Patriots defensive coordinator Dean Pees addresses the media during his conference call on Tuesday, September 8, 2009.
Q: I wanted to get your reaction to the trade of Richard Seymour and what does it do to the complexion of this defense as you move forward to prepare for Buffalo?
DP: Well, to be honest with you, my reaction is I'm just getting ready for Buffalo. It's a matter of whoever we have here in meeting tomorrow morning, when I meet in front of the defense, that's who I get ready to coach and that's who I get ready to prepare for Buffalo. I have my hands full enough with them, that whoever is there, that's who we get prepared for Buffalo.
Q: Does not having someone like Richard change what you do schematically? Can you do the same things you did without him that you did with him?
DP: Again, I mean, I'm not trying to be evasive. You guys know I don't mind talking to you at all. But really, this is not going to be an interview about Richard. It's just simply about our defense and me getting ready…me getting the defense ready for Buffalo. It's really about Buffalo and whoever we have here, it's a matter of that's who we get ready, and the different fronts or the different coverages or whatever we feel like we need to do schematically to prepare our team the best [we can] on defense against Buffalo and what they do. And I have my hands full with five great receivers, a great quarterback, running back, a bunch of good football players that I'm really getting ready for. The rest of the stuff is something that I'm really not going to talk about other than really Buffalo.
Q: As someone who has spent a considerable amount of time with Tully Banta-Cain through both stints of his Patriots career, how has he looked this year compared to his first go-round in New England?
DP: Well, I think Tully's matured as a football player. I think he's worked hard here in the off-season. He came back. He's in good shape. I think he's improved and like any player that the more you're around them and the more they're around you and the more they're around the scheme, I think the more they learn and the more they know. I'm glad that he came back. I feel good that he's here, and I think he's been working hard and I think he's improved.
Q: What have you seen teams do against Terrell Owens and what challenges does he present and what has worked against him?
DP: Well, you can't do anything on the preseason, what he's done with Buffalo. He's only played seven plays in the first game and that's been all there has been with the Buffalo scheme. But just from knowing him and watching him over the years and playing against him at Dallas, he always poses a threat. He can catch the ball and make you miss, and take it the distance. He can go the distance. He can run by you. He's a big play receiver and he's got a ton of big plays. He's a big receiver and he's physical, so he poses a lot of problems in those areas. But along with him, so does Lee Evans, who has been a big play strike guy, [Roscoe] Parrish, [Josh] Reed…I mean, all those guys pose a problem because there're a lot of them. And so, it certainly is T.O., but it's certainly also along with him a supporting cast that's pretty darn good and has been good against us. I mean Evans has certainly hurt us and so has Parrish.
Q: What do you think of the work the defensive tackles have done this year, particularly Myron Pryor and Ron Brace?
DP: Well you know, I'm pleased with the rookies, but I'm pleased with all the guys. I think they've all made progress. I think all the rookies all along the line have gotten better as rookies do. They've got a long way to go, but they fit in well. They've worked hard. They're continuing to improve all the time. I wouldn't say it's just those two, I would say the whole rookie class that we brought in. They've certainly done some things poorly. They've done some things well, just like all of us have, including the coaches. But I've been happy with the progress the guys have made so far.
Q: Dean, how do you think your defense has looked in the 4-3 thus far?
DP: We've had our moments. We've had good plays, we've had bad plays. Really, whether it be the 4-3 or the 3-4, nickel, whatever. We've certainly had some plays that we can do a heck of a lot better. And then there are some plays that we've been happy with and try to build on those and try to eliminate the other ones. Schematically, I know that's always a question that gets asked, we're going to be whatever we need to be. We've always been a multiple team on defense - multiple fronts, multiple coverages. We ask a lot of our players and they're going to have to know a lot of different spots. So 4-3 wise, 3-4 wise, I think it's kind of been pretty balanced.
Q: Dean, you go into this season with no Ellis Hobbs, no Mike Vrabel, no Tedy Bruschi, and now no Richard Seymour. Those are solid veterans that I think a defensive coordinator would have been happy to count upon going into a new season. What concerns do you have about the absence of their leadership on your team?
DP: Well I think like always, when Tedy Bruschi and all those guys that you just mentioned came here at some point in time; they took over the leadership role from somebody else and that's what'll happen again. Somebody's got to step up and be the leaders and we'll find out who those are. No disrespect to anybody who retired or [is] gone from the team or anything else, but things change. Coaches change, players change. It presents new opportunities for other guys to become leaders. The torch always gets passed on good teams to somebody else and now it's their opportunity, the guys that are in the locker room right now, to step up and be those guys. And I'm actually looking forward to finding out who those guys are going to be.
Q: Dean, did Coach Belichick ask for your opinion on the Richard Seymour trade, just yes or no?
DP: I won't talk about Richard Seymour.
Q: Dean, following up on the previous question about the new players, how much more difficult or challenging is it for you as a coordinator and with your assistants on defense to work those new players in to replace those veterans?
DP: We just work them. You don't make a leader. Leaders kind of assume the role and the position and I think, hopefully, we're going to have a lot of leaders on this team. I don't think it's something that we necessarily as coaches say, 'Well, we're going to make this guy a leader'. They just become that and it's our job to coach them, prepare them and do the things that they need to do schematically on the field and try to be the best fundamentally that they can be. Then, the guys that emerge the leaders will emerge the leaders. Hopefully, we picked enough of those guys and I believe we have, that they'll take over that responsibility. That's not something that you can ever force on any team. You don't know who your leaders are until they show up. I'm sure that…I hate to use examples. In fact, I won't. So, they'll assume the role
Q: Dean, about your cornerback spot a little bit. I know Leigh Bodden has come in and played a bunch in the preseason, but at the other spot do you know what you are going to get out of Shawn Springs yet? Can you talk about where the competition is at that other corner spot?
DP: Well, there's really competition at all of them. I think there's competition at all the corner spots and all the safety spots. Still, hopefully that we have some depth there and we've got a few guys that can play. I feel comfortable with several guys playing in that position. Whoever starts, I'm not sure that the guy that comes isn't just as good or if he's not starting, he may just be slightly behind in some area. But I think all of them bring something to the coverage or the defense, whether it be tackling, their coverage, whether it be zone - whatever it is. They all bring something to it, so I feel comfortable with whoever ends up out there.
Q: Have you guys gotten better there, do you think?
DP: I won't be able to tell you that. You can ask me that in about 16 weeks and I'll tell you.
Q: The Bills first team offense scored three points in the preseason. And for all the talk of the no-huddle offense, it really didn't generate any offense. Do you really account for their preseason?
DP: I'll tell you what, I've watched the Bills play us now going on my sixth year and then when I got here, I watched them in '03 beat us 31-0, I think in the opener in '03. So, you know, anytime that we play an AFC East team or any team in the NFL, but especially a division rival like this, you put very little stock in that. I don't know what they were doing preseason. Who knows what they showed, what they didn't show. I have no idea. All I know is I'm preparing for what I think is a very good skilled offensive football team, and I know they can give us a ton of headaches.
Q: One person they won't be showing is Marshawn Lynch. What would he normally bring to the table that he's not going to bring Monday?
DP: I think he's an excellent running back, but let's not forget that Mr. [Fred] Jackson ran for about 130 yards on us last year into a 50 mile-per hour wind when we knew he was going to run the ball. I'm sure they wish they had Marshawn. You never want to have anybody out, but Mr. Jackson can do a very respectful job and he has done that against us.
Q: Dean, How do you feel Derrick Burgess is progressing in the defense?
DP: He's coming around. He's working hard. He's learning the system and learning to do multiple things and I feel comfortable with him. Again, just like with the other players, I think all those guys know multiple positions up there and have had to learn multiple positions and I feel comfortable with those guys.
Q: Dean, what's the most challenging thing for you and facing the no-huddle? Is it the substitution or what is it you think?
DP: Oh, you know, it's a multiple of things. It's the formation, getting the communication across the board, doing a good job of getting lined up and getting back. They can change the tempo of it. The can hurry it up. They can slow it down. They can try to catch you off-guard. You know, that's kind of one of the advantages of it a little bit. It keeps you from trying to substitute. The biggest thing that always concerns you on defense is just everybody getting the communication, getting the call and knowing what to do and getting ready to play and not getting caught flat-footed and off-guard. I mean, that's part of the reason why you do the no-huddle - is to try to get somebody, catch the sleeping.