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Tony Sparano Conference call, 12/2

12.02.09 at 6:09 pm ET
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Courtesy Patriots media relations, here is the transcript of Wednesday’s conference call with New England media:

Q: The Saints did a pretty good job of containing Wes Welker and Randy Moss, which not many teams have been able to do. Is that any kind of blueprint for you and what did they do so well against those two guys?

TS: Well, I don’t know if there is a blueprint for us that’s any different than really anybody else is trying to do. With those guys I’ve seen some double coverage in there, I’ve seen a little bit of rule coverage where the rule and the one guy or the rule and the other guy [are] trying to double both receivers at times. Those are all things that have been done. That’s not the first time that Randy or Wes have been double teamed in ball games and they’ve found ways to win in most of those situations.

Q: How important is the pass rush in stopping those guys?

TS: I think the pass rush is key. You have to be able get some pressure on the quarterback in those situations, but you’ve got to be careful with what you did with Tom [Brady]. Tom is such an intelligent player and he gets protections lined up very well and if you’re trying to come after him and you’re trying to get pressure on him and he gets the thing lined up, you’re going to get hurt. That happened to us a little bit in game one.

Q: How important is it to get him Brady off his spot – as a lot of coaches and analysts like to talk about, getting him out of the pocket and closing off at least part of the field?

TS: I think it’s important. I really do. I think that Tom gets pretty comfortable in there like most quarterbacks do, and if you can get him off his spot, you can get him to move a little bit and certainly will open some of those patient throws that he does such a great job with, maybe are a little bit tougher to make.

Q: What was it you saw, specifically in the last game, with the Patriots’ secondary and what do you think allowed some of those big plays to happen?

TS: Well, I thought I’ve seen – first of all I know this through experience because we’ve played them – but New Orleans’ skill people are outstanding. They do a great job with run after the catch and I think that a couple plays remain there. I think Drew Brees did a great job of putting the ball on the back shoulder in a few situations and those guys kind of ran with it. There were a couple of opportunities there to maybe get them on the ground and it looked like those guys made some yards after the catch. Then of course the one big play there, obviously, was a blown coverage.

Q: When you’re looking at film and you’re trying to judge and you see a performance like the Patriots played against the Jets where they get the four picks, and then they have on like Monday night, how do you as a coach involved in the game plan and all that decide how to attack them as far as which secondary you’re going to see?

TS: Well, from our end, one of the more important things is that we have to worry about what we can do here with our people and what we do best when we’re trying to attack them. I don’t think – this is a copycat league, there’s no question about it; People try to steal other people’s ideas. They have to see it – a little bit – of what you’re trying to do. I know the Patriots pretty well and that coaching staff and I know that team is going to be hitting on all cylinders when we play on Sunday.

Q: I’ve seen you guys on TV some, but if you could talk about how you’ve adjusted to the Wildcat with out Ronnie Brown there, does Ricky Williams just do what he did or how have you guys adjusted to that?

TS: Well, Ricky’s always been the other guy involved in that, taking snaps in the Wildcat, even when Ronnie was here and Ricky and Ronnie would switch spots on occasion. But Ricky understands the whole package, and we obviously have other running backs that can come into the game and do Ricky’s job. So that’s pretty much the way we’ve been going about it, we certainly figured out that all hands on deck is going to be important. Everybody kind of understands their roles there and it’s not one of those things that just because Ronnie’s not out there that we don’t do it. It depends on the game, depends on the situation during the game, but Ricky’s capable of doing it.

Q: Because of that, have you asked Chad Henne to assume a little more responsibility in the offense?

TS: No, we haven’t asked him to do any of that. Obviously, when you lose a player of Ronnie Brown’s caliber, that’s a large part of our offense. It has to get delegated someplace else. Some of it goes on Chad’s plate, some of it goes to Ricky and some to [Anthony] Fasano, and then the receivers and some of these people. So everybody’s got a hand in picking up the slack, and we’ve done a pretty good job of that in Ronny’s absence, short of last ball game, which even in that game we did some pretty good things with the football.

Q: Earlier, Jason Taylor said that the defense hadn’t really been doing their job in terms of finishing games off. What have you seen from your defense that has kind of showed itself in a kind of inability to finish games?

TS: One of the things that I think is important is, first of all, I’ve got to take some of the responsibility for that. I’ve got to do a better job of preparing the guys. It’s everybody, it’s players, it’s coaches, we’ve just got to a do a better job that way in preparing and making sure when we get to the fourth quarter, we’re finishing some of these ball games. I do think that fundamentals come into play in some of the techniques, some of the things that we do for three quarters of the ball game as we get into the fourth quarter, maybe guys are getting a little bit tired, a little bit fatigued. We lose sight of some of those things. It’s not my team and my team’s effort; My team plays hard all the time, but it is some of the details that’s probably what I can put my finger on the most. We also have to give credit to the other team in some of these games. They’ve done a great job.

Q: I see you guys had pretty remarkable health last year. Are you satisfied with the way your team has dealt with the injuries?

TS: I really am. I’ll tell you what, I’m really proud of the guys down there. We’ve lost some pretty good players here, but nobody’s going to take it easy on you and nobody’s going to cry for you or any of those things, so we don’t use them as excuses. Part of what we do here is we have to develop young players and it just gets them out there and we get to see some of these guys play. So, I’ve been pleased with how some of these guys have stepped up. We had Channing Crowder down for a couple of weeks, Reggie Torbor hopped in there [and] did a great job for us. Will Allen [is] out, and the two young corners are playing out there. They’re competing and getting a great education out there every single week. [Jason] Ferguson goes down and [Paul] Soliai steps in. These guys have done a pretty good job for us, teaching us an awful a lot about our football team in the future here.

Q: When you study the Patriots on film from week to week, are they more inclined to change what they do on offense to match up as opposed to maybe getting their own identity of their own approach week to week?

TS: No, I think that the Patriots do what they do. I think that they do what they do really on both sides of the football. I don’t think that they particularly care what we do. I think they’re going to be good at what they do. That’s a little bit about how we are here. We have to be concerned with what we do with our players and how we can do it. People, ‘the Wildcat this and the Wildcat…’ well, it’s something we do and we feel like we do it pretty well so it’s a little bit of a part of us. I think that the Patriots are that way and they have a specific style and they’re not going to change based on what we do. They’re going to try to do what they do and try to force the tempo that way.

Q: How has Ted Ginn, Jr. bounced back, if at all, from the early season criticism he faced?

TS: I think he’s bounced back very very well. I think that you look at what probably – the time that Teddy was dealing with the most criticism from the outside was prior to our Jets game, and then he came back in that game and returned two kicks for touchdowns, and was just critical and pivotal in the result of that football game. Little by little, he’s been getting better and better each week and he’s made some plays for us. The guy, I believe, going into last week was leading the league in returns and was catching the ball pretty well out there for us when given the opportunity.

Q: He’s obviously an elite physical player. What does he need to do to take it to the next level as a wide receiver?

TS: One of the things is, sometimes you forget that these guys are young and Teddy’s a young player. I know from his end when we came in here as a coaching staff to where we are right now, Teddy’s taken tremendous strides. He’s grown an awful lot that way in releases and understanding coverages and just the game slowing down for him so he can play faster. Those things have all been important. I think he needs to continue to do those things here, which [Wide Receivers Coach] Karl Dorrell does a great job with him and we’re getting better and better with him.

Q: Just the fact that you can’t afford to lose another game, does that have any effect on your team?

TS: Oh sure. I don’t think it has an effect on our team, but we’re aware of it. We understand the situation that we put ourselves in and we put ourselves in this situation awhile ago when we lost the first three,so we had to fight our tails off to get back to .500. And then we went down there and lost the ball game last week – in a game that we didn’t play well in it and Buffalo did. When you’re playing these games every week, every one of them matters; every one of them is important. And from our end we understand it’s another division game. It’s a very big game for us. We know that we’re running out of chances here, but we still have a chance, so we understand that as well.

Q: On Vontae Davis, when you guys looked at the tape and graded him out, how did you guys think he performed? I know he was on Randy Moss a lot when you guys were up here. What kind of job do you think he did in the final analysis?

TS: Well, I would think when I watch the game and go through all of the plays during the course of the game, and Vontae – that game he had broken up a ball there and had gotten a little dinged on his hip, so he was out for a couple series, but then came back in. I thought the guy competed really hard against a tremendous, tremendous player. He had a couple pass breakups. He had an interception in there. Randy caught a ball for a touchdown – I believe it was a touchdown – on the right sideline where Vontae really had outstanding coverage on him. I’ve just seen Randy go up and do that several times, where he can win some of those situations. Now earlier in the game, Vontae made a play on one of those situations. So, Vontae’s a competitive guy and he loves to compete. He loves to be out there and play against the best players. I thought he did a pretty good job over the course of that game. Obviously, Randy made some plays in that game and we understand that.

Q: Do you take the approach that those two corners aren’t rookies anymore that you have starting out there?

TS: Yeah, I think that that’s an understatement. They’re not rookies anymore. These guys have gone out there and they’ve battled against, every week, there’s another guy like that. Last week it was Terrell [Owens] and this week it’s Randy and Wes and that group. So these guys don’t get many days off. They’re in a corner [of] our division [and] our league that doesn’t get many days off against the receivers nowadays.

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