DEFENSIVE BACK DEVIN MCCOURTY
Q: What does it do for you as a team to have an extended road trip like you will next week?
DM: I think it brings us together. It's kind of like I always compare it to that college atmosphere of meetings, football. When we're here, it's home to your families, but when we're on the road, it's kind of like back to the dorms, back to your off-campus house, hanging out with the guys. But, I mean, Matty P. [Patricia] had just said it, too. I mean, all of that is cool and everything, but the biggest thing is we want to go out there and win these games. That makes it all worth it when you go out there and win these games. No matter what, I think that has to be our focus on playing well and going out there, getting a win, not just all the different things that come along with being on the road for an extended period of time.
Q: Does being in a new environment for a week and away from your family make it more difficult to prepare, or are there fewer distractions?
DM: This is being taped. If I say that, that sounds bad for my family. No, I mean, obviously, I think it helps us prepare as far as being able to watch film together. When you're in the hotel together, it's easy to shoot a text to a group of DBs or the offensive line or defensive line, linebackers. It's easy to shoot a text: 'Hey, you guys want to watch film at seven o'clock?' And, 'Yeah.' So, that always helps. When we were in San Diego, we were able to do that. It's a little different than when we're here from 8 a.m. till whatever time and guys have different responsibilities that they get to at the end of the day, where sometimes you get some extra time, sometimes you don't. You know, on the road, we're right there. We're three doors down from each other. We can always do that. So, as long as you work and do it, it can help preparation.
Q: In your experience, what's the most difficult thing about playing in Denver?
DM: Since I've been here, they've just been a really good football team. I think it's the same thing for teams that have to come play here. The crowd helps, the weather helps, but I mean, if the football team's not good, it's not really going to matter. I think that's been the biggest thing. When we go out there, they're a competitive team. They've always been games that are big in the sense of it means something, the crowd's into the game and it's been hard to just win because they're good and you're going on the road, which is already hard. And, playing one of the top teams in the AFC on the road is going to be difficult. So, I think we know that, but we don't harp on it. We know it's going to be tough. We know it's going to be a game that's going to come down probably to the last couple minutes of the game, whether we're on offense or defense, of trying to go win the game. I mean, every year, it's kind of come down to that. Even last year, where it wasn't a last-second play, but it was back-and-forth all the way till the end. We know it's going to be no different this week.
Q: How would you characterize Denver's group of wide receivers?
DM: Very talented. They've got a chance to make big plays at all times - even a guy like [Isaiah] McKenzie that doesn't play a lot, but when he comes in, he has a role. If you're asleep at the wheel, he'll take off and he'll score. And, I think the thing is with them, a lot of those guys are in, whether it's [Bennie] Fowler, [Cody] Latimer, they're all in there playing. Obviously, [Emmanuel] Sanders and [Demaryius] Thomas get all the attention, but all of those guys are in there. Whether it's [Brock] Osweiler or [Trevor] Siemian, they throw the ball around the field. It's not just, 'Let's throw the ball to Thomas and then Sanders back-to-back.' You know, they spread the ball around, so they have a talented group. It's not an offense where you know like this guy is going to be here or this guy is going to be there or let's set the game plan. Those guys are all over and they put them in different spots, so it makes it tougher to kind of just zero in on one thing.
Q: Is the team's recent history with the Broncos similar to when you previously played the Colts several years in a row?
DM: Yeah, it's like a division game now. Since I've been here, it feels like we've played them every year, and a lot of times it's been there. It just feels like one of those games - like you said, we know we're going to play them, and usually if they don't end up on a schedule, we find a way to play them later in the playoffs or for some years, just playing them twice.
Q: With Bill Belichick's next win, he will tie Tom Landry for third on the all-time win list for coaches. Having played for him since 2010, what would you say makes him one of the coaches that ranks among the all-time greats?
DM: Preparation. He always says, 'Players win games. Coaches usually lose games.' So, I think, for us as players, we know going in - especially for me, I know going in, no matter who we play, no matter how good they are, what they've done, I know we'll be prepared to have a chance to win. I don't know if it's like that everywhere. I've only been here. So, I think him just always giving his team a chance to win each week by making sure we're well-prepared and, I mean, everything a team could do - you know, we watch countless plays. You can talk to offensive or defensive guys, we usually know what the other team's defense is going to do just from sitting in squad meetings and Bill in the morning going through - whether it's two minute, four minute, first down, drive starters, third down, red area - we go through so many different situations that it's hard to not be prepared for a team. That doesn't mean you're always going to win, but it gives you a chance.
Q: How has Duron Harmon evolved as a leader? In your eyes, what makes him a good captain for this defense?
DM: I think it's just him being himself. I think he's been a guy that's a bit younger, so he's gotten to be around a lot of different great leaders that we've had here, especially on defense - whether that's been [Jerod] Mayo, Vince [Wilfork] - and seeing a bunch of guys, I think, as he's kind of come up from a rookie till now as one of the more veteran players on the team. I think he's seen that and I think he learned that for his leadership role - just being himself. When he feels like something needs to be said, he speaks. If not, he continues to do what he's done since he's been here - just work hard and lead by example. I think it's always good when you can come up and see other leaders around you that have done a great job. You get to learn different things from them and learn how to input leadership into who you are as a person.
Q: When you have as many guys as you do at that corner spot, is it tough to maintain chemistry when there are so many pieces that you're working with?
DM: I think it just continues. I think the harder thing is when new guys come in. Like when Bade [Johnson Bademosi] came in there and had to play more snaps, it was making sure we were all on the same page. You know, once guys are in there, that communication and chemistry just continues to build. So, like Bademosi's communication and chemistry doesn't change now that Steph's [Stephon Gilmore] back. We just become stronger as a unit with a guy that probably didn't know as much before and have as much chemistry with us as a group because he just wasn't out there a lot, who then got to play in a bunch of games and start and play a lot of plays. Now, Bade coming in, Steph coming in, it doesn't matter. The chemistry and communication is there. That's not saying it's perfect, but it's something now that we have a foundation, we've all worked together enough and all of those guys are back out in practice, so that always helps in improvement because, in this league, it's a constant improvement. Because each game you play now, teams are drawing things up that they think can beat you, so that continues to stretch your communication. I mean, it'd be easy if every play we ran, we just keep seeing it over and over again. But, now teams are trying to see what you do defensively and do this because they see it will be hard for us. All of that stress helps communication and you hope with time you continue to build on that. And, even when you see things that you haven't seen before, the chemistry and communication helps you get through and play the next play.
Q: When you have that many corners, is there ever any uncertainty when it comes to roles? Does it limit the number of reps you can take with one or two different guys?
DM: Yeah, see that's why I play and don't coach. That's a coach's question. But, I think the best part is we have great depth and we have a lot of guys that want to play and can play, so you never can go wrong with that.
Q: What positives did the team gain from the experience of spending a week on the road in 2014?
DM: I thought it was great just the time we were in San Diego with that team because that team was a little similar to this team where we had newer guys that had come in and were playing big roles that year. Time just went. We started off that season I think 2-2 and we just continued to get to know each other. I thought that happened probably somewhere around mid or towards the latter part of the year where we got to continue to build on our comradery and our chemistry, offense, defensively as a team. I thought having that road trip, especially because we started off going to Green Bay losing and then having a week that was kind of unknown on the road, I thought we all kind of came together and put a lot into the atmosphere in San Diego, night game, where they were playing tough and the game kind of came down to a couple plays that changed momentum. I really thought that kind of steamrolled that year where we kind of went on a roll after that. Not saying that that will happen this year, but I thought that was just good for us as a group.
TIGHT END ROB GRONKOWSKI
Q: What is it for you that makes playing in Denver such a challenge?
RG: Denver is always a challenge. They always have a good team. [They] always have a good defense. It's just going in a competitive atmosphere, the football atmosphere there with their fans. They're always loud. They're always cheering. So just overall [it's a] great football atmosphere, great team. It always makes it hard to win on the road there.
Q: Bill Belichick has 269 career wins and with his next he will be third all-time tied with Tom Landry. In your time playing for him since 2010, what do you think he does that has put him in that category?
RG: Just the details. Just how much knowledge he knows about the game of football and how much he can go into depth and the details about just one single play. That's what puts him to the next level, get him all those wins. Just an unbelievable job of knowing the game of football and applying it to the players to help us out on the field.
Q: Is Denver one of the teams that treat you differently with the way they cover you - whether they bring a guy like Aqib Talib or Brandon Marshall at you? Do they rotate against you defensively?
RG: I mean I've seen many different coverages from them, many different defenses with them but I feel like they tend to switch it up a lot. I've had linebackers on me, I've had the safety role over then motion across, they switch, they roll down on the other side. I feel like they have it all, they can do it all so just be prepared for anything really.
Q: After the Chargers game you made a comment about how on some plays you have it and other plays you don't have it. What did you mean by that? Was fatigue a factor and how are you feeling now?
RG: We just had a bye week so [I'm] feeling good. The practices have been going well just as a group too. [I'm] just excited for this game versus Denver. Right after a game you kind of know what you can - you feel that at the moment, that feeling of the emotions at that moment. I'll just say that just have a good week. Everything is going good and I can't wait for the game Sunday night.
Q: The team will be on the road in Colorado for an extended period of time. What positives come out of that experience of spending extended time together?
RG: Well a few, but first off we've got the game Sunday night versus Denver. It'll be kind of treated like any other road trip. You get there, whatever we've got to do and then I would say all that team bonding stuff comes after the Denver game once we're there for the whole week. Once that week happens I don't really know what the real deal is, what activities or anything we have going on yet so really the main focus is just a regular road trip all the way up to the end of the Denver game.
Q: Did you treat this bye week any differently than other bye weeks earlier in your career?
RG: Yeah, for sure. As you get older you feel the need to definitely change up some of your routines. You want to do what's best for you so you're ready for the upcoming week. So I would say definitely that you do different things. I would say I spent way more body work time, body time than I did back in my early days of playing.
Q: The team signed defensive lineman Ricky Jean Francois who owns 30 Dunkin Donuts stores. Does that create an issue for you in the locker room?
RG: No, not at all. I think that's great.
Q: Are you going to take orders from him now?
RG: Yeah, I've got to take orders from him. He might have to take orders from me. Maybe I'll bring in some coffees for him. I don't know. We'll figure it out but I did bring that up to him. Super cool and super neat.