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Transcript: Devin McCourty Press Conference 11/22

Patriots safety Devin McCourty addresses the media during his press conference on Wednesday, November 22, 2017.

Q: Are you glad to be home?

DM: Yes, I am definitely glad to be home. The last two days were probably the best of the week. We were off so I enjoyed that fully. 
Q: What do you think you learned on that trip?

DM: I thought the cool thing was just hearing the Air Force head coach speak to us about different things that they have to do. I always think that's very interesting. We go through training camp and we kind of think that's hard and the different things we go through and for them training camp is relaxing time. It's a time away from some of the hard stuff they do. In my college career we played against Army and Navy all the time so we kind of learned some of the things they did and then hearing about Air Force and how they come into the semester or how they start basic training - a week in the mountains, survival week, all of that stuff to me, for us as a team, kind of puts it in perspective and you kind of realize how blessed you are just to play. I thought we took advantage of being there and learning from some of their guys and seeing some things. I thought we could take that and use that as an advantage of just how to operate as a team. 
Q: What has changed in the last six games that you've been able to keep your opponents out of the end zone?

DM: I guess we're playing well. I don't know. Same guys, same team. I think we're just doing a better job executing, paying attention to the small things, all of the details on how you play good football and I think we've just come together. We knew it was kind of going to be a work in progress from the beginning of the season and I thought we kind of focused and believed in that. It wasn't just smoke. It wasn't just talk. It was something we truly believed in and the hard work that we continue to do is showing up on Sundays. The hard thing about football, you put in five, six hard weeks and now you're fine. For us it's every week. We've got to do that to have a chance to play well on Sunday and I think we know that now and guys are doing that. Like today was a terrible day to be out there practicing, weather was terrible, it was cold but we went out there and went hard for the time we were out there and put together a good day and I think we understand that's what it takes for us to go out there and win on Sundays.

Q: How strange is it when Tom Brady isn't out there at practice with you guys?

DM: Defensively, honestly, I don't think about it. Our defense doesn't change whether he's out there or not. We're still just game planning on what we need to do Sunday. In my time here he's never missed a game so you don't even think about it. Maybe it's just a day off, you know? It's not like it affects him. I don't know.

Q: Is it weird to have the season back loaded with five of the next six games coming against division opponents?
DM: It's definitely different to be at this point in the season and only play one division game. But I think it puts pressure on all of the teams in the division to know you're ending - every team comes into the season each year you want to win your division. I think it's pressure for the fact that no matter how the season has [gone] when you have all these division games at the end it kind of leaves the division still up for grabs because the games just mean more. You win and you put another team in the division down a game if you beat them. I think it's going to be pressure across the board and all of these games will be key to end the season and then another AFC team in there too so it'll be tough.

Q: How does it differ from preparing for a team like Miami whose skill personnel you have seen a lot of as opposed to last week against a team like Oakland?

DM: Yeah, that part is different but I think the cool thing for us coming off of the Oakland game was we saw a skill group that was very talented from top to bottom then you come into next week and you've got the same thing. So we've got experience with understanding that this is the same type of game. There's not one guy that you can go out there and take away and say we'll be fine. Across the board Miami is the same way whether it's [DeVante] Parker, [Kenny] Stills, [Jarvis] Landry, Julius Thomas, [Kenyan] Drake and [Damien] Williams in the backfield. All of those guys can hurt you. So far, like you like turn on the Tampa film and all of these guys are hurting you with 50-yard plays. That's one thing that we focus on and we've already talked about not giving up the big play in really every facet of the game because at every level they have a guy who can hurt you whether that's running, short passes, deep passes. There is some carry over as far as a very talented skill group from last week and even seeing it this week.

Q: At this time of year what are you thankful for?

DM: I'm thankful for my teammates, to be a part of this team and to grow with this team. [There are] a lot of good guys in that locker room. A lot of guys that I'm proud to call a teammate and friends. [I'm] definitely thankful to them to have my back and for me to have their back in times of need. 

Q: What kind of things do you focus on day to day to make sure everyone is trying to get better during this winning streak?

DM: I think the key thing is understanding that every week is different, especially for us. We put a lot in the game planning and offensively how we're going to score, defensively how we're going to keep teams out of the end zone. So there's rarely any crossover or continuation from last week that we can just say here we go again. We've got to kind of start from scratch and understand exactly our game plan for that week and how we want to play. I think that in itself kind of creates that mentality of getting better and understanding a new game plan because you have to work at it. We have some idea, if you've been here for a while, what we're going to do but like this morning we come in and it's a whole new game plan and everyone has to lock in and focus for us to have a good game Sunday because you don't have enough time to - we don't have enough time to go out there today, Wednesday, at practice and say this is new, we need time. If you have a bad practice Wednesday then you're trying to catch up. So I think that kind of creates that sense of urgency to each week come back and as Bill [Belichick] says "reload the gas tank" and get ready to go. So now we're filling it back up and hopefully emptying it by the end of the week.

Q: Have you noticed a different swagger or change in attitude from this defense in the past few weeks?

DM: I don't know. I think you can't have swagger when you're giving up 30 points or four- or five-hundred yards. I think it's obviously a different level of confidence because you're playing well. The energy is going well, but I think the most important part of the mentality of no matter how it's going, we're going to keep working and working at this thing together. I think that's the biggest thing with this team, is understanding that we're all in this together. We're going to battle as a group. We're going to win as a group. We're going to lose as a group. I think that speaks volumes and gives you a chance to win throughout the whole season because that's your character. That's what you're built on. I think that's what we did a good job of this year and not allowing any negativity to kind of seep into the locker room and split us from sticking together. Yeah, there's a swagger, but I think its also confidence and being proud of our accomplishments.

Q: We see each week in the locker room celebration videos just how close each member of this team and of this coaching staff is with one another. How does that type of camaraderie help the team?

DM: Yeah, I mean, it's cool. All of the guys are in it to win. I think what you see in the locker room is just the exhaustion of the whole week of putting everything in and then getting a win. I think everyone is happier at the end of the week because the week sucks, usually. We don't like being in here for hours and going out there and practicing in the rain, but the whole idea is, at the end of the day, it's going to make us better and give us a better chance to win. I think what you see in the locker room a lot of times is just the uncut version of how happy guys are when we go out there and we play well. We talk about different things all week and we go out there, it comes up, we play to it, it happens and I think everyone's excited. Not just us as the players, but the coaches, whether it's the coordinators, whether it's the guys that are up in the booth. You see Nick [Caserio] come down there. Nick's as happy as anyone. I think everyone on the staff and player-wise realize how much we put into it and it's all a win at the end of the day, so everyone is happy.

Q: How difficult is it to prepare for a team when you don't know who their starting quarterback is?

DM: I think the good thing is we've seen both of these guys on film, so it's a little easier than you get sometimes where a quarterback might get banged up and now there's a chance that another guy might play but you haven't seen much of him, so I think that's a little bit different. But we have a season's worth on Jay Cutler and Matt Moore has played in a couple of games. We've played Matt Moore here a bunch of times through the years, but I think you have to, honestly, really, just dive in there. Being able to know what quarterback like this, what this quarterback likes and I think that adds a little more film study to make sure you've got both of those guys down because you don't know how the game will go. We won't know until the end of the week if Jay Cutler is there, and then if he is there, we still won't know. Does he finish? Does Matt Moore come in? So, I think to take all of that away you have to just be prepared for both guys.

Q: Did you guys feel like you were in a lot better condition than your opponent? It seemed like Oakland was a little bit gassed when using their up-tempo offense.

DM: Honestly, I think as players we kind of just depend on whatever we do here to go out there and play, and then once you're in the game you just go. There's times like if we see guys running - defensively - we see guys running on and off the field like they need a break, you can kind of tell like 'We've got these guys. They're tired.' But overall you want to just keep your foot on the gas whether they're tired, whether they're not tired. You just don't want to let up and I think that has more to do about yourself than your opponent. No matter what we see, I think we want to try and create a mentality of it's about us, not them, and being able to execute and perform the same way.

Q: Any thoughts on your former teammate, Darrelle Revis, joining the Kansas City Chiefs?

DM: Good luck, I guess. He's a good guy, a good friend of mine. I'm happy for him if he's happy, but I haven't talked to him.

Q: Did you play high school football on Thanksgiving Day?

DM: Yeah, some games. Sometimes we played against our rival on Thanksgiving or that weekend.

Q: So it's not a foreign concept to you like it is to many of the guys in the locker room?

DM: Well, I played top level high school football, so some of these guys, I don't know where some of these guys played. We got a lot of NFL guys from games I played in.

Q: Did you ever win a turkey leg in a big victory or anything like that?

DM: We didn't do all of that. [Brian] Cushing beat us. Him and his team beat us one year, but that was our rival. We've got guys in the league from that league. Some of these guys didn't play in great leagues.

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