Q: Talk about the changes you have had on defense this year with an influx of youth and several new starters. How has that come together for you?
VW: It’s coming together well so far this season and all season we’ve been a work in progress. These guys have done a really good job just coming to work each day, taking it one game at a time and going out each week and trying to prepare well and execute well. The times we had problems is guys not playing with the confidence they need to be playing with but for the most part, things are working out very, very well for these guys.
Q: You have been playing for a long time. Can you tell us what the principles are of being able to generate pass rush up the middle and what makes you so effective at doing it?
VW: Well just, first of all, it comes from coordination; that’s the biggest thing. We have a lot of guys that have different skill set: some guys are quick, some guys have power, but just being able to work off one another at times, you know, the four-man rush, sometimes five, six men if we bring the pressure. That’s just been the biggest thing. We know it’s the biggest thing, so when you have good coordination along with your pass pressure, you know that’s pretty good. We’re going to need that again this week, especially with [Ryan] Tannehill, a guy that can hurt you with his arm and with his legs. We have to do a really good job up front, have good rush lane discipline and then execute to our game plan rushing against these guys.
Q: Was it something you got better at as the years went on?
VW: Yeah, the ups and down that we have when we break down, one person or a couple people may break down up front or whoever’s getting involved in the rush. When you don’t have that lane discipline, that can cause trouble. Like I said, for the most part this year, we’ve been pretty solid when we rush the passer and just being understanding of where guys are on the side of you and being able to see them and work off them. It’s been a work in progress, but at the same time it’s been something that we’ve been very positive with all year.
Q: Mike Pouncey has consistently said that you are the toughest player he has faced through his two-year career. What is your take on him having gone up against him a few times already?
VW: You know what, and I said it last year when he was a rookie and the guy came in. The guy’s is a very smart football player. It’s rare that you find a center that can pull out into the open field and can block DBs and linebackers, especially up front being able to orchestrate that offensive line and getting everybody in the right position that they need to be in. He definitely doesn’t play like he’s only two years in because he’s a real, real good center, offensive lineman in this game. It’s hard to just know that he’s only two years in – that’s the scary thing. He has a very bright future ahead of him and I think those guys, they rally around him. He sets the tone for that team, that offensive line and everybody else just works around of him. He’s definitely a hell of a person, a hell of a player. Anytime you can get a center in the open field to move the way that he moves, that says a lot about that guy individually. He’s a very, very good football player and smart.
Q: How much different is your preparation for a center like that?
VW: It’s very different. Because like I said, when you can have a center pull, but when you have somebody that can move like that, you have different blocking schemes and that just makes it tougher on us. You don’t know when he’s pulling. You don’t know that. You don’t know when he’s moving, so we have to do a really good job against him and just understand that when he moves, we have to be very disciplined and playing good run technique against him because like I said, he down blocks, he pulls, he can face block you. He can do all types of blocks. That’s tough for any opponent. We just have to do a really good job of playing good technique, good fundamentals up front with this guy.
Q: When people talk about the Patriots, they rave about the offense and at the same time disrespect the defense. What is your reaction to that?
VW: I think this year we’ve done a really good job of taking the ball away. We’ve been getting a lot of turnovers for our offense. We have probably the best offense there is out there. We understand as a defense that the more we can get the ball to our offense, the more opportunities we’ll have to score points. Everybody understands that. You know what? I can take a back seat to Tom Brady and those guys because they do a hell of a job of moving the ball, keeping teams honest, running it and being able to throw the ball in the air. We know how well we can play as a defense and we just have to keep doing what we’ve been doing, and that’s creating turnovers, creating negative plays and playing good team defense. And at the end, the biggest stat of them all is winning. I think that’s the most important thing for us right now. I think any good football team finds a way to win. We’re going to have to continue find ways to win around here.
Q: You played the Dolphins in a hard-fought victory a few weeks ago. What were some of your biggest takeaways from that game?
VW: First of all, the Dolphins keep it moving. They just don’t line up and say, ‘I’m going to do this.’ They keep you moving. They keep you guessing. They motion guys. They change their backfield sets, their quarterback [gets] out of the pocket. Just because they’re in shotgun, it’s not always a pass. So they do a really good job of mixing up their offense. They gave us some problems and they have every run that you can possible name. We just have to do a really good job of defending everything.
Q: What is your take of the University of Miami program and what it is going to take to get them back on track?
VW: I mean, winning is everything, so you have to find ways to win. But right now, I’ve been nine years out of college and I bleed orange and green, but at the same time, I’m a Patriot now. I follow them. I’ll always follow them. I’m a Hurricane until I die and hopefully that program gets turned around soon, so we’ll see.
Q: The Dolphins have been eliminated from playoff contention, but what kind of game do expect from them coming into Foxborough?
VW: We’re going to expect their best. Last week we expected Jacksonville’s best and they gave us their best. They played very, very tough. They didn’t play like a team that only won two games, I’ll tell you that. We’re expecting the same thing here. It’s a division game, they’re on the road and it’s their last game of the season, so I’m pretty sure they’re going to set the tone early. They have a bunch of great players and we have to be ready to play fast, start fast and finish strong. That’s one of the things we have to do and if we do that, we’ll be OK but if we don’t, it will be a long day for us.
Q: What kind of weather are you expecting on Sunday? We hear it might snow. Do you want some cold, wintry weather with a Florida team coming up?
VW: I’ll tell you what, at this time, you can expect anything from this weather up here. We’ve played in a lot of stuff. Even the Dolphins have played in a lot of cold games, rainy games and you know what? I just think back to last year when they went to Buffalo and played in that snowy or rainy game out there and they put up a lot of points and played very, very well. I don’t think the weather will affect this team, knowing that they play us twice a year. They’ve seen it. They play Buffalo, they play the Jets, and they play us twice a year. They’ve seen this weather a lot and they’ve performed pretty good in this weather, so I don’t thing weather will be a factor in this game.
Q: What has Aqib Talib brought to the team? It seems like he’s made a difference since he got there.
VW: A lot of heart, a lot of passion for the game. He’s one more guy that we can add to the dimension of loving play football. His physical appearance, being able to jam receivers, play up on receivers that are tough, so he’s brought a lot the game. He’s brought a lot to our team. He definitely made this defense a lot better coming in and we’re happy to have him a teammate. He’s a hell of a guy on and off the field. Everybody has issues but trust me, this guy’s a hell of a football player and he loves what he does. He loves to play football. The more guys we can get like this on this team, the better we’ll be and you know what? It shows. It definitely shows