Q:** How would you characterize what Patrick Chung has brought to the defense this season?
MP: I think Pat has come in and really tried to fit well into the different things that we've asked him to do defensively and he's really tried to learn, re-learn the system and some of the new things that we've added. He does a great job of playing a physical style of football. I rely on him to be able to handle situations that come up in the game or he might be involved in different aspects of the defense and communication, things like that. He's really just come to work every day, trying to do his job to the best of his ability and I think that's been the best thing so far – try to learn and try to improve and try to do whatever it is we ask him to do week-in and week-out.
Q: You've had experience with Patrick from 2009-12 then he leaves for a season and comes back. What have you noticed in terms of him being different this time around than the first four years you were with him?
MP: With any player as you look at the player progressing through his career and whether he's with you for the entire time or if they leave and go someplace else and come back or don't, there's obviously a level of maturity that's going to take place over the course of your NFL career. Each season you get a little bit wiser, a little bit smarter, a little bit more in-tune to the NFL game. Certainly Pat with a couple more years experience has been able to benefit from some of that and learn from his experience of being in a different system. He can apply some of those things that he learned there into what we do and obviously broadening your football mentality and intelligence can help age you as a player. I think he's just coming in and does a great job of trying to do everything the way we've asked him to do it.
Q: Devin McCourty recently talked about the chemistry of the defensive backfield. Can you talk about the way they've evolved over the last couple weeks?
MP: I think as a defense as a whole, we spend a lot of time together. We meet together and obviously practice time together. I would say the defense in general, the guys work very well together, they are always continually trying to learn and understand what the game plan is and meet and watch film and spend a lot of time around each other. I certainly think that's an important team-building aspect, whether it's the entire team or the defensive unit, the defensive backs, the line, the linebackers. It's good to have those guys that enjoy spending time with each other and working together to try to improve. Certainly I would say as a whole, the defense does a great job of that. The guys work extremely hard every day to try to learn exactly what it is that we're doing. And certainly in the back end, those guys do a great job of studying and preparing and like I said, what we're trying to get done that week.
Q: Devin was talking about, particularly against Denver, to get a balance between physicality and reads. Is that something that plays into the way they work together too or is that individual?
MP: I think there's going to be all aspects of that that are part of the preparation week-in and week-out. You're going to study individually; you're going to study as a group. The big thing defensively is that everyone sees things through the same set of eyes. You're trying to get all 11 guys to recognize, understand and take a look at what the opponent is doing. Communication is a big part of that and staying on the same page is part of it and that's what we're trying to stress.
Q:** Related to the communication of the defense and getting the defense set – with Dont'a Hightower now in that role – how has he grown into that role? What do you see in his evolution in that role?
MP: Dont'a comes from a great background in college up and through to us having him here from a system that asks a lot of its linebackers, so I'd say that he's very familiar with the process and the requirements that come with the job. He's done a great job of handling some of the different roles and some of the different communication aspects that he has taken upon himself. But really as a whole, all the different responsibilities and the communication aspects and the handling of different aspects of the defense flow through all the players, so those guys are prepared and ready to go and obviously feed off each other. And like I said, it's communication, it is a two-way street. There are a lot of guys out there that have to handle different aspects of that. Dont'a does a great job of trying to handle stuff in the middle and get things communicated out to everybody and certainly it's part of his development as a player.
Q: Malcolm Butler drew some difficult assignments in the second half of the Denver game. What were your thoughts on how he did and what has he done in practice to gain this level of trust from the coaching staff?
MP: I think all the players on our defense that are here and active for the game, we expect to go out and compete at a very high level and perform their job to the best of their ability and certainly he would fall in that category. There were a lot of different opportunities for all the guys on the field to have a chance to compete and be in good positions and certainly he had a couple things that we asked him to do in different positions and thought he did a good job of trying to execute the way we needed him to execute. He's a young player; he has a lot to learn. He's still trying to get down all of the defense, the techniques and everything. He works extremely hard throughout the week to try to prepare and he's learning how to do that every day and we're certainly trying to push that along as much as we can. Like I said, everybody that we expect to be at the game and to be active for the game, we expect to go out and compete at a high level regardless of what the job is.
Q: How has having two talented, athletic linebackers like Jamie Collins and Dont'a Hightower in the middle of the field allowed you to be more flexible in your play calling?
MP: We're pretty fortunate to have some talented football players across the defense. I think that's really what we're trying to [do]: put everyone in the best position they can to help us win. That certainly can depend on the situation and the particular play call and what we're trying to accomplish on that set of downs and certainly from the linebackers' perspective, having guys that can do different things is great and along with the defensive line and along with the defensive backs. I think we have a lot of talented guys and a lot of guys that do a lot of different things. Certainly look to Vince Wilfork up front first and foremost, who certainly does a great job of taking control on the line of scrimmage and trying to play physical and play aggressive up front. I would say it's a combination of a couple of different players that we have.
Q: The quarterbacks you will be facing in the coming weeks will be more mobile than ones you've seen in recent weeks. Have you gotten enough looks at those types of quarterbacks and how do you think that will change your style of defense against the edges?
MP: I would say that's really the phase we're in right now. We're moving past the Denver game and look forward this week and look ahead to a huge challenge with Indianapolis and the different style of the quarterback who, Andrew Luck who is extremely fast, very talented, quick decision-maker. A guy that can really hurt you if he's out in space and has an incredible arm and really does a great job of running that offense. He has great vision downfield while he's on the move to be able to assess the situation as far as the coverage or threats. It's just a different situation form the quarterback standpoint; it's just a very athletic, very mobile guy. It's going to be a different challenge for us to handle that. We've obviously played teams this year that have mobile quarterbacks and quarterbacks that move around a little bit more than others and some that stay in the pocket a little bit more than the guys that move around. It's different each week and you have to assess that particular position and what those guys bring. Certainly Andrew Luck has done a phenomenal job of being able to extend plays and drives and make plays with his feet and his quick decision-making ability when he is in or out of the pocket.