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Bill O'Brien Conference Call Transcript

New England Patriots Offensive Coordinator Bill O'Brien addresses the media during his conference call on Monday, December 26, 2011.

Q: What was it about the game that made you choose Stevan Ridley as the lead back?  

BO: I think he's a guy that's been proving every week and early in the season, the Oakland game, he had some productive runs for us. We've just been trying every week to get him in there. It just seemed like in the flow of the game and the way the game was going, we try to play at a fast pace and he happened to be the back that was in there. He had a couple good runs so he was the guy that we stayed with based on what was going on in that game.  

Q: When you look at your running backs as a whole, what does he bring to complement the other guys? Maybe something that is unique to him?  

BO: He's a big guy. I think he's a slashing type of runner. I think they all have unique talents that they bring to the position. He's just a guy that fit in pretty well at that position. He has a little bit of size and things like that. He's going to continue to improve and try to get better at the nuances of playing that position. That's a very, very difficult position to play as a rookie because you're involved in so many different things - running game, blitz pickup, the passing game, route running versus zone, versus man. There are so many things that go into playing that position and he's gotten better but he has a long way to go.  

Q: Since the midway point of the season, you've seen that your offense has really cleaned it up in terms of turnovers. Did something have to be said or addressed or are guys just taking better care of the football across the board?  

BO: I think in the beginning of the season it just wasn't very good. As it relates to that first Buffalo game, it's kind of ironic playing Buffalo this week and the challenges that they present. We turned the ball over four times against Buffalo in that game and we can't do that - that's just no way to win. I think it starts with the quarterback. Tom [Brady] has done a much better job of taking care of the ball and he's very, very conscious of it and it carries over to the rest of the offense. If we can just continue to do that, that's one of the major stats that equals wins, just taking care of the ball. They way our defense has been playing opportunistic football, that's going to help us going forward.  

Q: When you lose players like Matt Light and Logan Mankins do you go on as business as usual with the play calling or do you have to make adjustments?  

BO: One of the things that we do here that I think I've said this and I know Bill [Belichick] has said it over and over again and if you guys talk to Dante [Scarnecchia], he'd tell you the same thing. We have a lot of depth up there because we bring in guys that are multiple position guys, they're smart guys, they're tough guys and then Dante gets them ready to play. When one guy goes down it's really the next guy up mentality. I think that's been the way since Bill's been here, since I've been here and that's really the strength of our team, is the ability of guys at all the positions to step up when the starter or so-called starter goes down.  

Q: What are your thoughts on Dante Scarnecchia as a coach?  

BO: I have a tremendous amount of respect for Dante and what he's done in his career. He's run the gamut of positions. He's a guy that I've learned a lot from. He really helps me a lot during games; I rely on him quite a bit. He's a no nonsense guy. He's a very direct guy. We have a good relationship, it's an open relationship. I enjoy working with him. He does a hell of a job.  

Q: When you line Aaron Hernandez up in the backfield, what do you like about that?  

BO: He's just the type of guy, along with Gronk [Rob Gronkowski], both of those guys, I think we've said this over and over, the football intelligence that they bring to the position, you can do a lot of different things with. That's really the only reason why, in addition to their skill set obviously, their ability to pick up different things and play fast and be able to be moved around, that's a credit to those guys. We'll continue to do that with those guys because they can handle all that.  

Q: Will we see Rob Gronkowski in the backfield?  

BO: You never know where you'll see anybody.  

Q: Rob Gronkowski and Wes Welker are really good at yards after the catch, among the league leaders. What kind of factors need to be evident for your guys to have that number be as high as it is? Is it something that you guys talk about?  

BO: I'd say that the number one job for the ball carrier as it relates to receivers and tight ends and backs in the passing game, is to catch the ball first - get open and catch the ball and then make positive yards after the catch. All of our guys, you just mentioned two but really Aaron Hernandez, the backs, [Stevan] Ridley in that last game, Hernandez in previous games, they just do a great job with yards after the catch. It's something we work on in drill work and things like that but the credit goes to those guys and their ability to break tackles and things like that.  

Q: How important is Tom Brady putting the pass in a spot where they can catch it and go in stride?  

BO: That's a great point. That's a huge part of it, that you put the ball one foot in front of the numbers on a crossing route, make sure that they don't have to reach back or reach down or reach up to catch. They're catching it clean and they can stay on the move and see the defense without having to be too concerned about the throw itself. The accuracy of the throw is definitely a major factor.

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