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Parcells press conference 11/21/06

Bruce Gradkowski is improving as he goes, I looked at all his film, he gets out of trouble and has a little running ability. His background in college was at a passing school, Toledo. I watched the MAC conference some; I was impressed with him in college. He's a heady guy; he knows what's going on. Like any young guy you get growing pains. He can throw a good deep ball.

Comment on the job the line and coach Sparano have done? After the Philly game you might've said one thing, but after a  majority of the games you would say another thing. Sparano does a good job.

Jason Feguson is doing OK, I have to watch his weight, but he's been good at keeping that down. In the last game we were running a lot of guys in and out of the game, its like wind sprints for Jason. But Ratliff has enough experience now, he can relieve him some, and we brought back Montavious. I want to keep that position well stocked, it's a key position, the defense will break down without it. Jason is dependable, he's a fun-loving guy, he keeps it loose, but he's serious when the game comes. Now, some of the young players can't separate that, his attitude, his joking during the week can be misread by a younger player; they might not be mature enough to separate those two things. I have to keep the young players on track.

Has Romo or the line been more instrumental is less sacks lately? I don't know, I haven't though about it. One guy to praise is Marc Colombo, he hasn't given up a sack yet in nine games, I don't think. He's done a good job; he's got a good veteran with him in Marco Rivera. The left-side, we've had some problems, we had a couple of problems last week over there. Tampa could give us problems this week.

Romo can avoid the rush, but he needs to take care of the ball better, he holds it in one hand sometimes. He does avoid some sacks.

On Romo for the Pro Bowl: Nothing amazes me in this day and age. It's a joke, it's ludicrous.

On not having major injuries this year except Ellis: Why would you even talk about that?

How was DeMarcus Ware working form the left-side? Ware on the left side was OK, that's something we've practiced since camp. We were flipping him and Greg around some, not as much as we did last week. It was a specific purpose for doing that; we were trying to ease our communication on the fly. They only used one personnel group most of the time, they deploy them in the same way. We were able to set our front the way we wanted too, it minimized the communication necessary.

Ware is doing fine. I talked to a friend of mine in football, we were talking about Ware, he mentioned every player has a different body clock in terms of maturity; it's not the same for everyone. Evaluating a player, like Romo, to be a real good evaluator, you have to have patience; you have to have seen the player in enough learning situations under physical duress, under the pressure of negative things, before you can tell much about the player. We all see the skills, the run, the jump, people talk about talent. Talent's a common thing; it takes other qualities, attributes you can't see. Those things, like with Dat Nguyen, attributes you can't see, he had them. They manifest themselves to someone who's aware, and they allowed him to become a good player. Ware is conscientious, dependable; you don't have to worry about him. He was a smaller college player, playing a different position, where he was just tearing up the field like a wild dog, and I had to convert him to an overall LB. You [the press] just want to see a dynamic pass rusher; I want to see a complete LB. I judge around 30% of his performance on pass rushing ability. I want a solid LB that they have to be aware of, and one can create pressure on occasion. He's not physically imposing enough to do that full time.

Romo is smart, almost too smart for his own good; he knows where the conversation is going before you get there. I've known people like that and they sometimes are not good listeners. They know where you're going before you get there, but being smart is an asset, not a liability. He has a good release, when he got here he had a tendency not to throw over the top, he would drop down on his delivery, and with his height you get batted balls. He throws it flat sometimes when he throws down the field, were trying to work with him on that. He tries to drive the ball down into tight spots. Now, on the bootleg to Fasano at the end, he lofted the ball, 2 years ago he would've gunned it in there, and Fasano wouldn't have caught it.

Romo is now in the process of becoming aware of Monday, both physically and mentally. It's a tedious procedure to recover from a game. You have to get back in the huddle; you can't have bad periods in practice. It affects everybody in practice, the whole outlook, if he has a bad day. Only the QB position you can say that about, maybe throw in the FG kicker and punters in there, too. (laughter)

He'll watch a lot of film this week. We did have two good practices, I shortened, on purpose, today's practice and we'll do a little bit on the field tomorrow. He has to get comfortable with the film. Until now in this week, we've been working on different compartments: this is the 3rd down stuff, this is the play-action stuff. Now he can look at the film. No coach can do that for him.

There is a carry-over with the Colts defense and the Bucs defense, but the way they create pressure is different. They use a few more fronts than Indy. They play the 46 defense some.

Are they tailoring their gameplans for Gradkowski? When you have a different QB, you try to tailor things to his liking. Some things, I would like to do more of than were currently doing, things that would fit Tony better. But every time we put it in there, he screws it up. I would like to do more than we are currently doing, we'll see.

No one would dispute momentum. Sometimes good fortune comes your way, or some bad karma too, the football gods are bouncing the wrong way. That can be a season affecting thing. You can create your own, but not all the time. I told the team a few weeks ago that there are 5 teams with better records in the conference. But we can change that, and now there's only one. 2 or 3 weeks from now, there may be more. Who plays the best from here out is going to be involved in the playoffs. You need some good fortune, to be healthy, then it comes down to who plays best. There are contenders in the NFC South and East. Out in the West, someone will win out, but in the other divisions there are several teams. I'm looking at the other divisions and seeing the competition, there's a lot of interactive play between the teams still left.

We didn't blitz that much in the Colts game. A couple of things that looked like blitzes were an effort to shore up our run defense when we didn't substitute. We walked the LB's up to the line. It saved us on that last possession. We though we had to pressure Manning once in a while, but we didn't go all out and try to blitz him, he's too smart for that.

Does Romo inspire the other players? When you see positive play it inspires other people. Any player than can inspire other players can inspire me. He's doing some things that are good. Terry [Glenn] was very inspirational the other night. I told him - You look like a 20 year old, fighting for balls - some of those were contested catches. I mentioned that to him. You look young again, it's good, and it is inspiring. When you see good play, like from Julius or Marion, guys you spent 2-3 years teaching, and then they get it. There was a play yesterday, JJ ran through the line, made it about 10-12 yards, and then he ran right into the safety. I said what the hell happened. The play should've gone for 40 yards. He said the guy surprised me, I was looking somewhere else and he surprised me. I just didn't see him until too late. He was upset about that, you don't get many chances on a safety all alone. He knows he left 20 yards on the field. When you see that from players, that they know, it's encouraging. Like McBriar, when he first was here he'd kick it 41 yards or 42 yards, half of them would en up in the stands. But now, when hits a bad one, you're surprised.

I see the warts on Romo, you guys see something else. I'm seeing the throw to Glenn that gets a pass interference call; if he doesn't get that penalty we probably lose the game. That was some of Romo's work.

I talk to Romo about personal things, I don't discuss them publicly. I try to tell him what's important. He's not prone toward the believing too much of what's going on. He's not caught in the good or bad, he's just getting ready for Tampa. He's not under any illusions.

I've seen him for 4 years, and I'm trying to eliminate the warts one by one. You fellas are talking like he's a rookie, he's not a rookie. My expectations for him are as a 4-year player. He should know what do; he should make the proper judgments. Not all the time, there's always human error, but keep them to a minimum. Right now he's just dodging bullets.

Why have you been converting 3rd downs so well in the past games? I don't know why. It's too complicated of a question. I'll tell you this, you would think logically, when you break down 3rd down into 1-2 yards, 3-6 yards, 7-10 yards, that you would convert the shorter distances better. But you look around the league, and with us, and it's not true. Some of the higher yardage conversions are better than the medium yards. It's unusual, more successful on 7-10 yards than on 3-6 yards. It's because defenses are playing tighter coverage, man-to-man, and receivers are not getting separation. The other night, the one Terry caught at the end of the game, we hoped for zone coverage and we got it. Now, Terry is quick enough to make it work against man-to-man, so we called it, but we got the zone.

I answered about Vanderjagt about 4 times yesterday. Just hoping things take a turn for the better. Right now, he gets the benefit of the doubt. If it doesn't get better, then that's a different deal. I'm patient with him because he has a better track record than some of the other soccer players I've had. Yes, I would coach around a kicker. I've done it and it's the worst feeling in football. It compromises what you're doing, you take more chances. The Meadowlands makes you do it sometimes, the wind there, on some days you need the 15-yard line before you can attempt at FG, I've seen it before. I wouldn't think I want to do that, right now, I'm not doing it.

The jury is out on Romo. I'm hopeful and I have confidence and a belief that things will go well. He has the qualities to help him. When you are a young athlete, when stuff goes negative for the first time, you realize they are talking about you. First time you get stung like that, it stings, then you build up a tolerance. You have your own antidote; you get used to it, and then it doesn't bother you. He has to go through it. Being undrafted may have stung him. I've seen him in two business situations off the field. That day of the draft, I was on the phone with him a couple of times, he was clear-thinking, understanding what you said to him and he was objective. He was fighting human nature, a couple of teams offered him more money, but he went for the opportunity. The other time was in negotiations this summer; I was privileged to the information of that. The way he behaved, he was analytical under the gun. That's a good quality to have, particularly if your coach is emotional under the gun. (laughter)

The game would've been too big for him the first year or two, but as he went on he got more prepared. Now it's not too big for him. But trust me; we haven't eradicated all the warts.

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