The La Puente (Calif.) Bishop Amat running back, Dionza Blue, got some good news over the weekend...
Presser: Philadelphia QB Donovan McNabb
A: I think chemistry is very important. You can be on a team full of talent, but if it can't gel together or players seem to have a problem with one another, or the communication just isn't there, I think it's very hard for a team to play well together. I think when you go through a season like we were involved in, at the point that you communicate, there will be ups and downs, there are going to be trials and tribulations, but I think the way of handling it (is to) make sure you handle it together, learn from your mistakes and be able to move on.
Q: A few of your teammates said chemistry is the best thing you left training camp with. Do you agree with that?
A: I definitely agree with that. Again, it's important to your success. You can prepare all throughout the week, but going out to practice if you're not on the same page and your chemistry is not where it needs to be by game time, you're going to have a problem. I think there are ways around it, but the easiest way is to continue to communicate and continue to work well together. If there's something that, as a quarterback, that you may see that could possibly help the receivers or running backs, or tight ends in the passing game, you communicate with them on that. (If) there's stuff the receivers or running backs or tight ends may see that maybe I didn't see, (it's important) for them to communicate with me. I think we definitely have that trust. Going along right now, we know that we're not where we want to be right now, but yet, still, we're going to try to continue to work together and get it to where we all feel comfortable.
Q: Is the importance of chemistry something that you think teams might underestimate, and did you maybe underestimate it two years ago? How much did you learn last year about the role of chemistry?
A: I think it was quite evident, not to harp on anything that happened last year. I think when you go back to 2004, you go back to the early year when we were able to make it deep into the playoffs with opportunities to make it to the ultimate goal, chemistry was important. And not just on the offensive side, but as a team. Defensively, special teams, as well as offense, we continued to gel together, learning each game how we could prepare and how we could play well together. I think some teams kind of look past that, for what reason, no one knows, but I think it's important that you continue to focus on it.
Q: How would you define chemistry?
A: It all starts with respect. You have to respect your teammate -- you have to respect his work ethic, you have to respect him as a person. Second, on the field I think it's important that you work well together. When you're out there, communication is very important, of just the depth of a route, how the ball's going to be placed. If the quarterback sees the way the defender is playing, where he is expecting the receiver or tight end or running back to be. The same goes for the offensive line, of just having the trust that the guy who's making the call next to you, that you trust it's the right call. That you're going to continue to do everything that you have to do in order for it to be a successful play. Now, also, I think something that people try to avoid is the friendship off the field. That's very important, and that carries major weight. You don't have to hang out with them, you don't have to come over for dinner every day. I think it's important that you begin to learn more about the person away from football. When you're able to do that, when you're out on the field and you're working together, it makes a better working relationship.
Q: What are your initial impressions of the Giants' defense?
A: I think they're a high-fire defense. The success that they had last year, you watch the film and you definitely can see why. Obviously the big names people talk about are Osi (Umenyiora) and (Michael) Strahan, but when you look at their team, they're playing well together. Their linebackers are playing well. Obviously LaVar Arrington is just learning the defense and learning the players who are in the defense. When you have experienced players like Antonio Pierce and Carlos Emmons, they're able to work with him and communicate with him a little bit so he can at least feel more confident in the things that he has to do. Will Demps coming over from Baltimore, working with Gibril (Wilson) and Sam Madison, an experienced corner. Being able to work with some of the younger corners, he and R.W. McQuarters, being able to work with a guy like Corey Webster, who at times during the Indianapolis game was locked in with Marvin Harrison, one of the best receivers in the game. When you're confident on one side of the ball, it makes everything easier for the rest of the team to see how they should play as well.
Q: Antonio Pierce sounds very fired up to play your team. Does that concern you at all, or is that just something you face every week?
A: I'm excited that people are fired up to play against us. Last year, I'm sure, not too many people would have been too fired up to play against us, due to whatever situation that was going on at that given time. This is a division game. You have to be fired up. We're fired up as well. We may not be talking as much as some of them are, but Antonio Pierce is a great player. He's a great player, and I'm sure he's looking forward to this game just like we are.
Q: The Giants didn't make a big play off the pass rush against the Colts. Is that a credit to the Colts' offensive line, or is it a failure on the part of the Giants' defense?
A: I think when you talk about two teams that obviously made it to the playoffs, two teams that are experienced, veterans on the offensive and defensive lines, the offense played well at that particular time. They gave Peyton enough time to get the ball out and gave his receivers enough time to make a play downfield.
Q: You haven't played against the Giants' defense in a year. With all of the changes they've made, is it like playing a whole different team?
A: I haven't been gone that long. I missed two opportunities last year, but I've played against them for seven years, whatever years that I've played against them. I think when you look at what Tim Lewis is doing over there, he's trying to get players in great position to be successful. He wants Strahan against all offensive tackles in the league. He wants Osi against offensive tackles in the league. He tries to put his linebackers in a position so they can roam and try to make plays in the backfield by blitzing them a little bit. Same with the safeties,you try to involve them sometimes in the running game, but yet, still, they're involved in the passing game. When you talk about the Giants' defense, we've played them twice a year every year. We have that relationship with each other where we kind of feel like we know each other, but yet, still you watch film and you see something different.
Q: How do you feel this year compared to last year? What can you do now that you couldn't, and what did it take to get back to that point?
A: I think injury played a major part in some of the things we wanted to do last year. Whenever you have 19 or 20 guys on IR, it's tough for any team to compete week in and week out at the top of their ability. Also, with everything that was going on, maybe the focus wasn't where we needed it to be last year. We can see the difference this year. I think everyone kind of took it upon themselves to challenge themselves to come out and do better. I think everyone has learned from the mistake of what happened last year and tried to make a change. When all guys are doing that, that makes a lot of things you're trying to accomplish a lot easier.
Q: What more do you have on offense this year with Brian Westbrook healthy and adding Donte Stallworth?
A: It's still young in the season. We're still working together. Whenever you have guys back healthy who know the game, guys who you've played with for awhile, guys who you feel comfortable with, and then you add a guy like Donte Stallworth in, it does wonders for you. But yet, still, we have to remember we've only played one game. We're still getting a good feel with how we may react to different situations. It's going to take some time, but the potential of what we can possibly do is exciting.
Q: Do you feel like Stallworth gives you back some of what you lost with the departure of Owens?
A: Off the field stuff, that's off the field stuff. My focus is what I need to do to help this team win over here. It's about wins and losses, and the only way that, as a team, we'll be able to achieve that is by playing well together.
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