Patriots Director of Player Personnel Nick Caserio addresses the media during his conference call on Tuesday, September 28, 2010.
Q: You guys have shown a serious variety on offense, even in the third quarter when you went from no huddle to two tight ends in one series. Do you have the ability to do everything you want as an offense as far as installation and pure versatility?
NC: Each week, we go into the game, historically, we've been a game plan team. We'll go into each week and figure out what different packages, what different things we can do against our opponent. It just so happens against Buffalo we changed up the tempo there to start the second half. Whatever the players can handle, that's what we'll do. And whatever the game plan calls for or whoever the opponent is, what we did this week might not necessarily carry over to next week. A lot has to do with what the players can handle, how they prepared during the week, and what we feel is the best way for us to play the game. The most important thing is to go out there and execute it as an offense. I think there were some good things and there were some plays that we'd like to have back, a couple self-inflicted wounds with the penalties. I think each week we're focused on consistency and the overall execution of the offense, whatever the plan calls for that particular game.
Q: Nick, a lot of people saw the joint practices over the summer as a precursor for what teams will have to do if we do go to an 18-game schedule here in the next few years. Organizationally, is that something that you guys addressed in the offseason, the possibility down the line that the regular season could expand? How would that affect you as a football operation?
NC: That's probably something that we'll address once we get through the season. I'll be totally honest with you, it's not something that we've talked about at all to this point. I think once we get to the offseason, once we get through the regular season and whatever the case may be, then we'll address it and deal with it accordingly.
Q: Would you imagine that it would change the way you'd have to operate from a football standpoint?
NC: I couldn't answer that right now. It'd be tough to do. We're just worried about this season and trying to get through that.
Q: Nick, one thing we've seen in the second half the last two games, Aaron Hernandez will have a big first half and then defenses have adjusted by putting a safety on him. What's the next adjustment for Aaron Hernandez? What must happen in his game to react to go from having a linebacker cover him to a safety?
NC: Offensively, Sunday was a good example, I think there were seven different players who caught a ball. A guy's production in the first half, whatever happened in the second half, it's not necessarily a reflection of what the defense is doing. It might be the situation or a case of the quarterback went somewhere else with the football. Aaron has shown he's got a good skill set, he's athletic, he's got good quickness, he's got good hands, he's good with the ball after the catch. However defenses want to handle that, that's up to them. Our job offensively is just to go out there and execute the offense and get the ball to the guy that's open. I think Tom [Brady] did a really good job of that the other day. He was pretty efficient [and] got a lot of people involved. That helps the overall functionality of the offense. The more people that touch the ball, it puts a little more stress on the defense. Hopefully, we can continue to execute and be consistent week-to-week whether it's first half, second half or over the course of the game.
Q: Nick, the Dolphins are using Cameron Wake at linebacker, a guy who came out of the Canadian Football League. In the grand scheme of things, how much attention do you guys focus on the Canadian league?
NC: You allocate a certain amount of time to it. Their season to a degree is concurrent with our season. You try to pinpoint, get a listing of the top 20 or so players in the CFL. A lot of those players may have been in the NFL previously, which in Wake's case, he actually was. He came in 2005, and then he bounced around there for a little bit. We'll allocate some time. Our philosophy is wherever there are players available that we feel can help our team, then we'll evaluate it and make a decision about whether or not they're a fit for the club. There are multiple avenues whether it's the CFL, the Arena League, whatever means necessary to find players. That's what we'll do.
Q: Did you get involved at all with scouting Wake? Did you think of him as a prospect at all?
NC: We've looked at a lot of players over the course of the years, during the offseason. As far as what players we've scouted, what players we've targeted, that's something that we'll keep internally among ourselves.
Q: As someone who has spent some time in the receivers room over the years, I wanted to ask about the relationship between Wes Welker and Julian Edelman. Have you seen the mentoring from Welker to Edelman and how much has having someone there like that helped Edelman's development?
NC: Collectively that group is usually a pretty good group. There's a lot of communication that goes on. In Julian's case, having never played the position before, he was eliciting the responses of a lot of players. You have a guy like Randy [Moss], who has a lot of experience. From [Edelman's] perspective, he did whatever he could possible to listen to as many folks as possible. Now the fact that he and Wes play a similar type of position, it's a little easier when you have someone doing the same types of things and running the same types of routes. Collectively, that group works well together. They communicate well. They ask a lot of questions, a lot of good questions. There is a lot of interaction amongst themselves in addition to the quarterback as well. The more you're around players and the more you can talk about different things, 'What you see on this play,' 'What was your coverage adjustment,' the more you talk about that, the more it helps with the development of the player overall.
Q: The Jets used Danny Woodhead as a receiver and a running back. It seems like there are a lot more players like that now. I know that the Bills' CJ Spiller is a running back who is compared to the Vikings' Percy Harvin, who on the roster is a receiver. Is there more of a gray area now than maybe there has been in the past when it comes to some of those skill guys where they are more of a utility player than being locked into one position?
NC: A lot of that has to do with is where some of the offenses have gone in college and what they're asked to do. I think the offenses have evolved. And basically you see a lot of players who, whatever position they line up at, but if they're good football players, they're good with the football in their hands, they're good in space, the teams are going to find ways to get them involved. And how that translates into the NFL level, each club, individually, has to make a decision about what they feel the best position is for the player. The more things a player can show, the more versatility he shows, that's certainly going to enhance his ability to make a contribution on whatever club that he's with. It's partly a product of the offenses in colleges and the types of players that are playing those positions. As a team, you have to make a decision how that fits with what you're doing.
Q: Is it a matter of the college coach asking more of the player, asking him to do more things in general?
NC: It probably varies school to school. We don't know exactly what they're being coached to do, what they're being asked to do. All we can do is evaluate what they're doing on the field, what their skill set is and then make a determination of, 'Okay, this where he fits best for our team moving forward.'