Q: What do you tell the rookie or younger players about the difference between regular season football and postseason football because they haven't gone through that process before?
VW:Just intensity of the game. You know [if] you lose you go home, so everyone is playing like it's their last [game]. The speed of the game gets faster and gets more intense, gets more physical. Every play is a 'Got to have it play.' Every play is a 'Have to win play.' I think that's the mentality that you have to have when it comes to the postseason because everyone's fighting for the same goal – the loser goes home and the winner goes on. So just elevate, the game elevates. I mean from every aspect – from the public to the teams, the coaching, the game plans, the players, everything – it's just taken to a whole other level, so we know our game has to step up. You know, whoever we face is going to be a good team, no question about that. We have to be ready to match that intensity. That's not just the young guys, that's older guys, guys who have been around the league. I think the team in general, I think our coaching staff – it's just the whole shebang. When you talk about elevating game I think it comes from everyone, not just the players. I think it's a whole organization standpoint.
Q: What can you do in practice on both sides of the ball to start better and start faster?
VW:Prepare better. You know just keep grinding it, keep chipping at it. It's not like we go to each practice saying, 'Just put it to the side.' That's been the one thing that we've stressed for a long time now – starting fast and finishing faster and just finish strong. It hasn't happened, but we've gotten three quarters, we've gotten three and half quarters, so who knows? Maybe we'll save enough for the postseason, who knows? We'll see. In practice, we just have to continue to do and prepare well. I think if we do that we'll be okay, but I think the beginning of the games are the ones that kill us around here. Defensively, you know we start the games off slow and I think the more we play the more confidence guys get. Once the game starts to settle down, once they start to see the game unfold and as you start to believe what they're seeing and prepared for. I think if we start off that way we'll start to see a lot of these games start off faster and I think it's a good week to start this week. Like I said, whoever we face is going to be a good team. Once again, that's at the top of the list is starting fast. It's going to be at the top of this list until I'm out of this league probably.
Q: Have you had conversations about starting faster amongst yourselves?
VW:I don't think there's much said about it. I mean everybody in this locker room it's not like each week we go and say, 'We're going to spot this team 21 points' or 'We're going to spot this team 14 or 17 points and then we're going to start to play.' It doesn't happen like that. Each week we know we get off to a slow start, but eventually it can catch up with you also and we understand that. But at the same time being down 14 and 17 and 21 points and to pull games out shows you a lot about this team. I don't think there's anyone in this locker room saying, 'We're going to get away with a 24 point deficit or a 28 point deficit now.' I think it's more about, 'Let us being on the other end. Let us be up 14 or 17 points and see where the game takes us. With this team I love the odds. I love them.
Q: What has it been like playing alongside Kyle Love this year? How has he progressed?
VW: I've seen him as a rookie and what he's done and how hard he works from a rookie until now and the thing about it is he's still getting better. He's playing very, very well and he's easy to coach. He takes criticism well and he gets better. He's one of those guys who goes out each day and wants to get better. He asks a lot of questions because he wants to know the game. He wants to understand why we do what we do. A lot of guys are like that, but being around Kyle is just like a shadow because he always wants to learn and you can win with guys like that. He's been big for us this year, he's been real big for us this year. I think he'll probably have a promising career wherever it may be because of just how hard he works. He's humble and he's just a hard worker. I think we have a bunch of guys in this locker room that are first or second-year guys or guys that have just come over from another organization and are just hard workers. They love the game and that's one thing that they all have in common, the passion for the game, they love it. If you have a bunch of guys that love the game and have the passion for the game, you can fight with them, you can go to battle with those guys any day, against any team, so I love having this team. This team shows me a lot each week. This team never gets too down and never gets too high, so the character of this team is amazing. We haven't had a team like this in awhile. Hopefully we can finish this thing off where we want to be. Like I said, we have to get through one game first. But with this team, like I said, I love my chances with this team.
Q: Is there a point in the game when you guys say 'Hey, we've got to make a play and force turnovers?'
VW:Absolutely. Every time we take the field we say that. I think the hardest thing to do is actually knock the ball off someone. That's hard, that's hard to do and I tell our guys all the time, 'If the ball is in the air, it's yours.' You have to think like that. That's how you have to think. If you see a ball carrier and you've got him squared away, you've got to see yourself knocking the ball off that guy. We preach turnovers. That's one thing we always preach. We want the ball because we know the type of offense we have is going to put up points, they're going to do something special on that side. The more we can get them the ball, the better off we are as a team That's one of our main emphasis always – getting the ball in practice, pre-game, I mean it's just one of those things if we can get the ball and if you can create turnovers for your ball club any team is pretty successful with that, but especially our team. Just the way the guys put up points and how explosive we're offensively, it's always good to get our offense the ball.
Q: When you get behind in games does that make it more of a sense of urgency to make a play or do you have to calm yourselves down?
VW: Most of the times we've been down we've had to calm down. I think that the tougher the game gets the more, I don't know, settled we get. [We] never lose our poise. You know you get frustrated at times, but at the same time you go out there and everybody has their poise and everyone is calm and I think once we're calm we make more plays, we make more plays, we make more plays. I mean, it's funny, but down 21 points you would think that we're over there screaming and hollering and trying to fix everything, but that wasn't the case. It's more about, 'Just settle down to play football, plays will come, just believe what you see.' The times we've done it, we've been okay. It's just a tough group – tough, tough, mentally tough football team that, you know what, for 60 minutes we're going to fight. I'll tell you that. We might not be pretty, but we will not give up. I don't care how long we play. This team will not give up, so if you've got to beat us it's going to take 60 minutes plus because we're not just going to fold our hand no matter what the score is.
Q: Of the team's 34 turnovers maybe only six or seven of them the offense hasn't been able to score on. What's it mean for the offense to be able to capitalize and what does that mean? Matthew Slater called it 'complementary.'
VW:Yeah, complementary football when you have three phases of the game and just going out and playing solid football. When we get the ball, when the kicking game and special teams get us field position, you can count that as points. You know, backed up and they have to punt – you know if you're putting a team at plus-50 or at the 50 yard line you're going to get some type of points and that's how we look at it. Defensively, if we can get that ball back and [force] a turnover that's more points and especially with our offense. If the offense can just keep continuing to put points up, whether it's three, six, seven, or whatever it may be. If you can play well in those three phases of the game it's always a positive and I think we've done that for the most part we've done that. It hasn't always been pretty. It hasn't been perfect, but for the most part we've done that and when we've done that, we've played very well, so we going to need that here on out. We're going to need three phases of the game just to stick together and that's to play good football together even when things aren't going well because whoever we face is going to be a good team. They are going to make plays. That's the one thing I can guarantee you that they're going to make plays [and] we're going to make plays. Who makes the most plays, that's what it's going to come down to – who get the turnovers, who can create field position, who can score points, [and] who can stop in the red area. It's going to come down to a critical point in the game where you're going to have to make a play, whatever play that may be you're going to have to make it, so we don't know what it's going to be and we won't know until that situation pops up, but the way we practice around here – situational football – I love our chances. I just like our chances in situations like that because we practice a lot of situations around here, so we just got to wait and see.
Q: How important has that been because of the bye week and be able to focus in on yourselves and things that are important to you guys on a daily basis?
VW:You know that's one thing that we can do now. We have no control over who we play. One thing we do have control over is how we can prepare to better this football team, things that we can work on that can help us, the strengths that we have, continue to get better. It' just things that the New England Patriots can do with each other that can make us a better football team. That's one thing that we want to try and accomplish with this bye, so with that and being able to get healthy. That's another main factor. It's been a long season for everyone, so I mean, the coaches included, but I think we've worked our tails off. Like I've said, 'It hasn't [always] been pretty,' but 13-3 you have to be proud of something and to have a bye you have to be proud of that and if you can just get a little healthy – a little bumps and bruises – we're you might need a couple of days of rest. You can get that now with these days that we have coming up. It's always huge to take care of business early, but we have to been ready to play once this thing turns around next week we have to be ready to rock-n-roll and there's no question in my mind we will be ready.
Q: What are you going to do this weekend? Are you going to sit and watch football or what?
VW:Rest. My biggest thing is rest. It's such a long season and these guys in here need rest, need rest. Health is everything right now. The more you can take care of yourself [and] get the proper rest and when you have a chance to get it, it's big. Of course I'll look at football because it has a lot to do with what we're going to be doing next week. So, resting, looking at football and looking at film, that's what my mindset will be.
Q: Is there anything you did or didn't do at this time last year?
VW:Last year doesn't matter. Really, it doesn't matter.
Q: Talking about rest, how impactful has the number of snaps – more than others- affected you this season?
VW:I never look at it. I know I've played a lot this year, but I think everybody even guys that have played 20 plays or 100 plays less than me probably feel the same way as me. It's just a long season when you're talking meetings, you're talking walkthroughs, you're talking practice, and you're talking more meetings and then you're talking about games. There are a lot of weeks we've put into this season, definitely don't want it to end soon. This week is a big week for us, so we have to [use] the time to actually get some rest and you know that's a big, big step for us, I mean, that's a big, big – for myself and I'm pretty sure everyone in this locker room, coaches included. You get a chance to be just around your family and kick back your heels; don't have to wake up too early. You know, just sleep in for once and your body knows when you need it. And I think this bye comes at a perfect time for us, but at the same time we have some work to do. While we're here we'll work, but when we do get our chance to get off our feet and get a chance to sit back and kick your legs up and watch some football over the weekend, take advantage of it. Guys have to take advantage of it because I'm planning on playing for a long time. I'm not ready to stop this year, not yet.
Q: Have you noticed any noticeable differences between this year or last year where you didn't play as many snaps?
VW:No, not at all. Nothing.
Q: You've spent this year playing next to a lot of different guys. How has that affected the way you've played and how have you adjusted to that?
VW:We have a lot of guys I've played around with this year. But you know what, it's been a team thing. I think you've seen [at least] defensively guys probably every week [someone] different on our defense, some on the line, some at linebacker, [and] some at back end. The biggest thing was just earning the trust. You have to be able to trust the guy next to you on the field and you know, myself being around here for eight years now, some of the calls I know like the back of my hand, so it's easy for me to kind of look to the side of me and realize if someone's out of position just to get them right. I didn't have to do much this year. A lot of guys took it upon themselves to actually know what they were doing when their name was called. That's been big for us this year, so it really hasn't changed my play at all. You know matchups that's all up to Bill [Belichick], so if we see a certain matchup that we like, that's Bill's call. If he wants to move me around that's his call, but I'm pretty comfortable playing anywhere on the line and pretty comfortable playing with anybody that he lines out there with me and if I'm not comfortable I'll let that person know what they need to work on. I think I've earned that right to let the guy next to me know I don't appreciate him not knowing his plays, but like I've said, I didn't have to do that much this year, so that's a good thing.
Q: How important is it going forward here that you've guys have talked in the locker room about being 0-0 as you start this next chapter?
VW:Absolutely. What you've done so far doesn't mean anything. The most important thing for us is to win. That's the most important thing. We can't look at stats, we can't look at film and [be like] we didn't do this or we didn't do that. We can't look at no [previous] playoff games that we've played in. we can't look at none of those things. The most important thing for us now is to get better and win. If we get better, we can win ballgames, but if we stay the same we'll have problems. That's one of our biggest goals, so each week we want to do that [win]. You know, right now, you lose you go home and everybody has to understand that and I think everybody does understand that. We have to continue to win and continue to move on and be a successful football team. We have to be able to get better and that's starting fast now. We have to start faster and I really believe that and even though this team is a tough, physical, and mentally tough football team, being down 21 points in the playoffs you don't want to be there especially with these teams, trust me, you don't want to be there, so I think we should get in turned around. I'm excited. I hope we get it turned around and I have the faith that we will. Only time will tell, but at the same time one thing that I will tell you [is] that this team will no matter what the outcome may be this team will play their butts off for a full game and that's all you can ask at the end of the day. The passion for the game, we have it. The love for the game, we have it. We have guys that love to play football and [we] have guys that love to be here. When you have those [qualities] you can win with guys like that. So, we have a bunch of guys in that locker room like that, so I'm very excited about this postseason. I can't wait to get started, but it will come soon rather than later I can tell you that one.