On whether he sees the team's progression each week that he expects to see on film:"We expect to be the best team we can be right now, like we always say. And I think we are that. How good that is, where we are exactly, that's why you play the game on Sunday to find out. We've gotten better every week in a lot of little ways. Does it show up on Sunday? That's what you find out on Sunday."
On whether QB Troy Smith is quarantined with his illness: "Yeah, Troy hasn't been around all week. He was here today, so I noticed nobody went near him. Did you notice that? He had like a ring of fire around him.* (laughter) *They wouldn't go near him. He didn't have a mask on, so…"
On whether he has mentioned to the team that they've never beaten the Patriots, as motivation: "I didn't even know that. This team has never played the Patriots, have they?"
On being across the sideline from a guy he knows pretty well in Bill Belichick: "The truth of the matter is, look what they've done. And Coach Belichick is… You know, he's built a dynasty, and three world championships and a lot of other wins along the way. Probably the winningest coach, I would guess, maybe in history or close to it. So, there are a lot of things – when you respect a program, or you respect a coach – there are certainly a lot of things you take from it. But we're going up there to compete on Sunday, and they'll get our best."
On whether he looks at the weather forecast as preparation for the game on Sunday: "Well, we pack everything so we're ready for every condition. I don't think we'll have the parkas up there yet, but it could rain, I think at some percentage. It's not like we're studying it every second and trying to worry about what it is. We work with wet balls, we practice in the rain, we think we're ready for every kind of condition. But, we'll watch and let our guys know what's predicted and they'll have to be ready, to have the right shoes and all that kind of stuff."
On whether the running game and time of possession are just as crucial as the passing game: "It's all crucial. No doubt about it. The passing game is always important, especially in the NFL, because you have so many good throwers and it's so hard to defend the passing game. Obviously, two very good throwers in this game, but if you don't defend the run, you can't win. And if you can run the ball, then that really enhances everything that you do. So, it's all of it. It's every part of it – the run game, the pass game, elements within those two phases are going to be important."
On if he puts any extra emphasis on preparing for the Patriots' passing attack:"The thing about the Patriots is it's hard to predict what they're going to be from one week to the next. You take your best guess in terms of planning your practice and repping it all out, but you've got to have a game plan for anything. They could come out in three tight ends. They could come out in no backs, no tight ends. It's across the board. You could get three-wides, four-wides the whole game. You could get two tight ends, two backs the whole game. You just don't know with those guys, and that's, to me, part of what makes them so difficult to defend."
On if Belichick is someone he looked to for insight when he was a younger coach:"Yeah, I just had a chance because of mutual friends, basically – Scott O'Brien, and Mike Lombardi, and different people that you know over the years to get to know Coach Belichick. I've always, obviously, looked up to him as a coach, even before he became a head coach. He's a guy that I admired. We've had a chance to talk about a lot of different things. We talk occasionally. Usually it's me calling with a question, I guess, probably. I've got a lot of respect for him."
On if there have been any calls to Belichick this week:(laughing) "I just want to know what the injury report is. He wouldn't take the call."
On if there is a chance that John Beck could be the No. 2 quarterback because of Troy Smith's illness:"Yeah, there's a chance. We'll see how that goes. That's a consideration for us."