JF: I think the first thing that comes to mind is how efficiently they ran the ball last week. Having been a defensive coach for most of my career, you understand that balance is important because people can take away something, but they’ll open up something else. I thought that was impressive. Not to deny the passing game, when you can get 580 yards against any NFL team, that’s a pretty good day.
Q: What impressed you the most about the running backs? It seems like the balance really stuck last week.
JF: No doubt, the backs are a big part of that. Not unlike our own football team, there are a lot of moving parts whether you’re running the ball or passing the ball. The O-Line has to do well, tight ends, guys lined up in the fullback position. There are a lot of people that have to win their fight to create a productive play offensively. All in all, it’s good players, they’re well coached and they scored 52 points and 580 yards. It’s pretty impressive.
Q: How difficult was it to marry the offensive philosophy you guys already had with Peyton Manning? Bill Belichick said today that the offense looked almost identical to what Manning ran in Indianapolis.
JF: At the end of the day, part of being a coach is putting players in the best position to have success. I don’t care if you’re talking offense, defense, the kicking game. It would have been close to moronic for us not to inject some of the things that he had 14 years of great play with into our offense. I think that’s all part of coaching.
Q: You’ve been a head coach in this league for quite awhile. You coached against
JF: When you look at both of those quarterbacks, you’re looking at two of the best quarterbacks to play over the last decade. I don’t think, without a doubt, when their careers are over – hopefully not any time soon for either one of them – they’ll be first-ballot Hall of Fame players. I think their body of work to this point – not that it’s nearly over yet – but to this point, it would be hard to argue.
Q: How have the Patriots rookies on defense, particularly Dont’a Hightower,
JF: This is a young man’s game and you’re always evolving. Bill [Belichick] has done probably the best job over a period of time of any coach in our business. You’re always doing that. Like everybody else in the league, we look at just about everybody. Those guys are definitely some good plug-ins. Over the last few years, the guys who have been added into that, some of the veterans have moved on, that’s just all part of what we do. Bill is the master of that.
Q: What has it been like to get a chance to work with Dan Koppen?
JF: It’s been great. We haven’t been together too long yet, but I’m sure glad we brought him in because we lost J.D. Walton last week to an ankle fracture, so he’s a guy that had gotten healthy and we looked at him, brought him in to work him out. At no point were we thinking he’d be lining up as the starting center as we head into Foxborough this weekend.
Q: Has Peyton Manning done anything to change the culture of the way things are run there?
JF: Yeah, anytime you add a player of that caliber and his reputation in the league as far as his study habits, his preparation habits, I’m sure much like what Tom [Brady] does there for you all. Any time you can inject leadership like that into your locker room, into your organization, there’s no doubt it’s a real plus.