Q: Is it strange to play the same team two out of three weeks?
DM: It is a little different. I feel like we've had this before when it's been like maybe three weeks in between and then that even feels like we just played these guys, but this really a unique situation. I think it forces you to really go over your usual process for the game. I think it's a week where if you're not focused and ready to go you could easily be like 'I know that already. I just saw that.' But I think when you can, as a team, mentally just understand [and] have some mental toughness -- like if we go over this like it's a whole new week and we start from scratch and like we say 'refuel the tank' and we get ready to go and we prepare the right way, you have a chance to really be prepared because now you're watching games that you've already watched. But now you're watching them with a better idea because you've played them already. You've seen things that they try to attack you with so now you're thinking about those things as you're watching the film again. So it really gives you a chance to be really prepared. Then obviously they're going to come in with some things that we didn't see last time so hopefully if you prepare well enough the only thing you'll have to adjust for is the things that come in that are new.
Q: Does turning the heat up inside the bubble at practice help simulate conditions?
DM: It makes it hot. I'll tell you that. It definitely is a little different than being outside. That's the hope. That's the plan to get some heat. For us, we're not going to get 80 degrees. We can't get that up here. So I think it helps a little bit that it's a big change on the body so hopefully when we go down there Monday night that change will be scaled back a little bit. We just can't get the Miami weather up here at this time of year.
Q: Do you need to be careful of the emotions between these teams considering you're playing them so closely together?
DM: It's going to be chippy. Just this time of year everybody is playing for something. You get to after Thanksgiving and you get into December, no one wants to lose anymore. Everyone wants to win games and build and get better. But I think the key is just us keeping our poise, us understanding we're trying to win a game Monday night and just trying to do that and whatever is best for the team and push us forward for us winning the game. I think that just has to be our focus.
Q: What do you think the keys are to winning in December?
DM: I think for us it's always been understanding who we are as a team and how we win. Each team each year is kind of different on what we need to do. I said it earlier during this season that we've kind of understood, like I was just talking about, refueling the tank [and] how we prepare going through those same steps. Like we're a team that we can't afford to come in Wednesday and have a bad Wednesday. Like we're not good enough to catch up on Thursday and Friday and then walk-through Saturday and think Sunday it's just going to turn on and we'll be ready to go. We have to be ready throughout the whole week. We need to have a good Wednesday, a good Thursday, string good practices together where we're going over everything that we might get, whether we've even had walk-throughs sometimes out there. But we get a lot of plays done, we get a lot of things talked about, communicated and that gives us a chance to win on Sunday. I think once you get in December it's about not slipping up any of those weeks.
Q: Have you been on teams in the past where you could have got away with that?
DM: Sometimes. Sometimes where you're just like it won't be great and Bill [Belichick] will come in and surely we'll know Thursday [that] Wednesday was terrible. We need to go over a couple things, get that right but also still get the stuff we need to get [done]. We could do that. Some of those teams it would put us in a hole but we could turn around and be good enough to go home, watch film on our own and just pick it up and be able to play well. But I think you have to understand who you are and that's the key in this league. I think once you establish that it's going out and doing it each week and once you get in this time of year you can't afford to slip up. That's huge. I think we all, because of our coach and his staff and obviously with Bill in the front, the sense of urgency to play well this time of year, he's going to bring it to you every morning. I think all we've got to do is listen in those morning meetings to what he has to tell us and then apply it and it usually turns out pretty good for us.
Q: There have been a couple weekends in the NFL where we've watched frustration boil over, whether it be this team or another team. As a captain, how do you stress among the guys that you've got to take care of yourself and you also have to take care of the other players because you're all kind of in this violent game together?
DM: Yeah, it's something that you don't talk about all the time but it's kind of given, but it's why we're all here. We're here to win football games. So at the end of the day whatever we need to do to win football games, that has to be the focus of every man on the team -- practice squad, every guy that takes the field -- that we're trying to win, whether that's in practice practicing the right way, whether that's in the game. Whatever happens as long as the end goal for each individual on the field is to make sure the team wins at the end of the day, we'll usually be okay. I think that's always preached around here. That's always something we talk about. So I think we just keep pushing forward on that. Things happen out there. It is what it is but I think as long as we keep the goal of us trying to win and doing what our coaches always harp on us, 'do what's best for the team,' it usually works out well.
Q: Do you still get juiced up for the Monday Night Football showdowns and what does that mean to you playing on that stage?
DM: Yeah, I mean it's fun. You're the only game on. It takes a while to get there. Sometimes during the week it's not the most fun part having the extra day. Sometimes it's hard but it's a cool experience. You play -- we're the only game on. Everyone is watching. Obviously we get a little spoiled around here where we have a couple Sunday night games, a Thursday night game. So I don't think we understand how cool it is sometimes because we're a little spoiled. Like I talk to my brother and he goes a whole year with no prime time game. All 1 p.m. and one or two 4 o'clock games so I kind of see that other side of it where you don't play any of those prime time games. So I think it is cool. It's kind of an honor type of thing to be able to go out there Monday night, know everyone is watching and you come out there prepared and get ready to go.
Q: With Rob Gronkowski out of this game, how does that affect you defensively? Does it at all?
DM: No. I think Bill [Belichick] said it one time: offense can't play defense and defense can't play offense. Defensively nothing changes for us. We want to go out there and hold the team to the least amount of points that we can. The goal every week is to go out there and try to hold them to zero. It doesn't happen often in this league but we just try to keep points off the board. I think that doesn't change.
Q: You guys haven't lost a game on the road since Miami two years ago. Can you talk about the road winning streak and why it's tough to play down there?
DM: Well Miami is tough, just like Butch [Stearns] asked about the weather, that's something that you always say it's not a factor but I mean it's tough to go -- sometimes we play out there or we play in December when we're out here practicing. We've had some decent weather this year but there's times it's 20 degrees outside every day and then we go down there Sunday at 1 p.m. and it's 75 [and] sunny. So that's tough and then they're usually a good football team. The division is tough. They play really well at home. Going down there I think you saw that this past week. Denver goes down there. Miami is tough at home. They come out [with a] 35-9 win where they just play well and I think we've got to kind of expect the same thing, especially Monday night. They'll be ready to go. We're going to get their best shot I think in every phase of the game. So we have to be well-prepared in everything we do.
Q: Do you guys talk at all during the week about this being a hat and t-shirt type of game for you guys?
DM: Yeah, I think you understand that. You know what's at stake. You'd be lying if you say you don't know what's there. That's the reason we play games, to try to win championships. So I never take that for granted. The opportunity to get to play for a championship is tough. We talk about winning in December but obviously you've got to do some things right throughout the whole season to have that opportunity. It won't be -- it's not something we're going to talk about every day but we know it's there but we know the only way we get that is by being prepared and going out there and winning a football game.
Q: 'Ignore the noise' is a popular saying around here. How impressed have you been with Stephon Gilmore's ability to ignore a lot of the noise that was surrounding him, especially earlier in the season?
DM: Yeah, I mean but I knew when he came in [that] he's a pro. The guy is a professional. [He] comes in, extra work on his body, studying the film, studying different receivers. So I mean I wasn't overly worried about anything during the season because I knew inside that locker room he knew that every guy had his back and we were going out there as a group. I think you can easily find yourself thinking of yourself as an individual when you read too much of the stuff that you guys write. No offense but when you single a guy out and it's like he's out there by himself, but that's just not the case. We're a group and I always see that, especially in the secondary. Like we're always only as good as our group overall and the best years we've had around here has been because we've had a solid group where there's some crazy stat you guys find where we don't give up a [touchdown]. That's not one person not giving up a touchdown. That's the whole defense as a group. So I think no one is separated from that including Steph. We've been a group this whole year and when that happens you lose some bad games together but you win some games together and you enjoy that process.
Q: What do you think about this group this year?
DM: Yeah, I think everybody in this group is very competitive. So when you get the opportunity to play everyone wants to do well. Everyone is kind of chomping at the bit to get on the field. I think that's what I've loved the most about the group is everyone is just super competitive but we all get along great. That's the groups that are fun to be around when we're laughing and joking and also understanding when it's business time, [it's] time to be ready and prepare. I think the cool thing is it took time with this group and we all went through that together. When you get better you enjoy that even more because you go through the process together and you take your lumps but you keep going back out there and you get better. I think now we've just got to continue it. We haven't done anything that I would say is special that we can just relax now. I think we've got to just keep getting better, keep working and give ourselves a chance to go out there and play well each week.
Q: Do you still get excited about Monday Night Football after all these years?
DM: Good thing we didn't talk --
Q: You didn't?
DM: No, we did. I'm sorry. It's exciting. Like I said, I think sometimes around here we take it for granted because we play, whether it's Monday night, Sunday night, Thursday night, we get to play those games. But like I said earlier my brother is a guy who hasn't played a ton of games. You know, like he played all 1 o'clock and a 4 o'clock games this year. So it's a cool experience just to go out there and know you're the only game on TV, know other guys across the league are watching so you want to be prepared. You want to go out there and perform well and represent for your teammates and everything we do here to be a good organization and a good team kind of gets showcased Monday night.