BB: Well, we have an opportunity this week to work on things that will help us. Obviously, we don’t know who we’re going to play, so once that clears up, we’ll turn our attention to that team. But, right now, hopefully we can find some things that we can improve on that will help us the next time we do get a chance to play. So, that’s pretty much where we are today.
Q: The last two games, Danny Shelton was active. What has he brought you guys in terms of the run defense in the last two games?
BB: Yeah, Danny’s – I mean, his role, you know he’s a big inside player. So, I mean, look, there’s a lot of guys we could have played in the last couple weeks that were inactive that we just couldn’t activate. So, it was him a couple weeks. It’s been other players. In the end, we just have to pick the ones we feel like would be the most important for that particular game, and it changes week to week.
Q: Did you see a noticeable improvement in the run defense the last two games?
BB: Well, again, defense is about team defense. So, there’s no one guy that can stop the running game. There’s no one guy that can stop the passing game, not in this league. So, if we collectively play well as a team, then we have a chance, and coach well and have a good scheme. If we don’t, then we’re going to give up yards, no matter what they do. So, we have to coach and play well collectively as a team. It’s good to have all the players that we have, but it’s about team defense, really.
Q: Over the years, you guys have had a lot of extra practices because of the playoffs. How have you seen those extra practice opportunities have a long-term effect on the team?
BB: In terms of what?
Q: You’ve had a lot of deep runs in the playoffs, so maybe things that don’t show up if you don’t have as many practices.
BB: Yeah, I don’t know. Hopefully we won’t have a team to compare that to any time soon. So, I don’t know. We just take each day we have, every opportunity we have, try to get the most out of them. That’s all we try to do. So, whatever it is, whatever those opportunities are, they are. We’ll do the best we can with them.
Q: I know Derek Rivers is somebody who, after missing his first year, had a lot of room for improvement. When it comes to his abilities in the running game, how much have you seen him improve in that regard?
BB: Derek’s improved in every area. So, he works very hard, has improved physically, technique-wise, obviously understanding and execution of the defense. So, he’s gotten better in every area, works really hard. So, he’s improved in that, but he’s improved in everything, too.
Q: Is one of the biggest things for him just adding strength physically to be able to hold up against professional-caliber players?
BB: Again, look – more strength, more speed, more quickness, I mean, all those things are better. Technique and leverage are probably more important than those things. So, if all else is equal, it would probably go to a strength advantage. But, good technique and good leverage can offset a strength differential, so I mean, they’re all related.
Q: There were eight coaching changes this year. Given the amount of time you’ve been in the league, does it surprise you the lack of stability around the league and how short of a chance coaches are given now?
BB: Yeah, I’m really right now just focused on trying to get our team ready for the next game and try to prepare us for a week from Sunday. So, whatever else is happening is happening. There’s not really much I can do about it. It doesn’t really affect me. So, you should talk to those teams and see why they’re doing what they’re doing. I don’t really know.
Q: It seems that James White embodies a lot of values that any coach would want in a player. When you first looked at him at Wisconsin, what characteristics did you see that you thought made him a very good fit in your system? Is there any particular trait he’s shown you here over five years that you didn’t know he had in his game when you first drafted him?
BB: Well, I think he’s improved in the passing game here. He did some of that at Wisconsin. He was used some as a slot receiver, but he ran the ball more than he caught it there. Here, I mean, I don’t know what the numbers are, but he’s caught the ball a lot for us. He’s been a key player in the passing game, although he’s certainly had contributions in the running game, too. But, I’d say he’s done more in the passing game than what he had shown there – not saying he didn’t do it there, but it was just, I would say, expanded here. But, yeah, he does everything well. I mean, he’s a great kid. He’s smart, he works hard, very tough, dependable, his ball security, his decision making, situational football – I mean, he is one of those guys that almost always does the right thing. Sometimes things come up that aren’t exactly the way they were practiced or doesn’t exactly follow the rule that you’ve outlined, but he has to make a decision quickly, whatever the circumstances or situation is, and he almost always makes the right one. Some of that’s just instinctive and good judgment on his part that’s, I’d say, beyond coaching. Just he knows how to play football. We have a lot of guys like that, but I’d certainly put him in that category.
Q: Given the turnover in the wide receiver room this year, do you have an added level of respect and admiration for what Chad O’Shea has done?
BB: Yeah, well, it’s been that way for a long time. Chad’s done a great job for us. I’m very fortunate to have the coaching staff that I have. Those guys all do an excellent job, they work hard, they prepare extremely well, they are demanding of their players, get their players to perform well, at the same time have a good team chemistry and appreciation for what everybody else is doing outside of just their individual area, which is obviously important to them, but there’s a bigger picture that they have to work within for the overall benefit of the team. I mean, they all do a great job of that. They work well in their units. They work well with coaches on the other side of the ball or the people that they interact with. They’ve all done a real good job, as they’ve continued to do for me for the last 19 years.
Q: How has Brian Flores done this year in his increased responsibilities that he’s been given?
BB: Yeah, good. Same thing.
Q: Is that a tough balance sometimes when you go from being a position coach to being the defensive signal caller? How much more is on the plate of someone like that whose role is elevated in a sense?
BB: I mean, it’s different. I experienced that, so I could speak to it. I mean, you know, you’re probably putting in the same amount of time. I mean, there’s not more hours in the day, you just have to allocate it differently and look at your responsibilities, and some of the things that you did in a different role, somebody else does those and you take on somebody else’s – in this case, some of the things that Matt [Patricia] did for us. But, that’s pretty common and straight-forward in this business. But, yeah, it’s different.
Q: When Chad O’Shea came over from the Vikings, how did you first become aware of him as a coach?
BB: Well, I worked with Chad’s dad the first year I was in the league, so I kind of always through Mike [O’Shea] knew Chad. Chad was in Minnesota with some other connections there. Yeah, Mike and I go way back – I mean, 44 years or whatever it is, 43 years. I don’t know, I lost track here.
Q: What did Mike do?
BB: Mike was a trainer in Baltimore.
Q: Having seen the Texans so many times in recent years, is there a little more emphasis on scouting the Ravens and Chargers this week?
BB: Yeah, well again, once we find out who we play, we’ll turn all our attention to that team. So, in the meantime, we’ll prepare to be ready for whoever it is, and most importantly try to work on things that will benefit the New England Patriots no matter who we play.
Q: You guys obviously went without Devin McCourty for the end of the game against the Jets. In a situation like that, is it as easy as one player taking on the communication responsibilities that Devin would typically have? Or is it kind of a joint approach by several guys?
BB: Yeah, it would depend on the situation. But, when you’re in that particular game, we were ahead. It was more of a passing game when that occurred, and so there were some multiples that came up. But, you know, I think Steve [Belichick] and Josh [Boyer] and B-Flo [Brian Flores] all pretty smoothly handled – again, we have a pretty experienced group back there with guys who have played multiple spots at one time or another during the year. Because of the different things that we do in the secondary, sometimes you’re doing another guy’s job, you’re just switching spots to give the offense a different look type of thing. So, I thought it was handled pretty smoothly. But, anytime you have a player that plays almost every snap and then he’s not in there, it’s different. It just is. So, obviously, you never want to see that, but you have to be prepared for it.
Q: Urban Meyer coached in his final game last night. Do you have any relationship with him and can you speak to the respect you have for him as a coach?
BB: Yeah, I go back a long way with Urban. I talk to him multiple times every season. I have great respect and appreciation for what he’s done, the national championships, the programs that he’s built going all the way back. I mean, he was an Ohio guy when I was in Ohio and back to Bowling Green, and obviously Notre Dame, and then Utah, Florida, Ohio State. So, yeah, great man, has had tremendous success, he’s been a good friend and I have great admiration for what he’s done.