Head Coach Bill O’Brien
HEAD COACH BILL O’BRIEN
What are the challenges of stopping the Patriots running backs in the passing game?
“They all have good quickness, real good speed, very smart players, good hands. They move them, so sometimes they’re out in empty, sometimes they’re in the backfield, sometimes they’re at number two, sometimes they’re in motion. I mean, you just have to know where they are, who they are, which ones are in the game. But, it’s a big challenge. It’s hard.”
Speaking of their running backs, all their skill position players, even their linemen, the way that they have interchanged parts over the years and have had 15 years of success, what do you take from that as an NFL case study of a well-run program?
“They just have a good process. They identify. They’re all on the same page. It all starts at the top with Bill (Belichick), but then he’s got Nick Caserio, who’s been with him the whole time. Many of the coaches – Josh McDaniels, Matt Patricia, Dante Scarnecchia – basically have been with him the whole time. They all know what they’re looking for. Then, you have guys, scouts, that have been there a long time. Look, at the end of the day, they’ve done a good job of making good decisions on players, for the most part, just like all of us. There’s good and bad, but for the most part, they’ve obviously made good decisions. They have a great quarterback, they have a good system in place and they just do a good job. I think that the way that they’ve been able to do it year after year with different players is a testament to Bill.”
How did RB Alfred Blue do this week and do you think he’ll be able to play on Sunday?
“We’re going to have to probably make a determination on that here pretty soon, but I would say right now it would be doubtful.”
What was it like to have a full complement of players this week so you could actually run practice the way you want to?
“It was good to have two tight ends out there, that’s for sure. To have a couple tight ends. But, we still have – it was good to get (Julién) Davenport and (Kyle) Fuller work at tight end. Kyle Fuller last week. Now we still have that option too if we need to go to it. Obviously, with Griff (Ryan Griffin) and (Stephen) Anderson back, so those things are good. We signed Johnthan Banks and we have Marcus Burley here, so we’re looking at them at corner. They look like they had a decent week, so see how that goes. But, yeah, we’ve had our share of injuries, just like every team, but we had a lot of guys back this week. It was good.”
What is your vision for the running game?
“We have guys with different skillsets. We have Tyler Ervin, (who) does different things. We use him in a lot of different places. With some of the injuries that we’ve had at receiver, we’ve had to use him a little more at receiver at times. We have, like you said, D’Onta (Foreman) and Lamar (Miller). Alfred (Blue) has been out. Jay Prosch, the fullback. I’m not going to sit here and tell you the exact model that we try to get into. A lot of it is approached on a game-to-game basis. We try to look at the roster, what’s available to us, and then we go do the best we can with the game plan to get those guys the ball.”
Patriots QB Tom Brady told us that you are a very demanding coach. He said he felt that pressure that you put on was critical to getting the best out of a player. When a player you have responds to that, what does that mean for you and your relationship?
“I don’t know. You have to ask the players that. I just think that coaching is about communication and teaching, like I said a couple of days ago. I think you have to teach it. You have to be able to answer the questions. And then the player has to be able to go out there and execute. It’s kind of a two-way street. That’s why I think it’s important – my coaching philosophy on that is when it’s not going well, it’s the coaches’ fault. You have to coach the players better, that’s why you have a ‘C’ on your chest. It stands for coach. I think part of it, though, it’s the communication. You have to do a good job of communicating and sometimes that means that, ‘Hey, look, we have to have this here,’ or, ‘Hey, look, that wasn’t good enough. It has to be like this. Here’s a better way to learn it, a better way to teach it.’ I think it’s two-way street on that.”
When you go on the road, is there ever time during the week in practice where you try to prepare for your Microsoft Surfaces or headsets not working?
“Absolutely. That’s a good question. We do that all the time. I learned this early on in my pro career as an assistant coach. I remember we were in Seattle and it was pouring rain. I was at New England and the headsets went out. We had to go to a board because we had to use the wristband with the quarterback, but then the rain was washing the ink off the board. So, we had to cover the board and then we had to cover his wristband. At that time, it was 2008. It was Matt Cassel. That was something that Josh McDaniels was right on top of. I learned a lot from that. I think for us, every week we try to simulate, like you said, what is going to happen if – in a TV game with all the wires and things, it’s totally different than being out there with no one in the stadium. All the technology, they still haven’t figured that out, how to get the headsets to work correctly. They go out all the time. That happens for every team. I think you have to have a plan for that. What is your plan on both sides of the ball? Defensively, it’s a little easier because you can just signal it in. Offensively, sometimes there’s a little bit more to the play call, so it goes to a wristband and you have to be able to get that wristband number to the quarterback.”