Josh McDaniels Q&A, 12/21

Posted on December 21, 2008 
Filed Under Uncategorized


  • Q: How important was it to get an early lead with this type of weather?
  • JM: Any time that the weather is an issue you want to try to get out in front as quick as you can. We talked a lot about that during the week. I thought we played a complimentary game with the defense getting off the field, good punt returns and field position. I felt like we were in their end…had to be the whole first half. We didn’t really have to drive the ball a long way until the end when we had the two-minute drive. Getting ahead is important in that kind of condition because a 7-point lead seems like a 10-point lead or a 14-point lead seems like 21 points. Getting ahead of them was important. 
  • Q: On Randy Moss’ touchdown catch, what did you see in the first half to make you call that play to start the second half?
  • JM: We had been in that personnel grouping and formation quite a bit in the first half and they were kind of starting to overplay some things. We felt like we could take advantage of their aggressiveness on the back side and it worked exactly how we had hoped it would. The lineman got out there and had some good blocks. Anytime he [Randy Moss] is in the open field with a bunch of people chasing him, I am not sure that they are going to catch him. It worked well.”
  • Q: Can you talk about playing Russ Hochstein at fullback?
  • JM: Russ [Hochstein] is like what we talk about with all our players, ‘the more you can do, the more you can do to help us.’ Russ’ versatility has been important for us in the past. Certainly it showed up today by playing fullback and tight end. He has played up front on the line at multiple positions. Anytime, you play in a weather game like that you want to be able to grind out yards and get bigger, which is what we did in that grouping. Russ did a great job and was very effective in his role today.
  • Q: You guys were able to throw it deep a couple of times even with this weather…
  • JM: Yeah, Matt [Cassel] talked about it in the pregame that his grip on the ball was fine. The balls weren’t all that wet, even though it was snowing and all that. As long as the wind is not a significant issue, we don’t really see in changing the passing game all that much. We kind of call the game the way we wanted to call it.
  • Q: Have the last two weeks reminded you how successful the offense was last year?
  • JM: I don’t think it reminds you of last year. Each game is different. I think this team is progressing. We keep the pressure on them and try to improve every week. I think the offense has shown some signs of getting better in different areas. We still can’t punch it in quite as many times as we would like in the red zone. We are getting better and making strides every week. Hopefully we can continue that this week.
  • Q: Did you guys like the match up Jabar Gaffney was getting?
  • JM: Yeah, Jabar [Gaffney] had some one-on-one coverage. I don’t know if it was as much of a match up thing as it was about those comeback routes and curl routes on the snow are tough to defend as long as you can keep your feet as a route runner. Jab did a great job of keeping his feet underneath him. I don’t think we had a lot of guys on ground period today which is a credit to our receivers, tight ends and running backs. Jab was running good routes and they had to give him a cushion. 
  • Q: How frustrating is that you guys could go 11-5 and not make the playoffs?
  • JM: To me, we can control what we can control. That is really all we can do at this point. There is no frustration with what other people are doing. We can only try to win one more game against Buffalo. If they tell us that we are playing the next week that would be great. We are going to prepare hard this week just like we have all year.
  • Q: Has there been any frustration at any point this season with how you guys have played?
  • JM: No, I think every year is different. This year has been a challenge just like the rest of the years have been. You work through any adversities. We have lost games along the way but the team is improving and our offense is getting better. We are trying to play our best football at the end of the year which is always the goal when you start the year.
  • Q: Is it kind of amazing that you guys could finish 11-5 and still not make the playoffs?
  • JM: We just want to try and get 11 wins and see if it is good enough. I don’t even know all the scenarios yet but the best we can do in the regular season right now is 11 victories. We are going to work our butt off to try and get that.
  • Q: When you woke up this morning and saw the weather did you think 47 points would be a possibility today?
  • JM: What you do tell the players in these types of conditions is that there are quite a few big plays to be had on a field like this. You can take a short gain and make a huge play out of it. We had a couple of those today. We talked to them about catching run plays on this kind of a surface. Our guys did a good job of keeping their feet and doing something with the ball after they had it. We only go out there for one reason and that is to score touchdowns. They guys did a good job today.
  • Q: How much of a factor is snow in the passing game?
  • JM: Snow is not really a huge factor in that to tell you the truth. It is more about the wind and whether or not the ball is significantly wet. Neither of those things were a factor today. The wind really never picked up very much. As long as it is snowy, you feel like the offense has an advantage because of the footing because we know what we are doing and they have to react to us. We don’t really change our game plan that much unless the wind or rain would tell us to do that.
  • Q: When you have that much success, do you sense this kind of performance might happen during the week leading up to the game?
  • JM: I think you feel confident going into the game if you have a good week of practice. We have strung together quite a few weeks here where we feel good about what we have done on Monday through Friday. I think the players are feeling strongly about how that is paying off on Sunday. We talked about is as soon as we came in here that we are getting ready to go again on Tuesday, Wednesday and Christmas. [We want] three good days of practice again because we realize how important it has been to us this week.
  • Q: How is it being in unfamiliar territory by not controlling your own destiny?
  • JM: We can only control what we can control. I know that is kind of cliché but it what somebody else does I know will impact us in a positive or negative way at some point but for us it is win in Buffalo, beat Buffalo and prepare well to beat Buffalo or nothing else really matters. It is a one-game deal for us and hopefully after Sunday we can say we got 11 wins.
  • Q: Can you talk about the versatility of guys like Matthew Slater and Russ Hochstein?
  • JM: Versatility is one of the things that we really stress on our team. Offensively, you saw some guys play some different roles for us today. Russ [Hochstein] was our tight end and in the backfield. [Matthew] Slater, [Sam] Aiken and those guys were all out there. The more that those guys can help us offensively and play on the special teams is a credit to them that they are able to contribute in more than one phase of the game. That always helps us. At this point in the year, you are dealing with injuries and guys that aren’t active so to have more of those guys is better for us.
  • Q: For the most part you guys have performed pretty well on offense the past two months. Do you feel like you guys are peaking?
  • JM: I think we are improving. With the players, it goes back to practice. The players are seeing the dividends that good weeks and days of practice are having. It is a credit to the way they are working. They come in on Wednesday morning and we are working hard Wednesday through Saturday evening. The more of those we can string together in practice, the better our performances have been. Our players see that. Hopefully we are building right now to our best performances of the year. We feel like we are playing good football and we still have room to improve.
  • Q: How much variety and flexibility is in the game plan compared to this point last year?
  • JM: Every week for us is ‘what do we need to do to beat that team.’ That hasn’t changed. Our philosophy is the same. If we need to spread them out, tighten down a formation, change personnel groupings, go empty, get in the shotgun or whatever it is we are doing it. There is nothing that we are going to hold back. We are going to try and do everything we can to. That is what we have done in the past and that is what we are going to do next week. 
  • Q: How can you explain what Matt Cassel has been able to since he first became starter?
  • JM: It is a tribute to him. The kid has worked extremely hard since he has been here. I have been with him all four years that he has been here. He never complained. He never did anything other than come to work and prepare hard even though he knew he wasn’t going to play while Tommy [Brady] was starting. He is ready every week. What a tribute to him that it has paid off. He has been able to progress and the thing that he never really had before was the game experience. Now he is getting an opportunity to show what that means to him as a player. Some of the things that he made mistakes on earlier in the year, he has fixed and corrected. Now he is going out there and playing really good football.

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