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Bill Belichick says what Peyton Manning is doing with the Broncos looks awfully familiar

10.01.12 at 5:54 pm ET
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When it comes to defending Peyton Manning, Patriots coach Bill Belichick says that it’€™s the same as it ever was.

Belichick said that what Manning is doing with his new team is very similar to what he did for several years with Indianapolis: running an offense that features two tight ends and three wide receivers. That doesn’€™t mean it’€™s any easier to defend.

‘€œHe looks good,’€ Belichick said Monday afternoon when asked about preparing for Manning, who will lead the Broncos into Gillette Stadium on Sunday for a matchup with the Patriots. ‘€œHe does a good job managing that offense: getting the ball to everybody, running it, throwing it inside, throwing it outside. All the things, they have a lot of weapons.

‘€œYou have to be careful about giving him opportunities because he’€™ll usually find them. We have to do a good job of disguising and keeping him off balance and trying to make him figure it out after the snap or as late as possible. You certainly don’€™t want to just show it to him too many times and let him take a run at it.’€

Belichick said that he’€™s not surprised that Manning — who threw for three touchdowns in a Sunday win over the Raiders — was able to pick right up after missing the entire 2011 season because of a neck injury.

‘€œI’€™m not that surprised,’€ Belichick said of Manning, who has eight touchdown passes and 1,162 yards through four games with the Broncos. ‘€œHe’€™s a pretty smart guy, he’€™s got a lot of experience, he’€™s got good skills. There have been a number of other players that have missed a year with an injury, whatever it happened to be, come back the next year and been able to play at a high level. It’€™s about what I would have expected him to be at.

‘€œHe’€™s an impact player for whatever team he’€™s on,’€ Belichick added. ‘€œI’€™m not saying that I’€™m really excited about having to face him again, but you have to play somebody. Everybody is good in this league. Everybody has good skills, good players, good coaches, good teams. It’€™s out of our control, whoever it is, it is. It’€™s [been] great, competitive with Denver and with Peyton and now those two have kind of combined, so I guess that’€™s good. But I can’€™t say this is the quarterback you really want to face. He’€™s pretty good. He does a good job.’€

Here are a few other highlights from Belichick’€™s Q&A with the media Monday afternoon:

Was there a common theme that the defense did yesterday to press the issue and force six turnovers?

‘€œNo, I don’€™t think so. We emphasize it every week. We’€™ve gotten our hands on some balls this year, some we’€™ve turned over, some we haven’€™t. We’€™ve forced a few fumbles. Sometimes we’€™ve recovered them, sometimes we haven’€™t. Those things kind of went right for us. We got two out of three fumbles. We had a strip-sack that we didn’€™t get. I think if you just keep pressuring the ball, hopefully, sooner or later you’€™ll get it out and hopefully sooner or later some of those will come to you. The players have worked hard on that, we’€™re always conscious of trying to put pressure on the ball. Yesterday was a good day for us. We had an interception off a tip, looked like an overthrow and Devin [McCourty] made a couple good plays on the ball. They’€™re all different, there’€™s no common theme.’€

From a coach’€™s perspective, when they are closer to takeaways than giveaways like yesterday’€™s game, is that more promising as opposed to the offense just being sloppy?

‘€œYeah. You have to take advantage of all of them but sure, that’€™s one thing you want your defense to always be attentive to, is not just making the tackle or making the play, but trying to get the ball when they can but making sure you make the play first and then get the ball. You don’€™t want to try to go for the ball and miss it and then give up a touchdown type of thing. It’€™s a calculated risk, we always talk about that. It was good. I think our players were aware of it and they made some good decisions and we got the ball. That was great.’€

Stephen Gostkowski has been historically accurate. Do you look at his struggles yesterday as a blip on the radar considering everything he has done in the past?

‘€œSteve, again, had some real good plays yesterday. Again, that’€™s an operation that involves more than one guy. It’€™s not a pitcher taking the ball on the mound or a golfer teeing a ball up. It’€™s a snap, a hold, a kick ‘€“ a whole process. We’€™ll keep working hard at it. I have a lot of confidence in those players ‘€“ Danny [Aiken], Zoltan [Mesko], Steve. We’€™ve made a lot of them. Unfortunately we’€™ve missed a few, but we’€™ll keep working at it and try to improve it ‘€“ coach it better and execute it better.’€

Can you talk about Stevan Ridley and Brandon Bolden and how it felt to have them both have big games?

‘€œI think Brandon ran well for us in preseason when he had an opportunity. He did well in the kicking game and he did well offensively, both running the ball and catching it. That’€™s kind of how he made the team. He was a productive player in college. But, it’€™s always good to see them do well. Those guys got a lot of help yesterday with the offensive line, the tight ends, the receivers. There were some good holes to run through, some good blocking and they ran hard, got extra yards on their own so a lot of people contributed in the running game. Stevan has done a good job for us too. The big thing for a back is just to be able to get him started and have a chance to use his running skills. When there’€™s a hole, then they have to get through the hole and hopefully make yards on whoever the next level tackler is, the safeties or the corners or whoever it happens to be. That’€™s really where a back does his job, is creating extra yardage on his own. But, the tight ends and the offensive line, sometimes the receivers depending on the play, they have to do enough to get the guy started to give him a chance. Like I said, I think the thing that really matters the most with the backs is how many yards they gain on their own. Any back can really run until the first guy gets to him, that’€™s not really that special, but it’€™s what guys do after they could or should be brought down, whether they can continue to add yards to the play after that. That’€™s the mark really of a good runner, which includes the receivers too. Wes [Welker] did that a couple times, where he caught the pass, broke a tackle, gained some extra yards. Woody [Danny Woodhead] did that on the scramble play for the touchdown. He caught a three, four-yard pass and ended up getting past a couple guys and getting into the end zone. Those plays are, that’€™s where those players skills show up, is when they have the ball and what they’€™re able to do with it on their own without that much blocking.’€

I have a question on one of your favorite topics. Dont’€™a Hightower ‘€“

‘€œInjuries? We’€™ll list him on Wednesday based on what his condition is.’€

What are your thoughts on the first game back with the regular officials?

‘€œWe just really need to focus as a team on doing the best we can do. Whoever else’€™s job it is to do something else, we can’€™t worry about it. We’€™ll just do our job and see if we can do it better.’€

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