INDIANAPOLIS – On Tuesday, the Patriots coaching staff met with the media and shared their thoughts on the Colts.
Wednesday, future Hall of Fame quarterback Tom Brady joined Bill Belichick in meeting with the media.
What were some of their thoughts on the Colts?
PATRIOTS HEAD COACH BILL BELICHICKQ: What are your thoughts on the Colts in terms of the challenges they present?
BB: Good. Obviously, they won their last three games, two without [Andrew] Luck. Good run defense, good specialists, explosive offense, so we've got a lot to get ready for.
Q: Has their run defense improved significantly since last season?
BB: Well, I mean, they're leading the league in negative plays against the run. They've done a good job.
Q: What have their rookies on the defensive front, David Parry and Henry Anderson, done to help their overall defense?
BB: Parry plays primarily on the nose, and Anderson primarily plays three-technique, also plays some on the tackle. Anderson is really long – I think six-five – good playing strength, tough guy. Parry is the nose tackle, is really stout inside and has good playing strength.
Q: Have those guys changed what they do defensively or is it a similar scheme to what you saw last year?
BB: I wouldn't say there have been a lot of changes in their scheme.
Q: Do you expect the Colts to adapt more of the Matt Hasselbeck style of offense moving forward, regardless of who is playing quarterback, to protect whoever is in there?
BB: Yeah, well, we don't have any control over that. We just have to defend whatever they do, so we'll prepare for the things that they have done, what we think they will do, and whatever they decide to do, they decide to do.
Q: How has their game plan changed with Matt Hasselbeck at quarterback as opposed to Andrew Luck?
BB: Well, I'd say they're a little bit of a game plan team anyways. They don't always do the same thing every week. It depends on what the defense does or where they feel their matchups are. Some of that changes a little bit from game to game, so I'm sure they'll have whatever they think is best against us, I'm sure that's what they'll do against us.
Q: I know you can't concern yourself with the mentality of Patriots fans, but has anyone pulled you aside at the grocery store and urged you to kick Indy's butt?
BB: I haven't been to the grocery store in a couple years.
Q: Are you hearing from friends, family, neighbors?
BB: Have I heard from my family and friends? Yeah, sure.
Q: I think you know what I mean.
BB: I mean, look, it's the same questions every week. We're getting ready to play a game on Sunday. We're going to do the best we can to prepare for it and be ready to go and perform well on Sunday night. That's what we do.
Q: How has Frank Gore revitalized their running game?
BB: He's done a good job. He runs hard. He's got good vision, obviously good playing strength, hard guy to tackle. It seems like they've got their offensive line more intact now than they were earlier in the year with [Hugh] Thornton and [Jack] Mewhort in there at guards. So, they've got a good inside. They've gotten good blocking on the inside as well as the tackle, and of course tight end with [Dwayne] Allen. He does a real good job out there, with [Jack] Doyle and [Coby] Fleener, too. You need more than one guy to run the ball, but they've got a good back, they've got a good line, they've got good tight ends, and they scheme it up differently from week to week depending on what they think they can do best against your team, so we've got to be ready for all those things.
Q: Are they more of a ball control team this year?
BB: I don't know. They led the league in time of possession last year. I don't think they're up there quite that high this year, but they're going to run it, they're going to throw it, they're balanced – they do a good job in all phases of the game. They're explosive offensively and they can grind it out.
Q: Are you a little surprised at their slow start coming out of the gates?
BB: We're really not worried about anything except this game.
Q: What is it about T.Y. Hilton's game that makes him a challenge to defend?
BB: He hits you at all three levels of the defense. He's a deep threat, he runs great intermediate routes and he's very dynamic with the ball in his hand, so underneath routes, catch-and-run plays. That's really true of all those guys though – [Donte] Moncrief, [Phillip] Dorsett, [Andre] Johnson – they're all very explosive. Fleener is another guy who can attack all three levels of the field, so it's overall a hard group to defend. But Hilton is definitely a problem, no matter what he does. It's not just one thing you've got to stop with him. He's just as dangerous on the deep balls as he is on the comebacks, in cuts, crossing routes, over routes, as he is on slip screens and slants that he can break a tackle and take those out of there, too. They move him around. Sometimes he's in the slot. Usually he's outside, but they do play him in the slot, so it's a little bit of a challenge to find him. You don't know exactly where he's going to be. They do that with all those guys, but again that's part of the game plan element that they have in their offense.
Q: How vital is it for you guys to shut down T.Y. Hilton, and can you expect to do that on Sunday?
BB: The Colts have a lot of weapons offensively. There are a lot of guys you've got to worry about – [Andrew] Luck, [Coby] Fleener, [Dwayne] Allen, [Frank] Gore, Hilton, [Phillip] Dorsett, [Donte] Moncrief, [Andre] Johnson. Put them all in there. There's not any one guy you've got to stop. You've got to stop all of them. That's a challenge. If you just take one guy away, there are too many other guys that will kill you. You've got to do a good job all the way across the board.
Q: Why do you think you've been able to force Andrew Luck into so many mistakes in past games?
BB: I don't know, but I don't think it really matters. That's all in the past. This game is all about this week and this week's matchup. I don't think it really matters what happened some other year or some other game. All we really care about is getting ready to go this week and finding a way to be competitive and win.
Q: What if anything have you told your team about this week, with so much going on outside of the game itself?
BB: There are always a lot of things on the outside. We just try to focus on what we need to do to coach and play well on Sunday night. That's really what our job is.
Q: Is the situation surrounding the AFC Championship Game something you haven't had to address with your team?
BB: Look, I talk to our team every day, and the things that I talk to the team about I think are team related.
Q: What has Frank Gore added to the team this year from your perspective?
BB: Frank is a great player. He's an excellent runner, really good with the ball in his hands. He attacks the defense on a lot of different levels. He can go outside, inside, breaks a lot of tackles. He's just a good football player. Any time he has the ball he's dangerous. You've got to be aware of him at all times.
Q: Is the Colts defense a lot different this year? The scheme is not different, but there are some different personnel. What stands out to you?
BB: Pretty much what you just said. There are some different people in there. Again, like every team in the league, they've added people to their team. There are guys that are new to the team, and there are guys that were there last year that aren't there this year. That's the way it is with every team in the league. There are some different players on defense. They're playing well, so it will be a big challenge for us to try to move the ball.
Q: You and the Colts had some issues following the AFC Championship Game. Is this week's matchup any different than usual given that backdrop?
BB: We're just going to try to do our best to go out there and prepare and play well Sunday night.
PATRIOTS QUARTERBACK TOM BRADYQ: Is there any extra motivation this week?
TB: I'm always pretty motivated. It'll be an exciting game. I know they've got a good team. They've won three straight. They made some changes this offseason, so they're a very confident team. So it's going to take a great effort to beat them, so we'll work hard at practice today, over the next few days, hopefully get us prepared, and then go out and try to beat a good team on the road on Sunday night.
Q: Are there some games where it's harder to maintain focus than other games?
TB: Well, I try certainly, to be a professional with how I approach every week. I said yesterday, you know, you really put a lot into it every week no matter who you're playing because all these games are important. All of them are hard to win. All of them have good players. They're all pros. They've got pro coaches, and they've got good schemes. So you really put a lot into every week, and if you don't, then you don't have much opportunity to win. So I think you just try to approach each week as a professional. You give it your all. You do the best you can do, and hopefully it leads to positive outcomes when it matters, which is on game day.
Q: How could there not be extra incentive to beat this particular team?
TB: Well, like I said, I'm always pretty motivated regardless of the opponent, regardless of the team or the week, whether it's a preseason game, whether it's a regular season game. They're all important because there are so few of those where you get an opportunity in your life, so I don't take it for granted. I think it's exciting to go out there and do something that I love to do, to go out there and do it with teammates who I love to play with. We all put a lot of effort in, the coaches, players, so it's another opportunity for us to go out there and see if we can be a good football team.
Q: Isn't there any human part of you that wants it a little extra this week?
TB: I'm a human. There's no doubt. I'm definitely human.
Q: Are there times when you get too motivated like for playoff games or games like this week or Monday night games?
TB: Well, they're all important, so I think, like I said, you just max out every week. And every week is a little different. You have different human emotions that you go through. And there are, you know, some days you just don't feel as good, I don't know, for one reason or another. There are some game days where I'm like, "Man, I feel amazing." There are other ones where you're trying to get yourself feeling at your peak level, so I don't know. I don't think that's really been a ... How you get to that level where you're feeling great every week, that's what you try to do. Like I said, you max out your effort. Coach [Belichick] always talks about all the preparation. The entire week comes down to three hours on Sunday, so it's how do you ramp yourself up for that three hour window where it all matters, where you've got to be at your best. So that's what we'll try to do this week.
Q: Do you get a sense that this game maybe means more to the fans?
TB: I'm not sure. As a player, I think you're just ... Like I said, they're a very good team, and it's a challenge to play them on the road. We've been there a few times. They've got a good team. They've won three straight, so it will be a tough game. And hopefully, we're at our best.