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Tony Dungy Conference Transcript

Dungy: We try to get the information to the quarterback quickly from the sideline, give him time to go up there and analyze things, and that is just the way we do it.



**Q: Could you talk a little bit about your perception of Peyton [Manning], now that this is your second year coaching him opposed to how you viewed him when you were on the opposing sideline?

TD:** Yeah, I had never really got to play against him before, so all I got to see was highlight clips from afar and you appreciate those highlight film type of plays. But in being here for a year and a half now, he's just been phenomenal. You really can't even describe, until you are on the inside of this offense and how it works, how much he has to do and how much he's responsible for. We have great players around him and a great system, but we put a lot on the quarterback. Week in, week out, he's just up to the task mentally. The way he works, the way he pushes himself, the pride he takes in his performance, those things I think a coach really appreciates, even more so than the on-target throws and the big plays and things. He is a very, very special guy. I feel fortunate just to be around him.

**Q: Peyton spends a lot of time at the line trying to reorganize the information, maybe to audible or change the protections. Is there ever a point when you say, 'Don't stop doing that, don't worry about what people say,' or have there been times when you say 'Hey let's try to minimize that'?

TD:** No that's our system. It really is. It has been in place for six years now and that is what we are used to doing. It's been very successful, so we are probably not going to change.

**Q: Doing it against the Patriots, with all of their different looks and formations and personnel, will this week present a more difficult situation for Peyton [Manning] for when he gets to the line to process what he is looking at?

TD:** Well obviously, the better the teams you play, the more of a challenge it is, but I think he relishes that. Frankly I think he would rather play against teams like New England and Philadelphia and Buffalo, where they do give you a challenge and they've got great people, as opposed to, it's never easy, but some defenses where it really is just the receivers and the backs making plays and the line blocking. He likes that challenge and he'll put a lot of extra time in this week, I'm sure.

**Q: Do you think it helps you prepare your offense given that you made your living being a defensive coordinator and maybe you have a more insight to what [Bill] Belichick and [Romeo] Crennel are trying to do then some other coaches might?

TD:** That's the way I try to help our offensive guys, just say, 'Hey here is what I think they are trying to do. Here's how I think they are going to try to attack us.' Tom Moore and Jim Caldwell and our offensive coaches do a great job of getting those offensive guys ready. Howard Mudd, they've done it for six years. There's not a whole lot that I've added or tried to change but that's the thing I do with the quarterbacks especially, try to give them the perspective of here's the strength of their defense, here's what I think they are going to try to do to us, here's some things I think we need to look out for.

**Q: Also, on the flip side of it, [Tom] Brady has been very efficient, particularly late in the game and in overtime. He's 7-0. Your perception of him? And in comparison to Peyton [Manning], the style, the cerebral aspect to their games.

TD:** The thing about both of them is they are winners and I think they do thrive in the situations where the game is on the line. Not everybody does. You have other people who are just the opposite, can put up fantastic type numbers in situations that don't mean a whole lot. But what he has done, I think, is given them confidence that they can win every game they are in. Their defense is not going to give up a lot of points in most games, so they are going to be in striking distance. It just seems like that's the attitude that Tom [Brady] has given them, 'Just put us in striking distance and we are going to be in good shape.' And that's the same thing I think Peyton [Manning] gives our offense, the same type of confidence.

**Q: This is a classic match up, not only between the two quarterbacks, but both teams are efficient, good football teams. At this juncture of the season, it's been a battle for you and the Titans in that division, and I suppose this is a key element to where that thing finally shakes out.

TD:** We've put ourselves in good position. We are tied for first place in our division and we are coming into these last five games, knowing that if we win our games we don't have to count on help from anyone else. We knew before the season started that this would be a critical juncture, and with New England playing as well as they are doing and being as hot as they are, it's just exciting. I think this is where players and coaches would like to be, playing fun games that are big games that mean a lot. New England has been very hot and I have a great admiration for the way they play and just for what they've been able to do with the amount of injuries and different lineups that they have had to have. Everybody is pitching in, everybody is contributing to their wins and to me that's great football.

**Q: Back to Peyton [Manning], when you came there was there anything about him, the way he went about things or just the way he related to teammates, that surprised you at all?

TD:** Not really, because Tom Moore, who is the offensive coordinator, we've known each other for 30 years he coached me in college, it's very much the same type of system. We stayed in touch over the years and he had told me a lot about Peyton [Manning] and how he was and how he worked. I have just not been around many great players that have the great work ethic that he does. You hear about the Jerry Rice's and the Walter Peyton's, that is the way he struck me, but I anticipated that from hearing Tom tell me over the previous five years.

**Q: I was wondering about Dwight Freeney. He had such a big game against Miami. It really changed the entire outcome of that game. Has he been as explosive throughout this season?

TD:** He really has. He had a couple of games where he was a little bit down with a leg injury. He still played but wasn't maybe one hundred percent, but most of the time he has been a real dynamic force. I think he is a guy that offenses have to have a plan to block. He's made big plays for us in just about every game. I think his second year, he's playing better than he did his rookie year.

**Q: In some senses, with a year of the same system under players' belts. Does that make a big difference? Do you think people now understand what you want and you have more players that fit your system?

TD:** That is exactly right. I think both things are true. The players that have been here really understand more. They have more confidence, because they have seen it and have worked with it for a year and a half now. And I think our personnel department really has done a great job in the last two drafts getting players that really fit what we are trying to do and we are getting a lot of contributions from a lot of young guys.

**Q: As a team that uses screen passes itself, how would you rate the Patriots and its ability to run that play? How difficult is it to defend a team that does that well?

TD:** It's tough. Defending it, it takes away from your pass rush, it takes away from the things that you can do because you have to remain disciplined. Those guys do a great job getting them to wide receivers. They are getting screens to [Daniel] Graham now, obviously Kevin Faulk, so it is just part of what they do and it is something that we have to be aware of. And it does, it slows you down as a defense.

**Q: Do you find the teams use screen passes against you as a quick defense to try to blunt some of that speed, use it against you?

TD:** I don't know. I think teams…that is part of their arsenal. As you mentioned, New England does it. We do it. I don't know if they do it anymore, because of what we are, but we've seen our share of them for sure.

**Q: Can you comment on Kevin Faulk's performance this year here for the Patriots?

TD:** Kevin is doing a great job. We had Kevin in the Senior Bowl. My staff at Tampa Bay coached the Senior Bowl and he is an outstanding young man. And just a guy that you know is going to be a good player and a winner wherever he ended up. He has done so many things for them in terms of returns and third-down back. And now he is kind of carrying the load as the first and second-down back. A very versatile guy, the type of guy that you root for, but he is playing very, very well.

**Q: Are you going to have enough guys to get on the field on Sunday, saw your injury report?

TD:** I think we will. Actually, this is probably the best it has been in the last month. We are starting to get guys back. We think we are going to have some guys practicing that haven't been able to practice. We're feeling pretty good about ourselves. We still are going to have some guys out, but I think we are going to be in great shape.

**Q: People talk about wins having lasting effects. Did your win on Monday night against Tampa Bay, in the final analysis, did it give you a bump for the next few weeks at all?

TD:** Not really. It was a great emotional thing, and what it did was show us that we can compete on the highest level, when you go to the defending champs place and beat them. But we had a very tough game the next week against Carolina at home, we didn't win it. So we had to start another winning streak after that. But it was an emotional game and I think it just showed us what we are capable of when we play at our highest level

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