OFFENSIVE COORDINATOR JOSH MCDANIELS
Q: What are your thoughts on the departure of Jimmy Garoppolo?
JM: Yeah, I mean, that's the hardest part of our job is you spend a lot of time with a guy. All of us have a certain group of guys in our room that we spend more time with than others - and in Jimmy's case, the better part of four years. So, you're always sad. There's a human element to this game that you can't ever get away from. We understand the business side of it, but the human element is that you had a guy in your room that you really enjoyed being around, you coached, that spent a lot of time learning and grasping what you were doing, and you saw him grow and get better and mature and improve through the course of time, and now he's not here. I wish him nothing but the best. I really, really think a lot of this guy. He's got a bright future, he's a great person and I hope he does well for himself out there.
Q: From the human side of it, is there a part of you that's happy for the opportunity he has now?
JM: You always want things that are good opportunities for your guys. We understand that depth at a certain position is a blessing for us, but every player wants to play. I understand that, and that's a good thing. They should want to play. They work hard to try to earn their opportunities, and when they get them, they've got to make the most of them. He had a few opportunities here and he did a good job with them, which is why he's earned the opportunity that he's had now.
Q: You just signed Brian Hoyer, who you worked with in 2012. How fast can you get him up to speed?
JM: Brian's a smart guy. He's got, obviously, some years in our system and our terminology, so it will be kind of a cram session here, but I don't expect that to take forever because Brian's an intelligent guy that had plenty of exposure to what we do, and I know he'll work hard. Hopefully we'll catch him up really quickly.
Q: Does trading away somebody like Jimmy who was so familiar with the offense affect practice or meetings at all?
JM: Not really. I mean, we still have to have a good day of practice here. What we're doing didn't change based on one person or another. You know, you deal with a lot of that with injuries throughout the course of the season anyway. And, sometimes you have things that you want to do with certain people, but there might be people missing practice and you've got to do them with somebody else during the course of the week until you get to the game, and then you've got to count on the guys to really understand what to do and know how to do it. That's what all the practices in the offseason and training camp are for to try to build a foundation so if that happens, we can handle it. But, it won't change or adjust what we're doing. Like I said, we'll try to get Brian caught up as quickly as we can.
Q: What are your thoughts on Tom Brady's performance over the first half of the season?
JM: You know, Tommy has always been very consistent - works hard and is an amazing example of what happens when you take care of yourself and you put the time in and effort in to care about what you're doing and try to play at a high level. So, we just spent a lot of time this morning talking to our group about a lot of things that we can do better and get better at, and so he's kind of the leader of that group in terms of trying to take hold of what we can do better and move forward in the second half of the season and improve upon so that we can be a better offense.
Q: After the game on Sunday, Tom talked about the offense's struggles in the red zone. How do you improve that?
JM: Yeah, it's not one thing. It never is in our game, unfortunately. If it was one thing, it'd be easy to fix. It's a lot of people understanding their job and doing their thing on each play the right way to its completion, and hopefully you string together a lot of those plays during the course of a series down there in the red zone. We've been down in the red zone a ton, and that's a good thing. We're going to continue to work hard at that, starting today in practice, and continue to focus on that. We have a strong belief that we can make something that hasn't been necessarily a strength of ours into a strength in the second half of the season through a lot of hard work, and our guys are committed to it. We just had a great meeting with them. They've got a great attitude towards today and moving forward. That's really all this is about is we're never where we want to be at this point in the season during the bye week, and this gives us a small chance to take kind of a timeout, look at things that we've done in the first half of the season and try to make them better. That's our responsibility as coaches, and now we're going to work real hard with our guys to do that.
Q: Do you give Bill Belichick a hard time for not meeting with the media today and now here you are answering questions about the trade?
JM: I didn't even know he didn't meet with the media. Now I get it.
Q: Has the system changed enough since Hoyer was last here that he is no longer familiar with it?
JM: No, I think the foundation of our system is the same. There's certainly things that have changed since he was here, I'm sure, but I would say that it's just like learning a new language. Generally, they're not going to change the language entirely. You know, you might have to learn a new word here or there or something like that, which I'm sure Brian will be able to do quickly. But, the foundation of our system and what we use and what we've done since he left has not really been that different.
Q: What do you remember from working with him in 2012 and what did you like about him?
JM: It was at the very end of '11 and then, really, the beginning of '12. He's a really smart kid. He's from Ohio, so I have a fondness for those guys. You know, he's a football kid. He's all about football and loves the game, cares about playing quarterback the right way, smart guy, works hard, good teammate, so there's a lot to like. I spent a short amount of time with him. Looking forward to working with him here going forward in the second half of this season.
Q: Since we're into November now, usually you guys know who you are at this point, but it feels different this year. Are you still trying to figure out the identity of this team?
JM: No, I think who you are is made up of who you have. We know who we have. We've got a lot of good guys that are good football players. We're always changing based on the players that we have and the strengths that they possess, so we know kind of what those are. Now our goal is really to try to work to improve the areas of our offense that can make our team better and improve each player along the way. Nobody ever expected us to play our best football in September or October - not that we're not trying hard to do that - but the goal is to be able to play really well towards the end of the year because that's hopefully when we're playing our best and we've got a group of guys that's committed to doing that.
Q: How would you describe the identity of the offense this year?
JM: You know, it's hard to say one thing is the identity. We try to be balanced and try to do a lot of things well, but right now I'd say we've just got to move forward and try to improve the things that we don't do as well as we'd like to. Once we do those things better, I think we're going to see a product on the field that we're all happy with. It's a good feeling to have things that you want to work on at this time of the year, you know, because it gives you some targets to try to hit. Whether it be penalties, cutting down on penalties, improving ourselves in the red zone, helping ourselves get better in our running game or some things in our passing game, there's a lot of things to work on, and that's a good thing for a coach. It's a good thing for a team to focus on right now and try to improve and get better at.
DEFENSIVE COORDINATOR MATT PATRICIA
Q: The NFL trade deadline passed yesterday. Were you expecting some reinforcements at different areas?
MP: No, I mean were just trying to go here and work with what we have and get better from the previous week. All that stuff for us - look we've got great guys, really guys that work extremely hard in the defensive room. I think they've really tried to improve here over the last set of weeks and so we're just hoping to get that done again.
Q: What has changed from the first four games to the past four games for you guys?
MP: I think for us, again, it's really week by week. So it's just how do we improve from last week to next week and improve on some of the things that we're doing. I think in the early part of the year you're still obviously trying to figure out a lot of things - preseason is shorter, training camp is shorter. Like I had mentioned, this is a great week for us to go back and work on fundamentals and really kind of take a look at just the basics again for us because as we push forward we're going to lose some practice time here with pads and things like that where when you get to the end of the year, and hopefully the weather turns a little bit here worse for us, which is always good defensively, then it's really going to go back to those fundamentals - hat placement, hand placement, tackling, all of the basics. The better you can do those towards the end of the year then usually the better off you are.
Q: Despite the injuries are you happy where things are trending with this defense right now going into Week 10?
MP: I mean we don't really worry about injuries. It's not about that. I'm just trying to make sure we get better each week. I think you can ask our players, I'm usually the one that looks at it and says "Alright, hey we won. Alright we expect to win and we're always trying to win. The goal is to get better. What are the areas we need to get better in?" and I'm going to coach those up as hard as I can to make sure that those improve.
Q: Devin McCourty said after the last game that you wanted the defense to over-communicate. Was there a point during the season where you felt that they were under-communicating?
MP: No, I just think it's important for us depending on who we see. Different weeks I have different points of emphasis based on who we're going to play. Sometimes it's our tackling has got to be better or our run game has got to be better, our pass game has got to be better, our communication has got to be better. It's just maybe things that I see that an opponent does that is a little bit tricky or hard and just as a point of emphasis. But those guys actually do an unbelievable job of communicating. Sometimes it's just to make me feel better so I can just hear them out on the field and make sure I know what we're doing and that everything is straightened out. Devin [McCourty] is obviously a great leader that we have out there on defense and makes sure that everybody is lined up and ready to go. Yeah, just kind of part of the deal.
Q: Do you guys know your identity yet?
MP: I guess for me that question isn't really relevant. Our identity is just trying to get better each week and I think we're at one point in the season. I think what's great is our guys understand there's different points of the year where we always try to increase and step up our level of play. Certainly the halfway point is one, coming out of September is another one, Thanksgiving is another big one for us where you're just trying to increase your productivity, your communication, your fundamentals, your awareness and your overall play. So that's all we're pushing towards is just trying to make sure that we're improving each week and showing some consistency in what we do. It's hard. Week in week out we see different offenses, different challenges come up, different players that are a problem, quarterbacks. So with all those variables that come into effect and then try to see some consistency and some improvement week in week out is the biggest challenge for us.
Q: Coach Belichick said earlier this week that the record could be better but he feels like this team left a lot of big plays out there. How much do fundamentals play a role in not leaving those big plays out there?
MP: I mean for us it's always going to come back to the fundamentals and big plays are usually the result of a breakdown in fundamentals somewhere on some level. So that will be a big part of it for us is trying to make sure that that is consistent, like I was talking about before, and that that improves. I totally agree. There's always plays that we can play better and do better out there on the field. When I look at the tape and the coaches look at the tape and even the players when they go back they're usually their own worst critics in those situations. "If I had just maybe had this a little bit closer, a little bit tighter, a little bit better rush here we could have made a bigger play" and that's what we're really trying to achieve.
Q: Do you feel like those big plays have diminished a bit as the season has progressed?
MP: I mean for us there's different variables for that each week so we're trying to minimize them as best we can. I think it changes by the week and really what you're perception of what the big play is that week will be different. Some of it could be situational. It may not look in the stats like it's a 20-yard gain. It might be a three-yard gain but in a critical situation where you're saying "hey we've really got to eliminate this sort of a play" and that's kind of what we're trying to judge.
Q: What does it say about the adversity of this defensive group that they've been able to continue to improve without some key players?
MP: Yeah, I mean for us injuries isn't something we really worry about. It's always, for us, making sure that everybody is prepared and ready to go and when you're called upon to go out and perform at a high level you've got to go do that. Those guys do a great job. They prepare extremely hard week in week out, in the meetings, taking care of their bodies and getting ready to go out there on the field that when they have that opportunity they can go out and perform at a high level. In the NFL it's a fine line. Everybody is so talented from the opponents that we see to the players that we have and sometimes they've just got to have a chance to go out and play and they can do it pretty well.
Q: You said that the players are their own toughest critics. Who is most critical of their own play?
MP: That's a good question. We've probably got a lot of them on defense. I'm not going to single any of them out but they'll come in - actually most of them before I can even get them on the sideline they're all like "I know, I know, I know" and they've already self-corrected. Those guys really, they do an unbelievable job with coming back looking at the film or trying to understand what happened in the game. That's the biggest thing for us. If we can get to the point where we have a breakdown or a mistake in the game and they can get it fixed before we get to the sideline, then that's really probably the best case scenario for us so that it doesn't happen again in that drive.
Q: Is there any position group that has been more critical of themselves this season compared to previous seasons?
MP: That's another really good question. I can't really single any one of them out. You can pick any one of the groups out and they're competitive. We have really competitive guys that are trying to get better and we just got done with some really long meetings here and taking a look at some different areas that we can improve on. All of them, just that attention to detail, trying to get better and take a look at it and see where they can improve is great.
Q: What about their criticism of each other?
MP: As far as what?
Q: How would you describe it in terms of are they hard on each other when there are big plays left out on the field?
MP: I can't really say that. Our guys are competitive guys but I think there's a great brotherhood in there so those guys are trying to help each other out more than anything. Look, we all have mistakes whether something happens in the game, good or bad. Sometimes the mistakes don't show up because somebody else on the field made a play to prevent that and that's what's great about being a team. It's all 11 guys working together to try to achieve one goal. I think those guys do a good job of recognizing that [and] understanding it and in the end really the good thing is coaches and players - we're just trying to do the best we can to win and win that particular situation and everybody respects that at a very high level. I think that's what's great.
Q: Josh McDaniels just said that it's good to still have some kinks to work out at this point in the season. What would you say about that statement?
MP: I would say just in general for me, we'll hopefully be - I mean in game 16 I'm still going to be trying to figure out stuff and working to improve. We're always trying to get better. This game is very complex. It's very difficult in a lot of different areas so there's always going to be something to correct and it gives us an opportunity to really put a point of emphasis on for the guys and us as coaches, "hey we need to get this better or we need to improve here."
Q: Every year is different. How do you approach it now that you've been doing this for a while?
MP: I would say in kind of that realm of trying to improve when you look at really complex things that you're trying to get better, if you can boil them down to maybe one or two bullet points of like "hey if we can just do this and this then that whole area will improve." That's probably the best way for us. I think if we try to just say everything needs to improve then you're really not going to get anything done. So we look at some real specific situations or areas or calls. It's different every year, what is good and what is not good, so you want to make sure that you're conscious of that and you're not just following the same script you followed last year where it's like "hey at this point last year we had to really work on this" because it's not the same. So when you look at it you look at you look at it from that standpoint. It certainly starts with me first. There's a lot that I need to get better on and improve and I tell the guys that. We try to explain that "hey this is why we do this" or "this is what we did here" and "this is where it needs to get better" and then we all hold each other accountable for that. So that's where is starts and then it goes down into them and what they do and we try to take a good look at it from not only scheme or individual players but how we attack maybe the week or a meeting or a certain situation that if there's a better way that we could teach it or get the information out there.
Q: What do you on Sunday? Are you able to relax at all or is it a full work day?
MP: This Sunday? I mean I'm probably going to be pretty nervous about Denver. So, yeah.
Q: Does the quarterback change mess with you guys at all? How do you approach that?
MP: I mean for us, yeah, we're diving into them. We're taking a look at what they do from a scheme standpoint. They have great skill players. They have great guys up front. They have a great system. Playing out there is not easy at all. It's a hard trip. The quarterbacks I think all pose different things that give you problems. For us, again, that game is a little but far away so things could change this weekend too as it always does in the league.
Q: For guys that have never played out there, is that something you can prepare them for at all?
MP: I mean for us we're just trying - road trips for us are pretty routine. So we'll probably try to stay on the same schedule as always.
Q: Just meaning playing in Denver. Is that any kind of a difference?
MP: I mean we go to a lot of hostile places. We love those environments. They're fun, it's great, it's what football is all about and everybody is fired up for the home team and you're walking into that place. It's exciting.
Q: Do you ever relax?
MP: Do I ever relax? That's a good question. I try. It's pretty hard at this point of the year. My brain is usually pretty much cranking on what we've got to do or what happened. I'm looking forward to hopefully getting a little bit of time with the kids. They'll center me pretty quick.