Over the first nine games of the season, the first overall pick in the draft has gotten off to an impressive start, going 208-for-362 (a 58 percent completion percentage) with 2,631 passing yards, 10 touchdowns and nine interceptions. On a conference call Tuesday, Belichick said there wasn’t much point to them taking a long look at him through the pre-draft process, but did say that he’s been impressive throughout the early stages of his professional career.
“Our scouting staff scouted him, but I personally didn’t do a lot of work on Luck,” Belichick said. “We weren’t going to draft a quarterback in the first round and there was no chance he was going to be anywhere close to where our draft position was going to be. That wasn’t a guy that I spent a lot of time studying other than looking at some of their other players and of course from the PAC [Pacific Athletic Conference], watching him against some of the defensive players that Stanford played.
“I think the things that we knew about him coming out have certainly played out so far in his rookie season — big kid, good arm, [can] make all the throws, very athletic, good movement in the pocket, smart, handles the offense well,” Belichick added. “They do a lot of checking and changing plays and things like that and you can see him handling the offensive team and those situations as well as end of the game-type situations where he has to make good situational plays and decisions. He’s done a good job of all of those things.”
The move from Peyton Manning  to Luck is just one of several new things about the Colts. New head coach Chuck Pagano has instituted a defensive game scheme that bears a passing resemblance to what the Ravens run in Baltimore. (Pagano spent the previous four seasons with the Ravens, and served as Baltimore’s defensive coordinator last year.)
“I’d say it’s quite a bit different than what they’d been playing the last decade,” Belichick said of the new-look Indy defense. “Similar to the Baltimore system with kind of a 3-4 base, but I think Baltimore has [Terrell] Suggs  and Indianapolis has [Dwight] Freeney  — those guys are linebackers but they’re really not linebackers. Of course, when they get into their sub defenses, all the outside guys become defensive ends so it’s back to [Robert] Mathis  and Freeney on the edges and all that.
“They do a lot of the Baltimore things: combinations of man and zone and pressure and as I said, base it out of a 3-4 look but it’s really not a true 3-4, like Pittsburgh and some teams like that play it. Chuck brought [Tom] Zbikowski with him so I’m sure that helps some of the adjustments and familiarity with their defensive scheme, what they did in Baltimore. Similar to when Rex [Ryan ] brought [Jim] Leonhard with him to the Jets.”
Here are some more highlights of Belichick’s Tuesday afternoon Q&A with the media:
Do you have a personal relationship with Chuck Pagano at all, just coaching against him throughout the years?
“No, not a real close one.”
I was not sure if you touched base since he has been sick or had a chance to speak with him at all.
“I haven’t, no.”
Justin Francis  and Brandon Deaderick have been getting more playing time recently. Is that a result of good practices or what has allowed them to get on the field?
“At defensive end, Trevor Scott  has been out for a couple weeks here and with Jermaine [Cunningham ] playing inside that opened up a little bit of an opportunity there. Deaderick has played for us for three years, I don’t think that’s really anything unusual there with him. I would say there’s been a little bit of an opportunity at end with the way that the last couple games have gone and with Trevor’s injury.”
Yesterday you mentioned that tackling was one of the fundamental things that could be improved from Sunday. Do you think that coming off the Bye Week hurt because it takes guys out of those reps?
“I don’t have any excuses for it; we just have to do a better job of coaching it, have to do a better job of executing it. As I said, Buffalo has a lot of good skill players and their guys are hard to tackle. But we’re going to see that every week; every team is going to have players that are hard to tackle. That’s what NFL offensive players are, that’s why they’re in the NFL. We just fundamentally have to do a better job at that and coach it better and hopefully we’ll be able to do that this week.”
How has Ryan Mallett  looked in practice? How has he been progressing?
“I think he’s been able to, first of all relative to last year, he’s taken all of the scout team reps that last year he was basically splitting with Brian Hoyer . So, that has given him a lot more opportunity there to take snaps and also to have command of that group and run that offense on a weekly basis and the other guys that are used there. On the opportunities that he’s had to work with the regular offense and again, certainly those have been more frequent too because of his role, when he’s taken plays in there for Tom [Brady ] that it’s just given him more experience and more opportunity to run our plays so he’s not always just running the other team’s plays which is the way it was last year. At least this year he’s getting more plays on the scout team and also plays with our offense. I think all those things have helped him. He’s been out there every day, he’s working hard. I guess fortunately for us he hasn’t had to play but I’m confident that if he had to, he’s taken the steps he needs to be ready to go.”