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December 29, 2008

Fox's Monday news conference

Here's the transcript from coach John Fox's Monday news conference:

Q. Any injury updates?

"Nothing since it happened, I don't know, how many hours ago. There's nothing else to report. We'll report again Wednesday."

Q. Can you prepare this week for whomever you might play, Arizona, Atlanta or Minnesota?

"The good news is we played all three this year, so it's not like they're totally foreign to us. That'll be helpful."

Q. What will practice be like this week?

"They'll be much shorter, minimal contact. We'll be selective on who practices. I'm not going to get into detail on that now."

Q. Are you happy with the bye?

"There's no doubt we prefer it worked out that way. As far as where we're seeded, the key is the bye. Our current state is beneficial to us. We've got guys banged up like that we'd like have back before we play again. If it happened the other way, we'd have a short week and with this short season, you want your best players."

Q. Did you talk to Mr. Richardson after the game?

"Yes, he was very excited and very proud. It meant a lot to him and he knew it meant a lot to us. He seemed to be in very good spirits."

Q. Did he say if he was nervous at the end?

"Yeah, he said...I can't say that. I'll leave it as it was amusing."

Q. What do you think of the "Double Trouble" nickname for Jonathan Stewart and DeAngelo Williams, and did you check it out on their website?

"I didn't know it was officially out there. What was it again? Double Trouble? I'm not a big website guy."

Q. On the last field goal, did you want seven seconds on the clock or five?

"In that vicinity. I don't want to get into too much strategy. But typically when you're behind, you like a little extra time in case there's a holding penalty. If the game's tied, we do it a little differently."

Q. Is this as good an offense as you've seen?

"In 20 years, I've seen a lot of different things. No doubt it's the best offense we've had here since I've been here as head coach. A lot went into it. We injected a lot of talent and it worked out. There are not guarantees with personnel acquisitions. They blended well. (Offensive coordinator) Jeff Davidson and his staff, (quarterbacks coach) Mike McCoy. We maintained a balance that I think is important. Guys flourished in the passing game and in the running game."

Q. Did the running backs exceed your expectations?

"They're pretty good. I've mentioned it in (TV) production meetings and to you guys. At certain points, people were trying to pick which one's best. But there's a lot of gymnastics in a season. The reality is they're both pretty darn good and have helped our running game."

Q. How long after last season ended did you decide to overhaul the offensive line?

"That happens immediately when a season's over. You evaluate your team, the changes you can make, the direction you want to go. You try to stick to it. You realize where your weaknesses are, where you need to get better. I thought that was key, it really started when the season was over. It's like that every year."

Q. Why did Steve Smith return a punt yesterday?

"He's a guy who's been pretty adequate at that position before. As we get into this next (post) season, he may or may not be something we look at. We don't want the playoffs to be the first time he did it. He's practiced there, but we want to see him in a game situation."

Q. Does it seem like Jake is throwing the ball out there and Steve's just going after it to catch it, like he did on the last drive yesterday?

"There's no question, at the end of the day it was a pretty good ball and an excellent catch. Those two guys have done that over time. I'm sure Drew Brees and his receivers have been in situations like that. It's a combination that does it pretty well. The Green Bay play, was that something Jake just chunked up there? There's a lot of moving parts that have to happen, the quarterback has to get it off. The play before he didn't have a chance to do anything. He got whacked. It's not automatic. I don't like to say he chunked it up in the air because a lot went into getting it out there. No question it was a great play by Steve Smith. It's not the first time, even in a big spot. Go back to '03 (playoffs) and his touchdown pass (against St. Louis). It was a great route and a great throw and the quarterback got leveled when he got rid of it."

Q. The defense has given up big leads in the second half of the last two games. Does that concern you?

"What I'd say is we've played the No. 1 offense, the No. 2 offense, the No. 4 offense and the No. 6 offense down the stretch to end the season. When you go to Green Bay, and that's not a box of chocolates, then play Tampa Bay on Monday Night Football, play against the No. 2 offense with Denver, then go to New York and play the world champs, I'm not concerned."

Q. Can you compare the personality of this team to the playoff teams of '03 and '05?

"It's hard to compare. We're not done yet. But I like this team. It's a pretty resilient group. To do what they've done four out of the last five games of the season is not easy. That's a tribute to those guys in the locker room."

Q. Was it tough to get that feeling in the locker room with all the new players?

"That's pretty much the challenge for every coach every year. But it's the landscape of our league now. There's s much more turnover. But sometimes turnover is good."

Q. When did you notice that you have that kind of attitude with this team?

"No light comes on. I liked the way these guys went about their business in the offseason, how hard they worked with their conditioning. At no point did I say, We'll be great. But it's a good combination of youth and leadership and guys going after it. The talent level picked up some as well. Guys knew how to work and win in this league."

Q. Did last season's struggles help this season?

"Most people look at a 7-9 season and say it's all bad. A lot of good happened that season. There's a certain toughness to play in the conditions we played in. It makes you stronger and tougher. That season was what it was. A lot of guys here hung together."

Q. Vinny Testaverde helped DeAngelo Williams understand that he had to work harder. What was your take on that?

"You look at a guy who's been in the league that long and taken care of himself to have the opportunity to stay in the league for that long, it's a real eye opener for young professional football players. I think Vinny was very helpful to that quarterbacks room and to our whole team. There were also a lot of other guys, like (running backs coach) Jim Skipper, who deserves some props. He's done a terrific job. There's been a lot of leaders in that room for us to be successful."

Posted by Observer Sports on December 29, 2008 at 03:07 PM | Permalink

Comments

Good conference and just hope Fox and company get our guys thinking in the right direction. Who ever comes to play against us will want to ruin our joy and want to advance just as much as we do.


Posted by: Anthony | Dec 29, 2008 4:11:45 PM

Agreed, best press conference, amazing how the mood changes when your the #2 seed and the questions allow Fox to be more open, (i.e. strategy related). Good to see him put perspective on the defense going against the teams ranked in the top 5 to close the season.

Posted by: Matt | Dec 29, 2008 6:06:01 PM

Don't know how you could not be concerned that defense blew a 20 point lead. If I were on the defense I don't know if I would show my face. You gave up 300 yds on the ground last week and nearly 400 yds in the air yesterday. You should be giving half your check to Smitty, Kasay and D Will. When is your defense going to show up and carry their weight Turgovac?

Posted by: jeff | Dec 29, 2008 6:09:09 PM

Jeff, seems to me they've "carried their weight" twelve out of sixteen times this year. Teams don't get W-L records as an offense, defense, or special teams unit. They get them as a TEAM.

Posted by: Michael Procton | Dec 29, 2008 11:06:18 PM

Uh our defense stopped carrying the weight since week 7 against N.O. So more like 7 out of 16, including Oak game... that would be 8 outta 16. So thats half. Dont know where you got TWELVE from. Cause it surely hasnt been that much. D did their thing against Den, but its much easier playing a one dimensional offense knowing what they're going to do

Posted by: [email protected] | Dec 30, 2008 5:40:09 AM

Jeff, we gave up a lot of yards the last two weeks, true. Does it not matter we played the defending champs and the best offense in the league on the road? I come away with - we were a very tough FG attempt away from winning both games. I mean, these are good teams...in what context do you assess the defense? Does missing your two starting DT's matter? The fact we won? Are you comparing to the 1996 Panthers D? The point about team ball is well made, these guys would not be 12-4 otherwise.

Sorry for the rant. I get frustrated coming off this season's performance to read comment after comment about Fox's coaching, or how Jake sucks. This is the toughest pro league, and every win is hard. Let's enjoy the wildcard weekend and I'd love to be back in NY - excuse me NJ - for the NFC title game.

Posted by: rayray | Dec 30, 2008 10:36:13 AM

Jeff, we gave up a lot of yards the last two weeks, true. Does it not matter we played the defending champs and the best offense in the league on the road? I come away with - we were a very tough FG attempt away from winning both games. I mean, these are good teams...in what context do you assess the defense? Does missing your two starting DT's matter? The fact we won? Are you comparing to the 1996 Panthers D? The point about team ball is well made, these guys would not be 12-4 otherwise.

Sorry for the rant. I get frustrated coming off this season's performance to read comment after comment about Fox's coaching, or how Jake sucks. This is the toughest pro league, and every win is hard. Let's enjoy the wildcard weekend and I'd love to be back in NY - excuse me NJ - for the NFC title game.

Posted by: rayray | Dec 30, 2008 10:36:26 AM

As well as the injuries suffered on defense the last two games (Kemo's absence in the middle largely responsible for the rushing success against us), did you notice how mass substitutions were made when we got ahead in the Saints game?

Fox and Trgovac got a look at how James Anderson, Dante Wesley, Nick Hayden, J'Vonne Parker, Nate Salley, and Landon Johnson played on the defense.

Not only does this give them game experience, it spells the starters who weren't injured. I'm not saying the strategy didn't almost backfire, since Brees almost won the game, but it must be considered to fully analyze our defensive potential -- those weren't our best guys back there.

Posted by: bigdavis | Dec 30, 2008 11:54:27 AM

If some of you guys are fine with the way the defense has been playing then that is fine, but I am extremeley concerned that the offense is not going to be able to sustain the miracle pace of scoring necessary to get to and win the Super Bowl. I mean that what we are after isn't it? With the number 2 seed on the line(just think of the economic impact for the city not to mention what you are doing for your fans, and your OWNER) and a 20 point lead the defense proceeded to give up 21 points to the LAST place team in the division(the only reason they are the best offense is because they are always playing from behind against prevent defenses). The defense knew they were going to pass and they were POWERLESS to stop Brees. The Giants have lost 3 of their last 4 games. What's going to happen in the playoffs when there is no NEXT WEEK.

Posted by: jeff | Dec 30, 2008 4:04:23 PM

jeff, you're wrong...Detroit was "playing from behind against prevent defenses" even more often than NO, but they certainly weren't among league leaders in defense. And for all your talk about how they finished in 4th in the division, they would have won either the AFC or NFC West with ease, if not the NFC North and AFC East as well.

Posted by: Michael Procton | Dec 30, 2008 9:47:54 PM

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