PATRIOTS HEAD COACH BILL BELICHICK
Q: Have you seen Frank Reich put the game in the hands of Andrew Luck a bit more than usual? He seems to be throwing the ball quite a bit more than we've seen in the past.
BB: Yeah, he sure has. I think probably any coach would be comfortable putting the ball in Luck's hands. He's a very good quarterback and he has excellent skill players to work with. We've seen Luck control many games before. It's different because it's a different system and I'm sure that Coach Reich has given Luck a lot of flexibility in the offense in terms of things at the line of scrimmage and post-snap decisions, pre-snap decisions, all of those kinds of things. So it's different, but I'd say he's had a lot of responsibility like that in the past and he handles it very well. He's a very sharp guy that has good football instincts and makes a lot of good decisions, so I can see why they put it in his hands.
Q: How have you seen the Colts use running back Nyheim Hines? He seems to be pretty active in their passing game.
BB: He has, Phil [Perry], and it seems like it's a little bit more each week. They use him in different personnel groupings. A lot of it is one back but they also use some two-back formations when he's in the game with another guy - [Marlon] Mack or [Jordan] Wilkins - somebody like that. That creates some other problems because they can be in two-back or one-back formations with jet-motion and things like that. But he's very good with the ball in his hand. He's a good receiver. He's a good runner. He's fast. He's elusive in space, hard to tackle. He's a guy you don't want to give a lot of freedom and opportunity to. He's very good with the ball in his hands and has good quickness to get open and separate in the passing game.
Q: With Frank Reich now in Indianapolis, do you see any similarities to the offense he was running in Philadelphia with the Eagles in Super Bowl LII?
BB: Sure; yeah. They're both west-coast based offenses. Yeah, sure. There's a lot of carryover.
Q: Will you guys re-watch that Super Bowl tape to try and gain any type of insight into this matchup?
BB: Yeah, well we've seen that game. We looked at that game pretty closely before the Philadelphia preseason game this year. There were obviously things that came up in that game that we knew we were going to have to deal with as a carryover into this year. I'd say we've already pretty much been down that road. How much they do or don't do - I don't know. There's certainly a lot of similarities in the basic offensive systems.
Q: What have been your impressions of linebacker Darius Leonard, and in particular the way that the Colts approach things on the defensive side of the ball?
BB: Well, they're primarily a zone defense. They're very disruptive upfront with their defensive linemen. They have some very explosive and powerful guys like [Margus] Hunt and [Jabaal] Sheard and [Al] Woods. They also have some very athletic guys that are disruptive, too. [Kemoko] Turay's done a good job for them and [Tarell] Basham, plus the guys I just mentioned. So they cause a lot of negative plays. I think they lead the league in negative runs and they're high in sacks, so they're a very disruptive group. The linebackers are fast. Leonard's fast, [Anthony] Walker's fast and they pursue well, so they get to a lot of plays. They get to a lot of balls and they've done an excellent job of turning the ball over whether it be stripping the ball out or making plays, tipped passes and things like that. Zone oriented so they have a lot of people running to the ball, wherever it is, run or pass and their front is very disruptive, so a lot of times their linebackers or secondary players like [Clayton] Geathers or Kenny Moore, who plays the nickel for them, or [Nate] Hairston if it's not Moore. They do a real good job of, again, filling those gaps and getting in on plays after a lot of times the initial part of the running play has been disrupted or forced to bounce out or cut back into another gap, and they just converge and have a lot of people there. Leonard's been productive. As you said, he has a lot of tackles. He's on the field on almost every snap. It might be every snap. He's out there every play. Again, very good sideline-to-sideline range. Their linebackers are usually pretty deep, but when they blitz they're fast so they get there in a hurry even though a lot of times when the ball is snapped they're not in a very threatening position but they make up that ground very quickly along with the disruption on the defensive front. They cause a lot of negative plays, so that's really the main issue. Holding penalties, tackles-for-loss, sacks, batted balls, things like that. They have a lot of negative plays in those areas.
Q: Do you see the Rod Marinelli influence on Matt Eberflus with the defensive front in particular?
BB: Yeah, absolutely. Yeah, 100 percent.
Q: Sony Michel had 17 carries for three yards or less. When you went back and looked at the tape, what were your thoughts on those plays?
BB: Well, I mean, I think that's some of what the running game is. I mean, not every play is an 80 yard touchdown, just like every pass isn't an 80 yard touchdown. There's incomplete passes and some runs gain less than others. You hope that you stay with it and in the end you have production in that overall phase of the game.
Q: You once told me that a running back should be able to get 2 yards by falling forward. So, when you see these smaller runs, is that more than just on the running back?
BB: Well, I think if there's a stalemate at the line of scrimmage, a back can make a couple yards. Yeah, absolutely. But, if the play gets blown up or he doesn't really have a chance to get back to the line of scrimmage and be able to push the pile and hit the gap, then not necessarily. I mean, you've got to at least create a stalemate on the line of scrimmage to give the back a chance. But, you know, a team like Miami that has some very athletic players and when they bring their linebackers and [T.J.] McDonald off the edge, I mean, a lot of times those guys are penetrating into the backfield, so you have a couple zero or 1-yard gains, and then you hit a toss to outside for 15 yards or hit a play up the middle for 10 yards, and that kind of evens it out. Look, not every play is an 80 yard touchdown in this league. I mean, it just doesn't happen that way.
Q: You've used a lot of combinations in the front six, especially when you play nickel defense. Do you feel like you're closer defensively to figuring out the best combinations after four games?
BB: Well, all the players that we play in there have earned the playing time and we have confidence putting those players on the field, and they've done a good job for us. I don't think we're ever just going to put 11 guys out there for 65 snaps. Some of it's based on, of course, what our opponents are doing and what our personnel matchups are against that opponent. Some of it's based on our depth and some of it's based on game situations. So, I think there's a place for all those. Every game is different, every opponent is different, so the way each game plays out isn't necessarily, for us, follows a certain pattern. It's just we react to how it's going and, again, what we're trying to do and what our opponents are trying to do and how those two things match up. I think you'll continue to see us use multiple players in our defensive scheme depending on those circumstances that I just mentioned. I don't think it will just be 11, 12 guys.
Q: Do you see a lot of Joe Judge's influence in Bubba Ventrone's special teams, or has he put his own stamp on the Colts' unit?
BB: Well, I think Bubba played in the league for 10 years, and the majority of that playing time was for Brad Seely. So, I think there's a combination of influences from Brad and Joe. So, it's probably something you'd have to ask him about. I mean, he'd be able to talk more about that than I would, but I'd say those are the two guys that have dominated his experience in the kicking game in the National Football League - again, in different capacities, but I'd say those are the two main guys. I mean, not getting into head coaches and other people, but specifically in the kicking game on special teams, I would think some combination of those two guys would have to be pretty influential for him.
Q: What's it like to have Julian Edelman back in the building and what does he bring to the offense?
BB: Sure, yeah, good to have him back and we'll see. I mean, we didn't practice yesterday, so we'll get moving on some things today in terms of the game plan and trying to get as far along on Indianapolis as we can. So, obviously, it's going to be a crammed course, and so we'll just see how it all comes together. I don't know. He hasn't been here in a month and it's a short week. We'll just have to see how things work out.
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