Patriots defensive coordinator Dean Pees addresses the media during his conference call on Tuesday, November 10, 2009.
Q: Having so much familiarity with the Colts, how much of this week's game just comes down to execution and the way you play on Sunday?
DP: I think a lot of it comes down to execution. It's hard to, as much as we've seen them and different game plans and all of that kind of stuff...it's the same way down there. They do what they do and we kind of do what we do; it's just a matter of you've got to make the plays when the plays are there to be made. They're going to make some; we're going to make some. If we make more than they do...And that's very true. That's the way it is every week is execution, but probably maybe like you said, maybe more this week than ever just because of the familiarity between the two clubs.
Q: What kind of advice or training do you give your front seven, or mostly your front four, for when Peyton Manning gets up on the line and he's doing his thing, calling out things, and they're usually sitting there for 10 or 15 seconds? How do you want your guys to handle that?
DP: Well, I think first of all you've just got to be ready, because he doesn't always do that. Sometimes he comes up and he'll also go on quick and catch a lot of people napping and you can watch that on film. You can watch teams trying to sub and get players in, or guys on defense standing around kind of waiting and then all of a sudden he snaps the ball and they're off and running. So I think any time the quarterback is up there, no matter what he's doing, you've got to be ready on defense for the ball to be snapped at any time, not to really kind of go the other way and fall asleep thinking, 'Well, we're going to sit around here and wait on him,' because he knows how to handle that: get the ball snapped and get it going. The thing that you've got to do is just be patient and you've got to read your keys and move when the ball moves and not really....I mean, you're going to pay attention to what he's saying because he's going to be doing a lot of talking, but at the same time, don't get too caught up in that and not doing what you're supposed to do.
Q: Do you try to figure out what he's saying or doing when he's running over to guys? Do you try to match him adjustment for adjustment if you can figure it out?
DP: I don't know that...it's like anybody. I'm sure they have more than one code word that means the same thing. They're not going to use the same code words. It's not going to take anybody too long to figure out if you say the same thing over and over and it's always the same play. Somebody's going to figure that out. I think what you've got to be a little careful of sometimes is trying to overanalyze that. You've got to play the play. The biggest thing on defense is if you're disciplined, you do what you're assigned to do in any particular defense, it's going to work. If you don't, then it won't. And sometimes if you try to overanalyze it, you might guess wrong and really give up a big play. I think the key thing is to always play assignment football and do what you're supposed to do within the framework of the defense, and things will work out well for you. Like I said, they're going to make some plays, but I think sometimes you get over analytical and sometimes that can directly come back to haunt you a little bit when you over-think things. You just need to play within the framework of what the defense asks you to do.
Q: The defense has obviously gotten much younger since last year. What are the possible pitfalls to having so many young guys out there?
DP: Well, I don't know that there's any way you can really say assignment football is one way or the other. I think sometimes you play too much into the age thing. I think it's a matter of a guy being able to play, play fast, play smart. Obviously the more experience you have, the better you do things, probably the easier things come to you and the easier it is to make adjustments. That comes with experience, but at the same time, being able to play fast, play on your feet, do things you need to do on defense. Whether you're young and fast or old and fast, really...playing with speed on defense certainly helps. I think the fact that we've gotten younger has helped us probably a little bit on the speed part of it. Obviously when you're playing with younger players, sometimes the inexperience factor comes in, but at this point in time in the season, even though if you're younger, even if you're a rookie, you've now played 12 games; you've played a college football season. And if you're a second year player like [Jerod] Mayo and [Gary] Guyton, then you've played quite a bit of football. So I think at this point in time, the experience factor shouldn't be as big a factor as some people might make it to be.
Q: Last year you held Indianapolis to 18 points in their own place. Going into this game, how similar does their offense seem to what you faced last year? Dallas Clark is having a tremendous year in yards after the catch. How do you address that?
DP: Well, number one is really, I wouldn't compare our defense or their offense to last year. It's really hard to always compare. I think, like I said earlier on, we kind of do what we do and it's always based on the people that we have and the people that we're playing. It's the same thing that they do. I think Peyton [Manning]'s been having a tremendous year. I don't know when he's not having a tremendous year. He's doing all the things right that he's always doing. When I watch him on film, it's the same big things - it's [Reggie] Wayne, it's maybe some different guys out there instead of Harrison and stuff, but there's still [Dallas] Clark and, Wayne and [Joseph] Addai. And they've got the two new young guys here in [Pierre] Garcon and [Austin] Collie. They're just kind of taking the place of the other guys. It hasn't always been Clark or Wayne or Harrison that hurt us. I think that one year - I can't remember the tight end's name now - he hurt us in the playoff game. I think it was number 81...but they do what they do and they're a tremendous offense. They've got tremendous confidence in what they do, so I think from one year to the next I don't really see a drop off in any way, shape or form.
Q: What type of pace do you expect for the game? We've seen the game take shape in different ways when these teams have met, so what do you expect this time?
DP: I have no idea. I've got to be prepared for both. It could be - they came out last week against Houston and went at a really fast tempo. They could have gone out at times and gone at a slow tempo. That's one of the things that they can do in that offense and they can gear it up on you at any time. I have no idea how they're [going to] approach the game, so it's kind of like last week with Miami: How much Wildcat are you going to see? Well, I don't know. [It] depends on how much they want to run or how much success they have with it or whatever. I think each week you've just got to prepare for as much as you possibly can and then adjust to it within the game.
Q: How big a factor is getting everybody ready to do everything this week, with their no-huddle and maybe their ability to kind of keep you guys from substituting?
DP: That's always a challenge with their no-huddle and then trying to match personnel groups or whatever. It's always a challenge, but I think the biggest challenge with Indianapolis is not so much the no-huddle, it's just their ability to make plays and be productive. And they do a lot of things right, when they run the ball, when they choose to pass the ball, whether it's a quick pass or a down-the-field pass. To me, what's the biggest thing about Indianapolis - is just their ability to have production. There are times when you watch on film and you swear that the guy is really covered pretty well by the other team, and he slips it in their and either the guy makes a heck of a catch or it's a heck of a throw. To me, that's the biggest thing about Indianapolis - just their ability to make plays on offense, whether it's at a slow tempo [or] whether it's in a fast tempo. They can do both, so the biggest thing for us, the biggest challenge for us, is to just be able to match them and play good, solid defense and make plays when we have the opportunity to make them.
Q: How far off the board was it for the Colts to open that fast against the Texans? Had they done that much that sustained in other games this year?
DP: I don't know that they did that much, but the fact that everyone knows they can do it. They can do it in the two-minute situation. I mean, you go back to the Miami game earlier in the season, Miami went up on them late in the game and boom, four plays later they're in the end zone, back ahead. They have the ability to do it at any point in time. Whether they started that [way], whether they want to do the entire game that way, whether they want to start the second half that way, they have the ability and you know they have the ability to do it. And so is it surprising that they did it? Not really. It's within their realm that they would do that. I mean, if they were a ball control, run-type team all the time, then that would be a surprise. But with them, nothing really would surprise me at any tempo that they were in.
Q: In your scouring of game film, have you spotted a defensive style that has worked to slow down Peyton Manning and his offense and if so, what do they do?
DP: Well if I could, I would tell you if I did have such a defense. Like I said, you've got to be able to do, first of all, what your players are capable of doing. You can't just go out and run a few times and say, 'Oh this is great,' but your guys can't do it. You've got to take into account what your players do best and how can you put them in the position to have success. And then secondly, if you put them in that position, can they have success against what they like to do and can we adjust to it and do those sorts of things? I don't know - In the six years that I've been here, the only time that we've really stopped them was in the AFC Championship game back in '04 out here when it was snowing. Every other time, we may have slowed them down some, but we can never say that we really stopped them. So it's a game that you've got to really just kind of control and do a good job there and when you get down in the red area, we've got to do a better job than we did this last week and keep them out of the end zone if they get down there.
Q: How much do you prepare for the noise this week?
DP: We'll prepare as best we can. I mean, obviously you can't simulate it exactly, but Bill [Belichick] always does a great job of providing some noise and trying to simulate it the best we can. But really it's probably going to be more for the offense. It's probably a better question for the offense than for the defense because they usually aren't as loud when Peyton is on the field.