OFFENSIVE COORDINATOR DOUG PEDERSON
Q:What comes to your mind when you think about the New England defense?
PEDERSON: "Multiple fronts, multiple coverages. A group that plays well within their scheme. They don't go overboard with anything, they're very confident in what they do. Attack-style, aggressive up front, they have another tremendous front six, front seven guys in there. And they'll mix their fronts. It's a week-by-week gameplan for them."
Q:Last year against the Patriots, did you execute that gameplan as perfectly as possible?
PEDERSON: "We did, we executed our gameplan pretty well that day. Of course it takes three phases, as you know – the defense played extremely well against Tom (Brady). But offensively, yeah, we executed ours well. We also showed them some different looks, I think, than what they had seen from us or from any other team earlier in the season. But yeah, those are things that you kind of have to do against a team like this – because they're going to keep it mixed up. I think offensively, it's a challenge for us to keep it mixed up as well."
Q:How did your interview go with the Eagles?
PEDERSON: "Gosh, it went great. It was a great opportunity to see (Eagles Executive Vice President of Football Operations) Howie (Roseman) again and Mr. Lurie and the chance to talk with them and sit down with them. I have a lot of respect for the organization and what they're doing there. Now we're focused on New England, that's behind me and moving forward."
Q:Was it easy for you to compartmentalize that while you're preparing for the Texans and Patriots?
PEDERSON: "It is because we have a big game this week and you never know what's going to happen in those situations. It's an honor, obviously, to be in the running with something like that. But I was also sitting there towards the end of the interview going 'I've got the New England Patriots to look at.' So it was a lot easier to come back and start gameplanning."
Q:Where did they leave things with you?
PEDERSON: "Still open. They're still in the process of – from what I'm hearing they've stopped all interviews and now it's just a matter of them getting together collectively and making a decision."
Q:Did they schedule a second interview with you?
PEDERSON: "Not yet."
Q:How much has your time with Andy Reid helped you prepare for a head coaching job?
PEDERSON: "Tremendous. He's a great mentor of mine, obviously as you know. We worked together, I worked for him in Philadelphia, so I understand that market and that climate and that structure there. The things I've learned from Coach Reid, wherever, if it's in my future to become a head coach, then there's a lot of great examples of him leading a team and an organization that I can use in my future as well."
Q:How do you prepare without Jeremy Maclin?
PEDERSON: "It's like any other position, the next guy steps up. We did it in the second half of the game the other day and our young receivers did an outstanding job. And we just go forward that way. We'll see what happens later in the week. Next man has to step up, we'll be leaning on Chris Conley a little bit more and ask him to fulfill that role."
Q:For young guys, is it better if they're thrown into it as opposed to having all week to think about it?
PEDERSON: "Well Chris has played a lot for us, too. He's got some valuable experience. And we've moved him around in certain packages during the week, so he's comfortable that way. I think it is better sometimes to just go, go play. You're not worried about everything that's out there, you're kind of focused in on your job and I think sometimes it can help and benefit a player that way."
Q:What are the differences between running the offense as a quarterback and running it from the sidelines?
PEDERSON: "Obviously, as a play caller, you kind of put yourself in that quarterback position. You obviously understand what the defense is trying to do and some of their tendencies and all of that. As you get into the flow of the game, that's just how you end up calling – it's all based on situational football. But for me as a former quarterback, I put myself in Alex's shoes and see what he's seeing and call plays based on what we're all collectively seeing during that time of the game."
Q:Do you feel like you would be where you are without the depth at offensive line and running back?
PEDERSON: "It's hard to say, but we were fortunate to have the depth. I think those guys were great on special teams throughout training camp and earlier in the season – I know Coach Toub likes that running back position and tight end position on special teams quite a bit. Obviously to lose a player like Jamaal (Charles), you never know what's going to happen behind you. Now Knile Davis was the only sort of veteran guy that we had with any game experience and we didn't really understand what we had in Charcandrick (West) and Spencer (Ware). Those two guys – really those three guys, because Knile's played here recently, too – it's a great, collaborative effort by all of those guys. Great job by Eric Bieniemy of getting them coached up each week. We're just fortunate that we kept all those guys."
Q:Coming out of camp, did you feel pretty good about those spots if you were going to have injuries?
PEDERSON: "No, we felt comfortable. Obviously when you get down to your 53 – and John Dorsey and Coach, they do the final roster cuts – you see who's on your team, you're very comfortable with those positions. You're going to coach up whoever's there, but we were fortunate to have guys that had a great preseason and were worthy of the opportunity."
SPECIAL TEAMS COORDINATOR DAVE TOUB
Q: With Knile's return, did something just click or was that something special you analyzed with the Texans?
TOUB: "Any time you get a return for a touchdown, everything clicks. Everything has to go right. The guys did a good job blocking. Jason Avant got the corner, in the back end, got those guys knocked down, had some knock down blocks, Spencer (Ware). And then Knile (Davis) hit it, I mean, he hit it hard and fast and does what he does. He hit it north and south, and as soon as he broke the line, there was nobody (who) was going to catch him."
Q: How have you guys been so good at preventing it?
TOUB: "We work hard at covering. We work hard at practice. We study tape. It depends on who you're playing a lot of times. We've been fortunate, the guys play hard and it's all about effort."
Q: On the kick coverage in Houston.
TOUB: "Right. No question. We talk about it every huddle. We say, 'hey, they're coming out with this one.' We remind them that you can't let up. Cairo (Santos) was in the groove in that game. He was getting the ball, hanging them high and deep. Sometimes, it's not always like that. You get out in the cold weather like this weekend, we're going to have to cover every kick and we know that they're going to challenge us."
Q: How important is it to know where the kicker is on a kickoff return, like in Knile's case last weekend?
TOUB: "(Nick) Novak is a tackler. That's why. When he was at San Diego, there was a couple times we busted some returns against them and he made the tackle like three or four times against us, so we're going to have a blocker on him. That's exactly what happened. We had a blocker on him, and fortunately when he broke the line, he was being blocked."
Q: How often does that happen in the league?
TOUB: "Not very often. You don't want to account for the kicker. Usually you take a guy and you'll double-team somebody, one of their most dangerous guys. In this case with Nick, we had a blocker on him."
Q: What do you see out of the Patriots special teams unit?
TOUB: "Well, they're outstanding. Last year when we played them, they got the best of us last year. Even though we won the game, they got us on special teams. We showed that tape a bunch this week already. We could play a lot better against them and we're using that for motivation this week."
Q: Have you ever had a better special teams game than you did last week?
TOUB: "We had some good ones in Chicago with Devin Hester, so it's hard to compare. I have never really thought about it, but it was a solid performance all around and a big game. We were happy to have that."
Q: Andy Reid reminded us that the Bears had started the Super Bowl with a kick return touchdown and lost.
TOUB: "It was, when he was running down the field, it was like deja-vu. It felt like the same thing, you know, big game, playoff game. Obviously the Super Bowl would be a little different. We did, we scored right away, and I reminded Andy, I said, 'hey, that doesn't mean we're going to win the game or whatever, and he looked at me like that. He said, 'let's keep our foot on the gas pedal.' I didn't want that. I was really reminding myself, more than him."
Q: When it comes to field goals and PATs, do you ever work on kicking with laces?
TOUB: "Yes. Every day. And especially after what we just saw in that other game. We did it, in fact, we did it yesterday. We also do wet ball drills. We kick wet ball, we snap wet ball, we try to mimic every possible and crazy thing that could happen. Fast field goal, whatever that might be, we try to practice those daily."
Q: How does the temperature or even snow affect kicking the football?
TOUB: "We say, I mean, depends on what the temperature is, obviously, but anything below freezing, 30 degrees, 25 degrees, it's going to take about five yards off the ball. If you're hitting it five deep in a normal kicking situation, it's going to end up on the goal line, which means returnable kicks. We just kind of take off minus five yards. And that's the same thing with field goals, too. Same thing."
Q: What happened with Cairo's last kick in Houston?
TOUB: "He just hit the ball high. It was him. Snap was good, hold was good, he just caught the ball a little bit high on that one. Fortunately, it went through."
DEFENSIVE COORDINATOR BOB SUTTON
Q: Do you feel like there's more to prepare for with the New England Patriots than your average opponent?
SUTTON:"Well, I think New England has been a really highly efficient offense for a number of years. And one of the great things they do - you hear the phrase all the time, but 'game plan specific.' They can kind of morph in and out of things I think as well as anybody in the league, so you really have a menu of things that they could do to you and you kind of have to choose - obviously you don't have very long to practice these times so you try to figure out what you think they might do based on things that have worked against you and things they've done. But in the end, you have to rely on your fundamentals, you've got to rely on the core principles of your defense and then adjust as the game goes along. Which is really not much different than any game, they just probably take it to a higher level I think. You have to give them a lot of credit because they've done it, like I said, for a number of years as well as anybody in our league and they make it challenging, but I think in the end you've got to make sure you play good football, cleats in the ground ready to roll and go forward. And know you've got to adjust sometimes, there's a lot of flow in these games and you've got to figure out on the run what's happening to you."
Q: Do you think you guys executed as well as you can last year?
SUTTON:"Well, I think every game is different and from any previous game, the things you want to take, regardless if you're playing New England or anybody else is you want to be able to look at it honestly and say 'these are things we did well, these were things we didn't do well.' Some of them didn't hurt us, but they could hurt us in the future and that's when I think your team can see that - that's when you've got a chance to keep improving. So I don't really know that, there's a lot of things that happened in that game and every game is so unique to itself. The circumstances that happen, things that surround every series, so I think you have to be a little careful just saying 'hey, that game was this.' The game was this because of a lot of factors and that's the challenge of any game. You've got to adjust to what's happening not only on your side, but all sides of the game. And that's one of the strengths New England has, they do great a job of that."
Q: How did Sean Smith impact your defense in his return?
SUTTON:"Well, I just think Sean's a really good football player, he's played well for us so I think he provided us a veteran presence. At the same time, Marcus (Peters) was developing so I think those two things coming together really helped this and of course it was offset a little bit by the loss of Phillip Gaines in there. But I thought he came back and he and Marcus have played really steady, good, solid football for most of the season. So that was a big help to us, it's no question."
Q:How do you affect a quarterback who gets rid of the ball so quickly?
SUTTON:"It's really hard. I mean, one, he's one of those guys that is brilliant on the field - he knows what to do with the football. You're not going to trick Tom Brady very many times, so you just try to maybe cause a little confusion in his mind and that's very hard to do because he's seen every single thing you can do. Unless you guys have got something that we don't have yet, but he's a really challenging guy so you just try to make it as difficult for him as you possibly can. But in the end, all of these things happening, the only thing I think you have to fall back on is you have to be able to play fast, you have to be able to stick your feet in the ground, you have to be able to plant, drive and go so you try to eliminate as many of the concerns that you think you might have. And just say ' hey fellas, we've been doing this for however many weeks.' You know what we're doing, and you know how we do it and let's make sure that in the end we play the way that we want to play. And you can only take that so far on defense because you've got to adjust somewhat to what they do. But that's the important point I think - you want to be able to play fast and hard. They're going to make some plays, every team does and it's really how you handle those swings, particularly on the road and go - and on defense, that's when the crowd really gets rolling so we've got to do a great job of that."
Q:Why has Andy Reid been so successful in the postseason?
SUTTON:"I've only been there for one of them so I probably couldn't give you a lot of insight on that. I think Coach Reid is an excellent coach, one of the great things in my view of him is that he has a great feel about our team. He has a great pulse on our team and he kind of knows what to do. Back off, increase, whatever it is. And I think that's part of his makeup, that's probably part of the number of games he's been in, probably postseason or not. But he's got a great feel, probably as good as anybody I've been around and so I think that's it and I think he's got a great way to keep the team on the tracks."
Q:Does he change from the regular season to the postseason?
SUTTON:"No, I think that's one of his beauties, he's the same guy. The message is always the same, he's always got energy with it, he's got excitement with it and I think the players respond because there's no gamesmanship in how he does it, it's just 'hey, fellas, this is what we've got to do, this is where we're at, this is what we could do if we really play this thing out the way we want to,' and go like that. Anytime you're in a leadership position, I think the number one thing you have to have from the people that are following you is trust. Without trust, it's hard to lead and there's rank and file, you're going to say yes and do it, but if you want to really follow somebody you're going to really trust him and I think our team and our coaches trust Andy."
Q:How tough is it to develop the pulse of the team?
SUTTON:"I think a little bit of it is innate. I think it's just some people have that, other people don't. It doesn't mean they're not good coaches, but I think to me this is still a people's game and you've got to want to keep track of your people and you want to understand the people around you and I think Andy does a great job of that and he's just got a great feel for that. So that's a real plus I think for us."
Q:Do you sense an extra bit of juice from your guys heading into this game?
SUTTON:"No, I think it's just - I don't know if there's any more juice, you get to advance - that makes it more exciting I think. Last week was as big of a game as you could be in. And we're in those true - to coin the phrase, those 'one-game seasons.' And so all of your emotions and all of your energy is here, nothing looking past or backwards so I think that brings out a lot from everybody. Just to know 'hey, this is what we're down to, we're down to these 60 minutes, this many plays and it's one of those games where you need every player, every play. That's what it comes down to."
TE TRAVIS KELCE
Q:The Patriots take away the opponent's top option. If Jeremy Maclin can't play, how do you approach that?
KELCE: "You approach it every single day like you would. They're also notorious for throwing anything at you – whether it be a certain type of coverage, a certain type of blitz. Going into this game, it's all around matchups. So you have to make sure that you have your answers for everything they throw at you. There's going to be arguably four to five other guys out there on the field that can make plays. I know I am, and Coach and everybody else on this team has 100 percent confidence that those guys or myself are going to make the plays when needed."
Q:Is it anything extra for you knowing that you're going up against Rob Gronkowski?
KELCE: "No, not necessarily. I have no control over what that guy does and he has no control over what I do. Hats off to him. Rob has been an outstanding tight end, needless to say, all the stuff that he's been able to do in the league. It's one of those things where we're in a single elimination game, so I have no focus or no care for anything that that offense does while I'm not on the field or what that team does while I'm not on the field. It's one of those things where you just prepare for you and go out and do everything you can for your team."
Q:What kind of excitement do you have for the opportunity to go to New England and beat the defending champs?
KELCE: "Yeah, it's a statement game for us. It's a statement game for anybody that would come into the world champs' stadium and take on the Patriots and who they are. It's a challenge, but at the same time, we're excited for it and we're ready for it."
Q:Did you ever pattern your game after Rob Gronkowski?
KELCE: "No, I haven't patterned my game after anybody. It's just one of those things where I know who I am and I know what works for me. I've taken bits and pieces from a lot of guys over the amount of film that I've watched in my career. That being said, I feel like you can always take bits and pieces from everybody's game."
Q:What makes Doug Pederson a guy that could make the jump to becoming a head coach?
KELCE: "One, he's relatable. Two, the guy is brilliant. In terms of offensive minds, I don't know how much better they get. He understands what defensive coaches want to present, he understands strategy and things like that. For the most part, he's a relatable guy, guys want to play for him. It's hard to kind of describe that, his character makes it easy to be yourself and go out there and do the things you have to do."
Q:If Jeremy Maclin can't play, do you feel like you have to do more?
KELCE: "Not necessarily. I feel like if you have that on your shoulders, you don't go out there and be yourself. It's one of those things where I'm going to put in all the work that I have to out here on this field during the week and go out there and play my tail off for the guys next to me."
Q:You had your two biggest games against Houston. Do you look at those games and try to figure out what you did well?
KELCE: "The Patriots are a completely different team. They're probably going to try to come at me at a completely different way. It makes sense. From there, it's going out and doing everything I can to keep our drives going and get the ball in the end zone."
Q:How similar is their defense to the one you saw here last year?
KELCE: "Very similar in terms of the guys that they have. The scheme has changed a little bit from strategy – well at least in the recent games. Like I said, they're notorious for throwing anything at you. It's just one of those things where you have to be ready."
Q:When he first got here, did Andy Reid talk to you about the vision he had?
KELCE: "Ever since the day I walked in the building and from my first team meeting with him in our first year here, he made it clear that we're chasing the title. And that first year, we were chasing the title, that's why we came out with the 9-0 start in his first year in KC. It's one of those things where our vision has never dropped. We want the Lombardi (Trophy), we want the big dog. And right now, we're in a hunt to chase that thing down."
LB JUSTIN HOUSTON
Q: How's your knee doing?
HOUSTON: "It's doing good. A little sore from that brace. I think the brace beat me up more than anything."
Q: Was that what was going on when you came out of the game there for a little while?
HOUSTON: "Yeah, I kept banging my leg against the brace. If I felt comfortable playing without it, I'd go out there without it, but I feel safe with it."
Q: Are you going to practice today?
HOUSTON: "We're going to see when that time comes. I've got a couple minutes and the trainer will make that decision."
Q: Did you feel by the end of the game, you had that brace where you wanted it and that it was comfortable?
HOUSTON: "Playing with that thing is never comfortable. It's just something I've got to get used to."
Q: Had you ever played with a brace before?
HOUSTON: "My first time ever playing with a brace. Never had to."
Q: How do you feel you played on your first time back?
HOUSTON: "I feel like I played good on the run. On the pass rush, I felt rusty. I definitely had to knock some rust off. As the game went on, I definitely felt like I was doing better, but they did a great job blocking, especially with the chips."
Q: Was that what you experienced last time with the playoff game?
HOUSTON: "No, my biggest focus was conditioning. I felt like last time when I came back, my conditioning wasn't as good at it was supposed to be. This time, I felt like my conditioning was pretty good."
Q: With your knee injury, what kind of things did you do to stay in shape?
HOUSTON: "Ride the bike. Yeah, riding the bike can kind of help take pressure off, but you're still getting cardio in. Also, running in the pool, that helps with a lot."
Q: Are you licking your chops to go after Tom Brady?
HOUSTON: "I'm licking my chops at whatever quarterback is back there. It doesn't matter if it's Tom Brady back there or not. We, as a whole, we've got a goal in mind and that's what we're trying to do."
Q: How much harder does Tom Brady make your job, in terms of his ability to get rid of the ball so quick?
HOUSTON: "It makes my job very hard, but I trust the guys behind me that they're going to make him hold the ball and give us time to get there."
S ERIC BERRY
Q:How's the week gone?
BERRY:"It's going pretty good."
Q:How many hours have you spent looking at tape?
BERRY:"I can't really tell you. To me, I just look at it until I can't look anymore. If I feel like I'm not being productive, then I just stop and refresh. So I don't really know how much I've watched."
Q:So if you're at home watching film and start nodding off you just turn it off?
BERRY:"Yeah, that's with anything though. Like if I feel like I'm not being productive while I'm doing it I just stop and just wait until I'm ready to do it."
Q:Is there anything about that offense that makes you spend extra time preparing?
BERRY:"I think you have to be aware of who's over there, more so of just watching film and just understand what type of team they are, so I think that helps out a lot."
Q:What type of team do you think they are?
BERRY:"They're a smart team. They try to take advantage of your weaknesses and they're going to be watching a lot of film and they understand football. They have a great staff, so you just have to understand that they're going to bring their A-game and they've been down this road a few times. So you've just got to be aware of that."
Q:Is there any extra significance or excitement heading into this game?
BERRY:"No. All of this is exciting to me. We could be playing anybody, so I'm just happy to be here, happy to be here with my teammates and we're going to make the most out of this situation and just prepare like we've been preparing and move forward like that."
Q:How much of the defense's success has been because of the guys up front?
BERRY:"None of this stuff on defense - it doesn't move without them. So everything started up front, their intensity, their work ethic, the things that they bring to the table. We feed off of them and this is the time of the year where they've been stepping up and we're going to need them more. Even more this week."
Q:What kind of season is Sean Smith having?
BERRY:"He's having a great season, man. I think he's been playing very well, very smart, a lot of the plays that we make on the field don't show up as far as from a physical standpoint, but just him having his IQ out there on the field, I think it helps us out a lot in the secondary."
Q:What did his addition do for the defense once he came back?
BERRY:"I mean, it gave us a lot. Just like I said, his IQ is very high. I think a lot of people don't realize that and a lot of people don't know that, but I think it's just good having him out there. He has a lot of experience, he's played a lot of different types of wide receivers, a lot of different caliber of wide receivers. So it's just good having all of our pieces out there."
Q:What makes Rob Gronkowski such a tough matchup?
BERRY:"He's a competitor. And that alone with his size and just his ability as well, but at the end of the day, I feel like he's a big time competitor, so he's going to compete every chance he gets.
Q:Do you see any differences between the Tom Brady you saw last year and the one you're seeing this week?
BERRY:"I can't even remember. I just know he's going to bring his A-game so that's all I'm concerned about."
Q:Does it ever blow your mind that you're going up against a guy who you were watching win Super Bowls as a kid?
BERRY:"I mean, not really. I haven't' been really caught up into that. Like I said, he's going to bring his A-game ad he's a very good quarterback and I'm just focused on making sure our guys are ready to go and we're focused on our game plan and just understand that he's just a top-notch quarterback and just be ready to go."
Q:On Andy Reid.
BERRY:"Coach Reid, he's a heck of a coach, I couldn't say enough good things about him. A lot of the things that he taught me on the field, a lot of the values and little nuggets he gives throughout the day, those are a lot of the things that help me out in life. Like that 'fear nothing, attack everything,' - I got that from him. So that's where I got that from. It's just little things like that that he talks about and football and you can carry that stuff over into life. I pay attention to everything he says because he's been through all of the battles. I would say on and off the field. So it's truly a blessing to have him as a head coach."