BB: Denver has been an impressive team to watch this week as they usually are. Coach [Gary] Kubiak does a great job. We've competed against him many times and he always has his teams ready to go. Offensively they have a lot of weapons. Defensively they are pretty much at the top of the league in every category. Very good in the kicking game, got a lot of team speed, good specialists, made a lot of big plays on defense and special teams this year. Wade [Phillips] does a good job with that unit as we know and we've seen from him many times. It's kind of the reuniting of a lot of components that were there under Coach [Dan] Reeves back in the 90's with [John] Elway, Kubiak, Joe DeCamillis and Wade. I think the coordinators have kind of changed a little bit of the scheme of the Broncos in the last year or so with still a lot of the great players that they have there. They had I think it was 11 Pro Bowler players last year, most of whom are still big contributors for them now. The scheme has been a little bit different but a lot of familiar faces there in terms of their great players. We know it will be a kind of atmosphere and environment in Mile High, we know what that will look like. So this will be a big challenge for us to go out there and compete and perform well against a good football team that's well coached with a lot of talented people.
Q: What have you seen from Gary Kubiak's offensive scheme this year?
BB:He pretty much runs for the most part his system. Now that's game planned every week, so he modifies it based on what he expects to see from the defensive team, but the foundations are the stretch runs and bootlegs and a lot of formationing. That's all specific to the team that they play. A lot of the core plays, but how they're dressed and how they appear to the defense and what it does to the defensive run force and perimeter defense and spacing, he controls that with different personnel groups and formations and motions and so forth, so he does a really good job with that.
Q: Do you have a sense for how they like to use their cornerbacks?
BB: Man to man. It's not a big mystery. They just get them on them and go. When they bring a third corner in usually it's [Chris] Harris moving inside and [Bradley] Roby outside. Roby played inside last year but it seems like Harris is more the inside guy this year when they go to three corners.
Q: What are the characteristics you look for from your team from Thanksgiving on?
BB: Right now it's really just a one-week season for us. We don't really care anything about last week or next week. It's just about Broncos week. The challenges that we face from this team are numerous and they're very specific, different than we've seen in other weeks and obviously different players and different matchups. It's really just all about focusing on the Denver Broncos this week. We can't do any more than that. That's the best thing we can all do for our team is do well this week, prepare well this week.
Q: What have you seen from Michael Williams this season and who would you compare him to that you've coached in the past?
BB:We don't really have anybody like Mike. Mike has done a good job for us, really smart guy, and he's been able to handle a lot for somebody that hasn't played the position he plays now for three years. He's picked up everything in terms of the protection in the passing game, responsibilities in the kicking game, and he's really good. He makes good adjustments and handles a lot of the small things really easily. He's been great to work with, definitely gives us a different element to that position and it's been good. It's been really good. He's a good teammate, really solid person on the team, very professional with a variety of skills – different from some of our other tight ends – but nevertheless he can do a lot of things.
Q: On the kick to the up-man the other day, what do you look for from the guys that are back there in that position?
BB:It depends on what scheme you're trying to run and really what you're trying to do. I'd say they're not all the same. Some teams have big offensive and defensive linemen back there. We've had them back there before. I'd say that's more of a wedge-blocking scheme. There is certainly an element of ball handling that goes on back there like what happened on that play or squib kicks and things like that. I think depending on what kind of returns you're running, also obviously what personnel you have available, but what type of returns you're running and what you're trying to defend in terms of the types of kicks you're getting, how much movement is involved are all considerations as to who you would put back there.
Q: We see Matt Slater work with the wide receiver group in training camp. Once the season starts, how much time does he spend with that group? Does that continue?
BB: Sure, yeah.
Q: Do you know what kind of receiver he is at this point? When we see him it's usually just go routes and blocking for short-yardage situations.
BB:He practices all the things on our scout team – the Denver receivers this week or the Buffalo receivers last week – and he takes one of those and whatever routes the guy runs, that's what he runs. He works there.
Q: Being 6-foot-7, you would assume that Brock Osweiler's vision of the field is very good. What have you seen from him on film as far as reading defenses?
BB: Yeah, he does a good job, took good care of the ball last week. Most of his play time has been in preseason. There hasn't been a ton of snaps on him but what there have been are good. He's obviously a smart guy, has good command of the line of scrimmage and what takes place there. He has a good arm.
Q: When a guy is that tall, do you modify your approach to try to bat passes down because that would be more difficult?
BB: No. Like take a step stool out there or something like that? No.
Q: What challenges does Von Miller present?
BB: Plenty. Yeah, really good, fast, explosive, great get-off, explosive player, runs well, but has a good playing strength, quick, has got a ton of talent, has a lot of skill, hard guy to block on anything – runs, passes. He counters well. He can win on the first step or win on his initial get-off, but if you take that away he's got enough athleticism, balance and quickness to win on a counter move and that kind of thing, so you've got to block him throughout the down. He's a big challenge. He's as good of an edge guy as we've seen. We've seen plenty good ones and he's right up there with him.
Q: How do you assess Chris Harper's play?
BB: He's making progress. There's a long way to go, but he's making progress, works hard, learns every day, learns every week. I think he's headed in the right direction.
Q: What makes Rob Gronkowski effective as an outside receiver? Have you thought about using him more in that role considering the depth issues at receiver?
BB: Sure, it's a possibility. It creates a different kind of matchup, and depending on who is covering him, it puts that player in a less comfortable position. But the closer you are to the middle of the field the more route options you have. You can go inside or outside, it's really the same thing at that point when you're right in the middle and you have a lot more variety in what you can do. When you're outside your route tree, you can't get to the other half of the field basically unless it's a long-developing over route or something like that. So your route tree is in more of a confined area. I'm not saying it's good or bad. It's just different. I think there are places and advantages to, whether it be a receiver or tight end – I mean, they're all receivers – backs, tight ends, receivers, there are advantages to being outside or somewhere in that slot area or inside if you will. So it depends on what you're trying to do, who you're matched up against, what you're trying to run.
Q: Have you rotated your offensive linemen based on matchups?
BB: Not really.
Q: What have you seen from Jabaal Sheard since he returned from injury?
BB: Jabaal has had a good year for us. He's played some more inside than what we saw him play at Cleveland, so he's done a good job in there. We've asked him to have some coverage responsibilities, which again is something he hasn't done a lot of. Not that he's a linebacker – I'm not saying that – but there are times when our ends are in coverage and he's done alright on that. But he's strong, he's long, so he's a hard guy to match up with offensively for the tackles or the guards when he gets inside because of his length inside, and he's got a good combination of speed and power on the edge for the tackles that he can win with speed or he can win with power. So he has a good set of skills. He's an instinctive player. He can find the ball. He has good awareness. He plays hard. He's a tough kid. He plays hard.
Q: Brock Osweiler was an early-entry guy picked in the second round. Do you remember him coming out and what your thoughts were on him? Is there any connection between him and Jimmy Garoppolo, who was picked around the same time a couple years later?
BB: Not really so much. It's kind of worked out differently for Jimmy.
Q: Jumping off of that, is there a long-term benefit to sitting and learning under Peyton Manning and Tom Brady?
BB: I'm sure there is a lot you can learn from Tom Brady or Peyton Manning. I can't think of too many people you could learn more from than guys like that. Sure, it's an obvious benefit. If you can't learn from them then you don't want to learn. I'll put it that way. It's not a question of opportunity. It's just what the person is able to or wants to take in and absorb.
Q: Is their defense faster this season than it was last season?
BB: They're pretty fast. Maybe [they're faster] because they're not a real exotic group. What they do they do a lot of, they're confident in it and I'm sure they're very well-schooled in what their responsibilities are. You don't see a lot of confusion or pre-snap meetings out there about who's going to do what. They seem to always pretty much know very quickly when the offense lines up where to go, what to do and then they play aggressively. I'd say it's probably fair. They might be playing a little bit faster. They have good team speed at linebacker. Those guys are fast. The inside linebackers are fast, outside linebackers are fast – [Brandon] Marshall and [Danny] Trevathan. And they have edge speed with [DeMarcus] Ware and Miller and [Shaquil] Barrett and those guys, so they all run well. The defensive line is fast and active and obviously the secondary. They're in a lot of dime defense and third down with [David] Bruton. Bruton is one of the faster safeties I'd say in the league. He's another speed player on the field that kind of plays their dime position and then Harris kicks inside and plays kind of the sub corner spot. I don't think there are too many times you look out there and see a slow guy like [Terrance] Knighton. I'm not saying he's not a good player, but that's not his number one thing. You don't see those guys out there and then as a team wherever the ball is you see a lot of guys moving at a pretty good rate of speed to get there. If you just don't even look at the numbers, just kind of general pursuit and speed to the ball, they have a lot of guys that run well. So it's hard to get big plays on them because the space doesn't stay open for very long. They get guys there and close it up.
Q: Is there still a lot of zone blocking in the running game?
BB: That's all it is. That's it. It's the same zone blocking we saw in Denver when Coach Kubiak was there with Coach [Mike] Shanahan. It's the same zone blocking we saw in Houston when Coach Kubiak was there. It's the same zone blocking we saw in Baltimore last year. It's the same zone blocking this year. Fundamentally it's all the same. Now it could be a different personnel group. It could be a different look. It could be same variation with the formationing and tight end on, tight end off, two tight ends, no tight ends, etc., but it all comes back to the same [thing]. You've got to be able to stop the outside zone play against these guys or it's going to be a long, long day. And the plays that complement it – obviously the boot plays and the play actions that go with it, which a lot of those play actions are home-run kind of play actions. Like they're not looking to run play actions and throw the ball two yards out into the flat. That's not really their idea of play action. If they hit you with play action it's going to hurt. It's not going to be a two-yard gain, not many of them anyways. And that defeats the whole extra guy in the front. The proverbial eight-man fronts really don't help you against them because you've got to cover the quarterback on boots. You might have eight bodies there, but if you don't have an eighth guy to cover the quarterback or seven or whatever it is, you can't outnumber them like defenses try to outnumber teams in the running game. You've got six, they've got six, you've got seven, they've got seven, you've got eight, they've got five, you've got six. You can always put one more in there, but then when you have to account for quarterbacks on those boots then you lose that guy so your seven-on-six becomes six-on-six. And that's the foundation of the offense. They do a good job with it.
Q: Gary Kubiak said Peyton Manning won't be available for a few weeks. I know you say you prepare for everybody, but does that change your approach?
BB: It's not our decision. We're ready for everybody. It's their choice on who they play, when they play them. We can't control that.
Q: Announcers used to like to talk about the elevation up there. Is that still an issue?
BB: We've played out there before. I was out there for a year. I coached in Denver for a year. I think the team that plays better will win. Whether we play there or whether we play … Look, these are professional athletes. They're well-conditioned, everybody is ready to go. The team that plays well will be alright. The team that doesn't, it doesn't matter whether it's there or somewhere else. It isn't going to make any difference.
Q: Have you been pleased with the mental toughness the players have shown the last few weeks?
BB: Yeah, I mean mental and physical toughness is a part of this game. We need it every week.
Q: Big day tomorrow. Is pumpkin pie still atop the list?
BB: Any pie – anything that doesn't eat me.
Q: With the injuries you've had, do you pull a guy aside and talk to him about the next-man-up mentality or is that something that is expected with the Patriots?
BB: Look, every player that's in that room has a job to do and they have a role on the team and they're all important and they know that. They know that from day one. There's no grey area there. It's black and white. We all have a job to do. That's why we're here. We're not fans. We all have something to contribute to the team. That's being ready to go to do whatever it is that the team needs you to do. It could be something on Wednesday. It could be something on Thursday. It could be something on Sunday. Whatever it is we all need to be ready to do that. Those things may change from week to week, they may change from day to day and that's part of being prepared and being ready. That's everybody. There is nobody that's not in the category – nobody.
Q: So if a guy ends up having an increased role, you wouldn't pull him aside and talk to him about his new responsibilities?
BB:Oh yeah, absolutely. Look, players' roles change every week. So yeah, sure we talk to them about, 'Look here's what we need you to do this week. These are the most important things that we need you to do.' Because again when you go through a whole week of preparation, there are five thousand things – do this on this play, if they do this we do that, if they do that we do something else, if this happens that happens, if he goes there you go there. You go on the next play, it's the same scenario. You need to get past all that and say, 'Alright look what we really need to do, here's A, B, C, here's the three things you've got to do this week for us to win.' Next guy, look here's what you've got to do. Next guy, here's what you've got to do. Maybe they play the same position but it might be different roles. Whatever it is, each week is different, but those need to be defined for the players. It's not just show up and do whatever you feel like and see how it goes. Each of us has a job to do. Look, my job is different every week. So is every other coach's job, every player's job. Each week brings its own challenges. We have to respond to those challenges and meet them I'd say distinctly. They're different.