New England Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick is often a man of few words, but he had plenty to say about Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger as the two teams prepare to meet on Thursday night.
Belichick said Roethlisberger has "great vision, very good accuracy down the field," and also gave his take on receiver Antonio Brown and linebacker James Harrison.
Here is Belichick's take on the Steelers stars:
On how important it is for the Patriots defense to keep Roethlisberger from extending plays:
"Huge, yeah, huge. I'd say he's as good as anybody. There are other players that are maybe faster than he is, but he's very hard to tackle, very difficult to get down. On top of that, he's got great vision, very good accuracy down the field. Again, he doesn't have to step into the throw or have a clean pocket. He can make throws with guys hanging all over him, falling down, so he's as good as anybody we play at that.
"Again, I'm not saying he's going to scramble and run for 40 yards, but he can stay on his feet, he can extend plays, he can make throws with guys all over him, and he has good vision, too. There are guys hanging all over him and his eyes stay downfield. He looks at the pattern and the coverage and can find people, whereas a lot of quarterbacks when they're getting tackled or they're getting hit their eye level drops or they look at the guy who's after them. Ben has the ability to really shrug those guys off, still look downfield, and get the ball accurately down the field. He was over 40 percent last year on throws over 20 yards. That's pretty good. Some quarterbacks have a little trouble with that under 10 yards. He makes a lot of good throws. It'll be a huge challenge for us. There won't be anybody that will be a bigger challenge than him in terms of the total package that he presents on extended plays."
On how much of Antonio Brown's ability to get open is based on his ability to find holes in the defense:
"He's got really good quickness, so he's got the ability to get separation. Even when guys are close to him, he has one-step or two-step quickness to get away. He's got really good hands, so he doesn't need a lot of separation. He can extend and catch the ball away from his body, and he's a good technique route runner, so he does a good job of making routes looks the same, but they're different - making the inside route and the outside route look the same or the over and the corner route look the same - things like that. His releases are good. He does a good job at the line of scrimmage of getting into his route and attacking the defense quickly, and he's very good after the catch, so you've got to play the deep ball. He's a good intermediate route runner, and if you back off and give him room then he can catch and break a tackle and turn a catch-and-run play into a long play. He's a very hard player to defend.
The Pittsburgh Steelers prepare for the first regular season game against the New England Patriots.
"They put him in a lot of different spots, so he's versatile. He's obviously a very sharp guy and an instinctive guy because he can handle a lot of that - wherever they put him, running different routes, running him off linebackers, running him off corners, running him off safeties, running him against split-safety coverage, running against post-safety coverage, man, zone - I mean this guy is a smart player. He's a good player at all three levels of the defense and very hard to tackle after he gets the ball in his hands, so that's a problem, too. I mean, this is not the kind of guy you want to just back off and just let them throw it to him and come up and make the tackle because that will be a challenge. Then on the other hand you don't want to be up there and let him get over the top of the defense, either. He's a huge problem. And on top of that, he's got a quarterback that can get him the ball in any of those situations very accurately. Some receivers are open, but they don't get the ball. This guy is open and they get him the ball."
On what he has seen from linebacker James Harrison:
"Really good - very similar to how it's always looked over there. Very explosive, powerful guy, good pass rusher, good edge setter, good tackler, instinctive player, tough, physical, good football player. He looks pretty much the same as he has in the past. I know there is an age difference, but he's kind of defying that. He looks good."