Special Teams Captain MATTHEW SLATER
Q: How would you describe the atmosphere in the building as the team gets back to work today?
MS: Well, obviously, we feel very fortunate to be in the position that we're in. We're excited about the opportunity that we have on Saturday and I think there's a great sense of urgency throughout the building, understanding that our whole season comes down to this week and this is the best football team that we will have faced all season long. They're playing well. They've really won two playoff games when you think about the situation that they've been in. Everyone's really focused in. There's a great sense of urgency and we've got to have a great week of preparation and see where that gets us.
Q: What does it say about Tennessee's resiliency to see them comeback from a 21-3 deficit on the road?
MS: Well, you can tell they're a group that's together. They play for one another. They have a lot of belief in what they're doing and I think it just says, to me, that they have a great deal of mental toughness. Anyone who's in that type of situation, any team facing an 18-point deficit at halftime on the road in a place like Kansas City, to be able to come out and win that game it says a lot about the characters of the guys on that team. We know that we're going to have to really deal with that team for 60 minutes. Like I said, a team that's playing together and they're a tremendous football team.
Q: Why are you guys so good at ignoring the noise and perhaps even using it as a rallying cry for your next opponent?
MS: Leadership. I think Coach [Bill] Belichick has always led us in a way that's been very direct, to the point, very focused on the task at hand, being able to live in the moment and just take things day by day. I think the leadership combined with the mentality of the men that we've had around here in my time has been tremendous and that helps you just live in the now, focus on things day by day, focus on the things that you can control and take it from there.
Q: Is the attention to detail amplified even more in the playoffs and could that help block out distractions to an even greater extent?
MS: Well, certainly. I think that single fundamental that you've been talking about since OTA's; that's going to be something that can be pivotal in a game like the game we'll have on Saturday. You want to make sure that you've crossed all your T's and dotted all your I's when it comes to those little details because they're going to be the details that make or break the football game for either side. We have plenty to focus on when it comes to football, when it comes to preparing for the Titans and that's where our focus is right now.
Q: What is your reaction the report that Bill Belichick could be interested in the New York Giants head coaching job?
MS: I'm just focused on preparing for the Tennessee Titans with Coach Bill Belichick as my head coach for the 2017 season. I think everyone in that locker room feels the same way. The nature of professional football is tomorrow's not guaranteed to anyone; players, coaches. That's life. Tomorrows not guaranteed to anyone, so we're just going to focus on what we can focus on, control the day, focus on the day and take it from there.
Q: How much confidence do you have in Stephen Gostkowski's ability to make big kicks in the often inclement weather here in New England?
MS: Steady Eddie. He's been here 12 years. This is a difficult place to kick. I think you guys know that and Steve is as familiar with this place as anyone. He takes the time to prepare himself for whatever the elements will bring, whether it's wind, rain, snow, sleet, cold, hot. He's gone to great lengths to make sure that he's prepared for all those situations. We have a lot of confidence in him. We have a lot of confidence in how consistent he's been and he's going to continue to be a guy we rely on heavily moving forward.
Q: What would you say is the biggest difference between regular season football and playoff football?
MS: The intensity, speed of the game. Everyone's playing with a great deal of urgency. When it comes to the football season, it's literally do or die. You either find a way to get it done and play winning football or you hope to be back next season. I think everybody understands, as I said, this is a very temporary game that we play. Nothing's guaranteed to anyone. So, when you get out there in playoff football you feel that urgency. You feel the speed of the game. You feel guys fighting and clawing every single play. That's something that you can't simulate. That's something that you better try to get yourself ready for mentally and physically because it's going to take everything you have come playoff situations.
Q: What's the message like this week to some of the younger guys in the locker room who don't have as much experience?
MS: Well, Coach Belichick always says, 'It's not about playoff experience. It's about playoff execution.' And you look at it time and time again, every year there seems to be a guy with not a great deal of playoff experience as far as games appeared in that's making a huge play. The examples are countless here in this locker room. You look at Tennessee and those guys are playing their first playoff game and, yeah, guys are all over the field making plays. They were inexperienced heading in but they found a way to execute going into the game. Our message this week is just to go out there, make sure that you prepare at a high level all week long and then Saturday it's about execution. It's not about how many games you've played in. It's not about what you've accomplished in the regular season or over the course of your career. It's about executing Saturday night, Foxboro Stadium, Gillette, fans loud, cold. It's about executing.
CENTER DAVID ANDREWS
Q: From your college days to now being in the NFL, what has Ben Jones meant to you and your career?
DA: I met Ben for the first time in high school. I looked up to him then before I even had an offer to Georgia. I really respected the way Ben played, and I was fortunate enough to share a year with him at Georgia. He taught me a lot in that year, and then even after that, we've stayed very close. His advice from when I was going out, going my first year into the league and things like that, I've always respected and just been someone that we've had a close friendship. Now we're enemies.
Q: What did you learn from Ben in terms of playing?
DA: You know, a lot of things. I always admired how tough he played and just really coming in my freshman year at Georgia and seeing him and trying to learn and seeing how he picked up the game. Obviously, it was a lot different than how I was as a freshman at Georgia, and I just admired how he seemed to kind of be a step ahead of people and trying to figure out what the defense was going to do. I really admired that, and it really kind of fueled my passion for that, I think more than what it was. I really appreciate everything he helped me with and seeing his leadership, things like that, while I was a young guy at Georgia I really looked up to and tried to learn a lot from.
Q: Do you guys communicate pretty regularly?
DA: Yeah, I mean, obviously we're both very busy, but we definitely communicate with each other and talk with each other. But, it's a little different now.
Q: Not this week?
DA: No, not this week.
Q: Why would you say this locker room is so good at blocking out noise?
DA: I think it's just everyone's commitment to this team. No one's in there for themselves. We're all in here to play for each other. When you have guys like that in that locker room, I think that's a credit to everyone in that locker room, the coaches, the way this team's put together. There are so many things that go into it, but we've got a great group of guys and we all know what the common end goal is here, and we're not focused on other things outside of that.
Q: What do you think of the Titans front line, especially with the way they played against Kansas City?
DA: Yeah, you know, the Titans have got a good defense, a very, very good defense. They don't do a lot of things to beat themselves. They're one of the fewest penalized teams. They create a lot of turnovers, sacks, and also I think they're the best run defense in the AFC right now, haven't given up many long runs. So, they're playing very good football right now. It's definitely going to be a challenge. Like I said, they do a good job of getting to the quarterback, stopping the run, and that's really kind of what you ask out of your front line guys. So, they do a good job with the blitz schemes, all those things, so it's going to be a challenge, but every week is.
Q: Can you describe the challenge of going against a Dick LeBeau defense?
DA: I remember hearing things of Dick LeBeau and all that when I was coming into the league, and you really don't understand the impact he's had on this league as a coach and coordinator. But, that defense, they do a lot of different things. He's done it for a very long time, obviously been very successful at it. So, I think it all starts with communication. If people aren't on the same page, we're going to have an issue – me and Tom [Brady], me and the other four guys up front. If we're not on the same page, there's a big, big issue on who's going to be picking up. So, I think that's kind of the first step - going in the right direction, everyone being on the same page, communication – and then it's just you've got to follow your rules. Our protection systems have our rules in them to handle things like that, and you just have to follow them and be precise, and then obviously you've got to block the guys. That's really what it comes down to in the end.
Q: How much did Bill Belichick talk to the team today about Coach LeBeau and his history in the game?
DA: Yeah, you know, he's been a great coach for a long time and you can just see his imprint on teams. So, it's something you don't understand when you're a younger guy in the league, like I was when we first played the Titans, and now that I've been around a little bit longer, you really start to understand and see the impression guys like that make. He's been a heck of a coach, and I have a lot of respect for what he's done.
Q: Is there a football game going on tonight that interests you?
DA: I mean, I wish it didn't start at 8:30, but it's very cool for the Georgia Bulldogs and that state and all the fan base. I'm very proud of those guys and everything. But, my focus right now is really on the Titans. Ain't nothing I'm going to do to help those guys win, so ain't nothing I can do to change the game. So, I'm really focused on Tennessee. Like I said, I'm excited. Go dawgs.
Q: How might the work load change in preparation for a team that you haven't playing against much recently?
DA: I mean, I don't think anything changes in that sense. You know, I think if you played somebody from earlier, if you don't respect your opponent and study up on them, I think you're giving a discredit to them. You know, I think the thing for us is just staying in our routine. Our routine got us here. There's nothing more you need to do. You don't need to stay up here till midnight watching film. If that's your routine, go ahead, but if that's not your routine, you don't need to do that. But, it's definitely going to be important for us to be familiar with these guys. I think we've done a good job of that really from the time we knew to the time I'm sitting here talking to y'all. So, we've got a lot of work to do. We'll come in tomorrow, we'll get really working on them, get really going, but like I said, I think just stick to your routine. Don't do anything crazy. But, it's definitely key to respect your opponent and put that work in.
Q: What elements go into it a playoff game that make it feel different than a regular season game?
DA: I mean, I think it's pretty obvious. There's no more. You don't lose, get back on the bus and say, 'We'll go to work Monday. We'll come in. We'll get it fixed.' There's no getting it fixed on Sunday or Monday whenever we're done, and I think we all know that. I mean, it's the NFL playoffs, so to me that's the big difference. Like I said, I think you approach it with the same urgency you've approached it all season. I think that's where you can keep that consistency and mindset, focus and not get overwhelmed by the moment or anything like that.
Q: Does the mindset of the coaching staff, how they prepare the team and how you prepare yourselves feel different in the playoffs? Does it feel different in the locker room and in meetings?
DA: Yeah, I mean, everyone knows the urgency of this game, but at the same time, like I said, the preparation is still very the same. You know, how we prepare works for us, and that's how we're going to prepare. But, there's definitely a sense of urgency. I mean, it's the NFL playoffs. It's win or go home. There's no tomorrow. There's no, 'Hey, next week.' There's no, 'Oh, we'll get it fixed.' Either do this or you're at home sitting on the couch. Everyone understands that. Everyone's mature enough to really understand that, and I think that's a good sign of this football team.
Q: What impressions did you have of Josh Kline as a teammate?
DA: Yeah, I though Josh was a good teammate. He always worked hard. I respected, as I was an undrafted guy, seeing someone like him – an undrafted guy come in, make the football team and now continue to have a great career at Tennessee. So, Josh is a great guy. I really enjoyed playing with him.