Patriots defensive coordinator Dean Pees spoke with reporters today via conference call, and the return of linebacker Jerod Mayo in Sunday's loss at Denver was a popular topic. To read the entire transcript of his comments, click the "full entry" button at the bottom of the post.
What are your thoughts on the defensive performance against the Broncos?
Pees: "We have to get better than what we played against the Broncos. We have to play better, have to coach better, do a lot of things better. We had some opportunities to make some plays which could have really made a big difference in that game and we fell short. So we have to work to improve in that area. We have to get off the field a little better on third down. Weíve been doing OK in that, though we didnít do well enough. We had some opportunities on some tipped balls [that] we have to come up with in those situations and we certainly canít let people drive the length of the field on us. Both [touchdown drives] were aided by some penalties which is something we were doing better early in the year. We have to get back to that."
What was the perception of the way Jerod Mayo played in his first game back since the opener?
Pees: "Overall, I was pleased from the standpoint that we had him back out there and he got to play. Anytime you come back after youíve been off for a few weeks . . . he did some good things and some things that heíll improve on going forward. Itís just the more you play, the better you feel, the more you get back into the groove of the whole defense and the package and everything that weíre doing. But it was great to see him back out there, thatís for sure."
When Jerod Mayo comes up with the forced fumble there, it looks like he hasnít missed a beat.
Pees: "Well, I donít know if you can say he hasnít missed a beat. It was certainly a nice play and a big hit and he did a nice job. So like anything else, we all missed a beat at some point in that game at some point in time, me included. I know Jerod. He works very, very hard at his profession. Heís going to do whatever he has to do to get himself ready like all of our players do. Heíll improve each week, I believe."
Do you think heíll take over the play-calling duties this week?
Pees: "Weíll just wait and see. Usually during the week, to be honest with you, there are three or four guys we always work on doing the huddle calling. It really doesnít matter which guyís up there. In fact, there are sometimes we donít even have a huddle. So, there are always three or four guys each week that I kind of pick out and work on it all week and then we kind of decide at the end whoís going to be the guy actually out in front of the huddle. But thatís kind of to be determined."
It seemed the Broncos gained much of their yardage on 6-8-yard hitches. How can you break a team out of that rhythm and out of that short passing game like the Broncos were doing?
Pees: "Well, [we] needed to change up the coverage on them and even maybe the front sometimes. You just have to keep changing things up. You canít just sit in the same thing. And Iím not saying that we did, itís just that we came short on a couple of those plays that we just have to make. It doesnít matter whether weíre in man coverage or in zone coverage -- every coverage can be a good coverage, every coverage can be a bad coverage. There are certain strengths and weaknesses to every coverage. You hope you donít stay in anything long enough that anybody figures that out. But at the same time, we just have to do a better job of playing the plays and I have to do a better job of changing it up even more than what I did to keep them more off balance. There were a couple times where we had a good pressure. I remember [Jonathan] Wilhite almost got to the quarterback, but [Kyle] Orton kind of got out of there to our left and threw a comeback, which weíre going to be a little light on in that particular thing. We didnít do a very good job of containing on one side. It was always kind of one thing or the other. It wasnít really any particular person; It was all of us. So we talked about that as a defense. We all have to do a better job of doing our job."
Tom Brady said he was out there watching the game and he knew what was coming. If that was the case, did you guys have any similar recognition defensively or did they change up things to disguise what they were doing?
Pees: "They did a nice job with that ĎWildcatí or whatever and doing it differently than what other people had. Basically [in] that part of it -- the running part of it -- they really only gained 24 yards on five plays. Twelve of it was in the first play when we missed a tackle at the line of scrimmage. That wasnít so much as when they shifted back to the regular formation and put the quarterback back under. And that was a good little touch by Josh [McDaniels] to try to get us to check and then stay in the check. But again, I donít think that in the big scheme of things that was a deciding factor. We certainly can play it better, but I donít think it was a deciding factor. The rest of the stuff is they do what they do and we did what we did. I donít think we were really shocked or surprised by the things they did. We just didnít play them well enough. We just need to play them better."
How do you approach this week in terms of preparing for possibly seeing two quarterbacks, Kerry Collins and Vince Young?
Pees: "Each week, you not only prepare for the guy who is starting, you always look at the backup as a quarterback or even the third guy sometimes. ĎOK, what would they do if it came to this guy playing? Would they change their offense a lot? Would they not change their offense a lot? Is the backup guy the same as the starting guy -- same person, maybe just not as good? Or is he dramatically different?í And if he is, you prepare each week for that, just like last week in Denver. If [Kyle] Orton wasnít the guy and [Chris] Simms is the backup guy, theyíre similar, but Simms is a lefthanded quarterback. Now I have to change the formations and the play-calling by Josh [McDaniels] to more of the left side. Itís always things like that. Every week you prepare for the Ďwhat-ifsí. You know if the quarterback gets knocked out of the game and they have a backup in, how much drastically different will that change the offense. So I think you prepare every week for that."
What would it mean if you could get Junior Seau and add him to your defense?
Pees: "I wouldnít really want to comment on anybody that I donít know yet is on the team. I donít know what that situation is. That is something youíd have to ask Bill [Belichick]. I donít want to comment on somebody that is not a part of our team."
Can you comment on his contributions last year and what he meant to the team then?
Pees: "Just like Tedy Bruschi, just like Mike Vrabel, just like all those guys that have ever played, he was an integral part of our team. And I would say like Bruschi and Mike and Rosie [Rosevelt Colvin], I think the world of all those guys and I loved having them on the team. But as far as right now, itís hard for me to say something about someone that is not on the team."