Tuesday, November 22, 2011
Turning the page: Prep for 'Dream Team'
By Chris Forsberg
Andrew Mills/US PresswireComing off Monday's win over the Chiefs, it's a short holiday week for the New England Patriots as they prepare to travel to Philadelphia for Sunday's battle with the much-ballyhooed Eagles.
Up next for the Patriots: Old friend Asante Samuel (22) and the Philadelphia Eagles.
Philadelphia, dubbed the "Dream Team" during the offseason, is a mere 4-6, but you'd never know from talking to Patriots coach Bill Belichick.
"The Eagles are an outstanding team," he said. "[They’re] well coached, they’re obviously mentally tough -- they’ve hung in through a lot of tough situations. They’re a talented team in all three phases of the game; they’re very explosive. They’ve done everything well: run the ball, thrown the ball, defend the run, rush the passer, turned it over, kick returns. We have a lot to get ready for here, a team we haven’t played in awhile. We’ve seen them in preseason but it’s not quite the same. [We] have to get it turned around in a short week and get ready for a good football team that does a lot of things. This will be a big challenge for us this week."
Sure to be a top story line is which quarterback the Patriots will be chasing in Michael Vick or Vince Young. Belichick suggested the team will be prepared for the entire depth chart.
"We have to be ready for every player that’s on the roster, even whoever is in the game to start the game we all know that could be a different player on the second or some other play of the game," he said. "We’ll prepare for all three quarterbacks and maybe later in the week we’ll be able to zero in more on one than another. We need to be ready for all of them anyway, especially the two that played the most here -- Young and Vick. Both can run, have good scrambling ability, both have real big arms, can throw the ball down the field as far as they need to. Both guys have done the things offensively that you need to do to be productive and win -- make decisions, key pass plays on third down in the red area, scramble and get out of trouble, play-action and so forth.
"I think they’re both good; Whichever one we get, we get. We’ll have to defend based on right-handed, left-handed, but I don’t think there is a big play preference for one over the other. I’d say it’s minimal at best, that they run their offense and both guys do a good job of it. Both guys have been productive and they have a lot of weapons to utilize and they do a good job of getting them the ball. We’ll hopefully be ready for all the players."
On the other side of the field, Patriots offensive coordinator BIll O'Brien spoke to the difficulty in going up against the likes of old friend Asante Samuel and fellow Pro Bowler Nnamdi Asomugha in the Eagles' secondary.
"They’re definitely as advertised," said O'Brien. "We all know about Asante. He is a very instinctive player, makes a lot of plays on the ball and Asomugha is also in the same category -- different skill sets, different types of players, but both very productive players. Their front four –- they actually play a bunch of guys up front [with] eight, nine guys they play up front, are all very explosive players, play very hard and play really well in that system. And the linebackers, you’d say the same about them, too. We have a big challenge on a short week and we have to get rolling here tomorrow in practice."
Belichick and his staff have a way of talking up each week's opponents, but quarterback Tom Brady noted the hyperbole in which Belichick was already speaking.
"We've got a huge game this weekend against a very good opponent," Brady said during his weekly call into Boston sports radio, WEEI, on Tuesday. "Coach Belichick said last night this is the best team that we've played all year. That says a lot. I think they're talented at every position."