CHARLIE WEIS: “Every week is different and every team is different. Personnel changes all the time in the NFL so it wouldn’t make a difference who it was. Every week it’s a different set of encyclopedias: the Broncos are going to be different than the Raiders, and different than Arizona. Every week is going to be a different set based off of who their personnel is and our personnel is. You can’t go by any one player; you just have to go by who you’re playing and what they do.”
Q: What would you say to the fans or the radio hosts that RB
WEIS: “You also remember that Jamaal was heavily involved in the pass game last week and a lot of those routes were down the field too. Sometimes you have to take into account that when you’re running wheel routes and go routes and things like that, it takes a little gas out of your tank when you end up doing that. I think that the interchanging of the running backs, the way the substation goes, they’re tied at the hip and I don’t think there’s any one reason one guy is in there any more than another.”
Q: Is that a domino effect with WR Dexter McCluster being hurt, that without him out there you try to get Jamaal (Charles) out there a little bit more?
WEIS: “I think any time you have a guy that has physical attributes that you could utilize, you have to figure out ways to do them. That’s one of the things that our coaching staff does, starting from the head coach on down, is try to figure out who you have and what they can do and try to utilize them properly.”
Q: Halfway through the season, you and Coach Haley have been working in this capacity for awhile, you are great friends outside of work but at work are you seeing a little more push and pull?
WEIS: “No, actually it’s gotten better because now, we’ve been apart for a lot of years and now our philosophies are getting closer to even getting better meshed because I know how he’s thinking and he knows how I’m thinking. Just because we were together 10 years ago or however many years ago it was, isn’t the same. Actually just opposite of that to tell you the truth.”
Q: Aside from the win-loss record, what can fans look to to see progress from QB
WEIS: “We’re big on studying our own guys. I’ll give you a couple: What’s his touchdown-to-interception ratio? Twelve to four, so if you look at that, you’d have to say that anyone who is a three-to-one ratio in touchdowns to interceptions, he’s doing something right. How many times has he been sacked? I’m saying he’s one of the fewest sacked quarterbacks in the league and he’s not turning the ball over. I think that the one other thing that you’ll notice is he’s hurt a lot of teams when they put pressure on us – he’s the number one rated quarterback under blitz situations. Now all of a sudden, you say, where do you see it, there are three areas now: taking care of the football, not getting sacked a whole bunch and when people bring the heat, he’s making them pay for it. They’re critical areas where you sit there and say this kid is moving in the right direction.”
Q: He’s good in those areas, but where do you want to see him improve?
WEIS: “We want to be first in all the categories. You asked for the good things so I gave you some examples. The goal ultimately is to be up near the top on everything but I think you have to take what’s really going good and then find those other things and just keep on improving them.”
Q: When you watch a game with Brett Favre or the Mannings, somebody like that, you get the feeling that even if they’re down that they’re never out. Do you get have that same feeling with Matt?
WEIS: “Well, a couple weeks ago we were playing Buffalo and it’s just kind of a stagnant game. We get the ball back with 1:13 to go in your own end, no timeouts, go right down the field, get into scoring position, kick a field goal. That’s what the good ones do.”
Q: It seems like that may be one of his strongest points, the must-have drives. Is that a special part of a quarterback, is that mental and do you see that?
WEIS: “Well, one of the positives, I just gave you a couple examples, but he’s been very good in end-of-game situations and I think that he’s a fierce competitor but another way quarterbacks are judged a lot of times where you get those end-of-half and end-of-game situations and how they handle it when everyone knows you’re going to throw, how they handle it, I think that’s critical.”
Q: When QB Kyle Orton entered the league most considered him a game-manager. Now he’s top three in the NFL in throwing the football. Do you see QB Matt Cassel having that type of potential down the line?
WEIS: “Well, with RB
Q: They have a bit of a depleted linebacker corps, is that an advantage for you guys the way you like to move the football?
WEIS: “The one thing it does do, it causes a little bit of guessing because they’ve gone back and forth between a 3-4 and a 4-3 defense, within the last month even, they’ve gone back and forth, one week they were 3-4 and one week they were 4-3 and then interchanging inside of a game going back and forth. That actually causes your players to do some more extra mental preparation because you have to be ready within a game to face multiple fronts based off of the personnel that’s out there.”
Q: The offensive line has gotten a lot of credit for keeping Matt Cassel clean and the running success. Can you talk about the other guys that are key in blocking situations that maybe fans don’t see because it’s not just those five guys, you’ve been doing other things with tight ends and fullbacks, right?
WEIS: “I’m going to give you a different answer than most people give you. Usually that’s a set up question, just go right to tight ends and the fullbacks, which I think have done a nice job, but I really think that one of the greatest areas of improvement we’ve had has been our wide receiver blocking. We’ve had a couple games that they’ve done very, very good and I think that they improved in toughness and I think they’ve bought into the mentality that when you have success in running the football, a lot of has to do with the wide receivers blocking on the edge.”
Q: With your success running the football, do you feel this is a copy cat league and that teams are going to try to mimic the looks the Raiders gave you until you can prove to defeat that type of look?
WEIS: “Like I said, I think every week is going to different, it’s going to be based off of who Denver has. Denver is going to look at Oakland but they’re going to look at every other game we’ve played and look for high points and low points and where they think they can attack. Denver’s going to worry about what Denver does on defense and I think they’ve had a bye week, they’ve had extra time to prepare, I’m sure right now they’re feeling like they’ve got a good plan and our job is to come in and try to exploit it.”