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Championship Week Conference Call Transcripts 1/18

Patriots head coach Bill Belichick, offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels and defensive coordinator Matt Patricia addressed the media during conference calls on Monday, January 18, 2016.



Q: What were your impressions of Peyton Manning's performance yesterday and how much different will it be preparing for him as opposed to Brock Osweiler in the previous matchup?

BB: Well, I'd say the preparation is definitely different. Peyton has tremendous experience running this offense and having control of things at the line of scrimmage, more variations, more fluctuation in what they do as opposed to probably more plays that are called and run with Osweiler. [They're] both good players obviously. We've had trouble with both of them so we'll have to be ready for both guys. I think Denver did a great job yesterday of doing what they had to do. They made the plays on offense, defense, and special teams that they needed to make when they needed to make them and that was the difference. That's what good teams do and they did it.

Q: Aside from them having different quarterbacks would you agree that the two teams are now much different than they were in the previous matchup which may lead to less carry-over this time around?

BB: I mean going into the game some things will be similar to what they were, some things will be different. That's usually the way it is. Maybe it won't be snowing, I mean who knows. Whatever it is, it is. We'll do our preparation like we always do and be ready to play it out. The result always changes in every game. Teams always have to make adjustments in this league and you're right, they'll be some matchups that will be a little bit different from what they were in the first game. That's usually the way it is. You can say the same thing about our division games this year, too.

Q: Is there anything from your run defense in the last game that stood out in regards to some of the big gains they had?

BB: They're a good running team. Coach [Gary] Kubiak always does a great job with the running game every place he's been – Denver, Houston, Baltimore last year. They do it well and we've got to do it well and when we don't then it's a problem. I'm sure we'll be challenged by that again. They always challenge you on the running game. They do a great job of setting up formations and trying to put your defense in a run-pass conflict, or some kind of a compromising spot with their formations, or their ability to change plays based on what the better look is. If we're not sound, if we don't play with good technique, if we don't tackle well, it will be a problem. If we do those things then we should be competitive, but it won't be easy.

Q: Have you seen the zone-blocking scheme in the run game from other teams or is that unique to Denver?

BB: I'd say we see it pretty much every week. They do a lot of it. They probably do more of it, but I think just about every team has zone running plays. Dallas, start with them.

Q: What enabled Logan Ryan to have such success in covering a player like Demaryius Thomas in the previous matchup?

BB: Well, Logan's had a lot of [success] in our secondary. We've faced a lot of great receivers this year. The Broncos, they have a lot of guys you have to be concerned about. Logan's again, a smart player. He has got good playing strength, good tackler. He's very instinctive. He studies the receivers. He has a good sense based on their splits and their tendencies and those kinds of things. He's an experienced player that's usually in the right place and plays a good technique. However we matchup this week, however it goes, there's a lot of quality players to cover in the passing game with a great quarterback, so it'll be a big challenge for us.

Q: How do you balance the decision to react to the adjustments that Manning makes at the line of scrimmage versus staying in your defense and reacting as the play is developing?

BB: That's a great question and that's really the basis of trying to come up with a game plan and figure out how you want to play a team like that. You don't want to put yourself in bad situations. At the same time you don't want to make it too much of a game where there are a lot of multiples – 'if they do this we do that,' 'if they do that we do this' – that just can go on forever. At some point you've got to line up and play what you're going to play. Look, just because they know you're in something isn't always the worst thing in the world. All good teams have tendencies. All good players have tendencies. That's not a bad thing. It's a good thing. It means you're doing something well. At some point it's going to come down to you have to play well. You have to do what you do well better than what they try to do against it. I think there are elements of all those things in a game. You certainly don't want to make it easy for them, but you can outsmart yourself sometimes by trying to play too much of a mind game. Manning's a great quarterback. He's a hard guy to fool. He has seen it all.

Q: With all of the NFL head coaching vacancies being filled does that mean you're expecting to have both of your coordinators back with the Patriots next year?

BB: I think right now our focus is on the AFC Championship Game and the Broncos. Honestly, all of the other things that have been going around in the league and all that, I haven't really paid much attention to. It's not really anything. I mean I know it could affect us, but we spent last week trying to get ready for Kansas City and we'll spend this week trying to get ready for Denver. There's a protocol that has to be followed in the league and if that affects us then we'll follow those guidelines. Honestly, I don't really care about it. I don't really think about it. I'm trying to do a good job right now of coaching our team and getting ready for Denver.

Q: How do you feel about Peyton Manning's use of your 'We're on to New England' line in his interview following yesterday's game?

BB: I haven't really given it any thought at all. Is that going to be the big story for the week?

Q: No.

BB: OK, good.

Q: Have you decided on your schedule for the week regarding traveling to Denver?

BB: Yeah, we've kind of looked into that and there are probably just a couple of things we need to fine-tune here. I think we have a pretty good idea of what we want to do, but we have a couple of loose ends to tie up, but we should have it pretty well nailed down here.

Q: Does it help having an extra day of preparation yesterday or is that negated by the fact you didn't know your opponent yet?

BB: There really wasn't much to prepare for. We're kind of treating today as what it is, it's Monday. Even though we played Saturday there wasn't really anything we'd do yesterday. The way that game went didn't surprise me. It was a very competitive game like it was the last time those two teams played a few weeks ago. We tried to get through our game with Kansas City and make sure that we broke that down so we could correct our mistakes and kind of know exactly what we've shown, what's out there for our next opponent. We didn't know who that was going to be until later last night. Today, it's just all in on Denver and I'm sure today they're pretty much all in on us. We didn't really get much of a jump on our opponent yesterday. It was more of a clean-up day for us from the Kansas City game.

Q: Do you have any updates on Chandler Jones or Jamie Collins' injury situation?

BB: When we're required to give them we'll make sure you get them right away. Again, we didn't practice yesterday, we're not practicing today, so until we actually go out there and do those things I think there are a lot of players that we won't really know for sure where they're at until they go out there and try to practice and do things at the level or close to the level we'll need to do them on Sunday. Really that's kind of the way it is every week and the way it is with every guy. I know everybody wants an instant story, but honestly until you're pushed to go out there and compete in a practice, a lot of guys know exactly where they are. Just take that process as it comes so long answer to a short question. The short answer is no, we don't have any updates. 



Q: What does Patrick Chung's versatility allow you to do as far as play calling?

MP: I think with all of our players we try to have as much multiplicity as we can. I think all the players understand that there are only so many guys who are going to be active for the game, so different roles are going to come up at different points in the game and different situations that are going to come up that they all prepare for. Certainly week in, week out, we're going to hopefully put everybody in the best position possible to give us a chance to win, and that's what we're trying to do with everybody on the squad; whether it's Pat Chung or anybody in the front, the linebackers, corners. We're trying to go in to win the game and put everybody in a position where they can make some plays and help us do that. So I think it starts from our fundamental teaching standpoint where we try to get them going back to the spring and just to understand the concept of what we're teaching across the board, which if you can understand that, then hopefully that makes you a better player, makes us a better defense. 

Q: What did you see from Darius Fleming and Dekoda Watson when a couple of the linebackers got dinged up?

MP: Well again, it goes back to everybody being ready to go no matter what the situation is, and guys that are going to be active for the game, are up for the game, are going through the week of preparation, have to learn their responsibilities and be in situations where they have to go in there. I think both guys did a good job of trying to go in and do what we asked them to do. Darius can be in a couple of different positions or roles or kind of can fill in. Again, we have so many guys who are active for the game, so he's got to be able to back that up. And Dekoda, both of them do a phenomenal job of course in the kicking game, so being able to do that, that helps us have some depth with the defense. I thought both of them really, you know, they tried to go out and just as a team, execute the things that we wanted done from that standpoint and being able to play with good fundamentals and good technique, which is a starting point for us with everything that we do. So it was really just everybody kind of being in position to go out and execute the game plan.

Q: As a defensive coordinator facing Peyton Manning, how much do you have to make sure that you're not overthinking things when you're making a call?

MP: Certainly Peyton Manning is an amazing quarterback. He's an extremely cerebral quarterback, guy who can get to the line of scrimmage, take a look at the defense understanding a lot of different things that are going on. He can really kind of scan basically everybody, whether it's the corners or the inside defenders, the defensive linemen, the linebackers and try to give himself any sort of tips or tendencies or clues as far as what different coverage or fronts that you're in. So certainly from that standpoint you have to be extremely smart what you're doing and understand that he's going to have a pretty good idea of what you're in. And just, you know, it's going to always come down to execution. That's going to be the biggest thing no matter when we play or who we play, but certainly with a guy like Peyton Manning, making sure that we can execute whatever it is that we're in better than them executing whatever it is that they're in. So for us, we want to make sure that the execution is at a high level and the understanding of what we're trying to get done and how we're trying to defend them is the biggest point for us, but certainly an outstanding quarterback, a guy who's seen just about everything in this league from a defensive perspective, but a guy who just works tireless at the game and really from a player, has a great coaching mind of the game and understanding of what different teams do. So huge challenge for us, I think he's got a great set of players around him, skill guys and also guys in the front who have done a great job of running the ball, controlling the game and very productive. So it will be a huge challenge for us this week.

Q: What was your assessment of the way you guys defended the run during your game in Denver earlier this year?

MP: We go back and look at all of our games as we do. We go through it. We're always going to try and do things better than what we did before. We're always looking to improve. So hopefully we're an improved team from where we played before, and hopefully we can obviously stop everything a little bit better than what we did. But it's certainly, you know, they've got good runners. They've got good guys up front who can block. They do  a great job of covering guys up and climbing to the next level. I think their running backs, obviously [Ronnie] Hillman, very dangerous player. [C.J.] Anderson, he's going to be in there also, and guys who just, they run hard. Both are a little bit different and have strength and power. They understand in Hillman obviously the quickness and the explosiveness that he has. I think just in general, we're going to always want to make sure we tackle well and do the fundamentals from that standpoint well. So again, stopping the run will be a big part of what we try to get done along with the passing game, and it will be certainly ... these guys are in position right now where they're doing a great job of running the ball, so we want to make sure we try to get that handled.

Q: How useful is the Broncos game film from eight weeks ago given that Brock Osweiler was the quarterback?

MP: Right, but obviously there are more guys on the field than just the two quarterbacks. So I think you're going to take a look at the different players, obviously [Demaryius] Thomas and like I mentioned, the running backs and [Emmanuel] Sanders and all the guys who have been on film through the course of when we played them up until getting ready for this week. So [we're] taking a look at the players, how they're playing, how they play and really trying to identify them and understand what they are and how they're used, things like that. So it's going to be a lot of, not only scheme study, but you do your individual study on the guys that you're looking at. So that will be great film for us to go back through and take a look at from a standpoint of what can we do better, always how our guys are playing and how we may or may not have played certain situations against their guys and things like that. So we definitely will go back and take a look at that. It's a big part obviously. It's a game where we went head-to-head with a lot of different positions, so it will be a good opportunity for us to kind of look at that and improve. 

Q: What did you take out of the experience of interviewing for the Cleveland Browns head coaching job? With the coaching vacancies in the NFL now filled, will you be returning to the Patriots next year?

MP: I mean I'm just really focused on Denver, so that was a couple of weeks ago or whatever the situation was there. We've got a big challenge in front of us here in trying to get ready for the Broncos, so that's really not a question that's pertinent to this week. It's really the Broncos.



Q: Do you feel the Broncos defense has changed at all from your last matchup now that DeMarcus Ware has returned to their lineup?

JM: Yeah, this is a great unit. They're well coached obviously with Coach [Wade] Phillips and their staff. They do a great job of putting these guys in positions to make plays and they have great players, Pro Bowl players at every level of the defense. Ware being back, certainly he's a great player, adds an element opposite of Von Miller but they have [Shaquil] Barrett and [Shane] Ray that have stepped in and done a great job as well, too. It's just more depth in a position that's already a deep position for them on the team. They're aggressive. I think they're in the top five in every category that you can discuss – yards, rushing yards, passing yards, points, third-down, first-down, turnovers, sacks. This is the best group we've played all year as you would expect in this game, and it'll be a great challenge for us to prepare for them this week.

Q: What is it about Tom Brady that allows him to rise to the occasion in big games?

JM: I think his consistency. It's a football game and he's played in a lot of them and he has played well for a long, long time. I think when you get to these games during the course of the season and you're fortunate to play in the postseason, consistency and doing the things that you've done to get yourself in this position are really important, and he has got a lot of experience obviously playing these types of games but his preparation maintains, his rest and treatment and getting his body ready and his mind right. He does a lot of the things every day to prepare for the next day. Even though these games have finality to them that some games in the regular season or preseason don't have, he approaches it the same way. I think he's a good example for our team and we have a lot of guys that follow that lead, a lot of guys on our team that do that as well, and this week's going to be an important week for us to prepare hard, do the things that we do to get ourselves ready to play our best game on Sunday.

Q: What did you think of all the emotion he showed following his scramble to the goal line that ended up under review?

JM: He's an emotional guy. We have a lot of guys on our team and even our staff that – look, we compete hard and prepare hard to go out there and do our best on Sunday, or Saturday in this case last week, and I think that's OK on game day. He channels it the right way. He uses it to help him play better, to help our team play better. It's a positive thing for our group. As a leader you want your leaders to be strong, emotional people and he does a good job of making sure that in the moment he channels that the right way so that it can help us.

Q: What are some of the ways that you can combat the way Wade Phillips likes to attack on defense?

JM: Wade's got an aggressive style, there's no question about that. His players play extremely hard. He has seen probably everything you can see from an offensive group, and they've got really good players that he puts in great positions to play aggressively. We're going to have to do a good job of having our plan and going out there and playing offense the way that we play offense. [We're] just trying to make plays and stay out of long yardage situations and do a good job of trying to get the ball to the places that we need to get it to. There's no one formula that you can say has been very good against this group. They've shut most teams down and there's a reason why they lead the league in defense. We're going to have to do a good job of preparing hard for the best defense that we've played all season, but we're going to have to play a complementary game with the defense and the special teams. I'm sure it'll be a very hard-fought game. Both teams want to win and we'll give it our best on Sunday.

Q: How do you think Julian Edelman performed against Kansas City and was he held back at all with some of the play calling?

JM: It was good to have Jules back certainly. He's such a positive influence on our guys and on our team and Jules played hard and we left him out there most of the game. As normal, when the player is ready to play and come back in his role then we try to do the things that he does the best. I thought we tried to do that with him the other night. It was good for him to get back out there and be productive. There are always a few things that you kind of knock the rust off a little bit, but I thought he was very involved. I thought he played hard and I thought he made some big plays for us the other night.

Q: Now that all of the head coaching vacancies have been filled will you be returning to the Patriots next season?

JM: I think that stuff is kind of all in the past now. I'm focused strictly on this game and this week. I think all of those things will play out in due time.

Q: Does Wade Phillips' defense change much or does he pretty much run what he runs?

JM: I think there is enough volume in Wade's defense to do what they need to do, so if they feel like blitzing is the right way to attack somebody then you're going to get blitzed, and if they feel like covering a different way with different varieties and coverage elements [then] they have those available to them as well. I think every good defense has good players, number one, and a sound scheme, and I think that that would certainly fit the bill for this Denver group. They've got good players, they're well coached, and they certainly have enough volume to do what they need to do on a week-to-week basis. Each team that you watch them play is not played identically. There's no question about that. He's going to taper what he thinks is best for his team against the offense that they're playing and try to stop the people that he needs to stop and apply pressure and create negative plays and turnovers the way that he feels best about doing it. We're going to have to try to prepare for a lot of different things and go in there with hopefully a good week of practice and a sound game plan and let our guys go out there and play fast. I'm sure there are going to be some things that we haven't seen a whole lot of or some changes that they've made that they feel good about that we're going to have to adjust to during the game on Sunday. There's always an element of that in these types of games because there's nothing to hold back and whatever you think you can do to help your team, I'm sure that we're going to see that on Sunday.

Q: What goes into the decision to come out on offense in a very pass-heavy way?

JM: I think there are probably a lot of things. There are a lot of things that go into how you start a game. What the defense is doing from one play to the next certainly has an impact. What you expect them to do from your preparation and your scouting certainly plays into that and then there are different games we've started running the ball, different games we've started showing short passes, deep passes, screen passes and I think you just try to find a rhythm early in the game and allow your players to kind of get into it. Some of those situations you don't go in with the first 12 plays put down in stone. You find yourself in second-and-long, third-and-long type situations sometimes which we did the other night. Sometimes that can have a significant impact in exactly what the run-pass ratio is there to begin a game. I think you're always trying to do whatever's best in this situation that you're in, whether it be the beginning of the game, the end of the second quarter, start of the third quarter, whatever it may be to try to find a rhythm and move the ball and get first downs and ultimately score points. We'll try to do that again this week and that may mean a lot of different things as we start to go through our preparation and figure out exactly what we're going to try and do on Sunday.

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