Head Coach Jay Gruden
"Injury report: [Bashaud] Breeland was limited with a hamstring. [Jason] Hatcher was limited with his knee. Kory Lichtensteiger did not participate. Anthony McCoy was full. Chris Culliver was limited. DeAngelo Hall was limited. DeSean Jackson, limited. Ryan Kerrigan, limited. Josh LeRibeus was full. Perry Riley, Jr. was full. Keenan Robinson did not participate, shoulder. Chris Thompson was full. Quinton Dunbar did not participate today; he had an illness."
On balancing reps and rest for a player like DE Jason Hatcher:
"I think everybody needs to do the reps but, you know, there are veteran players that are an exception. Jason is one of them. He's played a lot of football. He's a big man. He's got a little soreness when he plays a hard game on Sunday, so he needs a couple more days to recover and some veterans are like that. I think the majority of our guys are doing the best they can to get on the practice field but Hatcher and a couple other veterans might need an extra day."
On LB Keenan Robinson:
"He had some weakness in his shoulder a little bit."
On when that happened:
"I don't know. I think it happened in practice yesterday."
On if he has any concerns that Robinson won't play Sunday:
"I don't think so. I don't know. We'll have to wait and see how much strength he has. He did a little bit yesterday. You know, it's wear-and-tear, rotator cuff-type thing, so we'll have to wait and see how he is tomorrow."
On Patriots QB Tom Brady's sneaks and what makes for a successful quarterback sneak:
"I think the front has a lot to do with it. I think he takes advantage of some fronts when he sees a gap there. I think he'll audible to it or have an alert to it. He does a great job of that. He goes a great job with the snap count as far as getting the ball snapped when the defense is not quite ready. And then having the length and the strength to just move your feet and get the half yard or yard. There's a lot more to it than just ducking your head. He does a great job of following the surge and then getting the yard. We use that every now and then. We haven't had a lot of third-and-shorts. I mean, I've seen him do it on fourth-and-four, third-and-four or five and do it. He uses it as an effective weapon when he feels the time is right."
On finding an offensive balance against a high-scoring team:
"I think every game plan you have to have something a little bit different, but, you know, we've got to try to continue to do what we've been doing and what's Kirk [Cousins] is comfortable with, number one. There's always going to be some new things that you're going to apply to a game plan every week. But, the big thing is you don't want to overwhelm your quarterback and change totally from who you are because of who you're playing. You've got to adjust to what you're doing to who you're playing based on their fronts and coverages. But for the most part, a lot of the concepts we're going to do are things we've been running maybe a little bit different ways. But, there's some merit to maybe adjusting to a team that's as high-scoring as New England."
On if there is higher alert for the Patriots' special teams unit:
"We have to be aware of everything in this football game – special teams, offense and defense. They're obviously very well-coached. They know situations and they are excellent at it in every situation – field goal, punt, punt return, kickoff. You have to be aware of everything. On defense, they can give you multiple fronts, multiple looks, multiple blitzes, multiple coverages. Obviously on offense, multiple sets – three-receiver sets, four-receiver sets, empty, three tight ends, one back. They do it all. So, they're very effective. Like I said last week, this is going to be our most important week of preparation in all three phases. So, we have to be on top of what we're doing and be focused."
On if he ran quarterback sneaks as a player:
"I never ran them. I hated them. I always got killed [laughter]. I couldn't stand them, but I think it's just a matter of following your surge and obviously running against a good look. I've seen teams run them and get rejected. Big nose guards and guards are covered and everything is a mess in there. But, he [Brady] is very successful against them. I think if you look at all the quarterback sneaks he's run, they've been against favorable fronts. He does a great job of getting the timing down and obviously getting that big yard."
On if New England's schemes are more sophisticated than those of other teams:
"Well, they're just different. They have different ways of approaching their offense and defense. Every week is different. You know, that's why playing the quarterback position is so difficult for young quarterbacks because it's not like you're going to see the same front and same coverage every week. Every week you're going to have something different. It could be an odd front. It could be an even front, could be a big-blitz team, could be a Cover 2 team, a man team. So, it's a matter of adjusting each week to everybody's game plan but New England does do quite a bit. They are very physical up front. They have a lot of different fronts that can give you problems on defense and offensively, obviously, with the way they can hurt you, they can hurt you with [LeGarrette] Blount in the power running game. They can get Dion Lewis out there and he can run the ball, obviously. The quick passing game they're outstanding with, and the play-actions, they're as good as anybody. You know, trying to get them in a third down and long is going to be difficult, but that's the objective and then, rush the passer."
On the emphasis with the offensive line this week:
"Everything – fundamentals, footwork. Where we're going, identification of the defense is very, very important with multiple-front teams. ID-ing who the Mike [is]… All that is going to be very, very important. Obviously, the tight ends are a big part of that and the receivers a huge part of that. If you run an outside zone and the lineman blocks it perfectly but your receiver misses the corner and he comes up and makes a tackle for a gain of three, everybody wants to know what's wrong with your running game. The receiver missed a block. Everybody has to be working together and we're working on that every day with different types of runs, how we're approaching them, how we're blocking them, how we're ID-ing them."
On what he sees from the offensive line in practice:
"We always work on things in practice. There are always things we can clean up. That's why we go out here and practice as long as we do. We come back and watch the practice tape and we coach and correct. That's what football is all about. Then, we get to game day where hopefully we'll see similar looks that we practiced against. Sometimes you don't. But for the majority of times, we practice what we're going to see and then we have to adapt to the speed and the physicality that they play with."
On the team's struggles in the third quarter prior to the Tampa Bay game:
"I think too much emphasis was made on that a little bit, but it was an issue at the time because we were poor in the third quarter in six games… It was good that we got that monkey off our back. Against any team in the National Football League, every quarter is very important. You start slow, you get yourself in too big of a hole like we did against Tampa, odds are you're not going to come back from that. So, we have to start fast. We have to finish the half on a high note and we have to start the third quarter better than we have and obviously finish the game. There is not a part of football game that is not important. You have one lapse, one lack of focus and you're down a couple touchdowns against a team like New England and that's something we can't have."
On when he decides the team's decision following the outcome of the coin toss:
"I just assume we're not going to win the coin toss; we haven't won one in a long time [laughter]. But, no, we have a good feel. We talk about it before the game as a staff. A lot of it depends on the conditions — the wind, home game, road game, how you want to start the game — but that's something we'll discuss and make a decision."
On if New England's sustained success in replacing players is the result of coaching, scheme or moves in the draft and free agency:
"A little bit of everything. They get players to fit their scheme and what they want to do. They do an excellent job of that. Then they keep the core players that are superstars. They've got one at the quarterback position that is pretty darn good. They do a great job — defense, offensive line, receiving corps, all that — they do a good job with replacing people that fit what they want to do and they have a good plan. That's something we're trying to grow to is get people in here that fit what we want to do — the type of players they are, the character and then their skill set fits our approach to football moving forward."
On the Washington Nationals hiring manager Dusty Baker and if he has a message for him:
"I heard that — nice. He's following me around. He was with the Reds when I was in Cincinnati, so congratulations to Dusty. You know, tough market, but hang in there [laughter]."
Defensive Coordinator Joe Barry
On defending the Patriots' weapons including TE Rob Gronkowski and WR Julian Edelman:
"Well, it's hard. No. 33 [RB Dion Lewis], add him to it, No. 80 [WR Danny Amendola]. Every offense that you play in this league possesses problems, possesses issues. All the guys in the jersey numbers that you listed, I think they're great players. Obviously the guy that wags the dog is No. 12 [QB Tom Brady]. He's the guy. He's phenomenal, he really is, watching him and what he's able to do, what he's able to dictate. Then obviously they have… you take 87 [Gronkowski] away, well then you have to deal with 11 [Edelman]. You take 87 and 11 away, then you've got to deal with 33. You take all three of them away, you've got to deal with 80 and 19 [WR Brandon LaFell] who are really good players in their own right. Then they bring No. 29 [RB LeGarrette Blount] in and hand him the ball off. They're a very, very good offense, there's no doubt about it. But I think when you play games like this, the thing that you have to do is you've got to go do what you do really, really well. We haven't tackled well the last three weeks. We have to tackle. Forget all the jersey numbers of their weapons. Whatever we have called, whether its quarters or Tampa 2 or three-deep or rushing three or rushing six, we've got to go do what we do the best that we've done all year and there's no margin for error because that's what they do better than anyone. They take advantage of a team when they make a mistake and they cash in on it. The thing that we've really preached about all week is 'Yes, they have a great system. Yes, they have a great quarterback running it. Yes, they have great players in the system. But it's about us. It's getting the call, getting lined up and going and making a play.' That's what they rely on – you screwing up. That's what we can't do. We've got to do our job better than we've done it all year long."
On potentially having CBs Chris Culliver, DeAngelo Hall and Bashaud Breeland all available at the same time in the future:
"That'd be sweet, wouldn't it?"
On the plan for when all of the defensive backs are healthy:
"Well, I've got enough issues this week. I've got all those jersey numbers that we just talked about. I know one thing, we'll have 11 guys out there when the ball is snapped. Like I said, we've got to go do our job. All those guys are progressing. They're getting close. It will be nice when that does happen but until then, like I said, like I've told you guys all the time, the 11 guys that are in the huddle, they're starters and they've got to play like starters."
On the importance of generating more pressure this week:
"That's always the fine line when you play a great quarterback. Do you drop a bunch of guys into coverage? That limits your rush. Do you bring a bunch of guys in the rush? Well, then you're limited in coverage. We have a nice plan. We'll have a mixture. Again, when we rush four, we've got to rush four. Guys have got to win. We talk about on the back end winning the one-on-one in coverage. Well, it's equally as important upfront winning that one-on-one rush. So whether we're bringing four, whether we're bring five, whether we're bringing six, guys have got to win the one-on-one rush. Again, especially when you play a team like this. You get opportunities on one-on-ones, I don't care if you're in the back end or the front end, you've got to win the one-on-one matchups. This week, no question, especially in the rush."
On DE Chris Baker's consistency:
"Chris has done a great job. He has played well and he has got to continue to play well for us. You need interior disruption in your defensive line and I think Hatch [Jason Hatcher] has been disruptive. Maybe he doesn't have the sexy numbers, but I think both of those guys have been disruptive. I don't care what kind of front you play. I don't care if you're a 3-4 front, 4-3 front, an odd front, an under front, an over front. Your interior has to be disruptive. So, Bake has done a nice job. We challenge him every day. We want more. We're greedy. And he's taken that challenge and really ran with it this season."
On the common theme with the missed tackles:
"We talked about this earlier in the year. I think it's an issue every defense in the NFL has just because of the way the rules are, the way the structure is. Tackling as a whole in this league has really taken a toll, just by the simple fact in the off season you can't tackle. Even in training camp now, you're allowed one padded practice a day. You don't tackle. A lot of guys necessarily don't play a lot in the preseason when you are given the chance to live tackle. They don't play. So those aren't excuses, those are just the cold, hard facts. Therefore, we have to try to create those things in individual, whether it's tackling a bag or tackling a medicine ball. So, you try to create those things. You try to preach those things. In practice you try to teach and preach leverage and angles, and those things are preached and will continue to be preached. But at the end of the day on Sundays in the NFL, it's a live, full-speed, one-on-one tackle, and you've got the ball and I've got to get you on the ground. Of course we work on those and preach those things on a daily basis, but until you get a live, actual shot, that's when you've got to cash in on it. Like I've said, we have not tackled well. Going back over the bye week, really looking at the plays we've given up, I'd say as high as 85 percent of the plays we've given up have simply been on missed tackles. And this week, no different. They've got playmakers – 87 [Gronkowski] and 29 [Blount], those are tough guys to tackle just because of their size. But then 80 [Amendola], 11 [Edelman] and 33 [Lewis], those guys you really have to maintain leverage and do a great job. Every week has challenges. This week is no different. But again, tackling is at a premium every week, but especially this week when you play against an offense like we're playing against."
On how to balance whether or not LB Ryan Kerrigan should play with his cast:
"Well, I'll never get involved with injuries. If Ryan is up and running, we're going to coach the crap out of him and he's going to play his heart out. Everyone has jobs to do. Our medical staff does a great job. If they say Ryan is able to go and he can go, then he goes. He had a good day of practice out there today. I think any time that a player has anything that's kind of cumbersome on him, they've got to kind of feel their way through it initially. My biggest fear when they said the extent of the injury but yes he was going to play, I thought he was going to have to have one of those huge clubs where his hand was going to be completely encompassed. That's not the case. He has his fingers, he has his thumb. So again, I think especially early on, he's going to have to kind of feel his way through it. He did a little work on Monday when we came back. He did a little work yesterday. He did more work today. We'll cut him loose tomorrow. You guys all know Ryan Kerrigan, he's going to go like a mad man. It's going to be something that he's going to deal with. Anytime that you play with a cast, it's an issue."
On how to get his team to focus on itself rather than the Patriots:
"Well, I think again, bottom line, when you play them… Again, I used the equation with someone today that in college when a true freshman comes in, he learns the system, he's kind of feeling his way. He's a little bit better as a sophomore, little bit better as a junior. By the time he's a senior or a fifth-year senior, he's been in the system for so long he knows it, he understands, he knows the nuances, the intricacies of it. Well, No. 12 [Brady] is a 16-year senior. He's been in the same system, running the same thing, for 16 years or however long he's been in the league. I think that is again where you can't help yourself but to think of them and look at all the greatness that they have, you've got to go back and look at yourself. You've got to play one play at a time. You can only play one defense at a time, whatever that is. Whether you're pressuring, whether you're playing coverage, whether its nickel, whether its base, whatever. You've got to do your job better than you've ever done it before. When you get a chance, like I said earlier, you've got to get the call, you've got to get lined up and you've got to make a play. That's where this team really gets you because they wait for you to make a mistake. They wait for you to be off. They're in rhythm all the time, with the main reason [being] No. 12. He's been in the system for as long as he has. He's counting on you to make that mistake. When you make that mistake, that's when they cash in. That's what makes them great and that's what makes them one of the best teams at least in the last few years. Again, it's more about us – us focusing on our job, us doing our job better than we've done it all year because they're waiting for you to screw up. They're waiting for you to make a mistake and then they pounce on you. We can't allow that to happen."
On if veterans are helping young guys focus on their responsibilities instead of the Patriots this week:
"I don't know how the players… As a player, I don't know if they look at that that much. I think they basically just look at the matchup that they're going against. Again, I'll go back to the thing that we just continue to preach. It's not about them, it's about us. Again, there's matchup issues that you have to deal with and things like that. If we play our technique properly, if we do what we're supposed to properly, if we win our one-on-one matchup, every time we have an opportunity to play, we give ourselves a chance to win that down, win that series, win that quarter and so on."
On if it's rare that defenses rattle Patriots QB Tom Brady:
"Yeah, I definitely think… I go back to it's hard to trick any veteran quarterback. It really is. Guys that have played in this league long enough, there isn't a coverage or a front or a stunt or a pressure that they really haven't seen. And again, with him having so much consistency in the system for as long as he has, it's hard. But we're going to try. People do try. You see at times it does happen. But again, that's obviously the goal every week is just to try to make the quarterback think it's one thing and give him the other thing. It does happen, doesn't happen that often with No. 12, but it does happen. We're going to do our best to try to make it happen repeatedly."