BB: We’re winding down the week here. Talking to guys – coaching staff, everybody – I know we’re all excited to get the season started. It’s always tough to open on the road, it’s always tough to open against a division team but we’re going to have those games sooner or later. It will be a big challenge for us going up there to Buffalo. They have a new coaching staff, a lot of new faces but a lot of good football players. I feel like our week is going along OK, so hopefully we’ll be ready to go on Sunday. We’ll just take this final day to clean up our preparations and pull it all together and then have a quick walk-through tomorrow and we’ll be ready to go.
Q: How do you stay invigorated? When you do something for 39 years in a row, what is it that still gets you excited?
BB: Every year is different. Every year is a great challenge; great opportunity. Every time it comes around, it’s nice to be able to go up to the plate, get a turn at bat.
Q: What is it about the competition that makes you tick?
BB: I like football. Really, I like the game, I like the players, I like what it’s all about. Every part of it –whether it’s assembling a team, working with new players, working with veteran players that are experienced and extremely talented at the highest level, game planning, scouting, preparation, practice, games – I enjoy all of it. It beats working.
Q: It seems like you guys have made more roster moves than you would during a normal regular reason week. What’s the thinking behind that? I’m talking post-cut down day.
BB: I think there are always roster moves at this time of year. If you look back at us, you’ll see plenty of them in previous years.
Q: Is there risk in continuing to move guys on and off the roster during a game week?
BB: I don’t know.
Q: Would you say it’s a sign that you haven’t settled on what the team is going to look like yet? That you’re still working through it?
BB: No question.
Q: Do you come to a point in the season where you feel like you need to get steady with that and get to a point where you have an idea of what you have?
BB: I don’t know. I try to do what’s best for the football team every day. I don’t think that process ever stops for me. I don’t know why it would.
Q: Is Rob Gronkowski progressing each and every day with his health in terms of he can do more and more in practice? Where is he right now as opposed to a couple of weeks ago?
BB: I’d like to think that every player out there is making progress every day, like we all are. That’s why we’re out there practicing.
Q: Is his health improving to the point where he can do more physically because he’s feeling better?
BB: That’s a question you’d have to ask him. But as far as every one of our players goes, we’ll do the same thing that we do every week. On Friday, or two days before the game, we’ll go out and we’ll practice today and based on how things go today and where those players are, then we’ll list them on the injury report, the same way we do it every week. That’s the same for every player. That’s the way it is.
Q: Does Rob Gronkowski have a legitimate chance to play on Sunday?
BB: I just answered that question.
Q: So he does have a shot to play on Sunday?
BB: We’ll list every player based on what their condition and situation is at the end of Friday’s practice on a Sunday game. We’ll do the same thing every week. Based on what we know at that point in time, that’s how we’ll list them. That’s what we’re going to do today.
Q: So you haven’t decided yet?
BB: We haven’t practiced yet.
Q: What do you like about your offensive line this season?
BB: Look, it’s a new season for everybody. We’ve got some veteran players up there. It’s a new season for all of us. I respect what everybody has done in the past but we all have to go out there and establish whatever our performance is this season, this season. The 2013 season gets started on Sunday and we’ll see where everybody is at that point: young players, veteran players, new players, old players, whoever you want, coaches, all of us; we’re all in the same boat. It’s a new season of competition; we’ll see where our team is on Sunday. I don’t really know where anybody is. We’ll find out.
BB: I don’t know. You’d have to talk to other teams about their players but Steve played safety at San Diego and Devin has played corner and safety for us. In the end, we do what we think is best for our football team. Devin has done a good job for us in there; he’s made a lot of big plays. He handles the secondary well from that position but he can also play corner. He does a good job at both spots but right now he’s most valuable for us at safety.
Q: Does it take a special kind of player to make that transition?
BB: Sure. There are certain skills at safety that are a little different than they are at corner. You see more of the field. You get a better chance to read the quarterback on a lot of things, depending on how much man or zone coverage you’re playing. Your matchups are different on inside receivers versus perimeter receivers. Certainly the recognition and diagnosis of the play; the quarterback, the relationship between the receivers from the inside part of the field is a lot different than it is from the outside part of the field. There’s certainly a different perspective of the game from in there, there’s no question about that. But I think it’s something that’s pretty common. It goes back to my first years in the league. There were plenty of guys that played corner that played safety – Steve Foley at the Broncos. I think he played his whole career at safety; he was a corner at Tulane. College is different than pro.
BB: Both. We’ve seen plenty of Jets film; we’ve seen plenty of Buffalo film and we’ve certainly studied Buffalo’s personnel. We know that the schemes that they have at Buffalo, I’m sure they’re capable of doing what they did at the Jets. We have to be ready for those. Some of them they’ve shown; some of it they haven’t. That’s part of our preparation. Sure, any time you go against a new coordinator, it’s no different than Danny [Crossman] as the special teams coach. We look at what he did at Detroit; we look at what they did at Buffalo. Sure, you always look at a coordinator’s background.
Q: You mentioned it beats working to coach. Did you feel the same way in ’75 with the Colts?
BB: Yeah, because I wasn’t getting paid. It wasn’t $25 a week. You can call that working but after taxes, there wasn’t even gas money. So, yeah. It’s great to work with great people. We have great ownership here, we have great assistant coaches. I like the players that are on this team. They work hard, they’re very committed to winning; the staff, the support staff. It’s a great, great opportunity here and I’m privileged to have the opportunity to coach this team. Yeah, I’m happy to be here.
Q: How far along are Dont’a Hightower and Chandler Jones in their maturity? How much better do they look to you based on preparation behind the scenes?
BB: I think all of our second-year players are way ahead of where they were last year, as they should be. I think you’ve seen it from the first day of the spring. Offseason workouts, OTAs, training camp, it’s just all continued to move forward for them. They have a much better understanding of what they expect, much better understanding of what they’re doing, much better understanding of what’s going on on the other side of the ball, more confident. Not that they weren’t confident, but it’s just more of all those things. I think you can see that with the whole, with our whole group from last year.
Q: From afar, it looked like the punting competition in camp was pretty close and competitive.
BB: Very competitive.
Q: In the end, what ended up giving Ryan Allen the edge?
BB: We thought that was the best thing for our football team. Zoltan [Mesko] did a good job for us, but this year’s competition is this year’s competition and based on all the things that we took into consideration, we felt like Ryan deserved the job. It was very competitive and Zoltan showed that he can kick in the league, and he still is kicking in the league. We were fortunate to have that kind of competition at the position. We did what we felt was best for the team.
Q: Did you have any odd jobs before you got into football?
BB: Yeah, high school, college, I had plenty of them. I was fortunate that I was able to work at my dad’s football camps, which was two-to-three weeks over the summer. That was really, it was a great experience for me. It was a summer job that was a week off from my other summer jobs, whether that was waiting or working for Mayflower Moving or whatever it happened to be. It was good because I had an opportunity to work with a lot of college coaches, other guys who eventually became pro coaches. A couple coaches like Ralph Hawkins and George Boutselis that I actually worked with my first year at the Colts worked in my dad’s camps; Whitey Dovell also. There were three of them on that staff. That was a great opportunity for me too, to work in those camps. It was a lot of good coaches, working with kids in high school, junior high school, not that I was like a full-fledged coach or anything, but just the experience of being around it, seeing a lot of the things, hearing coaches talk, exchange ideas, seeing different coaches coach different techniques at the same position. It was a great experience too. That was another – it wasn’t a high paying summer job but it was a good job; glad I had it.
Q: Did you know at that point that you wanted to go in that direction?
BB: I’m not sure. I was playing lacrosse and that was probably my better sport. But I loved football and then when the opportunity came up to go with Coach [Lou] Holtz down to N.C. State, in the spring of ’75, that was something I felt would marry well with continuing my education, trying to get a Master’s and coach with him. When that didn’t work out – Lou was the first coach that hired me and the first coach that fired me, as I like to remind him of – then it fortunately worked out [with] Coach [Ted] Marchibroda at the Colts. I didn’t really have anything; I didn’t really have anywhere to go at that point because the N.C. State thing fell through. I was totally open and fortunately that was able to work out with Ted and as I said, some of the other coaches that were on that staff, like George [Boutselis], like Whitey [Dovell]. They were able to recommend me, Jerry Falls who my dad coached and who was Ted Marchibroda’s son’s coach in high school, so all those connections kind of helped me get started. Plus, I think the price was right.
Q: How much did you play yourself and what were your limitations?
BB: Pretty much everything: size, speed, athletic ability.
Q: Did you play much?
BB: I played in high school and college, yeah.
Q: What position?
BB: Center, tight end, linebacker; snapped, poorly.
Q: Is it almost enjoyable, the challenge of playing a division opponent you see twice a year that has changed up so much this year?
BB: I wouldn’t say enjoyable, I wouldn’t really use that word, no. It’s challenging, that’s what it is, it’s a challenge – that’s what this business is, it’s challenging. There’s definitely a thrill, there’s an excitement if the results are good on Sunday, but sometimes they are, sometimes they aren’t. We’ve seen the highs and lows of that. Every team will have that every season. The challenge is the competitiveness. You’re up against the best players, the best coaches, the best organizations in football. Buffalo, Doug’s [Marrone] a great coach, he has an excellent staff, they have a lot of good players, they’re playing at home. It’s a huge challenge for us to go up there. Then there will be another challenge the next week and the next week and the next week. That’s the way it is in the NFL. Every team is good. Every team has good players, good coaches, good scouts, good everything. If you’re not at your best, then you don’t have any chance. If you are at your best, you might run into their best. It’s very, very competitive. This isn’t like college where you can play down a couple divisions on your schedule and that kind of thing. Every week, you’re up against a team that has the same opportunity as you do: the same salary cap, same draft choices. The way it’s structured, it’s very, very competitive. Every week it’s a huge challenge to be able to compete against that team. That’s what it’s about for me.