*With the Ravens preparing to take on the New England Patriots this weekend, two members of the enemy team answered a few questions about their squad. *
BR.com gives you Patriots head coach Bill Belichick and linebacker Adalius Thomas.
Head coach Bill Belichick
What are your impressions of Joe Flacco and how he has progressed?
Bill Belichick:"I think he's done a real good job, and his record speaks for that. He had a great year last year, going to the [AFC] Championship game, and this year he already has three wins, and a great win on the road in San Diego and two very productive games against Kansas City and Cleveland at home. And he looked good in preseason, so I think he's doing a good job – as is their entire offense. It's no one-man band there. They've got outstanding players all the way across the board on that unit – running backs, tight ends, receivers, offensive line, you know, a good offensive scheme that creates a lot of variety and gives you a lot of things to worry about defensively, to defend. So, it's a good group effort, but he's certainly done his part and done a great job of managing the team and throwing the ball and making plays and avoiding the bad ones."
What type of relationship do you have with John Harbaugh and what do you think of the job he has done?
BB: "I think he's done a good job. I've always had a good relationship with John. I've known him for a long time, since he was the special teams coach with the [Philadelphia] Eagles, and then when he became the defensive backs coach. He and I talk fairly frequently, and I think he's done a terrific job with that team. They're good in every phase of the game. They're good on offense, they're good on defense, they're good on special teams. They're well coached, they're sound, they don't make many bad plays. They make you beat them, they're tough, they're physical, they do a lot of little things well, and they do a lot of big things well. I think that all shows up in the hard work and preparation that I know John puts into it, and I know he put that into it as an assistant coach and in special teams in Philadelphia. When we played against them defensively in '07 when he was there, you could see that in the competition of the game and the preparation that his players showed. So, none of that really surprises me. That's just what it is."
How do you prepare for a rotation of Willis McGahee and Ray Rice?
BB:"Well, they're both good. We see a lot of teams that have more than one back that are outstanding players, and certainly Rice and McGahee both are. They're both good backs that we saw in the Cleveland game break a lot of tackles, play with good balance, speed, stiff arm, catch the ball out of the backfield and turn them into big plays. So, we're just going to have to do a good job of getting a lot of people around them, number one, and not creating a lot of one-on-one open-space tackles – because that's going to be a hard tackle for any player to make against runners of that caliber – and try to give them as little space as possible to work in, and get as many people there as we can. And that's a huge challenge, but that's really what we've got to do."
What type of a threat is Randy Moss?
BB:"I mean, I think Randy does everything pretty well. There are really not any limitations with Randy. He's a good blocker, he's smart, he's versatile, he's played all the outside positions – the X, the Z – and the inside positions as well in the slot, in different receiver groups. He can run after the catch, he can run the short and intermediate routes, and he can certainly run the deeper routes. He does a good job against man coverage. He does a good job against zone coverage. He's a big target, he's got good hands, good ball skills, tracks the ball well down the field. So, I don't think there is really any route you call with Randy where you say, 'Well, we don't want to run that route with him.' It's just the opposite that you're pretty comfortable whatever route you ask him to run, that he can do it and he can be effective doing it. So, that gives you a lot of versatility in your offensive system, and we try to capitalize on that."
Do you have an appreciation for what the Ravens' defense has been able to do?
BB: "Well, they're very good defensively. They have an outstanding group of players, and as I said, they're well coached. Coach Harbaugh and Coach [Greg] Mattison [have] done a great job this year, and they've done a great job through the years of just playing good defensive football. They're good against the run, they're good on third down, they're good in the red area. They can rush the passer, they can cover, they turn the ball over. They're really an outstanding group. They've gotten a lot of accolades, and they deserve them."
Linebacker Adalius Thomas
Do you have any fond memories of Baltimore, or if that seems like a distant memory?
Adalius Thomas:"It has been over three years ago, so you just let it go and move on."
Was it strange to see Jets head coach Rex Ryan and Bart Scott in a green uniform this year?
AT:"No. I mean, it's always changing in the NFL. It's no different. There's always somebody moving on. It's a good thing."
Have you been asked to add more to his plate with Jerod Mayo being out for a couple more weeks?
AT:"Not necessarily. I think that, just like I said, it really depends on what it is that we're trying to accomplish that week. Everybody's asked to do different things at different times, so that's just how it falls."
Does Joe Flacco looks like a guy in his second year in terms of composure?
AT:"He's playing very well. Flacco throws the deep ball, is managing the game very well, is throwing the ball deep to receivers, and has a great run game. I think he's doing a very good job. You can't tell he's a second-year guy."
How do you prepare for Ray Rice and Willis McGahee and their two different styles?
AT:"Both of them are good running backs. You just have to get 11 guys to the ball. You've got Ray Rice who's fast. He hits the corner. McGahee is an older guy that does the same thing. Your point of attack is everywhere. It's not a set thing. Jump-cut runners, I think both of them are very explosive. Both of them are very good backs."