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Belichick has nothing but praise for Packers

Nov. 6, 2013 11:15 AM
 
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If you believe New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick, the Green Bay Packers are the greatest thing since sliced bread. Here are some snippets from a Belichick conference call today. On the Packers in general: “It’s been the last day and half or so here on Green Bay and it’s a pretty impressive looking team. They can really move the ball. [Aaron] Rodgers is having a terrific year. [He’s] very athletic, can run it, can throw it. He’s got a great set of receivers [and] tight ends. They have a very good offensive system with Coach [Mike] McCarthy there. They really use a lot of different personnel groups, a lot of different formations. It’s very hard to prepare for. Defensively, [with] Dom [Capers], they’ve been playing very well. They can rush the passer. They have excellent coverage players, real good corners. They have a nice mix of pressure and coverage. Again, they mix it up on you enough where you have a lot of things to defend. But, they have a lot of good players and they can pretty much play whatever they want to play. It looks good: third down, red area, man-to-man, zone, [and] blitz zone. They haven’t given up a lot of points and they make you really work for whatever you get. They’ve got a number of disruptive players on the whole unit. [They’re] a good football team. They’re another challenge for us, different from what we’ve seen in previous weeks. [They’re] a very talented team that’s well coached, disciplined, very sound fundamentally and we’ll have to really have a good week of preparation here so we can get ready for them this weekend.” On the challenges in trying to block Clay Matthews and how disruptive is he on a play-by-play basis: “Well, you know, Clay is fast, quick. He’s got real good balance. He’s a guy with a high motor, so even at times when it looks like he’s blocked, he can still come out and get in on the play. He’s a good pursuit player, but I’d say his speed and his quickness are big assets. He’s a guy that’s never really out of the play. You can run away from him but he can run you down or you can run to him and it kind of looks like you might have him blocked, but he spins out of things and uses his quickness and his athleticism to get out of tight situations, stay alive and make plays. So, [he’s] a good football player. On evaluating Matthews coming out of college as a possible fit in the Patriots defense: “Well pretty much as what he is now. He’s an outside linebacker, playing in a 3-4 defense. It’s basically what he did at USC his senior year. He was very productive in the kicking game. You could definitely see him play in space and run well and cover kicks and do all those things. And his senior year, [when] he was able to get some more playing time, he became a productive defensive player there as well.” On the differences between the Patriots’ and the Packers’ 3-4 schemes: “Well, I’d say that the Packers system is definitely similar to the Steelers system. They use some of the same alignments and adjustments and that type of thing to what Pittsburgh does. But, of course it’s with different personnel and different players, so even if it’s the same defense, it plays differently because of Charles Woodson and [Tramon] Williams and Matthews and all the other guys that they got playing. It’s different than the guys that Pittsburgh would use with the same plays [and] same calls. It’s certainly unique and you have to match up personnel-wise to their defense. They give you a lot of problems because they have so many good players at every position on the line, at linebacker, at safety, at corner. They use a number of different people. They give you some tough looks on third down. It’s definitely a challenge for us, but it certainly has its roots with the Pittsburgh system. I don’t think there’s any question about that.” On whether the Packers have made up for their struggling running game with their passing: “Well, I think they use some elements of their passing game, really, just as runs. They throw quick passes out to their outside receivers, to [Greg] Jennings and [Donald] Driver. On the coverages, people come down and play a lot of guys against the run and they’ll throw it out there to them. They throw the ball quite a bit to [Brandon] Jackson [with] screen passes. They’re a very good screen team and they use the check downs and plays like that, some three-step drop passes to get the ball to the tight ends, slot receivers or outside receivers. So, I think those plays - like any West Coast Offense - those plays are just as much a part of moving the ball and getting first downs and getting into scoring position as handoffs. So, no matter how they get it down there, I think the big thing, defensively, is to try to keep them from moving the ball and getting into scoring position. And I’m sure from their point of view, whether they throw a screen pass or run the ball and gain the same amount of yardage, I don’t think it really matters too much to them. They’re just trying to get first downs, make positive plays and stay out of long yardage. They do a really good job of that. They’re not in long yardage very often and that’s because of the efficiencies of their first and second-down plays, whether those are runs or short passes or play-action passes or shots down the field - which they do all them - they just do them pretty well.” On Charles Woodson and his skill set: “Outstanding. Outstanding. He does everything well: man-to-man coverage, zone coverage, reads the quarterback well, has good anticipation of route and route combinations, outstanding ball skills, blitzer – [he’s an] excellent blitzer – [and] good run-force player. When he plays inside in the slot position, or even in the perimeter, he plays very well. I’d say Woodson, [Antoine] Winfield, there are a handful of guys that really stand out in that area [and Woodson] would be in that group. [He’s] an excellent tackler. You rarely see him miss. So, I think he’s as good and complete player in that position that you will find in the league. Although I will also say that I have been impressed with Williams, playing on the other side. I think he’s an excellent player, too; I think they have two real good corners. Woodson’s outstanding, but Williams is really good, too. So, that’s going to be a big challenge for us in terms of getting open and making good throws. Little mistakes, sloppy routes, bad throws or not having good distribution in the passing game with our route depths, those guys can take advantage of it and they can kill you. They’re a ball-hawking secondary. They get their hands on a lot of balls and they catch them. Those two corners, in particular, are very good. They’re as good as we will see or we have seen as being complete players.”

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