It Is What It Is
NEED TO KNOW
Follow WEEI.com football writer Christopher Price at twitter.com/cpriceNFL. In addition, get the latest WEEI.com updates at twitter.com/WEEI.
A WEEI.com Patriots Blog
WEEI.com Blog Network

Bill Belichick calls Tampa Bay Buccaneers ‘one of the most explosive teams in the league’

09.18.13 at 12:18 pm ET
By

FOXBORO — The Tampa Bay Buccaneers may have scored just 33 points in their first two games and lost both of them in low-scoring affairs but that doesn’t mean Bill Belichick doesn’t think they’re capable of the big play.

As a matter of fact, just the opposite.

Belichick considers the Bucs big playmakers on both sides of the ball. Last week, linebacker Mason Foster returned a Drew Brees interception 85 yards for a touchdown in the fourth quarter that put the Bucs on top, 14-13, only to lose the game on a last-second field from Garrett Hartley.

“As we’€™ve been looking at Tampa, obviously we’€™ve seen a lot of them from the offseason and then in training camp, but just really going back and looking at their games from last year, looking at the games from this year, this is one of the most explosive teams in the league,” Belichick said at his Wednesday morning press conference. “This is a big challenge for us. Defensively, they’€™re obviously very­­ good; creating negative plays, taking the ball away, the interception return against New Orleans, the strip-sack they had called back, another strip-sack they had against the Jets, had the ball on the five-yard line. They can score on defense. They create a lot of negative plays. Offensively, they’€™re one of the most explosive teams in the league.

“They led the league last year in big plays over 40 yards. They had another long pass last week against New Orleans called back, a 75 yarder. But the running back is a big play guy, the receivers are big play receivers, [Mike] Williams and of course [Vincent] Jackson. [Josh] Freeman has a great arm, great athlete. They’€™re explosive in the kicking game; they led the league in blocked punts. They’€™re a team that covers well, that creates good field position. They’€™re a tough team to get the ball off on, on their kick blocking units and also they’€™re a good return team with [Eric] Page and those guys back there. It’€™s a good, explosive team, a team we really have to be careful of all the little things because it can lead to big things and those big things can lead to big plays and nobody makes more of them than these guys do. It will be a big challenge of us this week getting ready for them.”

Offensively, there’s quarterback Josh Freeman and big-play receiver Vincent Jackson, who runs most of routes from the slot.

“They move him,” Belichick said of Jackson. “You know, they’€™ve run a lot of three receiver sets and he’€™s normally in the slot but not always. In their two receiver sets, he could be either on the weak side or on the strong side. They move him around. Finding him is definitely an issue because he’€™s not always in the same spot, but wherever he is, you better be aware of him.

“I think it’€™s just a different type of player. I think there are two kinds of slot receivers. There are the quicker, more lateral, more explosive, quick guys and then there’€™s the bigger, more vertical guy. He has elements of both but he’€™s certainly a big, vertical receiver. He’€™s a tough guy to match up with for some of the slot corners. But they move him around. They’€™ll play him on the perimeter in some multiple receiver sets and of course he’€™s out there in their two receiver sets. He’€™s a good player.”

As for Freeman, who is just 24-of-53 for 335 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions in two losses, Belichick is very aware of his arm strength.

“I see a guy that can, like I said, can make all the throws,” Belichick said. “He can throw the deep ball, he can throw sideline routes. Again, I thought that last drive against New Orleans, they have a third-and-10, third-and-8, whatever it was, he made big throws in critical situations to move the team down, to move up most of the clock there before they had that last field goal. Same thing against the Jets, [he] put them back in field goal position to go ahead in that game with whatever it was, 30 seconds to go in the game or whatever it was. He can scramble, he does a good job on bootleg passes on the run, throws well in the pocket, utilizes all his receivers, the outside receivers, tight ends, backs. I think he’€™s got plenty of skill.

Here is the rest of Belichick press conference from Wednesday:

Q: Adrian Clayborn, is he mostly going to be on the defensive right side or do they flip him?

BB: They flip him, yeah, they flip him. [Daniel] Te’€™o-Nesheim and Clayborn flip and the tackles flip. But they play a lot of people. They play all their defensive linemen, they play four tackles and it looks like four ends too. But yeah, they flip by formation and in sub then not so much in sub but in their regular defense, it’€™s usually by formation. So you get a shot at everybody.

Q: What have you seen from Darrelle Revis on film that leads you to believe he’€™s pretty much all the way back?

BB: Just in the Jet game, he played about two-thirds of the plays. They start him mostly on our left side in regular and then moved him to the right side in sub. Then this past week, he played almost all the plays except for I think a couple goal-line plays, but he had 70-some plays, whatever it was. Obviously, New Orleans has a good passing attack. He was matched up against a lot of different receivers in that game. Again, you see Tampa playing all the things that they play: they play man, they play zone, they blitz, they play quarters coverage. You see him playing a lot of different coverages and different techniques against different receivers. He was out there for almost every snap against New Orleans. They tested him on several plays, they tested him on flea flicker, double moves, slant routes on third down, all those things. I thought he played very well.

Q: Beyond technique, the defensive line seems really fast. How does that make things challenging for you?

BB: They’€™re fast and they’€™re very quick. They’€™re very explosive, no question, yeah. It’€™s harder to hit a moving target, let’€™s put it that way. They’€™re very quick, they get into gaps, they pursue well, they make a lot of plays from the backside. [Akeem] Spence is a strong player, [Gerald] McCoy is strong and very quick, [Adrian] Clayborn is an explosive guy, strong, [Daniel] Te’€™o-Nesheim and then all the other guys they bring in there ‘€“ [Gary] Gibson, of course Trevor Scott. They’€™ve got good depth there and they play hard and they play well, play with good technique, good pad level, good leverage. Their linebackers are fast too: Dekoda Watson and [Lavonte] David and of course [Mason] Foster. Those guys are all very active. They pursue well. Their safeties are like linebackers. They’€™re fast and they close down those spaces. I think that’€™s what you see. You see an opening it looks like the back is going to gain some yards and all the sudden it’€™s second-and-8. Then there are other plays and they knife into the backfield and its second-and-13. Those holes don’€™t stay open very long. They’€™re very well coached, very well disciplined and they have a good scheme. They’€™re very well coordinated so you feel like you’€™re running away from one guy and you’€™re running into another guy. You go the other way and it’€™s reverse. They do a real good job.

Q: What did you like from what you saw from Chandler Jones when he moved inside in the Jets game?

BB: He had some production in there. We’€™ve done that. He’€™s done that in training camp and in both games. He’€™s a versatile player. We’€™ve seen him stand up, get down, play on a tight end, play on a tackle, play on a guard. He’€™s a versatile player that is long, he’€™s got good quickness and he uses his hands well.

Q: Is that an indication that he’€™s gotten stronger this year to handle being able to play over the tackle? Is that a requirement?

BB: I mean, it certainly helps- the stronger the better, the faster the better, the quicker the better. Those things are all better but he worked hard in the offseason. He had a good offseason program. I think he did gain some playing strength. I think he’€™s got good, natural strength. Guys like him that have real long arms are never going to win the bench press competition, but they play with good leverage and their strength is their length. That’€™s different than strength being just weight room strength, he has great leverage strength. He uses that to his advantage and that helps him even though he gets out-weighed. His length helps him play against some of those bigger guys, whether they’€™re guards or tackles.

Q: Did the joint practices provide any extra insight for you guys or not really?

BB: I’€™d say not a lot. Of course we’€™ve been on the field with them so we have a little more familiarity but again, at that point in time, we’€™ve got 90 people in camp, we’€™re trying to run our plays. They’€™ve got 90 people in camp, they’€™re trying to run their plays and evaluate who can do what and just have a good, competitive practice out there. It’€™s not about scheme and our game planning and trying to get this on this guy or that on that guy. We don’€™t even know what guys going to be in there. Now it’€™s a totally different matchup and we have a very specific game plan for them. I’€™m sure they have a very specific game plan for us and that’€™s way, way different from what it was in training camp practices where everybody is, you’€™re in camp a couple weeks, everybody is kind of getting their techniques down, getting their training camp legs under them, trying to get ready for the season. This is a much more competitive situation all the way around with very specific competitions involved and I think it’€™s a much broader, general situation in training camp. Although that was very good, don’€™t get me wrong. At that point in time it was great, it helped our team a lot. But I don’€™t think this really has too much to do with that.

Q: How do you view your offense’€™s performance in the red zone through two games relative to the challenge of facing Tampa which defensively has been very good in the red zone? We saw that last week against the Saints.

BB: Yeah, no question, the Saints were 0-for-four in the red area. They do a great job down there and we have to do better on both sides of the ball in the red area, it’€™s a simple as that. We get our opportunities down there at the goal-line, we have to get the ball in the end zone and we have to hold them to some field goal opportunities. Our red area offense and defense certainly needs work, needs to be better.

Q: You’€™ve had basically 10 days between games. How much time was spent correcting things from the previous game versus preparing for Tampa Bay?

BB: We do the same thing we normally do the day after the game. On Friday, we corrected the mistakes from the Thursday game. When players came back in on Monday, we got a head start on Tampa. Today is really, this is really our preparation week. We got a little bit of a head start on Monday but this Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, this is really our ‘€“ it’€™s 100 percent of our preparation most weeks and I’€™d say this week it’€™s probably 90 to 95 percent. Monday was an introduction. We were able to get back out on the field and get a few little things started on. But this is the heart of, is today and tomorrow and finish up on Friday and Saturday.

Q: Can you talk a little bit about Sebastian Vollmer‘€™s development and start to the season?

BB: Sebastian had a good training camp; he’€™s been out there every day. He’€™s worked hard; he’€™s in good physical condition. He’€™s certainly ahead of where he was last year. He’€™s had a good career. He started as a rookie and he’€™s been a solid player for us since he came to us. He’€™s a smart guy that works hard. He’€™s a good technique player. He plays against a lot of good people out there at defensive end and outside linebacker and he’€™ll see them again this week. He’€™s always met those challenges with his toughness, his preparation. He’€™s a good player.

Q: They have Dashon Goldson who could play in the game if his suspension is overturned. What do you anticipate from the trickledown effect if he’€™s not there? Does Ahmad Black come in?

BB: Well, Black’€™s been their third safety. I don’€™t know what they’€™re doing, you’€™d have to ask them. He’€™s been their third safety in sub situations when they move [Mark] Barron down. It’€™s not different than a player that’€™s questionable for the game. If they’€™re there, they’€™re there. If they’€™re not, they’€™re not. We have to prepare for them and we have to prepare for whoever the next person is. We got through that every week. We prepare for everybody. You know as well as I do, the first play of the game, the guy who’€™s in there could be out, it could be the next guy. We have to be ready for everybody and then whoever it is, that’€™s who we compete against. We’€™ll see what happens on that one but we’€™re preparing for everybody at this point.

Read More: Bill Belichick, Josh Freeman, New England Patriots, nfl
Latest on Twitter

2014 PATRIOTS DRAFT PICKS

2014 NFL DRAFT

Patriots Headlines
NFL Headlines
Tips & Feedback

Verify