New England Patriots
Q: What have you observed from Hjalte Froholdt that put him in position to be on the game day roster and a snap away from possibly having to count on him in a game?
BB: Right, well, Hjalte's had a good offseason. He had an opportunity to get a lot of reps last year in training camp, but then that was really about it for him. He was rehabbed early and was really ready by January, February to get a good full offseason in in terms of training and so forth, even though we weren't able to do it here, but he's a hardworking kid that did a lot on his own. So, he had a good offseason in terms of training and being healthy and he's been able to be out on the field every day and work hard and continue to get better on a daily basis since we've had the opportunity to begin practicing. So, way ahead of where he was last year on a number of levels. He's still a young player that has a lot of room to grow and works very hard at it, so he's taken a step to, as you said, being close to playing and hopefully he'll be able to compete for playing time here as he continues to improve.
Q: Earlier this week, you mentioned similarities between what Paul Guenther is doing to what Mike Zimmer has done defensively. Obviously, those guys have a shared history. From what you've seen from the Raiders this year, do they try to stretch the middle of the line of scrimmage the same way Mike Zimmer's defenses have? Zimmer has been creative with linebackers and bringing them up to the line of scrimmage. Do they do the same thing in Las Vegas?
BB: Yeah, well, again, we have limited information this year. But, certainly when you look at the Raiders since Coach Guenther has been there, you definitely see that. You see the multiple pressure schemes. You also don't see them. I mean, they don't do it on every play, but they have the ability to utilize different combinations of pressures, similar to what Minnesota does. But, obviously as you said, Mike and Paul worked together at Cincinnati and they developed that when they were there at the same time. Yeah, again, there's a small sample this year, but when you look at the bigger sample size, yeah you definitely see similarities schematically in what they do. It's certainly different due to personnel and the individuals that do it, but schematically, there are a lot of similarities.
Q: How do you feel about your team's conditioning considering this was a unique offseason and training camp, and then jumping right into games?
BB: Yeah, I think their physical conditioning is good. Cardiovascular conditioning is good. I think football conditioning is something that takes a while longer to develop, and that comes from playing in games, staying out there for sustained drives and three-hour games, as opposed to 1:45 or two hour type practices, that type of thing. So, the games are just a little bit different, but I think we're in good condition to play those games, but we just need to improve our in-game conditioning, like every team does. Until you've played a number of those games - five, six, seven, eight, whatever it is - to where you really maximize your conditioning at that point.
Q: With the speed that the Raiders have on the outside, do you see some of the classic Raider traits with the way they're building their team?
BB: Well, I think Coach Gruden has built the team, specifically the offense, into the style of offense that he's always coached. He's obviously done a very good job of it. He has good players at every position. I think he's maybe not there, but I think he's pretty close to having what he wants from a personnel standpoint. Obviously, [Tyrell] Williams is a big loss for them, him not being in there, but from a personnel standpoint, I think he has what he wants to run the offense that pretty much he's always run and run well. Coach Gruden's been successful every place he's been, offensively from Philadelphia to Oakland to Tampa and now back to Oakland again in a fairly short amount of time. So, it's a proven system. He absolutely knows what he's doing, he puts a lot of pressure on the defense, and as he's gotten the personnel that he needs to have the full complement of an arsenal there, I think you're seeing the results of it - 30-something points a game this year. So, I think he's got things - or he's getting them the way he wants them - I'm not saying he's there yet or it feels like he's there yet, but he's certainly moving it in the right direction. Not sure exactly what other offense you're referring to with the Raiders. They've had a number of different offensive coordinators and offense coaches in their history. This is not a team that's had a lot of defensive coaches. But, they've all kind of had, I'd say, different styles, depending on who the offensive coordinator or I guess more specifically who the head coach was during those times.
Q: Julian Edelman has coined the phrase, 'Happily Miserable.' Is Julian's ability to motivate his teammates with his attitude or demeanor unique among players?
BB: Well, I mean, all the players that are in the locker room, the 53 players, and the 16 practice squad players and the coaching staff, we all have unique personalities. So, everybody's different, which is a good thing, and ultimately each team forms its own team chemistry based on the individuals and the circumstances that the team travels through over the course of each individual season. Yeah, I mean, we could talk about everybody individually, and then collectively there is some combination of a mosaic that has each of these little individual pieces that fit in there and create a team. So, we're all a part of it, and I don't think it will ever be any different. Each year is unique, each player is unique and the circumstances every year are unique. Certainly this year, but they're unique every year. So, we'll see how it all comes together. It's a continuous work in progress. We've come a long way from when we started back in April in virtual meetings in the offseason program, individually and collectively. And when I say collectively, I'm talking about as a unit, whether it's the offensive line or the linebackers or whatever group it is, the offensive, defensive and special teams segments, or collectively as a team. So, that will be a process that will continue to evolve as we go through the year.
Q: Maurice Hurst is a local guy who helped contribute to an interception for the Raiders on Monday night. What have you noticed from him that makes him hard to handle for offensive lines, and how does he fit into the overall plan that they have up front there?
BB: Yeah, well, Hurst is a disruptive player. He's undersized and doesn't have a lot of length, but I'd say he has unusual quickness and is able to take advantage of his quickness and his leverage to be disruptive, as you mentioned. So, it's a little bit of a different type or style of player, both physically and I'd say his playing characteristics. So, from that standpoint, for the offensive linemen, it's not the kind of guy that they're used to blocking. Sometimes that takes some adjustment and getting used to, depending on the player's experience and the physical qualities that the offensive lineman has, as well, in the matchup. Yeah, he's a little bit different, but I wouldn't say that affects his ability to be disruptive or to be effective. But, his quickness, his explosion, his leverage, those are all things that work in his favor and he utilizes those to his advantage.
Q: For all the different coaches that have sprung from that West Coast tree, what makes Gruden and his style of offense different?
BB: I mean, look, every team is different because the players on the team are different. So, even if another team ran the same offensive plays, had the same playbook - which I think there are several teams that work in general off the same playbook - the specifics of the player or all the players, really - not just the quarterback and the skill players, but even the offensive line - like that's all a part of it, too. So, in Oakland's case, [Tom] Cable obviously had a big impact on the running game based on his history with the zone stretch game and so forth. Now, that's not all they do, but they do a lot of that. Again, Coach Gruden has put the team together the way he's put it together offensively, and the things that they do, they do well because it's been structured that way and it's been coached that way. Again, each team is different. I think when you look at the West Coast offense, that that term really refers more to the West Coast passing game. If you look at Coach Paul Brown's running game in that offense, which is really where it started, that was primarily a two-back offense with minimal one back. Some of it was motion to one back, and it had a fullback in it, so you'd have the split backs and the near and far backs that were a part of it, as well. That's all been, I would say, modified with all the other West Coast coaches that came up in that background to Coach Brown, to Coach [Bill] Walsh and then the other disciples and so forth. But, I don't really see anybody running the running game that Coach Brown and Coach Walsh ran with that offense - very little of it. I shouldn't say not any, but you see very little of it. The majority of it is out of one back, so it's still a lot of similar route concepts or I should say the same route concepts, but it's not out of the formation that Coach Brown and Coach Walsh used. Therefore, the running game is quite a bit different. I can't remember Coach Walsh running the stretch play. I can't remember Coach Brown running it, either. So, maybe a version of it, but that wasn't really their thing. It was the two-back runs - in fact, most of their time, there wasn't an I-tailback player in their system. So, that's all changed quite a bit from all the coaches that used that passing game. They've used a different type of running game because of the way the running game has evolved in the National Football League over the last 30, 40 years. I think the passing game is similar, but the formationing is different. The running game is, I would say, quite a bit different. And so as you go through teams that run this general system of offense, you see some variety in the running game because of the way that their individual line coach or that head coach or coordinator has modified the running game from, as I said, what it was a long time ago. A lot more spread formations than the way this started. Normally, you would see the tight end in his conventional location next to the tackle. I mean, you still see that, but you also see the tight end attached way more than he would have been if you watched Coach Walsh back in the 80's or even Coach Gruden when he was at Philadelphia. It more closely resembled Coach Walsh's offense than it does what you see today, just visually formationing. They're all different.