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Wilfork, Lewis on D&H: Rams loss looked worse in person

08.30.10 at 1:53 pm ET
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Patriots nose tackle Vince Wilfork and defensive lineman Damione Lewis joined the Dale & Holley show on Monday morning to talk about Thursday night’s disappointing loss to the Rams and what will need to be improved in the final preseason game against the Giants.

‘€œYou can’t be pissed off or nothing like that because we didn’t do what we’re supposed to do. At the same time, we looked at the film and corrected the mistakes,’€ Wilfork said. ‘€œHopefully, we can go out Thursday against the Giants and put it together and move forward. It would be very encouraging if we can do that. We can’t take another step back this week and I don’t think that we will. I think we’re ready and we’re going to see what’s going to happen on Thursday.’€

Lewis also touched on the possibility of the NFL expanding the regular season schedule from 16 games to 18 games.

“If we’re going to play 18 games then we should be paid to play 18 games,” Lewis said. “I don’t see how you can schedule us for 18 and then turn around and pay us for 16. … If they’re going make two preseason games regular season games then they’re not preseason games anymore, they’re regular season games. We get regular checks during the regular season.”

Below are the highlights of the conversations. To hear the interviews, visit the Dale & Holley audio on demand page.

Vince Wilfork:

Tom Brady said earlier that Bill Belichick jumped on you guys for Thursday’€™s performance. I would think on the defensive side of the ball, you probably deserved whatever he was saying.

I mean at this point, we’€™ve been through a bunch of practices, been in training camp for a while. Things we can do better, we need to do better. Things we put in from Day One, we need to know how to run it and go forward from there. You can’t be pissed off or nothing like that because we didn’t do what we’re supposed to do. At the same time, we looked at the film and corrected the mistakes. Hopefully, we can go out Thursday against the Giants and put it together and move forward. It would be very encouraging if we can do that. We can’t take another step back this week and I don’t think that we will. I think we’re ready and we’re going to see what’s going to happen on Thursday.

What were your thoughts immediately after the game the next day?

Well, first of all, I wanted to know exactly what happened. When you play almost two games in one, you really have to sit back and question what the problem was and did I do what I needed to do to help my ballclub? Of course I didn’€™t sleep well knowing that going into the third preseason game we wanted to attack that game as a regular season game with the game preparation and guys playing basically the whole game. When you go out and don’€™t accomplish that, of course you have doubts in your mind and you want to go out and get back to work. So I got back to work the next day and looked at the film and it actually wasn’€™t as bad as I thought it was. It appeared worse in person when I was out there, but actually looking at the game, it wasn’€™t that bad.

We’re not far off from where we need to be. There are just some little things that we need to tighten up and I think one thing that killed us was penalties. Getting off the field on third down, we need to do a better job. Defensively, we need to do a better job on first and second down to keep them in the third and long. It’s a team effort and we understand that. Hopefully we can make strides and get that thing worked out this week going into the regular season with a good head on our shoulders.

As a team that preaches on being smart, what happened with the two dumb roughing the passer penalties?

To be honest with you, as a defender, it’€™s basically you really can’€™t touch the quarterback. I don’€™t care if you hit him when you think it’€™s legal or if you hit him on an interception because he’€™s trying to block. Me, personally, I don’€™t want to touch the quarterback. I’€™ve said it once, they overprotect those guys, they make the most money in this game, everything is built around your quarterback so of course they’€™re going to try to protect them. At the same time, you have to play football and you get frustrated from a defensive standpoint when you’€™re going in to sack a quarterback, you have to think about how you have to hit him. You can’€™t do this, you can’€™t do that. Whatever it is, it is. I mean it’€™s a rule and we have to play by the rules.

Like I said, me personally, I try to stay as far away as possible. If I get in that predicament with a quarterback there and a sack, I don’€™t know what I’€™d do but I’€™m a football player first so instincts take over. There were a couple roughing the passer penalties. Like Tully [Banta-Cain], that was very questionable but at the same time they said he put his head down. Alright well, you have to live with it. Learn from it and move forward. That’€™s something we have to do. Eliminate the penalties, eliminate the bad football and start playing smarter and tougher. I think we’€™ll be okay.

Why is this year going to be different on getting off the field after third downs?

I think we have to put more emphasis and everybody has to understand, when we’€™re on third down, we have to get off the field. Third down, there are a couple things people do, know what they do, know who the go-to guy is, know if they like a sub running those situations. I think we just have to be more alert. We were close but we just didn’€™t come up with the plays. We know what we’€™re doing but we just have to make the plays and I think that’€™s one thing when looking at the film, I felt better seeing how close we were to those plays, but we just didn’€™t come up with them. Now, we have to take it another step and just come up with those plays.

I think upfront can help the back. If we put more pressure upfront and force the quarterback to stay on his first or second read, you can’€™t have a quarterback that’€™s going from his first read all the way to his fourth and back to his first. You can’€™t win like that. We understand that and we understand third downs are teamwork. That’€™s the front seven working with the back, the back working with us. We’€™ll get it worked out, hopefully we’€™ll get it worked out this week so we don’€™t have to deal with this the rest of the season.

Pressuring the quarterback was an issue last year. What can this team do better to put pressure on the quarterback and like you said, help the guys in the back?

We just have to understand the situations we’€™re in. We have to understand where each other is on the field and understand what you’€™re playing against. I think sometimes, a lot of people go out and they think too much. You can’€™t think much when you’€™re pass rushing. Some of your greatest pass rushers they didn’€™t think, they had a plan. They knew what they were doing, they lined up and go. They went to their second move if they had to, some had third moves. I think the more we can just line up and play and stop thinking so much, the better off we’€™ll be. It will just come with work and over time we’€™ll get it. Like I said, everybody has got it on their mind that we want to be better, we want to play better. We put last year behind us and we don’€™t want to be last year, we want to be now. I think everybody is making adjustments to get better from last week so that’€™s the only thing you can count on and just go forward from there.

Have your responsibilities changed from last year at all, in terms of on the field or leadership off the field?

No, not at all. I think some of your greatest leaders lead by example. You just sit back and look at some of the greatest players to strap on a New England Patriots helmet. They didn’€™t have to say much. Their play talked for themselves. They came to work every day, put their hard hat on, they worked hard on and off the field, in the film room, on the field and then outside of football. A lot of people can learn from that. I’€™m someone who likes to see other people doing the right thing. I don’€™t like for people to just talk, talk, talk because I get tired of hearing people talk. I get tired of hearing coaches talk sometimes.

Talking is too much. You have to go out and do it. You can tell me what to do 25 times but if I don’€™t go out and do it on the field, why keep talking about it. Sometimes, you just have to be quiet and go out there and play. I think a lot of people respect you for coming to work and going to play without talk. That’€™s just me. I think we have a great group of guys here and I think we’€™re very excited even with last week and everything. This team, we’€™re not down on ourselves. We’€™re high, we’€™re happy, we came ready to work and hopefully it will be a better week for us.

Tom Brady said this morning that the coaches told everyone to be ready to play this week. Do you want to play?

Heck yeah I want to play, especially after what we put out there last Thursday. Yes, I want to play. Like I said, I’€™m preparing for 60 minutes. If I play it, I play it. If I don’€™t, I don’€™t. This is what we get paid to do and I mean, football is here.

How do you feel about the NFL schedule possibly extending from 16 to 18 games?

Well, that’€™s going to be a big problem because if you want to play us like preseason, it won’€™t work. If you’€™re going to take those two preseason games and make them regular season games, then the pay has to be different. That’€™s point blank. Me, personally, as a fan of football, I care less about 18, 20-game seasons as long as the pay is right. Don’€™t pay me as four preseason games when there’€™s only two preseason games and the other two are regular season games. So if you want it like that, you will have to come out of your pockets for it. Whatever happens, happens with that. When it gets here, it gets here and hopefully they have it all planned out how it’€™s going to work. But I tell you what, it won’€™t work if you put an 18-game season together and expect guys to play two games for preseason salary. It will not work, it would be a big problem.

Damione Lewis:

Do you agree with Vince about the NFL increasing the pay to match the 18-game schedule?

If we’re going to play 18 games then we should be paid to play 18 games. I don’t see how you can schedule us for 18 and then turn around and pay us for 16. … If they’re going make two preseason games regular season games then they’re not preseason games anymore, they’re regular season games. We get regular checks during the regular season.

Do you think your body would naturally adjust to playing 18 regular season games?

I mean, it is what it is. You have to go out there and do what they ask you. Now, if you have to go out and play 18 games, you have to play 18. That’€™s 50 more snaps a game plus 100 over the course of those two games. I mean, it is what it is. You have to be ready to go. You’€™re going to go in, you’€™re going to condition, you’€™re going to do the same things you do every offseason. You also gain those two games from dropping the preseason games so all in all, it’€™s not that big of a difference.

In a way, practice-wise, it would be easier to go with two more regular season games?

I think it would be because now you’€™re practicing with what we say a purpose. Now we’€™re practicing for a gameplan and getting ready for the game. It’€™s not so much that we’€™re going to do our own stuff for 67 snaps and then we’€™re going to throw three snaps of the scout-team stuff in. So if you’€™re getting 12 snaps, those 12 snaps are directed towards the team you’€™re playing. In that aspect, yes it is a lot easier than going in and doing our training camp for a preseason game.

What happened against the Rams?

Well, I think it boils down to one thing for us. We have to get off the field on third down. We didn’€™t convert on third down, we put ourselves in bad situation on first and second down to make third down a little bit easier for them to convert. When you’€™re doing that and you’€™re not getting off the field, then that creates long drives. The more plays the offense gets, the more chances they have to make a big play here and there and that’€™s what was going on. I think we need to improve and play better on third down and really play better on first and second down defense to help us out as well on third down.

You were on the field too much?

That was kind of crazy. This is my 10th season and I’€™ve never played a game where we had to play 97 snaps. That was a little tough. That’€™s the first time I’€™ve seen it. It was just one of those nights where we couldn’€™t find a way to get off the field, it was unbelievable. I’€™ve never seen anything like it.

Was motivation a problem? Did you sense that?

I don’€™t buy that because once the lights come on, it’€™s time to play ball. You have to go out and find a way to put your best product out on the field. Trust me, when you’€™re playing 60, 70 snaps a game, you’€™re not going to play all 60 and 70 snaps perfect but you have to enough of those snaps together to where we’€™re playing well enough to win. Thursday night, we just couldn’€™t put it together as a group, as 11 guys on the field to play well enough as a team and well enough to win.

Do you have a real good sense in the time you’€™ve been here of what your role is?

One thing I’€™ve learned is they’€™re going to tell you what they want you to do. I’€™m just taking what they’€™re telling me week in and week out and just working our gameplan and just working what we’€™re doing. I’€™m trying to get this 3-4 concept down and I think I’€™ve been doing a good job over the last couple of weeks and really understanding the concepts of the defense. As the season goes, I know we’€™ll start building things in for certain guys to do and we’€™ll just roll of into it like that. Right now, my biggest concern, is knowing our scheme and what [Belichick] wants to do, playing in and playing out.

Are you familiar with the defensive terminology here?

I’€™m learning. I mean, it’€™s thick now. It’€™s a lot of stuff now as far as terminology. Most teams want to keep it simple, stupid kid’€™s concept. Here, [Belichick] expects you to use your mind on the field and be quick with your thought process and be able to adjust. ‘€¦ It is complicated in that aspect but its part of the game. It’€™s the way he wants to do things so you do your best to go out there and do it.

When you can play and it’€™s all second-nature to you, things get a lot easier.

Yes it does and that’€™s what is happening here the last couple weeks. It’€™s getting a lot easier because I’€™m understanding what I’€™m supposed to do and now it’€™s turning into muscle-memory more so than me thinking. When you come from a 4-3, you’€™re changing your whole way of playing football, I mean the way you blocks, everything is different.

Do you expect to play Thursday?

Yes I do expect to play Thursday.

Do you want to play in the fourth preseason game?

Yes I do want to play in the fourth preseason game. Every snap I get is a bonus for me.

Read More: Bill Belichick, Damione Lewis, Vince Wilfork,
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