New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick addresses the media during his press conference at Gillette Stadium on Wednesday, October 15, 2008.
BB: After watching Denver over the last couple days, this is a real impressive football team. They have some familiar faces and a lot of new ones; some rookies are making a big impact for them. As usual, I think they are one of the best-coached teams in the league. I think Mike [Shanahan] does a tremendous job with his players, especially offensively. They are a very fast starting team. They score early and they score often. They are really throwing the ball well. They have an outstanding group of receivers, tight ends, [running] backs and their offensive line is playing well. Defensively, they are fast. They have a very veteran secondary other than Jack Williams who comes in on sub for them. But their four starters are very experienced, fast linebackers and are a disruptive front. [They] are very good in the kicking game. They are right in the top of the league in kickoff coverage, punt coverage and returns. They have done a good job on the long field goals. Real solid football team, really good in every area of the game, well coached, fast, tough and we have a lot to get ready for this week. They are pretty good. They would be a lot more fun to watch if we didn't have to play them.
Q: Have they become more of a passing team?
BB: They have always had a good balance offensively and they still continue to do that. For example, against San Diego they were spread quite a bit. [Jay] Cutler is throwing the ball well. Their receivers are outstanding and are very good with the ball in their hands, especially [Eddie] Royal and [Brandon] Marshall. Those guys break a lot of tackles [and] make people miss in the secondary. [Tony] Scheffler too - he is a receiver playing tight end. They have very good skill players and Cutler is throwing the ball well; he is very mobile in the pocket as well. It is fair to say they are throwing more than they did when we saw them two years ago.
Q: Have you noticed any difference in Jay Cutler this year compared to last?
BB: No. He looks pretty good to me. We didn't play him last year but he looks very good, very athletic, has a strong arm [and] can make all the throws. He can throw the ball as far as you want to throw it, as far as it can be thrown. He can get it down there but he has a good touch. He uses all of his receivers and tight ends. He will get the ball to the back some but he has hit the receivers and tight ends so much that the backs have become a lesser option for him. But he is very good. They do everything well, they really do.
Q: Is there a time when you have to start thinking about getting sacks?
BB: I thought we had good pressure on the quarterback in San Francisco. We have talked about it. I think the sack statistic can be a little over rated. It is really about pressure and forcing the ball out, on time or early. You always want to get pressure on the quarterback; there is no doubt about that.
Q: Is it safe to say that consistency is the key?
BB: Yes. I think you always want it to be perfect so whenever it is not, it can always be better and you always want it to be better. When you give up big plays that takes away from good plays. We had too many of those last week and that was obvious.
Q: Rookie running back Ryan Torain could start practicing this week. Would that be difficult to prepare for?
BB: It is something that we will have to do the best we can to prepare for him. It was a little bit like the Kansas City game when [Branden] Albert didn't play all the way through preseason and then he lined up at left tackle. You go on what you've got. If he is in there than we will do the best we can to get ready for him. Some guys we know more about than others but that is a little bit of the case in the first half of the season. You are going to run into some guys you just haven't seen as much of. You have less to go on but sometimes that is true of your own guys too.
Q: Is there any difference in Denver's running game? Are they rotating guys through a little more than they were?
BB: Scheme wise, no. The hard part about their running game isn't the plays; they run basically the same plays. They create a lot of different formations and they build them differently. You don't really see it until right when the ball is snapped. That's the hard part. It is the run force and getting everyone in the right position. Not that they do a lot of different blocking schemes; they don't have very many blocking schemes but they attack the edge of the defense probably as well as any team in football. That is really the heart of the problem, getting your run force and getting your perimeter guys in proper leverage to play the plays.
Q: Is there still a high percentage of outside zone?
BB: Yes. They are a big zone team. They run the inside and outside zone; they do both. They have some other plays too but that is really their bread and butter.
Q: How much do they use the 3-4 defense?
BB: They mix it in there. I would say they are primarily a 4-3 team, but they will mix it in there. They give you some different looks out of their 4-3 and 3-4 group and when they go into their sub packages they have some different looks on that too. They have a good mixture defensively. The one thing about it, no matter who is out there, it is a pretty fast group. They have fast players - guys that can run. It is hard to circle them up and get around all of them. You have to get into the defense and get some space there. It is hard to outrun [Champ] Bailey, D.J. Williams, [Nate] Webster, [Dewayne] Robertson and all those guys. They are a very good pursing team.
Q: What are some of Oliver Ross' skill sets?
BB: He's played both sides [offense and defense]; he has some position flexibility. He's played for Pittsburgh, played for Arizona and blocked a lot of people in this league. He's big, pretty athletic [and] has position versatility. We haven't had a chance to really see him, I mean we have seen him but on the field he hasn't had a chance to do much. We will see how it goes.
Q: Are you going to start practicing both Stephen Neal and Oliver Ross?
BB: Yes. We are going to start Steve and Oliver at practice today.
Q: (On average yards per carry)
BB: I think that statistic can be a little misleading. For example, in the [New York] Jets, San Francisco and a little bit in the Kansas City games, running the ball at the end of the game those weren't high yards per carry situations but they were important yards and important carries to keep the clock going, get some first downs and that kind of thing. You always want to break the big runs - there is no doubt about that. Last week, I think average per carry was a little bit better. Some of that was a little misleading because it came when the game wasn't in balance. I am sure that San Diego wasn't overly concerned about some of those yards. I think the bottom line is you want to maximize and be efficient on every run so if it is a normal down and distance situation, you are looking for four yards or more. If it is a short yardage situation than you are looking for the yardage. A one-yard run on third and one is a good run. A one-yard run on first and ten - that is not what we are looking for. Inevitably if you have a high yards per carry average rather than every play be an eight yard gain you are probably going to have a 50- or 60-yarder in there. That is really where the high average comes from - is where you break one big one. It is always nice to do that. We could always use a couple of those.
Q: Did you give any thought to onside kicking at the end of the San Diego game?
BB: Well they had their hands team in there at that point; we kicked it deep. I would really rather not get into the strategy on that play, it might come up again. We might do it differently but I would say yes we considered it.
Q: (On Dan Graham in the running game)
BB: I think Dan has been a pretty consistent player throughout his career. I think he's playing for them about how he played for us. He is a solid run blocker [and] tough kid.