Five takeaways from the Tuesday conference calls with Bill Belichick, Bill O’Brien and Nick Caserio
|12.13.11 at 4:38 pm ET|
Five takeaways from the Tuesday afternoon conference calls with Patriots coach Bill Belichick, offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien and director of player personnel Nick Caserio:
1. Both Belichick and Caserio talked about their predraft experiences/thoughts on Denver quarterback Tim Tebow. Belichick and Tebow had a well-documented dinner together in the North End as part of Tebow’s predraft get-together with the Patriots.
“We brought Tim in and spent a whole day with him here, in addition to our other interactions with him,” recalled Belichick. “He’s an impressive young man. He had great success in college. I think all his attributes are pretty well documented. He’s a strong guy, smart, works hard, a great leader, great football character. He made a lot of big plays for Florida and won two national championships.”
“I think any meeting you have with a draft prospect, you’re just trying to get as much information as you possibly you can,” Caserio said. “You look at the body of the work on the field, you look at their production, then spend some time with them off the field, just go through and talk through some different things, football related. Smart guy, works hard, was a productive player in Florida. I’d say it was a lot like most of the meetings that we have with a lot of the players when they come out.”
2. Traditionally, either backup quarterback Brian Hoyer or No. 3 signal-caller Ryan Mallett will play the role of scout team QB in helping the defense prepare for the opposing quarterback that week. However, because Tebow has such a unique skill set, the Patriots may look elsewhere when trying to find a scout team quarterback this week in practice.
“That’s something we definitely have to talk about,” Belichick said. “The most important thing for our defense is to get a good look at as close to what the actual plays are going to look like as we can replicate them. However we do that, whichever players we use to try to get that look – we’ll definitely talk about that and try to do it in the way that gives the defense the best look at it.”
3. O’Brien talked about his sideline flap with quarterback Tom Brady (check that out here). However, he also hit on a number of other topics, including the work of rookie offensive tackle Nate Solder, who has been asked to do more than your average rookie offensive lineman this season, including occasionally lining up as a tight end.
“You can’t say enough about what Nate has done as a rookie,” O’Brien said. “Again, being coached by Dante [Scarnecchia] is a big deal too because he came in and was able to be under Dante’s guidance right away as a rookie. That’s really important because we do put a lot on his plate and we ask him to know different parts of the game plan obviously. He’s done a good job. He fits right into that group of the veterans that we have up there. Another guy is Brian Waters, who came in this year, new to the system and has had a really good year and obviously our veteran players that have been here for a while. It’s a good, solid group of guys and Nate has done an excellent job of coming in here and contributing.”
4. Even setting aside Tebow’s ability to run the ball, the Broncos remain the best team in the league when it comes to toting the rock. Denver averages 156.2 yards per game on the ground (the best average in the league), thanks in large part to the work of Tebow (94 carries, 517 yards, 5.5 yards per carry), Willis McGahee (199 carries, 920 yards, 4.6 yards per carry) and Lance Ball (72 carries, 302 yards, 4.2 yards per carry average). Belichick talked about what makes the Broncos so successful in the running game.
“They have a lot of confidence in it,” Belichick replied. “They call them, they don’t get discouraged with it, they hang with it. They try to get it worked out if a play is not going well. They hit you on a lot of different points of attack, different scheme runs. Of course the quarterback has put up quite a few yards himself. Also their option plays, the option, dive option program, that type of thing. There’s a lot of different ways they get that rushing yardage in bursts.
“They really test your defense all the way across the board from the pass rush contain the quarterback standpoint, to playing the normal run-block type of plays to their kind of specialty plays, element of Wildcat, quarterback scrambling, things like that. They get you on a lot of different levels.”
5. Both Von Miller and Elvis Dumervil were also topics of conversation, with O’Brien saying both are “explosive guys that have different rush techniques,” and are a large part of what O’Brien calls a “fast defense.”
“We’re going to have to do a good job, especially early in the game of getting used to the speed of the game as it relates definitely to those two guys and then the rest of the defense too,” O’Brien said of Miller and Dumervil, who have a combined 19 sacks this season. “It’s a real challenge, especially on the road with the crowd noise and all those different things that will go into the game plan.”
When it comes to Miller, even though he was taken second overall by Denver in the draft this past spring, Caserio said the Patriots still did their due diligence in checking him out. In fact, the Patriots had a chance to evaluate him a little closer than other teams because he went up against Solder as a collegian. (Both were in the Big 12 — Solder was at Colorado, while Miller attended Texas A&M.)
“We still evaluated him because you never know how a draft is going to work out,” Caserio said. “Between he and Dumervil, they certainly pose as good a threat as anybody off the edge. Von has done a heck of a job this year. He’s had a lot of production.
“They have a lot of playmakers on the defensive side of the ball. I’d say he’s one of them, between D.J. Williams and Dumervil on the other side who is a problem and then [Brian] Dawkins and Champ Bailey who are experienced guys. [Andre] Goodman has some experience, he’s played a lot of football for them. They’ve incorporated some of the younger players like Chris Harris and Quinton Carter into the mix. They have a lot of good players on defense, there’s no question about it. Their performance is not that surprising when they have that many good players on the field defensively.”
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