Patriots' head coach Bill Belichick and linebacker Larry Izzo spoke to Houston media Wednesday morning during their weekly conference calls.
Head coach Bill Belichick
(on disappointment after loss) "I don't rank them, it's disappointing to lose. It's always disappointing. Miami played well, they played better than we did and they deserved to win. It's always disappointing to lose. We work hard every week and at the end of the week if you don't have anything to show for it it's a disappointing feeling."
(on the team being where he'd want them to be) "Right now the only thing we're concerned about is Houston and that's plenty. We're just going to focus our attention on them and try to find a way to play the best we can on Sunday against the Texans."
(on team turning on once they get to the playoffs) "The only thing I'm concerned about right now is Houston. I don't care anything about the next week, the following week or anything after that. Our players' attitudes are good, they work hard, football is important to them, they want to win, they are prepared to win and that's the approach that we've been taking pretty much every week and that's the approach we'll take this week. I'm sure that they're very committed to playing and performing better than we did last week in Miami. Nothing else really matters and I think it's way too early to start thinking about anything but Houston and that's all we're thinking about."
(on QB Tom Brady's standing amongst NFL quarterbacks) "There's no quarterback I'd rather have, put it that way. Each quarterback has his own playing style and his own strengths and weaknesses. There are a lot of great players in this league at that position, but I'm glad we have Tom. Tom does a great job for us, he's a good player, a good leader, a hard worker and he's committed to the team concept and those are the things that I like about him and he has a lot of strong points and brings a lot of positive things to our football team."
(on Brady having the special something to win games) "He has a lot of great qualities, but I don't think any great player can win in this league by themselves, I don't care how good they are. We've seen some good players come through this league that don't even get to the playoffs or win championships or whatever. I don't think any one player can dominate the league, I think it is teams that win the games not individuals, although individual players win them, but teams collectively have to perform well to be successful. Tom is a big part of that and to me it's a team sport and how the team performs."
(on his time for the Hall of Fame) "It's flattering that you would even ask that question, but in all honesty the only thing I'm thinking of right now is the Texans. That's the only thing that matters."
(on the Hall of Fame ever crossing his mind) "Not really. I respect the game and I respect all that the games stands for, there are a lot of things in this game that are out of our control and I try not to worry about those. What I try to worry about is my preparation, performance and some of the decisions that I can have input on in this team, that's what I try to focus on."
(on what his father would think of him being in the Hall of Fame) "Well I think he had a lot of respect for the game and everything that it stand for, too. He grew up in that area and has an attachment to both college and professional hall of fames and I think he's very respectful of that including the books that he collected and the history of the game. I know he has a lot of friends at both of those institutions and as communicator I'm sure he has a lot of respect for all that they stand for."
(on what past Gary Kubiak's offenses have done to have success against him while he was in Denver) "I think Gary is a good game-planning coach. They change their formations around on a weekly basis to try to create match-ups and also to try to make it harder to zero in and key in on their special players, finding them is always a little bit of a problem. They do a good job of forcing you into defense adjustments and then attacking those adjustments in a way that's very uncomfortable so that you either want to make a different adjustment that you're not used to making in order to have to defend plays in something that you know they're hitting a weak point on. It's a combination of scheme and personnel, both using his and attacking yours at the same time having a good balance between the running game and the passing game, inside running, outside running, deep balls, intermediate passes, short passes and I think you see that with the team now. You see a lot of balls thrown to the back, the tight end, down the field to the receivers, obviously (WR Andre) Johnson's got a lot of catches, but the ball gets spread around pretty good, different backs handling it in the running game. Even though they don't have a lot of different running plays they run them in ways that attack the perimeter of the defense, attack inside, cut the back, run some reverses. The quarterback can run, either designed plays or scrambles. So there's a lot of balance, a lot of things you've got to defend and things you've got to get ready for."
(on how they keep winning after losing players and coaches) "It didn't work out that way last week. I think that the majority of the credit or any success that we've had goes to the players. They're the ones that are out there, they're on the field making the plays, making the adjustments, making the tackles, catching the balls (and) whatever they got to do. All it comes down to is that it's a players' game, as a coach you try to set up a few things and develop a system and a format, but all the players have to go out on the field and perform. They do well, then that has a lot to do with it. guys like (QB) Tom Brady, (WR) Troy Brown, (LB) Mike Vrabel, and (LB) Tedy Bruschi and just go down the line, guys like that they are the ones, and others, and (S Rodney) Harrison, they are the ones that are making plays and that's when they make them we win."
(on winning on a system that no other coaches had to operate under) "I think anytime you're coaching a team it doesn't really make any difference what level it's at. But it certainly applies to the pro level, you've got to balance the short-term and long-term, and we've seen a lot of coaches do it a lot of different ways. George Allen would trade every draft, switch for veteran players. And other coaches like Jimmy Johnson, we've seen him take young players and develop them and take for a couple years and then have a good team. I think that every year and every team you have a little bit of that conflict between: how young do you want to be and how much you want to build for let your talent develop for the future whether it's later in the season or the following season or succeeding years and how much do you want to come in and try to get somebody to perform right now and therefore pass on the development of a younger player. Those are always tough decisions when they're close. Now when it's clear cut, you have (DE) Mario Williams and (LB) DeMeco Ryans and (RB) Laurence Maroney, I'm not talking about them, but there are other players on your roster that you have to make those decisions on and I think a lot of times those are the hard decisions and you just try to balance the needs of your team now and what it is in the long run. There's no question that the systems are different, as you pointed out, now than what they were in previous years. Change is a part of the game and that's something that, whether we like it or not, we all have to deal with it. Whether it's technology, and computers, and video, and all that as it relates to any job or in our job or whether it's changing the rules or policies or the finances or whatever it is. Adjustment to change is a big part of it."
(on rookie LB DeMeco Ryans) "He's pretty good. I think he steps in there and (has) not only been productive, which he's had production in every area, he's had it against the run, the pass, (and) he's blitzed. I think he's got a real good mind and instinct for the game and you can definitely see him on the field making adjustments and checks and controlling the defense and coordinating the linebackers and the secondary where the line where teams motion or shift the tight end and they've got blitz called and things like that. I haven't been out there with him, but just watching them on film, it looks like he's got a good command of the game from a mental standpoint, physically he's tough and productive and I think he's versatile. He's involved in a lot of plays in different areas that's not just making them all on blitzes or against the run, but he makes them in a lot of different situations."
(on RB Laurence Maroney's status for Sunday) "No, not yet. We'll go out there today and practice and see how everybody's doing. We haven't worked the last couple days, and see how everybody's doing and then issue that report after we see where they're at."
(on Maroney's injury being serious) "If it was that then at this point a player like that we'd probably put him on injury reserve. But no I think it's something that he's certainly making good progress. How quickly he'll be able to come back I'm not sure exactly, but he's doing a lot better now than he was a couple of days ago. He's doing a lot better over the weekend than he was in the middle of the week, so he's definitely headed in the right direction."
(on Maroney exceeding expectations) "I try not to really set a certain bar on the expectations, but what I'm looking for in a young player for him to come in and learn the system and know what to do and then that gives us a chance as coaches to evaluate that player's particular talents and also see him improve in areas that he's probably going to need some work in coming into this league. And then what we do with him at that point is based on how those things come together, how versatile he is, what he's able to do, how strong his strengths are and how limited his weaknesses might be and how quick those weaknesses improve to where they're not weaknesses anymore. It's kind of a fluid situation, I'll put it this way I think when you draft a player in the first round you expect him to be productive in your system and I expect Laurence to do that, but I think he's already showing that he will be productive in this system and where that will take him going forward we'll just have to wait and see, but I like his work ethic and his attitude, his toughness and he's got good skill."
(on WR Andre Johnson) "First of all, he's a kid that I remember when Charlie Weiss and I went down to Miami and worked him out, he's a very impressive person and a very impressive player. Big, strong hands, fast, when you're actually right up beside him and he's running routes you can really feel his power and his explosiveness. Guys run by and you can feel them, but a player of his size and his explosiveness, you just have a different feeling and he can go up and get the ball, he can break tackles, he can outrun people. His production speaks for itself and there are some things that he doesn't do that may be a smaller, quicker guy might do a 180 pound guy. Btu he does so many things beyond that with his strength, his explosiveness, his run-after-the-catch ability that he's a tough guy to defend. If you lay off of him he'll kill you with his short catch and run plays, but if you're on him he can kill you by running by you and going and taking the ball away. He's a very challenging player to defend."
(on toughness coaching with Super Bowl expectations) "I really don't go into a year with that. I try to go into each year as to how can we maximize the performance of the team we have. What are our strengths? What kinds of things can we do? How can we try to play to give ourselves the best chance to win and then modify that as the year goes along, as the returns come in and as you deal with whatever situations you have, young players developing and improving, injuries, other players maybe for whatever reason not performing or having to match up in different situations against your opponents and having trouble in certain areas, so it just becomes a management situation from game to game. then you add them up at the end of the year and see where you're at, so my expectations are to try to get a team ready for opening day and then try to get them in condition for 16 games, regular season schedule. Then it's really a lot of adjusting from week to week based on the current climate and that can change in a hurry as you know,"
(on why Texans have struggled throwing the ball down the field) "I think they can get the ball down the field. I think they do a good job throwing the ball down the field and in some cases the defenses are so concerned about (it). (WR Eric) Moulds, nobody's done more against us than Moulds when Moulds goes into the Hall of Fame, I'm sure playing against the Patriots will be a big reason for him going there, he's already had well over 1,000 yards against us in his career. When you're defending against Moulds and Johnson you're going to give up something, but you'd rather give up a short pass to a back or a tight end than to be struggling down the field with those two guys who will absolutely kill you. I think in defending them you certainly have to take away those deep vertical passes because the quality of the receivers and the quarterback throwing them, you've got to give up something. You've got to give up what's in front of you, not behind you."
LB Larry Izzo
(on Patriots having two more wins than Rice) "That's a good question. It's a 16-game schedule, so we've got a couple more games. How about them Owls?"
(on Rice football) "I'm very impressed with the job that Todd Graham did. For a first year head coach to have a little tragedy early in the year and they rebounded and came together as a team. I can't say enough of how proud I am of what they have been able to accomplish and the direction that they're headed."
(on considering coaching at Rice) "Completely, I've definitely thought a lot about going down that road and I can't think of a better place to start than in Houston, but you never know what opportunities come up. But it's definitely something to think about."
(on their success after losing coaches and players) "I think we have a pretty good system in place. A philosophy on the kind of people they bring in. You 're going to lose people to injury and free agency, but when you bring in a certain kind of player it's somewhat easier to plug people in. That basic philosophy and system has stayed in place here for six or seven years."
(on WR Eric Moulds' success against them) "He's a good receiver. He's had a great career, played a long time and had a lot of production. He's a physical receiver, he's tough, he's definitely got some speed and just when we faced him a lot twice a year in Buffalo he's always been very productive, but he's definitely had a heck of a career and he's someone that we have to account for."
(on Texans' offense being predictable) "We study the tapes and every week different teams kind of have their thing that they do and this is a week that they have shown what they show, but he's (QB David Carr) has been very productive as far as completing a high percentage of his passes. They like to get the ball out quick and I think he's been doing a good job and he's been somebody that's had a solid year probably better than most people would think. He's also a threat with his scrambling ability. We're going to continue to study what the Texans do and hopefully we'll get a game plan together to get ready to play."
(on KR Jerome Mathis) "Well that's a big challenge for us this week as a whole. The Texans do a great job in the kicking game. They guys are very physical and Mathis is somebody that's very scary as a returner. He's incredibly fast, he runs hard, he's got good vision and obviously he was a Pro Bowl player last year and has already produced in the short back that he's been back from his injury this season. It's a big challenge for us, he's one of those guys that can really change the game by himself. His explosiveness, his speed, those are things that you look for in a returner."
(on being aware of Mathis' position even with KR Dexter Wynn in) "I think every week everybody has their responsibilities. Teams sometimes do some gadget-type things when you have two guys like that. I'm sure that they have something in their playbook to take advantage of the skills that they have. They're both good returners, they've both produced and you've got to just do your job you can't be looking if one guy has the ball you can't be worried about what the other one has unless that's your responsibility."
(on defending Titans QB Vince Young later in the season) "No. We're trying to worry about the Texans this week that's a big enough challenge for us getting back on track and hopefully playing better football. We need to get our stuff together and I'm sure everybody sees the highlights and Vince Young is very exciting, but definitely are not focused on what he's doing."
(on what his family and friends have told him about this past weekend in Houston) "I had a good buddy of mine that I played with at Rice, he was at the game and he definitely commented on the energy. To have that kind of finish made for a very exciting homecoming for Vince, but again that's not where we're focused on. He was at the game and said it was pretty exciting