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Transcript: Patriots Conference Calls 12/5

Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick, Offensive Coordinator Josh McDaniels, and Defensive Coordinator Matt Patricia address the media during their conference calls on Tuesday, December 5, 2017.

HEAD COACH BILL BELICHICK

CONFERENCE CALL
December 5, 2017

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Q: Given his athleticism and ability to get out in the open and block in the screen game, would you consider Shaq Mason a weapon at the guard position?

BB: Yeah, I don't think we've had many guards as athletic as Shaq. He's pretty athletic. He's got a real good lower body. He's got a lot of leg strength and can move people and he can run very well, as you mentioned, on screens and pulling plays and so forth. He's really an athletic player that's strong, and explosive, and can make blocks in-line, and can also get out into space and run and make blocks in space. That's a pretty tough combination. It's hard for an offensive lineman. A lot of guys are good blocking guys right in front of them that are 300-plus pounds, but then you've got plays where the linemen have to go up to the second level and block linebackers who are running fast in space and trying to avoid blockers, screen passes, pulling plays and second level combinations that put a 300-and-something pound lineman on a 240-pound linebacker in space. That's a totally different block. Those are some tough matchups for the offensive linemen, but yeah, Shaq's got a great skill set and he's good at making all of them. He makes a lot of good blocks and some of them are pretty different from the one he made on the play before.

Q: Your defense has allowed the fewest points in the league since Week 5. What do you attribute that turnaround to?

BB: Team defense. Good team defense, or better team defense, tackling, not giving up big plays, playing better in situations, third down, red area. We're trying to do a lot of things better bit by bit. There's still a lot of work to do, but we've made some improvements; tackling.

Q: So it would be safe to say that the fundamentals have gotten better?

BB: Yeah, fundamentals have been better. Just overall execution and awareness, seeing the plays. Sometimes that half step is the difference between making the play and giving it up. We have a lot of little things, a lot of guys working together. That's been important, too. It's a different offense every week, different skill players every week, different blocking schemes every week. I mean, I can't say it's just one thing or one play or one type of play. You talk about the length of time that you talked about there – that's multiple weeks of multiple different challenges defensively and it'll be another one this week.

Q: What is your reaction the news of Rob Gronkowski's suspension?

BB: Well, we'll see what happens when we get the final word. That's not a decision that we have. It's not our decision.

Q: Have you been impressed with Rob's durability this year coming off an injury last year?

BB: Yeah, Rob's been out there all year. I mean, he missed the Tampa game, but he's been out there all year. He's in good condition. He's played hard.

Q: Could there be a benefit to him sitting this week and having a game off heading down the stretch?

BB: Well, again, that decision is not one that we're making. It's a league decision.

Q: Some quarterbacks that come to mind when you think of 40-year olds at the position are Vinny Testaverde, Warren Moon and Brett Favre. You had Testaverde here in 2006. What do you remember from him at that time that allowed him to still be a viable option at the position at his age? What do you look for from a player at that age and position to know that he can still play at a high level?

BB: Well, go back through that list again, but as it relates to Vinny, I mean, Vinny had, I would say, rare physical ability for that position.  I mean, you're talking about a guy that rushed for 100 yards at one point in his career. Big, strong, fast. In Cleveland, he lifted with our offensive line. We had a pretty good offensive line and he lifted better than most of those guys. So, you're talking about a rare athlete in Vinny's case. But, look, in the end it comes down to this is a production business, so it doesn't matter whether you're 22, 32, 42. If you're not productive, you're probably not long for the league, and if you are productive then there's a place. It's really just about production. I learned that when I came into the league as a young coach and haven't forgotten it.

Q: Was there a player from when you were a young coach that was a sort of outlier or helped drive that point home age-wise?

BB: Yeah, I'd say there's examples every year.

Q: When you said 'Go back through that list again,' was there something about those particular players that stood out?

BB: Well, I'm saying I haven't coached Favre. I mean, Favre was a very athletic player. I never coached him. I couldn't compare his athleticism to Vinny's. I would just say from having coached Vinny whatever year that was in Cleveland, like maybe his sixth year in the league or something like that, and then to coach him a decade later – well, also at the Jets – but then a decade later from Cleveland to here, you're still talking about, and to this day, Vinny was just a rare athlete. Size, speed, not to mention throwing mechanics and technique, but lower body strength, upper body strength, could run. The guy could've probably played linebacker, defensive end, running back, quarterback, tight end, safety. The guy probably could've played half the positions on the field if that's where he had trained. Those guys don't just come along every day now. If you're talking about a guy like that that had a long career, I would say no, that wasn't shocking me to because of how exceptionally gifted Vinny was and he was an extremely hard worker. I don't know the other players that well to make that kind of comparison with anybody else, but I'd say that very confidently about him.

Q: Based on your own experience, what let you know as an assistant that you were ready to take on the challenge of being a head coach?

BB: Yeah, I mean, look Mike [Giardi], I really appreciate the question and I respect it, but right now I don't really care about anybody else's coaches, some other team or anything else. I'm really just trying to get this team ready. I'm trying to do a good job as a coach to prepare this team to play Miami. We know it's going to be a tough game Monday night down there, which it always is. That's really what I need to focus on and see if I can help our team do a good job of that, which it hasn't been easy down there.

Q: But you would say that your two coordinators would be ready for that opportunity if it were to come?

BB: I think I've been on the record so many times about our coaches, our coaching staff and questions along those lines. I mean, there's got to be notebooks full of questions that I've answered about that.

Q: What goes into the decision to make a newly acquired guy like Eric Lee available at various positions right out of the gate against Buffalo? Was his versatility something you knew about before he arrived or is that something you learned on the practice field?

BB: Well, I think you have to see everything on the practice field. I don't think you know anything until you actually get out there and see it. If it happens on the practice field then it probably has a chance to happen in a game. That's certainly not a guarantee, but at least it has a chance. You see how things go during a game. Sometimes things change during the game to more or less depending on how it's going. Sometimes things happen that are battlefield promotions out there. So, no, there's no set anything. Every game is different. Every player is different. Every situation is different. You try to do the best you can. You evaluate it at whatever points you can to evaluate, which is practice, walkthroughs, meetings, start of the game, sometimes special teams as it might lead into a player in future weeks from what a player does in the kicking game. I mean, who knows? It's all different. You just do the best that you can with it.

Q: What is the learning curve like for a player like Jacob Hollister on special teams where he is being asked to make tackles despite being primarily an offensive player throughout his football career?

BB: Look, that takes a lot of work, takes a lot of extra work. [Matthew] Slater was in that category, [Brandon] Bolden, guys like that, that played in the kicking game for us. Hollister is in that category. Yeah, you keep working on those things in practice and leverage, breaking down the actual technique and fundamental of hitting the guy, and hitting the runner and wrapping him up, closing space, taking the proper angle when you close, maintaining that leverage, understanding where people are around you. We do tackling drills every day and we watch a lot of film on tackling. We practice it, especially with a player like that who, as you pointed out, doesn't really have very much experience doing that. Some things come more naturally to some guys than others. I'd say in Jacob's case, a lot of things that he didn't do, which was almost everything, he's picked up relatively quickly. I'm not saying he's got it all down. I'm not saying that at all. But I'd say he's picked up a lot of things at the tight end positon, which as we've talked about, is not the easiest position in our offense to learn and in the kicking game. He's involved in all four phases on that – kickoff, kickoff return, punt and punt return. Each one of those kind of has some unique aspects to each of those units. But yeah, he's worked hard at it. He's come a long way. He can still improve and get better at it but he learns every time he walks out on the field and especially in those areas that, as you said, he doesn't really have very much experience with.

Q: Given that you just played them two weeks ago, how much do you try and go back and watch the Dolphins to try and pick up things you didn't see before? Also, what were your general impressions of their performance last week against the Broncos? The effort they got out of their cornerbacks seemed to stand out.

BB: Yeah, it sure did. [T.J.] McDonald had an interception, too. That came off the tipped ball. First of all, a really impressive performance against the Broncos. Offensively, they control the game. Defensively, they did a real good job on the running game. They turned the ball over. The receivers were very tightly covered. They got pressure on the quarterback and they made plays in the kicking game, as well. So it was a really strong effort in all three areas of the game. We're definitely aware of what happened in the first 10 games of the season – whatever it was – before we played them. Ten games I think it was, and then our game and the Denver game. Those, of course, are the two that weren't on the scouting report that we didn't have any information on before our game. So since our game, we add those two to it. They've had a couple of personnel changes to some degree, so we'll have to see how those factored into those games, like [Damien] Williams not being in there offensively. Now he may play against us, but we've seen what it looks like without him in there or we've seen what it looks like without [Cordrea] Tankersley in there for the majority of the game last week and so forth, things like that. We'll just take a look at those things, learn a little bit more about the team, but Miami played very well on Sunday. They always play well down there against us, so I think we know it's going to be a lot different game, and environment, and everything else Monday night from what it was last Sunday. It's not a continuation of last week's game. It's starting all over again and that's what we have to be ready to do. It's not going to be the same game. It will play out differently. There will be different things in the game that will affect this game a lot differently than the last one. Hopefully, one of them not being snapping the ball to them for a touchdown, and we'll just have to react and play it out. We both know each other well. That's really not the issue. It'll be how different plays matchup and how they're executed and how this unique game will take its own life different than any other one.

OFFENSIVE COORDINATOR JOSH MCDANIELS

CONFERENCE CALL
December 5, 2017

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Q: Does the mobility and athleticism of Shaq Mason allow you as an offense to maybe do a little bit more? Certainly do a little bit more in space?

JM: Well, it's definitely a skill that if you have linemen who have that type of athleticism – and I'd say we have that athletic linemen in general across the board – but in specific talking about Shaq, his ability to either pull and run or get out on screen plays and, in some cases, his athleticism shows itself the most when he has to redirect and handle himself in pass protection in an individual one-on-one match-up. We don't often think of that as the time that's going to show up the most, but sometimes when the line slides the other direction and you're one-on-one there, and a good rusher has a lot of space to get to the quarterback and disrupt the passing game, you have to be able to move your feet and redirect. The rushers, obviously, have more than one move and they counter and then Shaq would counter. We try to teach all our linemen that. Dante [Scarnecchia] does a tremendous job of that, but his athleticism is not only just an advantage or something you want to try to take advantage of in space, but also sometimes it has to do with some things that happen in a short space, where we may put may put him in a more individual one-on-one type matchup and ask him to protect the quarterback without much body presence or help from the other guys around him.

Q: In the games Rob Gronkowski has played in, he's played a lot of snaps for you. Just curious what you think of the season he's had so far? And have you been able to use him this year similarly to the ways you've used him in years past?

JM: Yeah, Rob's played a lot of football in the games he's been healthy and he certainly makes an impact in a lot of different ways. We've tried to use him in the ways we feel like we can be most productive with him, both as a run blocker, pass protector, pass receiver. Sometimes that has to evolve as the season goes on. People play us differently and sometimes you get played a certain way where you need to change some things and adjust and adapt, and Rob has always been a guy who can do that pretty quickly on the fly. He studies the game hard. He knows the game plan and his role in it. We try to do as much as we can to put him in a position to help us win by being successful in his role, so he's done a nice job in what we've asked him to do.

Q: Playing Miami two times in three weeks, how does that dynamic affect the plan you put together and being down there in south Florida as well?

JM: Playing down there is always different, especially now this time of the year. We're used to a little colder weather. It's nice to be down there in some heat and it'll certainly be a different climate for us. It's a tough place to play. The crowd can get going. Their rush has a chance to jump a silent cadence and those types of things that you've got to deal with and you've got to protect against, so there's a lot of challenges there and then playing a good defense twice in three weeks, they've got a really good front, they've got a good group of linebackers, a secondary that's very disruptive, both in pass coverage and taking the ball away and blitzing. They do a lot of different things defensively, so this is always a challenge when you're looking at the game certainly in the rear view mirror that you just played and you've got to try to figure out how much to change and how much to do the same understanding that both teams are going to change some things. There's going to be some things they look at and maybe do differently and vice versa. Part of that is trying to be careful to not out-think yourself and do too much. And the other thing is, you're probably going to have to get into the game, feel out what adjustments they have made and be ready to adjust on the fly during the course of the game on Monday night, because that always seems to play a factor in the second game of a division series. You're going to need to adjust to something that somebody else did first, so we'll be ready to do that. We've got an extra day in preparation here for them, which will be good for us. We'll try to have a great week and go down there and be ready to go on Monday night.

Q: During the moment [in Buffalo] between you and Tom [Brady], he got a little bit heated. What were your thoughts on that moment and how do you manage a moment like that and move past it to reopen positive communication and roll on and win the game?

JM: It's a very competitive game and emotional game and things like that can happen. Being in the game a long time, and understanding that Tommy's a very emotional person and emotional player. It's part of what makes him great. You understand that those things happen and it's never personal. You move on quickly from it and we did and we have. I love Tom and all those things he stands for and all the things he does for our team. That's just a situation where you understand it and move on quickly from it and you focus on your job.

Q: We talk about Rob Gronkowski mostly from a perspective of catching the football but how would you rate him as a blocker and a pass protector?

JM: Rob does a very good job of all the things we ask him to do. He's productive for us as a run blocker. We've run behind him quite a bit. He's tough, he's physical, he has good feet. He plays hard and it's important to him. Blocking in the running game is something that he enjoys doing. He wants to do it well. He takes it very seriously and that's why you see him have as much success doing it as you do. And in pass protection, the same thing. He tries to do what's asked of him. He doesn't do it as much as he does in the other two areas that he factors into, but when he's in pass protection, he take his job seriously. Football is important to him and he wants to do the right thing. Every area we ask Rob to help us try to win the game in, he's got a great attitude, a great approach, he prepares very hard, he practices hard at it and wants to do it right to help the team win. He definitely contributes in all of those areas and we ask him to do that each week. He's a multi-faceted guy who does a lot for our team. 

Q: As a follow-up on the exchange with Brady, when you're coaching, is that kind of a thin line in the way that either that happens or the way it's perceived as kind of being petulant or maybe just being part of his leadership and competitiveness? Is that something that's a thin line from your perspective?

JM: I'm not even thinking about lines or what have you. I just know we're all trying to win the game and sometimes things like that happen and you move on from them. You try to win the game and be a professional. That's all I know and that's what we did and that's what we've done and we're focused on getting ready for the Dolphins now. 

Q: Jacob Hollister hasn't gotten a lot of opportunities lately just because of Rob [Gronkowksi] and Dwayne [Allen] and Marty [Bennett], but what kind of progress have you seen from him since he came in as an undrafted rookie this year?

JM: Jacob works really hard and he take a lot of repetitions in practice, both on our side and the look teams. Nick [Caley] coaches all the tight ends hard every week and prepares them all to play in their role in the game. Jacob has had the opportunity to back-up a lot of those roles. He maybe hasn't had to go in there and perform necessarily in the game based on the fact we've been able to stay healthy, but in practice he takes a lot of those repetitions and he's ready to go each week. He cares about his job. He works really hard. He's made progress in really all areas of his play at tight end, and I know he's helped us factor into the kicking game and he's a good teammate. Jacob, like a lot of young players, you never know when their time is going to come, and so they've just got to prepare hard each week, study and know the game plan, practice well and be ready to go when their number is called. And I think he will be.

Q: You're sure to be a candidate for the [New York] Giants head coaching job. I'm just curious if that's a position you have any interest in?

JM: I'm just interested in the Dolphins right now. That's where my focus is at and that's where it's going to stay.

Q: I have to assume that like Matt Patricia, players talk about you in the same vein in terms of their personal connection they make with you. How important is that in your eyes to doing what you do and reach them in that regard, not just X's and O's but on the personal side as well?

JM: I think it's important for them to understand how much you care about them personally and their well-being, not only as a football player but as a human being. Any good relationship is going to start with your connection to the person and as long as they know how much you care, then they'll listen to what you have to say about helping them improve as a player and get better and be able to help your football team so that's important to me. I love the guys we have, I love the guys I work with, I love our staff and those guys understand that we're all in this together and have to work hard to try to maintain those relationships and ultimately produce on the field. That's what our job is. 

DEFENSIVE COORDINATOR MATT PATRICIA

CONFERENCE CALL
December 5, 2017

Q: Kenyan Drake had his heaviest NFL workload to date on Sunday against the Broncos. What were your impressions of him and what was his key to success last weekend in particular?

MP: Yeah, great question as far as [Kenyan] Drake. When you watch the game against Denver I think what you saw was obviously a guy that had prepared really hard and was in a lot of practice reps that then carried over into the game. I thought he ran really hard. I thought he came downhill. I thought he ran in between the tackles extremely well. He does a good job with his vision so it was a lot of jump cut quick movement. He's got great balance so he was able to kind of dip in and dip out of some holes where Denver was going to fill and then he found the open space and was able to move laterally and then burst through there and get some really big gains. Then he obviously has speed to get to the edge so once you start overplaying the inside runs, the outside runs open up and then he certainly can take advantage of that. I think he ran really hard, really well. I think he tried to take as much of the load as he could and do the most with his opportunities. So I thought it was pretty impressive.

Q: Jarvis Landry is the only receiver in the league to catch five passes in every game this year. Is there something about the effort he gives that separates him in terms of that consistent production?

MP: [Jarvis] Landry with his production, the thing that's just really unique is that this guy is a competitor. He competes on every single play and there's just situations where you might have him doubled covered, you might have him in a situation where you think he's in a good position [where] you have him defended. There's a lot of trust between the quarterback. There's obviously a skill set there where they're going to try to get him the ball no matter what and he comes up with those catches and those plays in those situations that receivers like him, great receivers, make. He makes those plays. Once you have that kind of ability and trust from the quarterback then even in those situations where you're trying to do the best to take him away or do your best to cover him, he still gets open and the quarterback will get him the ball and trust that he's going to come up with a big play and for the most part he does. But I think they have a great complement and the focus with Landry is critical but even with [Kenny] Stills and [DeVante] Parker, the guys that are on the outside, and they move those guys around. Coach [Adam] Gase does a great job with moving them around that you can't just completely ignore those other players, along with [Julius] Thomas now and the tight end position. You have to pick your spots that you can give attention to each one of those guys and really try to do the best you can to defend all of them because they're all very dangerous. [They're] dangerous players that can make big plays at any time. 

Q:  When a lot of players talk about you they often talk about a personal connection with you. We saw that when Rob Ninkovich retired as he teared up talking about you. How important is that to how you do your job and is that something that has come naturally for you as you've moved up the ladder?

MP: I'll answer this a little bit brief here and focus on the Dolphins. But as far as I'm concerned and just kind of my approach, when I decided to get into coaching – I think I was talking about this a little bit before – but when I decided to get into coaching and leave engineering one of the things I just really missed about the game of football and when you're involved in the game itself is that camaraderie, that ability to be around the team atmosphere and the guys that you played with. Then when you make that transition to coaching I really found more enjoyment out of watching individuals achieve their goals and succeed. I actually found more enjoyment out of that than I did playing. I remember the moment that that happened to me and that transition where I just fell in love with coaching. My dad was a coach and I grew up with two parents that were teachers and that ability to help people and grow. The one thing I remember from college was our college coaches, especially at that point of a young man's life where it's a critical learning, critical developmental stage that you're leaning on coaches and people that are influential in your life like that. I just thought if I could be in that situation I really wanted to do anything I could to help them through life. So I think I've always taken that approach in my coaching career and obviously we coach at a very competitive high production level, but to me it's still about the personal relationship. It's still about getting to know them as individuals and caring about them as people first and foremost and their families and really honestly whatever I can do to help them from the standpoint of to be successful, whether it's on or off the field, is probably my number one priority. That's just kind of me in general I think.

Q: How much do you guys coach tackling in practice versus coaching scheme?

MP: Well you know tackling is very critical to what we do every single day. So that's going to fall into the fundamentals category and if you look through the course of a season like we talk about every year, the development of what you're trying to do week by week, you're just trying to improve. It's always going to start with fundamentals for us. We're trying to make sure our fundamentals are better each week. That's not always the case but that's what we're trying to do. We really try to put a point of emphasis on that and that's really kind of the foundation that you build on underneath the scheme part of it and the game plan and knowing your opponent and making sure you're ready to go to defend what they do. Tackling is a huge part of that for us. Tackling, pad level, hand placement, just all of it is really something that we try to emphasize and it is a process. It's something that takes some time. We don't have quite as much time as we did before in the early part of the season, training camp, whatever it is and it's something that we really have to put a big emphasis on all the way through as we work through the season. Like I said, sometimes it shows up week in week out that it has improved and sometimes it doesn't. So for us it's really about the next week and what we have to improve on for that next week. Maybe it's something that we are doing good that we need to stay at a high level or it's something that was maybe good before that maybe a point of emphasis has flipped a little bit and we've got to get back on it. But that's really what we're trying to do and that's all underlying. Obviously we're trying to get ready to play the Dolphins, a very experienced, explosive team that has great players and it'll be a little bit of a different look for us [at] the quarterback position and just the things that they do down there. It's their home stadium which is a little bit different than on the road. All of that kind of goes into the formula for just trying to make sure that we're getting better each week and that's really kind of how we approach it.

Q: How does the dynamic of playing the same team twice in three weeks affect the game plan you put together with the idea that you're not just going to bring out the plan from two weeks ago?

MP: No, that would definitely not be the case. Unfortunately, it's different every week. So where we're at right now is diving into the Dolphins and we're going to take our game and take the game from Denver yesterday and we'll put it back into what we saw before and we're trying to analyze it. Teams change week to week. The games are different week to week. Playing home and away is different. All those factors have to come into effect for us defensively. The quarterback position will be something a little bit different here. The running back position we're going to have to wait and see. Obviously [Kenyan] Drake had a great day yesterday. We'll see where [Damien] Williams is at by the time we get to the game. They have great skill players so certainly they'll go in and adjust. Like I said before, Coach [Adam] Gase does a great job and Coach [Clyde] Christensen does a good job of game planning for us so they're going to take a good look at what we did and I'm sure come back and have a different way to approach and try to attack us. We've got make sure that certainly the things that we saw in the game that need to be fixed are fixed and try to play consistent throughout the entire game. Being down in their stadium and traveling down to Miami which has been a difficult place for us to go and compete because it is a really tough environment and they do a good job of using home field advantage and tempo and all the different things that they like to do – cadence – for us defensively that we've got to handle that didn't necessarily come into effect in the first game. So it's definitely different. 

Q: You guys gave up a lot of points in the first four weeks but since Week 5 your defense has allowed the fewest points in the entire NFL. What do you attribute the turnaround to?

MP: I would say for us defensively, I've said this before the way I approach it and the way we do it year in and year out is, every year is a new year. Every year we start from scratch. We start in the spring and we try to build from there. I would say the season in general changes week to week or month to month, however you want to look at it, and coming out of training camp it's going to be different than what it is for the first month. The second month will be different than what it is the first month and I think it's a process for us to try to improve. We're always going to start with the fundamentals. I think I mentioned a little bit earlier and making sure that those get better as we go through the course of the year and become consistent and make sure you can rely on those being taken care of week in week out. I think some of the timelines that we work with here early in the season were definitely in a situation, especially early in the season, where things need to improve and some of that is going to have to take place during the season itself. I would say for us I think the guys just getting into the rhythm of the season helps too where your Monday is a Monday, your Tuesday is a Tuesday, your Wednesday is a Wednesday and your preparation stays consistent throughout the week really helps everyone settle into a schedule and a rhythm of preparing for the games. Sometimes that takes a little bit too. I'd say first and foremost for us, the players I think have done a great job of preparing. Those guys work extremely hard. They come in every single day, they really study their opponent, they're trying to do everything they can to defend what those guys are doing so I give them all the credit. As far as that's concerned and trying to get better, for us and our focus is really anything that has kind of happened so far this season just unfortunately doesn't really matter. From the standpoint of where we are right now all we're trying to do is make sure we play really well against Miami on Monday night down there and that's got to be our focus and that's where we're at. So anything that we've kind of done to this point doesn't really help us moving forward and we're just going to try to make sure that we go out and play as well as we can. Some of that is going to involve getting better than what we did last week. There's certainly things last week that weren't good enough that we need to go in and try to fix and make sure that we can improve on or just be consistent. You just take the whole course of a season and what you're trying to hopefully do through that course is get better each week. Again, it's a credit to our players. I think they've tried to do that. I really think they have. Their approach to it week in week out is great, but really again, for what they've done so far. Then what's the most important is just moving forward. We've just got to keep trying to do that.

Q: Back in the first month of the season when things weren't going perfectly, did you sense a confidence or a calm among your defensive players that they could get it fixed?

MP: I think for us, again, these guys do a great job understanding it's a process. So there's a [understanding of] 'hey look, this is what it is this week. It's got to be better next week and everybody just bear down and let's keep working' and that's the great thing about it is the work attitude that they come in with every day – that 'hey look, this a hard game. It's hard every week. The opponents are great every week. They have extremely good players. It's professional football so at any given moment it's going to be really hard and really difficult and all the rest of it.' Yeah, I think these guys have a great mentality of just 'hey, it's work. We've got to come in and work and get better and improve so no matter what happens that we stay steady and consistent with that.'

Q: Is there a secret to defending while in the red zone, which is another area that you've improved on since the first four weeks of the season?

MP: I think all of it is really tied together like we talk about all the time. If you nail down just one thing it's not really going to be good enough. Do you know what I'm saying? All of the fundamental part of it has got to be on point. I think what happens in the red area is obviously there's a huge sense of urgency. They're closer, it's condensed space, everything happens a little bit faster so that standpoint of it needs to be at an extremely high level. Some of that comes with experience. Some of it comes just with being familiar in the situation and getting used to kind of being in those sort of situations that come up. Other times, again, these offenses are extremely difficult so that every week it's something that is a problem, something that you've got to deal with and something that you've got to maybe problem solve as it comes up. We're always going to start with the fundamentals first. That's most important. Making sure that we understand what we're trying to do and what we're trying to defend and that's the biggest part of it. I think in the red area specifically, just in general everything just happens really quick down there so you've got to just be ready to go. 

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