Patriots defensive coordinator Dean Pees addresses the media during his conference call on Tuesday, December 15, 2009.
Q: One of the changes that was noticeable in that game Sunday was more playing time for James Sanders. I'm curious what he brought to the defense in terms of maybe a steadiness. You often talk about his ability to communicate and keep everyone on the same page.
DP: Well, he's always done those things that you talked about and also some of the things that we were going to do on defense were very conducive to his style of play and what he brings to the table that way. Like always, whatever the game plan is for that particular opponent, we try to make sure that we're trying to fit the personnel in the best situation that we can. And so we were glad to see him back out there and playing, as I'm sure he was, and for the most part I thought it was fairly productive.
Q: In your opinion, what are his strengths?
DP: James has always been a guy that knows what's going on. He does a good job, like you said, of communicating and getting everybody on the same page. [He's a] physical player, did a good job of tackling. On some of the outside runs we had him come up and supporting, even sometimes when he was dropping down in the box, coming up and playing the run. I thought he did a good job on those things. Again, we played a little more zone in that game than what we've played. You know, I just thought that he fit into that scheme pretty well.
Q: You had James Sanders and Shawn Springs active for that game. Does that speak to their experience and the ability to, as Sanders did, maybe communicate? And do they bring a level of experience to the team?
DP: Well, certainly they do because of their experience. I mean, Shawn has played a long time. James has played in this system the whole time. But more than that, really, when it becomes guys that are active, guys that are not active, sometimes it has to do with defensive scheme, [but] Bill [Belichick] has to keep the picture of the total team. And sometimes that may mean having an extra receiver, or an extra guy at running back, or an extra tight end, or an extra defensive back. That's Bill's decision to make then, and we just need to then make it work on defense and on offense with who we think we're going to have. And then there are always changes during the week, just like there are during a game when somebody might go down. You have to make changes and maybe change the plan a little bit or whatever you need to do to get guys involved in the game. I think Shawn and James have always prepared well in the weeks when they weren't playing or weren't as big a part of the game plan, just as they did this week when they were part of the game plan. That's a credit to them. I think that's a credit to all of our guys. They all seem to do that. They know, 'Hey, here's what we're going to do this week and here's kind of how we're going to do it.' And guys know that it might involve them more or less, but I think they all do a pretty good job of trying to prepare and do what they can and play their role.
Q: When you saw Vince Wilfork walking off the field and then Ty Warren got a little nicked up as well, was there a thought of, 'Hey, we're running out of defensive linemen here'?
DP: That's always the case. I think that anytime I see anybody walk off the field. I don't think we have enough of anything. I'm just like every other coach in America. I wish we had more guys and more guys active and all that, but yes, certainly we don't want to see anybody leave. It's the same thing, though: when somebody goes down, somebody else has got to step up and play and whoever that is...or if we have to change the scheme a little bit, that's what we have to do. I never want to see any of the starters at any position or really anybody on the entire defense get nicked up or walk off the field that way. But hey, that's part of the game.
Q: Myron Pryor and Ron Brace weren't active. Do you look at them differently this week and do you hope to get them back?
DP: Oh, we may have to. I won't know that until I know exactly what the status of everybody is. Bill will let us know on that and then we'll get ready whoever we need to, but we'll also look at the Buffalo Bills. [They'll] be the primary focus in saying, 'What do we need to do now to slow them down?' and 'Alright, what's it going to take? What do we need to do? Front-wise, coverage-wise, what are we going to do? Now, does that fit who we're going to have this week?' So I'm not trying to evade your question, but it really does involve more than just, 'OK, well this guy's stepping up for this position. Alright, what is that position going to be this week? So is that the right guy, or is there another guy that's better suited for that?' So we'll just have to wait and see how the week goes and who we have and how we want to approach the Bills, because it could be totally different the following week against another team.
Q: I guess what I'm saying is there are guys with the skill set to play that position. I mean, you have more than one guy.
DP: Right, well hey, the whole defensive line, whether it be Myron Pryor, whether it be Ron Brace, whether it be Mike Wright, I mean, all those guys learn multiple positions. Coach [Pepper] Johnson teaches them all how to play kind of all across the board. Now do they play some positions better than others? Sure. Just like some of our corners know how to play safety. Some of our safeties know how to play corner. Is that their best position? No, but can they play it? Well, yeah, if you can do certain things and not ask them to do everything that they have to do. So yeah, somebody is going to have to step up, and we certainly have some guys there that are capable, that are good players. If that is the case, then they are going to have to step up and do it.
Q: It seems like the last couple of games Jarvis Green has been called on a little more, maybe getting some more playing time. How do you feel he has responded to that?
DP: I think he's done a very good job. He's worked hard to get himself back. You know, he was out for a little while, injured, and he's kind of rehabbed and worked his way back. We've always thought the world of Jarvis. Even when everybody else kind of considered him a fourth defensive lineman, we considered him one of the top three, so he's done a good job. We're really happy to have him back. [We're] glad he's back and I think he's had some production in there. [I] felt like, especially in this last game, I thought he played very well. We were better - one of the keys to this last game was, compared to the game before, we were better on third down. We got some production on third down and that was able to get us off the field and [that] just helps us on defense and obviously helps the offense, too. Jarvis as a big part of that.
Q: One of the things you've talked about before was from our side to be careful when you see a defender in the area of a play that doesn't work out in the Patriots' favor. On the long touchdown pass, obviously it looks bad with Shawn Springs there. Without knowing the call, how would you advise someone to analyze what happened there?
DP: We were in a three-deep coverage and we should have had a little help from the middle of the field safety. Shawn was carrying it and we really should have been in a little better shape on that because we were in three-deep and should have had a safety there. Although I will also say that somebody reported that that was his second time of doing that; that was not his second time of doing that. When that happened [in] almost the exact same coverage in the Saints game, it was a different safety in the middle of the field.