It seemed like the coaches were at a high energy level and getting after the guys today."We had a long meeting on this, this morning and there's a bunch of clichés in football and one of them is called "the wall." What happens is after about the third day installation, after you put in one set the first day and everyone is just starting to feel good about themselves, then you put in another set the second day and a couple of the guys start scrambling a little bit because they have to remember the stuff from the first day and the second day. By the third day for some, it really becomes information overload. You have to try to foresee those things coming. We have to be more energetic and put more pressure on them ourselves and make sure we can get over that psychological wall."
When you say install, is that more tweaks of what you put in last year?"It's taking a set of plays, like today we put in multiple receivers and DB's. That was the focus of today. Everybody who plays football without multiple DB's, just regular defense where it's 4-3 or 3-4, is usually responding to a regular form of offense where there are two wide receivers in the game. Now, whether it's two tight ends, two wide receivers, and one back or two wide receivers, one tight end and two backs, those two offensive personnel groupings usually trigger regular defense for most teams. We did that the first two days, so now on Day 3, we put in three wide receivers, then we'll put in four wide receivers, and then go in the opposite direction and put in three tight ends and a back, or two tight ends and two backs. There are a bunch of different personnel groupings offensively that now triggers the defense to have a response either by personnel or by scheme, depending upon how you are going to handle those different personnel groupings."
Is the information overload referring to the young guys or everybody?"It's definitely for the young guys. The veterans, for them this is taking it to another level; the problem is you have these young guys trying to get it the first time, yet the older guys are taking it to another level. There's a lot of teaching going on because you have to teach to two different levels of students. You have to teach the ones who already know what they are doing and you have to teach the ones who are trying to figure it out and getting it for the first time."
How much do you want the older guys to teach the younger guys?"They do a lot of nuance teaching in individual settings, like one-on-one; that's when they can say this is what you are looking to do ta da, ta da, ta da. But really most of the help from the older guys comes in the meetings. Somebody will say, you could have slapped and ripped right here and they would give them what they would have done in the same situation. I'm not talking about when they have a mental error, I'm talking about they can do it a little bit better based on their experience."
Do the older guys know when they should offer help?"They know the appropriate time. During a practice we go pretty fast tempo from one section to the next. I don't like to get stagnant or stale. So when we get to one section, boom, we're off to something else and it's very segmented. While I'm talking to the quarterback that's doing the play-call, Coach Vaas is talking to the quarterbacks that are not in the huddle. So they are not getting the nuances like I might give a coaching point to the quarterback that's in the game that I am talking to. Every once in a while I will have to stop when I think the point is significant enough for everyone to hear what I am saying. And I'll go over and say, this is what I just said to Brady. So those guys will hear what I just said on a specific play. There are other times I would just not call that with those guys in there because they're just not ready. So I will not pass on that information because right now it would just go over their heads."
Do you have to be careful that after a while the digs don't work as much?"You have to be cognizant of that. You don't keep doing it just to do it. Like a guy like Brady I don't do it very often. Because I want it to hurt when I say something, in other words I want it to be really important. In the first three practices, I have probably said something to him three or four times of major significance. It might be his technique when he is throwing the ball to the left where he locks out his left leg; now he is pulling with his arm and he doesn't even know he is doing it. And that's why the ball is sailing. But more importantly, rather than a fundamental technique, it's when they make a mental mistake that a guy at his level of expertise shouldn't be making. I think you have to correct physical mistakes but you have to hone in on mental mistakes and minimize those as much as you possibly can."
When do you start changing the technique of a quarterback, such as his throwing motion?"First of all, you have to identify what needs to be corrected. You just can't come in and look at a guy throw a couple of times and say, oh I've got it. You have to watch his mechanics for awhile and there are some things you can correct right away. When I first got here I thought one of the biggest problems was just taking the snap from center. I thought that was a major problem, but that can be corrected in one day. So that's one less problem we have to worry about. The center was low and he was low. Now you can't get in your drop quick enough. So now part of the whole mechanics of a pass is just being able to get to your drop. That's one thing you should be able to take for granted. You're going to be able to take your snap and steps. That's one less thing you want to be worrying about."
Would you talk about the trip you and the other coaches took to Carolina?"The coaches get tired of hearing me too, just like the players do, just like you do; everyone gets tired because I'm the one they have to listen to. Because of my relationship with John Fox and for that matter, there were a couple of other relationships; Dan Hanning is their offensive coordinator. We worked together with the Jets. Mike Turkovich and Rick Minter worked together as well; and he's their defensive coordinator. So there was a lot going there. The fact that they were in their calmed-down setting, like their spring ball version of mini camp, their coaches had plenty of time to spend with our coaches. There are a number of things you take for granted that are better hearing, coming from someone else other than me. I thought it was a good information experience for all of us."
Was that more of a defensive setting?"It was for all of us. Special teams met with special teams. Offense was meeting with offense; defense was meeting with defense. Remember their offense, even though they don't use all the same formations, the system is the same."
Did college coaches visit the Patriots when you were there?"There were certain guys that would come in. Some guys had carte blanche, like Tom O'Brien of BC. Because of our relationship there, they could basically come when they wanted to. It's always big in the NFL to have relationships with college staffs because it could affect you in the draft down the line. So you don't want to turn those guys away very often."
Is it too early to talk about the No. 2 quarterback and the wide receiver rotation behind Jeff (Samardzija) and Rhema (McKnight)?"We are getting a lot closer on those. I told everybody we weren't going to make any firm decisions until we got through the weekend and even then we are not going to make firm decisions. We're just going to start re-slotting. So far we have changed the depth chart every day. It hasn't just stayed the same."
Can you share any of your impressions of the young guys?"This isn't a young guy, but David Grimes was hurt a lot this spring. And last year when he showed flashes in the games, he showed flashes that he could be really good. But coming in I didn't know what he was going to look like but, fortunately for us, he has looked very good to this point. Now I know I have a third guy, but I'm not saying he's going to be THE third guy. But I have a third guy I have confidence in. And now let's see if I can get a fourth guy. I'm going one at a time. Each one of these quarterbacks brings something different to the table. So before you judge them, you have to find out what they do the best and have them do that and see how they do when you find out what they do the best. I think too many coaches ask guys to do too many things they're not comfortable doing and it's unfair to evaluate them on things they're not comfortable doing."
What's the progress of right tackle?"Right now we just go with seniority. We put Brian (Mattes) in there but once again he was gone for most of the spring as well and he was like our seventh offensive lineman last year. So he's got first dibs on it, but it will be interesting because we have a bunch of guys involved in the mix. Paul (Duncan) is involved in the mix. Obviously, Sam (Young) is involved in the mix. You guys have been out there to see that he's right up there contending to be one of our front-line guys. We'll see how that goes. Ryan (Harris) is getting pretty close. I'm still not going to rush him. I'm not going to be stupid and put him out there before I think he needs to be out there. So he's on the Club Med program right now. I see him over there on his bicycle."
When you correct a throwing technique, do you sit down with them and watch a tape?"You don't tell them what's wrong; you show them somebody else is doing it the way you perceive it should be done. Quinn would be a great person for them to watch. You can have the same play and here one guy is throwing it and here could be him throwing it and they could say, okay I see what you're talking about; because his mechanics are pretty good."
Did you have to do a lot of that with Brady when you first came here?"Brady's mechanics were more tweaked, rather than being redefined. Even something like touch; some quarterbacks never figure out how to throw a ball with touch. Everything is sling it as hard as you can. There are times when you have to throw that touch pass. You just can't on every play see if you can throw the ball through the fence. Brady was a lot easier project because some of the things these other guys are going through, he had already experienced before I got here. He had been playing for a couple of years and you had two years of tape, so then you can say we have to fix this; this is pretty good but we can make this better. It was really not a complete overhaul with him; it was more of a tweaking."
Do you go into this season hoping to get another quarterback ready knowing Brady will be gone next year?"If you are asking me if I would like to play backups at quarterback and every other position, I would like to play backups at every position where you are not just handing off the ball on every play. If I get into a game where the game is under control, I'm not going to try and score a whole bunch of more touchdowns. I know that can hurt you in the long run. I'm just not big on doing that. That doesn't mean I won't throw a pass; I'm just not going to throw very many of them. Would I like to get whoever the backup is in and get him some meaningful reps and throw the ball some and run the offense? Yes, I would like to be able to do that. But I get one guy ready to play; I don't get two guys ready to play. Some people believe in getting two guys ready to play; I'm just not one of them. I get one guy ready to play and the other guy has to fit in."
Can you talk about the five highly recruited freshman defensive backs?"They're going to get more opportunities now that we are getting into these multiple defensive backs. They are running seconds and thirds; we don't just take them and put them in there. And now that we are in multiple DB packages, I think I'll have a better feel for that in a couple days. Now they're going to be on the field a lot versus good guys. It's one thing to judge them as I call the AYO's versus the AYO's. Which is "all you others" after you get passed two-deep in the depth chart. But a lot of these guys are going to be in the two-deep in the depth chart; they just need more time when they are going against the good guys and we can see what they can do. Obviously, some of them move up the chain faster than others. That's just the way it is. I think it would be premature to go out on a limb at this time and say so-and-so is going to be the backup at any position; DB's included."
As practice went on today, was there better execution of the snap count that you were looking for?"We just didn't do what they did at the start of practice because I did not like what I saw. They can practice that some other time when it's not on my time. I'm not going to practice something and just get myself miserable and I think I let them know that."
Was Leo (Ferrine) out there today?"Leo was out there today but he wasn't running around too much. He was on the side more as he has a little strain. I didn't know if he was going to be out there repping or not repping. Chase (Anastasio) is almost ready to go, but once again, Chase has a tweak. At this time of year what I'm not going to do, when I know what certain roles they can do, so what I'm not going to do when I know they have a little tweak, is rush them in there when it gives me a chance to evaluate some other people to see what they can do."
You have mentioned giving Brady more responsibility and he used the term "more freedom" – are those the same thing?"You do this slow. You don't all of a sudden say, you can audible at the line. Like today on the one play that we called a lot, I gave him the opportunity to signal to a receiver to change the individual route for that receiver based off the leverage of the DB. Now that is not something you give to just anybody. That's somebody you have to trust, that your guy sees it and now we are going to break his legs because they are going to play this route and we're going to run that route. You just can't give that to anybody. I put one in today and explained to him that this is the first example of what I'm talking about. This is on you, if you see it, go ahead and signal it and go ahead and do it. He threw three completions and, trust me, he was signaling every time. He was a signaling machine today. Some people think we are going to let Brady go to the line of scrimmage and call his own plays. That is not going to happen. At the same time, what you can now do is get him into position where he can get you into a better play than the one you had called. That doesn't mean you necessarily change the whole play. It could be just changing what one guy does on the play. And that could be the one guy you were going to but based on how they are playing, you have no chance. For example, if a guy were running an out instead of an in and you have him running in and the corner's playing three yards inside of him, well, if you have an out call instead of an in, you have a great play; but you don't so now he can change it and go ahead and do that. Now all of a sudden he does that and you are in more better plays; in other words, he can cover for my crummy play calls."
Is Brady sort of an extension of you on the field?"That's exactly right. And you have to let him know what his limitations are there, so it isn't just every time he goes to the line of scrimmage. He asked the question today, can I do this and I said no. It was another one of those that he was thinking along those lines, if I could do this, I could throw the ball to him; and in that one situation, that is not what I wanted him to do. So you have to let him know what he can do and what he can't do. And then you have to be willing to roll with the punches. You can't tell him to do it and get mad at him if it doesn't work out."