|Defensive coordinator Dean Pees gives hands-on instruction to defensive backs Randall Gay (left) and Gemara Williams. (ROBERT E. KLEIN/FOR THE GLOBE)|
Some Pees offerings
Coordinator talks up Patriots' defense
FOXBOROUGH -- Listen to Dean Pees talk, and one thing becomes clear: There won't be many communication breakdowns. He shoots it straight.
Stepping in as a pinch hitter for coach Bill Belichick yesterday, the second-year Patriots defensive coordinator addressed the media on a number of topics surrounding the team's defense.
Curious why the Patriots have prized free agent Adalius Thomas at inside linebacker? Part of the thinking is to have Mike Vrabel return to his more natural spot on the outside.
Interested why safety Eugene Wilson, who prides himself on being an all-around defensive back, hasn't worked much at cornerback? The idea is to let him focus solely on safety, because Pees feels he might have been overloaded trying to master two positions in 2006.
Where might first-round draft choice Brandon Meriweather play on defense? The hope is that it will be cornerback.
Curious as to his feelings on the cornerback depth? He'd naturally like more, and would welcome the return of Asante Samuel.
Wondering what his impressions are of receiver Randy Moss? He feels Moss looks a lot like the same guy who tore up the Patriots defense in the 2005 season opener, with five catches for 130 yards (including a 73-yard touchdown).
Pees, entering his 35th year in coaching and fourth with the Patriots, touched many bases in a 13-minute question-and-answer session.
He began by explaining the decision-making that went into placing Thomas at the strong-side inside linebacker spot. The 6-foot-2-inch, 274-pound Thomas played more at outside linebacker in the Ravens' 3-4 alignment.
"It was a combination of all the qualities we thought he had, but you also take into account the qualities of the other players and where they may fit in best," Pees said. "Like Mike Vrabel, he has been very flexible for us, but we do feel that Mike Vrabel is a pretty good outside linebacker and that's his home maybe more than inside. When you take into account all the linebackers, you try to get the best guys on the field."
To this point, the best four players have been Vrabel and Rosevelt Colvin on the outside, with Thomas paired alongside Tedy Bruschi on the inside. While that appears to be the optimum fit at this time, Pees reminded that there is potential for change.
"The first thing that Adalius has to do in our system, and is working hard to do it, is to learn a position -- how that fits into our defense, and how that works, and basics of our defense, before we can try to do multiple things and all kind of things with him," he said.
More from Pees:
On how much Meriweather's versatility has helped the team: "So far, it hasn't helped us that much because we've only had this one preseason game, and he did some good things and some not-so-good things. What we're trying to do is find out if he does have that versatility. We're hoping he can be a corner. That's where we're looking at him first."
On whether he likes the cornerback depth without Samuel: "I think we've got four or five guys that are working real hard at that position. I think there are clearly some front-runners, there are a couple guys who are starting to push and come around. I wish we had a few more, I wish we were a little deeper, but I wouldn't say I'm in a mode that I'm panicked because we only have a couple. I think we have three or four guys there who are playing good, we just need to be more consistent out there. Obviously, having 'Zant' would be a great addition to that."
On why Wilson hasn't been taking as many, if any, repetitions at cornerback, compared with 2006: "I had some discussions with Bill in the offseason and really felt like Eugene -- I was thinking back to '04 and thought Eugene was a real good safety -- maybe by moving him around a little bit last year maybe we kind of diluted him and he wasn't as good at safety, or whatever. We really kind of felt like we wanted to put him at a position and really let him soak, and learn that position, and get back to playing like he has played in the past. We always know that if that's an emergency situation, we can do it, but we're trying not to do it as much."
On surrendering 32 second-half points to the Colts in the AFC Championship loss: "Obviously, it leaves you with a bad feeling in the pit of your stomach for the offseason. As any player will attest and any coach will attest, you learn from your mistakes. What you have to do is figure out, 'Why did that happen, what happened, and how can we correct it and keep it from happening again?' There isn't a coach out there, there isn't a player out there, who hasn't had something bad happen to them. It's how you deal with that after the fact that makes you a good coach, a good program, a good team, or a good player."
On whether he's seen the same skills from Moss that he noticed in preparing to face him in 2005: "Yeah, when we played him the start of '05, just watching him on film all the time, the problem with him is he doesn't look like he's moving because he's so tall and can build speed down the field on you so fast. He's very deceptive. You all of a sudden think he's kind of jogging, but he's not jogging. There was a play out here in camp one time, he ran a post, and all the DBs kind of oohed when we watched the film the next day. He was moving faster than what everybody thought he was moving."
Mike Reiss can be reached at email@example.com.