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Transcripts: Patriots Players 1/22

Read the transcripts from David Andrews and Matthew Slater's press conferences with the media on Monday, January 22, 2018.


January 22, 2018

Q: Do you have a sense that the focus of the team has already changed to preparing for the Eagles?

DA: Yeah, definitely. We've got some logistics to get done and then everyone's getting ready to go. I think the importance of this game is really – everyone is well aware of that. I think the good leadership we have on this team, some of the young guys, how important this week is here, staying in your routine as best you can here and really hammering down this week and getting to know the Eagles. 

Q: Last year, what did you take away in terms of the important of this week before you leave for the Super Bowl?

DA: I think just approaching it like you were going to play a game on Sunday. It's not a bye week, fair to say. It's a week to really nail down the game plan, do a lot of studying, nail down as much as you can this week and then, like I said, prepare like you're playing on Sunday. I think we did a good job of that, and I think, like I said, some good leadership and helping the young guys along the way.

Q: Do you feel the impact on your body of playing more games in back-to-back seasons advancing to the Super Bowl?

DA: I mean, you get a chance to play in the Super Bowl. So, I think that stuff just kind of goes out, in my opinion, goes out the back of my mind. As a little kid, this is what you dream of, so whatever little ailment or whatever you've got at this point, it doesn't really matter. You know, you've got one more game left, 60 more minutes of guaranteed football, so I think that's really the big thing. 

Q: Can you talk about how Danny Amendola came through clutch yesterday?

DA: Yeah, Danny's a great player. He's a fiery guy, a guy you love to compete with and definitely a guy I'm glad is in that locker room. It's not a surprise to any of us. You know, we see how hard he works every day, and I think that's just a testament to that. It's not being in the right place at the right time. It's him working at that and compiling that throughout the year, and I think he's done a great job and someone I've looked up to ever since I've come into this league.

Q: What is it about the culture of the Patriots that allows the team to never lose focus despite being behind in games? It seems like everyone expects to win.

DA: Yeah, I think it's one, just a testament to the guys in that locker room and everyone that's put so much into this season, starting back in April and even the coaches in the offseason kind of organizing the team and all that stuff that goes into it, and I think it's just everyone's work ethic. Practices are tough. It's tough and it's just everyone not panicking. You know, we feel like we've been in those situations and put through the ringer in practice and stuff like that, so we're well-prepared when these situations come up. It's definitely not where we want to be in games, but it's definitely a testament to those guys and all of our work ethic we put in all year.

Q: We see Tom Brady on the sidelines fired up and yelling at guys. Does he get everybody going?

DA: I mean, yeah, he gets everyone going. I think everyone feeds off of everybody, though, and part of playing football is defense making stops, Danny returning the football, now we're at the 30-yard line. Everyone can feed off that energy, and that's how we want to play the game. Sometimes it just doesn't go that way, though. 

Q: Does the team get most of its preparation work done this week as opposed to next week?

DA: Yeah, you know, I mean, this is a big week. It's not a regular bye week, and it's a week where we need to get a lot of preparation done and prepare like we're going to play on Sunday. So, I think that's going to be a big thing to stress to some of the younger guys or guys who haven't been in this position and get as much as can [done], and we need to prepare, like I said, like we're going to play on Sunday. It's a big week. 

Q: Having gone to the Super Bowl last year, can there be any kind of advantage in experience, or is this week different and unique?

DA: You know, I think experience is kind of up in the air sometimes. I mean, guys did not have any playoff experience with [Brandin] Cooks and [Stephon] Gilmore, and now they're making big plays in the playoffs. So, I think it's just being mature about it and approaching it like a work week and just kind of limiting the distractions. You've got to do that all throughout the year, but now it's just on the biggest scale and week of your life, I guess.

Q: Are you surprised that LeGarrette Blount has had the impact he's had on the Eagles offense throughout this year?

DA: No, you know, L.G.'s a great player. He's a veteran guy, he knows how to win and he's done a great job. 

Q: What was it like going that defensive front last night? How do you think that prepares you to go against a similar type of front in terms of talent?

DA: Yeah, it will be a new challenge, like it is each week, and now each week, they get better and better now. So, this will be the best front we've played all year. But, hats off to Jacksonville. They did a good job. It was a big challenge. I thought our guys stood in there, played hard and played tough. There's definitely a lot of things we've got to do better, and like I said, against the Eagles, it's going to be a big challenge. It's another great front with a lot of good players up there and some veteran guys, too. It will be a good challenge, and we'll have to get in there and start studying here. 

Q: How much security does it give the line that you have a guy like Cameron Fleming playing who knows the system well, even after losing two right tackles to injury?

DA: Yeah, you know, I think that's just a testament to everyone that works in that locker room. You hate seeing guys go down, but there's things we do to try to prepare for that. Everyone's getting coached, everyone's getting work, so in case heaven forbid something does happen. So, it's just a testament – Cam's played a lot of football, so he's done a great job in there for us. It's just, like I said, a testament to those guys and how they come each day to go to work and prepare like they're going to play. You just never know what may happen.

Q: Can you speak to Tom's resiliency playing with his hand injury yesterday?

DA: He's a great competitor. There's no one like him. He's a great teammate, great leader. He's a tough guy. Kind of a tricky situation, and I thought he handled it like we expected, like a professional, and how he's done it for the three years I've been around him.

Q: Can you describe the challenge it was facing Jacksonville's defense yesterday?

DA: Yeah, like I said, it was definitely a big challenge. There's some things I think we could have done better and we would have liked to have done better as a team, especially an offensive line, but hats off to them. They did a good job, and I thought our guys really competed in there and held our own. Like I said, it's going to be a big challenge next week. The Eagles have got a great front, a lot of guys up there making big plays for them. You can see that in the last game they played – those guys up front making big plays. So, it's going to be a challenge and we're going to have a lot of work to do.

Q: How do you think the offensive line has grown throughout this season? Do you feel like you're playing your best football right now on the line?

DA: Yeah, you know, I never think it's out best. I think we're playing better football. There's things we're doing pretty well right now, and there's some things we could work on. Obviously, the running game wasn't satisfactory for anyone in that room, especially as an offensive line. I mean, you take pride in that. But, there's things – you know, we've cut down on a lot of penalties. I don't even know how long it's been since we had a penalty, so things like that, bright spots, but there's definitely a lot of things we can work on and things we've got to do better. That's stuff we've got to clean up this week and be ready to go.


January 22, 2018

Q: Can you talk about the resiliency of this team and the never-get-down attitude?

MS: I'd say first and foremost we're really blessed to be in the position that we're in. The thing that you have to love about this football team is just the mental toughness and the belief that we have in one another, the belief that we've always had in our process and just going about things our own way. We're very fortunate to have come out victorious yesterday. It was a hard-fought game. We're really excited about the opportunity moving forward.

Q: Did you watch the NFC Championship Game last night? If so, what are your thoughts overall on the Eagles?

MS: Obviously it was a very impressive performance by them. I haven't seen a ton of tape on them yet so I can't really speak to who they are and what their makeup is like, but obviously they're in the Super Bowl. They're the best team left standing so it's going to be a tall task for us but we're excited about the challenge.

Q: A bunch of guys said today is about getting the tickets and transportation out of the way. Is that what today is about and how much can getting that out of the way now help as you guys are preparing?

MS: Well it can become a distraction if you let it linger. Obviously, there are a lot of people that have stood behind us as players that we want to have be a part of this experience with us, but at the same time we're only going down there for one reason. This is work for us. I think the quicker you can get that behind you and figured out, the better off for everyone.

Q: Do you put any stock in you guys having experience with the Super Bowl routine or is that stuff overrated?

MS: I think it's overrated. 

Q: If a rookie or a player new to the Super Bowl were to ask you advice on how to handle the next 14 days, what would you say to them?

MS: Be prepared to use the word no. You have to tell people no unfortunately and then just remember we're going down there for one reason. I know there's going to be a lot of hoopla and what not but our focus needs to be on the game, our preparation and going down there and playing our best game of the season.

Q: Do you remember watching Super Bowl XXXIX and can you believe that Tom Brady is still playing at the level that he is?

MS: I do remember watching the game. It's quite a story that Tom is still playing, still playing at a high level. He's been really fortunate and blessed to be playing into his 40s and doing it at a high level. We're all excited about another opportunity to go out there and represent this organization in the biggest game in pro football.

Q: This organization has at least one more game with your offensive and defensive coordinators who have worked hard for this team. Are you looking to send them out with your best?

MS: We want to do well for everyone that's involved in this game. There's a lot of people in this building that have worked hard and sacrificed to get to this point to it's for everyone.

Q: Nobody is worried about turnover on this team because they do so well?

MS: We're just worried about the Eagles.

Q: When players get hurt like Rob Gronkowski did yesterday, you're generally one of the first players out there to check on them. What is your message to that player and kind of the message to the sideline who might have witnessed that?
MS: I mean you obviously just want to make sure that your brother is doing okay, that whatever the injury is that he's doing okay. I often refer to the human element that is sometimes missed in this game. You think about making plays and winning games and fantasy points, etc., but there's a human element involved and I think that's your number one concern when a guy is in that situation.

Q: Could you talk about Danny Amendola and the way he really came through in the clutch at the end of the game?

MS: I mean Danny has been so consistent for us ever since he got here and a guy like that, to go out there and make the plays that he did yesterday when our team needed him most, it didn't happen by accident. He's a guy that's prepared himself day after day, tried to work as hard as he can to master his craft over the years and it showed up yesterday in the clutch moments when we needed it. I think that speaks to his character, who he is as a professional and as a man and we definitely needed it yesterday.

Q: How satisfying is it to see no matter what situation this team is faced with, there's always the appropriate response? As a team captain, how satisfying is that for you and what do you attribute it to?

MS: Well I think all of us try to keep the mindset of we're very blessed to be doing what we're doing. We don't want to take for granted the opportunities that we have on the field so we put everything that we can into preparation and execution. Then off the field I think it's important for us to keep perspective at all times and realize, 'Hey we're really fortunate, really blessed to be doing what we're doing.' I think there's a wrong and a right way to handle things and I think we've always tried to pride ourselves on handling things the right way.

Q: Are we at a point yet with this team where you can look at the scoreboard and really there is no situation where you can say we're not going to fight through this or we're not going to come back?

MS: We never lose belief. Football is a game of ups and down and we understand that. It's a game that's played over the course of 60 minutes and a lot of times it takes every single second within the game. So we understand that and we have a coaching staff that's prepared us to have that mentality going into competition. Like I said, we just continue to believe in one another, believe in our process and we're going to fight until the very end regardless of the situation.

Q: Both teams have replaced some key offensive cogs. Danny Amendola and other stepping up for Julian Edelman and the Eagles have had Nick Foles step up for Carson Wentz. How do you think both teams have done replacing such key players?

MS: Well obviously both teams have done a great job because we're still playing. I've gotten the chance to meet Nick and he's a tremendous human being. [He] loves the Lord. He's just a great guy and it's good to see good things happen to good people. They've got a lot of great brothers over there. I think both teams have done a great job of handling adversity this year. That's part of the game. That's life. We've fought and both teams have earned their way to get to this point.

Q: People talk about Nick Foles, since Carson Wentz is down, like there's big a drop off and there hasn't been such a drop off.

MS: They're playing in the Super Bowl.

Q: How much work do you get done this week before you get on the plane and fly to Minnesota?

MS: We'll get a good amount of work in. Definitely probably get to our game plan stuff, get to our scouting. It's not like we looking ahead to other potential opponents. There's only one team that we're looking to playing so all of our energy is going to be put towards them.

Q: You mentioned that you have to say no a lot during this Super Bowl process. What's the most common thing you end up saying no to?

MS: Ticket requests. Everybody thinks we get free tickets. 

Q: Have you been able to check in on Rob Gronkowski at all? How is he doing on a human level?

MS: He was in pretty good spirits today when I spoke to him.

Q: How much of a luxury is it to have Ryan Allen given how he has been pinning opponents deep during the last two games of the playoffs?

MS: It's huge for us. These games when teams are so evenly matched, to be able to have a guy that's going to really help swing that field position battle in your favor, it's huge because every yard counts. You see that in a lot of these games. We've been fortunate to have him playing the way that he's been playing and hopefully he can continue that.

Q: What would you say is the biggest difference in terms of preparing this week for whenever you guys do get to Minnesota?

MS: I think what we have to do now is just hone in on every single detail. There's a lot of information that's been gathered over the last 18 games now I guess and we have to be able to look at that information closely, see what we can do to process that information and apply it to us doing our job. There's going to be no stone left unturned and it starts this week. Then I think when we get down to Minnesota the focus will be even more honed in and ultimately it's about executing two weeks from now.

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