INDIANAPOLIS – Just like the Colts, the Patriots also had their off day of AFC Championship week on Tuesday.
Head coach Bill Belichick did meet with the media before his team will gather tomorrow to start their practice schedule.
Here are some of Belichick's comments about another meeting with the Colts:
PATRIOTS HEAD COACH BILL BELICHICKQ: You mentioned that the Colts have been getting good production out of their backs. It seems like Dan Herron has been a bigger part of their offense since the last matchup. What have you seen that's made him effective?
BB: I'd say he's done a great job of running; good balance, good toughness, good vision. [He's] made a lot of extra yards on his own. But I'd say the big thing has been how involved he's been in the passing game. That's been huge. I don't know, he might be like one of their most targeted guys or second most targets, whatever it is, in the playoffs. He's gotten a lot of balls. I think that's his role as three-down player: blitz pickup, passing game and obviously the running game. He's given them a big lift there.
Q: The first time you played Indianapolis it seemed like you did a good job containing Andrew Luck in the pocket. What kind of challenges does he present when he's on the move with his vision downfield?
BB: He's like a sixth receiver you have to cover. He can run, but again, if he extends the play then he has the ability to create big plays. We've seen him do that multiple times throughout his career already. The play he made against Denver where he kept the ball on about the nine, 10-yard line in the red area and ran it in for an easy touchdown – it was called back, but it was an easy touchdown. It's another guy you have to defend in the running game, the passing game in terms of his ability to scramble and make first-down yardage on possession-type downs. And he makes good decisions, so all those things are a problem: having to cover receivers longer and having to deal with his ability to run for yardage.
Q: Is he like Ben Roethlisberger in terms of his toughness to bring down?
BB: Yeah, he's a big, strong guy that runs out of a lot of arm tackles and that type of thing. He's a lot faster than Roethlisberger, so he's much more of a threat to gain more yardage and gain it quicker. But, yeah, similar. Roethlisberger is, that guy is really hard to tackle. He's a really strong guy in the pocket. So is Luck, but they're both a problem.
Q: Has Indianapolis incorporated more zone-read and straight running plays with the quarterback, especially in the red area? It seems like he did the same kind of thing against Cleveland, as the play you referenced that was called back.
BB: Yeah, he's done it. We've definitely seen the play before from them. I wouldn't say that's a main part of their offense, like we saw from Miami, for example. It's something they do, but it's not something you're going to see 20 times a game, like other teams in the league do it like that, or more.
Q: The Colts are expected to have the same offensive line combination for the third straight game, the first time that's happened since the first three weeks of the season. As productive as they've been all season, how impressed are you with the way this combination has protected Luck?
BB: Yeah, well I mean they've done a good job. I think a lot of that is the function of the game: the way they play the game, the way they do it. They run the ball, they stay out of long-yardage, they get better production out of the running game, more play-action, those kind of things. That's all part of it too. When they've had to pass block then they've done a good job of that.Q: After watching the Colts-Broncos game, it seemed like Vontae Davis had another good game. Is there anything in particular about his game that makes it difficult to defeat him in coverage?
BB: Well, yeah, Davis is a good player. [He was] a high draft pick by Miami, a guy we've seen quite a bit of. He's got good length, he can run, he's got good toughness, tackles well. For a corner, he's got a physical style of play. I think he's pretty good at everything. He's good. He can force the run, can tackle, can run and play physical with the big receivers and the deep balls and has good quickness to match intermediate and underneath routes and tackles well. Again, there's not a lot of yardage after the catch. He does a good job for them. Really both their corners are bigger guys – [Greg] Toler too. They've got good size and good length out there. They mix in some press coverage and some Cover 2 where they roll up on the receivers. They do other things too; they're multiple defensively. You have to be ready for them in different spots. But they have a presence on the perimeter.
Q: Andrew Luck has more passing yardage in his first five postseason games than anyone else in history. Has he elevated his game in the playoffs or is it just a continuation of his game?
BB: Look, he's passed for a lot of yards in a lot of games. The guy is a really good quarterback. He can do everything that a top quarterback needs to do. He's got a great arm, throws the ball deep, reads coverages well, can make the intermediate throws. He has a nice touch on some of the shorter passes and to the backs and things like that, screens and all those kind of plays. He's mobile. He can run, he can stand in the pocket and shrug off tacklers. He's got good poise, good vision, handles the team well. He's a smart player in terms of game management and situational football. So I'd say all of those things are strengths. They're all assets. He does a good job of al lo fit. There are a lot of things about his game that are very good and hard to defend.