New England Patriots
BB: Okay, well this is another really, really good football team. The Chargers are very impressive. Starting defensively, [Joey] Bosa is one of the most disruptive players in the league - as good as anybody we play against, run or pass. He's got a great motor, very strong hands, good instincts. He just makes a lot of disruptive plays. Most of the time it's him making the play, but a lot of times it's him screwing the play up and forcing the ball to somebody else. So, he's definitely a guy to stop. But Coach [Gus] Bradley plays a very sound Seattle scheme, plays very soundly. They don't give up many big plays, they play with great effort, they're tough, they make you earn every yard and they've played very competitively here throughout the season really, even though they have lost a couple guys - you know, lost [Derwin] James, lost [Melvin] Ingram along the way. But, this is really a well-coached defense, led by Bosa but with several other really good players in there as well. They play good team defense. Offensively, the quarterback's been outstanding. He's thrown the ball well, made a lot of good decisions. They've got great skill players - [Keenan] Allen, obviously, a leading receiver. He's got a lot of a lot of targets, a lot of production. The Chargers are very good on third-and-long which I think says something about their ability to throw the ball when everybody knows they have to throw it. They've ot some explosive players at receiver - [Tyron] Johnson, [Jalen] Guyton. Those guys are big threats. They do a good job for them. Running backs - [Austin] Ekeler's back, so he's a dynamic player, very good in the passing game, good in space, he has really good vision as a runner, hard guy to tackle. And then [Hunter] Henry continues to be a complete and very, very good football player for them. Henry's really been a great player. I've watched him pretty much his whole career. He started at Pulaski Academy down in Little Rock, played for Coach [Kevin] Kelly down there. He had a great career there, went to Arkansas and had a great career at Arkansas. Went to the Chargers and with [Virgil] Green out, he's really played the Y role this year and showed good ability to block, catch. He runs a variety of routes. He's come back off the injury and has been a very, very productive player for them, along with all their other good skill players. But, he's done a good job for them in a running game, as well as the passing game. I think their offensive numbers speak for themselves. They move the ball, score points and don't turn it over. So, it will be a big challenge for us there. And a good return game - explosive returners that we'll have to handle. So, a team that we don't know very well. We played them a couple years ago, but quite a bit has changed and we'll have to really do a good job of, especially re-familiarizing ourselves with not only players but a different offensive scheme and a different quarterback. As I said, this will be a week that we're really going to have to have a great week of preparation to be ready to go out there. But, looking forward to the challenge and the opportunity. So, just pushing along here one day at a time and try to get ahead today.
Q: When you have a player like Stephon Gilmore on the field, how much easier does it make a coach's job to know the consistent performance that he'll give you every Sunday?
BB: Yeah, Steph's done a good job for us. Absolutely. He's a smart player. He works extremely hard. He can play physical and force the run and cover some of the quicker receivers and also cover the bigger guys and vertical guys. So, he can match up against just about everybody. And again, he has good preparation, good communication and good ball skills and has done a good job of tackling for us. So, he's been a good player.
Q: Your referenced watching Hunter Henry at Pulaski Academy. Where did that relationship start and when did you start watching him in Little Rock?
BB: Well, you know, Coach Kelly is one of the - probably the top high school coach in the country and has certainly been one of the great coaches in Arkansas high school football history. I've followed him. He's a little unconventional, but he's had great success and he's had a lot of players come through there - we've had a couple other ones here - but Henry's probably one of the best ones. I have great respect for Coach Kelly and the program he runs and some of the creative things that he does. And then watching him and following Hunter there - really all the Henry's. They got a bunch of them. I think he was the first one, but there's more on the way. I just saw him in Coach Kelly's system and they've had tremendous production there and success.
Q: Is there something that you need to see or that you have seen from your defense lately that's allowed you to feel better about being aggressive when you blitz? Against the Cardinals, it looked like you guys were pretty aggressive at times. Is there something that you've seen from your defense lately that's allowed you to feel better with those types of calls?
BB: No, I think we've run those through the years and this year, last year. We pick our spots and there's certain situations and certain things that make one type of pressure maybe more appealing than another, game planning and so forth. Some of it's matchups and scheme, and some of it's situational. I think we've done all of it. We've blitzed a lot of guys. We've covered a lot of guys. We've been in between a lot. So, you know, try to mix it up and not do the same thing so the offense doesn't fall into too much of a pattern against them.
Q: It seems like Kyle Dugger and Josh Uche have started carving out nice roles in your defense and have been helpful on the edges, especially. What have you seen from them as they progress this season?
BB: Yeah, they've both made a lot of progress. Again, they're getting better each week - [Anfernee] Jennings, too. Those guys are, depending on the game plan and the role, but they've adapted to different responsibilities and different roles from week to week. They both have versatility. All three of them really have good versatility and hopefully they'll continue to improve and develop in our system. They also have been fortunate to work with some other good players like Devin [McCourty] and Jason [McCourty] back there with Kyle. The linebackers have John [Simon] and Ja'Whaun Bentley and those guys have really helped out as well giving some leadership to the younger linebackers. But, they work hard, they're improving and we just kind of take it week to week with those guys.
Q: It seems like you guys have had a lot of slow starts this year. Is there anything you can work on in practice to improve on jumping out of the gate a little faster?
BB: We've been working on it. We work on it literally every day. So, we'll keep working on it and see if we can get better results here. We've had a few, but not consistently as a team not where we need to be or want to be. So, that'll be important this week. It's important every week. Honestly, if I had the answer, I would have done it 10 weeks ago. But, right now we've still got to just perform better early in the game - coaching, playing - and find a way to be more productive than we've been. That's definitely a priority. Thanks for pointing that out. I appreciate it.
Q: What do you see from Joey Bosa and does he remind you of any players historically? Coming off of that Buffalo game, it was pretty impressive to see what he did on tape.
BB: Yeah, I'll say. He's a one-man wrecking crew. I think he does everything well, really. If you just look at the Buffalo game, he made plays against the run, he made plays on short yardage, he rushed the passer in passing situations, he sacked the quarterback on play-action situations where he converted a run-read into a play-action rush. So, he's very instinctive. He's got a tremendous motor and he plays hard. So, he never gives up on play. He makes a lot of plays on effort and hustle. But, he's got strong hands, he can control blockers and he's instinctive, he can find the ball and recognize things quickly. I would say it's a combination of his quickness, his explosiveness and his instincts.
Q: In regards to acquiring personnel, when you're looking at players, do you look just based upon what you think their skill set is? Or do you try to bring them into what your philosophy is, whether it's playing the game or the type of individual that you're looking for and want to have in the locker room?
BB: Yeah, it's really a combination of all those things. It's like putting a puzzle together. It's a lot of pieces. There are a lot of component. They're all different. Each player has his own unique skill set and everything that comes with it - personality and so forth. I think you just try put all that together, evaluate it and put some type of grade or value on it. And, again, each guy's different. Each guy brings his own total package to the team, and how we use it or how another team would use it is specific to that team. So, we just try to evaluate how we feel like he would fit in for us and we try to have enough flexibility and versatility in our scheme so that if we have a good player, we don't block him out by our system - 'He can't do this, so he can't play in our system.' Hopefully our system can adapt and accommodate players that have good skill sets, even though it might be a little unique, but they have good skill sets and we find a way to use them.
Q: What has stood out to you about Keenan Allen's possession game inside the numbers?
BB: I would say the main thing is his consistency. He's got good quickness. He can really make good decisions to get open and be available to the quarterback in a friendly way so that the quarterback can get him the ball easily. He's obviously got good hands, good ran after catch skills. He knows how to use, whether it's traffic or leverage and attack leverage - I mean, he's just a good instinctive football player with good quickness, good size and good hands. Obviously, the quarterbacks that he's played with - [Justin] Herbert, [Philip] Rivers - have a lot of confidence in him. They throw the ball to him in some tight coverage situations and he comes up with it, so they keep throwing it to him. He's just a very competitive guy with real good skills.
Q: What do you study about a new stadium before you go there? Do you take a little bit more time maybe when you get there to take a look around as you get ready to play this game?
BB: Yeah, Dan [Roche], definitely. In a new stadium, or a stadium we haven't been to or been there in a while, yeah, that's definitely a priority. Like when we played in Mexico, something like that, we'd never been in that stadium. Yeah, go out and look at the turf, get familiar with the surroundings, where's the 40 second clock, where's the game clock, what are the factors with the sun or the lights or background for guys that are catching the ball and returners, things like that, are there any other notable things? You don't want to have a player in the middle of the game all of a sudden be standing on the logo and feel like it's slick. Or, those are the kind of things you want - whatever it is, it is, but you just don't want to be surprised or distracted on that type of thing during the game. So, you try to get it out of the way. But, a lot of times, if you're in an unfamiliar stadium for a quarterback or defense, not really knowing where the 40 second clock is and you're trying to time up a blitz. Or, the quarterback's looking and it's sometimes in the corner, or sometimes it's underneath the goal post, sometimes it's in different locations. Those kinds of things you definitely want to know get a familiarity with. We have plenty of people in the league, relationships and at one place or another, where you can call and ask somebody what their experience was like, if there was anything notable or unusual that we should make our team or coaches or players aware of. Sometimes that could be the coaches' booth. Maybe the vantage point is better at one end of the field than the other end of the field or whatever the case might be. There's again, a lot of little things that we try to - if you're not familiar with it, you just try to gain as much knowledge as you can about it, especially teams that have played there, division teams that have played there every year, and probably have some insight that can help you.
Q: Justin Herbert has obviously been quite impressive physically, but what have you seen from his processing and the mental side of his game that's allowed him to get off to such a fast career start?
BB: Yeah, very good, does a good job on the progressions. Looks like he's going to the right place where they want it to go most if not all the time. A lot of the patterns are designed with five receivers out, so it's a full field read. It looks like he's going to the right side based on the coverage. If it's a man pattern on one side and a zone pattern on the other side, that kind of thing, making the right decision on where to go with the ball. His accuracy is good. And then there are a number of plays on a line of scrimmage where you can see him changing the play, or sometimes that will include a formation adjustment, but sometimes he'll walk under center or be under center and walk back, move the back, change the protection, go through the process and all that. They don't have a lot of penalties - false starts, delay of game and stuff like that. It's a pretty smooth operation, at least on film, and he executes it well. He does a good job protecting the ball, does a good job executing a variety of plays. I wouldn't say they have just a simple offense. They do quite a bit, and doesn't look like they're restricted at all. So, I think mentally, he's good. Even though he doesn't have a lot of experience, he seems to be quite comfortable in what they asked him to do and they seem quite comfortable in giving him quite a bit of responsibility. I mean, that's the way I read it, I don't know.
Q: Myles Bryant showed up a little bit last week in the game and he got the promotion early in the season, even though he wasn't really active for some games. What did you see from him from when you first got him to get to the point where he was active this last game and looked like he did some good things for you?
BB: Yeah, he did, Mike [Reiss]. We've been pretty fortunate this year in the secondary from a health standpoint and we have good depth back there. But, as I said, we've been pretty healthy. But, he had a good training camp and we had him on the roster. We just haven't had a lot of opportunity to play him. The guys in front of him have played well in their opportunities. But, he's learned a lot, he's very attentive and asks a lot of good questions with Devin [McCourty] and Jason [McCourty] and Jon Jones and guys like that. I mean, he's always trying to absorb little coaching points and tips and that type of thing, and he has a good aptitude to apply them in the right situation and communicate it well on the field in practice, and as you said, in his opportunities in the game. They've been limited, but they've carried over positively from the same thing he did in practice. I think he has some versatility. We'll see how it goes with him, but so far, he's done a lot of good things. He hasn't really been out there in the spotlight under intensive fire, but it's been more situational roles and things like that. But, he's done a good job with those.