Q: What have you seen from the defensive front of the Chiefs so far, especially up front, as they’ve been good at getting to the quarterback this year?
JM: It’s a very good unit in total, and the front in particular. They’ve got some real stout guys up front that are also athletic and powerful in the pass rush in [Allen] Bailey, [Dontari] Poe, [Jaye] Howard. [Vance] Walker and [Kevin] Vickerson also show up plenty. So they do a good job of hunkering down and playing the run. They also have gotten to the quarterback in the pass rush as well. The two guys on the edge, this is a really exceptional duo with [Tamba] Hali and [Justin] Houston. They’ve got speed, they have power, they have different counter moves that they both use and are very productive with. I know they are tough against the run, they do a good job of holding the line of scrimmage when you try to run the ball, and they do an exceptional job of getting to the quarterback in the pass rush. It’ll be a big challenge for us. We know we’ve got a lot of noise to deal with on the road this week in Kansas City on Monday night, and we’re looking forward to beginning our preparation here with the players tomorrow.
Q: When you are trying to decide who to activate for the week between Aaron Dobson and Kenbrell Thompkins, is there something each does that would give them the nod over the other? Also, what goes into the decision to choose who to activate?
JM: I think that relative to who is active and how those decisions are made, I think that’s a great question for Bill [Belichick] because we obviously work hard with all of the guys over the course of the week, and eventually those decisions are going to be made by Coach Belichick in terms of who we are actually going to suit up for the game, because obviously we can only suit up a certain number offensively and defensively. That’s really for him to answer. I think for those two players, they have played similar positons in our offense, and they’ve both been productive last year off and on different spurts of the season. They missed some time, but they were both productive when they had their opportunities, and I think that they’re both second-year players, still young guys, continuing to learn and improve as we go. And in Aaron’s case, he missed a significant portion of the offseason as well. I think it’s a long year. There are a lot of things that go into the improvement of a player and the decisions that are made about who should and shouldn’t be active on game day. We’re just trying to coach them as best we can every week to get them prepared for the opponent, and hopefully they have a great week of practice and make our decision very difficult every week.
Q: You guys haven’t utilized the no-huddle offense that much outside of two-minute situations and at the end of the Miami game. What goes into the decision to go up-tempo?
JM: We actually used it quite a little bit the other day in the Oakland game – some success, some other things that happened. I think that there are a lot of things that go into how you want to play the game – your personnel, the availability of one specific personnel grouping to stay on the field for that long. We’ve had some guys that we’re trying to work back into that type of condition. That I think is something that you have to be mindful of each week. How comfortable everyone is in the lineup with that, the type of scheme that you expect to get from the defense when you do it – there are a lot of different variables that I think go into it. Like you mentioned in the second half of the Miami game, late in the game we had to use it. That was more of a two-minute than a no-huddle. But we did use the no-huddle in spurts the other day, like I said, with some success. I think it’s always something that we’re considering each week, and you’ve got to try to make the best decision for what you think you can do based on your personnel and all the other factors that I just mentioned.
Q: How do you think Rob Gronkowski is doing physically, and do you think he is getting back to full strength, because he is such a major part of your offense?
JM: I think that Rob has definitely made some plays for us, and we certainly think that will continue and hope that will continue. We’ve tried to work him back into the game plan and to an overall level where he can contribute the most. I think each week, we’ve done a little bit more, and hopefully we can continue to do that. I think that anytime you’re talking about a player who is coming off of a situation like Gronk was, you just have to be smart and you do what you can do. I’ve been happy with the things that he’s done so far and hope to continue to add more as we go through the year.
Q: Conditioning-wise, do you think Rob Gronkowski is pretty much back?
JM: I think Rob, like I said, has done the things we’ve asked him to do. He’s been fine in terms of his assignments and his conditioning level, and we’ll just try to add to it as we go throughout the course of the year. You’re mindful of anybody who has missed, whether it’s a specific portion of camp or whatever it is, that you’re smart about how you integrate those players back in. Hopefully that’s what we’re doing and try to continue to do that each week.
Q: This isn’t going to come out right, so I’m just going to be direct with it. A lot of people are wondering how Rob Gronkowski couldn’t have been on the field at the end of the second half when Tom Brady called timeout, and then he came back in with the second package and caught the touchdown pass. I’m looking to get some insight into why he wasn’t on the field in the first place?
JM: I think, if I’m not mistaken, that we did use a few no-huddle situations there. And again, I think that Rob obviously makes an enormous impact in that area of the field as well. I think that we did end up with one or two no-huddle snaps there before we actually ended up with the third-down situation. Our intention in any situation like that would be to have Rob on the field as much as possible because he has made such a big impact and hopefully will continue to do so. So, I don’t think it was anything alarming. I think we had had some success with a few things, and I think we went right to the football and went to a no-huddle type of situation, and he wasn’t in there on the play or two prior to that. But hopefully in any critical situation, he’ll be able to get in there and have an impact for us. That would be the intention.