Q: What did it take to be a training camp Ironman?
DM: Not miss a practice.
Q: How many times have you been an Ironman?
Q: So you've never missed a training camp practice?
Q: What's your secret?
DM: No secret. Just trying to keep my job. Can't make the club in the tub.
Q: How different do the Bills look this year having so many new coaches and players?
DM: Yeah, I mean, usually, we always talk about leading into the game, like on Monday with a divisional game, Bill will say, 'You know, this is a team we know very well.' This past Monday, he said, 'This is a team we don't know very well,' and it's true just because of all the new faces, new coaching staff. It's a team we really had to dive into the film and kind of see what they're about, see what they're doing this year. Obviously, some of the personnel we know with Tyrod Taylor, [LeSean] McCoy, some of the guys up front and [Charles] Clay, but it's a lot of new guys. We've just been locking in on what they're trying to do personnel wise, who's in different places, how they're trying to hurt you. So, guys are taking that as a challenge to get to know them as good as we can.
Q: How dangerous are guys you are familiar with on this team, especially Taylor and McCoy?
DM: Very dangerous. We've seen these guys for the last couple years, and that's always tough. Both of these guys, you want to get as many guys to them as possible. One-on-one tackles against Taylor, McCoy all day probably won't work in our favor. We just want to try to get everyone to the point of attack and be ready because, I mean, the play can end up anywhere. It can start to the left, outside run and end up back all the way on the right side. So, we've talked about that as a defense trying to get all 11 guys to the ball once it declares it and everyone trying to tackle well.
Q: The Patriots have won 13 straight games on the road. What is the key to this team's success?
DM: Honestly, we don't really think of it any different than being home. It's kind of just our preparation throughout the week. Honestly, I don't know why we've had that stretch where we've played really well on the road, but I think it's us just trying to stick to our process, stick to what we do. On the road, I think you have a mentality of it's just us. When you go into a different stadium, you know there's no home crowd, there's no energy coming from the crowd for your side. So, I think we understand that mentality, but I don't know the secret kind of to why we've been able to win and play well on the road.
Q: What's it like playing in Buffalo in a smaller, more intimate setting?
DM: When you say intimate, it makes it seem so friendly. It's not really friendly for us up there. You know, it's fun, though. When we pull into that stadium, there's nobody happy to see that bus pull in there. A lot of middle fingers, a lot of mouthing words because we can't hear them on the bus - we've got our headphones on - that doesn't seem to be compliments of any sort. Their crowd comes and they come loud and energized for Buffalo, but it's been fun to go there and get that atmosphere and be kind of in that stadium where everyone else is against you. We know we have to kind of play well and get going early, or they really get into it and it makes it even harder to win there. To me, it's one of the most underrated stadiums for us when we go on the road and play because, like you said, it's smaller but definitely a very loud stadium.
Q: How much do you think Stephon Gilmore is looking forward to going back?
DM: I'm going to give you the Bill [Belichick] answer. You've got to ask him.
Q: How difficult is it to get Tyrod Taylor to turn the ball over?
DM: It's tough, I mean, because he has a strong arm, he's able to make all the throws and I also think because of his ability to escape the pocket and make plays, he doesn't really stay in there to make a bad throw. He's not really trying to force it into bad situations because if you don't rush the right way and you open up a gap instead of making a throw into double coverage, he just moves up in the pocket. If somebody frees up for him to throw it, he throws it. If no one frees up and the lane's open, he takes off and runs, even if it's for a 4- or 5-yard gain. He understands he'd rather do that than to try to throw the ball into a bad situation and maybe end up with an interception. I think it's his ability and also his mentality of understanding what's best for the team. He really understands we'll live for another down to make a play. So, that's why you see he has a very low turnover number, and I don't think that's going to change Sunday. I don't think we're going to go in there in Buffalo and he's going to just be throwing the ball up. He understands taking care of the football, so if we do get an opportunity - it might only be once or twice - we've got to take advantage of it.
Q: How does playing against a mobile quarterback like Taylor change things for you in the secondary?
DM: You've just got to be ready to cover a little longer. We can say all we want, 'Keep him in the pocket, keep him in the pocket,' but, I mean, he's talented. It's going to be hard for our guys up front for every play to make sure he never leaves the pocket. It's just too tough. So, there's going to be times where a play is going to extend, and we've got to be ready to get on our coverage on an extended play - we call it plaster our coverage - and get to guys and get on them. We've talked about that - not quitting on your coverage, not relaxing, staying on them - because they know that he can extend the play and you see their receivers either turn up field or, if they're deep, come back and try to get open and give him a lane to throw it to them. So, we've talked about that of making sure we stay on our coverage, but it's tough. It's not easy. You know, we're going to come in here and say, 'Keep him in the pocket. Plaster our coverage.' But, it is very tough to do that play-in and play-out.
Q: Since Week 5, your defense has allowed the fewest points in the NFL. What do you attribute the defensive turnaround to?
DM: Execution - just playing the defense better. I think we got better and we focused on what we're being coached to do and what we needed to do game plan wise. We just played it better. It's crazy that it's that simple because it's like, 'Well, why didn't you do that the first four weeks?' But, I think everyone just stuck at it, didn't kind of fall into how the game was going and get on that roller coaster ride. Everybody just locked in and focused on their job and trying to do their job better. Overall, that made us a better group.
Q: You have moved up in several defensive rankings. Is there a certain pride in the way your defense has improved in those categories?
DM: Honestly, I didn't know any of that. So, I would say, I mean, there is some pride, but you don't have time - like we don't look at that stuff. We're just trying to go game-by-game. So, we looked at last weekend and it was like, 'Well, it was good, but this play could have been better. We talked about this play that came up. We should have been way better at that.' So, I think for us, we're so focused in game and playing that game, then reviewing the game, seeing what we could do better, then getting ready for the next game that the overall stats - we know we're playing better, but we don't really - just like earlier in the season, I wouldn't have known where we were at. I knew it was bad, so I think we go kind of, really, off that - how Bill comes in there, what he says we need to do, what we do in our defensive meetings, what we do in individual meetings. We're not coming in here and saying, 'Alright, guys, we're 32. Let's get to 30, and then once we get to 30, let's get to 25.' Like we just don't have time to do that.
Q: How does Tom Brady help set the tone for the rest of the team with his approach?
DM: I just think he's always prepared and he's always super competitive. For any guy coming in here, you see that. You see that's the standard here. I've always said that my rookie year coming here, that was the greatest thing that I learned was all our best players have, really, the best work ethic, prepared the best, understood the most about whether it was offense or defense or special teams. So, when you looked at them, you understood like if I want to be a good player, if I want to be a leader someday, these are the guys to follow, whether it be Brady, whether it was Vince [Wilfork] or [Jerod] Mayo, when I first got here, [Logan] Mankins. They were the guys that everyone turned to if they had questions about their position group or about another position on their side of the ball. Brady sets that standard. It kind of starts with him, and that's not him always having to say something. It's just his approach day-in and day-out to always be ready to go and play at a high level. I think everyone sees that, and that's what we all aim to do.
Q: Is there ever any concern when Brady is not practicing?
DM: No, I mean, he always does what he needs to do to be out there. He takes great care of his body. Mentally, he's always prepared. I mean, you saw that last year. He missed the first four games and came back like he had been there all season. So, that's one guy for all of us on the team that you shouldn't spend any extra minutes worrying about is Brady. He'll take care of himself and what he needs to do.
Q: With a running back like McCoy that can make guys miss, what is the best way for a defender to prepare for him?
DM: Hope that you've got three guys with you at all times. He's just so tough in the open field. I've been playing him since college where we had calls where you've got him in a phone booth and you come up with just his towel. You just want to get as many guys there, and there's going to obviously be some one-on-one opportunities in the game where you just want to keep your leverage on him and take your shot and try to make that tackle. I think everyone else has to realize that when a guy gets a one-on-one shot on him, it doesn't mean slow down. It means let's all get there. If he makes him miss, let's all try to get him down after that. For years, for nine years now, he's been a very tough back to try to take down in the open field, and it's going to be the same thing Sunday. But, I think we need to have the mentality of all 11 guys on run plays need to be in that coaches' copy of the film where we talk about getting to the ball and trying to gang tackle him.
Q: Have you reached out to Greg Schiano this week?
DM: No, I haven't, but I think it's terrible the news and what happened with that whole thing. I mean, I played under him for five years - great character, coached us the right way, huge on discipline. So to see something that kind of came out that wasn't fair to him and was really untrue, and the time we live in where social media has such a huge impact and kind of lost a job over that, was terrible.