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Post image for Mike Pettine Interview Transcript 10/6/11

Mike Pettine Interview Transcript 10/6/11

by Tyson Rauch on October 6, 2011

On Thursday New York Jets defensive coordinator Mike Pettine addressed the media.  Here is the transcript courtesy of the Jets.

On whether he would map out the game plan against the Patriots…

Yeah, that seems to be the question of the week. No, I know that a lot of attention is given to that, and where (Darrelle) Revis will go, and again, for us to be successful I think you need to match at times but then be multiple, again, as any of those quarterbacks you play, and Brady is front and center in that group, you have to play the chess game with them and not allocate your resources the same way all the time and allow them to draw a beat on it. There’s no team I think that’s better in the NFL at just figuring out your plan, making adjustments, and then rolling up some yardage on you as the game goes on. I think that’s why the plan has to be deep, you have to have the ability to change by the series, change by the half, because if you’re giving them consistent looks, they’re too precise, they’re too good.

On how much of a challenge the Patriots present with a stronger running game…

Yeah, being two‑dimensional for them, they’re bad enough when they were one‑dimensional, and now having the threat of running the football certainly presents a problem as it’s well-documented. The usual way we’ve played them is we’ve gone with smaller people and dared them to run and held up well enough in the run game to get them to throw it. That’s probably a taller task this week. I don’t know if that plan will be able to hold up for the entire game, so again, I think we have to have ‑‑ our menu is a little fuller this week because again, they do a good job of it, they’re a flavor-of-the-week offense where they come in, and it’s smart because it’s typically something you haven’t practiced against, something you haven’t seen yet, and it takes you a little while to figure it out. We have to spend a lot of time on multiple things, and we use the phrase it’s chasing ghosts, and sometimes you have to do that. You don’t really know what their formations are going to be, what their personnel groupings are going to be, and you might work against something all week and then not see it, you’ll see something totally different. You have to be very flexible in your approach when you play New England.

On whether there is an element of fun in the “chess match” between the two teams…

Sure, there is (fun), because it’s a challenge, and any coach that’s worth anything will love these opportunities to go against an offense like this. The nice thing about it, it makes it a lot more fun when you have the type of talent that we feel we have on the defensive side of the ball, particularly in the secondary. They’re so driven by match‑ups, they are the best at exploiting match‑ups, that Brady can scan the field and immediately find, “Okay, here’s where I’m going with it, here’s where we have an advantage.” (With) five eligible receivers, they can try to have a line‑up where they feel they’ll have a potential mismatch at any one of them, so that’s critical for us to make sure if there is a weakness at a certain match‑up, that we’re in a position to help that player out.

On whether he is surprised Welker has stretched the field as much as he has…

Sure, and that was always kind of the thing about Welker, is he catches a lot of balls, but a lot of them are slip screens and behind the line of scrimmage and three‑step routes, and that certainly adds a much more difficult element to defend when now he can hit the home run on you a little bit more, and it’s to their credit how precise they are. It’s sometimes harder to hit those smaller targets down the field, and they’ve been able to do it this year.

On whether he is happy with how the defense responded last week…

Well, you’re never happy after a loss, and that was one where you always say, “What could we have done better?” Did we play well as a unit? Yeah. Statistically it looked good, but there were still times in the game, some of the third downs early in the game, we didn’t get off the field or we had third and long, we were disappointed in that. We had some chances to make some stops, and we didn’t. But certainly overall I think our guys played hard, and the mistakes were down. Again, while we were pleased that we played a little bit better, it’s always tough to walk into that room after you’ve gotten beat.

On stopping Tom Brady in the last meeting and whether playing him ups the ante…

Yeah, the easy thing to say is it worked the last time we played them and then just blow the dust off of that one and use it. There’ll certainly be elements of it, concepts from it, things that we learned from preparing for them three times last year, culminating in the divisional win. But I think that’s what makes them so good. I have a feeling that there were more than a few days in Foxborough spent preparing, whether it was over the lockout or whether it was since the season started preparing for our defense, knowing that we had success against them in the playoff game. Again, it’s a challenge for us. We’ve got to make sure that we kind of forge ahead with some new things, but at the same time not get away from what’s been successful against them in the past.

On what the biggest challenge is facing the league’s top-rated offense…

To me it’s the variety of ways they can beat you. Yeah, it’s Welker, he’s got 40 catches, but at the same time, as I’ve already mentioned, they have a potential mismatch at virtually every position. Now add to it that they’re running the football. That’s a pretty good offensive line. I think the tight end has really stepped up. (Rob) Gronkowski has really stepped up and become one of the better tight ends in the league. He can block. You can tell he has great chemistry with the quarterback, that there are times where he’s covered and he’s throwing it anyway because he knows he can fit it in there, and he has really, really good ball skills in tight spaces, and I think that’s what separates him from some of the other tight ends in the league.

On whether he worries more about mismatches or about the players who will get the ball no matter what…

Well, it’s a combination. Our philosophy on defense is we need to play to our players’ strengths. That’s why there are times when we’re going to put Revis by himself, and then at the same time you have to also understand where are we potentially weak, where is there a mismatch, and we have to protect that, whether that’s through a double team coming from high to low or from low to high, just a variety of ways, or whether we bring pressure to the side of a player, put the player on the side of that pressure so the quarterback has a hard time seeing it, you’re throwing the ball through a pressure look and forcing him to work the other side of the field where we’re maybe in better coverage. It’s a constant thing. But again, it’s on us, I think, to mix it and not just be in a handful of looks, I think we have to constantly change what we’re doing.

On how the defense compensates for the loss of Bryan Thomas…

That’s a tough one. From a personal standpoint it’s tough for me. BT (Bryan Thomas) was one of my favorite players, and to see him sidelined like that and see him in tears after the game was hard to handle because he’s been a Jet and he’s very quietly ‑‑ we talk about “Play like a Jet,” and he’s very quietly lived up to all those attributes, loves football, tough, passionate, physical, productive. All those things that you want out of a player, and as the people here that know him that have interviewed him know how goofy he is, but there’s also that element of, he kept our room really light. He’s already been missed, and that’s something I just don’t think you replace him with one player. I mean, there’s certain packages where we might have two or three guys kind of rotating through to take that spot, but that’s a big hole, and he will be ‑‑ he already is, like I said, sorely missed.

On whether Jamaal Westerman is ready to go as an every-down linebacker…

Again, I think we have to mix it with our groups. I don’t know how much we’ll play a decent amount of base defense this week. A lot of that depends on New England (and) what groupings they’re in, so I don’t know how much base we’ll end up in, but I think that position really has to be handled by committee. It would be easy to put Jamaal in there, but now all of a sudden with Jamaal being in a lot of our third down groupings, now you’re asking a player who hasn’t played a lot of snaps to play virtually an entire game. That’s tough to do.

On if Kenrick Ellis could see some time if they use a four-man line…

It does, and that meeting is pending. I know he’s right there in the discussion as far as the last guy being up, but it’s all on the table.

On whether he has noticed the safeties being targeted more this season…

Yeah, I don’t know if it’s more, because I think we got a decent amount of that last year, but it’s natural to see that. That’s why I think a lot of our coverages are geared to defend in between the numbers, closer to the hash marks, than they are outside. That’s, again, playing to your players’ strengths. We feel we have two guys that can lock up outside pretty well and we’ll try to defend more inside. Teams are smart and they’re trying to do things to force our safeties to make plays in space.

On how he would assess Eric Smith’s play over the first four games…

I think Eric has played well. There have been a couple minuses, but not many. He’s a guy that’s been pretty solid for us. One of the reasons that we’ve played him a little bit less is just because we want to keep his reps down. It’s a long year (and) he plays a lot on special teams. As you know, he’s one of Mike Westhoff’s favorites, so we know he’s not coming off too many teams. Brodney (Pool) is a good player, and we wanted to be in a position where we could take some reps off of Eric. It wasn’t performance-related, we just wanted to get Brodney out there and get him playing. He was a guy that played a lot for us, especially at the end of the year last year when Jim Leonhard went down and we really consider him a third starter at safety. I think looking long‑term, we don’t want to burn Eric out, obviously, early in the season, so it was a natural thing for us to play Brodney more.

On if it makes the safeties more important in a game like this because New England likes to use the middle of the field…

It does. The thing about New England, you have to defend the full field, and I think that’s what makes them as dangerous as they are. There is no area of the field they won’t attack and I think they’re the best at game planning for (it), that (Tom Brady) can scan a defense and know right now “What’s available to me? Where can I go with this? Where can I not?” With as much talent as they have, they can take advantage of it very quickly. They can get a receiver to that area pretty quick. Again, I think they’re real good at changing up what they do, schematically. There are times where you might have a game where there are a lot of heavy crossing routes. They’re expecting man‑to‑man, trying to run some interference, and there are other times where you’ll see they’ll have a game where it’s all zone-beaters. So again, I think they are real good at game-planning and having the ability to take what you’re giving them.

On whether he thinks they could cripple the New England offense by holding Wes Welker to only one or two receptions…

No, I think cripple is a long way away. I think there are too many other weapons. I think you’d feel good about shutting him down, but would the final result be what you wanted? Again, I think there will be certain coverages designed to take him away and force the ball elsewhere, but there are other ones where we’re going to have to hold up against him, where we make sure after he catches it, we have to make sure we get him on the ground. He’s not the only guy. One of the reasons he has so many catches is because I think the way teams have defended them, he’s been the mismatch most of the time. There is such a good relationship there, good chemistry between him and the quarterback, but let’s not forget, (Rob) Gronkowski has, I think, 18 catches and a bunch of touchdowns. The other guy, (Deion) Branch, is a guy you certainly can’t sleep on, either, and usually if the back gets open, if there’s a mismatch there, he’ll get it there, as well. Yes, we’d like to hold Welker to that number, but at what cost would it come?

On if Josh Mauga was in for a few plays against Baltimore to lighten the workload for Bart Scott like Brodney Pool did for Eric Smith…

Same thing, it wasn’t a performance thing. It was that we want to keep our guys fresh, and that’s sometimes hard for those linebackers. There are even some snaps where we go all (defensive backs) and we have David (Harris) off the field. You have to look at it. It’s a long year, and we had said with not having an off‑season, that early in the year you were going to have to weather the storm and use our depth to our advantage. We’re finding that we need to do that, or else, we’ll come up a little bit short late in the year because our guys are just run down.

On if Josh Mauga may drop into coverage against New England…

Correct, and Josh is pretty good in coverage, so there are some packages that have him on the field.

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