(On how the week went)
This was an excellent week for us. We did it just the way we wanted to. We practiced as though we were playing a game this week so we got all the installation in as we always do so we're ready to go. We're really happy that a lot of guys returned to practice – were in pretty good shape and will go into game week really ready to finish it up in preparation.
(On Earl Thomas getting back out to practice)
It's really good – really good to get him back out. He missed a couple days and all the continuity that these guys have shared for so long is not felt when he's not out there – he's a great communicator and he sends such a message about the concerns of doing all the things right and all that. He picks everybody up so it was great to have him back.
(On how far Earl Thomas and Richard Sherman have progressed this week)
Richard did everything. He took every play this week and looked fine. That's a big statement that Earl's going to be fine for next week. It's going to take him all the way until game time – we will keep him from getting banged but he will be fine by game time.
(On if Earl Thomas's injury has been tough on him)
It's over. It's over, really. It was two days of him being very uncomfortable with the setting and it's over now. He was back in action and in full flow today.
(On J.R. Sweezy)
Good. We rested J.R. – he took all the walk thru stuff. He's got ankles that have been kind of bothering him – kind of nagging all year so we took the benefit of the week here and he'll be ready to go. He could play this weekend if we were playing.
(On if Richard Sherman will wear brace on his elbow)
I don't know that yet. I don't know.
(On what the team will do next week to prepare)
Next week, we're "repping" the game plan is what happens. We will take just about as many turns as we get this week normally but everything will be continued focus on the little things and making sure that we're really sharp and ready and the players know exactly what's asked of them and they will feel really good about the game plan and what they need to know.
(On if there is any discussion with the guys about media day and what is coming up next week)
When the time comes – we're not dwelling on that right now but we will touch base on that when the time comes, yes.
(On how important it was to have the same feel as last year this week)
I think it's really important. That's one of the benefits that we have – that we've been through this process before – the guys know what to expect, they know what we're calling from them on this week. There was nothing new about that. I think that's one of the benefits that we have that it is so fresh that we had just done it so we're going to stay right with the routine. This is a routine I've done for a long time and so it's nothing new for us as coaches and all. I think they're familiar that helps us some.
(On what he liked about Ken Norton as a player and as a coach)
He was really something. He was a player that wore his heart on his sleeve – tremendous intensity guy, cheerleader, fired up, aggressive – all of the things that you love about football and defense and being a linebacker. He stood for all of that and as tough as you can get. To the point where when I asked him to be a graduate assistant years ago – I said, 'I don't want you to change anything, I want you to be exactly the way you've always been and have the same perspective and let these players feel you as you teach them their stuff.' He's been a tremendous part of our staff in so many ways and he's grown tremendously as a coach but it's his nature and his personality is so unique. He's such a champion guy that he's been invaluable to us.
(On Justin Britt)
He took every snap and looked good – he looks like he's ready to go.
(On if it is awkward between him and Bill Belichick because of the nature of this business)
Yeah, it's not awkward. It could be but it isn't. Bill and I have talked a lot over the years on various things and I've seen him at the league meetings and things like that so it's not a problem at all. It probably is pretty unique to this business but it's no factor at all.
(On his relationship with Bill Belichick)
We've gotten along great – just out of respect for the things that he's done and accomplished, I've held him in the highest of regard throughout. We've had an opportunity to bump into each other a number of times and we've talked on different issues. He came and visited us at USC and we had some really good exchanges. We've talked about teams that we're playing and seasons coming up – all kinds of things really over the years so it's been a very good relationship and really, it's based on respect.
(On Jeron Johnson)
He practiced the whole time again – he's ready to go. We're really getting everybody back that we had hoped to get back it appears and Jeron is another one of those guys.
(On the year between leaving New England and going to USC)
It was a crucial year for me. I realized I couldn't retire and I don't understand retirement but more importantly it gave me an opportunity to really collect my thoughts about moving forward and to get pointed in the direction that really, we have maintained since. I had a tremendous opportunity to reflect on the time that I had had. It's such a whirlwind when you're coaching and you're flying so fast that sometimes the inability or really, we don't figure out that we need to step back and revisit all of the stuff that's important to us – that's what happened and out of that came every word of our approach and every philosophy that we stand by now that applies to all the different stuff – really came out of a reflection of that time. Of course we have grown since that as well but that was a big, big time and it happened when I realized that the next football season was coming up and I didn't have a job and I needed to get ready and compete so I started competing and in that, things took a much different course and different shape. I was on course to figure this out but I hadn't taken the opportunity to really dig in. I'm really grateful for it and that's why when I look back – I don't regret anything that happened up until that time at all and I didn't regret anything that happened at New England – it needed to happen for me to get to the point where I had to dig in and figure out what was right so I'm proud of the way that process went because it really worked out.
(On if he felt like he didn't have enough time at New England)
Yeah, I should have still been there – if I had won a few more game, we would have shown you that. Since that didn't happen, it didn't happen.
(On if he needed a year off)
Well, I don't know. It might not have mattered if we had drafted Tom [Brady]. I don't know. If we had figured that out with our group – it might not have mattered but I don't know that. I'll never know that and I'm going to take it for the way it happened was necessary. The pain and the struggle and the hardship and then the challenges of bouncing back were all part of the rebirth of that – of the philosophy and a mentality.
(On if he's ever been back to New England)
Gosh, I don't know if I've been back. I know my wife has gone back a number of times to visit friends. I don't know if I've been back at all. I don't think I have.
(On why the foundation of his philosophy has lasted 15 years)
That's a good question. I think because we made it work. We made it work because it was so true – really, to my heart. I could stand for it – up against whatever the challenges were, whatever the huddles were, the issues were. It kept me together. It kept me on course. I found that we needed to be uncommonly consistent with what we believe in and prove the way we feel, the way we position things would be one that we could make successful because it was so true it wasn't hard. I haven't backed off any aspect of it since the start so I think that's fortunate in that regard.
(On Kevin Williams in his first Super Bowl)
Yeah, he was one of the guys I was really excited to see in the locker room after the game because I know that he had been through the struggles of a full career and he's been a leader and a great player on a team and in the league and all but never had the opportunity. He was one of those guys – I couldn't wait to see him and look at him and talk about it. It's what we had talked about when we were recruited him to come and maybe this would be that opportunity and so I always love it when stuff you hope happens, comes true and it that case it has.
(On how important it was to veteran Lawyer Milloy there for Kam Chancellor)
I don't think I can measure how important that was because it was crucial. Matter of fact, I got to see Lawyer today – he was up in the office. It was great to see him. He stood for all of the really important foundations and fundamentals of this game. He loved to play. He was such a fierce competitor. He was so tough. He wouldn't back off anything and that mentality shared with the young guys that we had – with Earl and Kam at the time – it was invaluable. He did the best to fight off the years that had mounted on him and he did it. We used him in ways – he was blitzing and he was challenging – just to show what the attitude was like to play in the manner. Kam could have played that year. He could have been playing in that place but the way it turned out – it probably made him hungrier and made him more right. Lawyer was so gracious about demonstrating who he is and what it takes to play in this league. I don't think we could ever replace that.
(On if there was a part of him that thought that those were 'his guys' winning the Super Bowl after he left New England, Tedy Bruschi, etc.)
No, I was just proud and happy for those guys that they had gotten to that—I didn't feel like that, no. Those guys were there when I got there, I believe, so I didn't have anything to do with that.
(On where he got his system of Super Bowl practice days)
Derived really out of the San Francisco system with Coach [Bill] Walsh. He had always planned it to get the teaching done prior when you had two-week preparation and for the same exact reasons that we've adopted. That's really where that came from.
(On if there are similarities to his and Belichick's approach to football)
I would like to think that because we are both defensive guys, both kind of started in the back end in the secondary and all that. But I think it's more – you can't play this game at championship level unless you have a lot of fundamental aspects of your game together. You can't operate because other teams beat you. They have been a fantastic team. I'll give you a stat that's crucial. Since 2012, they're plus-51 in the turnover ratio and we're plus-51 in the turnover ratio. The next team is plus-28, whoever it is. To have a football team that plays with that kind of focus and that kind of concentration, it crosses the entire gamut. It's every aspect of your game and guys have to appreciate and understand what fundamentals in this game are all about. I think that's a nice comparison. One that I'm happy to see. You can see the messages and the lessons that we both stand for allow you to play in that style of football. Whether you throw it or whether you run it, that stuff is different, it's the fundamentals of this game that without them, you can't play at a high level. I like to think that we're fighting for the same thing. We want teams to play without mistakes and play with great intensity and focus and toughness and all that kind of stuff. I would like to think we're very similar in that regard.
(On eliminating yards after the catch)
It's just good football. These guys are such a precision throwing team that they can control the football with their short-passing game. There's been times when that's what their focus has been and we know they're capable of doing that again now so we have to minimize the catch and run. That's something we have taken pride in, in this defense, as much as we play our style, we have to tackle well, we have to restrict yards after catch so that we can control the offense and it will be huge in this game for sure.
(On the unbalanced lines that the Patriots have used and how that affects a defense)
Yeah, the mechanics have drastically shifted really quickly here because of what they've done. If you noticed last week in the Indy game, officials walking up to the line and pointing with two hands and demonstrating the eligible receivers and ineligible receivers and I think they'll do it even more so this week when they realize all that's taken place. It's an interesting style of stuff. It's not new to football. There's high school teams and college teams that have done it because their rules are suited better. It's harder in our league to make it work but they've done a nice job with it and have given some teams some problems.
(On how much attention they've had to give to it) A lot. A lot. We've paid strict attention to it.
(On how big of a deal is 'Deflategate')
It's a big deal for them. I know they're dealing with it. It isn't for us at all. It has no bearing on anything.