The Patriots have spent some time with the press. Here are some highlights.
Q: Looking at what Ryan Tannehill has been able to do this season it seems like he’s been taking care of the ball well. He takes a lot of sacks, but he’s a very active passer. Can you evaluate where he is in the last five or six games, in contrast to the beginning of the year or where he’s developed from since he’s been at that spot?BB: You know, again, I think that their offense, especially when they’re in control of the game, is one that very much takes what the defense gives it. They go where it’s light. A lot of the passes that they have are, again, plays that take advantage of a defense that’s got a lot of guys in one part of the defense, maybe to stop the run or load up on one thing and they go somewhere else.
There are a lot of bubble screens, there are a lot of look-type passes, slants, play-actions. The more of that you give them, the more of that they’ll take. The less of that you give them, then the more they’ll hand the ball off to Miller and their backs and grind it out that way.
I think the biggest thing for Tannehill is in those running plays, most of the time, or a good part of the time, there’s a quarterback part of the play, option part of the play, keep and he does that with discretion. But when he does it he usually hurts the defense. He’s ripped off some big runs. I think the thing he does the best is control the game, manage the game, manage the offense. As I said, they have multiple options on a lot of plays and he is picking out the best one.
Belichick seems to think that Tannehill is a great starter in this league; he can control the game, limit mistakes, and take advantage of weaknesses in the defense. Keep an eye out for when the Dolphins overload a side of the field- the play might be going the other way.
Q: On Sunday night, there was a sequence on the first drive where you had second-and-goal from the one-yard line. What did San Diego show you that you felt that the best option on that play was to throw the ball?
JM: We always go into the game with an idea of what we want to do on the goal line first – short-yardage first, our first third down call, third-and-two-to-five, third-and-whatever the distances are – and we had discussed that prior to the game. We made our call, and unfortunately it got tipped there at the line of scrimmage.
Q: How much leeway does Tom Brady have in changing the play inside the 10-yard line?
JM: There are definitely some situations where there is a lot of leeway. When you’re on the goal line, it’s not a mystery what defense they’re going to be in. Most teams have one goal line defense that they line up in. You know what it’s going to be, they know you know what it’s going to be, and you go out there and make your calls. There are definitely opportunities there inside the 10, I would say we have, whether it’s two calls in the huddle or the potential to move out of it. Down there on the goal line, it’s usually very loud and noisy anyways, and that’s a situation where you usually make a call and you live with it. That’s really the story on that.
This answers a lot of our questions about their red zone output. It seems as if they have their plays and they run them, with little room for audibles.
Tom Brady on winning the division:
Q: If you guys win Sunday, you clinch the division. Has there been or will there be discussion of that? Does that add even more to the game?
TB: Coach [Belichick] hasn't mentioned that today. Normally he has.
Looks like they're not even trying to play up the importance of this game. They want to win it like any other game in any other week.
Belichick, to the Miami media, on what the Dolphins do so well:
Q: Aside from winning 10-of-12 games since playing the Dolphins, is there anything that illustrates the progress you've made – any stats or player's surge or anything like that?
BB: I don't know. Each game is different. Every challenge each week is different: different matchups, different schemes, different players, different challenges. Some of those we've met well and done well; some of them we haven't. The Dolphins are a team that we've played before, but it was so long ago there are a number of players that will be involved in this game that weren't even on the roster the last time that the two teams met on both sides...
Coach [Joe] Philbin does a great job with that team. They're good in every area: offense, defense, special teams. They've done a great job in terms of doing a lot of little things: the return game, the turnovers, penalties. They're not little things, but they're not things that show up on the stat sheet necessarily, but when you put them all together – their kick blocking, their ability to create field position. They have the best field position in the league. All those things add up to doing things that give them competitively a little bit of an edge down after down, series after series.
The Patriots currently rank as the 2nd most penalized team in the NFL with regards to penalty yardage per game. The Dolphins have the 2nd least. Belichick is definitely taking this as an opportunity to focus on the smaller details that helps to win games.
Darrelle Revis on the importance of winning the Super Bowl:
Q: You've had a lot of individual accolades during your career, how motivated are you to add a Super Bowl championship to your resume?
DR: I'm not even really thinking down the road. Right now is really to just stay focused like we've been doing – as individuals, but also as a team – and continue to just keep on trying to write these wins up on a week to week basis.
THIS IS THE MOST BEAUTIFUL RESPONSE EVER.