BB: I am sure there are a lot of subjects that you have to write about.
Q: Can you talk about Randall Gay, and why he had enough value that you wanted to keep him?
BB: I think he showed enough in training camp and in preseason both in terms of the way he played the position and also his versatility. I think he can do a couple of different things for us. To get younger and faster on defense, you are going to have to keep younger players. We have been trying to do that for a couple of years, and that is still one of things that we want to try to address.
Q: Was he somebody that you got the impression from Nick [Saban] that he would have been a better collegiate player if he hadn't sustained several injuries?
BB: I don't want to put words in Nick's mouth, but Nick recommended him. We looked at him, and we thought he would be a good fit in our system. We were probably lucky to get him after the draft considering we drafted somebody in the seventh round at that position. Fortunately we did, and I think he has take advantage of the opportunities that he has had.
Q: Can you get anything on Indianapolis from what they did in the preseason, or is your preparation mostly from playing them and getting ready for them twice last year?
BB: It's a combination of both. It would have to be a combination of both. They have made some personnel changes, so to look at the new people who are playing, you have to watch this year's film. They are not on last year's tape, at least not at some of those positions. At the same time, when you are playing in the AFC Championship game, that is your best stuff and you are not saving anything at that point. I think that what we saw from them scheme wise, game plan wise, are the things that we certainly have to be aware of and be conscience of because when they are in the playoffs, that is all they have and that is all we have. At that point you are not holding anything back from anybody. I think it is a combination of scheme, strategy and new players. Sometimes during the offseason you do some things differently, you add something to your system or maybe emphasize something a little bit more. Those are things that you might be able to pick up in preseason. You certainly couldn't put the stamp on it and say, 'This is it for sure,' but at least you cover it in the preparations. You could do that.
Q: Can you talk about Peyton Manning's growth from year to year?
BB: I think he has been pretty consistent over the last few years. Most of his gains came in the first couple of years, I think, since we have been playing them. In 2000, going back to when they were in our division, and we played them twice a year then, he has been pretty consistent. He has put a lot of yards, a lot of points and a lot of production up on the board in those last four years. Now the fifth, he looks pretty consistent. He looks pretty much [like] the same guy, he hasn't missed any time. He hasn't had any injuries, is out there every week chucking away. He has been pretty consistent.
Q: Is this when it starts to get really fun for you in terms of the focus, scheming on one team one week after another? Is this the most notable time of the year?
BB: Well, it is a challenging part of the year. There are a lot of other challenging parts in the year too, whether it be the offseason preparation, a lot of personnel work. Sometimes you are redesigning your scheme. The draft, mini-camps are an exciting time when you put everything on the field after you have looked at it on paper and have been through weight workouts and that kind of thing. Playing the games, that is the competition, I certainly enjoy that part of it too, that is what we are all here for is to play the games or coach in them. I definitely enjoy it. I enjoy doing the other things, the other parts of the job as well.
Q: You have talked in the past about guys like Otis Smith and the age versus experience. Looking at your linebacking core, you have a number of veteran players there that contribute. How difficult is it for you to assess when things may start to go the other way? How big of a sampling do you need to determine that?
BB: That is a tough question. That is a tough question. The only thing I can say is, you just have to go by what you see and go by the information that is available to you. It is unscientific. Sometimes there are circumstances that are a part of those types of decisions that are beyond anybody's control, but you just have to do the best you can with what you have. Some of it is experience. Some of it is looking at what you see and looking at what you have seen in the past and try to make an evaluation of how those are matching up. But, it is tough. That is one of the hardest things to do. Sometimes it is very obvious. Other times it is very, very, very gradual. At what point do you need to make a decision and move on?
Q: So your experience with the player is helpful?
BB: Well, I would say that experience with the players is a part of it but also experience within the league and having dealt with players and watching a lot of players go through [it]. Every player goes through that at some point. Some things maybe trigger your senses a little bit more than others.
Q: With a guy like [Roman] Phifer or [Willie] McGinest, because you have coached them now the last few years, you know their level. Is it easier for you to see in the preseason that all of sudden there is a little bit of a drop? In other words, it is not like you are evaluating somebody else's guy.
BB: Exactly. I think it is definitely easier to evaluate players that you have consistency with. That is much easier than trying to look at somebody else in the league that you only see on game tape, and you are not out there on the practice field with them everyday. You just don't know as much, not even close. So, yes, it is definitely easier to do that, although again sometimes it is such a gradual process that it is hard to see.
Q: Do you have any concerns about that particular group slipping a little bit because of age?
BB: Well, look, I get concerns about our whole team. I get concerns about every player, every player and our whole team. We are going into the opening weekend of the season. There are a lot of questions about everything. I don't think there is anything that there aren't any questions on. I don't think that there is anything that there aren't questions about. There are questions about every aspect of our team and everybody else's team that at this point is totally unproven. Do I have questions about everything? Yes.
Q: Can Peyton Manning excel in any offense system whether it be west coast or a down-field type of offense?
BB: Probably. He probably could.
Q: When we talked earlier this preseason, you mentioned that quarterbacks that can make all of the throws are sometimes overvalued. He seems that he can make all of the throws.
BB: I think he can.
Q: It also seems that he can process all of the information.
BB: Right, and again, he has been in that system for a long time, and he is obviously very good at it. What would happen if he were in a different system? I don't know. I think he would still be okay. Whether it would be as good as the one he is in or not as good, who knows? I am sure a part of his performance certainly comes from the fact that they have been doing the same thing for a long number of years with a lot of the same players so the timing and the consistency between [Marcus] Pollard, [Marvin] Harrison, [Edgerrin] James and now [Reggie] Wayne who has been there for a number of years, guys like [Tarik] Glenn on the offensive line, people like that. You can't help but build up continuity and consistency when it is the same people year after year, game after game. There is no doubt that helps and if you were to do something different, then there would be a transition period.
Q: It is hard to deny when a team has continues success against another that for whatever reason, that matchup works in your favor consistently. Why have the Patriots, coached by you, been able to have success against the Colts?
BB: None of that makes any difference. All that matters is how it goes this Sunday, or this Thursday, rather. That's all that matters. You guys were all saying the same thing last year before Buffalo since we beat them twice the year before. That doesn't mean anything. We can talk about what happened in 1997, what difference does it make?
Q: That is the information that we have available.
BB: What difference does it make? It doesn't make any difference at all. Look at last year. Did those games have any bearing on the opening last year? No, so I don't see why these games would have any bearing on the opener this year or this year's games would have any bearing on the opener next year. It's going to be how those teams play on that day. It's as simple as that.
Q: Richard Seymour is still only 24 years old and is very mature. Has he even tapped into his fullest potential, and if not, how close is he to doing so?
BB: I think he's tapped into it. It's not like he doesn't play. The guy has been to the Pro Bowl two of the last three years. I think he's pretty good. I think Richard was pretty mature when he got here, and he's gained experienced, both league experience and experience in our system. Right now, other than Keith [Traylor], he's really the elder guy in that group, and he's been in our system a lot longer than Keith has. So, it's funny how in a couple of years that he's gone from being a rookie to now being the most experienced guy in that group. That's kind of ironic, but I think Richard is very mature. He was elected captain last year and again this year, so I think that gives you an idea of the respect his teammates have for him and how they feel about him. Again, a lot of that came out last year just from the fact that he was selected by them as a captain. He was mature when he got here, and I think he has grown into his fourth year like you would expect him to.
Q: Would you have taken Gerard Warren or Justin Smith ahead of Richard Seymour in the draft?
BB: Well, they weren't on the board. I don't know. We didn't really think about it. It wasn't an option. We saw what was there, and we took Seymour. We're happy with Richard. I don't know what would have happened if something else would have happened. I don't know.
Q: Can you talk about Gene Mruczkowski and your decision to keep him on the roster?
BB: Well, Gene missed the year last year coming back off the ACL that he hurt in college, and he's rehabbed and gotten back into a little bit of football last year but really not very much. But this year, he's been ready to go since all the minicamps, all the spring camps. He has gotten a lot of playing time. We've pretty much been able to keep two lines, 10 guys or so, intact through all of the preseason. They have gotten a lot of work, and he has been pretty consistent the entire camp and has played both guard and center, so the position versatility helps him a little bit there. Even though he didn't play much last year, he does have a year in the system and has a pretty good understanding of what we're trying to do, how we're trying to do it, and he's a pretty smart guy who reacts well to different situations, which, there are a lot of out there. He's been pretty solid all the way through.
Q: Can you talk about the defensive line? You have several young players in there. How do you feel about that group?
BB: Just that, that they're young. We obviously like them, that's why they're here. I think that if they continue to work hard and take examples of guys ahead of them, like [Richard] Seymour and like Jarvis [Green] and Keith [Traylor], and take that kind of work ethic and get on that kind of path, that they will probably be okay, too.
Q: How much progress have you seen Ty Warren make from year one to year two?
BB: Quite a bit. I think Ty has had a really good offseason. I think that he has, even last year when he played he was pretty productive on a play-for-play basis. He just didn't play as many plays as some other guys did. But on a per-play basis his production was good. He's a lot better with the techniques. I think his conditioning is better than it was last year at this time. I think he's made a lot of progress. I like where he is, and he still has a ways to go. He will need to continue to stay after it like he has to keep getting better, but he has definitely moved up in the last year. His performances, and his preparation, are a lot better than they were a year ago.
Q: What about Vince Wilfork? How has he developed since he has been here?
BB: I think he has come a ways, too. Again, he played in a different system in college than what he is playing in here. He was primarily in a one-gap system in Miami. He played a lot of one and three technique. He is basically playing much more in the center here and some at end, which he did a little bit at Miami, but the two positions that he has been working at here, technique-wise, are a little bit different than what he saw in Miami. I think he's coming along fine. He's been out there every day. He's getting a lot better because he's getting the reps, and he's able to improve on the techniques. He's doing things a lot better than he was doing them at the beginning of camp, or even during the first couple of preseason games. There are a lot of things that he has to still work on, and he will see, like all the rookies will, he will see a different level of intensity and a different level of play this week than what they've seen in the first four games. I don't think there's any doubt about that.
Q: Last year, Damon Huard played a big role in getting the defense ready for the AFC Championship game. Who is playing that role this year for you, and how are they doing with that?
BB: Rohan [Davey] and Jim [Miller]. We spend some extra meeting time with them, and I think that nobody can do it quite like [Peyton] Manning does it, but they've done a pretty good job of trying to simulate that. Like I said, we spend some extra time with them, and Josh [McDaniels] has tried to set it up as much as we can the way they set it up to give our defense a good look. That's an important role for all of our players, not just the quarterback, but all of our players to try to simulate the other team's individual players and also their schemes. Some guys have certain individual strengths, the way [Marvin] Harrison runs routes or the way [Dwight] Freeney [plays his] pass-rush techniques and that kind of thing. You try to talk to the players and get them to replicate that and also scheme-wise to try to get everybody to run the play the way that your opponent runs it so that your team can see it close to the way it's going to look when they run it Thursday night. And that's part of working together, practicing together, helping each other out, and without that…it probably never gets enough credit and is always understated, but that is such a big part of the preparation is how your scout teams can prepare your regular team for being ready to play on game day.
Q: Is Jim Miller practicing?
Q: Do the additional practice squad players change how you set your 53-man roster?
BB: The extra three guys? I would say probably not. Just in straight numerical terms, if you keep your best 53 and a year later you keep your next best, even though you have to take into consideration your position needs a little bit, that's still your best 58. So now you're adding 59, 60 and 61. You're not adding 54. You already had that. You're adding 59, 60 and 61, so I would think if we had to cut to a five-man practice squad it would be those three guys that wouldn't be on it as opposed to 54, 55 and 56.
Q: How about before the practice squad existed?
BB: Before the practice squad? Are you talking about years ago? Well, it was a whole different scenario then. You had the injured reserve rules, which were changed from year to year. It was kind of complicated, but you could put players on injured reserve and then bring them back on you roster. Now, once they're on IR they're done. So, the practice squad is a bit of a moderator between signing guys off the street and putting them onto your team and at least giving them some opportunity to be in your system. It also, I think, helps the league develop younger players. At least you have guys that don't have any NFL experience, they are the ones that are eligible for that practice squad, and it helps them develop as a player. We've had a number of guys on our team, and around the league, who have been practice squad players that end up being productive NFL players. I think that that's the way the system was intended to work, and I think for the most part that's what is happening.
Q: Without naming names, is there anyone who intrigues you that you didn't bring in because you play on Thursday?
BB: Well, since you asked me not to name any names I'll comply and not name them. But, I think you've really hit it on the head, that's right. I'm sure there will be some roster movement early in the year on our team and with probably most other teams. How much we are able to do this week, I'm not quite sure yet. Next week we have a few more days that other teams don't have, so maybe that will happen then. I'm not sure, but it will be a little bit different. Normally, just like you said, the cuts are Sunday, the waivers come in on Monday so everybody knows who is available, what's happened. You still have Tuesday, and then you really start your preparations for the game. Right now, we're right in the middle of them, so it's a little bit different for us, but we'll just try to work our way through it. Right now there's nothing more important than Indianapolis, but at the same time we have to deal with the roster, and so we'll try to manage that the best we can. It may take a little while. It might not all get done the way we hope it will get done in the next day or so. It's different this year