Patriots Quarterback's Coach Bill O'Brien addresses the media during his conference call on Tuesday, October 19, 2010.
Q: What did you think of the job the offense did in their first game without Randy Moss and do you think some of the early struggles could have been just adjusting to not having a guy who has been on the field the past three years?
BO: I think the job we did as a team was a great job as far it was a battle, and it was back and forth. I think the Ravens have an excellent defense, one of the top-rated defenses in the league in a lot of categories, versus the run and versus the pass. And I think any struggles that we had were more because of the Ravens or self-inflicted on our part than it was whatever players were on the field. We're a game-plan offense, so we game plan each week whoever's on the roster.
Q: When a guy like Moss leaves, every receiver brings unique talents and does certain things better than other people, how many plays do you say, 'We can't use these anymore?'
BO: I don't think we look at it that way. Each player has his own strengths. So when Randy was here, there were certain things that yes we did with him that maybe Wes Welker doesn't do, obviously. At the same time, there are some things that we can still do regardless of who's here. It's just ingrained in the system of what we do and how we work. It's just like anything else, whether it was injury or trade or whatever, the next guy steps up into that role and we see the skill set that he has and we try to put it to use out on the field for that opponent. Again, each opponent is different. One opponent is a 3-4 team or plays a lot of nickel or plays a lot of dime or has a different type of personnel on the field as far as each individual defensive player, and we want to take advantage of this, that, and the other. It's all based on the game plan during the week, which is what we are working on right now for San Diego.
Q: Two quick questions. First, what is unique about Deion Branch? Secondly, what did you see from secondary coverage that was different in this game against Baltimore from the other games?
BO: Deion Branch is very unique in his own regard because first of all, his intelligence. Here's a guy who hadn't been in our system for a few years and he came in and got in here after a redeye flight out of Seattle and practiced right away when he got here on Tuesday and had a pretty, I wouldn't say easy time because like he told you after the game, he made a few mistakes in the game. Relative to where he was coming from, that's what's the most unique thing about him is his ability to come in here and pick things up right away after being away for a while. I just think he's an excellent route runner with good hands, and you can play him in a lot of different spots. I'll say this, Baltimore, they did what they do. They have a lot of different schemes. They do a great job on third down mixing up their fronts and their packages, the safeties, if it's blitz zero, they're down low. If it's blitz one, [Tom] Zbikowski was 35 yards deep. If it was blitz zone 22, then the two high safeties were high, they were 25 yards deep. So regardless of who was in there for us, they were going to do what they've been doing for years there that makes them successful, and that's what they did against us. And sometimes we had success and sometimes we didn't, and that's what we've got to try and improve on every week.
Q: How do you handle it now with Deion Branch going forward? Does he go back and try to learn the entire playbook or does he go game plan by game plan and learn whatever he happens to learn in a week?
BO: That's a good question. You come in every week on Wednesday morning and learn the game plan. You don't hand him a brand new playbook and say, 'Hey, you've got to learn this playbook.' You're now going by each individual game plan and what his role is in that game plan. A lot of that obviously involves the fundamentals, the basis of the offense. He's learning that. But at the same time, he's learning it by game plan.
Q: What has surprised you the most about Danny Woodhead? He's contributing quite a bit having joined the team on September 18. What stands out to you with what he's been able to do?
BO: It's another good example about what's unique about certain guys to me and to us when they come in here and they're able to get acclimated right away, and Danny's another one of those guys. Here's a guy who came in and had never been in our system. With that position that he plays, that running back position, there's a lot involved there: protection, route running, the running game, the different reads in the running game. That guy, intelligence-wise is another guy who has come in here and done a great job for us to this point. Obviously, there are game plans and different things that people are going to do against Deion, against Danny, against anybody that's out there. And he's just got to keep trying to improve every week, and learn the game plan, and keep getting better.
Q: When Randy Moss got traded, there was a story that came out about a talk you guys had at halftime in Miami. What was the talk and how loud did it get or was it something that happens all the time?
BO: That was three weeks ago. I'd say I've been coaching for upwards of 20 years, and that's what we do. We coach, and the players have input into what we're coaching. Things like that are going to happen. Randy and I had a great relationship, I really enjoyed coaching him, and obviously, he's moved on to Minnesota and we're moving on to San Diego, but I wish him the best. But coaching, something like that happens, that's coaching football. It's a tough sport, and that's the way it is.
Q: Aaron Hernandez has been terrific for you guys. Entering the Baltimore game he had 18 catches in 20 targets. Then he had the two drops in overtime. How do you anticipate him responding from that based on what you've seen to this point?
BO: He's come in and done some really good things. He's got a long way to go. Just like any rookie, there are things that we're trying to get him to improve on every week whether it's in the running game or in the passing game. He's obviously come in and to this point done pretty well for a rookie. It's what we thought when we drafted him. We thought we're getting an athletic guy who can run and had some toughness. And he's got to continue to focus on the game, focus on the game plan, and he'll get better every week.
Q: On the TV broadcast, they showed a quick shot of you and Tom Brady talking on the sideline deep into overtime. It looked like you guys were discussing some plays or whatever. Do you run out of plays that have been in the game plan? What's going on in that conversation?
BO: You never run out of plays. There are a lot of plays. I don't remember that conversation exactly. We talk between every single series. We look at the pictures that are taken of the previous series. We talk about what that team is doing. And then I talk to the guys about how we want to open the next series, and I'm sure that's what we were talking about at that point in time. Obviously, Bill [Belichick] has input on that. Bill says, 'We may want to open the series this way.' It's usually a hell of an idea, and we'll do that. Or maybe it's Dante [Scarnecchia]. We all kind of work together on that including Tom. That's probably what it was about. Looking at the previous series, what they did to us, how we can start the next series, and kind of go from there. Try to string some plays together.