Answer Man: You've got to give him a little props for shutting down Indianapolis because they're formidable on offense."> Answer Man: You've got to give him a little props for shutting down Indianapolis because they're formidable on offense.">

Answer Man XVII

<br><b>Reporter:</b> Let's start with "Bill Belichick the Genius." Is that all just media hype?<br><b>Answer Man:</b> You've got to give him a little props for shutting down Indianapolis because they're formidable on offense.

Defensively, I think it was an easy blueprint that anybody could've had against Indianapolis. They're a speed defense that's looking to get to the quarterback and they play the run on their way to the quarterback, and if you just have a power running game you neutralize their offense by keeping them off the field. And then I think he did a good job of not so much disguising but interrupting their timing. Then you add in the weather and it was tough for (Tom) Brady to throw the ball. His stats weren't out of this world. The wind was blowing. The Colts can't adjust to that by lining up in the I and running Edgerrin James. So it wasn't so much genius, just saying 'This is the weak thing they do and this is the strong thing they do. Let's capitalize on the weak things and concentrate on their strengths.' Is it genius? Well, yeah, only because a lot of coaches want to do what they do well instead of doing what it takes to beat whatever team they're playing.
Reporter: So what will he do against the Steelers?
AM: He watched the last game. He's going to make the rookie beat him. You know the running game can beat you so he'd be a fool to let it. If I were a coach, I'd say the Steelers' weakness right now is the rookie quarterback. And if the rookie comes out and throws for 300 and beats us, who woulda thunk it? And then you could always adjust, and he's a master at adjusting at halftime. That's what I would do. Stop the run and put the pressure on the rookie in the AFC championship game after a game in which he played horribly.
Reporter: So how should the Steelers respond? I mean the Jets did the same thing. The Steelers struggled passing and in the end Alan Faneca is out there going crazy about running the ball. Do you change your identity because they're giving you something else?
AM: No. I don't think so.
Reporter: So even if they're in man coverage with one safety over the top of Hines Ward and Plaxico Burress, you say run the ball?
AM: Still run the ball and then use play-action. That's one of the things I was questioning last time. If you're going to throw on first down, at least throw off play-action. But I think as long as you stick to the run and realize it's not going to be easy, I think by the fourth quarter you're going to wear them down like you did the Jets. And honestly, the front seven of the Jets is way better than the front seven of the Patriots, in my opinion. I mean, the Jets have four first-rounders without (John) Abraham.
Reporter: So instead of the glove, the thumb, the ribs, the pressure, could it have been the Jets that bothered Ben (Roethlisberger) more than anything?
AM: True. They get paid, too. Hey, if we intercepted (Chad) Pennington and ran it back 86 yards, we'd be thinking what a great defensive play it was instead of looking for excuses for the quarterback. You've got to look at it from their point of view, too. They weren't in that game because they sucked. They matched up well with us. They had a nice front seven that negated our run and unless the quarterback's on, it's trouble. I thought we could take advantage height-wise with Plax, if he could ever learn to judge a ball.
Reporter: I remember you liked David Barrett last year when he was with Arizona. Wasn't he scheduled to visit here in the first week of free agency last March?
AM: Yeah. Right. Barrett's nice. He was going to come in but the Jets signed him right away.
Reporter: OK. Tell me about the Patriots. It appears as if their secondary is still in tatters.
AM: It appears to be in shambles but they're still winning. I think their whole defensive scheme is not designed to focus or highlight one person's talent. They're not going to play zone and let Ty Law take one man off the field, so they've got a scheme where everybody plays their position and does what they have to do and they do it well. So if you take one part out of it, as long as the next guy knows the scheme and doesn't try to do more, the scheme's not going to falter that much. If you get a guy that's smart enough - and that's why he always goes after those blue-collar smart guys - and is not going to try to be the star or do anything they're not supposed to do, they get the job done. That's the key to his success. He can plug in anybody anywhere.
Reporter: Well let's run 'em down, starting with the secondary.
AM: You've got Asante Samuel and Randall Gay at cornerback. Samuel's alright. He's athletic and has speed. Gay, he's a free agent. I mean, I'm sure they're going to try to put him with zone, or if they go man he'll have help over the top. Their safeties, I like them. You've got (Rodney) Harrison and Eugene Wilson. They're pretty good guys. Wilson's going to be a legitimate contender for All-Pro next year. He's just getting overshadowed by Harrison, and before when Law was back there. Their linebackers, (Tedy) Bruschi, they make plays. That's one thing. When they have a chance to, they make plays. Ted Johnson starts; Roman Phifer comes in; Willie McGinest still has got some pass rush; (Mike) Vrabel's a jack of all trades - nothing great but decent everywhere else; Bruschi makes plays. On the line, (Richard) Seymour, I don't know if he's going to play; (Keith) Traylor is a big clog in the middle; Ty Warren, he's alright but he's not a guy who's going to make plays he isn't supposed to, like Seymour. Offensively, I'm more impressed with what they're doing with their offensive line than with their defensive backs. Man for man, their offensive line is just not that good.
Reporter: How good is Matt Light? Isn't he their best lineman?
AM: Stephen Neal and Joe Andruzzi, their two guards are alright. But their tackles?
Reporter: I bring up Matt Light to Tunch (Ilkin) and he laughs.
AM: Yeah. Those two shouldn't be starting, but they're starting and they're winning with them. That's what's more impressive to me than their secondary. In the secondary you can disguise things and you can help some deficiencies. You can help guys there. But offensive line, unless you're max protecting, somebody's going to get exposed. And those tackles, boy. Their two guards are alright. Neal and Andruzzi, we could win with them on our team. Their center (Dan Koppen) is like an (Chukky) Okobi in that he's young and you see some skills, but the two tackles, hmmm. That tells you something about Brady's decision-making. He makes them quickly and he's accurate. His tight ends are nice. Corey Dillon's running hard. We know him. He can beat you. He also can go in the tank sometimes, too. That's his personality. Their receivers are small guys that make plays. That's one thing about them, and I think it comes from being in the Super Bowl and stuff, but they have the confidence that they can make the play.
Reporter: So what's your gut telling you? How do you see it unfolding?
AM: I see it unfolding as kind of like, and this is the most cliché of answers, it's going to be a knock-down, drag-out brawl and whoever makes the least mistakes is going to win. I just hope it's not like it was in 2001. A punt return and a blocked field goal, those are the kinds of things you have to avoid.
Reporter: Don't you have much better talent on special teams now?
AM: Right. Exactly.

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