Posted by ESPN.com's Bill Williamson
In his press conference today, New England coach Bill Belichick had more interesting thoughts on the Denver Broncos, whom his team hosts Monday night:
Do you enjoy matching up against coach Mike Shanahan?
Bill Belichick: It's a challenge every week no matter who we play. It is a challenge every week. Every team has good coaches, every team has good players and every team works hard. They are going to give you your best shot in the regular season and it is very challenging. I think it brings out the best in all of us that really love football -- the competition and the opportunity to compete against the best every week. Each one is a little different. Everyone has their own style. They have different players, different scheme and a little different way of doing things but it's always pretty well thought out and you can see that there is a plan there. They have a way to attack and you have to figure out a way to deal with it.
But, Mike is very good. I don't think there is anyone better than Shanahan offensively -- game planner. He creates a lot of problems for any defense. It doesn't matter what you run, what coverages you play, or what front you play. He does a great job of attacking the defense and putting you in positions that are difficult, whether it is run force, coverage, gap control or whatever. He has a real good understanding of how to attack you and how to force you to adjust to a certain formation or a certain look and then how to attack it -- he does a real good job of that. Utilizing his personnel -- he does a good job of that too.
Does their offense look similar now to when they had John Elway was there?
BB: The thing about Denver's offense is that it kind of looks different every week. It is so game planned. We have played them in games where it has been all slot. Then there have been other games where there is no slot. Then you see games where there is a lot of empty. Then there are games where there is no empty. There are games where there are a lot of boots. Then there are other games where they don't boot that much or they run all the boots one way one week and the other week they mix them up and the other week they run them the other way. It is very much specific to the team that they are playing. What are you going to see? Some weeks you see a bunch of screens and the next week you don't see any screens. Over the course of a few games I think we have seen everything that we would normally see from Denver. But the amount of it, the number of snaps that they run of one particular thing is very specific to the team they are playing [and] how they want to attack it.
With division games, some players say there are no secrets. Are there no secrets between your defense and Mike Shanahan's offense because you have been playing against him for so long?
BB: I would say there is a lot to prepare for. The thing that they do a very good job of is they make you defend from sideline to sideline and from the line of scrimmage to the back of the end zone. You have to defend the entire football field and that stretches you. They get the ball outside in the running game. They throw it outside in the passing game. They cut it back. They run bootlegs. They run all of those kinds of plays, so one play you have to get everyone over here and the next play everybody is over there -- it looks like they are going this way and then they boot it back the other way. They run cut back plays and in the passing game they run screens, little slip screens and slants -- plays like that, that are short passes and they combine those with intermediate passes and crossing routes, then they throw the ball down the field. You have all of that to defend and you have to do it every week. He'll get to it in different ways and he will create different formations or personnel groups -- it will look a little different but it is different ways of attacking you from sideline to sideline, from the line of scrimmage to the back of the end zone.
Whether it is Jay Cutler or John Elway, they can throw it 70-, 80-yards, or however far they need to throw it. So they are never out of range. You are back there 70 yards, he will throw it 70 yards, anywhere in between or the quarterback will run so you are back there chasing guys 20-, 30-yards down the field and then the quarterback pulls it down and runs it. So it's like having a sixth receiver. They have a lot of different options and they really stress the defense in a lot of different ways. They can pack them in and bring in two or three tight ends. They can spread them out and go with four or five receivers, or flex out [Tony] Scheffler who is like another receiver. They can get as tight as you want to get and they can get as spread out as you want to spread out and they do a good job.
Over the years the players and coaches on Denver have changed. Can you give insight on why this team has been so tough to play over the years?
BB: They have done a good job against us there is no denying that. We have got them a couple times and they have gotten us more than we have gotten them. Look, they get a lot of people.