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Sat., Mar. 28, 2015 12:00 AM to 11:59 PM EDT
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Mon., Mar. 30, 2015 12:00 AM to 11:59 PM EDT
Todd Haley Conference Call Transcript
Q: Can you talk about what you've seen from the Patriots so far?
TH: I think that they've been one of the great teams of the last decade and a lot of that continues to just evolve and get better in a lot of different areas. Starting offensively, Tom [Brady] looks like he's playing at as high a level as I've seen him play. He's got a lot of good - some veterans, some young developing players that look like they all have a chance to be really, really good. What [Wes] Welker is doing to this point is phenomenal. Having coached receivers for a long time, I knew he was really, really good but what he's doing right now is just off the charts. Throw in the fact that [Rob] Gronkowski has 700-plus yards and you still have a guy named Deion Branch over there and Chad Johnson and [Aaron] Hernandez and two running backs I really, really like including [Danny] Woodhead. Up front, they are as solid and sound as any team we've seen as far as protecting the quarterback. They look like they have a chance to keep getting better. So it's a great challenge for our defense to even slow down this offense. Their defense [has] some familiar guys - Shaun Ellis is a guy that I've coached with or around with the Jets. We drafted him while I was there. [Vince] Wilfork [and] Andre Carter, I've had to game plan against a bunch through the years and it looks like he's kind of had a rebirth and playing at a high level. [Jerod] Mayo is just one of my favorite linebackers just through the years of coming out of college and then seeing him play and perform at the level he has. The secondary has had some injury issues that they continue to fight through, but they're a competitive, tough group that makes plays at the right time when they need them most, that's really helped the team win a bunch of games here. It's going to be a great challenge. [They're] always a team I try to watch and pay attention to even when we're not playing them, just from the standpoint of trying to see what's hot and working in the NFL.
Q: If Devin McCourty can't play on Monday, how big of a loss is he to the Patriots defense in your eyes?
TH: I think he's a really good player. He plays physical [and] tough. Like I've said, we've had our own share of injuries as New England has. Coach [Bill] Belichick is one of the greats for a reason and one of the key things to being a great coach in this league - at any level really - is to develop your players that aren't necessarily front line players, but then are ready to play when they need to. I don't have any doubt that Coach and his staff will have that done. To me, it's hard for me to look and say we have a huge advantage in any area really.
Q: How devastated is Matt Cassel that he won't be able to play in this game?
TH: He's a tough, tough guy and has played through a lot of aches and pains here since we've been together. I think he's most devastated that he's not going to be able to play period, for our team. He's such a big part of our team and the guys count on him and he's a prideful, prideful, competitive guy that wants to play every week and he's proven that it's been impossible to get him out of the lineup barring maybe an organ removal or a couple of those things. It's disappointing to him and I know we've got high goals and expectations for this year and he'll just have to be on the sidelines rooting his teammates on, which I know that he will.
Q: Does the offensive style change with a different quarterback?
TH: I don't know dramatically. We've got a lefty, so some things are going to change. Tyler's [Palko] a drop back quarterback much like Matt [Cassel], similar skill set, so I don't think we can dramatically make a whole bunch of adjustments, other than little tweaks here and there.
Q:Rob Gronkowski has made some pretty acrobatic catches. And for a big, tall, stocky, and heavy guy like that is that surprising to see a guy be able to use his body like that especially in this last game he played?
TH: Both these guys that are really playing well, [Aaron] Hernandez and Gronkowski, are players that I both personally really thought a lot of coming out and we spent time with both the guys at the combine. We spent a lot of time watching tape and [they're] players that [we] really, really thought had a chance to be good and they haven't disappointed. Gronkowski is just a physical presence that just - much like some receivers that I've coached in the past like a Keyshawn [Johnson] or somebody like that, that once the quarterback understands that you can throw it when he's covered, that's always a great trait, characteristic to have. If you're a guy catching the ball from the quarterback and the quarterback knows he can throw it when you're covered which obviously Tom [Brady] does a bunch. That's just a testament to Rob and how good he is able to position and use his body to make catches on top of having just great, great hands.