Q: What did you see from Brian Hoyer in his first stop with the organization and what do you expect to see from him this time around?
DM: I got here his second year and to me the thing that stuck out was his leadership, the control he had. Obviously, you come here, you know [Tom] Brady’s on the team. But, you know, I took it like Gronk [Rob Gronkowski], catching touchdown passes. I took a lot of reps against him when I first got here. You just couldn’t tell that it was only his second year here. He seemed like a four or five year guy, took control of the offense, go up and down the field in all the different situations that we did. It was cool seeing him back here. I said ‘How’s it feel being back?’ And he was like ‘It’s like being back at home.’ Definitely, obviously, he’s a fit here. You get drafted here and play here, so it’s good to see Hoy [Brian Hoyer] back in here.
Q: Is it bittersweet to see Jimmy Garoppolo go, knowing that he helped contribute in some form to two Super Bowl victories but now gets his chance to earn a starting quarterback spot?
DM: Yeah, definitely bittersweet. I think that explains it perfectly. Probably from the offensive side of the ball nobody has helped us more defensively than him. Each week coming in whether it’s being a pocket passer, being a quarterback that’s going to look and then run, Jimmy was able to give us all that each week over the last couple of years. But to see him get an opportunity to go out there and play, especially for me, an older guy, to see his growth from when he came in here as a rookie until now. I think it’s very exciting. He puts in a ton of work. He’s always prepared. You always see him in here doing extra stuff. It’s time. I’m happy for him to go out there and get that opportunity to go out there and play.
Q: What was your reaction when you found out he was traded? Were you as shocked as some of us?
DM: Yeah, I mean, we’re all surprised because I think for all of us even though we know it’s a business, when we’re in that locker room there are no business relationships. We’re all friends. We all want to see each other be successful. We all root for each other. You develop a brotherhood so you never want to see a guy go, but that time of year comes up. Trades can happen, guys can go. It’s always going to be surprising no matter. Even if you guys write a ton of articles on a rumor we’re still going to be surprised. It is what it is. Like I said, we’re happy. I think a lot of us are happy that he gets that opportunity to go out there and play.
DM: I always say I don’t know how to rate quarterbacks. I wouldn’t hire me to be a GM, but I think Jimmy has a chance to be a really good quarterback. He gives us problems all the time in practice. I think he has played a good amount of football for us whether it be preseason or games last year. I think he has a chance to be a really good quarterback. I don’t know if that means anything to anyone, but we had a ton of confidence in him whenever he had to play for us so I think they’ll see that soon.
Q: Will this second half of the season feel different given that you start with two straight road trips?
DM: Yeah, it will be different. I think it’s different but at times it benefits. I think back to ’14 when we played against Green Bay and then went straight to San Diego. It’s often a good time for teammates and us as a team to just bond. It kind of turns back into college being in the dorm rooms and football practice and straight to hanging out with each other in the dorms. The only plus is we don’t have to go to class. I think for us it’s always a time – obviously we’ll miss our families but it gives us the time. Dinners are together usually, probably within position groups and guys on the team. We end up spending a lot of time together without being in meetings or practice or the football side of it. To me, that’s always good to continue to develop that bond as teammates.
DM: I mean, they really don’t start until – you’ve got to get into November to even consider a ‘victory Monday.’ We have a lot less that we’ve gotten but we have a lot that we asked for. After Atlanta, Pat Chung was like ‘See you Wednesday,’ and Bill was like ‘Oh no.’ It’s not from lack of effort. That’s for sure.
Q: What was your reaction to the team not bringing in a new player via trade before the deadline?
DM: It means I still have my job. You can’t get mad at that. I don’t know. I don’t think about that stuff. I think, for us, we’re all fully confident in the guys that we have in the locker room. We always just think about improving and I think we’ve done that so far. The only thing I was thinking about was what are the corrections that we’re going to have to have coming in here today and focus on the bye week, and then try to improve those things in the back half.
Q: Did you sense that guys were on edge in the last few days leading up to the trade deadline due to the uncertainty of that time period?
DM: I don’t know really. We don’t talk about it in the locker room like ‘You think I’m going to go? You think this guy is going to go?’ No one talks about it. I don’t know how guys sometimes feel personally if they’re in that situation. I’ve been fortunate that I haven’t been traded or anything, but I don’t know. I think that kind of differs for each guy individually.
Q: Is there a perfect time for the bye week? Do you like it right smack in the middle of the season like this?
DM: Yeah, I mean, I’d rather in the middle or maybe even next week or the week after. I hate when it’s Week 4. That’s just too soon and then it just makes the whole second half of your season just so long. I think it’s good, especially for us from a football standpoint. When you have eight games to break down and say ‘This is what we did well. This is what we didn’t do well. We need to do this better.’ We’ve got eight games to do it. In the beginning of the season it was like ‘Listen, we’ll have a bye week mid-way through. We’ve got eight games to see how this goes.’ I think it gives us a great mid-point to realize what we need to fix and how we can improve and give ourselves a chance at the end.
Q: What do you specifically do during your time off in the bye week? Is there a routine that you have?
DM: I used to just be more active and try to do as much things as possible, but now I’m going to go visit my brother in Cleveland. He has a bye week too, so we’ll probably just be two old guys chilling.
Q: Do you believe that the secondary has fixed some of the communication issues from earlier in the season?
DM: I think we’ve gotten better at it. Obviously, it still hasn’t been perfect. We talked about today just limiting big plays and not giving it all up in one play. It’s something we want to get better at. Some of that comes from communication. I think it’s obviously a lot better from the beginning of the season, but there’s still room to improve. I think when communication goes well, usually, you give yourselves a chance. I think we have enough talented players out there that if we give ourselves a chance at the beginning of the play more plays than not are going to turn out good for us. If we continue to do that it’ll help us as a defense.
DM: I think we’ll have to just get them back in the mix. I think the group that was in there, whether it was Chung playing inside in the slot and [Johnson] Bademosi coming in, or J-Jones [Jonathan Jones] coming in there, guys have been on the same page. The key thing is to keep that going. In the NFL you rarely have the same four, five, six guys in every game. It’s just so hard to do that in the NFL. You always have some type of injury, so I think we’re used to having a guy or two in or out. To me, it’s as a group that we want to be on the same page. Whether it’s guys in the meetings getting it down even if they’re not out there on the field, which I think Stephon and Eric have done a good job of staying in tune and focusing on the game plan. They’re both good players and have played well for us, so we’ll get them back in there. To me, it only strengthens us as a group.
Q: How many different T-shirts do you own and what goes into choosing them each day?
DM: T-shirts? I probably have maybe 200. I’m not really into the whole button-down look, so I don’t have many collared shirts. My wife gets mad when we go to dinner at nice places, but it is what it is. You walk through the store, see something that you like if it matches the personality. Maybe when I retire I’ll try to be a fashion guy, stylist, and only get guy’s T-shirts. So if you’re looking for T-shirts give me a couple of years. Hire me.
Q: Is it more about the color of the shirt or the message on it?
DM: Message is definitely important. You want to have a bunch of different colors. You want to be able to match sneakers and all of that stuff. T-shirts seem simple but a lot of thought has to go into it. It’s harder than it looks. McCourty