Tom Brady Q&A, 10/31

Here’s the complete transcript of today’s Q&A session Tom Brady had at Gillette Stadium:

Q: Discuss this matchup with the two undefeated teams and yourself against Peyton Manning.
TB: Yeah, I’m sure this week is going to be long, in a sense, to get to the game, but it’s going to go fast as well. We’re playing a great team, I think, in every phase of the game. We know them just as well as we know any opponent, probably, that we play. They do so many things well and are very well coached. They play extremely hard. They play great in the second half; they’re a clutch team so we’ve got to play our best game. I think everybody’s excited.

Q: I know when you look at a defense to prepare for a game each one is different. How much of a factor is Bob Sanders in preparing for the Colts?
TB: He’s a great playmaker for that team. I think he brings a great level of consistency and dependability for that defense. He tackles so well. He’s obviously a leader. When he’s not in the game, I think he’s able to make up for a lot of things that happen on defense and he doesn’t bite on play-action. We always talk about players that guess and he’s one of those guys that is always guessing right. It’s not that he’s guessing, but he’s very instinctive and he’s always in the right place. He’s a great player. He’s one of the best strong safeties that we play. He’s a great tackler and I think they’ve got a group full of guys and I think they really all feed off of Bob.

Q: Is Coach Bill Belichick the same before every game or do you detect any difference in him leading up to this game?
TB: He’s very consistent. That’s one great aspect of his coaching is he’s very black and white. He always kind of speaks exactly what he sees. He know the challenges we face this week and we had a squad meeting this morning and he’s always on top of things. I wish as players we would be as on top of things as he is always. He knows how important this game is for this team and any time you match up against of the best teams in pro football it’s always great to see where you stand. They’re proven over the last bunch of years that they’re really the team to beat so we’ve got to go out and perform certainly a lot better than the last three times that we’ve played them.

Q: What impresses you most about Peyton Manning?
TB: What’s not to be impressed by? He does everything well. He throws the short stuff. He throws the deep stuff. He’s a leader. I mean, once again, he’s a clutch performer. He’s always in command of the team and the offense. Um… he’s a great actor. He can do it all.

Q: What is it about Belichick that makes players still believe in him that maybe the public isn’t able to see?
TB: Like I said, he’s very consistent in the way he approaches each week and he’s able to break down teams and understands what gets you beat and he also understands the way you need to play the game in order for you to play your best. I think there are some coaches that say, “All right. We need to stop the run, the pass, the draw, the screen, the trap,” and give you 25 things so you’re going out there saying, ‘What the hell am I going to stop?” He breaks it down to a couple things and usually… I’ve been playing for him for eight years and he’s never wrong and, usually, we come in Monday morning and look at the evaluations and if we do the things that he really talked about, usually we come out ahead. He’s a great leader and he’s a great coach to play for. We all believe in him and we trust him. He always says that he makes decisions based on the best interest of the team. He truly means that.

Q: Of all the characteristics you applied to Peyton Manning, which of those do you see in yourself? Can you act?
TB: Can I act? You guys tell me. Probably not. No, that’s definitely not like him. I try to just drop back and throw the ball to the guys that are open. He’s probably got a better arm. He’s faster. He’s bigger. He’s probably smarter. He’s proven over the years how consistent he is. I’ve always looked up to Peyton and the way he plays. He’s gotten the best of us the last three times we’ve played them. We’ve got a great challenge and, hopefully, we’re all up for it. When you play the Colts, it’s a team effort. It’s not this offense against their defense, it’s their defense versus our offense. You really have to play a complimentary game. It’s just all phases of the game have to be clicking. There’s just no letdown. Coach always talks about playing for 60 minutes and I think there’s no better example of a team that you have to play 60 minutes against because if you play for 59 minutes and 30 seconds they’ve got a chance to beat you and you just can’t let down against them.

Q: A lot has been made of the way you guys have been playing. How much of a factor is Josh McDaniels in his game plans and the play calling?
TB: Josh has done a great job all year. I think he’s done a great job since he took over the role as a play-caller. I think he has the respect of all the players and all the coaches. I think he’s a great leader for us. He always brings energy. He always brings excitement and enthusiasm. He’s extremely smart. It’s great that he started on defense early in his career under Coach Belichick so when he evaluates defenses, he looks at them through really a defensive perspective, which allows you to find the strengths and the weaknesses of what that team does. Very much like our offense does, that’s what we try to do. We don’t try to just bang our heads against the wall for 60 minutes. You try to find mismatches and try to exploit them the best that you can. What Josh does, I don’t think there’s anybody else who does as good a job as Josh in doing that.

Q: When you evaluate your play or that of another quarterback, how much does passer rating come into play?
TB: I think statistics in general for a quarterback don’t mean a whole lot in that you can tell a guy’s playing pretty good or not. You can tell that when you look at the film, but like I said [last week] after the Miami game, I threw a 3-yard pass and Donte’ [Stallworth] runs for 30 yards. I mean, how great of a play is that by the quarterback? It’s just you can throw an 8-yard completion and it’s not run in for a touchdown and you have a lesser passing rating. It just doesn’t mean a whole lot. Touchdowns, to me, those are very much team goals and scoring goals. I think that’s really something that the team strives to be able to do each year – score points. That’s really why, as Coach always says, he puts us out there. But in terms of… probably, I think the most important thing – and Drew Bledsoe gave me this advice early in my career – I think it was the first game we were sitting on the bench, a Tampa Bay game. He said, “You know, Tom, the thing about [winning in] the NFL is it’s usually the teams where the quarterback makes [fewer] bad plays. If your bad plays are incompletions, great.” I don’t think you can be a great quarterback if you can look great on one play and then throw an interception on the next play, or take a sack, or call the wrong play, or hold on to the ball too long and get strip-sacked. You really want to develop a consistent level of play by making good play after good play, even if the good play is throwing the ball away on third-and-15. I think that’s what the team looks for is a very dependable player that, hey, if the guy is open, you’ve got to throw it and complete it. You can’t miss open receivers, especially against the Colts. You can’t miss your opportunities, whether it be down the field or on third down because usually when you punt the ball to these guys, they’re going to take it and go the other way with it whether it’s their own 5-yard line or they’re getting it on or your 5-yard line.

Q: I know how much you enjoy playing the game. Could you comment specifically on how much you’re looking forward to playing with this receiving corps?
TB: Like I’ve said, I enjoy playing every year. We’ve had great receivers here for a long time. I think I’ve been fortunate enough to play with all of them from David Patten to David Givens, to Deion [Branch] and Troy [Brown] and this group has worked extremely hard. The new guys have really worked hard to learn the offense, understand what this team is about and what makes it successful. They just do what they’re asked and everybody appreciates that. It’s a very unselfish group that works hard and puts the team first. They rank right up there with the other great receiving tandems we’ve had here. I mean, it’s hard to rank. We’ve had pretty good years around here. We’re only eight games into it.

Q: Each team has had its share of negative press this year and now there’s talk of you guys piling it on. Is this a rallying point for this team to some degree?
TB: I think we just, like Coach says, look at every play on the field as a chance to get better and to improve. We play [until] the clock says zero-zero. That’s an interesting question of scoring too many points or I don’t know if that’s ever been a problem here in the past. I think you just try to do the best you can do. As an offense, that’s what we’re trying to do. We’re not trying to let other teams tee off on us, or let them get the best of us. If you call a play, we want to make it a great play and I don’t think we want to come off the field saying, “That was great. I hope they feel good about themselves. Because, you know, we just got the crap knocked out of us.” I don’t think that’s really the approach an offensive football team should take. I don’t think that’s an approach any team takes to tell you the truth.

Q: Tom, does this matchup deserve the hype that it’s been given?
TB: I hope so. I hope it’s a blowout, actually. I’m sure nobody else would like that. They’re a great football team and I think we’ve proven over the last eight weeks that we can play at a pretty high level ourselves. It’s two undefeated teams and, obviously with the history with these teams, it makes for a great matchup. Like I said, it’s going to be a long week, but it’s going to be a short week, too. I think you look back on games always throughout your career and you look at the ones that probably stand out and any time you play the Colts it’s always an exciting game for all the players and all the coaches because you know when you’re playing them you’re playing the best.

Q: What one player that doesn’t attract a lot of media attention do you feel could have a large impact on Sunday’s game?
TB: Uh. Wow. Randy Moss? No, he gets too much. I don’t know. That’s a great question.

Bill Belichick Q&A, 10/31

Here’s the complete transcript of Bill Belichick’s Q&A with the media today at Gillette:

BB: Good morning, everybody. We have a nice turnout today. [We’ve] been watching a lot of the Colts the last couple of days, of course, and they do so many things well, but I would say the most impressive thing that I’ve seen is defensively they just don’t give up any big plays, really. They don’t give many long runs. They don’t give many long passes. They don’t have many defensive penalties, and the same thing is true on the offensive side of the ball. They don’t have any sacks. They don’t have turnovers. They don’t fumble. They don’t have very many penalties and they don’t have very many negative runs. They’re right at the top of the league in all of those categories. They make you earn everything and it’s hard to get. I think all of the exemplary statistics that they have speak for themselves, starting with wins, all of their rankings and all of their production and everything. It’s very, very impressive what they’ve done. They really take care of the ball well. They don’t have any bad plays, really, on offense and they don’t have any on defense. For the amount of football they’ve played and the level they’ve played it at, that’s pretty impressive. It’s a big week for us – a lot to get ready for, a lot of work to do. We’ll get started on it today, but we’ll certainly need all of the preparation time we can get for the Colts. They just do an outstanding job all the way around, every phase of the game, every aspect of it. They’re tough. They’re playing extremely well right now. It will be a big challenge for us to go out there and try to be competitive.

Q: Are they doing anything different with Dallas Clark this year?
BB: I wouldn’t say so. I do not think they… They don’t do anything different, fundamentally. I think they do what gets them the most production. They can run the ball, they can play-action and throw deep, they can throw short, they throw to the tight ends, they throw to the receivers, they throw to the backs, they run inside, they run outside. Wherever you are, they’re probably going somewhere else. Wherever you aren’t, that’s where they’re going to be. Everybody that plays them, of course, is concerned about [Reggie] Wayne and [Marvin] Harrison. They create space inside. Once you start coming inside for the running game and Clark and [Ben] Utecht and those guys or try to pressure Peyton [Manning], then you’ve got problems outside. So, you’ve pretty much got problems everywhere and it’s just a question of where they think you’re most vulnerable, and that’s usually where they hit – and they hit hard.

Q: Have you noticed a constant – Are defenses going sub against them or staying with their base?
BB: They’ve seen the whole spectrum. It depends on what they’re in. They use some different personnel groups. They use a lot of two tight ends and one back, but they do use some three-receivers with [Anthony] Gonzales. They’ve been banged up a little bit at receiver. Harrison has missed a little bit, so that might have limited a little bit of their three-receiver offense. It’s clear they can play pretty much in any grouping. They’ve made plays in short yardage when they’re in their two tight ends and two back groupings. They move the ball and make plays in everything. It doesn’t matter – run, pass, play-action, inside, outside, short, deep, catch-and-run, over the top. We could put a highlight tape up here and find plays in all of those areas. They’re good at everything.

Q: Their defense is very good overall, obviously, but how important in Bob Sanders to their defense?
BB: Oh, he’s important but, again, they play good team defense. They’re very fast, they’re athletic up front. They get a lot of penetration in the running game. They can run, rush the passer. They’re fast. We talked about Washington being fast, but I think they’re faster up front, with [Robert] Mathis and [Raheem] Brock and, of course, [Dwight] Freeney. They get on the edges a lot in the pass rush and in the running game. Other times the linemen can’t really get in front of them, get them covered up and they penetrate up the field and then usually something bad happens after that – the quarterback gets pressured, [the] runner has to cut back into the pursuit. They do a good job. Sanders is outstanding – great range, terrific tackler, a hard-hitting guy who causes a lot of fumbles and turnovers. He gets in on a lot of plays, if the other guys don’t get there first, which a lot of times they do. They’re good. They’re good all the way around. [They have] a lot of team speed. Sanders has quite a bit of it.

Q: How do they approach three-receiver sets defensively? Is Tim Jennings the guy who comes in?
BB: When they go to their sub-defense, then Jennings would come in and Marlin Jackson would go in to play the nickel corner.

Q: But Jennings goes outside? And Jackson goes in to the slot?
BB: That’s generally the way they do it, yes.

Q: How have the personnel changes on both teams altered the way you go against them?
BB: I guess we’ll be talking about that on Sunday. They don’t have a lot of changes. Offensively, the two main people that are new are [Tony] Ugoh and Gonzalez. Defensively, they’ve got a couple of changes at linebacker [and] the corners, but fundamentally they play the same. When you watch last year’s tapes and cut-ups with this year’s plays, it’s hard to tell, “this is this year, this is last year.” If you look and say, “OK, there’s Tarik Glenn, OK, there’s Ugoh.” But you watch the plays, you watch the execution. You don’t see [Cato] June in there. You see [Tyjuan] Hagler in there. It’s hard to tell. It really is. It’s hard to tell. The corners, [Kelvin] Haden, Jackson – Jackson played last year, but not as much. He played more in the slot. It’s hard to tell. It really is hard to tell.

Q: Phil Simms said yesterday that some of your coaching style is based on fear, that players need to understand that the job could always be at stake. Do you agree with that assessment of yourself?
BB: I think whatever Phil says, you can ask him about that. We’re just trying to win games, that’s all. [I’m] just trying to coach the team and hope I can help the team play better [and] hope we can win some games. That’s all I’m trying to do. Let all of the other experts talk about style points – I don’t know.

Q: How impressed are you with what your team has done up to this point?
BB: I’m not too worried about what happened in the past. I’m looking forward to the Indianapolis game. That’s what we’re focused on. All of our attention is on Indianapolis, not what happened in the past or some other game a week down the road.

Q: You have an appreciation for history of the league. This is the latest two undefeated teams have played in the history of the NFL. Do you take any —
BB: I’m glad we’re one of them. I’ll say that – I’m glad we’re one of them. But, again, I don’t think last week or two weeks ago has a lot to do with this game. It will come down to the preparation that the two teams have and how the two teams perform on Sunday. We’ve had some great games with Indianapolis through the years. They’re an outstanding organization from top to bottom, a great football team. They’ve certainly gotten the better of us the last few times, so I hope we can be more competitive with them than we’ve been in the past.

Q: How did the way the AFC Championship game played out last year influence your off-season, in terms of player acquisition?
BB: [We] do the same thing every year – just try to look at our options and improve the team. We’ve done the same thing since 2000.

Q: Their run defense last year obviously had a lot of problems stopping the run.
BB: Not in the playoffs, they didn’t.

Q: Right. What has been the change?
BB: They’ve played good. It’s team defense. It’s not one guy. One guy can’t stop the running game. One guy can’t stop anything. You need 11 guys out there, and they play good team defense. They cause a lot of negative plays. They don’t give up very many big plays. They get you in long yardage. They don’t commit a lot of penalties. They hustle. They tackle well. They do a good job, and they’ve been doing a good job.

Q: Is your personal preparation for this game any more intense or consuming for you than any other week’s game, or are all games consuming?
BB: I tried to prepare hard for last week’s game and the week before that. You always try to do the best you can. There’s always room for improvement. I’m not saying that. I make a lot of mistakes every week and you try to correct those the following week and get it better. There’s things I would look back on in previous weeks and do differently and try to improve those, but we’ll just try to put everything we have into this game and hope that I can do something to help our team play better than we played out there last time. That wasn’t good enough.

Q: Obviously Dallas Clark is a tight end by trade, but he lines up in slot a lot. Do you treat him as a receiver?
BB: Yeah, they move him around. It’s hard to – You don’t know exactly where he’s going to be. A lot of times he is flexed out, there’s no doubt about that. He’s kind of like a slot receiver, but he does line up in tight and sometimes he lines up in the back side of a formation, a three-by-one formation or they put Harrison and Wayne on one side and split him out on the back side. So they give you some different looks on that. He’s a very versatile player. He’s smart, he’s fast, he catches the ball very well, [he] runs good routes. He’s a good receiver out as a split-guy. He’s good coming off the line of scrimmage in the normal tight end position. He’s an effective blocker for them in the running game and they do a great job of creating mismatches and taking advantage of them. Most of the time when they throw it to him, he’s open. Part of that is the recognition by Peyton, part of it is him doing a good job running routes and beating the coverage or a combination of both. He’s a tough guy to match up on, like a lot of the tight ends that we’ve seen this year. He’s faster than most linebackers he plays, he’s bigger than most defensive backs he plays, plus he’s a good receiver. No matter who you have on him, they have trouble covering him. He’s a hard guy to match up on – and he can block in the running game. It’s a tough match-up.

Q: Usually when you go to a dome you don’t have to worry about the elements. Last year in the title game it was very hot in there and players complained about cramping up.
BB: I don’t think it will be any hotter than it was in Miami two weeks ago. But, whatever the conditions are, we have to play in them just like they do. I don’t think it favors either team. You just have to deal with it. It can’t be any warmer than it was in Miami.

Q: Did that surprise you last year and do you have to factor that into your preparation?
BB: No, I think that’s the way it is in most domes. You get a full crowd in there and it’s a lot of body heat.

Q: Are these Colts better than a year ago?
BB: They’ve won 13 in a row. They’re pretty good.

Q: Do you think these two teams are pretty even?
BB: [We’ll] find out on Sunday.

Q: Any thoughts on Ugoh, their rookie left tackle? I know he’s been in and out…
BB: He missed last week and half of what would be the previous game, but [he’s a] real athletic guy. [He has] quick feet, long arms, big frame, kind of similar to [Jason] Ferguson. Real athletic. I think he’s got plenty of talent out there. I mean, Tarik Glenn was one of the best tackles in the league, no doubt about it. He was a big, much bulkier guy. Ugoh is kind of a leaner frame, but very athletic. Long arms. He’s a good player.

Q: Do you have any time to trick or treat tonight?
BB: That’d be a game-time decision.

Q: Can you comment on the two quarterbacks, maybe some of the best to ever play the game?
BB: Yeah, they’re pretty good. I think they’re both at the top of their game – great players, great leaders, smart guys. They make a lot of plays. [They] know how to manage the game. [They’ve] won a lot of games.

Q: What makes this rivalry special?
BB: It hasn’t been that special the last three times we’ve played them.

Wednesday Injury Report

Here’s the latest, just released by the Patriots:

Did Not Participate in Practice
LB Eric Alexander (knee)
S Mel Mitchell (groin)
RB Sammy Morris (chest)
CB Asante Samuel (team decision)
S Eugene Wilson (ankle)

Limited Participation in Practice
TE Kyle Brady (team decision)
QB Tom Brady (right shoulder)
WR Randy Moss (team decision)
LB Adalius Thomas (ankle)
LB Mike Vrabel (shoulder)
TE Benjamin Watson (ankle)

Shameless self-promotion … and a link

Don’t hold it against me, football fans, but I’ll be on “Greater Boston” tonight at 7 and 11 p.m. on Channel 2 talking Red Sox and today’s Rolling Rally.

On another note, check out my story today on Patriots Daily that looks at how Mike Vrabel is able to get open in the end zone so often.

Tony Dungy on the Pats-Colts: It’s Ali-Frazier

Yesterday on “Movin’ The Chains” on SIRIUS NFL Radio, hosts Shannon Sharpe and Bruce Murray spoke with Indianapolis Head Coach Tony Dungy about this weekend’s match-up between the Colts and Patriots.

Sharpe: “If you look at it, it’s not a Super Bowl match-up, but I don’t know if there’s ever been a more anticipated, a more hyped regular season game than what you have here. This might be, if this was cartoons, this is Godzilla vs. Megalodon.”

Dungy: (laughs) “I think you’re right. I had never been involved in one until last year, the Manning Bowl opening day. That had a lot of hype for the regular season, but this has been building for five or six weeks. And, to me, I guess I look at it like when I was in high school and it was Frazier against Ali. Ali was the people’s champ and he had been the greatest and all of a sudden Frazier comes along. But they said now Ali’s back and he’s better than ever. And it was, it was just an unbelievable situation and I think this is the same thing. People are saying, hey, New England was the champ. They’ve been away for a couple of years. Now they’re reloaded. For both teams to be undefeated, it’s great for the NFL, it really is.”

Sharpe: “How do you approach this game? Obviously you did a great job because they’re trying to get your guys after the [Carolina] game to talk about New England and Jeff Saturday and Reggie Wayne and all your guys said, ‘Look, we’re going to worry about New England starting on Wednesday. Right now let’s talk about Carolina and how well we played today.’”

Dungy: “Right. And I told them everybody’s been wanting to hype this for three weeks so there’ll be plenty of time for hype and everything. Let’s just enjoy this victory. The thing we’ve got to keep in mind [is] it is a regular season game. It’s not the Super Bowl. The loser doesn’t go home. All it is going to determine is who is the best on November 4th. And that team may or may not be the best. We beat New England two or three years ago and people wanted to give us the trophy at that point and we didn’t win it. And all I heard last year was how San Diego had the most talent and the best team and they didn’t win it. So it’ll be a big, huge game. It’ll be great for TV but it will just tell who was the best on that particular day.”

Sharpe: “[People] are saying [the Patriots] are running up the score. I said you’ve got [Redskins head coach] Joe Gibbs who is making $6 million a year, you’ve got a defensive coordinator that is making $2.5 million, you’ve got an offensive coordinator that is making $2 million a year. It’s not Bill Belichick’s job to keep the score down. It’s his job to put his team out on the field, run their offense and it’s your job to stop them.”

Dungy: “That’s the way I look at it. Everybody does what they can do to get their team to play the best that it can be. Sometimes you need to work on things. Who knows what’s going on in that coach’s mind? So I’ve never worried about that. I’ve always felt that way, that it is our job to stop them. Sure, you worry about your quarterback getting hurt or some of your key guys. I don’t think anyone in the NFL worries about that. You have to go out there and play the game, you play for 60 minutes.”

Murray: “[The Patriots] score on the first drive every time. They put up big numbers in the first half. How significant to you is the first 15 minutes of the game on Sunday because, if you become one-dimensional you’re one of those teams that could throw it every time and it wouldn’t matter. But you still don’t want to fall too far behind. How much of a premium do you put on that first quarter?”

Dungy: “Well, you are going to have to buckle down and play your game and not get consumed by the hype. I think the fact that we were 18 down on them last year, our guys aren’t going to panic if we get behind.”

Bill Belichick Q&A, 10/29

Thanks to the Patriots’ PR staff, here’s the complete transcript of Bill Belichick’s Q&A with the media this morning at Gillette Stadium:

BB: Kind of following up on what I said yesterday after the game, I thought that individually and in units our team played well yesterday. [The] players did a good job. We had a lot of guys step up and play well [and] make a lot of good plays. It’s really hard to single anybody out. I know there’s a few guys that had some big plays and so forth. I don’t want to take anything away from them, but we had a lot of guys do a good job. I thought this was our best week of practice. I thought that the players, the scout teams that gave our guys a look at what Washington did, did an excellent job preparing them for the game and I think that showed up. We had some good execution on a few plays we really hadn’t run very much before, but it worked out that the timing of the plays worked out pretty well because of the look we got in practice. The assistant coaches, the players, the practice squad guys – we really had a good week leading into this game and we’ll need to have another one like that going into Indianapolis. We made the practice squad transaction, so you guys got that and now we’re going to put this one behind us and move on to the Colts.

Q: Have you had a chance to get into the Colts this morning, and what did you see?
BB: I see a real good football team. They do everything well. They’re really good on defense. They’re tough to run against, they’re tough to throw against, they can rush the passer. Offensively…They’re what we all know they are, offensively. They can run it, they can throw it short, throw it deep, go on long drives, hit big plays and play well on special teams. They’re fast, they cover kicks well, they’re hard to return against on kickoffs. I mean, they don’t have to punt, so you don’t really worry too much about that, but their kickoff coverage is good. And [T.J.] Rushing has done a good job returning for them. [They’re] well-coached. The team is well put together. They’re obviously a solid team. They’ve won however many straight, however many in a row at home. Any numbers you want, they’ve got. Along with the Red Sox, that was a pretty impressive performance by them too. I don’t want to overlook that. Terry [Francona], eight straight World Series wins – that’s awesome. [It was a] great day for the Red Sox last night and all of the Boston sports fans.

Q: Are there common threads between the way you and the Colts have tried to build your teams? It seems like skilled drafting is the common thread.
BB: I don’t know. It’s probably something better for you to look at than me. Really, we just try to do what’s best for our football team. I’m sure everybody else in the league is trying to do what’s best for theirs. Obviously not all of these decisions are aligned, because we all have little different philosophies and schemes and so forth. We just try to do what’s best for us, but obviously they’ve done a great job. You have to give them, all of the people in their organization, the players and everybody, they’ve done an outstanding job. They’ve won a lot of games through the years, they won a championship last year and nobody’s beat them in a long time, so there’s nobody doing it better than they are.

Q: For any organization to sustain success – yours, the Colts – does it come down to being sharp at the draft?
BB: Oh, that’s important. There’s no doubt about it, absolutely. That’s important. But however you build your team, whatever those decisions are, however you decide to build it, those are all important decisions, too, whether they’re to resign your players, to sign other players, who to draft, how to build the depth on your team and so forth. I think all of those are a part of every team, but certainly the Colts, there’s no question they’ve had some key player acquisitions, great draft choices, they’ve re-signed their players, they haven’t re-signed some. So, you know, all of those decisions are important to building the team.

Q: Looking back at the tape yesterday, was Mike Vrabel’s performance as impressive as the stat sheet would make it seem?
BB: He had a lot of good plays. Three strip-sacks in one game, that’s a lot of ball-awareness and being close to the quarterback. [The] touchdown pass was well-executed, he was in on a lot of tackles, so he played well. He did a good job. But, you know, so did a lot of other guys. I mean, you can’t play team defense – It’s not all about one guy. A couple of times we had good coverage that forced [Jason] Campbell to hold the ball a little bit. It gave Mike a little more time to get there, but it was all work[ing] together.

Q: How does he continue to get so wide open as a tight end?
BB: It looked like they were kind of coming up to stop the run on that and [Kelley] Washington went in there to take them on. Mike kind of slipped in and got behind him. We talked about it last week – it’s tough on the goal line. You’re trying to stop the run, play-action passes. You’re only defending a yard, so it’s tough.

Q: It may sound silly, but you’ve had that personnel package in several times in the last several games. Do you think they forgot he was an option?
BB: No, I don’t think that. Look, I’ve coached goal line defense a long time, too. There’s guys [that] get open in the end zone. You’re out there trying to stop the run. We gave one up earlier in the year to San Diego, right? Standing out there, it looks like he’s out to practice early. That’s tough. We hit some; there’s a couple we didn’t hit. We threw one down there and ended up having to scramble and throw it away late.

Q: It seemed you were more aggressive this off-season in terms of free agency. Was that just the opportunity that you thought existed, just the nature of the people available?
BB: That’s exactly the way I would characterize it, and have many times. There was no change in philosophy or anything. We’re just trying to improve our team, just trying to get better. It’s no different than we tried to do in any other off-season.

Q: There are times you’ve been portrayed as not wanting to commit too much money to any one player, but you have committed to keep certain people. Is that to some degree a mischaracterization, then?
BB: Well, sure. What’s the difference whether you commit it to one of your players or to somebody else’s players? It’s still a team commitment to a player. We’ve made plenty of those. We’ve done it with players in our organization and we’ve done it to some players that we brought in from the outside.

Q: This organization has done a pretty good job of focusing on week-to-week and not looking ahead. How much of that comes from veteran leadership in the locker room?
BB: I think that the players that have been through a lot of games in this league, been through years in this league all understand that the only game that they can really do anything about is the next game. I think most veteran players learn that and we have a lot of guys who have been through a lot of big games, been through a lot of seasons around here and I think they understand that. I’m sure that rubs off some on guys who haven’t been in as many games as they have, but it’s really all about short-term focus. What happened last week, what happens next week or next year – really, it’s not that high of a priority.

Q: What are some of the things you think need improvement coming out of yesterday’s game?
BB: Four false starts on offense isn’t exactly what we’re looking for. We’re still trying to get our return game going. Defensively, we had our moments there. [The] two minute drive at the end of the half, the end of the game, we could have played better. Just a lot of individual things. You know, obviously it wasn’t Washington’s best game. Washington is a good football team. They beat some good football teams; I’m sure they’re going to beat some going forward. They didn’t have their best day, there’s no question about that. We were fortunate. We got some good breaks. We’ve had strip-sacks before and the ball bounces right back into the quarterback’s hands. Yesterday we had one, Rosie [Colvin] turned around, wasn’t even looking at the quarterback and the ball bounced right up into his hand for a touchdown, so sometimes things go your way on things like that and sometimes they don’t. There’s still a lot of things individually that we can do better. Each one of us – coaching, playing, techniques, recognition, overall team execution – so those are the things that we’re going to concentrate on. How to perform better, how to execute better. We’ve played eight games. We have eight more regular season games to go and I hope that we can improve our performance and our execution in those games. That’s what we’re going to try to do.

Q: Is this game just the next game or is there something more to it?
BB: It’s the next game

Q: A number of Redskins players were upset yesterday at what they thought was piling on.
BB: I don’t know exactly what you’re referring to there, but we’re just going to —

Q: Well, Randall Godfrey –
BB: Well, Randall is entitled to his opinion. You can talk to him about that. I’m sure he’ll give it to you.

Q: I was just wondering how you feel when you look back on it. Is there anything you would have done differently?
BB: Again, I don’t know exactly what you’re referring to.

Q: What they were saying was they felt like —
BB: Well, I said, Randall is entitled to his opinion.

Q: You mentioned yesterday, “what do you want me to do, kick a field goal?” Why is that worse than going for it on 4th down?
BB: Which play are you talking about?

Q: The first 4th down.
BB: The first 4th down play was 4th-and-1 on the seven. Do you kick a field goal and make it 41-0? Or go for it on 4th down? So, those are your two options. The second was 4th-and-7 on the 38, or whatever it was, a 55-yard field goal. Right? 4th and whatever it was. 4th and…how much was it? I don’t know, it would have been a 55-yard field goal, 56-yard field goal. Something like that. Kick a 56-yard field goal with the score like that? So those are your options.

Q: Do you and Tony Dungy have any kind of relationship outside of the fact that you’re both head football coaches? Do you ever spend any time together at the league meetings or the combine or whatever?
BB: If it works out that way, yeah. It’s not a scheduled thing or anything. But I’ve known Tony for a long time. I have a lot of respect for Tony. We’re both defensive coaches and we’re both kind of the same age. We’ve both been around it for a long time.

Q: When you get into a game with the Colts, how much pressure does their offense put on your offense to go out and score points?
BB: I don’t know. I mean, our offense is always trying to score points. Why else would they go out on the field? That’s their job. Their job is to go out there and score points. That’s what the offense’s job is. It’s their job every week.

Q: Tom [Brady] was saying yesterday they’re not going to punt very often and if you turn it over against them it’s going to be points…
BB: He’s right. [If] you turn it over against anybody in this league, you know what the stats are. Turnover ratios – you know what they are in terms of wins and losses. That’s the way it is every week. When you get a great team like Indianapolis, it’s even a better example of it. There’s no other reason to put the offense out on the field than to score points. If you want to punt, then you put the punt team out there. That’s what their job is, is to score. And the defense’s job is to stop them – that’s the only reason they’re out there.

Q: But turning the ball over against the Redskins is not the same as turning it over against the Colts.
BB: If you look at the stats in this league, turnovers as it relates to wins and losses, it’s a pretty strong correlation. You lose the turnover ratio in any game, your chances of winning go way down. It doesn’t matter who you play. If you’re on the plus side of it, you get a lot better of a chance to win. It’s been that way for a long time [and] I don’t think it’s going to change. It doesn’t guarantee anything, but statistically it gives you a much better percentage chance, so it’s a priority every week.

Q: Could you talk about the work of your offensive line, and has that been a strength up to this point?
BB: They did a real good job yesterday. Washington’s a good pass-rushing team. They’re very athletic up there. They put a lot of pressure on other quarterbacks and I thought the line did a good job of blocking them. We got a lot of four-man rush. They’d been doing some three-man rush. We got some of that, but we’ve been seeing more three-man rush out of Washington in some other games like, for example, Detroit, games like that. But I thought those guys did a pretty good job of blocking them all the way across the board. Their ends challenged Nick [Kaczur] and Matt [Light]. Inside, Logan [Mankins], Dan [Koppen] and Steve [Neal] got tested pretty good there, too, but I thought they held up well. We made some yards in the running game, which helped our passing game. We made some yards in the passing game, which helped our running game, so it was some good balance on our offense, but the line did a nice job in all areas – pass-protection, run-blocking. We had some plays like screens and plays like that where they had to get out on those linebackers, on [London] Fletcher and [Rocky] McIntosh and those guys, [Pierson] Prioleau, who was playing really a linebacker-type role in that game, so there were a lot of times where they had to really get out there and block them in space and they did a good job on that.

Q: Is this a regular Monday? Did the players have more time off than normal?
BB: Players aren’t required to come in today, but I think a lot of them are in trying to get a jump on this week.

Q: You mentioned Prioleau being used as a linebacker. Did you feel that was them kind of daring you to run?
BB: No, that’s what they had done a lot of. When teams came in with three receiver sets, then he would come into the slot and kind of play like he did sort of inside the slot, kind of cheat it between the slot and the tackle and get in some running plays almost as an extra linebacker but then be in coverage on the passing game. He gave them a little more probably athleticism and quickness than a normal linebacker would. He’s not as big but he’s more athletic, and they did that primarily against three receiver sets in previous games and they did it yesterday a lot. When they went to their dime package and they brought [David] Macklin in, then they had Macklin and Prioleau as the two inside guys with Fletcher. And that’s, again, when [Fred] Smoot was healthy then they would bring [Shawn] Springs inside and do that, so Springs played the majority of the game or maybe all of the game yesterday outside. That’s what they’d done in the past, so I think it’s what they were comfortable with and he did a good job. In that first quarter, he must have made three or four tackles in our running game.

Q: What went into the decision to use Matt Gutierrez on special teams? I know you did it some in the preseason.
BB: Trying to win. Trying to get our best players out there and trying to build depth on the roster, get guys to do things that they can do to help us win. That’s what goes into every decision.

Q: Did he lobby for that?
BB: He’s a rookie.

Q: Rookies don’t lobby for anything?
BB: Rookies do what they’re told. They try to learn what to do and do what they’re told.

Q: Several players said yesterday in the post game locker room that the Colts are the best team in football. Some people might not agree with that, but whatever. Do you think they’re the best team.
BB: They’ve won however many straight, won a championship last year, they haven’t been beaten since then, they’ve won however many straight at home. That’s more than anybody else can say. That would put them number one in my book.

Pats shuffle practice squad

The Patriots have just announced a practice squad move … here’s the full release from the team:

The New England Patriots re-signed first-year defensive lineman Santonio Thomas to their practice squad today. Additionally, the team released first-year offensive lineman Pat Ross from their practice squad.

Thomas, 26, is in his first NFL season after spending much of the 2005 and 2006 seasons on the Patriots practice squad. He was signed to the active roster on Sept. 8, 2007 and has played in four games this season while being listed among the day-of-game inactives three times. Thomas made his NFL debut on Sept. 9, 2007 in the Patriots’ season-opening victory over the New York Jets. He has recorded five tackles (3 solo) this season. He was released from the active roster on Oct. 26.

The 6-foot-4-inch, 305-pound defensive lineman was originally signed by the Patriots as an undrafted free agent out of the University of Miami on April 30, 2005. He was released following New England’s 2005 training camp and was signed to the practice squad on Sept. 21, 2005. He remained on the practice squad for the remainder of the 2005 regular season and was signed to the active roster on Jan. 6, 2006. He was listed as a day-of-game inactive for both of the Patriots’ playoff games following the 2005 season. In 2006, Thomas was signed to the practice squad on Sept. 3 and remained there for the entire regular season and playoffs.

Ross, 24, was signed to the Patriots practice squad on Oct. 9 and spent the entire 2006 season on the Seattle Seahawks practice squad. He played his college football at Boston College. The 6-foot-3-inch, 300-pound offensive lineman was a three-year starter at center for Boston College (2003-05), taking over the job from current Patriots center Dan Koppen, who started for three seasons from 2000-02. Ross was one of two team captains for Boston College as a senior in 2005 and finished his career with 37 consecutive starts for the Eagles. Ross was signed by the Seahawks as an undrafted rookie free agent on May 1, 2006. He was placed on the reserve/injured list by Seattle on Sept. 1, 2007 and was released on Sept. 6.

Patriots locker room Q&A, 10/28

Here’s some uncut Q&A from the Patriots locker room after today’s win over the Redskins:

Richard Seymour, Defensive End
On his first game back from PUP…
I guess first I would like to say it’s definitely been a long road. It’s been a journey. This is something that I haven’t experienced in my career. I think every year is different. It presents different challenges and to say the least I think I definitely have to thank my wife for putting up with me the last weeks. I thank the training staff for preparing me to get back out on the field, my teammates and congratulate them, and the fans. Like I said, it’s been a long road but every year is different and I understand that. You just have to be able to play this game.

Rosevelt Colvin, Linebacker
On playing the Colts next week…
I’m personally going to be fired up. I’m fired up every week and try to have a great attitude and go out there and have some fun. Is there extra incentive because I’m from Indianapolis? No, but it will definitely be an opportunity to play in front of family and friends.

On if there is an extra incentive to win next week because of last year’s playoffs…
Last year was last year. We are a totally different team trying to get back to where we want to be. They are a totally different team and the best team in the league.

On the return of Richard Seymour and his performance today…
I don’t know because I really couldn’t pay attention to him. I was trying to get my job taken care of and hopefully he can continue to get better. I know he is working hard to get better himself. We will need all healthy bodies we can get to keep this thing rolling.

On the statement made to the Colts after this win…
I don’t know. You will have to ask them. We just try and go out and execute regardless of the situation and the team. The opportunities we have had this year we have and hopefully when we get another opportunity in Indianapolis next weekend we will again.

Heath Evans, Fullback
On today’s win…
It was a fun one. It was just another Patriot team win. It started this week with the coaching and we were able to execute what they put in effect. Then Tom Brady goes out there and does what he always does. Today was a patient game plan and we were going to take what they gave us. As an offense it was fun doing it.

On Maroney’s performance today…
He ran well and the film will tell us everything. He had some carries last week and it was fun to see him out there cause he is an exciting player. He caught the ball well and ran hard so I like having him back playing.

On Tom Brady running the ball…
Let’s just hope he always doesn’t do that. He did a great job tonight. His instincts and knowing what is around him and not to take a chance by throwing the ball in tight coverage, it’s just what he does. He performs week in and week out. I wouldn’t want to play for any other quarterback.

Asante Samuel, Defensive Back
On his interception…
Well, I was reading the quarterback and the receiver was doing a go-route and he threw it up and I went up at the highest point and got it.

On the coach saying that the defense needed to play harder and tackle harder and if they took it as a challenge this week…
Definitely. When the coach comes into the meeting and tells us we’re not doing something good and is mad, it makes you eat some humble pie. We take that to heart and go out and do those things to make us a better team.

On what they did to get them off the field as many times as they did today…
Being disciplined, we ran multiple coverages and just reading the quarterback, breaking on the ball and stopping the run.

On the Colts game and if he thinks that the game is on the secondary…
Yes, it is going to be a big part but it is total team defense. You know that Peyton [Manning] is going to test us a lot and that we will have to go out there with our “A” game and we will have to play a good game. Last year we didn’t stop them in the playoffs. We stopped them in the first half and then in the second half Peyton did a good job and lead his team to a victory. We will just have to play disciplined and play hard.

Ty Warren, Defensive end
On how it felt to have Richard Seymour back today…
It was good. I talked to him during the game and he was getting himself back into the grove. Richard is going to be a great help to us. He is ready and go out there full-time and do what he has to do, and when he does it is going to be something great.

On his two fumble recoveries…
I can’t remember when — I know I have had a lot of one-fumble recoveries but two – Wow, it was like I was out there Easter egg hunting or picking up a golden egg. You just have to continue to play and sometimes the ball might literally bounce in your direction.

Rodney Harrison, Safety
On the defense’s game plan heading into today’s game…
Particularly in the second half we weren’t really focused in Miami. So really the emphasis was coming out, starting fast, playing well, trying to create some turnovers and just trying to tackle better and be a second-half football team, which we struggled with in the past. I think we came out and did a good job of that.

On whether or not today’s win was the best all-around performance for the team this season…
I don’t know. I missed four games. I guess [it was]. The second half we played, we had a great fourth-down stop, made some turnovers, created some pressure. [Mike] Vrabel had a heck of a game, Rosey [Colvin] picked up a touchdown, so it was great.

On whether or not he was disappointed that the defense didn’t get the shutout…
I think any time you can leave a goose egg up there, you want to. But, heck, we shut down a group of talented guys. They only scored seven points against us and the defense played well today.

On whether the win sent a message to the Colts…
We weren’t thinking about the Colts. We were thinking about the Redskins. You have to play a 60-minute game. You have to continue to play for 60 minutes. You never know what’s going to happen. I think, more importantly for us, we improved in a lot of areas where we struggled in the past. That’s what we’re focused on. We’re not focused on what another team is going to do. We’re just focusing on the task at hand and making sure we get better for next week.

Kevin Faulk, Running Back
On the strong performance by all the running backs…
This game was an opportunity for the backs to just go out and perform. We just had to go out there and do our jobs.

On if the play of the backs showed another way the offense can put up points…
We don’t know. We just want to win games. We’re just trying to put our offense together and try to make it work.

On if today’s game was the Patriots’ best all-around performance of the season…
If you want to say that. I know there were some mistakes that we made and we just have to correct them.

On what next week’s game against the Colts mean, having two unbeaten teams play each other this late in the year…
That’s nothing we can control, having two unbeaten teams. We just know we have the Colts this week and we have to prepare for them. We’ll see them on Sunday.

On if he knew he became the Patriots’ sixth-leading receiver of all time…
Not at all, they just told me right after the game. It’s just a process. Going through what you go through to help the team win is just a process. When I’m done playing I’ll be able to celebrate, but right now there’s more work to do to try to help this team win.

Donte’ Stallworth, Wide Receiver
On whether next week’s game against the Colts feels like more than just a regular season game…
There isn’t anything that’s on the line other than the next opponent. I’m not going to downplay it. Obviously it’s going to be a big game and all that good stuff. It’s another good game against the defending world champs, so we have to make sure we bring our ‘A’ game. It’s going to be a good one.

On what the screen passes to him and the backs opens up for the offense…
It’s just a number of different things that we can do and I think that with all those calls that were making, we’re really trying to keep the defense on their toes. There’s a lot of different things that we can do and we have a lot of different options that we can go to. Guys usually perform and make do of their plays when they get them.

On whether the quarterbacks ran well…
Yeah, those guys look like running backs out there. It was good to see Tom [Brady] get in there and run, looking pretty good. And obviously [Matt] Cassel, he showed some guts by running it in there the way he did with that defense, because they were coming. We watched film all week on those guys. One thing that we preached all week was, “catch the ball, get up field, and don’t try to be the hero. Go down when you’re out-numbered.” Those guys, they play good defense.

Tom Brady Postgame Q&A, 10/28

Here’s the complete transcript of Tom Brady’s postgame Q&A this evening at Gillette Stadium:

Q: Did you ever think you would put up 52 points against the Washington Redskins, a team you had yet to beat?
TB: They presented some different challenges so I think we made quite a few good plays out there. The important thing was to really stay on track and get positive plays. [We] had the one turnover, which was unfortunate, but for the most part it was a good day.

Q: You’re not used to running in touchdowns.
TB: No. I don’t want to be running. Trust me.

Q: Can you talk about the two you ran in? And of course your backup, Matt Cassel, ran for one as well.
TB: I think mine were just about as far as I could go so anything longer than that I’m not trying to run it. But Matt’s was a great run, he really showed a lot of determination this week to getting back to his style and his preparation. I thought it was really exciting for the team to see him make that play and make a few great throws. It takes everybody and everybody puts a lot of work in and everybody was really proud of Matt.

Q: Was it good to see the fake spike work?
TB: Yeah, we tried it last week and I screwed it up so I tried to redeem myself this week. If you just throw it up to Randy [Moss] he usually catches it.

Q: How about throwing it up to Mike Vrabel?
TB: Mike was pretty open. I think it was a good sell by the offensive line, he just slipped out there and another touchdown catch for him. I just try to throw to guys that are open.

Q: Looking ahead, any thoughts on the Colts?
TB: They’re a great so we know we have our work cut out for us. They’ve beaten us the last three times and they’ve won 12 in a row, I guess. And they’re a great team [and] it’s tough to play them in that dome. We’ve got a long week and a lot of preparation. [They have] a great offense, great defense, great special teams, great coaching, great confidence, everything you’re looking for in a great football team.

Q: You witnessed some great rivalries growing up. What’s it like to now play in one that’s getting to be like that when you play the Colts?
TB: They are always meaningful games when you play them, that’s the way it seems the last bunch of times we’ve played them. Last game it was a real tight game, the previous couple of times it wasn’t so tight [and] they really got the best of us. We know it’s going to take our best effort. We know you can’t make a lot of mistakes against theses guys. When you turn the ball over against the Colts it’s usually seven points. When you punt it to them it’s usually seven points. You just have to find ways to be productive and be efficient and not turn the ball over, certainly that’s always a big key. I’m happy we’ve got seven days to prepare because I think we’re going to need each and every hour of that week.

Q: You always talk about the building process of the season. Can you talk about the building process of this season halfway through.
TB: I think we’re always finding ways to improve. It’s been a good eight weeks, but it really doesn’t mean anything. 8-0 is great but it really doesn’t mean anything, [it] doesn’t guarantee us anything. You have to keep improving through the entire season and the second half of the season is upon us and I hope we perform better than we did in the first half of the season. That’s usually what good teams do. There’s a lot of room for improvement and we’re going to spend this week trying to make improvements on the things we screwed up this week and try to continue to build on that. Should be a good week.

Q: What could you guys do better in the second half?
TB: We can be more efficient. There were plenty of plays out there where the communication train [between] me and the receivers wasn’t what we needed it to be. We got a lot of penalties out there. We got a strip-sack. Fortunately, our defense saved us like they’ve been saving us all year when we turn the ball over. So we can’t turn the ball over, we’ve got to be productive when we throw it, continue to run the ball well. I think the positives [are that] the offensive line is playing great, the receivers are getting open, the tight ends are playing their role, the backs are holding onto the football. There are a lot of positives but there are also things we can improve.

Q: I know you guys all eat the humble pie, but at what point to do you realize you have something special here? Have you realized that?
TB: I haven’t realized it. Just trying to get better each day. Just trying to take these games and make improvements each week and try to put our best out there each week and build on the stuff that we screwed up. Build on the stuff that we’ve done well, and improve the things we screwed up the previous week. It’s a long season. It’s not even November yet, and we’ve got a lot of room for improvement left and we’ve got a long half of the season ahead.

Q: Can you talk about your receivers and their ability to make yards after the catch?
TB: They all run well after the catch. They’re all very elusive. Donte’ [Stallworth] is very powerful, Wes [Welker] is very elusive, Randy [Moss] is a threat every time he gets the ball. The backs did a great job today, I thought, of making guys miss. I think that run after catch was awesome today, especially against a defense like this that’s very fast and aggressive and they’re all good tacklers and big hitters in the secondary. London Fletcher is one of the best middle linebackers in the league. They’ve got a great pair of safeties that rush the passer well, [Phillip] Daniels and Andre Carter did a great job. I just think we were trying to get the ball out quick because we knew that rush was coming.

Q: Back to that Vrabel touchdown. Every pass he’s caught has been for a touchdown. He gets wide open. You said it was a great sell by the offensive line, but how does he get that open? He’s caught ten touchdown passes.
TB: If they’re playing the pass and you run it then they’re screwed, and if you try to make it look like a run and he slips out for a pass then you leave him open. He’s very good at evading defenders and getting off the line of scrimmage. He’s very quick [and] he uses his hand well. He’s got good hands when he catches it.

Bill Belichick Postgame Q&A, 10/28

Here’s the complete transcript of Bill Belichick’s postgame Q&A this evening:

BB: I thought that was a solid performance by our team today. I thought the players really did a good job. We had probably our best week of practice that we’ve had all year, especially defensively. I thought the guys really went out there and played well. We had a lot of guys step up, a lot of guys make good plays today, so it’s hard to single anybody out, but I thought obviously Dean [Pees] and Josh [McDaniels] and all of assistant coaches did a great job having the team ready to go. I thought we played hard from the first series for 60 minutes and that was a lot better than we did last week. The players did a good job. They played hard, they made a lot of plays and I thought it was a good, solid effort for us. We’ll take that one and move on.

Q: Can you comment on the next game on the schedule, the Colts, and the anticipation?
BB: Well, obviously they’re a great team. They’ve won 12 in a row. They’ve beat us [in] three straight, so there’s no better team in football than the Indianapolis Colts. It will be a huge challenge for us up there.

Q: Can you comment on the play of Mike Vrabel?
BB: Mike had some big plays for us. He made a nice play down there on the goal line and had some strip sacks. I thought he tackled well. Mike’s a good player for us. He always does a good job and he had some big [plays] today. Knocking those balls out, those are obviously – they were huge plays.

Q: [Is it an] important step, getting Richard Seymour out there, just [to] ease him back into game action?
BB: I don’t know about easing anybody back. He’s out there competing against an experienced offensive line. A lot of guys played today. Hopefully they all learned something and got a little bit better. We’ll need to be at our best next week, so anything we can do to get better this week, we’ll take it.

Q: Were you aware that Washington was having some communications problems in the first half?
BB: All I know is what the officials told us, which, you know, we got the procedure for that.

Q: Did you have to turn your —
BB: No. We only do that if the officials tell us to do that.

Q: How would you rate Richard Seymour’s job in his first day back?
BB: I don’t know. I’d have to look at the film. We had a lot of guys out there playing. I can’t grade each player, but it’s good to have him back out there.

Q: Is there any plan you have in some of these games where you’re leading so much as far as getting out your starters?
BB: No, it’s kind of a case… we kind of offensively got knocked out of all of our regular formations there at the end of this game. We were just down to… we had to be pretty much in a three-receiver set. We were just making a couple plays down there at the end to run with two backs, so sometimes you get forced into that kind of situation. It wasn’t really what we wanted to be at the end of the game, but that’s all we had.

Q: At 38-0 you went for it on 4th down, on 45-0 you went for it on 4th down. What was the philosophy there?
BB: What do you want us to do, kick a field goal?

Q: I didn’t want you to do anything. I’m just asking what the philosophy is.
BB: It’s 38-0. It’s fourth down. [We’re] just out there playing. [We’re] just out there playing.

Q: Could you talk about the play of Laurence Maroney? He seemed to get some of his explosiveness back.
BB: He broke a couple of tackles. I thought Tom [Brady], when he hit him on that seam pass early in the game –I forget which drive it was– but he made a nice run on that, cut back to the outside, broke a couple of tackles in the running game, reversed his feet one time, which is always a little bit dangerous, but Laurence is fast. He showed his strength, breaking out of a couple of tackles, so he made some big plays for us today. I mean, all of the backs did. Kevin [Faulk] made some nice plays for us and Heath [Evans] gave us some quality runs. The backs did a good job when they had an opportunity. They were all productive.

Q: It seemed like you focused on trying to work screen passes from receivers and running backs today.
BB: Washington is such a fast team on defense. They have great pursuit, they really run to the ball well, so sometimes if you can get together a rush and create some separation in the defense there you have a chance if you can get somebody out there on those linebackers or those underneath defenders to pick up some yards. They’re a fast defense. You have to find some way to compensate for that. They run well.

Q: Can you comment on how you utilized Randall Gay today? It seemed like it was a little different than what we’ve seen from him in the last two games.
BB: He was in on those three receiver sets. Most of the time that they had three receivers he was in there.

Q: Playing the safety role?
BB: Well, they had a third receiver, so call it whatever you want: safety, third corner.

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