BB: On the roster moves we know about Kole [Ayi] right? We are going to place Hakim [Akbar] on the NFI – Non-Football Injury Reserve List today which will take him out for the year. Injury-wise we are going to downgrade Matt Light to questionable with a stomach problem and Terry [Glenn] is doubtful. Ted Johnson, Matt Chatham and Je'Rod Cherry all did not work yesterday, but I talked to all of them this morning and they are going to go out and see what they can do today. It looks like it is improving, but we will just have to see what they can do.
Q: Earlier in the week you talked about keeping the Rams off of the field, how important is it for your running game to not only produce drives that score points, but also take time off of the clock?
BB: It would be very helpful, that would be very helpful. Again the bottom line is points. At Indianapolis we took a little bit of the same philosophy, but we had some short drives that didn't take any time off the clock, but got in the end zone and scored points. So really that is what you are looking for, but if you can take some time off of the clock and certainly give your defense a chance to get on the sideline, make some adjustments, get communication lines going there in terms of what…because sometimes things happen pretty quickly on the field especially against the Rams, they usually happen quickly, to try to make some adjustments and get a chance to kind of get reorganized a little bit. So that is helpful when the offense can stay out there a give you a chance to do that defensively.
Q: Without Light how does that affect the match-ups?
BB: We'll play the same way that we did last week with Grant [Williams] but in terms of the match-ups the thing that the Rams have is a lot of speed on the edge. Their outside pass rushers are fast and they force you to step up into the pocket and then that's when the tackles can get you, but [Grant] Wistrom and [Leonard] Little in particular are two very fast speed edge rushers. Of course their linebackers run well too. I mean Mark Fields probably runs as fast as any corner in the league, pretty close to it. He runs under 4.5, [Tommy] Polley is fast, [Don] Davis is fast, I mean he is hurt, but Davis plays fast. So they have an athletic and a fast front group.
Q: Has Hakim been released from the hospital?
BB: No, not that I am aware of.
Q: How is he doing?
BB: I think he is doing better, but I think he is still in quite a bit of discomfort. I haven't talked to him in a couple days, but when I talked to him he was pretty uncomfortable and in talking to the doctors that are in communication it sounds like he is still in some discomfort.
Q: I know it is hard to be mad at a player when they are in the hospital, but was it just an accident or did he put himself in a bad situation?
BB: I am not going to try to pass judgment on that until all of the facts are in. Right now the main concern we have is for Hakim's health and well-being and we will address the specifics of the situation when we know more about it, exactly what occurred.
Q: Would those specifics be his injuries, can you tell us exactly what he hurt?
BB: I think he hurt everything.
Q: Do you still get your salary with a non-football injury?
BB: Yeah the rules on that are different and there is flexibility there. It depends on, it doesn't depend, there are different ways it can be treated and different ways you can handle it.
Q: Is that in the CBA?
BB: Sure. Again any of the players that we have had non-football injury situations with have all fallen into that same category. Last year it was Todd Rucci…
Q: Rucci was a non-football injury?
BB: Yeah when he hurt his knee in the summer. We had another one too I can't remember who it was right now, but anyway…
Q: Is Light just sick or…
BB: Yeah, exactly.
Q: I didn't mean just sick…
BB: Right, he is not feeling well at all.
Q: I just wanted to make sure he didn't have an appendicitis or something?
BB: Well I mean I can't tell you exactly what it is. I am not going to sit here and say it isn't that, I am not saying it is either, but something is bothering him.
Q: Ty Law has been having a good year, has he stepped a notch from last year?
BB: I think Ty has had a much better year than he had last year and I think it started right from the beginning, from the first day at camp. He had a much better camp then he had last year. He was in better shape at the beginning of camp. Last year he had a sore hamstring, pretty much all through camp even though he practiced, it still limited him. He had a better period in camp, he played better in the preseason and his level of play has been much better than it was last year through the entire year. It is not like it is just one year or a couple of plays or whatever. He has been a lot more consistent.
Q: Did you have a conversation with him from last year to this year about the things he needs to do?
BB: Yeah we did that with everybody. We talk to all the players going forward saying, 'Hey here are the things that you did well last year, here are the things that you need to improve on.' Whether it be physically, like with [Tom] Brady, 'You need to get stronger, you need to add some quality weight' or whether it was about the scheme or about the technique or pass rush techniques, whatever. So we identified that with each player and we did it with Ty just like we did it with everybody else. I mean it wasn't like he was singled out, but we evaluate him just like we evaluate everybody else.
Q: What were some of the recommendations you gave to him specifically?
BB: I would rather not go into each player's individual weakness chart and all of that, but there were some scheme things, there were some conditioning things, there were a number of areas and again it is not a derogatory thing we are just saying, 'Here is what you can do to improve.'
Q: Do you have a timeline on Terry [Glenn]?
Q: Week 10, Week 12, put him on the shelf for the rest of the year?
Q: Have you thought any more about putting him on injured reserve?
BB: I think the further it goes the more you have to think about it. It is not something that we do right now, but at some point it has got to be a consideration.
Q: Have you ever considered taking him off the list, if you take him off the list does he have to practice? If your doctors determine that he is not hurt, take him off the list and does that become a different situation when he walks out to practice?
BB: Yeah, right. If a player was seen by the physicians and they say he is 100 percent cleared to play and he can do everything and then the player doesn't do it, that is a different situation then when a player has limitations and he can't do it, yeah, sure.
Q: So your doctors still determine that there is a problem there?
BB: Well yeah, that he is not 100 percent. Yeah clinically there is still evidence of that, yes.
Q: Was it a tear or a strain or…
BB: I don't know. I would hate to characterize it because then that would come across like that's the diagnosis of the injury and that is not it. We have all had muscle injuries before. They hurt, they get better and at some point they clear up. So it's some point between the initial injury and it clearing up. Call it whatever you want to call it at that point. I don't know.
Q: But it seems like a situation where he is downgraded every week?
BB: The reason I downgraded him is because at the end of the week when it is clear at this point that he is not going to play then I downgraded him. I am not saying he is getting better on Wednesday and worse on Friday. I am saying that on Wednesday I think there is chance that he could be ready to play. By Friday I am sitting here saying it is not going to be this week, so we downgrade him to be upfront about it. I am definitely not trying to say he's better, he's worse, he's better, he's worse, he's better, that's not it at all.
Q: Will you take the guys under the lights at all this week?
BB: No. We thought about it, but I think we will just try to stay as much with our regular schedule as we can. We seem to be getting things done the way we need to get them done. We played the preseason games under the lights. We had a couple of four o'clock games. We've had some dome games, not that they are night games but I think we are okay.
Q: Is J.R. [Redmond] still somewhat slowed by his ankle or is Antowain [Smith] just running so well?
BB: I think this is a case where when Kevin [Faulk] and Antowain got opportunities to step in that they had good production and I think therefore they have continued to get those opportunities and J.R. has just gotten fewer.
Q: How is he looking in practice?
BB: Yeah he is okay, no I don't think it is a health issue it is just the other two guys have played and they have played pretty well. They have been productive for us and it is hard to take them out.
Q: How does Mike Martz rate as an offensive schemer?
BB: I think Mike has done a tremendous job with the whole football team, but especially offensively. He does a great job of keeping everybody involved in the game. He uses all of the players, the backs, the tight ends and the receivers. He really plays four receivers, but he plays them in different combinations and he effectively utilizes all of them so that defensively you have to defend every single thing, every single guy. It is not like you can just take away one player and that guy is going to be a really good player whoever it is Isaac Bruce, [Marshall] Faulk or whoever he picks out. The way they spread the ball around, he's a very aggressive offensive coach and his schemes are very aggressive. You have to defend the screen passes that are thrown behind the line of scrimmage, you have to defend the 20 yard intermediate level with the incuts and the overpatterns and that kind of thing and then you have to defend the 40 and 50 yard passes by [Kurt] Warner, flea flickers, halfback passes, reverse passes by [Az-Zahir] Hakim, so he makes you defend the whole field long and short, inside to outside, the running game, the perimeter running game to Faulk, the draws inside. You literally have to defend sideline to sideline and you have to defend from the line of scrimmage to the back of the end zone and that puts a lot of pressure on you defensively. I think he has a tremendous system. They execute it well. They use a lot of formations and personnel in motion so that it is hard to really key in on what they are doing because it changes so continuously that it is hard to get into a defensive rhythm against them. Just the way they usually play. If you look at most of their game either one of two things happens, either they come out in the first quarter and it's 17-3 five minutes into the game because they have so much speed and athleticism and big play ability that by the time their opponent wakes up they have already lit up the scoreboard. They do it in the kicking game with [Trung] Canidate and Hakim. They do it on defense with their speed rushers and they get turnovers in the secondary or you get a couple of games where people have gone along for awhile, it is 0-0 at the end of the first quarter, it is 7-3 and then they explode. Then they hung up 21 or 28 points in a quarter in a ten-minute span kind of like they did against the Jets. The game is over in five minutes. Usually it happens at the beginning of the game. I mean about half of the time they are so far on top at the beginning of the game that you are playing from 14 or 17 points down for 50 minutes, 55 minutes. It puts a lot of pressure on the other team, but a lot of teams have been able to hang in there with them and then boom like in the San Francisco game it goes from 16-12 or whatever it is to 31-16. You are watching the projector and the tape and you are seeing a pretty competitive game. You watch a few plays and the next time you see the scoreboard they are up by 20 points.
Q: As a defensive schemer, does it almost make it more fun for you this week?
BB: Oh no, I wouldn't call this fun. This is torture. I think Mike [Martz] is unique in that, again if you think of some of the most explosive offenses that we've seen in the National Football League over the last 25 years, you think of teams like the Joe Gibbs Redskins, you think of the West Coast offense with Bill Walsh, you think of the Chargers offenses with Don Coryell, you think of the Minnesota offenses with all their skilled receivers and Robert Smith and all those guys, you even think of the [Marino] offenses with [Don] Shula where they were throwing for 500 yards a game and Tom Landry at Dallas. Those offenses all had two or three elements to them, whether it be the shifting of Dallas or whether it was the precision passing of the 49ers or the power running of the Redskins or the vertical plays by the receivers at Minnesota, you know you can go right down the line. To me, the Rams have all of them. You know they ran for 340 yards last week. Next week they'll turn around and throw for 500. One week it will be one receiver catching three touchdown passes. The next week it will be the other guy. The next week it will be some other guy throwing a couple. They just attack you on all fronts. Again, I'd say if I had to put them close to anybody it would be the Chargers because they had the great running game with [Chuck] Muncie, they had a great tight end with [Kellen] Winslow, they had a great quarterback with [Dan] Fouts, and then they had great receivers and every play was a potential touchdown. And if you just look at the Rams statistically, the Rams have more long touchdowns, more 80-yard touchdown drives than any other team in the league. Now a lot of those drives are two and three plays, I mean it's not like they are going 17 plays, they go 80 yards. They are also the best team in the league when they get the ball on the plus side of the 50. So it doesn't matter where they get it. They can get it on their own 10 or they can get it on your 10. Really, they are only three plays away from being on your 10 anyway. They are tremendously explosive.
Q: Watching the Saints tapes, have you talked to the team about withstanding the onslaught?
BB: Sure, that's right. They're going to throw their punches early and I am sure a couple of them are going to land. We are going to try to land a couple early, but it is going to be 60 minutes. Look, the Saints were down by 21 points and won. So you can hang in there, I mean it's tough, but you can hang in there. It's going to be a 12, 15-round fight and it's just who is standing at the end. But they do make it tough on you because they can be so explosive and they can knock you…I mean like they did last week it's 14-0 four minutes into the game. They can knock you out of the box early, but you are right, exactly what you said, withstand the onslaught, you've got to be standing. Whatever punches they hit you with you've got to be able to take them, regain your balance and keep coming back at them. That is easier said than done, but that is what you've got to do. You know they have the same kind of explosiveness in the kicking game. I mean they've got [Trung] Canidate back there returning kickoffs and [Az-Zahir] Hakim returning punts. I mean you give those guys four inches and they are gone. I mean it is not back to the 30, you know they are in the end zone…the band's playing.
Q: Are or were you close to Charley Armey?
BB: Yeah, Charlie and I had a good relationship when we were here and I have talked to him from time to time.
Q: You were both under [Bill] Parcells basically when you were here and now both running your own shows?
BB: Well I don't want to speak for him, I don't know about Mike and Charlie and all that. But Charlie, I think is a very astute judge of personnel. I think he has done a great job of putting that team together. They obviously know what they are looking for and they get it and they've done a good job of obviously putting the most explosive offense in the league together and rebuilding the defense. You know it has taken a little time. I mean they weren't always 14-2 and 6-0 and all that. It took them period of years there in the late '90s they suffered through some…from I don't know '94, '95, I mean there was gradual build-up period, but once they hit it in '99, the last three years they're…I think their performance speaks for itself and Charley certainly deserves a lot of credit. But I think Mike does too. I mean obviously it is a good combination.
Q: With the need for so many defensive backs with this opponent, might we see Ben Kelly?
BB: Sure, yeah that's a possibility. That's a possibility. I think that we're going to have to you know be a little be heavier in the defensive backfield than we would normally be, let's put it way, than just a normal game…even though there have been some games where we've been heavier on defensive backs, but a lot of that's been more special teams requirements, but this is…defensively you certainly have to consider your extra defensive back packages to try to match up with all the speed the put on the field. And again basically every time they snap the ball there's five wide receivers on the field. I don't care what number they are in, but in terms of the way they play and what they do and where they can be, it's the potential for five wide receivers.
**Q: Has he shown you in practice what you have expected from him?B: He's coming along, he's coming along. I think one of the things that is hurting Kelley is that what they did in Miami is quite a bit different from what our defensive system is here. Miami is a man based team and they have a lot of man coverages and man adjustments and we have some of those too, but we also have a lot of zones and some combinations and some things like that that are a little different and it is tough when you come in, in the beginning of the year. It is not that bad when you go to training camp because you are hearing it the same as everybody else is hearing it and you are moving along, but when you come in, in the middle of the year when everybody else has been doing this stuff for three months and you haven't done it before, it is not like when Otis Smith came in last year from the Jets where he had run this stuff for a couple of years. A lot of this is new for Ben and it is easy on the board and it is easy on the paper, 'You've got him, you've got him,' but then when it starts happening out on the field and the adjustments come along quicker and the adjustments come along quicker and the coverages come together and it is a new game plan every week, that is the harder part. I think that is probably the tougher part for him right now, but athletically he looks good and he certainly shows good skills for us out there. How quickly he will be ready, I don't know and I don't know if it is going to be this year.
Q: Martz is essentially an Ernie Zampese disciple, is talent the biggest difference with what he has been able to do in St. Louis and Zampese was able to do here in New England?
BB: I think that when you look at the St. Louis roster you are looking at either…
Q: The Patriots certainly didn't run that offense?
BB: Well I think Mike, again you are just talking about a family of offense. I think that certainly a lot of the plays that Mike runs you can look at them and see elements of things that other people are doing. The thing that I think that he has been able to do is that he has been able to take the talent and put it in a lot of different places and build on it. This is the third year in the system so I am sure they are doing things now that are a little bit more, that have built a little bit on things that they have done the last couple of years. So progressively it looks worse I mean defending it, it is harder to defend because you are seeing a little more added on and added on and added on. I will tell you when a team is able to call 40 different pass plays in a game that is a lot to defend against. Most teams you might see, you are going to see some of the same plays repeat that is just normal. Against St. Louis you almost never see the same play twice. You might see the same concept, you might see the same relationship between the outside receiver and the inside receiver and the third, but it is different people, it is with a different kind of motion, instead of it being three wide receivers and a tight end in the back, it is two tight ends, a back and two wide receivers. So it kicks you into a different mode and that is the thing that they do. Even when they run the same plays they are disguised so differently that it is hard to recognize them until it is too late. It is a real credit to him and to his teaching and to his system that he is able to get it done so efficiently, but the talent you can't deny. Warner has been a player of the year. Marshall Faulk has been a player of the year. Isaac Bruce and Torry Holt are two of the best receivers in the league. [Ernie] Conwell, he is one of the best tight ends in the league. He has just been overshadowed by those guys. Hakim is a good situational player, makes a lot of players. [Ricky] Proehl has won a lot of games for them. You can't put a price on that guy. He's won them championships. You bring Canidate in there, he's probably faster than Faulk. I am not saying that he is the same quality of player, but he brings a dimension on the field that is just devastating. They just keep them coming. The have got Orlando Pace, they have got a hell of a left tackle, you can't get around him.