Q. Last Tuesday in talking about the win over the Chiefs you said it was "the guys' real first opportunity to respond to the adversity that the game of football presents." Could you expand on what you meant by that?**
A. We had seven inactives in the game, and there wasn't a decision to be made. The seven inactives were unavailable to us. We were short from an injury standpoint, and it's great to see guys rise up and deliver, an expansion of roles, if you will. Jordan Dangerfield getting an opportunity to start at safety. B.J. Finney getting an opportunity to start at guard. Guys who were usually special-teamers now assuming bigger roles in terms of offense and defense. Then guys who may have been inactives, like Steve Johnson, getting an opportunity to put a helmet on and run down and try to make a splash play on kickoff with a tackle at the 12-yard line. It's good to see that with all work that all the men have put in, they get an opportunity to have it pay off for them.
Q. Does that ability to respond have to develop each year, regardless of the carryover of personnel?
A. It absolutely does, because a lot of the guys I mentioned are relatively new to us. Steve Johnson being relatively new to us. Jordan Dangerfield has been a part of our program and B.J. Finney has been a part of our program, but this has been their first year on the active roster. It's a little different to hear it going on around you than it is to be actively involved in it yourself. No question that Dangerfield and Finney have been around it in the past, but they were a part of it this time, and the knowing that's associated with doing – they're better for it, and we're collectively better because of it.
Q. Responding to adversity in the form of injuries requires guys to step in and perform for those who are hurt. Do you want the other guys to try to pick up their play for the overall group, or do you just want each guy to do his job and not worry about what's going on elsewhere?
A. I'm a do-your-job type of a guy. I think we sell these professionals short when we assume that because they're a backup they're incapable. Often times all the guy needs is an opportunity, and we've all seen many stories associated with that.
Q. Another quality a contending team must develop is the ability to handle success and stay focused. Can that be more difficult than responding to adversity?
A. It is, because you don't get to sit in these rooms that encompass the 32 cities that make up the National Football League if you're not capable of overcoming adversity. All of these guys, globally speaking, in the NFL have overcome major injury, have overcome disappointment and setbacks associated with chasing their dreams. That's why they're here. Their ability to handle the success of being here ultimately defines the journey that is their professional football career.
Q. What's required to handle success in the proper way?**
A. You have to be somewhat even-keeled. You can't be surprised by great fortune. You can't be surprised by quality play. You prepare, you anticipate it, you deliver it, and you repeat the process. That mentality is something that's critical to finding an acceptable consistency in terms of level of play.
Q. You also said at your news conference that you were going to ask for clarity in the area of celebration penalties? What did you find out?
A. I heard that there's going to be a video that I have yet to see. I'm sure at some point we'll get a video that highlights some of the talking points and things that are critical for them. For me, all I'm looking for is consistency from officiating crew to officiating crew. What might be acceptable to one crew is proven to be unacceptable to another crew, and I just want to have some direction in terms of what to tell the guys from a coaching standpoint.
Q. All of these kinds of rules changes or points of emphasis usually come through the Competition Committee, and you're a member of the Competition Committee. In the discussion about this within the Committee, what was the goal?
A. They want a quality, professional product, and I'm in agreement with that. But, the rules are one thing; the interpretation of the rules is another. Rules are just words on a page, and there is no gray in that. But once you start talking about 17, 18 different officiating crews and their interpretations of those words, therein lies the need for continual discussion and understanding, and that's what we're seeking.
Q. With respect to Artie Burns, your rookie cornerback, you have credited him with doing extra work to make up what he missed during camp and the preseason because of an injury. Did you know he was going to be this kind of a guy when you drafted him, or is it something you've learned since?
A. He was really good friends with Anthony Chickillo, a second-year player for us from the University of Miami. (In 2015) I was down at Anthony Chickillo's pro day, and as always I was looking around to see who the up-and-coming players are, and I was talking to Chickillo. I asked him, "Who do I have to come back for next year?" He said, "Artie Burns. Coach, he's the hardest working guy I know, etc., etc." It has proven to be true in terms of his willingness to work and his competitive spirit.
Now, it's an ongoing process with (Burns), and it will continue to be an ongoing process, but I like some of the things that I see.
Q. When you ask a player something like that, how do you know he's not just trying to sell you one of his friends?**
A. I get a lot of that, but over the years I've learned to decipher what's real and what's not. It's pretty evident to me. I may not be able to explain it concisely in words, but it's a feel from doing this job for a number of years.
Q. The Jets are 1-3, and you're a 3-1 team that's playing them at home and coming off a 29-point victory. But you also have a bunch of injured players and may have to do some serious shuffling along the offensive line. So is this a situation where your team has to overcome adversity, or a game where it has to handle some recent success?
A. It's both. And I think that's the appropriate answer to that question and the appropriate line of discussion. Week in and week out, regardless of record, this is the National Football League. There are no homecoming games in this thing. These guys are quality professionals. You look along the Jets defensive line, they have quality first-rounders. We have our work cut out for us, but we have our work cut out for us every week. I don't subscribe to that let-down theory. We have some adversity, but there's always some adversity. The big thing is we take the tools that are provided to us today and go out and do the job, and that is our intention.
Q. Staying with the offensive line, Maurkice Pouncey is an All-Pro center, and he was talking about maybe playing some tackle, and he said he was willing. With a guy like him who's an All-Pro, is that kind of a move something you ask him to do, or talk about with him in advance, or does he come to you and volunteer?
A. You ask him, but it's not a question we haven't asked him before. Unfortunately. There have been some lean circumstances in the past. He knows that he is the disaster-disaster tackle, as we call it. And he's capable.
Q. What skills does he have that might encourage you to use him at tackle instead of somebody else if the situation arose?
A. He is just such a high-pedigree center that those traits are applicable to the tackle position, in the same ways that if you had a highly-pedigreed safety, their attributes might be applicable to cornerback. I'm sure that was an interesting discussion 20-some years ago when they brought Carnell Lake in and asked him to play corner when Rod Woodson got hurt. It's probably a similar discussion. Carnell Lake was a uniquely talented safety, and that unique talent probably spilled over and allowed those coaches to seriously consider and have those discussions and make that move. Really it's a similar discussion when you're talking about Maurkice Pouncey at the center and right tackle position.
Q. When talking about rushing the passer a couple of weeks ago, you said the coaches have to do a good job of putting guys in position to win the one-on-one matchups. Can you do that with an offensive lineman, and what are some of the common strategies that could be employed?
A. We can work to minimize one-on-one matchups, and that's one of the things you're capable of doing on that side of the ball. You can't necessarily dictate what the one-on-one matchups are, but we can work to keep positional guys off the islands, and we do and we will in this football game.
Q. Does that become an 11-man job?
A. It certainly is. If we're focused on helping the right tackle position and that means Al Villanueva has got a good work day cut out for him at left tackle, because you can't help both. If you're using chips in protections, then you're getting fewer people out in the route, and that puts more of the onus on the people who are out running the routes in terms of getting open. Because if you only have three out in the route instead of five, those three can be double-teamed. It's a global discussion. It definitely involves all 11 people. All 11 people aren't necessarily privy to the conversation nor need to be, but they just need to have an understanding and an appreciation for the adjustments that are going on around them.
Q. You've already played the Bengals and the Eagles, and both of those teams have talented defensive lines. Today, it will be the Jets defensive line. How do the Jets utilize their front four compared to the way the Bengals and Eagles do?
A. Very similarly. They're a four-man rush team. They're individually talented, but the rush well collectively together. Their games are exceptional. They have quality players inside and on the edge.