Q: Having just done it a year ago, can you talk about some of the challenges of taking over a team mid-season?
A: A lot of sleepless nights because when you take over something like that, normally you're worried just about the defense - in Jason's case he was worried just about the offense - but now you're worried about offense, defense and special teams. You impact more people. You interact with all of the players as a coordinator, but as a head coach you really interact with all of the players. The media demands are much more on your time. Your staff has to wait a little bit for you. Jason is still going to call the game. You have to be very good at time management when you take on that challenge. I used to think that the head coach didn't do very much (laughs), just stood around yelling at the assistants, but when I got the job I found out that he does a lot more than I thought.
Q: Cris Collinsworth brought your name on the Sunday NBC broadcast as a possible Dallas replacement. I don't know if you heard that.
A: No. I'm just trying to keep the job I've got right now.
A: Oh, I just think it's a reflection of the way the kids have been playing and the defense, but we just want to keep playing one game at a time and keep winning one game at a time right now.
Q: As the interim head coach, how do you get guys to look at you differently overnight?
A: I don't think that they look at you differently. When you're the head coach, there is a certain amount of power or respect or whatever that comes with that, but you have to earn that respect from your players. I think that's important, that you have to earn that respect from your players and as I said before, it's the communication process. It's how you address that team in that first team meeting. Do you capture their attention? Do you earn their respect? Because normally you're only talking to the offense, in Jason's case; in my case I was only talking to the defense as a group, so when you talk to them as a whole, that's when you have to capture their attention and get their attention.
Q: Are you still able to coordinate the way you would like to?
A: Yeah, I was pretty much able to do that when I took that role over. Your staff had to be very patient with you, you had to delegate a little bit more responsibility to your staff because, again, the media demands, you go look at special teams, other problems, there were some personnel decisions that had to be made. It was all-encompassing, so you had to delegate a little bit more responsibility and then come back with your respective group.
Q: A number of QBs that you guys have played against have gotten injured. Do you feel like that will be in the heads of the QBs that you're about to play?
A: I certainly hope so. We want to punish the opponent and we definitely want to send a message that we want to play good, clean football and we want to play good, clean, physical football, so I hope that is in their head.
Q: They talked about a culture change in Dallas. Halfway through the year, three days before your next game, can Jason Garrett institute a culture change that quickly?
A: Oh, yeah. I think you can. They're going to be a reflection of him. He's taking over. It's a slow process. When I say it's a slow process, it might not all happen in one week, but it will happen, so yes, the change will take place and can take place.
Q: The Bills were 3-6 when you took over. What type of expectations should Garrett have in the situation that he's in?
A: Number one, it's the chance of a lifetime for him and he's expecting his team to win, number one. He's expecting his team to play hard. He wants to see if his team is going to come out and if they're going to give the type of effort that he's looking for and that he expects of the Cowboys and so he's going to evaluate that on a daily basis - not only his players, but his coaches, also.
Q: What was it like for you in Buffalo when you were given that opportunity?
A: Your emotions are very mixed because you just lost - in my case, Dick Jauron was a good friend, a good man and he was our head coach and then you have an opportunity to become a head coach. It was exciting, it was an adrenaline rush every day and it was a challenge like no other challenge because you felt like if you could impact that team and get that team to win and turn that team around that you accomplished something that you always had in your mind that you could accomplish.
Q: How does it affect you and your career when you become an interim head coach as opposed to a head coach at your own choosing?
A: I think it's a comfortable feeling because, number one, you've worked with those guys over a period of time and there's a certain trust that you guys have built up because you guys have won together, you've worked together, you know each other, so just because you didn't pick those people doesn't mean that you don't trust the men that are working with you. That'll be fine. He just wants his staff to be motivated to go do the best job they possibly can do.
Q: You turned that team around enough last year. Do you feel like you proved to yourself that you can be a head coach?
A: If I had won four - another game. There were no promises made when I took the job over. I took it over with enthusiasm, excitement in my mind and my family's mind and we tried to have fun and do the best job we could possibly do and if there was a culture change then we tried to make that culture change, but wanted to give the kids the best opportunity to win and we took it one game at a time and tried to give those kids the best opportunity to win and I think that's what they've got to do down there.
Q: Do you wish you had another shot?
A: You always want to become a head coach, but I'm very happy where I am right now.
Q: If there is a chance that Garrett will shake anything up, where does the running game fall on that list?
A: I think he'll do what he wants to do. His M.O. has been what his M.O. has been all year. He's put pads on them this week. He's tried to send a message - maybe he wants to be a little bit more physical, maybe he wants to run the football a little bit more, so that's a good message to send, so yeah, we expect him to come out and try to establish the run. It's our job to try to destroy the run, so again, we can change that. We can dictate what he wants to do.
Q: Give me a State of the Giants Defense Address after the first half of the season.
A: It's been a nice journey up to this point, but there's a long way to go. We've accomplished some things that we wanted to accomplish, but there's a lot more that we can get better at and accomplish and if we just take it one week at a time, the sky is the limit.
Q: Give me one area of your defense that you're particularly proud of and another area where you're looking for the most improvement.
A: I'm proud of how we've been playing in the run game. I think that we can progress and be much better in our pass concept - our pass coverage - and I think that we can create more turnovers than what we've been creating. We've only got two per game or something of that nature, I think. We want to up the ante. It's November and it's December and people remember what you do in those months, so we want to up the ante a little bit on these guys.
Q: Things turned around in the Chicago game. How much of that was the defense learning what you wanted them to do versus an attitude adjustment?
A: I think it was a little bit of both. I felt like we turned the switch on in the Tennessee game. Even though we lost that football game, I thought that our guys understood what we were trying to accomplish. The Chicago game was somewhat of our coming out party that we understood the concepts, we changed our mindset and our attitude, but that really happened in the Tennessee game. I think Chris Johnson broke the one run that put him over the 100-yard mark, but to me, it was just a building process, and we built each week in that process.
Q: If Jason Garrett called you today, what piece of advice would you give him?
A: Have fun.
Q: Is that hard to do in that role?
A: Yes it is. You can't take yourself too seriously so that you don't enjoy what you're doing. Sometimes you think you've got the weight of the world on your shoulders because you've been given this awesome responsibility, but you've got to have fun with it and wear a smile.
Q: Did you literally change your office?
A: No. I didn't. That was my desk, I felt comfortable being right there and that's where I was going to sit.
Q: How has your perception of Osi Umenyiora been defined as the season has worn on?
A: Well, when I came in, Osi had a clean slate and when I looked at him on tape, I saw a good football player. My perception of Osi was, he's a good football player, how can I help make him be better and some of the things that he wanted to accomplish, how could I help him accomplish his goals? As we sat down and talked, it was very simple. He wanted to be the best he could be and I felt like I could help him accomplish some of the things that he wanted to accomplish and we just went about it that way.
Q: What have you done to put him in a position to be as potent as he's been this year?
A: Osi has really just played within the defense and in doing so, he has been potent. It's not that I'm proud that I've done anything. I think his position coach has done a great job with him. I wish I could take the credit, but I think his position coach has done a great job with him and I think the guys around him have really done a great job because we're all working together and we're all playing off of each other and if we set each other up - success for all of us. That's what we've been doing.
Q: If you had to give out a pleasant surprise of the first half award, who would it go to?
A: Probably Jonathan Goff, our middle linebacker. No one outside of our walls knew who our MLB was going to be, who our leader was going to be in the middle. We had lost Antonio Pierce and that was a position that was kind of up in the air and Jonathan just stepped in. He's done a tremendous job as far as commanding the defense. I can give him a complicated check system within our defense and he's able to execute that and get us into the right calls, so he has really been the guy that we look to and say, Hey, that's our guy.