[wysifield-embeddedaudio|eid="408716"|type="embeddedaudio"|view_mode="full"]BILL BELICHICK, HEAD COACH
Q: How often do you focus on one side of the football in your preparations for a game?
BB: Yeah, we prepare for all of it. I watch film from all three phases of the game and talk to the team about all of it. Everything is important.
Q: A report came out that Julian Edelman is cleared to play Saturday. What have you seen from your third-down offense both with him in and out of the lineup?
BB: I don't think any of that really matters at all. We haven't played Kansas City, so it doesn't matter what we did against somebody else or didn't do against somebody else. It will all come down to how we match up and how we perform against the Chiefs. That's really all we're looking at. I don't really care about how it all went in some other game.
Q: What do Dontari Poe and Justin Houston do for this defense?
BB: They have a big impact, and I think it's a defense that has good balance with Houston, [Tamba] Hali, [Dee] Ford on the edges and then Poe inside. You just can't get away from them. You've got to deal with all of them. They've kind of got you on both sides and in the middle. They complement each other, they're all good players, and they've all been productive and they're all tough matchups. Houston and Poe are both really good, but like I said, they complement each other well and make it tough offensively when you've got kind of players everywhere that you have to deal with.
Q: How rare is it for a rookie like Marcus Peters to come into the league and display the kind of ball skills that he's shown this season?
BB: Yeah, I mean he's an instinctive player and you're right, he does get his hands on a lot of balls. They have a good defense so there are a lot of guys that really benefit from each other, complement each other. The pass rush helps the coverage and the coverage helps the pass rush and the running game helps the passing game and the quarterback helps the coverage because of his ability to run and so forth. Defensively they get a lot of pressure on the quarterback. They force a lot of errant throws or throws under duress. The secondary does a nice job of playing the ball and they play good team defense. Peters has done a good job for them, and he's also been opportunistic, been able to take advantage of some plays that have come his way as have other guys in the secondary. Collectively, it's a good defense, not predicated on any one guy, but they all play well together and they have a lot of good players. They're all problems really.
Q: Does Kansas City's track record both in their winning streak and their first playoff game underscore the importance of starting fast against this team?
BB: Like you pointed out, I think it's something you always try to do and every team tries to do. I don't think that will be any different. Again, a lot of the Chiefs' points are also a function of their defense, so it's not just … I mean it's definitely stopping their offense, but it's also field position. They're right at the top of the league in field position, which that's a function of their kicking game and defensive turnovers. Creating good field position, not putting them on a short field and then doing a good job in those areas - I mean all of that is a part of starting fast and having control of the game.
Q: What have you seen from Malcom Brown this year in terms of his maturity level and the way he conducts himself off the field?
BB: It's been good. Malcom has really done a good job - very mature kid for as young as he is - first year. He obviously comes from a good program and in Texas a place where football is very important and all that, but he's a solid learner, doesn't make very many mistakes, and certainly doesn't repeat very many of them, so he's really taken advantage of his opportunities and continues to get better each week and every day.
Q: With the Detroit Lions getting ready to name Bob Quinn their new general manager today, do you ever take pride in the fact that members of your personnel department have had success in being able to move on and run their own programs?
BB: Yeah, well of course I'm happy for Bob. He's done a great job for us and really been one of the foundation blocks from the last decade-and-a-half. He does a lot of things, did a lot of things for us, pro and college, but it's a great opportunity for him. It's a great organization. I was in that organization for a couple of years when the late Mr. Ford and Martha [Ford] were there. That's certainly a first class operation. Ernie Acorsi, I spoke with Ernie a couple of times over the process, and I know he's been involved. I've worked with Ernie and have a lot of respect for Ernie and the owner and the entire, all the way back from when I was in Baltimore. I had known him throughout my career in the National Football League, so a great organization. I'm happy for Bob, a great opportunity for him. Other than when we see him, which isn't very frequently, I wish him and the Lions all the best.
Q: Is Andy Reid the type of coach that will script plays in sequence?
BB: Yeah, absolutely.
Q: How does that make them a different type of matchup?
BB: How does it make it different? I mean probably half of the teams we've played do that, so it's not really - you prepare for that just like you prepare for other situations.
Q: Is it a matter of them scripting a certain amount of their best plays or is it too simplistic to look at it that way?
BB: You'd have to ask him about exactly what those plays are. I wouldn't necessarily say that when you go up against a script that it's necessarily a team's best plays. It's the plays they want to start with and there's a lot of things those plays can do. They can set up other plays, they can force you to show defensively what type of adjustments you're going to make to certain personnel groups, certain formations, and it probably helps them plan for maybe how they want to call other plays in the game or which plays come next, whether that's the one that they set up or whether it's based on your defensive adjustments and which of those next plays they want to attack that adjustment with. I'm sure a lot of times it's with the idea to get the ball to certain players. Offensively you can control who has the ball. Defensively you can't control that. You just have to put your guys out there, but you don't have any idea where the ball's going or whose going to get it. Offensively you have some control over that. Those things all play into it. Each game's different and whoever's doing the script probably has different reasons and different philosophies on why they do what they do. That's defensive football. You're on the other side of the ball - you defend what they give you. When you're on the offensive side of the ball you have some control over - well you have control over who's in the game, you have control over kind of where the ball's going and how it's going there. We see it all the time. I don't think it's like there's only two teams in the league that do a script or anything like that. I think it's pretty common every week.
Q: How has their versatility in the run game helped them since they lost Jamaal Charles to injury earlier in the year?
BB: Right, yeah, they do a lot of things in their running game. They have a lot of different schemes. Again, not uncommon to other teams that we've seen that have all the shotgun and read-option quarterback-type plays, along with some conventional plays and wide receiver sweeps and things like that, get those other guys involved in the running game, too. They do a great job of it. They have a unique way of doing it and they use it to obviously emphasize the skills of certain players and skills that their individual players have, but that's again, pretty common to what we see every week - not every week, but in a lot of other weeks and teams with similar type of overall run philosophies. It's a lot to defend. You have to defend a lot of different things and a lot of good players there and if they catch on something they have a chance for a big play.
[wysifield-embeddedaudio|eid="408721"|type="embeddedaudio"|view_mode="full"]JOSH MCDANIELS, OFFENSIVE COORDINATOR
Q: Schematically, what stands out to you with the Chiefs defense?
JM: There are a lot of things that stand out about them. They do pretty much everything well. They're very talented at all three levels of the defense. Obviously, they've given up very few points and played their best football down the stretch, which is obviously an issue in terms of just being able to finish drives or get down into the red area in the first place to try to score points on them. They do a tremendous job on third down, put you in a lot of third-and-long situations and get off the field as well as any team we've played. They turn the ball over. They've got a real knack for creating issues in the passing game and then capitalizing on bad mistakes. All of their guys seem to catch the ball very well. There are a lot of guys who have vision on the quarterback, and their coverage is tight. They compete and contest every throw, and you're going to have to really do a good job of execution to avoid giving them opportunities to turn the ball over. And then they put a lot of pressure on the quarterback, and it's not just the two guys on the edge. They've got multiple people who rush on the edge. They've got good blitzers, both in the secondary and at the linebacking level, and then those guys inside have been very disruptive in the pass rush as well. It's a team that's already won a playoff game. They're obviously playing as well as any team we've played all year, and we would expect this to be the best defense we've played.
Q: Do they blitz often?
JM: That depends. It depends on the situation. Third down, you can get some different distances on third down where the blitz percentage goes up, and then during the course of different games there have been some games where they've pressured a little bit more, but they can do it both ways. They don't have to blitz to create negative plays. They don't have to blitz to create pressure on the quarterback, and yet they're a very good blitzing team. They blitz the secondary. They blitz the linebackers. So you're going to have to be alert and aware for four quarters because they've certainly made some negative plays with their pressure packages.
Q: Do you think being a "game manager" can describe a primary strength of a player?
JM: I think every quarterback has to manage the game, regardless of what team he plays for or which opponent he's facing. That's the first thing I would ask of our guys here. And I don't know how it's taken nationally or publicly, but look a quarterback's job first and foremost is to run the offense. And sometimes that means taking what the defense gives you. Sometimes it means being very aggressive and throwing the ball down the field, but most importantly, what it means is trying to do the right thing on every snap as many times as you can during the course of the game. And there are a lot of games where teams may not give you great opportunities to try to throw it over their heads or do those other things, and so if the way the game is going determines that the quarterback's main focus is to complete passes, get first downs, take care of the football, I mean that's pretty much what we ask our guys to do every week. And I would imagine that most of the guys who are still playing in the playoffs would agree that their number one goal every week is to run the offense and execute it at a high level, and however that's taken outside of the building, that's for other people.
Q: Can you share anything in terms of where things are as far as other opportunities for you next year?
JM: I'm focused on the Chiefs, and there's nothing to report. I'm excited for this week right now and don't really have anything to add to it.
Q: Do you consider yourself more ready for a head coaching opportunity than the last time around?
JM: I think that there are a lot of experiences that you have in coaching, and if you learn from the experiences as you go through them, whether it's as a coordinator, a position coach, a quality control coach, a head coach, whatever it might be, and you learn from those mistakes that you make and you learn from those experiences and take the good and take the bad and try to assess what you can do to be a better coach, a better staff member or what have you, then hopefully we're all improving. That's the goal, and right now, my focus is on being the best coordinator and quarterback coach I can be for us so that we can get ready and have our best game of the year against the Chiefs right now.
Q: Have you isolated an area where you believe the Chiefs are vulnerable?
JM: [There are] not many places on their defense where you look at them and say, "Boy, they're really struggling." Like I said, they have a very physical, aggressive front that creates a lot of negative plays. They rush the passer well. Their linebackers are very good, both in stopping the run and in pass defense. Their secondary has been incredibly productive relative to getting their hands on the ball and taking it away from the offense, so this is, like I said, this is as good of a defense from front to back that we've played, and we would expect our greatest challenge to be on Saturday afternoon.
Q: How hard has Julian Edelman worked to get back from his injury and keep up with what you're doing in the classroom? How might his off-the-field work play a factor if he can return this weekend?
JM: Jules, like all of our injured guys, [they] try to do everything they can to take care of their bodies and heal themselves and rehab appropriately and hopefully be back as soon as they can. But Julian's attitude has always been very impressive to me. He's got a great work ethic. He's a guy who wants to be as good as he can be at everything that we ask of him, so we'll see how it goes this week. But I know those guys who haven't been out there or have missed time, they're all trying to do whatever they can to get healthy and be back as soon as they're able to.
Q: Do you see similarities between Bob Sutton's defensive approach and Rex Ryan's defenses?
JM: There are definitely some things that both teams do that are similar, and I think Bob's got his own style. Each coordinator that you coach against is going to have their own style in terms of what they do from one week to the next and the things that they tend to lean on in critical situations, but Bob is an excellent coach. He's done a tremendous job wherever he's been. They have a really good, experienced staff. They've created a lot of issues for a lot of teams this year, and that would go all the way back to last year when we struggled against them. They really kicked our butt last year, too, so they create a lot of issues, not only with what they do, but the fact that they have a lot of great players on the field and they play well together. They play really well as a unit. They don't give you many things that are easy throughout the entire game. They force you to earn everything you get. And I think it's an extremely well coached defense, an extremely well coached team, and we're going to have to do everything we can to prepare hard and play our best game on Saturday because that's what it's going to take.
Q: How can getting players back affect your play calling this week?
JM: Well, you never know exactly how the week is going to go and who actually is going to be back and how much they're going to be able to play and all the rest of that. So that will kind of unfold as this week goes, and sometimes it goes down to the end before you figure out exactly how much you can or can't play somebody or if they're going to play at all. I think that's a constant conversation that you have all year long. There are players at different levels of health, there are players at different levels of conditioning, and you have to consider all those factors each week, not just this week, but each week as you prepare for the game because there are certainly some times where you have to make sure you monitor things as you're going throughout the course of the game so that you don't overdo something. We've got a lot of experience at that, and the most important thing is that we're smart with each one of the players, and whatever they can do, try to get them to do it the best that they can. That's why we've got a lot of depth and a lot of different people who will go to the game and be ready to go in their own role.
Q: There were reports that you chose not to interview for head coaching jobs this weekend, where in the past, you've taken this bye week to do so. Was that a sign of you only wanting to focus at the task at hand with the Patriots? What went into that decision?
JM: I think each year is different, and my focus is on the Chiefs and getting our team ready this year for this game. And I'm excited to get a start on that preparation with the players this week.
Q: Do you have to prepare for Justin Houston and Tamba Hali to be the guys that they were pre-injury? Do you adjust to their level of play in the game once you see how affected they are by their injuries?
JM: I think they're both tremendous players. I mean, obviously they've been tremendously disruptive. And [Dee] Ford has come on this year - you know, the guy they drafted last year from Auburn. He's had a better year. [Frank] Zombo, who makes plays in there, he played a lot last week. [Dezman] Moses has played some, too. So I mean, to me, we're going to prepare for them to be out there on every single snap. It's the postseason, and I'm sure whatever their guys can do, they're going to try to do. It's the same thing as our guys. If they can be out there, they'll be out there. And we have a tremendous amount of respect for their entire defense, and those to edge guys that you mentioned, I'm not sure that there's a better combination in the league. So we're going to have to be prepared for them to be at their best, just like we're going to prepare for the rest of their defensive group. And whatever we're going to need to do as the game goes on, then we'll try to adjust and make sure we make smart decisions. It's going to take a great collective group effort for us to play our best football on Saturday, which is what it's going to take in order to score points and try to do the things that we're going to need to do offensively to help our football team win.
Q: Are those two edge guys the kind of guys that keep you up at night?
JM: This whole defense is excellent. Like I said, it's not just one or two guys. They've got a lot of really tremendous players, and that's why they're where they're at. That's why they've accumulated all the statistics that they ... I mean, any statistic you look at, they're really, really ranked highly in the league and deservedly so because they play really good defense. They do all the things a great defense needs to do to help their team win, so we've got our hands full. We're looking forward to getting started today on our preparation.
[wysifield-embeddedaudio|eid="408726"|type="embeddedaudio"|view_mode="full"]MATT PATRICIA, DEFENSIVE COORDINATOR
Q: How would you characterize the Kansas City Chiefs' offensive attack?
MP: Well, first of all, let's just - obviously the Chiefs - we've got a huge challenge in front of us here. They're the hottest team in the league coming in, great win streak, great team play by these guys, an offense that's really doing a great job of managing the game, getting the ball distributed to the receivers and skill players, a quarterback who's very dangerous, very smart, very fast, very athletic, can get the ball downfield. If you really look at this guy in the critical situations of the game, he really shows up as far as taking over, whether it's a run-game situation where he's got the option to keep the ball, or it's a pass-game situation where he can make plays with his feet, extend, get out, keep the drives going, got-to-have-it type of situations. He's very, very dangerous. [It's a] big challenge with him, got to keep him in the pocket, make sure he doesn't scramble around on us and get out and control the game that way so big challenge there. The tight end positon, [Travis] Kelce, really dangerous guy, big catch radius. We saw that first hand last year and tremendous actually run-after-catch, does a great job there. They'll play a lot of different personnel groups, put different guys in the game, move them around, a lot of formationing and things like that. Coach [Andy] Reid and his staff do a great job of game planning week-in, week-out and putting the defense in a lot of different stressful situations. Obviously [Jeremy] Maclin is another great player for them. They're just steady at the running back position. They're going to mix those guys in there - [Charcandrick] West, [Spencer] Ware, [Knile] Davis - they'll put them in the game and kind of keep pounding with the run game to control the clock, a very balanced offense. They really do an excellent job of, like I said, running the offense, distributing the ball. They've got a smart quarterback, makes a lot of plays. They've got some good skill players. They can hand it off, they can control the game from that aspect. They don't turn the ball over very much. They're doing all the right things that they need to do to win, and that's why they've been so successful.
Q: What can you take away from your recent experience interviewing with the Cleveland Browns organization?
MP: Really for me, this is all about Kansas City right now. That's where my focus is and that's kind of where my attention is. [I'm] just talking about Kansas City.
Q: Is it accurate to say that the run blocking from the Kansas City offensive line hasn't skipped a beat despite the rotating running backs they've used this season?
MP: That is correct. It's definitely a philosophy - Andy Reid and his system - to keep giving the ball and find different ways to run the ball. They do a good job of changing the run plays up week-in, week-out so a particular set of runs that you might see one week on film, you might get a different set the next week. You're going to see an element of the read-option obviously with the quarterback who is very dangerous, who can get the ball out in space. With that offense and with that run play, they create an extra gap in the front and then force you to really try and defend that with one less player defensively. I think that's evident in their rushing yards this year and how well they average in the run game, along with the production on early downs and along with their production on big plays in the run game when you see the ball get outside on the edge or break through the middle and it's a big gain, large gain, where the balls going downfield. I think they're just steady and consistent with it. I think he sticks with it. He stays with the run game. He understands that that's going to set up the rest of his offense and it's really just the system as far as him calling the plays. Kansas City's one of the most balanced offenses that we face. They just do a great job of understanding the run-pass tendencies that they have and keeping it very balanced so it's a conscious effort by them to put a point of emphasis on the run game and make sure they are running the ball.
Q: What kind of strategies can be used to try and slow down Travis Kelce and is it helpful to have a guy like Rob Gronkowski on your team to try and prepare for that?
MP: Well I mean, definitely we see a very good tight end in practice every day so that's great, very challenging for us, but there's a lot of good tight ends in the league. He's certainly one of the better ones and one of the guys that's most productive. It's a big challenge for us. We obviously just have to do a great job, whatever the design of the defense it is that we're going to run, just making sure we know where he's at and account for him, just understanding that you can't lose him somewhere in the scheme or in the system and make sure we know where he's at.
Q: What has Jeremy Maclin added to their offense that you've seen thus far?
MP: Yeah, I mean just fast, quick, great ball skills, good route-runner, gets open, finds open space, a very savvy veteran-type receiver, great speed. Like I said, good hands, can go up and get the ball and just an overall real problem. They'll mix him in to some different types of plays whether it's handing the ball off or putting him through the backfield, obviously downfield crossers, run-and-catch type plays, so they really use him in a lot of different ways. That's always difficult when you've got a great skill player like that that's going to be kind of aligned or moved all over the field and then also designed to get the ball in a bunch of different ways. That's kind of the biggest challenge when he's out there, is to figure out where he's at, how he's getting the ball, we've got to be alert for him to get the ball, and then in the end being able to get on him and go up and make a play because he does a great job of going up and getting the ball and plucking it out of the air. We've just got to do a good job on him.
Q: What do you see from their defense that makes them so challenging?
MP: I think that's going to be a great question for Coach [Josh] McDaniels when he gets on, so I'm going to let him answer that one and just try and stick to my side of the ball. I think I've got enough problems over there.
Q: How much of a challenge does Alex Smith's ability to change plays and check into different plays at the line of scrimmage present?
MP: Well, I mean exactly like what Coach [Belichick] said yesterday, Alex Smith's very smart. He's a very bright guy. He does a good job of getting the pre-snap read and trying to understand what you're in defensively. He's trying to get into the right play when he has the opportunity to do that. He's going to try to take advantage of the leverage or the players or the matchup that he sees and he will try to distribute the ball accordingly. When you have skill players in a system like that that are really good and you feel you've got a good matchup or a good alignment, or whatever the case may be that you're seeing, then you're going to try to get the ball into their hands and then that could be the run or the pass game, just kind of depends on how you're lined up defensively. Certainly, you've just got to make sure that he can't just see what you're in and obviously get the ideal play every time, and hopefully we can just line up and play good football. We're going to have to play fundamentally sound, we're going to have to play with good technique and really in the end that's what it's going to come down to for us is just doing a good job of doing the basics and the things that we talk about all the time. They're going to obviously have a situation where they're going to get into some plays or a particular run that they may have a favorable matchup in, and we've just got to make sure we step up to that challenge and handle it.