Q: Does it seem to you that the offensive line is improving but still not perfect?
A: No, I think that it’s something you consistently do, strive for perfection, strive to continue to get better and I think across the board nobody’s complacent with where we’re at right now. Anybody who’s at this point in the game is studying every single detail of it. You’re focusing on the little things. If there’s any tips, if there’s anything you can do to take advantage of anything, that’s what you’re working on. And for this game, there’s nothing little, there’s nothing small. Each point of the game is huge. You’re focusing on every single detail of every block, of every protection, of every run play. I think that’s the way we’ve made the progress that we have is that even when things are well, when things are good, you’re constantly trying to pick up the things you can make improvements on. I think you’re seeing that across the board on this team. We need to play that way, we need to play as mistake-free football as we can against this team because they’re a very good team, they’re at home, and if you give them things, especially on the road, it’s, for us, ways for them to gain momentum. When you go there, you want to start fast, and start on the right foot and make sure you give yourself the best opportunity to go out there and play your best football.
Q: How did Eli look today?
A: Oh, look, obviously you’re going to get millions of questions about that, but he looked great. He was ready to go. It’s kinda one of those things that’s been going around, guys sick and stuff, you’re just glad he’s back out here ready to go. We’re not surprised, we’re sure he was breaking down film as he was laying there resting, getting ready for today. We know that he’s gonna do everything he can to be prepared for this one and he’s gonna be ready to go.
Q: Do you look forward to the challenge of running the ball against the top-ranked rush defense?
A: Definitely, that’s gonna be a crucial game. Especially when they’re talking about now the elements and maybe a muddy field and all that stuff. Running the football is gonna be a huge point in this game for both football teams. You hate to continue to talk about it but it’s, those are the types of things that are the difference-changers in this game. The team that can control the line of scrimmage, the team that can run the ball, keep the other offense off the field, you know, running the ball also does things to keep yourself in 3rd and manageable downs. For us, that’s gonna be very important. You don’t want to be on the road and being 3rd and 10, 3rd and 11-plus where you let these guys attack and be able to get after Eli. That’s gonna be very important for us. We definitely have to be able to run the ball. This is a tough group to do it against. They’ve got great personnel, they’ve got great up-front 7, it’s not that they’re trying to trick you, they’re not doing different things. What they do is they play sound, fundamental football, they play with great technique and this is why we play the game, to challenge yourself in what is the biggest game of the season. No mistake, no question this is the biggest one. We all understand how important this game is and we all understand that we’re one win away from the Super Bowl. Guys are approaching this game that way. Everybody has their family and all the different things, but I know guys are focusing on this game. Down the road you can worry about all those things but the one thing you do when you have games like this and this opportunity, you never want to have any regrets. You never want to look back and say, ‘Hey, maybe I could have watched a little more film, maybe I could have worked on this technique a little bit more.’ You’re doing everything you can so that when you go into this game, number-one, you play relaxed, you play free, and that you know that, ‘Hey, I laid everything out on the field’ and hopefully you come out on top.
Q: Speaking of the running game, earlier in the week, Brandon Jacobs was called ‘soft’ by Jerry Rice. I’m sure you see a lot of Brandon Jacobs. Your thoughts?
A: I think he’s proven he’s not a soft player. We’ve seen the way he’s able to run the ball, how tough he is as a competitor, you see guys not wanting to take him on, and I think if Brandon had the opportunity to run in the open field he’d get the best of Jerry Rice, that’s my opinion, but that’s fine, let people say what they wanna say, this game is gonna be won and lost out on the football field. That is gonna be a very big point in this game, who’s the most physical team, who’s the team that wants it more, who’s the team that wants to lay it all on the line is the team that’s gonna win this game. I know we’re preparing as hard as we can. We still have that businesslike attitude that we’ve had that, you know, each and every day is constant improvement and focus. You’re seeing that in the meeting rooms, you’re seeing that out here on the practice field. Guys are flying around, guys are crisp, guys aren’t making mental errors, guys are in tune to what they have to do to get themselves ready for this one and I know that we are going to be ready.
Q: How much did the struggles of the offensive line earlier in the year eat at the offensive line?
A: Oh, it was definitely, it’s something you’re disappointed in as an offensive lineman and as a group you understand how important it is as an offense to be able to run the ball. I think the one thing we’ve done throughout all of it is continue to work to make that a strength. Continue to fight and do whatever it takes to get the job done. Whether there’s eight guys in the box, it doesn’t matter, you gotta go out there. It takes all 11 guys to get it done in the run game. We always say that, number-one, you gotta finish your blocks, but number-two, there’s no backside for a team who swarms from the backside, chases things down to the ball, each and every block is crucial to running the ball. It’s going to be very important in this game.
Q: What does having Bradshaw around and healthy add to the offense?
A: I think that having both him and Brandon bring that physical presence. The energy and the way that he’s been running the ball, the way Brandon’s been running the ball, and the confidence we have in those guys, we know that if we open up holes for him, if we block a little extra longer, they’re gonna do whatever they can to get yards and do it in a physical way and in a way that in the third and fourth quarter, it pays dividends because those two, three yard gains start breaking open like they have. That’s gonna be very important in this one.