Patriots coach Bill Belichick said it felt like déjà vu as he opened his Wednesday press conference (10:45 a.m. ET).
“Colts week, it almost feels like it’s a division game. We spent a lot of time [preparing for them] last year, starting [the season] with them. It felt like we had spent the whole offseason — training camp and preseason games –- [preparing for them]. Then [we played them] at the end of the year, so you kind of go back through the whole season. Now here we are at midseason and going back through half of this year already. We’ve seen an awful lot of them, and as usual, they look pretty good.
“They are a strong team in all phases of the game. Tony [Dungy] has always had a good record wherever he’s been. At 7-0, the Colts are as good as anybody. Better. It’s a balanced attack, still very capable of big plays and scoring a lot of points. Controlling the ball, controlling the clock. Defensively, being very disruptive, a lot of turnovers , a lot of sacks , pressure, negative plays. They run well, they have a lot of quickness on defense. They’re also playing well in the kicking game. They hardly ever punt but when they do, they cover them pretty well. Kickoff coverage is a strong point and they do a lot of that. [Dominic] Rhodes, on kickoff returns, he killed us two years ago.
“So they’re a good solid team all the way around. They’ve been very consistent and it will be a big challenge for us this week in all three phases of the game.”
Some other Belichick bits:
FREENEY-KACZUR MATCHUP: Belichick called Freeney one of the quickest ends in the league, comparing him to the Dolphins’ Jason Taylor and the Jets’ John Abraham. Asked a way to stop Freeney, Belichick deadpanned: “Put a ball and chain on him. That would slow him down. We’ve seen him against [Jonathan] Ogden and [Orlando] Pace. They move him around a bit, but most of the time he’s on our left tackle [Kaczur]. He has great quickness and a real good counter move. If you jump out to get him, he comes inside. He surprisingly has enough power. He has a great repertoire of rushes. He has a great motor and is never out of the play.”
BROWNS BLUEPRINT: Belichick acknowledged the Browns’ 13-6 loss to the Colts on Sept. 25 is a solid blueprint to work off, since the defensive game-plan had former Patriots coordinator Romeo Crennel’s fingerprints on it. “It’s a good game to look at,” Belichick said. “[Cleveland] was able to make some plays on third down and in the red area. They gave up a long slant, a catch-and-run play. It was about a 2-yard pass and [Reggie] Wayne took it for [51 yards]. [Overall,] Cleveland played a good disciplined game. They tackled well and that will be a key for us.”
COLTS SCHEDULE: Belichick didn’t take the bait when told the Colts haven’t had the toughest schedule through seven games. “Anyone in this league is capable of winning any week. Ask whoever you want to ask. You pick up the papers every Monday. Look at the scores. Records don’t have anything to do with it. It’s two teams playing and whichever team plays better, that’s who wins. It’s not what the record is, what the hype is, what the stats say and all that.”
HEATH EVANS OVER AMOS ZEREOUE: “We felt like at this point he has a little bit different skills than Amos, that we thought would be more useful to us. It’s two different type of players. It’s not really apples to apples. It’s a question from a team standpoint who gives us what we’re looking for at this particular point in time. That may or may not change in the future. I think it carries into a lot of different areas, also the kicking game and the passing game [blitz pickup]. There are things one player can do that the other doesn’t do or doesn’t do much of. I know they’re both backs, but I think their styles and strengths are quite a bit different.”
EXTRA POINTS: Wednesdays are usually the day opponents hold conference calls with the media, but Colts coach Tony Dungy and defensive end Dwight Freeney will hold those calls Thursday …Quarterback Tom Brady was scheduled to hold a press conference at 11:45 a.m. ET.
Looking ahead, we’ll plan on posting our next update after practice, around 2 p.m. ET.