BB:** We know it will take a good 60-minute effort on Sunday against the Dolphins. They're really good in all three phases of the game and a team that causes you a lot of problems. They're a good game plan team; they do a good job of keeping you off-balance. You have to be ready to go physically and mentally and be really alert here on Sunday.
Q: Sometimes at the end of the week you practice in the stadium. Have you practiced in the stadium this year?
BB: No, just that one night for the season ticket thing.
Q: Is that more of an availability thing or it doesn't really matter?
BB: We just think it's best to do what we're doing.
Q: Players that you've signed from AFC East teams, is there anything to the idea that you could face them twice a year and get to know them better? I'm thinking someone like Chris White on special teams who you faced four times.
BB: If you've played against a player, that's definitely part of the evaluation because you know who he's playing against and you have a real good evaluation of the matchup. You can watch other pro tape and watch teams play other teams. There's a lot to said for that too but when you know your player you know his strengths and weaknesses. You know whether he's faster than your guy and you know how fast your guy is or not as fast or quicker or not as quick. I think it's a little bit more precise evaluation, yes.
Q: Anything specific to Chris White? What are your thoughts on him?
BB: Young guy but experienced and plays in all four phases of the game. He's a core guy for us. Dependable, smart, works hard.
Q: Is he like Tracy White? Fast and a speed guy?
BB: Tracy White is pretty fast, now. I don't think there's a lot of Tracy Whites floating around out there.
Q: Anything besides the last name?
BB: Tracy White is pretty good. I don't think there are a lot of guys that go in that category. There are a few, but there's not a lot.
Q: Chandler Jones said yesterday that he's gained a lot from Rob Ninkovich. Have you seen a lot develop in their on-field relationship?
BB: Yeah, definitely.
Q: A year and a half in, is Chandler at the point now where it might be reciprocal?
BB:** Oh sure. Chandler does a good job out there communicating with the younger guys and the pass rush and just overall alertness to certain formations, tendencies, adjustments that we might have to make. Chandler is good. He's smart and Rob's definitely a help to everybody. He's played linebacker, he's played on the line, he's played in the kicking game so whenever he's in there, he's got a pretty good level of experience at almost everything at some time or another in the time he's been here. He's done a good job with that but Chandler's definitely taken the baton and he's done a good job with it too. I'm sure it will get better but it's a lot better this year than it was last year because he has lot better confidence and experience than he had his rookie year. Those two guys have done a good job for us.
Q: They have different skill sets and body types. When you have guys like that who are playing the same position, how can they benefit each other?
BB: There's still a lot of commonality in their techniques, hand use, leverage, obviously blocking schemes are usually mirrored so the reactions and so forth. I mean everybody has a little different makeup than the other guy but I think there are some differences. There are also a lot of similarities. They both have good quickness, they both have good playing strength. Chandler is a little longer, Rob is a little more compact. I think when you're talking about playing blocks and using techniques and hand use and leverage and angles and things like that, they both have to do pretty much the same thing.
Q: Is hand use something that casual media types and casual fans overlook? I remember Anthony Pleasant used to spend hours on slap drills.
BB: They all do, yeah. When you're in hand-to-hand combat with a guy that's lined up a few inches away from you, that's a huge part of it. Hand placement and being able to knock him off or keep them on or get proper leverage on a punch, timing your punch, knocking the punches down, not getting them knocked down depending on which side of the play you're on. Absolutely, that's huge.
Q: Is that something that develops in the NFL? Guys probably get away with athleticism more in college?
BB: I'd say there's a lot more of that in college – guys playing with their shoulders and their forearms and that kind of thing. There's more, for lack of a better word, there's probably more holding in the NFL. It's more liberal. You have to be able to use your hands defensively to keep their hands off of you. Offensively, you're allowed to probably use your hands more than what they are in college and they do that. That's definitely a big, big part of the interior line play – hand use, hand techniques. Honestly it's more prevalent on the perimeter too because you don't see as much press coverage in college football and you see a lot of it in the NFL. The corners and the wide receivers chicken fight and use their hands trying to get off or on each other. That's something that's a lot more important here probably than what it is in college where you see a lot of off-coverage and quarters and more zone and that kind of thing. There's just less of it. So, yeah, that's real important.
Q: You have an experienced offensive line. Are you surprised with the sack numbers this year? When you look at those numbers, it is usually a combination of the line and the quarterback?
BB: Combination of line, quarterback, running back, tight end and receiver. Some of that is also the combination of the previous plays. There are a lot more sacks on third-and-long than there are on third-and-short. I'd say it's a combination of all of it. There's certainly room for improvement everywhere, including on the coaching end. There are some things, a couple times the play we had on wasn't a good play against what we happened to face. We have to stay out of that situation or find a different way to handle it. Things have come up a couple times on our end too. We all just have to do a better job all the way across the board. That includes everybody.
Q: Julian Edelman said the thing that helps him the most on punt returns is getting a good read as soon as the ball is in the air of the blockers in front of him. What makes him so good and what goes into a unique punt returner?
BB:** A punt returner can't be watching the guys run down the field when he's catching the ball but while the ball is in the air there's a short amount of time there, a second or two, where he can start to get an idea of how the coverage is getting displaced as opposed to a kickoff return where everybody is in their lane and starts down the field. On the punt team, by the time the ball is snapped and the blocking occurs and guys get off the line, it's not usually just the wave of guys. There is some kind of displacement in the coverage. You can get a feel for what kind of depth the gunners have. I think that's what a good returner does, is he takes the ball off the punters foot, sees it start to pick up the flight in the air, takes a look at how the coverage is starting to unfold, come down the field and get a sense of what the opportunities might be and then as the ball is coming in, he has to get a feel for how close or how dangerous those guys are to hitting him when he catches the ball, whether to fair catch it and that type of thing. So, a lot of decision making there in a pretty short amount of time. Some of that depends on what the return is and what we're trying to set up and what we're trying to do. There's definitely a lot of judgment and decision making involved there, no question. I would say the biggest thing for Julian is, one, he makes good decisions and two, he's aggressive. He'll take it to the edge but for the most part he's done a good job of not putting himself in harm's way but at the same time being aggressive and making the plays that he can make. He's had a couple balls that have, like last week, bounced and he saved us some yards on those without overexposing himself or the team to a turnover. There's a fine line between saving a couple yards and taking care of the ball. But when you can do both that helps the team.
Q: Is it safe to say hesitation is something you can't have at that position as a returner?
BB: I don't think that's ideal but I'd say sometimes it's better to make no decision than make the wrong one, let's put it that way. If it's make the wrong one or not make one, sometimes you're better off just getting away from the ball rather than trying to catch it in traffic or catch it on the run or put yourself in a spot where you could lose the ball.
Q: Have you noticed any difference in the trade deadline this year compared to last year? It seems like more trades are happening than in the past.
BB: I think that the trades that you've seen are kind of financially driven. I don't know how much of it is personnel trading and how much of it is financial trading. However you want to look at it, for draft choices or for cap relief. But no, I don't see a big, dramatic difference, no.
Q: The trade deadline is often compared to baseball. Is it any different in terms of level of discussion in the window we're in now, near the deadline as opposed to any week during the year? Does it pick up at all?
BB: Again, I can't say that I've noticed any difference this year. I'd say there's not a lot of it period, but it's certainly way less, way, way less than what there is at the 53 cut, just to pick another period of time or maybe the week before, like at the 75 cut. There's a lot more conversations there about the makeup of your team and who you need and who might be extra and those kind of things. You're looking at a 16-week season at that point. Now you're looking at a much shorter window. I'd say every team in the league is dealing with some type of personnel issues so where you have extra depth is probably less than what it was in September and your needs based on whatever players you've lost are probably greater than they were in September. Therefore, you need more, there's less available, it's a shorter season, you're trading for a guy for just a short amount of time. How quickly can you get him ready, how productive will it be, was it really worth it? Is it worth it to the team who is trading away the player to get not very much for somebody versus just keeping him and playing with him even though you get something for him but it isn't really worth it? You'd rather have him for those seven, eight games, whatever is left than some pick at the end of the draft that you might not think has a lot of value, especially if you're worried about your depth at that position with the player that you're moving. Usually when you have that kind of depth, you see more of those trades I think in September when, A – the value is higher and, B – teams have more depth at that position so it's easier for them to move the player because they have other guys at that point but two months later, they have less depth at that position and they're less likely to move them. That's just one man's opinion; it's not a survey of the league or anything. It's hard to get a guy ready in a short amount of time. I don't know much about baseball, but maybe a third baseman on this team, put him at third base on the other team and let him hit. How much is there involved? I'm sure there's some but it's not like playing left guard, having 20 different protections and two dozen running plays and a dozen different defenses you have to block every week. It's a little more involved.
Q: Tom Brady's name popped up on the injury report yesterday. Was he injured in practice or was that more of a maintenance type thing?
BB: We'll list our injuries at the end of every day, just like we always do.
Q: Is there any reason why he popped up yesterday versus not being there on Wednesday?
BB: Yeah, that's why we list them and that's all I'm going to say about it.
Q: You guys are lining up differently when you stretch before the game. Is there anything to that? Is it just to shake it up?
BB: No, we thought like we get a little more out of it doing it the way we're doing it now. I don't think it's that big a thing. We just felt that pulling everybody a little closer together so they can hear. Just make sure we do the best we can with that amount of time, get it done quickly and move along. It seemed like it took a lot of time to get everybody lined up, running around, get going; just move through it a little bit quicker. Nice you noticed that; at least you're there to watch pregame warm-ups.