RE: After three days of practices, how prepared do you feel?
"I'm ready to go. I'm not playing. They're playing. I'm good."
RE: Has there been anything so far that's surprised you?
"No, absolutely not."
RE: How well prepared do you think the team is given the unusual nature of this week?
"I think we had a good week and I think we finished on a good note. We'll see how it transfers from here to there: the game. But I think the guys are ready, loose and ready to go."
RE: What about this aspect of the job: being the face of the team, talking to the media … Is that anything you thought about before you got it?
RE: Is that easy for you to do?
"For me, it's just I know this is a part of it. As a player, you dealt with it then and it's just another phase of it. But it's no big deal."
RE: You've gotten a lot of demand by big outlets to speak this week. Have you accepted or turned it down?
"Basically I said, 'Whatever I have to do, I'll do. If I don't have to do it, the team needs all the focus and attention.' I can talk to the media anytime. They're constantly talking anyways. So for me, it's just having your priorities where they need to be. And right now, it's getting the team ready to play a good football team and win. That's it."
RE: Ray McDonald, a starter, will not be playing. How will you compensate for his loss?
"The next guy has got to step up. That's all it is. Kentwan [Balmer] we've got to play a little bit more, but we should be ready to go. That's the way the game is. One guy goes down; the other guy's got to step in. I don't anticipate any letdowns or anything like that, so we just have to go."
RE: So he [Kentwan Balmer] will be starting?
"No. Not starting. We're still making some adjustments on that, but at this time, no. That could change, but I don't think so."
RE: Even with that, he'll play the most he has this season – is that fair to say?
"He'll play a fair amount."
RE: How ready do you think he is?
"When you're a rookie, I think it's one of those things where if he was really ready to go then he would've been playing more by now. But I think he's getting better and that's the most important thing. And that's all you can ask right now – just get better each day. Get better each game. Hopefully at some point in time, you start."
RE: I know we asked you on Wednesday about 3-4 or 4-3 and [you were] being sort of elusive on that question...?
"I'm going to be the same today."
RE: That means that's in the balance?
"It's just one of those things; it depends on what happens in the game. It depends on who is healthy. It depends on Seattle's plan of attack. Are they going to go more 11 or 21 or 12, 20? We don't know. It's just…we'll have to see. We'll be prepared, one way or another."
RE: Isn't it kind of semantics – 3-4 or 4-3?
"It depends on the way you look at it. It really does. We're not a true 34 team. We have some defenses out of it and, of course, we can play a little more of it depending on what the offense is giving us in the matchups."
RE: Are you guys almost like a 5-2?
"You guys…in all honesty, it really is going to be…it depends on what Seattle thinks they can do against our defense and from there we just kind of have to pick and choose what really fits and what gives us the best chance to win."
RE: Since you've been here, is this the biggest threat that Seattle poses as far as a running game?
"No. They had Mr. [Shaun] Alexander, and anytime he was back there that's about as big a threat as you're going to get. But their offensive line – they're blocking, they're coming downhill. Their running backs are running hard and shifting. We just have to do a great job of getting off blocks and penetrating and making plays."
RE: With Dashon Goldson out, who is the first extra defensive back? Is it a safety or a corner?
"Between [Donald] Strickland, Michael Lewis [and] Keith Lewis, we just have to figure out what the best mixture is going to be. And once again, it depends on how much running in each personnel they think they can do and then we have to adjust with one of those guys."
RE: Seneca Wallace obviously can run the ball. Is that something you have to be a little bit wary of going into this game, his elusiveness?
"You know what, I'm going to be very honest with you. I know what they are capable of. We've looked at them this week and our team is very respectful of what Seattle can do, but they need to be respectful of what we can do as well. We're going to go into the game and we are going to play the best that we can play. We're prepared and we'll see what happens. All the other things, we'll see."
RE: Are you saying you want to impose your will on the other team?
"No, I'm not saying anything, I'm just saying that we're aware of what they do and we just have to get in there and compete and match up as best we can and do the best job we can, and we'll see what happens."
RE: Mike, why did you decide to get into coaching being the superstar…
"Why or when?"
RE: Why? A lot of great players, they don't want to deal with the hours in meetings, sitting watching film…
"I felt the same way. I felt the same way. I prepared all of my life to be a coach and when I got married my wife and I decided to have a big family. I was very excited about the possibility of coaching and in my last year in the league I began to ask coaches around the league who I really respected, how did they balance the time between coaching and family, being a father, being a husband. And they said you have to make a decision very early. You will not see your kids. You won't see your wife, so be prepared for that and based upon that, I knew that I would not be coaching. We have seven kids and I wanted to make sure my kids knew who their father was. I never considered winning Super Bowl trophies being more important than being a Super Bowl Dad, so it's hard work. Being out here, this is easy. Being a parent, that's difficult. So I didn't want to leave my wife there by herself to do that. So that was the decision. It was that way until one day I came home and she told me, 'it's time that we coach.' She said, 'We've been praying about it and Mike I feel it's time. You and I have a great relationship, the kids.' I think I was driving her crazy with what was happening but she was right, and I was very thankful that she had the wisdom and the timing and everything else and this is by far so much better than I ever thought it would be, coaching, since I've been coaching."
RE: Are you one of these "sleep in the office" kind of coaches?
"No. No, that's not happening. I believe in using my time very wisely and I'm going to do my job, and I'm going to do it the very best that I can, but I'm also going to have balance in life. While I'm here, I'm working my tail off to be the best coach that I can be, but when it's all said and done, I just want to make sure that there is balance in my life."
RE: Do you think…has that worked against you in the sense that there seems to be something sexy about the coach who's just grinding away, 18-20 hours a day?
"You said there seems to be something…"
RE: Sexy, maybe owners want to see…
"You know, I've got nothing against that, I mean if that's what they want to do, then that's them. I just think the most important thing for me is to know who I am and what it is I want out of life and where I'm going. I want to go to the Super Bowl. I want to win many Super Bowls. I want to win championships. I want to do all of those things, but not at the expense of my family. Football is extremely important to me. It's allowed me to have a great life and take care of my mom and dad, sisters and brothers, friends. Send them to college, all those kinds of things, so I owe so much to football, but I also know that my family and my faith are extremely important to me and I just have to make sure that I balance those out at all times."
RE: What ages are your children?
"My oldest is 22."
RE: And then…
"And then about two years in between each one going down to 10."
RE: 22 to 10?
RE: Is he still at Baylor [University]?
"Yes, my oldest is my daughter. She's at Baylor. Now I have a son at Baylor."
RE: You have two children at Baylor?