INDIANAPOLIS – What does Bill Belichick think of Frank Gore?
What does Patriots defensive coordinator Matt Patricia think of the Colts offense?
How does New England offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels look at the Colts secondary in 2015?
On Tuesday, the Patriots coaching staff met with the media and their thoughts on the Colts are below:
PATRIOTS HEAD COACH BILL BELICHICKQ: How do you think the Colts will play you on defense?
BB: That's a good question. They use some different people. They've been juggling around some guys in the secondary. If you remember last year in our game, they used [Darius] Butler as kind of a three corner, kind of a three-corner defense with one safety. Then they've gotten into some of their nickel looks. This year they've used a little more dime defense with [Clayton] Geathers as the sixth defensive back. I'm sure they have a number of options. We'll just have to be ready and whatever they give us we'll be ready to handle. I'm not really sure which way they'll go. Like I said, they've done some different things between last year and what we've seen this year.
Q: Is there anything the Colts have done differently under Matt Hasselbeck instead of Andrew Luck? Also what have you seen from Frank Gore and Andre Johnson as the season has gone on?
BB: I think that Gore's really looked good. There are a lot of great examples of him running the ball downhill, breaking tackles and getting positive plays. Johnson had a big game last week against Houston, but both those guys, it looks like they are still productive, and we're going to have to deal with the size and physicality and experience of both of them. I don't know. It's always hard to tell what somebody else's game plan is. Something is working and they were getting the ball to Johnson, you keep doing it. How much of that was Hasselbeck related, game plan related, or just how the game unfolded? I'm not sure, but we have to be ready for all of them, and those two guys are certainly two players I personally have a lot of respect for, the kind of careers that they've had, but they're playing very well now and we're going to have to do a good job to control them.
PATRIOTS OFFENSIVE COORDINATOR JOSH McDANIELSQ: The Colts seem to have playmakers in the secondary on defense, but DeAndre Hopkins was able to shake loose against them last week. Is there something about their defensive identity that you notice when you game plan against them?
JM: Well, they're aggressive. They're very active in the front. You're right about the cover people – they've got good cover players. [Vontae] Davis is certainly a good cover player. [Greg] Toler does a nice job. He missed the first few weeks, but he's back now. He does a nice job. [Darius] Butler is competitive in there in the nickel situations. [Dwight] Lowery has really created some turnovers for them, some big plays for them this year back there at safety. And [Mike] Adams has certainly been a productive player and took the ball away from us a couple times last year, too. So, good pass rushers on the edge, added [Trent] Cole, [Robert] Mathis is back – we didn't see those two guys last year. [Erik] Walden is a really difficult guy to handle on the edge in the running game or in pass protection. [Jonathan] Newsome is another guy in his second year now that shows up a bunch in the protection when you're watching them rush the passer. They've got an entirely new front on the defensive line, so a couple rookies in there that are doing a nice job for them. Kendall Langford, they've added him, too. Good blend of veteran experience, some younger players, they've added some pass rushers, a guy that's made some plays for them at safety in Lowery. Their corners have always been very good. And they've got the two inside linebackers who really run the defense are back and do a great job getting them lined up and they're good blitzers. This is a good group. It's much different than what we've played in the past. We're trying to get familiar with the players and the scheme again and do a good job of studying these guys as we head into the week and start practicing tomorrow.
PATRIOTS DEFENSIVE COORDINATOR MATT PATRICIAQ: What's the scouting report on the Colts offense?
MP: Alright, here we go. I think you take a look at Indianapolis, obviously a very, very explosive team, would be a great word to use to describe this offense – explosive skill players at the wide receiver position, dynamic players at the tight end position and then obviously with the addition of Frank Gore, I think their running game has really stepped up to another level. They're top in the league in big-play runs. They're top in the league in big-play passes. So, it's really allowed them to open up the complementary offense that they want to run. So, they run the ball really well. You get guys down in the box to try and stop the run, and then they can throw it up over your head and get the big plays downfield. If you stay deep downfield so they can't throw up the big plays, and then they have the ability to hand the ball off and obviously then Gore, who's doing a great job, looks really, really good. He's got great vision, great ability to move and jump and cut and see the plays develop. A very patient runner – he's got enough speed to get to the edge and turn those into big plays. So, he's doing an excellent job in the run game. I think it's really opening up everything else. The tight end position is another strength for them. They have some matchup problems that they create with their tight ends. All three of them will be out there – [Coby] Fleener, [Dwayne] Allen and [Jack] Doyle. You'll see them in some different spots. Fleener, you know, big target, huge catch radius, a guy who can really push vertical down the field. [He's] another one of their big play guys who can get vertical. And then Allen who's a really, just a good tight end, a strong tight end in both the run and the pass game, another guy who has some vertical speed and can really push downfield also, does a good job of blocking, so you can see where they can use him in the run game. And then Doyle who will come in, he's another big-bodied guy. He'll line up in multiple different spots. Put him in the backfield. Put him on the edge. He can block the edge. He can block from the backfield. He can catch the ball from the backfield, especially when it's in certain situations, so you'll see that also. And then obviously just tremendous speed at the wide receiver position, guys who can just flat out fly and push vertical downfield for the deep-ball throws, but also guys who have great catch-and-run ability. I think they're complemented with Andre Johnson, his ability now as just a big wide receiver who does a great job of separating at the top of routes, finding open spaces in the zones, really has a deep-threat ability and a possession-type of ability. So, they certainly have a complement of weapons on offense, and obviously the quarterback play here, [Matt] Hasselbeck has stepped in and done a great job as far as understanding what they're trying to do and distributing the ball to the players out on the field and protecting the ball. So, they're doing a great job.
Q: How do you define big-play runs and big-play passes? Have the Colts changed what they've done schematically with Gore and Johnson?
MP: Well, I think, like I was mentioning, they're the tops in the league, one of the top teams in the league, in both those categories. I think you just watch the film, and you can see the run plays that they're able to get. And again, whether it's [Josh] Robinson or Gore, those guys are doing a great job of taking advantage of the opportunities in the run game to get those long runs and get through the first and second level and try to break into the secondary. So, you can really take a look at that. And then the explosive plays in the passing game, whether it's just getting the ball downfield, but there's also the catch-and-run element where they break a lot of tackles and they make a lot of people miss in space. You can certainly see that on film, too, so really good production with the ball in their hands, whether it's getting it downfield or catch-and-run-type of plays. That's where they really, you can see a lot of production from their offense. Again, with Gore and Johnson, I think their roles, whatever it is week-in, week-out, it's going to be whatever their particular game plan approach is that week, and whatever they decide to attack their opponent with, I think those guys are just kind of doing a great job of fitting in the system and doing what they're asked to do, and whether that's in the passing game or the running game, I think those guys have acclimated to the system very well and have been productive players for them.
Q: Do you have plans for how you will approach each quarterback depending on who plays?
MP: Well, yeah. Obviously, you've got to be ready for both guys. I think Andrew Luck is appearing to be moving in the right direction. We'll find out on Sunday, but extremely great quarterback. [He] provides a whole level of depth to their offense with his mobility, his arm strength, his ... He's a great quarterback in the NFL, so certainly somebody who brings a huge element of challenge and competition. But really, I think Hasselbeck has done a phenomenal job of coming in and obviously putting some good games together here and running this offense. And I don't think they've missed a beat. I think they're really right on track, so I think both quarterbacks are excellent. I think we've got to be ready for both, and we'll find out on Sunday who's out there.