Patriots defensive coordinator Dean Pees addresses the media during his conference call on Monday, October 19, 2009.
Q: What were your thoughts on the play of the outside linebackers? Guys like Pierre Woods, Tully Banta Cain, Derrick Burgess, Rob Ninkovich who filled the role where we would normally see Adalius Thomas?
DP: Kind of like everything, we had some good plays. I thought they pressured the quarterback at times decently. We didn't get sacks, but at least we had some pressure on him. He was getting hit and there were some plays out there on the edge that they did a nice job setting the edge. And, there were also some plays in there that got inside us a little bit and then back outside and went for some big plays because of missed tackles. But we certainly have to do better than that and do better than we did. Overall I thought everyone played hard and understood the game plan and played fairly well.
Q: Have you been happy with the run defense, especially the safeties and how the run defense is coming together?
DP: Like I said, I think it's a little sporadic at times. We have to do a little better job all the way across the front but also on the back end, specifically. We had some plays yesterday where we gave up a 40-something yard run, a 30-something yard run and a 20-something yard run. Anytime you give up a run like that, it not only got through the front seven, but it got through the secondary. Their job is to keep it from being a big play. So I think I saw this morning, I think I added up that they had 86 yards after we had a chance to get them on the ground in the running game. We can't live with that. Obviously there was a problem with the secondary. Secondly, there's a problem when you miss a tackle in the secondary and it goes for a long run. Now, granted I think they have some very, very good runners, but it doesn't matter who's running the ball. That's what I mean by sporadic. At times we look very good up there and sometimes it's no one particular place, it's no one particular position. We just have to do a better job on a more consistent basis.
Q: You seemed to play a lot more 3-4 yesterday. Is that true? Is there something about the way your personnel fits in that scheme that led to the kind of performance you had yesterday?
DP: Well the first part is yeah, you saw a little bit 34 front-type defenses yesterday, but it's always going to be on a week-to-week situation. It's going to depend on the team we're playing - the scheme they run, the personnel groups they run, their personnel, sometimes even in particular, whether you want to attack a particular person or a specific formation. It's always going to change week to week. It's one of the things I learned from Bill [Belichick] early on coming here. We're going to do whatever we have to do front-wise and it makes you much more of a multiple defense. This means guys have to learn a lot more roles on the team, but it also gives you a good chance if something's breaking down in a particular front, maybe you have another front to go to. So, that's always going to be a week-to-week call.
Q: Bill [Belichick] says that the difference between a 3-4 and the 4-3 is overrated. How true is that because you're still asking your defensive linemen to do a lot of the some things gap-wise?
DP: It depends on how you play the 4-3, but yeah, there's a lot of truth to that. If you're two-gapping a tackle, you may be down in a 4-3 two-gapping a guard. So, it may be a little different. Things may hit a little quicker on the inside as they might on the edge. There're a lot of similarities. There's certain ways that everybody still has to take on a blocker and fit on the defense - no matter if it's a 4-3 or a 3-4 or a 42 nickel or whatever it might be. Everybody has to fit in their spot on the defense. That to me is the biggest thing players need to learn and need to know - where do I fit on this defense on every run and every pass?
Q: How would you characterize Adalius Thomas' performance this year?
DP: There's been some good things and some not good things, just like the other 10 players. I could say that about every player on defense and I could say that about myself, particularly, too. There's been some good things and some not so good things. So, I just think he's a good athlete and good player and just like everybody else we need to do some things better and there's also some things we've done well.
Q: A player like Adalius Thomas has probably never been a healthy scratch. As his coordinator, is this something you address with him head-on and get it out into the open or is it assumed you come back to work and move on to the next plan?
DP: Coach Belichick makes the decisions on personnel and obviously he talks to everybody involved. But, that's just something that's part of every week we look at who can give us the best chance at their position or at the positions and Bill certainly looks at it from an overall team standpoint too. You can only take 45 players. That's just something that happens and we get ready for Tampa Bay.
Q: Is the concern with Adalius Thomas that he can't do any one thing right now at the level you guys would like him to do?
DP: No, I wouldn't say that.
Q: What were your thoughts on the inside linebacker play? Gary Guyton and Jerod Mayo got to work together for an extended period of time and then Junior Seau got into the mix later in the game.
DP: It was good to see those guys out there - kind of for the first time - working together. We'll see how that goes. Like I say, every week's a different week and what scheme we decide to play against Tampa Bay will just depend on Tampa Bay. Obviously it's great to see any of those guys out there. I think they both play hard; both work very hard at what they do. It's just like all the players. I wish we could take them all, but the rules are that we can't. So, whoever we've got, we've got.
Q: Darius Butler dealt with some personal tragedy. Did you think he'd be able to play? What about the job he did starting and getting the pick?
DP: Well, I was really happy for him, not only for the interception, but also the situation in which he was playing with a heavy heart. We all feel really bad for him and obviously for the whole University of Connecticut football program and school. It's a tough thing to deal with and sometimes in playing, it almost helps you deal with it better than not playing and it takes your mind off it at least a little bit. It maybe even gives you a little bit extra motivation. You'd have to ask Darius. I couldn't speak for him, but we were all proud of him and the way he came through it. We were really pleased to see him get an interception and again, our deepest sympathies go out to the player's family and the whole University of Connecticut football program.
Q: When you watch the game over again, did you get a feel for the two safeties' [Brandon McGowan and Brandon Meriweather] physical presence? What has that added to this defense?
DP: Yeah, they're flying around and they're playing hard just like the rest of the guys are. The thing we have to do a better job of is missed tackles. They're costly. They made some great tackles. They made some great plays. I don't want to in any way, shape or form, slow them down from playing hard and aggressive - and we won't - but at the same time, there's a time to make the big hit and there's a time just to make a tackle. We have to make sure we make that tackle and that ball doesn't get out. We talked about it a couple weeks ago on my conference call about the fact that we haven't given up big plays. I was talking about the passing game, but it's true of the running game too. We just can't give those up. They'll come back to haunt you sooner or later.
Q: What did you first think of when you heard you were going to London? Is this a little bit of an opportunity to spread the brand a little bit?
DP: I don't know. That would be more of an organizational thing. I mean, I've never really thought about it. All I've thought about was getting prepared to play a game a long ways away, and it's not exactly like a vacation or anything. We thought of it as a long trip over there and we have to play a game and win it and then come home and get ready for another one. So the good thing is that we have a bye week after that which is nice, but I really haven't thought a whole lot about it to be honest with you.