Oakland Raiders cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha addresses the New England media during his conference call on Wednesday, December 10, 2008.
Q: Are you looking forward to matching up with Randy Moss on Sunday? You usually play a lot of man coverage and you usually line up against the best guy.
NA:: I'm looking forward to it. You look forward to every game. I don't think I'm looking forward to it more than I've looked forward to the past games that we've played, just because you kind have to treat every game with the same intensity. I'm looking forward to seeing him though. I was close with Randy when he was here. He taught me a lot about playing corner. His first year here was my first year staring, actually being thrown into the fire. He helped me out a whole lot with that. I'm really looking forward to seeing him and catching up with him.
Q: Can you explain a little more about how he helped you and what he taught you?
NA:: Well, he helped me a lot with confidence because I would do some good things. I have size and I have longer arms and long speed — those sorts of things — and he would come up to me in training camp. He knew it was my first year starting, but he would tell me that receivers hate that type of stuff. They hate bigger corners. They don't like guys that have the attributes that I have and, if I could continue to use them, I could be pretty special. Now, this was in 2005 when I had just moved from safety so I wasn't really that sure of myself. But hearing things like that from a guy like Moss, who had already been in the league, tearing it up, it helped me a lot with my confidence. I'm like, 'If Moss is telling me this stuff, then I've got a chance.' It just helped me out a lot. He would help me out with different ways to play coverages that receivers hate to go against, just different nuances that can get under a receiver's skin. I've always kept those things in my pocket and have been grateful to him for that.
Q: Are you still in contact with him?
NA:: No, I haven't been in contact with him since he's been in New England. I think I might have spoken to him once last year and that's it. But when he was here, we'd talk all the time. That's the
NA:ture of the league. You're kind of closer when you're with someone that you're working with and then things happen and guys leave. But he knows that I respect him and he respect me, too, for when we were here. I think that level is mutual.
Q: I guess that you're not surprised by his level of success in New England?
NA:: Absolutely not. We would actually have talks about life and football. He would let me know that he knows; he would let me know that it wasn't over for him. He would let me know that this is just a road stop in his career. He knew that he would have fun again and he would happy again. He would be in an offense that he liked and he would be around a team and a group of players that were as committed to winning as he was. It kind of hurt him, while he was here, to see some of the things that were going on and you would see maybe a lack of production from him. But he was frustrated and everybody deals with their frustration in different ways. I'm not shocked at all that he's been able to do what he's done and I've cheered him on since he's been with New England just because I knew the type of player he was. I knew the heart he had. I knew the type of person he was. He gets a lot of flack from the media a lot of the times, but I've always said that he was one of the coolest, one of the best players that I've ever been around just because he was so carefree. He didn't have any problems with anyone. I knew he'd be able to turn it around. I was just happy that he got that success last year with New England, with the Pro Bowl, and the records, and those sorts of things.
Q: How frustrated have you been with what's gone down this season in Oakland?
NA:: I think it's clear that I've been frustrated. I've spoken to the media about it on a few occasions now and I usually don't speak much, but it reached points where the frustration level can get so high that sometime you don't want to be silent about it anymore. My frustration level has hit a different level this season than it has hit in any other season. I know that we still have three games left and we still have a chance to leave with some modicum of respect. If we can go out in these next three games and play with some pride and more accountability, then we have a chance. But I think it's clear that — just not myself — but a few of us are frustrated by the season that we're having.
Q: Is one of the things that frustrates you is that some guys really aren't playing for pride and they're just playing for paychecks? And if you lose, you lose; that doesn't matter.
NA:: Well, you really have to search the hearts of players in this league because you really don't know exactly what their reasons are for playing, or if they're being apathetic toward games and preparation. Sometimes you really don't know. I really don't know that. I just know that there are sometimes when we lose when it looks like we won after in the postgame scene. That's what frustrates me. The other things that are frustrating are making the same mistakes play after play, game after game, and just not being able to grow. It's clear that — not only in life but in football — it's all about growth and getting better. The fact that we haven't been able to do that, there is something seriously wrong. It does get frustrating. As a human being, it gets frustrating to feel like things are stag
NA:nt and they're not progressing. We've seen that here this year and over the past years.
Q: I'm sure you're aware that New England's other receiver Wes Welker is leading the league in receptions. From what you've seen and from a cornerback's perspective, what makes a guy like him that's on the smaller side such a valuable target?
NA:: He's just so aware. His awareness level is probably among the best as far as receivers go in the
NA:l Football League. He's just so aware of how to get open and how to find holes in a defense. He just trusts that his quarterback is going to get him the ball in those situations. It's not necessarily that he'll go out one-on-one, destroying guys the whole game; it's just he knows how to get open. It's difficult to explain, but it's not that difficult to explain. He just knows how to get open. You watch him on film and — regardless of the team he's playing against — he knows the spots that are going to be there and he's been able to show up big for the Patriots the last couple of years.
Q: Do you think his size is an advantage?
NA:: Size can be an advantage regardless of who you are. I think it's clear that Moss's size gives him an advantage. I think it's clear that guy a little shorter than Moss can have advantages. With Wes? Sure, he has advantages as well because he's a quicker player. A lot of times you get the taller, longer guys that aren't as quick, but they might have better downfield speed. But, with Wes, he's quick and that helps him getting open in those little spots because you can expect him to go somewhere and, if he turns on a dime, you'll have a tough time getting back to him because his center of gravity is so low to the ground. It's definitely a positive for him in that regard.
Q: You guys have had some success this year. You've beaten two division leaders and you also played the Dolphins very competitively. The Bills, at the time, were very good; you played them competitively. Has there been a change from certain games to others?
NA:: I can't pinpoint it. A lot of times, you need momentum in this league to get yourselves going, especially with the lack of success that we've had in the past six years. This is a team that needs momentum. When you can get one win, that's enough to give you a little bit of belief, but when you can get two wins, back-to-back, that kind of will get you going a little bit. We've never had the chance to. We've never been able to go out and get two wins back-to-back so that momentum factor has never been an issue for us in a positive light. It's always been in a negative light because when you get to losing, it can snowball because you've done it now three-times straight, four-times straight, five straight losing games. It can begin to snowball a little bit. We've definitely been inconsistent as far as losing. Actually, we've been pretty consistent losing. The wins, you would expect those to turn into a little bit more than they turned into based off of what we've been doing. But we haven't been able to get that momentum.
Q: Are you a trash-talker and will you be trash talking when you line up across from Randy?
NA:: No, I'm not a trash-talker. I think guys throughout the league that I play against know that about me. I just go about my business and play, keep my mouth shut and just try to play good football. I don't know if Randy is a trash-talker, but when we were in practice we would go at it all the time, but jokingly. I was with him for two years so we kind of developed that, but during the game we don't know what's going to happen. I'm not that type of guy. I'm more like a bring your toolbox and go to work type of guy.
Q: What do you think the future holds for you?
NA:: I think it holds success in some realm. I don't know where and I don't know when, but I think that I have enough resiliency within myself to make sure that I'm happy because it's obvious that I'm not happy. At some point, success will happen for me.
Q: Have teams shied away from throwing the ball to your side this year and maybe last year since your breakout year in 2006?
NA:: That's no secret. I think that's something that is clear evident that teams have done that. I go into every game thinking that it's going to be a six-ball opportunity game, but rarely if ever has happened in the last two years at all. You never know what type of game it's going to be. I know with each game though I do expect the ball a significant amount of times. But we're playing man-to-man and everyone knows that we're playing man-to-man. Knowing that we have to be so perfect in what we're doing and it's not just you because all your help is a middle free safety and, if he takes one wrong step, then you could be in a bad position. The level of effort and consistency that we have to have is pretty high. I think that I've been able to sustain that for the most part, which is why they haven't thrown as many passes my way.
Q: How has the team responded from last week's game? What is kind of the mood and the focus moving on to a Patriots team that's struggling with injuries as well?
NA:: I think the mood and the plan is just to come into this game and just try to earn a little bit of respect back. I know the
NA:l TV game was an embarrassment for us as a team and it's something that you never want to put out there. We put it out there and we clearly didn't come to play. Our thing this week is just to show up and get some of that respect back, come out and try to beat a great team, and show that we can still play good football with the other teams in this league.