RUNNING BACKS COACH IVAN FEARS**
(On what his experience has been with Stevan Ridley, LeGarrette Blount, and Brandon Bolden so far this season)
"Well, we've always been one to like to play the, more or less, committee, running back by committee. It just keeps guys fresh, keeps the change-up going and a lot of times we basically do what they do best. We try to feature a guy's strong points, and not have the weak points exposed out there on the field. The good news for us is that we've had – we've been able to 'stay healthy' since [the beginning of the season]. But everybody's had their bruises and bangs, even Brandon [Bolden], so we've had to play some when we didn't want to play some, you know what I mean? Some guys have to play when we didn't want them to. But for the most, the guys are doing a great job."
(On how hard it is to balance letting a runner do what he wants versus adhering to the coaches' plan)**
"Well that's the easy for me. I think it's easy for you too, because if you look at it, you say, 'Is he productive or not? Did he get it done or did he not get it done?' I mean, that's what everybody looks at. Everybody evaluates us the same way: did we win or did we not? And not so much how you play the game, [but] whether you did [win]. For those guys, it's pretty much the same. As long as they're running the play the way we need them to run the play, once that ball is handed to them, it's up to them. They know what we expect of them, they know the reads that we expect them to go through, but when it all comes down to it, he's got to make a guy miss, he's got to find a way to win, he's got to make a play. And if he's making plays, you're going to hand him the ball more. If he's not making plays, you're going to hand him the ball less."
(On whether it's a fine line between the two aspects – freedom and structure)
"You expect all of them to understand the situation in the game. That's what they've got to know. You've got to play the game understanding the situations that are being presented to you at that time. There's a certain amount of time of freedom during certain situations, and there's less freedom in other situations. In other words, we get down to the goal line, 'Guys, there's about an inch or two we need, we need you to plow it in there and get it.' I mean, we don't look for you to bounce it out and try to run around the entire defense and lose three yards. There's a certain amount of freedom that you give a guy, but he's also got to play within the structure of what we're trying to get done during that time. That's what's expected of him, that's just being a disciplined back and doing the right thing. But when it really comes down to it though guys, I'm serious, a guy has got to make plays for you. He's got to make plays. You've got to allow him some creativity in the area, how he's going to beat that particular guy that he's stuck with. The safety, whether he's going to juke him or try to bounce, or whether he's going to lower his shoulder and try to run through, is he going to give him the spin move…you know what I mean? And you try to put him in those situations so you can practice them in practice as much as possible, and that's what we do. We've done a lot more of that this year than we have done in a long time, with the tackling drills and stuff."
SAFETIES COACH BRIAN FLORES
(On the development of rookie defensive back Duron Harmon)
"Duron has done a good job as far as picking up the defense. He's smart, he's got good range; he's a good player. He works hard and does all of the things we ask of him. He's a team player, so he's done a good job so far."
(On the value of having a player like Devin McCourty in the secondary)
"I mean, we are all lucky to have him. He's a very good player. Versatile, smart, can make adjustments on the fly, in-game adjustments and you know, prepares well, practices hard and does all the right things. He's a great player, I mean, I'm very lucky to have him. We are all lucky to have him."
(On the importance of Devin McCourty's versatility in the secondary)
"I think it's important, just so we can do different things as far as matchups and just being able to adjust in games. His versatility means a lot to us and we try to take advantage of it when we can and I think we know that we have a guy that we feel confident in that can do those things."
(On the performance of safety Steve Gregory through the first nine games of the season)
"Steve kind of built on last year. With this being his second year, he's more familiar with what we're doing here. He and Devin [McCourty] kind of built off last year and do a great job communicating with each other and with everyone else on defense – corners, linebackers. Together, they work well together. Steve's played well, Devin's played well. All those guys are working hard – Duron [Harmon], Tavon [Wilson] and Nate Ebner – the whole group is playing well. We just have to continue to try and get better. It's still early and there's still a lot of room for improvement and that's kind of what we are working towards right now."
(On how defensive back Duron Harmon has improved from the start of the season to now)
"First and foremost, it is just knowledge of our defense and our scheme. He's done a good job of kind of picking it up. Those little nuances of the defense that are kind of hard for younger guys to pick up, he's done a good job of doing that."
DEFENSIVE LINE COACH PATRICK GRAHAM
(On how the young players such as Joe Vellano, Chris Jones, and Marcus Forston have developed)
"I think they're playing hard. They work hard in the classroom, they work hard taking care of their bodies and everything, and all we can ask them to do is come into the building, do your job, be attentive, work hard, and that's what they're doing. The success they've had out on the field as a group, as a team we've had, is because of that hard work. Now, if they were taking shortcuts or anything, then you wouldn't get the results you're getting, but they're working hard trying to better, and they know they're not perfect right now. If you talked to them, I can't speak for them, but they're trying to get better, and that's all you could ask right there."
(On if Vince Wilfork has been involved at all with the group)
"Vince is always involved. He's always involved in terms of – whether it's helping those guys out with the stuff I probably don't see. Vince is involved in the classroom when I put up the film to say, 'This is how Vince did it, you all do it like that,' you know? So Vince is always involved no matter how it is. I mean, he's the guy that everybody in that room, including myself, we learn from. We try to emulate that because he's the pinnacle of a good defensive lineman and that's the man who is our closest example of being a great football player, and that's what we try to learn from."
ASSISTANT HEAD COACH/OFFENSIVE LINE COACH DANTE SCARNECCHIA
(On how the offensive line is performing)**
"I don't know. I think that it's just like anything where we're at a point right now where the key thing for all of us is that we avoid using the word satisfied. None of us should be satisfied with anything. The idea is to improve every day and try to get better every day and be a better football team tomorrow than we are today, so pretty much that's it. We know where we are, we know what we do, we know how we do it and we're just going to try and get better as we go forward."
(On his confidence level in Marcus Cannon now that he is a full-time starter)
"It's the same as it was before we put him in that role. Marcus is our backup tackle and now he is our starting right tackle. We feel like he is very capable of doing this job for any team. Right now he is doing it for us and he is doing a great job of it and we're very pleased with the way he is playing right now."
(On whether he senses the rhythm getting better for the offense)
"I don't know. If you went on the last game you could say, 'Yeah,' that would probably be a pretty good thing. We just feel like our goal around here has always been from day one to be better today than we were at the beginning. That's pretty much it. Whatever it was last week, hopefully it will be the same next week and then if it is next week, then maybe we say, 'Oh, OK, maybe we do have some rhythm going.'"
(On the reason why the offensive line has given up as many sacks this season as they did all of last season)
"I think that, yes we have given up more sacks at this point than we did all last season. Believe me, I understand that. So, what is it? I think that I probably have to do a better job coaching and getting them to do things better. I think our players are working at it very hard and you know sacks are a byproduct of a lot of different things. So, I'll pretty much just leave it at that and hopefully, as we've said, we're going to try and [be] better doing the things that we're doing going forward."
RECEIVERS COACH CHAD O'SHEA
(On the wide receivers, particularly the young receivers, pointing to his coaching as a reason for their success so far this season, and whether he is doing anything differently this year than in previous years)
"I think that we have a really good group of guys that are willing to be coached. They come to work every day with a great attitude and are really willing to accept any coaching and are willing to accept any advice that some of the older players have that we have on this team. We have great veteran players that do a good job of steering them in the right direction, whether it be on or off the field. I think that's something that is very important for those players and something that they've definitely benefited from having a strong football team in terms of leadership."
(On Aaron Dobson saying that he is getting to the point where he and Tom Brady can recognize things at the line of scrimmage and how that signifies his growth so far this season)
"I think that Aaron has made a lot of progress. He has definitely worked hard and he is trying to play within our system the best he can, and there is a lot that goes into that. There is a lot that entails. He and Tom have done a great job of working hard together. He has worked hard with the other receivers also that we have on the roster in that spot. I think that if they continue to work, they will continue to make improvement. We still have a long way to go."
(On how much of a challenge this offensive system is for a rookie receiver with all the post-huddle reads and audibles)
"There is definitely a transition from college that these guys are going to have to make. I think that goes with any offense in the NFL, not definitely unique to ours. I think there are some challenges that are built into playing with a veteran, established quarterback like we have in Tom [Brady]. I look at it as a great advantage, obviously, of having an opportunity to play with somebody like that. Along with playing with a veteran there is going to be some learning. There are going to be some things that are challenging to them, but as long as they work hard and continue to improve I think they will have a chance to really do well in our system, and that's all our players, not necessarily just Aaron [Dobson]."
(On how much of his job is managing the week-to-week ups and downs with all his young receivers)
"I think that there is a lot that goes into the things outside of the 'Xs' and 'Os'. That's true of all rookie football players I believe, not just [the] receiver position. There is such a transition that needs to be made from college to pro and again I think it is so important and so beneficial to the New England Patriots that we have strong veteran leadership that might be outside of the receiver position that can provide those things on a daily basis. You know, the trials and tribulations that a rookie might have that our leaders can provide them with some guidance. I think that is real important, and it has been very important to the development of those receivers."
(On how he feels they are doing at this point in the season)
"I think that they have improved every week. We have always talked about just improving and focusing on just improving. I think that they have. I think that they have a long way to go and we have a long way to go obviously as a team, and I think everybody would say that. As long as they continue to work like they have, I think that they will reach the goals that they want."