Q:Is it easier to face them this time because you faced them four weeks ago and you have an understanding of the offense?
VW:I don't know. I don't know if easy is the answer. Challenging, because the first game probably really won't have anything to do with this one. They've done different things, we've done different things. Even though there were two, three, four games after that, they've done some things different. It's always challenging to go up against an offense like this because you can do so many things. You can't just say, 'When they get in this formation, this is going to happen,' or 'When they do this, look out for [this].' You can't do that because you can be attacked and blindsided from so many different ways. This game is going to come down to disciplined football for us. I think we said it the first time - disciplined football for us - up front, secondary and with the backers. I think every one of us is going to have a job to do. If we don't do that, we will find ourselves in trouble, quick, fast and often. That's one thing we're trying to minimize. We're trying to prepare well and play well on Saturday. That's our goal. It's a one game season for us right now. The more we can get down and practice with the preparation. I think last week was a big week for us as a team. Just having the extra time and going out and actually getting some extra looks at things, get some stuff ironed out that we thought may give us some problems going forward or doing some things that we think can help us going forward. I think last week was a big week for us and it really helped us. This is the postseason now. I'm expecting everything. I'm expecting them to throw the kitchen sink. Like I said, you lose now, you go home. I think every team understands that. Before it's too late, you have to understand what you're going into. You have to understand the battle you're going into. It started last week for us, just coming in and getting some things done. Hopefully it can transfer over to this week and onto the game Saturday.
Q:How much has this Denver offense changed since you played them last time?
VW:Turnovers. When you look at any team and one of the biggest of them all is turnovers - when you get turnovers or when you give them up. I think looking at the last game they played, last week, a couple days ago, turnovers. They didn't turn the ball over. Anytime you can do that is huge. It's a different offense when they don't mistakes or when they get the big plays. When they can be explosive, it's a different football team. That's one of our goals, is slow them down. We know they're going to throw the ball. Let's not kid ourselves. Everyone says, '[They're] not throwing the ball, not throwing the ball.' Well I'll tell you what, he [Tim Tebow] had a pretty good game last week. I don't care how many times you throw the ball but he had a pretty good game last week. We know that's going to come. We know there are going to be certain areas they're going to attack us at. I don't think they're going to sit back and run the ball all game. You never know but we have to defend everything. That's one thing, we have to defend everything. They believe. That's a team that all year they fought, they fought. They'll be fighting again this Saturday. We have to do the same thing. We have to be able to fight. We have to be able to start fast. We have to be able to finish. We're going to have to be able to play 60 minutes of good football at this time of the year because if you don't, the rest of the teams that are playing now are good football teams. We can't go out and fall behind early. It will be a long day for us if we do that. That's the top of our list also - making sure we can start fast and finish. I would like to see that at least once this year. It would feel good to start this week though.
Q:When you look back at the first quarter of the last game, what jumps out at you?
VW:Like I said, that game won't have any, I don't think, bearing on what we do this week. We definitely have to tackle better, that is something big on our list is tackling. This guy [Tim Tebow], he's tough in the pocket and he's tough out of the pocket. These backs, their receivers, I mean anybody that gets the ball in their hands is pretty good with it in their hands. We'll have to do a good job of tackling. I think we can't depend on one guy to try to make a play or bring down these guys. I think we're going to need two, three, four guys around the ball at all times to be successful, be a good tackling team. I think the success that people have tackling, you see a lot of gang tackles. That's intimidation. One guy, that's tough. They get paid just like we get paid. The more people we can get to the ball, get around the ball, the better we'll be, the better we'll be. I think that starts in practice. I think it's just running to the ball, just having an awareness, just having the mindset of, 'I'm going to help my teammate out. I don't care if he has it or doesn't have it, I'm going to be there for him.' I think it starts from the defensive line all the way back to the safeties. It's a big challenge for us but hey, it's what football is all about. You have to play your best football now and here it is. It's a one game season right now. I'll tell you what, the team that prepares well and plays the best on Saturday will win this ballgame. I don't care about anything else, what happens, what the stats say. The team that prepares well and performs better on Saturday and makes more plays on Saturday, that's the team that's going to win the ballgame.
Q:How much do you preach to your teammates about defending home turf, especially after the last two years?
VW:I don't think that's anything that we talk about. When you play at home it's just a mindset. I don't think that's something we have to go around talking, say, 'Hey, we're playing in Foxborough, make sure we come to play this week.' No, we don't do that. It does feel good to play at home, I'll tell you that. You don't have to worry about the travel and going all different places. It does feel good to be here in your backyard playing but we don't have to talk about it. I think guys understand where we are and how tough it can be to play here for an opponent. Hopefully it will work for us again this week. Hopefully we can get this thing going early and often. That's the key - early and often. We'll be successful if we can do that.
Q:Is there a fine line between being over-amped for the game and being able to still keep your wits about you?
VW:I think this team over this whole year, the course of this year, has done a great job of keeping their poise, through good times and bad times. I think we all kept a level head. It starts with the top first. It starts with Bill [Belichick]. I think Bill is probably one of the best at it - doesn't get too high and doesn't get too low. I think the guys see that. For the most part, we've handled it well. Even when things went wrong and the games we lost, you never hear any fussing. Every now and then you hear it but we could have been arguing on the sideline and fussing all the time, a bunch this year, but we didn't. People are competitive, you get frustrated but poise is everything and I think this team has a lot of it. That's what it's going to take. We have to be able to fight through some tough situations, some tough calls, some plays you might not agree with, a statement you might not agree with at the time of the call. Your job is to fight through those and perform well. I think for the most part we've done that.
Q:Is this one of the tougher, more physical offenses you play?
VW:Any time you can run the ball and be number one in the league, you have to be physical. I'd put them at the top of the list; one of the tougher teams. When you're able to run the ball and stop the run, you have yourselves a pretty physical football team and a pretty tough football team. That's what they have. We definitely have to buckle our chinstraps up and be ready to play from the first snap until the last snap of the game. Yeah, I would give them that. They are one of the better football teams out there at being tough and being physical and being able to establish a run game.
Q:Are you motivated at all by what happened in the playoffs last year and the year before?
VW:I try to forget about that. It's a mindset. When you go into a game, you have to have a certain mindset. You have to be able to perform well. I think at the end of the day, you have to be able to do that. If you can't perform well, a lot won't go right for you. We'll see on Saturday. That's the goal. Can we perform better? Can we play better as a team? Can we start faster? Can we do all the little things? Can we prepare well? I'm sure there's going to be a point in this game when we have to go to the sideline and make adjustments. Can we make those adjustments and go out and perform better? Can we make big plays? Can we make the tough plays? Can we not give up plays? Just certain things, it's a bunch of factors. At the end of the day it's a whole mindset. Your mindset of going out there, putting the preparation and everything you work for the whole week, the whole year, put it on the line for a game. Can you do that for a good 60 minutes and walk out with the victory? That's the challenge that lies ahead of us. If we can do that, we'll be okay.
Q:How important is it for the defensive line to maintain discipline to make sure you don't over-pursue against a guy like Tim Tebow who can run? I imagine it's a point of emphasis when you're facing a guy who can run.
VW:Absolutely. He'll go anywhere. Like I said, we all have jobs that we have to take care of. Some of them, it's predicated on the rush up front, what we're doing up front. A lot of pressure is up there because we know this guy can make a lot of plays and get the ball to some playmakers also. We can't be out of rush lanes, we can't be thrown off blocks, we have to play with good technique, trust our technique, trust one another, just trust that the guy next to you is doing his job. Do that and we'll be okay. But times when you don't do that, it's just that little crack or that little second. You might not think they can find it, but a good team and a good football player will find it, which they've done. They've done that a lot this year, over the course of the year they've done that. It's going to be a very disciplined game for us. We might not be happy that we're not rushing the passer and stuff like that but this is one of those games where you have to make sure you take care, you can't guess at anything, you can't take a chance at anything because it may cost you. Especially against a team like this, it's going to cost you. I think guys understand that. We're going to have some shots, probably later in the game when we get a chance to make plays that we have to make them. We have to take advantage of them, definitely have to.
Q:If you had to draw up a scouting report, what jumps off the page?
VW:What doesn't jump off the page? He's [Tim Tebow] just a tough, tough guy to prepare for. You can speak all day about how tough he is and how elusive he is but it really doesn't matter until you face him. When you face him you really figure out this dude is like a running back. He's a big dude, he's a strong guy. I knew we talked about it, but man I didn't realize. Just the physical-ness, his stature, he's just a big guy. I've seen some big guys over the years but he's probably one of the biggest and one of the toughest and probably one of the strongest that I've faced. Not taking any credit from anyone else but he's a special guy. We know that and I'm pretty sure they know that. They know what they have in their team and we just have to do a real good job. Like I said, we can't have one guy trying to get these guys down. We have to have two, three, four guys at times getting to the ball and making sure that they're on the ground. Like I said, they can all break tackles, they can make things happen with their legs. If we can't do that, we won't be pretty happy.
Q:How important is it to get off to a good start? The last few games the offense has come back and bailed you guys out. Do you think that with the way offense is trumping defense that you don't need a strong defense to win?
VW:I don't believe that. I think any champion [wins] with a good defense, that's how you slice it. If you can't stop anyone, you can't win. I don't care how many points you put up. At the end of the day, you -have to stop someone. The score can be 55-56 but you're going to have to stop someone. The game doesn't go on forever. You have to be able to stop people at critical points in a game. Trust me, we don't sit back on defense and say, 'Don't worry about offense guys, they're going to score 40 points, don't worry, we're okay.' No, we work our tails off. We try our best to go out and execute, prepare well but hey, it happens. Whatever happens, happens and we have to deal with it. We always say defensively that we have to get our offense the ball. Our mindset is to get Tom [Brady] and our guys on the field. The more they're on the field, the better we are as a team. I'm a defensive guy, I'll always stick behind that. You go look up any defenses or any champion at whatever level and see what type of defense they had, see what type of defense they played with that night and see did it matter. It'll tell you a lot.
Q:You're the only member of this defense to have won a playoff game as a Patriot. Does that surprise you and what does playoff experience mean?
VW:Right now, I don't look into playoff -, how many times people have been there or this team is a veteran team, they should be - no, I think the team that prepares well and plays well on game day is going to decide who wins the ball game. I care less, veterans or whatever you have out there or how many games they've played in, how many playoff games they've played in. If you don't play well, you don't win, point blank. That's the attitude that we have to play well. If we want to move on and move forward, we have to play well and prepare well. We just can't show up on Saturday and think everything is going to be okay if we go out there and have a crap practice. I think we have to go out there and make things happen in practice, give us the confidence and give us the edge in practice to have the confidence come Saturday game day to make plays and play good football. I don't look at the postseason and how many guys have been here and who hasn't been here. My goal is preparing well as an individual; preparing well and hopefully guys follow. Preparing well and playing well - that's the biggest thing. You have to do those. If you don't do those, you probably won't have a chance. It starts in practice, with meetings, with treatment, with help, film and just being able to go out and make adjustments at times when you need to on game day. I'd rather take my chances that way then to have a crappy practice all week and then to go out Saturday and you think you're just going to turn it on. It doesn't happen like that, not often. What we do today is going to be a big part of what we do Saturday. Tomorrow is going to the same, the day after tomorrow is going to be the same. Every day counts and we have to make it count.