PATRIOTS HEAD COACH BILL BELICHICK MEDIA AVAILABILITY
Q:** How are your first few days going out here?
BB: Good, going great. The facility has been great; the cooperation. We've just got a lot of work to do on San Diego.
Q: What's the advantage of being out here for the week?
BB: We just thought it fit our schedule well and would give us an opportunity to practice in the conditions we're going to play in.
Q: Do you think it's an opportunity for you guys to bond a little?
BB: The most important thing is getting ready for the Chargers, so that's really what it's all about.
Q: How big of a challenge does that offense present, starting with Philip Rivers?
BB: Yeah. They've done a great job. They're well coached. They have a very good group of players. It starts with Rivers; really good skill players, backs – they have a lot of depth in their backfield. All those guys are healthy running the ball; a lot of options in the passing game. It's tough to defend. They have a good scheme and do a good job attacking the weakness of the defense. We'll have to do a great job of coaching and playing. Everybody will have to do a good job. There are really no weaknesses in that offense.
Q: Any concerns about people thinking they're on vacation this week?
BB: We're here to work on the Chargers.
Q: Can you talk about any similarities you've seen between Rob Gronkowksi and Antonio Gates?
BB: Rob has done a good job for us and been on the field a lot, plays in a lot of situations, been productive in the passing game and the running game. Gates seems timeless. He's a hard guy to defend. He's got great size, athleticism, hands, does a real good job setting up his routes, beating man or zone coverage. Rivers obviously has a lot of confidence in him. He has a big catch radius, so wherever Rivers puts the ball it seems like he can get it. He's really good. [He's a] tough guy to defend, real tough guy.
*Q: *In 2006, Philip Rivers was at the Pro Bowl with you. Did you guys develop any kind of relationship?
BB: I think it was '09, but yeah, [I] love Rivers. [He's] really a football guy; very into it. We had a lot of great conversations about just football and he's very competitive, really smart, has a great understanding and feel for the game. I really enjoyed coaching him. He was outstanding.
Q: Did you have an opportunity sometimes to learn from the Aaron Rodgers, the Tom Bradys and guys the way they see things and then explain it to you at all?
BB: I mean, it's the Pro Bowl, so I don't think we got that far into it. [It's] one coverage; not one hard coverage to read because that's the only one they're allowed to play.
Q: Any reason for the change in facilities?
BB: We've used multiple facilities as part of this trip and it's all worked out well.
Q: Were you able to get any insight from Josh McDaniels from his time with Mike McCoy?
BB: I mean, I think what we get on the Chargers is what we've seen. They've played 12 games this year and played really well; playing good football. I don't think something that happened three, four years ago is really that relevant. I think what's relevant is what they're doing now, what they've done this season. They've played in a lot of close games, played against a lot of great competition and won and I think that's really who they are. Whatever it was or wasn't three, four years ago, I don't really know how much that has to do with it.
Q: Have you seen an evolution or change in Rivers between Ken Whisenhunt and Frank Reich as opposed to the quarterback you've had to defend in the past?
BB: Well, each offense has its own characteristics, but I think fundamentally he's very much the same player. He can attack the defense at all three levels, has great poise and presence in the pocket. He has deceptive mobility. He runs and is more active maybe than what he gets credit for, what you think he is. He's got a good touch on the ball, does a good job using all his receivers, gets the ball to the backs, obviously the tight ends, the receivers down field on catch-and-run plays and on downfield routes. [He] reads blitz and those type of coverages well, gets the ball out in a hurry. He's been pretty good for a long time.
Q: With Junior Seau being up for the Hall of Fame nomination this year, any reflections on your time with him?
BB: Tremendous. [I] loved Junior and his family. [I] was out here for the funeral and it was very emotional. Nobody loved the game more than Junior did. Nobody would be more deserving to be in the Hall of Fame than Junior Seau. [He's the] all-time leader in tackling, but more than stats, his love of the game, his passion for the game, and the high level that he played at at a very difficult position. I mean, him, Clay Matthews [Jr.], guys to play as long as they did at that position as well as he did is phenomenal. He is so deserving. I hope it happens.
PATRIOTS TE MICHAEL HOOMANAWANUI CONFERENCE CALL
Q:** What are some of the logistical challenges that go along with keeping things as normal as possible when you are away from New England for the week?
MH: Yeah, absolutely. It's definitely a challenge, but so far so good. The hotel has been great for us. It's just an extended stay away. The hotel is nice. The meeting rooms are nice. Everything is right there so that in itself is good and helpful. We just got off the bus and got to the USD [University of San Diego] facilities. It's good enough. We've all grown up playing Pee Wee and high school and college football so this is nothing new to us. It's a little bit new – obviously the facilities we have now are a little bit nicer but we're making do. We'll be just fine.
Q: Some guys are comparing this to a training camp type atmosphere with you all in the hotel together. Is there something to that?
MH: Yeah. Absolutely. They're right on.
Q: Tell me a little bit about what you see from the San Diego defense and what are some of the challenges you anticipate this week from this defensive grouping?
MH: Absolutely, another week in the NFL. Every team is going to be good regardless of records and they obviously have a very good one. Defensively, [they're] a good group all around starting with their front and then moving into their secondary. They are very good all around the field, so we're just going to have to be top of everything and be ready for Sunday.
Q: Some of their success comes down to scheme when it comes to getting pressure on passers. When it comes to a different type of defensive front, what are some of the challenges that you guys anticipate seeing on Sunday night?
MH: Like you said, they're scheme pressures and it really comes from everywhere on the field. As long as we get everything right this week, we'll be ready for Sunday no matter where it comes from.
Q: Can you speak to the state of the team after the defeat on Sunday? How quickly were you guys able to put it behind you?
MH: Very quick. We have no choice. Just like every other week, whether we are winning or losing, we do what we have to do to get back to work. After all of our losses this year that's what we've done. I think everyone's got a good attitude and is ready to get back to work and get back on the right track. So that's what everyone's mindset is. Nothing about the past, not looking too far ahead to the future, we have to take care of Wednesday today and get back on track.
Q: A lot of guys only had one target in the game on Sunday, like yourself. How important is it for you to capitalize when you get the opportunity?
MH: Absolutely, you said it. We've got a lot of great playmakers that are going to show up each and every week. Even more importantly, whether it's me or somebody else like [Brandon] Bolden, we've just got to take those opportunities and capitalize on them like you said and make the most of them and hopefully they can help us win. That's the ultimate goal no matter who it is.
Q: How important is it for guys like yourself, who may not be active in the passing every week, to stay with it every week and get ready for the game even though you're not a leading pass catcher?
MH: I think you said it before, you've got to be ready for your opportunity because you're one play away from playing. Whether its five plays a week or 60 plays a week, you've got to be ready whenever your number is called and take advantage of the opportunities that are given. That's how you put yourself into position to make [plays].
Q: How important is to the run game to have an extra offensive lineman on the line?
MH: It's great for us. It's been good for us. We have to do whatever we have to do to put us in the best position to win. Whatever personnel groups those are, we've just got to be ready whenever your number is called.
Q: What have you seen from Dwight Freeney on film this year? Is he still the same guy?
MH: Dwight Freeney, he's still a very good player. We are not taking anything away from him. We've got to be ready for him and everything he brings to the table on Sunday. Any of those reports that say he's lost it – we're not believing it. We can see it on film already.
Q: What is it that makes him a tough guy to block?
MH: Everything – his speed, his power, whatever he wants to do over his long career, he's pretty much had the liberty to do it. It comes in a bunch of different ways, but you've got to be ready for everything, speed, power, whatever it is. Whatever he brings – which could be a lot. His toolbox is big.
PATRIOTS DT CHRIS JONES CONFERENCE CALL
Q:** What have you seen from the Chargers offensive line, in particular the center spot, since they have a new guy there?
CJ: Yeah, they've had a few injuries there. They had Chris Watt starting the last game against Baltimore, and they brought in Trevor Robinson and he got hurt, so we're not sure exactly who is going to be in there, but we're going to prepare for whoever could possibly be in there.
Q: What are your thoughts on Ryan Mathews?
CJ: I think he's very dynamic and has great vision, a strong lower body and is able to break through tackles. He's a good running back.
Q: You're in the midst of a very impressive stretch of quarterbacks over the last five weeks or so. What is that like for you guys, knowing there's little room for error? Also, what are your thoughts on Philip Rivers and what he does well?
CJ: Rivers, he's more of a pocket quarterback, and he's a tough guy. He sticks in the pocket. He's very good for their offense. He makes checks at the line. He's very dynamic with the way he can throw the ball, along with the skill guys he has. He uses all of them to his advantage. He's able to step up, and he makes great throws downfield. He puts his receivers in a great position to catch the ball. We as a defensive line have to make sure we can't let him step up as easily as he wants to.
Q: You guys have had a lot of faces come and go along the defensive line due to injuries over the course of this season. How much of a challenge is that for you guys and how do you think you guys have responded this season?
CJ: I guess both of those kind of go together. That's the name of the game. Guys get hurt, guys go down, and there are roster moves all the time. We've got to just deal with whatever we have going on, and I think we do a great job of adjusting. You just have to be mentally tough because things aren't going to go the way we want it every day, so we just have to be able to fight through anything that happens and stick together as a team and as a defensive unit. I think as a defensive line we're very mentally and physically tough, and we play through that.
Q: You guys enjoyed some success in the red zone against Green Bay. What are some of the similarities you have when it comes to playing good red zone defense? I know every situation is different, but what are some of the things you need to do to have success in the red zone?
CJ: I think just higher awareness. When you get into the red zone, obviously the offense is very close to scoring. You know that now is the time to pin our ears back to make sure they can't get into the end zone because once they're there, that's our goal is not to let them in the end zone. This year we've done a great job of realizing where we're at, we've studied the situations, and we're very disciplined when we get there. I think that's what helps us out a lot.
Q: Defensive coordinator Matt Patricia said yesterday he saw some similarities between the Chargers and Broncos offenses because of Chargers head coach Mike McCoy's time in Denver with Peyton Manning. Do you see some similarities between Philip Rivers and Peyton Manning as far as what they do at the line of scrimmage? Is that something you have to be aware of, him making those calls at the line?
CJ: Yeah, definitely I see a similarity between the two offenses. Both of them run a lot of no-huddle, and Rivers is at the helm along with Manning. They're both making a lot of plays and making a lot of checks, and they're both very smart quarterbacks. I think Philip Rivers helps them a lot with their offense, checking all the plays because they try to check the plays of the defense that we're playing. I know Phil does a lot of great things with the checks. I know a lot of their offense runs through him, which is very similar to Manning. Yes, I would agree that they are very similar.
Q: The Chargers have the third or fourth best third-down conversion percentage in the NFL. What has made them so good on third down?
CJ: I'm not sure exactly what they do, but they're really good at it. From the film that I've watched, they're very dynamic, and their goal is to always get the first down. They do what they do, and they do it well. They don't do anything extravagant on third downs; they're just really good at it. Philip is a big reason for that. Like I said before, all the skill players, like Keenan Allen and Antonio Gates and all those guys, they're able to get open. They run great routes, and they're very dynamic players – even the backs, too. They do a great job of just converting. I think they're like 47 percent on the season. That's a great percentage for an offense to be converting on third down.
Q: Are you guys hoping to get more pressure on Philip Rivers than you got on Aaron Rodgers last week?
CJ: Yeah, it's always a goal for us as a defensive line to get pressure on the quarterback. With every week that comes up, it becomes more and more important. Philip Rivers, he's a great quarterback, and I think if you just allow him to sit comfortably in the pocket, he's going to make a lot of plays during the course of the game, so we definitely have to get him off his spot and get pressure on him.