To the extent that the Colts are trying to keep the Patriots guessing about the identity of the team’s quarterback for Sunday night, it apparently doesn’t matter. On Friday, New England coach Bill Belichick explained to reporters that the team prepares for everyone.
And given that Belichick made his thoughts known through an uncharacteristically long answer, the entire response appears below.
“We prepare for all guys on the active roster,” Belichick said. “We just don’t prepare for one guy. It wouldn’t make any difference. Last week, [Tony] Romo was out, so we didn’t have to prepare for Romo, but it was [Brandon] Weeden, it was [Matt] Cassel, [Kellen] Moore – we don’t know what they’re going to do.
“And after the first play of the game, anything can happen. Whoever you think is in there could be somebody else anyways. It’s the same thing with [Blake] Bortles or [Ben] Roethlisberger or any of those guys. Roethlisberger is there to start a game, can’t finish the game and he’s not there the next week. That’s the NFL. It’s like that at every position. We know who the players are, we know who the backups are we think based on what we know, what we’ve seen, what we anticipate to happen.
“Who would be the next perimeter corner, who would be the next inside corner, who would be the next safety, who would be the next dime guy? Maybe they wouldn’t use dime; maybe they’d use nickel. Who would be the next nickel guy? Whatever it is, we have to be ready for that. It’s one play away from happening. We always prepare for all the players that are on the active roster. Then we come to the game and before the game we cross off the seven guys who are inactive. So, OK, this week they only have two tight ends active or they only have, whatever, five linebackers. Or here are the guys who are inactive – whether they’re injured or whether they’re inactive for other reasons, whatever it happens to be – then before the game, that hour, well the meeting we have before the game after the inactive list has come out and we can cross some guys off, and maybe that gives us an indication, a little bit more information of maybe what type of game it might be.
“If a team has got maybe it looks like extra DBs active for our game and maybe less defensive linemen, maybe that’s an indication it’s going to be more of a nickel game. Or vice versa, a team keeps extra tight ends and running backs and fewer receivers, maybe it’s an indication they’re going to try to play bigger, that type of thing. But until that point, we work with everybody.
“With all due respect, I know a lot of people live and die on the injury report, but I don’t really care what’s on the injury report. Look, I don’t know how these guys are going to be, either. We can put down whatever we want. But they’re humans – some get better, some stay the same, some don’t get better. There is no way to know for sure, and there are a lot of times it comes down to game-time decisions. I’m saying that about our team, and I’m with them and I’m talking to our doctors and trainers every day, but other teams, they’re going through the same thing, too.
“Just because a guy is on the injury report, and whatever he’s listed as, that doesn’t really mean anything. Guys that aren’t well can make quick recoveries. Guys that are well can not turn the corner. So, we’re ready for those guys, too. Honestly, I don’t even care what’s on the injury report. I really don’t even look at it. Unless the guy is definitely out, then OK. If he’s not, then to me, we’ve got to be ready for him.”
Given Belichick’s legendary work ethic (augmented by the presence of Ernie Adams, whose intellect and work ethic are equally legendary), it’s no surprise that Belichick would be ready for anyone and everyone. The challenge becomes getting the players ready.
That’s really the question. With, for example, the Colts coming up and quarterback Andrew Luck listed as questionable, how much time did they spend practicing for what Luck likes to do and how much time did they spend practicing for what Matthew Hasselbeck likes to do?
Once the game begins, Belichick and company will surely be ready to call defensive plays that counter whoever the quarterback may be. Whether the players are truly ready to execute those plays is a different question, hinging on how much time was spent preparing for which quarterback.