http://www.signonsandiego.com/sports/chargers/weblog/archives/002755.html December 15, 2005 If you like your quotes unfiltered, here, in order, are your transcriptions of conference calls with Chargers head coach Marty Schottenheimer, quarterback Drew Brees, and their Colts counterparts, Tony Dungee and Peyton Manning. These come courtesy of Casey Pearce of the Chargers, and Justin Dickens of the Colts. December 14, 2005 San Diego Chargers Conference Call HEAD COACH MARTY SCHOTTENHEIMER (on his relationship with Tony Dungy in Kansas City and what he saw in Dungy at that time (1989-91)) 12/14/05 “It was obvious he was extremely bright. He had a great repoire with his players, which is obviously an ongoing process as he’s become a head coach, a terrific communicator, not withstanding the outward appearance, his demeanor. There’s a fire that burns deep inside of him. Nobody ever knows with a certainty when the guy becomes a head coach of how he will do because there are so many circumstances that affect that, but I thought he had a great opportunity and he’s certainly done that.” HEAD COACH MARTY SCHOTTENHEIMER (on Tony Dungy in Kansas City) 12/14/05 “There was a terrific relationship, a dynamic between he and his players. They trusted him. They knew that he knew what he was talking about, which is critical, obviously, for any football coach, and he did a terrific job.” HEAD COACH MARTY SCHOTTENHEIMER (on how much TE-Antonio Gates means to the offense) 12/14/05 “He’s obviously our leading receiver right now. He does a terrific job, I think, in creating matchup problems when you have a tight end like him complemented by our passing game and then you add a player like LaDainian (Tomlinson) to the mix, I think the matchups become significant in many games. Some opponents, it’s not that significant because they’re not in man to man that much, but he’s done a terrific job for us. People ask, ‘Did you have any idea he would be that good?’ My response has always been, ‘If we had known he was going to be that good, we would have picked him No.1 instead of signing him as a free agent.’ So, he’s exceeded our expectations.” HEAD COACH MARTY SCHOTTENHEIMER (on TE-Antonio Gates being ‘uncoverable’) 12/14/05 “What he does is, his basketball background has enabled him to get his body in positions where the guy that’s trying to get the ball has a difficult time getting through him. They generally don’t have the same size that he has and, of course, he has extremely strong hands and like any good rebounder, he’ll always attack the ball. He’s never waiting for the ball to come to him. He’s always attacking the ball.” HEAD COACH MARTY SCHOTTENHEIMER (on if it feels like the Chargers have been playing must-win games all year long) 12/14/05 “I’ve never really looked at it that way. I don’t think our football team has. What we’ve done is played a bunch of very close, competitive games and haven’t won as many of those as we’d like. I haven’t felt that they’re must-win games, because at this point, I have a difficult time imagining all of the scenarios. We tend to approach it one week at a time. We obviously feel that this one this week is going to be extremely important to us. Worst case scenario, if we were to lose, I don’t know what that means. I don’t know that that eliminates us. There’s just so many variables that are a part, but I think that for me to spend time trying to figure them all out would be not the best use of my time. We play every week and we’ll play every week until they tell us whether we’re in or not in.” HEAD COACH MARTY SCHOTTENHEIMER (on how he would look at QB-Drew Brees’ season) 12/14/05 “I think he’s done a very, very good job for us. Our offense has been able to achieve a considerable number of things this year. We’ve done a good job in a number of areas. Our third downs are good, our red zone has been very, very good, so I’m very pleased with that. The only area that he is not as good as he was a year ago is we’ve had a few more interceptions, but there’s a number of factors that enter into an interception and it’s not always just the throw.” HEAD COACH MARTY SCHOTTENHEIMER (on QBs-Drew Brees and Philip Rivers) 12/14/05 “It’s never even a thought from my perspective, unless it’s brought up in the form of a question. Our approach is that we will visit all of those things at the conclusion of the season, and I don’t think it’s an unreasonable expectation that they’ll both still be here.” HEAD COACH MARTY SCHOTTENHEIMER (on if he can step back and admire the Colts 13-0 start) 12/14/05 “Absolutely. The ways in which they’ve won, it’s not like they’ve been in a bunch of barn-burners. They’ve pretty much controlled the tempo of the game, and they do such a great job on defense. They’re an outstanding football team. When you look at perfect, which is what they are, and then you look at the guy that kind of orchestrates it (Peyton Manning), I would have to say it (the MVP) would be Peyton.” December 14, 2005 QB-DREW BREES (on how much TE-Antonio Gates means to him) 12/14/05 “It’s great to have a stud tight end. Obviously, you want to be balanced, you want to give the defense as much to worry about as you can, so you’re talking about the run game and throwing the ball outside. Anytime defenses feel like they have the run game in check and they’re going to double guys outside, you always have to worry about No. 85 inside and the matchup problems that he would give the defense or the good matchups that we get, whether he’s on a linebacker or on a safety. So, yes, he’s a big part of what we do.” QB-DREW BREES (on if it feels like the Chargers have been playing must-win games all season) 12/14/05 “Yes, it does. It really does. We started off so slow. At one point we were sitting at 3-4, and we won five in a row to put us at 8-4, and the one last week kind of got away from us. But we still feel like we’re in control of our own destiny, and we’re just going to have to just take it one at a time these last three. They’re definitely must wins in our mind, if we want to control our own destiny they are.” QB-DREW BREES (on if it wears on a QB having that monkey on your back) 12/14/05 “As a quarterback, you have so much responsibility as it is, you don’t try to put any more pressure on yourself. You just understand it. I think to simplify it for myself, I just go out and tell myself to do my job. Do my job, and that’s a lot of things, but the more prepared I am, I have a routine that I go through throughout the week to prepare myself, and by the time Sunday comes around, I feel as confident as ever. I just feel like I can go out and we can go out as an offense and do anything we want.” QB-DREW BREES (on how he feels about his season) 12/14/05 “I always want to get better. I was not satisfied with myself or what we did as a team last year. I felt like it was a big step in the right direction. But I think that attitude of never being satisfied and always feeling like you have something to prove, there’s always a new challenge out there. Obviously, my goal is to be one of the best quarterbacks in this league, and everyday I approach it as getting a little bit better. In the end, as a quarterback in this league, you’re measured by wins and losses. So I think if you just focus on winning games and doing whatever you can to prepare yourself to do that and prepare your team to do that, then everything kind of takes care of itself.” QB-DREW BREES (on if this season as seemed like another trial in terms of his contract) 12/14/05 “Even if you’re locked in to a long-term contract, every year you have to prove yourself. There’s always someone creeping up behind you. There’s always that ultimate goal of winning a championship, and until you’re able to do that and do it consistently and have that as your expectation every year and that’s one thing that you can never be satisfied…it’s such a great opportunity to be able to play quarterback in the NFL. It goes by so fast, I can’t believe I’m already in my fifth year, and I’m sure Peyton can’t believe he’s already in his eighth year. It’s one of those things that goes by so fast, you just understand that time is so precious. That’s why you approach every day as if you’re trying to take advantage of the opportunity that you’re given.” QB-DREW BREES (on the difference in the Colts defense in the last year) 12/14/05 “They’ve had one more year. They were a really young defense last year. They’re still young, but very talented and just continue to get more and more experience every time they’re out there together. They’ve been able to stay healthy for the most part, so you just have guys that go out there and play hard, they understand the team concept and they’re just able to get the job done. I think it’s pretty amazing going from last year to this year, being a top five defense. They play very, very well.” QB-DREW BREES (on if it’s possible QB-Peyton Manning could be playing better this year than last year) 12/14/05 “I think it is. Statistics don’t tell the story all of the time. In fact, they rarely do. There’s so much more, especially playing the quarterback position. I think he’s done a great job managing the game. Just from what I’ve seen, it seems like he’s managing the game, playing well and in great command of that offense.” Transcript of Tony Dungee conference call: (on if he is too nice of a guy to be a great NFL coach) I never that that had to be mutually exclusive. I've heard it, but I was taught by my mom and dad a long time ago that you treat people the way that you'd want to be treated no matter what setting you're in, whether you're at work or anywhere. If you do that you're always going to be in good shape. That's always been my philosophy. I think you can be very effective in any line of work by being a good person. (on what he attributes his success to) I think number one I've been in two places where we've had very good organizations, had tremendous general managers who had great eyes for talent and would listen well and get you the kind of players that we needed. We had very good assistant coaches in both places. The thing that I tried to do was just see if I could promote an atmosphere where you play consistently, where you try to do the same things all the time and get better and better by repetition. It's a combination of having very talented players who work hard. That's probably the biggest thing. (on keeping the Colts' offense on course when he arrived in Indianapolis) It's funny because the offense was in place obviously when I got here and rolling and doing well, but Tom Moore, who was the architect of it, was my college coach and we basically run the same things that we ran in college. I knew the system very well. He's tweaked it a little since then, but I was very comfortable with what they were doing. What we talked about was that we wanted to stay explosive but become a little more consistent and take care of the ball a little better. I think we've done that. We've cut our turnovers down over the years. We're protecting the ball better. We're playing better in tighter situations. We have a confidence to do that. Then it was a matter of getting the defense as consistent as the offense had been. We knew a lot of the work was going to be on the defensive side of the ball. That would come. (on the success of his team's defense this season) I think the biggest thing that we have done is we've kept the same system. We haven't jockeyed back and forth, we've just tried to get better every year. The guys that played in 2004, many of those guys are still playing and they're playing better because they know their job a little better. We're a little more physical having Bob Sanders all year, drafting Marlin Jackson and getting Corey Simon, having some of our other guys - Cato June and Gary Brackett, Montae Reagor - being in the system one more year where they can play faster because they know what they're doing a little better, that helped us become a little more physical. Those are probably the biggest things. I think just staying the course and not leaving what we set out to do. (on Colts GM Bill Polian) Bill has done a great job. We've had some salary cap issues and we've had to make decisions and we've let a lot of good players go. We've had good players here, but we've always looked with the idea that we could replace guys and we could replace them basically with draft choices. That's not easy to do, especially when you're drafting in the 20's like we have been most of the time. For Bill to go out and get the players that we need, number one it shows the eye for talent he has, but also he does a great job of listening, especially on the defensive side of the ball. We had to help him understand what this defense was all about and the type of guys we needed. It didn't take him very long. He has brought some guys in here, Bob Sanders and Cato June and even Dwight Freeney. When we picked him at 11, there were a lot of eyebrows raised, but he knew from just listening to me that he was going to be an explosive player in this defense. He's done a tremendous job. He's been a real joy to work with. (on coaching Peyton Manning) It's a great feeling to coach a guy like that who is so driven, who is going to push the offense. He's going to make sure that everybody's practicing well. He's going to keep the tempo of practice going. He's going to work hard. He's never going to get complacent. He comes in every year having with, 'Hey, I've got five goals that I'm going to be better at this year.' Every week, he's on top of the details. That part from a coaches standpoint, you couldn't have a better person running the offense. What he does on the field, his accuracy, his decision making, the way he handles his preparation, you see it and you sometimes get numb to it. Especially last year, we're going through and five touchdown passes, six touchdown passes. You kind of take things for granted. He does some phenomenal things out there. I can sit back and appreciate it. We do ask him to do some things that not many other systems ask (the quarterback) to do. He does it and relishes the challenge. He does some amazing things. One of the best games that I think he's played since I've been here was the San Diego game last year where they were really humming and taking it to us. We're down 15 points and somehow he gets us back in the game against a team that was really playing great that day. (on how often he gets mad and how he displays his anger) I think these guys know when I'm pleased and when I'm not pleased. There are a lot of ways to get that done. You don't have to use profanity or you don't necessarily have to yell to let guys know that you're not happy with things. The end result is you want to get the job done right. Most of the time the guys want to get the job done right. I get mad as much as anybody. I just show it in a little different way. (on Marty Schottenheimer's influence on his career) I worked for Marty for three years. He's much like Peyton in terms of his preparation. He prepared, and I can honestly say that there was never a time in our three years in Kansas City that I didn't think that we were better prepared than the other team. That really had an impact on me as I moved on in my coaching career. I made sure that you wanted to have your guys prepared all of the time. He was a stickler for detail. He wanted things done right. That's why his teams are always in games. You can't really knock them out of games because they're too well prepared. I really enjoyed the time with him. I think I grew as a coach. It was a great three years for me in Kansas City, definitely. (on how much media presence has followed their 13-0 start) It was probably Week 10 when it kind of picked up steam. I think you're halfway through the season, a lot of teams had been 8-0, but once we got to Week 9, Week 10, then you get more national people in. It's been kind of fun around here actually. To be honest it hasn't been that big of a burden on our players because we had never really thought about it until last week. We're just looking at some intermediate goals and getting into the playoffs and winning our division. We didn't really factor in this talk about the undefeated season. Now that it's a little closer, maybe we will. It's been fun. I've told the players to enjoy it. There are very few times you're going to get on a ride like this. We might as well have fun with it. (on what he sees in the Chargers) It's funny, they're playing well and I really thought that they were the hottest team in football. I was very surprised that they lost to Miami at home because they played so well and they were making the plays that you had to make to win games. I think we're going to get their best shot. They obviously feel like they can't lose another game if they want to make the playoffs. I think it's going to be more their playoff desperation as opposed to saying that they want to give us our first loss. We learned a lot from that game when they came in here (last year). They're a very explosive offense. LaDainian (Tomlinson) is playing better than I've seen him. I haven't seen him that much, but he's playing exceptional. We're going to get their best shot. We know they have the capability to explode. We know that they're very physical on defense. We have to be ready. (on his decision to rest or play his players) I have thought about it. Obviously Bill Polian, (Owner) Jim Irsay and I have discussed it after the game Sunday because we did clinch and we've got home-field advantage through the playoffs. But our first playoff game isn't for another month, so it is definitely too early to start to pull back. There will probably come a time when we do, but this being an AFC game against San Diego, a team that came in here and really gave us all we could handle last year, this is a game we have to come out and play strong and have to play to win. Then we'll see what happened down the road. (on consulting other coaches who have been in similar situations) I know what (Andy Reid's) thought process was (last year). It worked out well for them. Mike Shanahan, one time he rested his guys, one time he kept going. I think you just have to know your team and gauge your team and know where they are. Everybody is going to make that decision based on their gut feel about their own team. Transcript of Peyton Manning conference call as transcribed by Jay Jay Maniquis. (on Tony Dungy as a coach and as a person) I think he’s a good coach just because he really draws a lot from the other coaches he’s worked with in the past, whether it would be by using quotes from Chuck Noll or working with Coach Schottenheimer and Denny Green. He’s also has come up with his own philosophies. He’s a good person and a great coach. He’s very detail oriented. He gets players to perform at a high level for him, which I think is the ultimate responsibility as a coach, to maximize the potential of his players. The two places he’s been, Tampa and here, he gets his players to play hard and it can result in winning a lot of games. (on handling the pressure of chasing history) The best thing about this team is – and it’s that old boring cliché – we’ve been able to take them one game at a time and focus on the job at hand, which is very rare for a team as young as we are. We’re the second youngest team in the league and we’re very young on defense. The focus of the team in practice and in meetings during the course of the week is our next opponent. Though I’m enjoying the win on Sunday night, I’m coming in the next day and looking ahead to our next opponent. I think that is truly why we have been able to take care of business so far and just worry about the next team we’re playing. That has paid dividends for us. (on the media attention the 13-0 start has drawn) It’s not something totally new for us. Through the years we’ve been here, whether it is because of the game we are about to play or the good players that we have, we are used to attracting attention around here. At the same time, I think guys here know how to handle it. It all comes down to what you do on the field on Sunday and what you do the next week. Usually (media members) are coming in because of what we did the week before, but we also have to address the week ahead as well. (on Dungy’s reputation of being a defensive minded coach but now having an explosive offense) When I heard that Coach Dungy was a candidate for the job, I was 100 percent confident that our offense and Tom Moore would remain in tact because Tom and Coach Dungy go back a long ways. Tom coached Dungy in Minnesota and they were together at Pittsburgh, then again in Minnesota. I was a 100 percent sure that our offense would stay in tact. (on calling his own plays at the line of scrimmage) It truly feels good to have input and more responsibility there. It certainly takes a lot more responsibility, and I certainly have to put in more time during the week for preparation. Tom and I have spent a lot of time watching film together with Jim Caldwell, our quarterbacks coach. We did that a lot in the offseason. In the morning, the first thing we do is watch film before we go lift weights. We’d watch last year’s film and last years cut ups and certainly meet a ton during the season. We meet up and compare notes of what Tom is thinking and what I may be thinking. I don’t think I really surprise Tom very much with calls and audibles. Like I’ve said often times, when he’s calling the play I can kind of block out the rest of the call because I already know what it’s going to be. I can just hear the first word and I know exactly what he wants. We’ve been together for eight years and it’s more responsibility on my part, but it basically comes down to trust. Some quarterbacks are allowed to audible but when they come off the field some coaches will say, “You’re allowed to audible, but it had better work.” That is more of a threat and I’m fortunate to have that trust from Tom. He believes in what I can do. (on his focus this year verses last year when he was chasing Dan Marino’s touchdown record) Certainly it’s exciting in what our team has done so far. That was kind of a nice thing about last year, that me chasing the touchdown record kind of turned into a team thing. The receivers were certainly excited about it because they were obviously part of it, the offensive line was excited to give good protection and the defense was coming up to the offense during games saying, “We’re going to get the ball back for you so that you can go throw another touchdown.” I really thought it turned into a team thing, and it really made me feel good for the guys we had. Obviously you don’t want to take away attention from the team, but no question there were lots of questions about that. I felt that it turned into a team concept and it became a fun ride because we were winning games at that time and throwing touchdowns. (on having fun this season) It’s always fun to win. No question it makes the plane rides back a lot better and coming into practice after wins you get an off day. Those are bonuses and incentives that the players appreciate after a win and have the incentive to win again next week. (on the Chargers) I thought they were an excellent team last year and I really feel that way again. If you look at their record this year, they’ve had a ton of close games. I think it was seven games where the margin for victory was seven points or less. You still prepare for an excellent team and for me, I was very concerned about the defense. Our defense is concerned about stopping Tomlinson, Gates and Brees. The rest of their offense is a lot to prepare for, too. Their defense with Foley, Edwards and the addition of Merriman is outstanding. I don’t know how much attention Jamal Williams gets, but he’s an outstanding player at the nose guard. So we’ll have our hands full. (on looking forward to a defensive struggle) It’s funny because I stopped a long time ago trying to predict games and how they’ll come out. That’s what makes the NFL exciting: you never know what is going to happen. There are two great teams in the AFC battling this Sunday, I know that. (on what the Chargers did to create such a competitive game last year) I don’t really get into schemes and what not. They just have really good players. I think that what defines a good team, you have got to have good players. Certainly, Wade Phillips is one of the greatest defensive coordinators around and has always done an excellent job. It really just comes down to having good players and it comes down to trying to block them and make plays when you have the chance to make them. (on his ascent in the league record books) I think right in the middle of your career and season, with the offense we have and somewhat the responsibility that I have, trying to call the right play and get everybody in position, I have a full plate and it’s hard to think about anything else. I certainly have a true appreciation for the history of the game and I’m biased with quarterbacks. Anytime that I get mentioned for any reason, I don’t want to make any comparisons because those quarterbacks played in different times. I’m not one to make any comparisons. I talk about enjoying the journey and not just the destination. Right now I’m in the middle of it and am trying to enjoy the middle of my career. (on Consistently winning and creating a legacy for the fans in Indianapolis) We’ve tried to turn things around here. The one thing about coming to Indianapolis unlike coming from the University of Tennessee where there’s a lot of history, there isn’t much history here in Indianapolis. The history of the Colts certainly resides in Baltimore. When I got here, Marvin (Harrison) was here and Edgerrin James got here, as the players were accumulated we kind of talked about trying to create or own history or legacy here in Indianapolis. We want people to think of the Colts first and not basketball or the Indianapolis 500 or anything else. It’s a long process and we just have to consistently keep on winning year in and year out. We love playing at home and hope that the fans come out and play the twelfth man on Sunday against the Chargers. (on Bill Polian assembling the team) Bill drafted me and I’ve always just appreciated his loyalty. He and Jim Mora both decided I was going to become the starter the day they drafted me. Being able to play as a rookie and keeping me in there, I always appreciated that loyalty. I love to pay them back with having a good work ethic and being here every offseason and just trying to be a better player. He’s a guy that has brought players in each year and certainly knows what he is doing. (on having so many offensive threat) Marvin certainly gets the recognition he deserves because he’s one of the greatest receivers of all time. Those guys are all primary receivers. Every play the ball can be coming to them. Reggie Wayne is one of the top four wide receivers in the NFL. He makes outstanding plays and catches the ball with his hands every single time. He can turn a five yard pass into a 25-yard gain. I think if you talk to most corners around the league and you ask them about Reggie Wayne, they would give you the same answer that he’s one of the best. Brandon Stokely, Dallas Clark and Brian Fletcher are all talented players, but the best thing about those guys is that they’re work ethic is there. If you don’t put the time in during the offseason and in between practices and meetings, it’s not going to pay off. Those guys have committed themselves to getting on the same page as me. It’s paying off for us on Sundays.