Gus Bradley: Patriots Are 'Very Talented at All the Skill Positions'

Defensive Coordinator speaks to the media on the divisional round matchup with the Patriots.

Opening Statement:

“Good work week this week. Obviously, we all understand we're up against a very talented team. Very talented at all the skill positions. Very efficient on offense. They put up a lot of points, explosive plays. So we know we have our work cut out for us, but it's a good challenge for us right now.”

On Patriots QB Tom Brady”

“I think every week that's the job, to try to affect the quarterback somehow. He's so good at reading coverages, extending plays in his own way. The way he handles the offense, he's been in that style of offense for many years, so they're on the same page. I think when you look at it — I mentioned this before as a defense, what we strive to be is a precision league. Well, their offense operates with precision, and they're all on the same page. As you watch it, you can see it all come together for them.”

On the Patriots running backs:

“Well, I think our No. 1 objective is to somehow keep the points down. As we look at a team, you're right. Their running backs are very effective. They really have three running backs, and they all are — they'll show up in empty sets and they're very effective. They'll have explosive plays themselves. So we always go into each game, stop the run — and then No. 2, eliminate explosive plays and somehow we've got to affect the quarterback. You know, to give him those throws to running backs, it's our style of defense that we play, and we go about it that way, and we try to put our guys in the best position to play those things.”

On the defensive strategy:

“Well, I think every week is different. I learned through Larry Coyer when I was in Tampa about the importance of personnel placement. We talk about personnel placement every week. I think for that game, that was more of a decision we made for that game and every week is different.”

On moving DEs Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram III around to different spots:

“I think that's another situation that we talk about every week. Is it left and right? Is it how do we position those guys, even on first and second down, it's a conversation that we have — and obviously on third down as well. So, you know, hopefully across the course of the year, they've been in different places, you know. I think we try to do that just so teams can't look where they're going to be, but that's game-by-game how we're going to position them.”

On Patriots TE Rob Gronkowski:

“Very challenging. Yeah, I think you have to have great awareness of where he is, but even if you have awareness where he is, he still makes plays. His length, his catch radius. He's been doing it for a long time. He's one of those players that they're on the same page. He's a go-to guy for them in critical situations. So a lot of tight ends you have awareness where they are. We really have to hone in on where he is.”

On the different running styles of the Patriots running backs:

“They all have different running styles and in the passing game how they utilize them, and they all play equally. You've got to be ready for them all. So that just adds to our preparation.”

On S Derwin James having covered tight ends this season:

“Well, every tight end is different. You know, that's another thing that we look at too is their skill set, but you're right. At times we do, in our man coverage situations, we'll match them up. Other times we'll put him on backs. Other times we'll put him on slot receivers. So, again, it's by-week, how we utilize him. There's been times when he's been back in the middle third. Based on what we're seeing styles that we see, and again, we just put our personnel in there.”

On how the defense has progressed this season:

“We've got some very good players. I think the biggest thing we tell them, it's not the calls. The players bring the calls to life. So, you say, hey, in the Baltimore game you did some good things. Well, it really wasn't the calls. The players brought the calls to life. I think they really have taken ownership of that. Each one of them personally, and then as a position group and then as a unit. I think that's cool to see. To see them have ownership of it and try to take it to whatever level they see fit.”

On the defensive strategy against Baltimore:

“You know what? The meeting with [Head] Coach [Anthony] Lynn when we presented it as a defensive staff, he understood the situations pertaining to the scheme. So we talked to him just about the game plan and he was great. To the unit, when we explained it to them, we just went in and said, ‘This is our plan, this is how we're going to do it.’ I think they had great faith in each other. I don't know about the coaching staff, but I know they have great faith in each other. So wherever the guys are positioned, they believe that player has a chance to be successful.”

On the flexibility of the defense:

“Well, I think when you look at tape, we are who we are as far as how we play our coverages. The personnel grouping, no, that we put in there. It could be there's been times we thought about going base to three wides. We go dime to 21 personnel. You know, to try to match it up. So I think that part of it each week you look at it and say how do we match-up and how do we go about it? But our principles are the same.”

On NT Brandon Mebane:

“You know, it's a difficult time for him and his family, but I think being around the guys and this environment is somewhat healing. I don't know how much, how fast that healing. It's tough. It's a difficult time, but I've got great respect [for him]. I've been with Brandon for quite a few years off and on, and the respect I have for him as a man and as a leader of his family, and how he handles things is off the charts.”

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