Q: Through eight games how are the tight ends doing?
BF: Offensively, we're pleased to some extent with the maturation of our young guys. As always, we expect improvement every week, and certainly this isn't an easy place to play. We demand a lot of all our players, whether they're young or old. I think just as a collective staff, and with all the young guys, we're pleased with the progress, but certainly we're going to expect a lot more out of them down the stretch.
Q: Is it safe to say that Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez have fulfilled the expectations that accompanied them when they were drafted?
BF: I think what we expected, and what we expect of any offensive player or defensive player, is just to have some production and contribute to the team in whatever fashion that we deem as necessary on a week-to-week basis. I think, as is apparent to anyone, everybody's role changes on a weekly basis [as does] your involvement in the game plan depending on what we do and do not ask of you that week. So far they've contributed. Could it be better? Certainly. Will it be better? Hopefully. I think we're happy with where they're at right now, but we're certainly not satisfied. If you ask those two guys they would probably tell you the same thing.
Q: After Rob Gronkowski's rough game last week is there anything you say to him to get him back on track?
BF: Rob's a tough kid. He's very resilient. I'm not very worried about how Rob is going to bounce back or do any of those things. He's certainly made mistakes all year. Perhaps they weren't as visible as the ones that he made last week, but everybody makes mistakes every week. We made mistakes as coaches last week. He was not the only player who made a mistake, and he won't be the only one who makes a mistake this week. We'll just move forward and hopefully he'll continue to improve like he's done each week. The most I can say about either of those guys are they show up every day. They work hard, and they look to improve. They really do work at their craft, which I think is the key ingredient to being successful.
Q: How has Aaron Hernandez's game changed depending on the coverages he's facing each week?
BF: Aaron is not your typical tight end. He and Rob are very different on what they can and cannot do. That's the nature of the position. It's an interesting position when you really look at the last 15 years of how that position has evolved. Not that I'm some type of veteran coach by any means, but even since I've been alive the game's changed a lot and that position has certainly led the charge in terms of offenses morphing a little bit. Aaron is the type of guy where he needs to be ready to deal with anything. He could see a corner, he could see a safety, and he could see a linebacker. It just depends on how teams chose to play us and what they what they want to do as far as focusing on covering him or how they want to try to slow us down offensively. I think he's at the point in his career very early where he's maturing and starting to find his role a little bit and find his niche. Hopefully that continues, but as far as what he's going to see on a week-to-week basis, your guess is probably as good as mine.
Q: How have you worked with Alge Crumpler with him being a veteran player, and how have you used him to work with the young guys?
BF: I'm certainly not a veteran coach, so I lean on Alge pretty heavily myself. I think when you're dealing with young guys, the more veteran presence you can have the better. As far as coaching an older guy, it's much different than coaching a young guy. Both those young guys are 21 years old. They're a little different than a 32-year-old. He's a man. He's older than I am. You deal with him a little differently. I couldn't say enough positive things about Alge Crumpler. [He's a] great leader [and a] great teammate. It's just like in the locker room last week, noticing how he helped out with Rob. You can't put into words what a guy like that does for the young players on your team, not just the tight ends. We have a lot of young players, offensively and defensively. I think a guy like Alge – and he's not the only guy in the locker room with that kind of veteran presence – they're invaluable.
Q: How have you gotten to where you are? Where have your influences come from?
BF: I don't know where I'm at right now. I don't feel very comfortable saying that I'm anywhere. What I do is I try to come to work every day; I try to work as hard as I can and do what I'm asked to do, whatever that may be. As far as learning from one guy in particular or another guy, I think I've been very fortunate with the family I was born into. You don't choose your parents, and I was very lucky. My father [Iowa Head Coach Kirk Ferentz] obviously probably gets a little bit more attention than my mother. She was very instrumental in raising me, and still is to this day. I think whether I learn from him or Bill [Belichick] or whoever it is, what I try to do is just learn every day. I hope our players take the same approach. I think everyone on the staff does. The best advice I ever received is once you think you've got it figured out, you should probably get out of the business. Every day is a learning experience. I learn something from Alge every day. I learn something from the young guys every day. Hopefully they learn from me. I can't tell you that. Sometimes it doesn't feel like that. My approach, who do I learn from, where do I take something from, I just try to learn from everybody. I was fortunate to be around a lot of other good coaches at the University of Iowa, not just my dad. I would say he's fortunate to be around a lot of good coaches. He's lucky enough that they stick around and put up with him. Who [do] I learn from? Whoever I'm around. I'll probably learn something from you guys today.
Q: As a young coach working with a veteran like Alge Crumpler, how do you go about earning his respect as the authority figure?
BF: I'm not sure if I'd be comfortable calling myself an authority figure. I happen to be on the coaching staff. It's my job, and it's any coach's job, and it's a collective effort obviously with Billy [O'Brien], Chad [O'Shea], Dante [Scarnecchia], Ivan [Fears] and Brian Flores; we all just try to impart the head coach's vision. That's our job: to pass that along to the players. As far as dealing with a veteran player, I think Alge told me when he first got here, 'how do you feel about this? I'm certainly a few years younger than you.' He said, 'age is nothing but a number.' Whether you believe that or not…I don't know whether he believes it or not, you'd have to ask him. What I do is I try to present the information in the best possible way. What we're trying to do, how we'd like to do it. Really with him it's very easy. He's a good guy. It's very important to Alge, and he wants the information. There have been no issues there.