Bruce Arians: ‘You really can’t prepare’ for what Patriots secondary will be
|11.15.12 at 11:37 am ET|
FOXBORO — The working assumption this season has been that any team taking on the Patriots will attack the secondary by all means necessary.
And for the most part, that’s been a pretty good idea. The Seahawks and Ravens won games because of it. The Jets and Bills should have.
But for interim head coach Bruce Arians and the Colts, looks can be deceiving. Especially when the personnel could change drastically with an impact player like Aqib Talib.
“Yeah, we played him [in] Tampa Bay two years ago,” Arians said of his 2010 experience as the Steelers offensive coordinator. “I know how talented he is and he’s got a good passion for the game and he’ll be a great addition I think to them.”
Whereas Bill Belichick said Arians has transplanted the Steelers offense to Indianapolis, the same could not be said for Arians and his thoughts on the corner since he has no idea how Belichick plans to use him in the Patriots scheme.
“There’s nothing that I could go show them that I know he is going to do in this defense,” Arians said. “I don’t even know where he’s going to line up. So it would be hard. I think we would just be asking our guys to over-study.
“You don’t know if Patrick [Patrick Chung] is going to play, you don’t know if Aqib is going to play, you just know the coverages and the things that they’ve been doing and then what they’ve done in the past. You try to get your guys ready to play and really concentrate on their own games as much as you do on the opponent’s games. That part of it, until you see who’s active and who’s inactive, you really can’t prepare.”
One player Arians has film of in a Patriots uniform is Devin McCourty, both as a corner and a safety. How much different do the Pats look with McCourty at safety as opposed to corner and how does that alter his preparation heading into the game?
“It really doesn’t,” Arians said. “There’s going to be a blue jersey with whatever number on it playing safety and there’s going to be one playing corner. He is an excellent athlete and when one of your top corners is playing safety you would think there would be a drop off at corner and I think Patrick Chung is an outstanding safety, so there’s a change there. I really couldn’t say either way. Like I said, we’ll get ready for their coverages and wherever they end up lined up and whoever is out there we’ll see at game time and then prepare to attack.”
As for 481 yards the Patriots allowed to the Bills last week? Arians was very tactical in his answer about the weaknesses New England has shown.
“I would throw the statistics out because they’ve got 23 turnovers,” he said. “And when you lead the league in turnover ratio by 16, you’re going to be in first place. They’ve always been a bend-don’t-break group and feasted on turnovers ever since I could remember. There were only a few years when they were totally dominant, but they’ve always been as well coached as anybody in this league. Interceptions, fumbles, kick returns, fake kicks, they’ve got it all and Coach Belichick does as good a job putting his players in position to be successful, offensively and defensively, as anybody that’s ever coached the game.”
Here is the rest of the Q and A this week with Bruce Arians with the New England media:
Q: Will Vontae Davis and Coby Fleener be able to play in Sunday’s game?
BA: They’ll both be out.
Q: Who are the players that you will be looking at to fill some of their roles and responsibilities?
BA: The same guys that have been playing the last couple of weeks. Darius Butler will start at corner instead of Vontae [Davis] and then Weslye Saunders will start at tight end instead of Coby.
Q: What are your thoughts on what former Patriot Darius Butler has been able to bring to your team?
BA: Well, I don’t know if anybody is asking about it, but I’m really pleased that we have him. He’s a play maker and had a great game. He’s obviously the AFC Defensive Player of the Week and it builds great confidence for him going up against the challenge that he has this week in coming up there.
Q: Can you talk about the situation with Head Coach Chuck Pagano and how the team has been able to navigate through such a difficult situation?
BA: Yeah, I think when football teams bond together and put egos aside, some call it chemistry, teams that go to the Super Bowl, honest to God care about each other. Offense, defense, special teams, there are no egos on who’s getting the credit. This team found a purpose – unfortunately because our coach got sick and that’s a shame. He’s fighting for his life and it’s nothing more than asking, ‘How about we go fight for every game and extend this season until he can come back?’ We have a date we’re all hoping that he can lead us down the tunnel on December 30 if all things go well and if not we need to have this season extended until he can do that. I think that each man in the locker room, each coach and everybody in the Colts organization, is striving to do the same thing. When you have everybody on the same page and you take egos out of it, you play your best football.
Q: Shawn Loiseau is a local kid from around here and now he is on your practice squad. Are you familiar enough to give us some feedback on him?
BA: Well, you know, he got here today. That’s about it, that’s all I can tell you [laughs]. I know he’s a high energy guy and loves football and that’s the kind of guy we love to have. He looks the part and I’m anxious to see him in pads – we have a few days left when we can actually put pads on in the NFL –and see how it goes. But we’re very happy to have him with us.
Q: You brought your style, system and scheme from Pittsburgh to Indianapolis. Is it interesting to watch Andrew Luck at the controls with his style of play as opposed to the way Ben Roethlisberger used to run it?
BA: Yeah it is. You try to put those guys in positions where they’re comfortable and match up the things that they like to do each week, without being too predictable. It’s a proven system [and] Andrew has bought in hook, line and sinker. There are certain aspects of the game that he likes better than what Ben liked and then I’ll try to [say], ‘Hey, this works pretty good,’ and pull some tape out and show him the stuff that we like against different teams. It is fun. It’s fun because he’s a very talented, very humble guy and the sky’s the limit how good this guy is going to be. I hope and pray he can do the things that Ben did and win as many games and Super Bowls that he did.
Q: When you have sat down with Andrew Luck over the past couple of weeks to prepare for this game, do you throw on any of Pittsburgh’s old games against New England in order to show him how the Patriots have reacted to your scheme in the past?
BA: Yeah, you always do that when there are common opponents that you might have played last year. You put them in your cut-ups, or you put a game that you played a team before in the cut-ups. The Colts did a great job up there last year and [Quarterbacks Coach] Clyde [Christensen] had some things that he liked that they had done last year that we also can incorporate because they scored some points up there. Everything goes into a game plan. The biggest thing is that he understands it and understands why it’s in there.
Q: You guys have struggled a little bit in the turnover department. Is there anything common with that and does it have to do with having a young team?
BA: Well most of them are on the road. That’s something we’ve talked about: protecting the football on the road and creating more takeaways. Finally against Jacksonville was the first time on the road that we were on the plus end of it: we got three, but we gave it away twice. We need to get three and not give it away any. Obviously the Patriots do the best job in the league of creating fumbles and getting interceptions. We have to come up there and not turn the football over to even have a chance to win.
Q: Are you carrying out Chuck Pagano’s defensive system that he brought from Baltimore, or are you making changes with him not being there?
BA: No, Chuck’s here. He’s on the telephone and texting non-stop. He’s never not here. The only thing is he’s just not in the building. But yeah, it’s his defense and [Defensive Coordinator] Greg [Manusky] ran a very similar one in San Francisco and San Diego, so they’re in constant communication. We streamline [Chuck]; it’s great the technology today. You can Skype and do all of that stuff and streamline the practices. He’ll have the practice all graded by the time we get out of meetings and he’ll be texting Greg or myself and talking. So there is an open line of communication all the time.
Q: Can you talk about how Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis have adapted to their new roles?
BA: Well, we haven’t had them on the field together, except for about fifteen plays all year. So I’m really anxious to find that out. I think Robert played there for awhile when Dwight was down. Dwight has been playing and finally getting healthy. So to have them both out there for the first time – I think this is the first time – and Cory Redding and everybody else on defense other than Vontae [Davis], this will be the first time that we’ve played with our whole defense in awhile. So I’m really looking forward to seeing how we play.
Q: Did you ever think a Raven [Chuck Pagano] and a Steeler [Bruce Arians] could get along so well?
BA: [Laughs] Well we were both Browns for a few years and I’ve known Chuck’s family forever. His brother Johnny [Pagano] and I were together at the Saints and at the Colts, so I’ve known the Paganos for a long [time]. They’re my West Coast family. So I’ve known Chuck for a long time.
Q: Has Andrew Luck exceeded your expectations? Are you impressed with what you have seen out of him?
BA: No. I thought that he would come in and do well. The rest of the rookies on offense have exceeded my expectations. When we played the Dolphins, on the game winning drive we had eight first-year players out there. So if you had told me that I’d say, ‘No way.’ I’d lose all my sleep. But all of the other rookies have followed the pied piper, and that’s Reggie Wayne. He sets the tempo for us offensively and then Andrew is the second guy in line. If he can handle it, then they can handle it and Reggie makes sure that the receiving corps and everybody else is ready to go.
Q: Reggie Wayne was a free agent heading into this season and there was a lot of speculation from the media that he was going to go elsewhere. Was it a surprise when he stayed?
BA: No, I wasn’t because he’s a Colt and he wanted to be a Colt bad. He’s a legend here and he’s going to go into the Hall of Fame. I’m really lucky because I’ve gotten a chance to have my second receiver catch 1,000 passes and maybe get to two induction ceremonies. He always wanted to be here and as soon as Chuck made that call, it was just a matter of, ‘Yeah I’m coming.’ He knew what he was getting into and I think he’s excited more than anybody with the change – he’s a rookie in this offense too –because he sat out on the left side for 10 years and now he’s all over the place, running routes that he’s never run before. So he’s jumped in and he’s really excited about it. You can’t put a quantified value on how much his leadership means to our team.
Q: You guys have had a number of big wins this year, but what would a win against Tom Brady and the Patriots at Gillette Stadium mean to what you guys are trying to accomplish this year?
BA: Well, it would just make us 7-3. It would give us a chance to play a great team on the road in a great environment. We felt like the Miami game was kind of like a playoff game at home for the first time with these young guys and this will be the first time we’ve been in primetime. I was really scared myself when I said, ‘How many guys have never been to New England?’ And it was like, ‘Oh, half the room, OK.’ So yeah it will be huge for us, but it’s just another game. We’ve got a bunch of them left and we want to stay in the hunt.
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