How Did The New England Patriots React To Win Over Redskins?

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Sep 3, 2015; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots defensive end Rob Ninkovich (50) watches during the second half of a game against the New York Giants at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports

Rob Ninkovich

Q: What’s been the reason for the improvement on defense for the last four games? 

RN: I think every week we’re trying to improve and get better, and the communication gets better amongst everybody. It’s not just one thing, so collectively as a unit we want to continue to get better as these weeks roll on. It’s young guys getting experience. That’s huge. A lot of the younger guys, early in the season, they were getting their play time early, and they’re learning why you’re out on the game field. So as a unit, we’re getting better and just keeping the work throughout the season, getting better every week.

Q: How do you continue to roll on while you’re watching so many guys get injured?

RN: It’s unfortunate to have injuries in the NFL. It’s just a part of the business. And from experience, I’ve had injuries before. You just have to focus on what you can do, and again, I think that’s just a part of the business you have to deal with. As the season progresses, there are going to be things that come up that are out of your control, so you just have to do your best to adjust on the fly and continue to push forward.

Q: Does this team have a particularly strong mindset in terms of not allowing injuries to be an excuse?

RN: Well again, I think that the team is very mentally tough, and that starts back in our offseason workouts, mini-camp, training camp – that’s where you put in all that hard work and create that mentally tough attitude. So again, I think that it’s unfortunate that we’ve had some injuries, but you just have to look forward and continue to push and have that next-man-up mentality.

Q: How do you adjust when you find out at the last minute that a guy likeJamie Collins isn’t going to be able to play?

RN: Again, with his situation, again, that’s just one of those situations that you have no control over. So you have to just do your best to move on with the guys who are going to be out there, and have that communication level just as good from when Jamie is there and when he’s not. So again, it’s stuff that you can’t control, and I think that [Jonathan] Freeny did a great job stepping up. [Jerod] Mayo was out there doing a great job. So the guys that are stepping in have experience, and they’re good football players. And we all have confidence in each other to play together and play well.

Q: How much do the interior linemen help you and Chandler Jones when it comes to rushing the passer?

RN: The more push you can have, the better. Again, I think across our whole front we have guys who are very disruptive, and they do a great job. So it’s a great collective bunch of guys who are playing fast and playing hard and playing for each other.

Q: How patient did you have to be as a defense in this game and especially on the fumble recovery?

RN: Well again, it’s the bend-but-don’t-break mentality, knowing that you don’t want to have some of those long drives, but I think that they had a good game plan as far as getting the ball out of the quarterback’s hand quickly and not holding it very long back there. So again, you’ve got to give them credit for some of the things that they were able to do on those drives, but Alan Branch made a great play to force that ball out and I was able to jump on it. At the end of the game you don’t want to have that touchdown scored on you, but again, just having a mentality of let’s give our offense as many opportunities as possible, knowing that they’re great and let them do what they do best and move the ball down the field. So us, as a defense, yeah there are things that we want to work on, get better at, and we still have eight more to go.

Q: How much confidence do you have in the coaching staff when players get hurt and they have to use their contingency plans?

RN: Yeah, we have great confidence in everyone that’s on the football field. Again, I think it goes back to the things that we work on in training camp and mini-camp. A lot of guys, the more positions they can play, the more it’s going to help our team, so if you have guys who can move around and have had experience at different positions, speaking for myself as a defensive end or a linebacker, that’s going to help the team out. So the more guys you have that can move around, it’s going to help the team. So again, we have a lot of guys who are flexible in the things that they can do.

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