Q: Do you guys really run the ball to the right 89 percent of the time?
A: “The right side has been double-teaming very well and we kind of broke that tendency at the end of the game the other night and went behind Max and Juicy, who have been lobbying to run our No. 1 run play ’22 Double’ to the left. They produced pretty well so maybe we will run a little bit more over there.”
Q: Have you seen teams anticipating you running to the right?
A: No. They have gaps. You can run to the right every play if you want to. I’ve played games where we got into that left formation the entire game and Chris Doleman and Kevin Milliard and we would make Doleman play a five technique. They are going to play their defense. They aren’t going to put extra guys over there. They will being a safety there or something but we have blockers for him. It’s no big deal.”
Q: Do you expect Hines to play?
A: I’d never count him out. It is one position that we are very deep at. I feel very comfortable with Jerricho in his spot or Emmanuel splitting it. We have our fingers crossed that he will be ready to go because he is the heartbeat. We don’t want to miss him. If he is not there, we have enough guys who are more than capable.”
Q: Can Cotchery start for Hines Ward?
A: “In certain personel groups, yes.”
Q: Do you beat the Pats by scoring a lot of points?
A: “Every time you play them, you think it is going to happen that way. I have been in 9-3 games (while with Cleveland) with the last ball up in the air and it went off our fingertips and have been in shootouts with them. Every game is so different. Whenever you think it is going to be a shootout, the defenses rise up and it’s 10-9. I think you go play it and see how it goes. The game will come down to, like last year, we can’t have balls bounce off us and them take it to the house. We dropped two or three balls in the end zone and kicked field goals. We can’t do that in this ballgame.”
Q: Will this be a fun game to watch?
A: “You have premier players in a lot of positions but you do have two quality, quality quarterbacks. I think the best two in the AFC right now. There are a lot of other guys who are going to be playing football out there but those two guys can control a game.”
Q: Do you think your offense can match Patriots point for point.
A: “I hope so. We’ve been getting better and better. Their defense got a lot of yards thrown on them because everybody is behind. They are a much better pass defense than their statistics. Their run defense is solid. I feel very confident in our group that we are able to score as many points as necessary. I think there is a lot of confidence building. We didn’t play very well early in the season. But again, we can’t have one of those games where we turn the ball over three times. It has to be clean.”
Q: Do you have to set the tempo offensively
A: “It is always important. We want to be one of those teams who comes out and scores with the first possession. We have been getting very good production on that. Where we have been lacking is the first drive of the second half. Coming out of the locker room if we defer, we had a chance to put what we call a double score – you score the last possession of the half and then you get the ball, 90 percent of the teams that do that win the game. That is something that we are shooting for. We want to set the tempo at the beginning and definitely at the end.”
Q: More pressure this week to do that against Patriots?
A: “I think that is every week. They are a good team and they are solid and they are scoring a lot of points. But you can’t let that change in who you are and what you do because you will start doing things out of the box that is going to screw you up.’
Q: Is your offense pass happy?
A: “I think we are very balanced. There are games that we can just take it and run it and when we want to speed it up, we can throw it. I wouldn’t consider us a passing team. We have had some pretty good numbers. I still think we are pretty solid running team.”
Q: Why do you like wide receiver screens so much?
A: “The players are very good at it. They are run-after-the-catch guys and that’s why they are here. They are just extended running plays to me. They are long handoffs. A lot of it, I consider the running game. At the end of the ball game last week, we had runs called and we threw two passes for 22 yards to ice the game, but those are running plays. You are just handing the ball to a receiver out there wide and let him run in space. They go down as passing statistics, but to us, they are really running plays.”
– By Mark Kaboly