Q & A: Perry Fewell

Buffalo's head coach touches on everything from being an interim coach to the T.O./Moss matchup to his past encounters with Bill Belichick. Full questions and answers from his conference call inside...

On the challenges he has faced in becoming the interim head coach:

Getting a team ready each week to play football, and then just administratively communicating with trainers, coaches and players. Doing the whole gamut of the communication process from a head coach perspective, as well as still calling the defense.

On if he has kept the team the same or made wholesale changes to the offense-defense structure:

No, not a lot of wholesale changes. Basically just getting our team prepared to play every week, doing what we think we do best and getting our team to play every week.

On if he was nervous on his first day addressing the team as head coach:

I don't know if I was nervous. I was excited more than being nervous. I've coached for 25 years and I've often wanted to be a head football coach so I tried to prepare myself for the opportunity. The way the situation occurred was out of my control, but probably more excited than nervous.

On if the biggest challenge was taking control of the locker room and if he thought about that:

You know, I have pretty good communication with all the players, and so the biggest thing was, ‘hey, we're we all going to be on the same page, we're we all going to run in the same direction.' So that was one thing that I addressed at our team meeting. Besides that, I thought that if I just got the team ready to play that next week, which was the Jacksonville week that everything would be okay.

On rookie S Jairus Byrd and what roles the team is able to put him in:

I just think he's a young man that's continuing to mature as a football player. We would like for him to continue to get more reps and see the field through the eyes of a free safety because he was corner in college, but he's been an extremely productive ball hawk in our defense and he's made his mark right now in the league by being able to attack the ball in the air and intercept the ball. And he has tremendous hands, so we like those things in him.

On how Byrd intercepts the passes, if it is physically beating receivers or mentally beating the quarterback:

I think he just has that good sixth sense. He's been at the right position, at the right place, at the right time, and sometimes in this game it's good to have a little luck.

On how being a head coach has been a dream-come-true but not having job security attached to it:

You know, whether you have a new contract coaching or you don't have a new contract coaching, we're kind of day-to-day or week-to-week or year-to-year (laughing), so job security we don't really think about. We focus and we accept the opportunities that are presented to us, and so this opportunity was presented to me and so with that, I'm having a lot of fun with it, I'm enjoying the experience, I'm enjoying the players and I enjoy competing on Sundays.

On how ‘nerdy' QB Ryan Fitzpatrick is, having come from Harvard:

(Laughing) No comment (laughing). That was a good question, I like that one (laughing).

On how Fitzpatrick has been a spark to the offense:

I've liked his leadership and his command. I've liked his communication with not only the offensive line, but with the running backs and the receivers as well as the coaching staff. That's been good and that's been something we can draw on.

On if he can point to one reason as to why the run defense has struggled this year:

I think consistency with our personnel. Just like everybody else we've gone through a number of injuries on the defensive side of the football, and just having consistency in our people being there each and every week has been one of the problems.

On if he sees giving up big plays as a problem with the run defense:

It's always a big problem. In the error on the ground, that is a big problem and we're working each week to try to eliminate that.

On if he saw a difference in what the Patriots defense did last week as opposed to earlier this season:

Well as I look at them, I'm always amazed each week at what they do, how they do it, and how efficiently they do it. Scheme-wise and the little things that they do, I really can't comment on, because again, I'm looking at both sides of the ball and evaluating their talent, I'm evaluating how they play the game and how we can take advantage- if we have any advantage of their defense. So that's an area that when coach, when he puts in a different game plan it seems like every week, and he's a master at doing that.

On the strengths of the Patriots defense:

I thought their defensive ends look really good, I love Jerod Mayo, I think he's an exceptional football player. And I think their secondary, those guys, they run and they hit. I was very impressed with the safeties, with the way that they attack and hit and tackle, and the Patriots have a pretty good tackling team in my opinion. So those are the things that impress me about that football team defensively.

On if the team draws confidence from the first game against the Patriots:

You know, that seemed like it was many moons ago (laughing). Even though we played at the beginning of the season it seems like so long ago that I don't think so. We just move from week to week. We missed an opportunity to win a football game in that first week of the season and now we're just focused on this week.

On if he knows the weather forecast for Sunday:

You know I briefly looked at it, but I'm not exactly sure because here in Buffalo the weather changes every day and so we went outside for a little while today and it was a little windy but it was supposed to snow and the sun is shining right now, so who knows what happens in Buffalo with the weather.

On the excitement of WR Terrell Owens and Patriots' WR Randy Moss being on the field together:

Well both guys are excellent receivers. They are two of the top receivers in the league, and both are really great competitors. I think when given the opportunity, Terrell has performed well for us and he's a guy that he loves to compete, he loves to win at his position, he likes to get it right, and he strives for excellence. And I'm sure Randy is the same way. So when you have two high-profile receivers like that on the field, it makes an exciting day.

On what he saw from Moss' efforts against Carolina:

I'm not going to comment on that. I think Randy Moss is one of the most prolific receivers in this league and he can go whenever he wants to go. Sometimes you have good games and sometimes you have bad games.

On if he thinks Owens and Moss have changed what the receiver position is since their entrance into the league in the 1990s:

There have been some really good receivers in the 90s as well as in this era, and so with the chuck rule, I think that changed a lot of things, and the way the game is called and officiated now, I think that's changed some things for receivers period. But guys like that who are tall, big and fast, who can catch the short pass and go the distance or beat you deep, that definitely changes the way the game is played.

On if he has crossed paths with Patriots HC Bill Belichick at all:

We competed against Coach Belichick in Jacksonville when I was there for five years with Tom Coughlin. I had the opportunity to meet Coach Belichick when I was at Vanderbilt University and he was on a scouting trip and had the pleasure of talking with him about defensive back play. You know I've always admired him and I've studied some of the things he's done throughout his career. We've never worked together or coached together. In your coaching career you look at people and you like some of the things that those people do and you try to emulate those things.

On who Belichick was scouting at that time:

If I'm not mistaken he came out to look at a player named Corey Chavous that we had at the time. Of course he was looking at some other players also, but specifically Corey Chavous.

On if anything stood out to him in his conversation with Belichick:

Oh definitely. Things that he said to me I still apply today. I won't get into anything specific.


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