Oct 16, 2014; Foxborough, MA, USA; Patriots head coach Bill Belichick looks on from the sidelines during the first quarter at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports
Yesterday the New England Patriots’ coaches held a conference call with the media, as they dissected their upcoming matchup with the Chicago Bears, and also touched on a few other topics, including Peyton Manning breaking the touchdown record.
Here is the official transcript:
Q: You won another close game this week and I was looking at how you’ve done historically in tight games and it compares favorably to teams like the ‘70s Steelers and ‘70s Dolphins. Everyone else seems to be .500 in those games and you have a good record. What is it about this team and what is it about Tom Brady that has you taking these close games and winning them so often?
BB: I’m not sure about all that. I think looking at the Jets game that the statistics on that were – the odds of us winning that game statistically were very much stacked against us. So, I’d say of all the games, that was pretty much an aberration there. I’d say in the end it just comes down to the players: playing good, sound situation football and making the right decision at the right time under pressure. Whether that’s recovering an onside kick or getting an onside kick that we do, like what happened against Cleveland last year, or being able to offensively manage the clock or defensively kind of in this case, again kind of similar to the Cleveland game, Cleveland had that, it was like a 58-yard field goal or something like that on the last play of the game. This one was about the same length. We kind of kept them just far enough out. I mean, I don’t know, it got blocked. I don’t know if he would have made it or not, but it would have been a really hard kick. Each game is different, each situation is different, but what I would say is common is the players making good decisions under pressure. Of course offensively that’s Tom.
Q: Is that something you emphasize as a coaching staff?
BB: Yeah, I’m sure every team in the league does that. Of course, we definitely try to do it. I’d say if you want to look at the whole, go all the way back on it, we’ve had a good quarterback who is very good at that type of thing – decision making, clock management, game situations. We’ve had a good kicker, whether it be Adam [Vinatieri] or Steve [Gostkowski]. We’ve had good guys in those spots, although we won a bunch of games with [Matt] Cassel in 2008, but the quarterback play and the kicking are important. Defensively and special teams, we’ve had our share there, too. But I’m sure the quarterback and the kicker, if you had to pick two guys, those are two pretty important guys.
Q: Yesterday we talked about how the Bears had success offensively in terms of boxing out. From a defensive perspective, what is the key to combating that idea of getting boxed out?
BB: Well, I guess I would just say it’s dealing with the size. Between [Alshon] Jeffery, [Brandon] Marshall, [Josh] Morgan and you have to put [Martellus] Bennett in there, too. He’s really a big receiver at the tight end position and very athletic. No matter where you are on those guys they’re open because they have such range that a good quarterback can put the ball – where the defender is, a good quarterback can put the ball somewhere where they can get it and the defender is just a little too far away from it. We’re going to have to do a good job of matching up to the size of the receivers and tight end and the skill of the quarterback to get them the ball. It’s going to be pretty challenging. Each play has its own elements and coverages are different and so forth and so on. It’s not all the same situation. Certainly it’s not all the same routes either, but whether it’s in the deep part of the field or whether it’s on third down in the red area where you’re kind of fighting a line there that they have to gain and defending that line, all those things we’re going to have to do a good job across the board. Again, it’s not all going to be one guy or one coverage or one route. It’s going to be multiples, but fundamentally that’s going to be a challenge for us.
Q: What are your thoughts on Peyton Manning after his night last night? Obviously you’ve gone up against Peyton Manning a lot in your career. What have you seen from him that’s allowed him to be so good for so long?
BB: It’s a great career. It’s an unbelievable amount of consistent production. He’d probably be waiting a lot longer to pass that record if he hadn’t played against me so many times. He certainly threw a lot of them against defenses that I had. His durability, his longevity, his consistent production – that’s why it is what it is, why the record is it what it is. [Brett] Favre did it for a long time and did it on a very consistent level. Peyton’s done the same thing, even a little more so. It’s a phenomenal accomplishment. Like I said, he’s certainly thrown plenty of them against me.
Q: I’m sure you don’t have a ton of experience looking at the Bears back-seven back there on defense because a lot of guys have gone down this season. What are your impressions of what the Bears have had to do defensively and who are some guys who have stuck out to you while trying to study that defense?
BB: Yeah, that’s a really good question. We’ve seen a lot of different combinations back there. You know, I’d say starting at the linebacker level, with D.J. [Williams] and [Lance] Briggs and [Shea] McClellin, pretty experienced, athletic group. [Jonathan] Bostic is kind of their sub linebacker and has played all three spots in their regular defense, so he’s a pretty versatile guy for them, very athletic, runs well. So, I’d say that their linebackers all are athletic, they cover a lot of space. Briggs is a very instinctive player. D.J. has a lot of experience. Bostic is a smart guy, he’s a good coverage linebacker. Those four guys, Khaseem Greene has also shown up in there. He’s another very instinctive player – Big East Player of the Year and all that. Very productive guy, around the ball a lot. Christian Jones runs very well. He’s kind of like Bostic, bigger, but like Bostic in that he’s a very fast guy. I’d say overall, even though they’ve had some different combinations, they have good team speed in there. They used [Darryl] Sharpton last week in their nickel package. So, a lot of big guys that can run. They have a lot of depth at that position. They’ve obviously had to use it. But they have good depth, good players there and kind of whichever guys they put on the field have shown up I’d say pretty positively for them overall in spite of the number of guys they’ve had to use there. At safety, [Ryan] Mundy has gone all the way. He’s been a real consistent player for them: heady guy, plays in all situations, good tackler, good against the run. [Chris] Conte has been an instinctive player. He’s had some interceptions, been around the ball, kind of the quarterback of the secondary back there. [He’s] big, kind of rare type size; Steve Atwater type size. Different type player, but that type of big guy. He’s more of a deep field player. Again, [he] gets his hands on a lot of balls in their scheme and covers good ground back there in the middle of the field zone. [Danny] McCray has played. Big, physical safety. He’s been in there some. And [Brock] Vereen, who has also played a little bit in their nickel as the nickel back. But he played last week in the Miami game at weak safety. Fast, athletic, covers a lot of ground. But Conte and Mundy are both very experienced guys that have been around, played a lot of football. The corner, when [Charles] Tillman went out they moved [Tim] Jennings over and [Kyle] Fuller. They’ve played mostly on the perimeter. Fuller went out last week, McManus came in. Again, I would say overall their corners, including Tillman, are instinctive guys, good ball skills, good hands, read the quarterback well. They’ve had a couple different guys at the Star position, [Demontre] Hurst most recently after [Isaiah Frey] was released, I want to say after the Carolina game or somewhere in there. So, Hurst has done that and he’s done a good job in there. Along with all that, they have a rotation of it like about seven, or maybe eight guys, definitely seven, on the defensive line that put constant pressure on the offense – run and pass. Willie Young has been an exceptional player: long, athletic, runs really well, make a lot of plays in pursuit. [He’s] a good pass rusher – inside moves, outside moves. [Lamarr] Houston plays on the end [and] bumps inside in nickel. Jared Allen has about a thousand sacks. [Will] Sutton is an active player inside and then they’ve got a couple guys with [Stephen] Paea and [Ego] Ferguson who are big, strong, physical guys inside. They mainly play on the center, play on the nose. They count on that pressure from the front which they get through that rotation of players. They play quite a bit of zone defense and have linebackers that can run, that are active and have secondary players that read the quarterback, read pattern combinations, play the ball well. I’d say that would be my summary of it.
Q: Looking at Marc Trestman’s background, it would suggest he has a West Coast offense philosophy, or at least he coached in it. Having coached against him and your experience with him through the years, has there been a noticeable difference since he returned from Canada? What have you seen philosophically with all his weapons in Chicago?
BB: I agree with you. I think that his background – first of all Marc was at Cleveland before I went there in ’91. So in studying the Browns and their offenses – he coached Bernie [Kosar], was quarterbacks coach there. So, I have a little bit of a feel for him and the passing game and some of the things that they did at Cleveland prior to when I got there. But I agree that the foundation of the passing game is West Coast. You see a lot of catch-and-run plays, a lot of yards after catch in this offense. They have big receivers, which all the West Coast teams like. I’d say that that’s – when you say, ‘How has he changed a little bit from coming back from Canada?’ I’d say that’s part of it, too. Just using the skill that has with those guys and their size. Morgan is a big kid – 220 pounds, whatever Jeffery and Marshall are both big and have a great catch radius. [Santonio] Holmes is kind of a different type of receiver, but he’s a skilled guy, too. But those three in particular – Morgan, Jeffery and Marshall – when you combine Bennett with those three players, who Bennett is really like another big receiver at tight end in the passing game, they have a lot of size to cover. Again, those guys do a good job on inside crossing type routes, overs and things like that. Of course [Jay] Cutler has the arm to really put the ball anywhere. The run plenty of comebacks and things like that on the sideline. But those catch-and-run plays, it’s not just covering them, it’s also tackling them and getting them on the ground after they have the ball is a big part of the game, too, with this offense. I think Marc has done a good job of utilizing the players that he has and they all have some similarities, but yards after catch, West Coast type offense, offensive plays, moving routes, plays that the ball comes out fairly quick on, but they get the ball to those big targets, specially coming inside, slants, unders, curls, crossing routes and they catch it on the run, getting them down then that becomes a big problem, too. Marc has, obviously, a lot, a lot of experience in the passing game. He’s had great production throughout his career with many different teams and quarterbacks and receivers and so forth. That pretty much speaks for itself, too.