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AFC Title Thursday: Quick Hits From Coaches

On the injury report

"Really, on the injury report, everybody practiced full. We had nobody that was limited or did not participate. That's the only change from yesterday."

On the offense staying mostly healthy

"Again, you just hold your breath in this league. When you start the season, really even going through training camp, you sometimes have some sort of injury, some kind of significant injury. But it just comes with the territory. It's part of the game and everybody deals with it."

On how the Patriots' passing game has worked without the tight ends

"It's a little bit different. They've got [WR Julian] Edelman, [WR Danny] Amendola and [RB Shane] Vereen that are kind of their top-three pass catchers. They do a terrific job of moving them around, making you adjust to where they are. They've pretty much had the same passing attack for some time now and they're very, very good at it. Of course, when you've got a guy like [Patriots QB Tom Brady] pulling the trigger, he makes it pretty special."

On what he has admired about Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick

"Just the consistency of that organization. It starts at the top with [Patriots Owner] Robert Kraft and on down. Continuity in this game has historically been pretty productive. Bill has had a great run there. He's been through a number of different assistants but he's maintained a consistency there on the football end of it and done a better job than anybody in the modern era of football." 

On whether he ever thinks back to facing Belichick in Super Bowl XXXVIII

"Yeah. I think we've done battle. I've been in this for a little bit, too—not all as a head coach. But he's a tremendous coach and I have tremendous respect for him."

On Defensive Coordinator Jack Del Rio

"I think this year, fairly unique. Aside from doing a terrific job and to stay here as the defensive coordinator, he stepped in to be the interim head coach for four games in the third quarter of our season. I think it says a lot about him, how he approached that, how he dealt with it, how the players responded to him—the rest of the assistants responded. I think all those things put together, I'd say he's pretty high up on the meter."

On the youth of the Patriots defense

"Bill [Belichick] and their personnel staff obviously have done a good job of scouting. They've got tremendous athleticism. I think youth—it's a young man's game. And it stays that way. They've gotten better. They've gotten game reps that ultimately those are experiences. They've gotten better. They've improved a lot over the season that I've seen. They've got a lot of currency as far as draft picks and those types of things in those players. And they're developing every week."


**On all the talk about the Patriots running game but them being able to throw the ball as well


"Oh of course yeah they can still throw it—[they are] good at it. Play [action] pass shots and some of the quick game they do out of opened up formations. [QB] Tom [Brady] is one of the top quarterbacks in the league so when you have a guy directing it like that obviously you're going to be very good at it, but the thing they really are doing is physically they are getting after people, they're winning the heading battle in the trenches and running the ball right at people with [RB LeGarrette] Blount doing a large portion of the running, but all of their backs are capable. Good group and we're getting geared up for it."

On playing against Brady and what is unique about how he attacks a defense

"I just think he's a good player, prepares hard. They do a nice job with their scheme and he's an accurate passer with the football. [He's a] smart guy, competitive guy and obviously a good player. For us we're preparing ourselves to go out and play good football and that's all that we can control. It's our team against their team and we want to find a way to do enough defensively to give the ball back for our offense and make sure that we put ourselves in a position to win the football game and so right now we understand how big as challenge it is with a really good running game, with a really good quarterback [and] a lot of different weapons that can do things. We're doing all we can to get ourselves prepared to go out and play our best and that's really all that you do."

On how difficult it's been to keep CB Champ Bailey involved with an injury plagued season and finding his role

"I guess I wouldn't characterize it that way. I think he's a consummate pro. He's been strong from start to finish in terms of the way he approaches things. There was a tough stretch where he wasn't available. The doctors didn't give him the green light. He's got the green light now, he's playing and he's a good football player so we're certainly glad we have him."

On where he was when he heard about Head Coach John Fox's health scare and what helped him get through as interim coach

"We were on our bye [week] and obviously I started getting a lot of texts and things like that. Checked on him and it's kind of been talked about a lot, but bottom line is we just tried to stay the course and make sure that when he returned that we'd be in position to try to pursue our dreams which ultimately is to play in the big game and we're one step away from that. Right now, all of my thoughts and all of our work and all of our attention is going towards the New England Patriots and what we have to do to play well."

On some of the problems Patriots RB LeGarrette Blount presents

"[He's a] big physical, player [and a]) downhill runner. That's the big thing he's a powerful back and they're doing a great job opening holes and he's doing a great job hitting them." 

On anticipating the Patriots running the ball

"They've run for 200-plus yards in the last three games so that's definitely some of the tape that's fresh in our minds. They have made a concerted effort to be the more physical team and have done so and so we understand that we can't allow that to happen."


**On anticipating something different from New England Head Coach Bill Belichick this time around


"This game will be different. Some of it will look the same but that's a well-coached group obviously with Coach Belichick. Matt Patricia does a great job as the defensive coordinator. They're going to have something different for us. Some of the stuff that they did last time they'll just do it better. That'll probably their big emphasis, 'Hey we have to play better in certain areas and we have to fix our technique.' It's going to be the same thing for the things that we didn't do as well, we have to do better."

On Executive Vice President of Football Operations John Elway admiring his decision to delay head-coaching interviews

"For me, I just felt like I was all in for what we were doing here. I just didn't want to stand in front of players and say one thing and do something else. So I felt like it was the most important thing for what we needed to do for this team."

On the work that Head Coach John Fox's absence required

"It was the whole group. Players, coaches, support staff—everybody just did their job. They did not do anything over the top. I thought [Defensive Coordinator] Coach [Jack] Del Rio did a fantastic job of doing both roles. I know that couldn't have been easy. Everybody just made sure that we were on our task that we had to do."

On what the Patriots defense is doing differently

"They'll have some different pressures each week. You're going to get something that you haven't prepared for, which is normal around the league. But when they've made mistakes, they'll make sure they don't make them a second time. You have to anticipate that and that's why you have to be on your execution and make sure that you're not making the mistakes. That's just—being as well coached as they are, this time, they'll have less errors."

On what John Fox brings that he missed during his time away

"His energy has always been unbelievable. You could tell how excited he was when he did get back and I think a lot of our guys fed off of that just knowing how much he missed being around this atmosphere. His energy is always just unbelievable. I wish I had a little more pep to my deal sometimes but he really, his energy level is outstanding."

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