my number one job, is to get that done. So those guys are out there, they have full confidence that the things that they learned through the week is going to show up on game day. And the things that are different on game day will be easily and quickly adjusted during the game.

Q: Have you had a chance to meet Tom Brady yet?

JH: Yes I have. In fact, the day that I was up here for the interview Tom had stopped in. I was in Charlie's office at the time and Tom stopped in and I got to say a quick hello to him, but then he was off to the Super Bowl. I remember Tom from the research I did during his draft year and I had a little bit of an interview with Tom at that time of his career and I remember watching a lot of film of Tom when he was playing for Michigan.

Q: Obviously he has had a lot of success in the league already, but has always been quick to say he has a lot to learn. Have you had a chance to kind of get that kind of feeling from him yet?

JH: No, I really haven't had more of a conversation than a quick hello with Tom since I have been here. But I think any competitive quarterback wants to get better each and every day and each and every year. They realize that the only way to do that is to continue learning. And whether you are a young quarterback, a veteran quarterback, a young coach or a veteran coach you are always in the process of learning, of learning new ideas, discovering what are the nuances or each and every play and hopefully getting better.

Q: What are your impressions of Tom Brady's game from the time that you did interviews with him and Michigan through some of the tapes that you might have looked at already?

JH: I'll tell you what, the first time I saw Tom play in the NFL was against the Indianapolis Colts who I happened to be coaching with at the time. I believe that was his first start and it was up here in New England and you kicked our butt's offensively and defensively. I know that Tom was very impressive in the way that he executed the offense. I know that it took us by surprise of how well he went out there in his first start and just moved the ball up and down the field, executed the offense and then he had a great season from then on. And that was very impressive. Obviously what he accomplished and what the whole New England Patriot football team accomplished that year was something special. Obviously Tom was a big part of that something special.

Q: Worked with a lot of high-caliber quarterbacks like Manning, Flutie, Couch and Garcia. Can he be as productive as guys like Garcia and so on?

JH: First of all, I have been very fortunate that yes I have been able to work with very talented individuals. Tom is definitely a very talented quarterback. I look forward to, number one, getting him in the meeting room and getting to know each other, letting him understand what my philosophy is and how I want to coach, not only Tom, it's also the quarterbacks that are on this football team and hopefully make them better football players and make them better quarterbacks. You never want to compare one quarterback to another. I had good fortune though of coaching very talented quarterbacks.

Q: Who will do more of the talking in the first meeting between you and Tom?

JH: I believe that I will be doing the talking and Tom will be doing the listening. But I am also a good listener. I am going to be very open to what they have done here, what they have accomplished and how they accomplished it, and then take that and mold what I know and how I want to do things and hopefully come up with a good way and a good working relationship not only with the quarterbacks, but also with the rest of the coaching staff.

Q: Did you have any other options besides New England that you were mulling?

JH: I had other feelers out there, but New England was the place that I did have an actual interview.

Q: How difficult is it for you in that this is your fourth stop in four years?

JH: I wouldn't wish it on a lot of people, that's for sure. But I have had a good opportunity to go and coach different quarterbacks and I've enjoyed every stop that I did make. And yes I do hope that I am here for a while.

Q: How much emphasis put on mechanics as opposed to spending most time on the system and game planning?

JH: I think that you work on the fundamental part of the game and the mechanics part of the game in the off season as much as you can. Then once you get into the season, your meeting times, which is an extraordinary time of the day, is game plan. But then when you get out on the field you never forget about the mechanics. You never forget about the fundamentals. I always try to insert it somehow during the week that the basic fundamental part of the game of playing quarterback is touched on each and every week.

Q: Tom has had a pretty good couple of years without a quarterback's coach. What do you think you can add or what has he missed without a quarterback's coach?

JH: Number one I think that is a question that Tom would be in a better position to answer and probably answer after he had experience of a quarterbacks coach whether that is me or anybody else. I just think that anytime that you have a position that has a coach looking at that position you would think that that position would be better off for it. I know that I am…I pay attention to detail in the classroom and also in the fundamental part of the game.

Q: Some people have criticized game Tom for his ability to throw the ball down the field. Do you have any thoughts on that after seeing tape or do you have any thoughts about improving it if he needs it?

JH: First of all I am looking more at Tom's mechanics of throwing the football, his footwork throwing the football and then once I get him on the field and actually get an opportunity to see exactly how he is throwing the ball then go into the finer points of the different types of throws. I think Tom throws the ball well down the field. I think that you can always get better at it and I know it has been a subject that has been brought up about his ability. But I don't think it is anything more than just maybe fine-tuning something, but it may start from the very basics of throwing the ball.

Q: When you talk about mechanics and footwork is it classic type things you look for?

JH: I am not as specific as far as the launch of the ball. You know you get a quarterback and he's thrown how many passes throughout his career before a quarterback coach shows up? Everyone is built differently. Everyone has different type body structure. But I think there are certain basic mechanics of throwing the ball that if you do follow will allow you to be more accurate. To me it all starts with the feet. You talked about the quarterbacks that I have coached, one thing that they all had in common was great feet. I think that is where it starts. That's where the accuracy starts of throwing the football and I stress a lot on footwork. I think that says it in a nutshell.

Q: In the last three seasons you've coached, none of the teams made the playoffs.

JH: And that's why I had to move each year. I am very aware of that. I don't know whether or not you would say the fault was at the quarterback. Obviously we didn't play well enough as a team to make the playoffs and that will not happen this year.

Q: Did you say that will not happen this year?

JH: Let's just hope not.

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