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Warren and Wilfork on D&H 11/2

11.02.09 at 8:27 pm ET

Defensive linemen Ty Warren and Vince Wilfork stopped by the Dale & Holley show to talk bye weeks, Miami’s wildcat formation and the importance of nose tackles. Catch the complete audio here and some of the highlights  below.

We didn’t see you finish the game, we saw you start the game. But the fact that we’re talking indicates you’re feeling OK.
– I’m feeling OK, I was the subject of some friendly fire. I won’t say, but I’m all good. It happens. I’m feeling pretty good about my situation.

Did the bye come at a good time for you?
– No question. I like the byes that fall in the middle of the schedule. The last bye I remember like that was in my rookie year and it was much needed. I think it fell right before the 10th week. I like those bye weeks that fall in the middle. [Roger] Goodell, if you’re a fan of WEEI, I hope you’re listening. I’m just a little guy on the totem pole, but I’m trying to insert my opinion.

What games did you watch?
– I flipped back and forth between Miami and the Jets and ….

Who did you root for?
– You hope it’s a draw! [laughs] I watched the first drive of each team and then I flipped back and forth between that game and … Tells you how much I was paying attention.

Did you watch Brett [Favre] go back to Green Bay?
– I did watch that. It was a good game.

How do you view Brett and his back and forth with football?
– Personally I don’t agree with it. I know there are some guys out there that feel the same way, whether they say it or don’t say it. But for some reason, for some people, they feel like he’s earned the right to do that. And rightfully so, he’s done a lot in this league, but at the same time I don’t think there is really any guy that plays this game that spends time around this game, pretty much year-round, that would say, ‘Yeah, I think it’s cool that he does that.’ I think it’s cool if I’m able to do that at some point in my career. That’s my thoughts on it.

You guys have had a chance to see the “wildcat” offense before. When see the Miami wildcat of this year, it looks like a really explosive running offense.
– Yeah, I think it’s something they have obviously spent more time on it this year. When you have the repetitions they’ve had, and I’m sure the repetitions they’ve taken during the offseason, it looks like you see it. They’re executing it real crisp, getting done what they need to get done with it and we expect them to do the same thing when they come in. They gave us problems last year, the first time we played them and then the second time we were able to answer. I thought the Jets did a good job with them yesterday. Hopefully, we can take a little bit of what hurt us last year and what helped us in our second game and what occurred over the course of these games this past season and help us overcome that attack.

You can tell Ronnie Brown runs harder than your average back. How would you compare trying to tackle him versus your average hard-working running back?
– He definitely runs with a purpose. He’s got some weight behind him, he’s a load. Maybe it’s a gift he has as opposed to other guys but he’s definitely different than most.

With an average back, you wrap him up and he’s coming down with you, With Brown it looks like trying to corral a Bronco, you know?
– Yeah, with some guys you know if you wrap your arms around them and you only have to drive your legs, they’re coming to the ground. Some guys you swat their legs, obviously my swat is different than a cornerback swat, but with some guys you swat their legs and they’ll fall down. Then there are guys are like Ronnie Brown you have to wrap up and drive your legs to bring him down because he’s driving his after contact. That is what he brings to the table and what you have to look forward to when you play him.

Would you rather people run at you, or away from you?
– I think the most frustrating thing is when you don’t get as much action. I’ve had a mixture of both this year. It’s just real frustrating when you get nothing coming your way. It means you’re probably not in on a bunch of tackles, which you’d like to be. Most difficult: I think running away.

If they’re running at you, you feel like you’d hold up in a physical matchup?
– I feel fine taking on pretty much anything coming my way because I feel like I’ve prepared to try to defend whatever they may do. Unless they have thrown another wrinkle in there, I’m always looking at the players on the sideline and I’ll look at the course of the whole first half and see what they’ve done differently than what I’ve seen on film. And I can come back and kind of predict what a team might want to do, based on their backfield sets, their wide receiver sets … If you look at me, sometimes I’m the last one down in my stance just because I’m observing the whole formation and personnel, even though the personnel is given to us by coaches.

When you think about football, you always hear about these receivers who say “give me the ball.” Do you ever campaign for more snaps?
– I would never go to Bill [Belichick], maybe in my younger days, and say, ‘I would like more snaps.’ But knowing how Bill likes to make sure guys are fresh … [Vince Wilfork walks in]

Peter King gave his defensive player of the week to [Aubrayo] Franklin from San Francisco. Do you think people don’t really grasp how important the nose tackle position is?
– Of course, I had to learn that early in my career, but it comes with the territory. Being a nose tackle, you have to be a grinder. You have to fight double and triple [teams] sometimes. It’s a lot of hard work. I think football people, who understand football, they know how important a nose tackle is or why certain people make plays. But the average person really doesn’t care. They want to see the sacks, the interceptions, they want to see the TFLs [tackles for loss]. For the football fans, who know the game, they understand the importance and the role and you can’t look at stats too much. Just hearing the stat you brought out, that was a hell of a game for him. I saw Pat Williams with a sack. When I see nose tackles make plays, I get excited. Because you don’t understand what we go through. A tackle for no gain for me, or a tackle for a one-yarder, that’s big for me. Some people may look at me like, ‘What is he jumping up and down for?’ I’m excited about that. But it comes with the territory, you have to accept it.

Do you take it personally when you don’t get double-teamed?
– On certain plays. You have to understand how they’re trying to attack you. A lot of time I get single blocked if the play is away, or if it’s a scheme run and they don’t expect the running back to cut back to where the nose tackle should be. You can’t go into a game every play and double a nose tackle or double a certain guy. We all get paid. If you can’t hold up a block for a second or so there will be problems. You just have to understand how you’re being attacked, what the offense is trying to do to you and you go from there. I see a lot. I see double teams, single blocks, sometimes they screw up and don’t block me. Who knows, you can get anything in a given day.

You must be able to sniff out patterns. Like if you’re getting double-teamed all day, then you get single blocked you must know it’s the scheme-run, right?
– Of course. I like to look at formations. Formations give away tendencies. So when I approach the game, I want to know about personnel groups. Do they like two back or one back? How many tight ends are in the game? Then I go to formations. Are they an I-near team or an I-far team? Is the tight end on the line of scrimmage or off? Then you go from there. You go to what they like to run in those situations. When I get in the game and I see a formation, I say, ‘OK, I should get this block.’ If I don’t get that block I know something else is coming and if it wasn’t what I thought it was I go back to the sideline and look at the pictures and try to figure it out. Most teams don’t come out with different game plans, maybe different plays but we’ve seen it before. It’s not like, ‘We’re going to do this play and next week we’re going to do something totally different.’ It’s not like that, teams have bread and butter plays. Short yardage teams, like to run at this play, maybe they like to throw the ball. Going forward, I think everybody is at that level that they know the plays they like, they know what they can go to if they’re in a jam. You won’t see anything different. You know if they like to run the ball, you know if they like to pass the ball. First down, like to do ‘this.’ So, we are at the stage where every team is at that same standpoint where, ‘Hey this is our bread and butter. We need to improve on this and go forward with the running game or passing game.’

The first time you played against the wildcat, you looked a little confused by it, but the second time you knew what you were doing. You have to expect that Miami is going to have some version of the wildcat that you haven’t seen before, right?
– Well, yeah. At this point of the season, everyone has played seven or eight games. Like Vince said, everybody has pretty much what they’re going to do. We’ve seen what Miami has done over the course of these past several weeks and Miami has seen what we’ve done. They’re going to look at what we’ve done and try to narrow it down. If we’ve been in a 4-3 [defense] more than a 3-4 [defense] on certain downs, they’ll go back and say, ‘If these guys are in a 4-3, this play in the wildcat looks better than this other play.’ Everything is pretty much committed at this point. It’s only right that we throw a wrinkle in there, that they throw a wrinkle in there, but how many wrinkles can you throw in? The only time that you’re really successful is when you stick to what you do best. If they have been doing [plays] “XYZ” from the wildcat, then there is a good chance they’re going to do [plays] “XYZ” with a few wrinkles but three, four, or five wrinkles because you’re getting away from what you do and hurting yourself. But you can expect a little something different because pretty much, at this point in the season, everyone has shown their hand.

Do you still have to take formation tests? Like What plays can you expect from “this” formation?
– Oh yeah, oh yeah. One thing I like about Pepper Johnson, our D-line coach, is that he tries to teach you the history of football. He’ll come up with a bonus question like ‘who is the all-time sack leader for this franchise?’ So he’s teaching the history of the game as well. Sometimes I look at it and I’m like, ‘Wow, I didn’t know that.’ So he always throws something in there for us to give us some background on a team and the NFL. We get those tests every week, there won’t be a week we come in and don’t have a test.

Did you ever think, when you were in college, there would be this much studying in the NFL?
– Well, there is the “20 hours” rule in the NCAA. My coach, in college, would always say … [extended laughter]
Wilfork – I think I was prepared well coming from college. We had coaches who had careers in the NFL, some had coached in the NFL. They brought some of that to us, like the film session and breaking down film. When I got here, it wasn’t a shock for me. A lot of people may get here, as a rookie, and they get that speech, ‘They hit harder, they run faster.’ I didn’t have that transition because I played against fast, we played fast, we hit hard, I got hit hard. So it was easier for me to adapt at this level because of my background.

Read More: Ty Warren, Vince Wilfork, wildcat,



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