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Marty Schottenheimer Pre-Game Press Conf. 09252002

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MS: Marty Schottenhemer.

Q: Hey, Marty. How are you doing?

MS: Good. How's everybody up in the Northeast?

Q: We're doing well, thanks.

MS: Good.

Q: Let's just start with your start and some of the keys for the Chargers to your 3-0 start.

MS: Well, I'd say we've gotten really good, solid play out of our defense. Offensively, we've done a pretty good job of taking care of the ball and not giving it away. A lot of the possessions that opponents have had have been of the rather lengthy variety because of our kicking game. We were a little bit out of sorts in the coverage on the Houston game and I think we got it rectified last week.

Q: Can you talk about Drew Brees and what has impressed you about his performance this year?

MS: Well, he's a good decision-maker, first of all. I think he's got a tremendous field of vision and he anticipates things well. I think he's done a very, very solid job for us. Quite frankly, we haven't had to ask him to carry the load. He threw it 31 times the other day, but in the nature of the games that we've played, we haven't really had to throw the ball a considerable amount.

Q: Bill Belichick was saying earlier this week that there are certain plays that can be disaster for a quarterback and he said that Tom Brady makes good decisions on those plays. Have you noticed a similar thing with Drew Brees?

MS: I have. I've always believed that one of the things that gives the quarterback an opportunity to make good decisions is to have an understanding of where all the receivers are. Drew has that ability. He knows where everybody is. In watching Tom, the pocket will break down a little bit in front of him, and bang, the ball comes out. He knows where everybody is, it appears to me. Drew's very much like Tom, I think.

Q: Can you talk a little bit about the center position? With [Corey] Raymer out, you have a free agent stepping in there. He actually played college ball up in New Hampshire.

MS: Yes. Well, I'll tell you, we have liked him very much. He's a solid guy. He's got good athletic ability for a center. He reminds me a lot of Tim Grunhard, who we had in Kansas City. He's got that temperament that you've got to have if you want to be a good offensive lineman.

Q: Is there anything you can do to prepare him for his challenge considering he's going up against a team that likes to do different things defensively and can confuse an offensive line with different looks?

MS: No. I think we're going to have to recognize the fact that he's going to have some problems that will arise. But I told him yesterday, I said, 'Let me tell you something, this game is full of errors. There are errors made on every single play. What you need to do is when you play a play and it's gone good or bad, just let it go and go on to the next one.' He has that kind of mental discipline, I believe.

Q: When you first saw him, what did the team like in him?

MS: He's got good strength. He's athletic, more so than some interior linemen. He's very, very bright and very, very competitive. I've always said that you can be a winning NFL lineman if you're smart, if you battle and if you've got some size.

Q: Is there any one key you can point to in your defensive improvement? You guys have gone from two years ago giving up 40 points per game to being decent last year to now leading the league.

MS: Well, I think maybe as much as anything, we have more speed on defense than I think they've had here in the past. When you add a guy like Donnie Edwards to the group and the speed that he plays with, and the same thing with Ben Leber at linebacker, I think that we've made progress in the improved speed of the group.

Q: Obviously you weren't there last year, but a lot of the players were. They started 3-0 last year. Has there been any talk or do you plan to address the team starting 3-0 again this year and where they need to go from here?

MS: I wasn't even aware they were 3-0 starting the year. I know they were 1-0 at one point, because they beat us when we were in Washington. But, no, we haven't really addressed that at all. We've got to deal with the opportunities that can present themselves this week and focus on this week. This is not anywhere near, I don't think, the same team as a year ago.

Q: Doug Flutie's another local guy. Can you just talk a little bit about him?

MS: You know, he's an outstanding performer and competitor. He's handled the situation, which, I'm sure given his competitive nature is not a particularly easy one. But he's handled it with tremendous professionalism and dignity. He indicated to me back in March when I first spoke to him that if in fact he wasn't the starter, that's the way he would conduct himself and he has been absolutely outstanding. I promise you this: he's going to play. There's going to come a time and he's gonna play.

Q: Can you just trace back your steps to when you made that decision? What were some of the factors you were considering?

MS: Well, at the outset, the single most important criteria was who gives us the best chance of winning right now. Well, it became obvious through the course of an offseason and mini-camps and training camp that we could win, in our view, with either one of them. So we had to change the criteria. Essentially what it boiled down to was the fact that we felt like with each and every snap Drew Brees takes, he's going to be a better player. They won't all be good plays, but he'll become a better player as a result of that. Then, the other thing, quite honestly, was that I can't imagine anything more difficult for a defense than to end up with Doug Flutie in the game playing quarterback if you haven't had the opportunity to prepare for him or for the way he makes plays. So those were the two things that ultimately drove the decision.

Q: Can you talk a little bit about the Patriots offense and how much they're throwing the ball?

MS: Well, I'll tell you what I think. Brady has done a tremendous job. I really like his anticipation, his quickness in his delivery. But the other thing that's quite evident is that he's got some outstanding perimeter people. Of course Troy [Brown] is an accomplished player with great quickness and ability to catch. I admire the way he competes. I think [David] Patten is another player not unlike Troy, with the great quickness and the speed to get down the field. Deion Branch may be the most explosive of all of them. What has happened there now, is that in my view, they've been able to take that core of receivers and the compliments at tight end and it's given them the opportunity for playmakers on the receiving end of these catches.

Q: They seem to have thrown a lot of their passes for short, five-yard gains. From a defensive perspective, do you look at those as almost like running plays where if you just stop them for the short gain, you've succeeded?

MS: Well, the problem is that is they throw three for five, you're in trouble. If they throw two for five, you're in trouble. And of course, he's throwing it for 70 percent completion. So no, I don't think you can concede that. I'm a big admirer of Charlie Weis. I think the guy does as good a job as anybody in the league finding ways to, number one, run the football. His guys virtually always have an advantage in the blocking angles because that's the way they're created with the formations that he uses and one thing or another. When it comes to throwing the football, I just think he does a great job in the design of it and so when you look at it in the overview, it's a football team that has a system in place that fits the players they've got available to them and I think that's why they're throwing it the way they're throwing it.

Q: One of the assistants on your staff, Pete Carmichael, he grew up in Medway, here in this area. Can you talk about what you see for his future in NFL coaching?

MS: I'll tell you what: he's a brilliant young man. He's a tireless, tireless worker. He's a guy who, I think, has a very, very bright future. The one thing we have to guard against is that he's so good in what he does at the quality control end of it, that sometimes people tend to get pigeon-holed into that, and I would hope that that doesn't happen to Pete, because I think he's got excellent ability to teach and instruct as the position coaches have to do.

Q: What's Rodney Harrison's status right now?

MS: His status right now is questionable. I don't know any more than that at this point. We haven't had an opportunity to see him work. He'll probably get a little bit of individual work today. What we're not going to do is we're not going to put him at risk to aggravate this injury, because we've got a really tough four-game stretch in front of us and we don't want to have a setback.

Q: How about with [Quentin] Jammer? Are you comfortable with his familiarity defensively?

MS: In the role that he's presently in, yes. I wouldn't want to push it beyond that. Okay? Bye-bye.

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