Belichick: Colts have 'explosive, well-balanced attack'

Belichick: Colts have 'explosive, well-balanced attack'
January 5, 2014, 7:00 pm
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In his opening remarks Sunday, Bill Belichick started the rope-a-dope, saying, “We’ll have to really gear it up and obviously play our best football of the year and try to be competitive against this team.”
Is Indy good? No doubt. But the last time the Patriots were wholly uncompetitive in a game was October of 2010 when they got demolished by the Browns.
The “try to be competitive with this team” line is evidence of what Belichick’s mantra will be heading into the Patriots Divisional Playoff game. “The Colts are loaded and they may demolish us.”   
“Explosive football team – we all saw it the other night, how quickly they can score, how explosive they are,” said Belichick. “They’ve done a real good job of not turning the ball over; haven’t given up a lot of negative plays, very few penalties - like 50 penalties or something like that, whatever it is, not very many. For the most part this year they’ve played mistake-free and have an explosive, well-balanced attack. Obviously [Andrew] Luck has done a great job and they have a tremendous passing game, but their balance, their running game, their offensive line, production out of their tight ends has been solid too.”
Even though the Patriots picked off Andrew Luck three times last season in a 59-24 Patriots win, Belichick said Luck is “one of the top quarterbacks in this league already.”
“He had a great college career, first pick in the draft,” said Belichick. “He’s done all the things that I think he has the talent to do. He’s obviously a smart guy. He works hard, he’s tough, he has good leadership skills. He’s athletic, he can make plays with his feet and his arm: scramble plays, designed plays, plays that play out kind of the way they’re drawn up but he can improvise and make plays on his own. He does a good job of seeing down the field. He throws a very good deep ball, has good touch on some of the short and intermediate plays: screens, crossing routes, again some touch plays in the red zone, things like that. There’s no question he’s a complete football player and one of the top quarterbacks in this league already. He has a great career in front of him but I think he’s already established himself as a very poised and talented player that can do a lot of things to beat you and he manages his team well and plays good situational football.”
Belichick alluded to the fact Indy (11-5) beat Denver, San Francisco and Seattle this season.
In Seattle and San Fran, that’s two very good defenses that Indy was able to put points up on.
“It looks like they’ve gone to a no-huddle, up-tempo type of game,” said Belichick. “They get a lot of people involved. They’ve had some balance in their running game, with the quarterback also being part of the running game there. T.Y. Hilton has had a great year for them but they’ve gotten a lot of production from the backs, the tight ends, the other receivers. It’s a solid group up front, they’ve protected well.”
The Colts, under head coach Chuck Pagano, have become much more aggressive defensively than they were in the Tampa-2 days of Tony Dungy and Jim Caldwell.
“You see the elements of the Baltimore system there with their mix of coverages and pressures,” said Belichick. “They have a good balance of attacking the offense with their multiple coverages, multiple type blitzers – linebacker blitzes, secondary blitzes, zone coverages, man coverages, they mix it up and do a good job keeping the offense off balance. They don’t just sit in one thing.
Longtime sack machine Robert Mathis is the key. He had 19.5 sacks this season.
“He moves around,” Belichick said of Mathis. “You have to find him. They also use him some in coverage. He’s a very good run player as well for some of the same reasons: his explosiveness and his quickness. Some of the passing situations that get set up are set up by negative plays caused on early downs. He plays some as a linebacker and flips sides and rushes off both sides. They run their share of games, stunts and things like that. He ends up on a lot of different guys. It’s not just – I would say when they had Dwight and Mathis there that primarily those guys were always on the tackles certainly the tackles will see a lot of them, but when they stunt inside and run games and things like that, a lot of times they wind up on other guys. Look, those tackles are going to see a lot of him, but everybody has to be ready, too."