Q: On Andrew Luck, a big part of their turnaround and everyone knew he would be a high pick, but nonetheless is he a guy that you took a look at during the pre-draft process? If so, what are your impressions on where he is now as opposed to where you thought he would be nine games into his career?
BB: Our scouting staff scouted him but I personally didn’t do a lot of work on Luck. We weren’t going to draft a quarterback in the first round and there was no chance he was going to be anywhere close to where our draft position was going to be. That wasn’t a guy that I spent a lot of time studying other than looking at some of their other players and of course from the PAC [Pacific Athletic Conference], watching him against some of the defensive players that Stanford played. I think the things that we knew about him coming out have certainly played out so far in his rookie season – big kid, good arm, [can] make all the throws, very athletic, good movement in the pocket, smart, handles the offense well. They do a lot of checking and changing plays and things like that and you can see him handling the offensive team and those situations as well as end of the game-type situations where he has to make good situational plays and decisions. He’s done a good job of all of those things.
Q: Defensively it seems like Coach Chuck Pagano came in and instituted a new scheme. Is it a lot different from what they have shown in the past? You guys have played them quite a bit over the last decade.
BB: I’d say it’s quite a bit different than what they’d been playing the last decade. Similar to the Baltimore system with kind of a 3-4 base but I think Baltimore has [Terrell] Suggs and Indianapolis has [Dwight] Freeney – those guys are linebackers but they’re really not linebackers. Of course when they get into their sub defenses, all the outside guys become defensive ends so it’s back to [Robert] Mathis and Freeney on the edges and all that. They do a lot of the Baltimore things: combinations of man and zone and pressure and as I said, base it out of a 3-4 look but it’s really not a true 3-4, like Pittsburgh and some teams like that play it. Chuck brought [Tom] Zbikowski with him so I’m sure that helps some of the adjustments and familiarity with their defensive scheme, what they did in Baltimore. Similar to when Rex [Ryan] brought [Jim] Leonhard with him to the Jets. So, Zbikowski and [Antoine] Bethea are, well Bethea is a pretty experienced guy, [seven] years in the league, but Zbikowski having four years in that Baltimore system, I’m sure that helps some of their defensive adjustments with him out there. I’d say it’s definitely the Baltimore basis for defense. They of course change it up, it’s different then Baltimore but that’s, I’d say, the genesis of it.
Q: Andrew Luck is one of several rookie quarterbacks starting in the NFL. Does it surprise you that so many first-year players are making an impact as starters?
BB: Well, there are a lot of good young players in the league, so not really.
Q: Do you have a personal relationship with Chuck Pagano at all, just coaching against him throughout the years?
BB: No, not a real close one.
Q: I was not sure if you touched base since he has been sick or had a chance to speak with him at all.
BB: I haven’t, no.
BB: At defensive end,
Q: Yesterday you mentioned that tackling was one of the fundamental things that could be improved from Sunday. Do you think that coming off the Bye Week hurt because it takes guys out of those reps?
BB: I don’t have any excuses for it; we just have to do a better job of coaching it, have to do a better job of executing it. As I said, Buffalo has a lot of good skill players and their guys are hard to tackle. But we’re going to see that every week; every team is going to have players that are hard to tackle. That’s what NFL offensive players are, that’s why they’re in the NFL. We just fundamentally have to do a better job at that and coach it better and hopefully we’ll be able to do that this week.
Q: How has
BB: I think he’s been able to, first of all relative to last year, he’s taken all of the scout team reps that last year he was basically splitting with Brian Hoyer. So, that has given him a lot more opportunity there to take snaps and also to have command of that group and run that offense on a weekly basis and the other guys that are used there. On the opportunities that he’s had to work with the regular offense and again, certainly those have been more frequent too because of his role, when he’s taken plays in there for Tom [Brady] that it’s just given him more experience and more opportunity to run our plays so he’s not always just running the other team’s plays which is the way it was last year. At least this year he’s getting more plays on the scout team and also plays with our offense. I think all those things have helped him. He’s been out there every day, he’s working hard. I guess fortunately for us he hasn’t had to play but I’m confident that if he had to, he’s taken the steps he needs to be ready to go.