RUNNING BACK JAMES WHITE
Wednesday, December 11, 2019.
Q: How does having an off-the-field controversy affect your preparation for games?
JW: It honestly doesn't. Just kind of tune out the noise, focus on what we have to do, study up on our opponent. We haven't played our best football offensively the past few weeks, so we're just trying to improve and go out there and try and play a good football game on Sunday.
Q: When things like this happen and people are out there saying not friendly things about you, does that affect you guys at all?
JW: Not at all. Like I said, just ignore the noise. I mean, everybody's going to have their opinions outside the building. We know what we're capable of doing; we're going to go out there and execute and play football.
Q: Why have you guys been so good at ignoring the noise over the years?
JW: I think it's emphasized when you step in the building. On one of the signs when you walk in is – ignore the noise, just do your job, focus on what you have to do, be good teammates and work hard. And when you see that when you walk into the building every day, it's kind of easy to come in here, just do your job and work hard.
Q: This morning Coach Bill Belichick mentioned that the Bengals are better than their record. What have your thoughts been as you've been breaking them down?
JW: Yeah, they're a good football team. It's the NFL. I mean, any given Sunday you can win or lose a game. Everybody has talent, everybody has good coaching and everybody has good players. So, you've got to be prepared and you've got to be ready to go.
Q: How much of that is you guys just wanting to play well regardless of your opponent on Sunday?
JW: Yeah, definitely. Like I said, we haven't played our best offensively the past few weeks, and everybody wants to improve in every aspect of it. From running the football, to protecting Tom [Brady], to running better routes, to everything. I think we're all just trying to accept that burden and go out there, compete and play hard.
Q: Is there a level of frustration that you haven't been able to consistently run the ball?
JW: It's not necessarily frustration, it's just the fact that we know we can play better and do better. And I think it's a little bit of everybody. It's us as running backs, offensive line, everybody. Just everybody competing, making the right reads, blocking harder, finishing harder. Simple things that everybody can go out there and do.
Q: There's an expression that it's never as good as it seems and never as bad as it seems. Do you feel like this is a case of little things leading to big things?
JW: Definitely. It's just the little things, and it can be just one person on one play, and all of us are taking our turns on one play out of the 60 plays. And on offense you can't do that, because one person, if you don't do your job, then that kind of blows up the play. So, just going out there each and every play, everybody being accountable, doing our job to the best of our abilities and it's playing tough and physical.
Q: Are you guys close to playing to the best of your abilities on the offensive end?
JW: Yeah, definitely. It's not that far off. Like I said, it could be a finish on a play here, a read on a play there, a little bit more detailed on a route. It's not very far off, and I think everybody sees it, and everybody wants to go out there and play better and be better.
Q: Is there any confidence that comes from looking back on last year, when you were able to adjust your offense later in the season?
JW: I think everybody sees light at the end of the tunnel. Like I said, we still have our opportunity to play our best football, which we haven't done yet. And you just want to go out there and do that, honestly. Tired of coming in and saying we can be better, do better. I mean, obviously if you have a good performance you can still find things to improve on, but everybody just wants to go out there and fly around from the first play to the last play and come into that locker room and say we actually did our jobs to the best we could on that day.
Q: Was there anything you learned from last year to play your best football this year?
JW: It's just what I've been harboring on before. It's just everybody just accepting their roles, everybody knowing what they have to do on each and every play, and just going out there and competing from the first play to the last play. Knowing what you have to do, going out there and just outworking your opponent because those guys are going to come out, compete and be ready to play. So, each and every week, you're going to get your opponent's best shot, and we've got to go out there and give our best effort.
Q: Did last year teach you that it's never too late?
JW: It's never too late. Like I said, we have plenty of football left against some good opponents. It's going to be a great challenge for us. Nothing is going to be easy, nothing is going to be given to us, so we've got to go out there and earn it.
Q: You're 5-2 going into your final road game. What are some things you've done better on the road this year?
JW: I think just trying to start fast offensively, defensively, special teams, complementing each other. Defense has been doing a great job on the road, playing good defense, creating turnovers. Special teams doing what they do – making plays, making game-changing plays, and just trying to control the football game and trying to take the crowd out of it. You don't want to start slow because then the crowd gets into it, and all of the other team gets into it, and then you're down seven, 14 points and then it becomes a slugfest.
Q: Is it especially personal for you to go up against Giovani Bernard?
JW: It's definitely cool. We went to the same high school, played the same position, graduated the same year. And, I mean, I don't know how often that happens in the world, where you get to compete against one of your best friends, a guy that I'd pretty much call my brother. So, it's awesome to have that opportunity and I'm definitely going to enjoy it.
Q: When you use a flea flicker, double-pass, or any other trick play in a game, how much time do you devote to it in the week leading up to the game?
JW: I mean, you only get a couple shots at it and you've got to go out there and show the coaches that you have the confidence to go out there and execute it in practice. If you don't do it right in practice, they're not going to call it in a game. So, you only get the few reps at it, execute it, and then if it's called in the game, you better make it work.
Q: How vividly do you remember the Wisconsin-Nebraska game, and in particular the passing from the running backs in that game?
JW: Yeah, I had like two passes in my college career. And the one was only like one yard, but the other one I almost threw an interception, so – but like I said, the coaches allow me to do stuff like that, I just want to make the right decision and make a smart play.
Q: Julian Edelman didn't practice today for the first time all year. We know he's dealt with several injuries throughout the course of the season. What has his ability to be available week after week meant to this team?
JW: It's pretty amazing, man. That guy takes some hits. He's physical, he's tough, plays most of the snaps out there on offense. And to see what he deals with each and every week, and to go out there and be still running around, making plays – it's amazing to see. He's the ultimate competitor, man.