New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick addresses the media during his conference call on Tuesday, October 28, 2008.
BB: Well we are plugging along here on Indianapolis. It seems like this is a division game going back to all of the games we have played against them in recent years. [I] got a chance to watch them play last night and again that was, as you would expect in that division, a real dogfight. It was a tough physical game and I thought both of those good teams played each other toe-to-toe. I think the Colts have been impressive in the red area both offensively and defensively. It is certainly something we are going to have to work hard on. They're very productive and very explosive, as we have seen several times. [Against] Minnesota they were behind until late in the game. [Against] Jacksonville they came back and went ahead in that game with a minute to go. They exploded against Baltimore in the first quarter and put the game out of reach there and then of course they came back in the Houston game, in a remarkable game kind of like they did against Tampa a few years ago, and scored late in the fourth quarter - three times to win. We have a lot of respect for the Colts – Tony Dungy, Bill Polian, the organization and what they do and how well and consistently they do it. I know it will be a dynamic atmosphere up there Sunday night, a lot of noise, a lot of energy [and a] new stadium. I am sure it will be very challenging for us and hopefully we will be prepared, up for it and ready to go. It will take a lot of work this week. We are excited about the challenge but we know how it will be there.
Q: Last week you had the three running backs, do you think you will be in the same boat this week or do you think you will get some help back there?
BB: We will wait and take a look at that on Wednesday when we go out to practice and see where everyone is at that point. I think everyone is definitely ahead of where they were last week and we are making progress. Just walking around the building here and talking to everybody they are all feeling better and getting there. Whether we will put them there on Wednesday for practice or Sunday for the game, we will just have to wait and see when we crank things up a little bit here whether they are ready for that next step of returning in full practice. I don't think we will really have a good feel on that until Wednesday but I will say they are in that day-to-day category. They are certainly getting closer.
Q: Last year Rodney Harrison did the job on Dallas Clark and this year obviously Rodney is hurt and Clark is coming off of two of his best games of the year. How are you going to account for him this time around?
BB: Well it is tough defending the Colts you have to defend everything – the running game, the receivers, [Anthony] Gonzalez, [Reggie] Wanye, [Dallas] Clark, they use the [running] backs [Dominic] Rhodes and [Joseph] Addai well. Everything is a problem you just have to try and get the best match-ups you can, double who you can double and everybody else has got to hold up [because] you can't double them all. You try to get help where you can, it is very challenging. [Dallas] Clark is a great player – excellent speed, good route runner, good hands [and is] good after the catch. He is a tough guy to match up on but so are the rest of them.
Q: The last three times you have played this team in the regular season they have been undefeated. This year is not, the record at least, what it has been in the past. How different is it to see a Colts team that is not coming in here 7-0 or 6-0 like you have in the past?
BB: I don't really look too much at that. I really look at what they are doing and what we are going to try to do against them. Regardless of what their record is they are a real good football team and I think we all know that. The big thing for us is not to worry too much about what the record is or isn't and worry a lot more about what we are going to try to do against them, how we are going to try to move the ball, how we are going to try to stop them, how we were are going to try to play them in the kicking game and focus on that.
Q: How much do you take their strength in schedule into account when you are evaluating them this year? They have obviously played some very good teams: Baltimore, Green Bay, Tennessee…
BB: Jacksonville, Chicago – they [Colts] are a good football team, I think that is obvious. They are good defensively. They are good offensively. They are tough in the red area. They don't give up many big plays on defense. They make you work for everything. Offensively it is hard to hit the quarterback, he hasn't been sacked hardly at all this year. It looks like they are maybe getting a couple people back, I see they made a change in the offensive line yesterday moving [Charlie] Johnson and putting [Tony] Ugoh back at tackle. They have gotten [Jeff] Saturday back. They have gotten a few tight ends back that have missed a couple of games. It looks like they are getting people back and they are getting stronger. Again, that was a good team they played last night and they were tied with them in the fourth quarter. So they took them right down there [and] the same thing with Jacksonville - [those two games were] a couple of tough losses to good football teams. They have won some good games too. They handled Baltimore and came back and beat Houston with four or five minutes of outstanding football – they pulled that out. They are a very explosive team. I think they can turn it on in a hurry.
Q: Have you heard about any differences in the playing surface? You were used to the dome but now they are in Lucas Oil Stadium.
BB: I don't know a whole lot about it. It is one of the things we will check into during the week and see if we can get a little more information on. Most of these new stadiums the surfaces are pretty consistent but we will definitely check it out. It might not be as hard or as fast as the old one but I am not sure yet.
Q: Do you view James Sanders and Brandon Meriweather in the traditional free safety, strong safety roles?
BB: Well I think anytime you play split safety defense whether it be man or zone that both safeties have to know how to play both sides – the strong side, the three-man side, or the two- man side on the weak side in both the running game and the passing game. When they change strength on you, they put you in that situation anyway. So I think both guys need to know how to play both spots and the offense will create situations for you whether you want to deal with it or not. That is basically the way we treat them even if we go into a game saying, 'ok this is the way we are going to go,' - we have to practice it the other way because, like I said, inevitably they will put you into that situation.
Q: What do you make of Peyton Manning so far whose numbers aren't what they have been in the past but certainly he has had to battle a lot of injuries between himself, his offensive line and his skill players this year?
BB: I think he is a great player. I think he has done it all and I think he continues to do it – makes the throws, runs the team, makes good decisions, sees things well and gets the ball to his playmakers. So, I see the same player there – a real good one.
Q: This will be the fifth time you have played these guys about this time in November. Do you like having this game where it is in the season?
BB: Whenever they schedule them, we play them. I don't really worry about it. Whenever they show up on the schedule then we try to get ready and play them. Honestly, I don't even think about it. Let me just got back to [Peyton] Manning for a second. If I am not mistaken he hasn't shown up on the injury report all year but maybe one day at the beginning of the season. I am not really sure what injuries you are taking about but he hasn't been listed on the injury report all year.
Q: Just the fact that he missed all of training camp and wasn't able to go until the first game of the season.
BB: He looked pretty good to me. I don't think he is injured. He hasn't been on the injury report, so I am assuming he is not hurt.