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Broncos: Peyton Manning Conference Call Transcript
Q: Can you talk about the relationship and rivalry you’ve had with Tom Brady over the years and how special it is to play against him?
PM: That’s a pretty general and broad question, I guess. I’m sure you can check some old comments and old quotes. Hey, any time you’re getting ready to play the Patriots, you’re getting ready to play an excellent team. Certainly we’re focused on the defense and on the challenges they present. At the same time, you realize because of Tom being their quarterback, they’re capable of scoring a lot of points and a lot of points quickly. They put a lot of pressure on the defense, and so as an offense you feel like you better be on top of your game as well.
Q: Does going against the Patriots feel the same way as it did when you were a Colt? This game, this week, all of it?
PM: We’re just starting the week here. Played them last year, and this is just the beginning of the week, so I don’t know how I can really answer that.
Q: What has Wes Welker brought to your football team this year?
PM: Wes is just an excellent football player, and he provides good veteran leadership to our wide receiver position, and just a guy that loves football. Loves to practice, loves to work. He’s certainly brought great knowledge, experience to our offense. He’s provided good ideas, suggestions on different routes versus different coverages, just because of all of the experience he gained playing in a sophisticated offense being in New England and playing with Tom. He’s certainly gained great experience, and he’s shared a lot of that with us.
Q: How unique a player is Wes Welker? When Welker was here, Tom Brady talked about the unique skills he brought to the slot position. What have you learned about Wes that you didn’t know before you played with him this year?
PM: A lot of things are, I guess, I just probably assumed proven to be true. I always just – from playing against him and being on the other side, I always just kind of figured he was a gym rat. He loves football and just kind of loves everything about it, and that’s certainly proven to be true. I guess one thing that’s just been impressive to witness this year is his appreciation of the cerebral part of the game. He’s got great football knowledge, certainly just from all the different ways teams have tried to cover him, the different types of double coverages or whatnot. Just because of the experience going against that, he may know maybe the best way to possibly counter that, or a good a route to try to run against this particular defense, and so I’ve just had great respect for his knowledge of the game, and as a player who appreciates the cerebral part of the game, that’s been very impressive to witness.
Q: You said a minute ago that Welker could help you guys with some insight into what the Patriots do. How can a player like that –
PM: No, not really on that. All I was saying is just – because of the offense he’s played in, he’s got good football knowledge, and so he’s just kind of shared some of that football knowledge with us that he’s learned there, not necessarily insight into what they’re doing.
Q: So that helps you grow your offense a bit, some of the stuff that he’s brought to the table?
PM: Well, certainly Adam Gase as an offensive coordinator is trying to get – trying to call the best plays to suit our players, and so certainly Adam has talked to Wes and has studied what has worked for Wes in New England. Adam has definitely tried to make Wes make the transition to a new team as smooth as possible, and a lot of that is doing some of the things that he did in New England.
Q: In regards to the success you’ve had on offense so far this season, is there anything drastically different about the unit this year as opposed to last year, or is it just the evolution of the system?
PM: No, I think there’s a lot of things. Like I said, you mentioned Wes Welker, Adam Gase is the offensive coordinator, those are two major changes right there. Julius Thomas did not play last year, we have a new center, a new guard, new left tackle, the list kind of goes on and on, so I’d say there’s been pretty significant change. I mean, you have a new coordinator and new players, and that means new ideas, new plays, and so from that standpoint everybody’s really had to study and be on top of their game mentally.
Q: Is it kind of impressive, then, that you’re on pace to score this many points with all those moving parts?
PM: Guys have done a good job adapting. Like I said, Manny Ramirez played guard most of last year, he’s playing center. Chris Clark has stepped in; a real credit to him, he was kind of the starter during minicamps and OTAs [Organized Team Activities] and Ryan Clady had a contract issue and then was coming off an injury, so he wasn’t here, and I think that really served Chris [Clark] well once Clady got injured. Wes has adapted well, Julius Thomas, really for probably his tenth or twelfth maybe total as far as NFL experience, just hasn’t played much, and so it is a credit to those guys for kind of learning on the run and doing and executing the offense in, like you said, a relatively new system.
Q: Has it been fun to play a career at the same time as a great player like Tom Brady and have some of the great games you’ve had against each other throughout your career?
PM: Yeah, like I said, it’s just hard to think about too much in the past with kind of just what’s going on into now. It’s a new team for me, we’re in the middle of an extremely tough conference stretch coming off a physical game, going to play New England who’s just always been outstanding at home, and I just know that every game is just so critical in the conference right now, so it’s hard to think about anything else really besides that.
Q: One of the things that the Patriots have done is put Aqib Talib on the other team’s top receiver. Do you have an offense that can negate that advantage, not only with Aqib but with any other team?
PM: I don’t know, it’s hard to say. Every week, like I said, you’re seeing different defenses. But boy, he’s an excellent cover corner, and he did an excellent job on Julio Jones and, like I said, that shows you the confidence they have in him. He is just a top-notch cover corner; great speed and great size.
Q: What makes this Patriots defense different than the ones you’ve prepared for in recent years?
PM: Well, certainly there’s different players. It’s a credit to them, they’ve had some injuries, yet just kind of the next man up philosophy that you hear a lot of teams use, I’m not sure anybody does it better than them. Somebody else pops in there, and everybody else seems to kind of raise their level of play. They’re doing a great job keeping teams out of the end zone. They’re stingy down in the red zone and they’re just not giving up points, very few penalties, they create turnovers, so it’s a disciplined unit. Those are the things that you seem to see every year out of their defense. Read