FOXBORO -- Ernie Adams is listed in the Patriots media guide as football research director, but his contributions to the Patriots are a little bit uncertain. He's part researcher, part scout-team manager, part voice-in-Bill-Belichick's head on game days.
And while he's not necessarily carrying on long conversations with players on a daily basis, he will dole out the occasional coaching point. Patriots quarterback Tom Brady hit on that side of Adams' role during Wednesday's press conference.
"You have to be able to make them defend the width of the field, the length of the field," Brady said. "Ernie told me, he once told me, 'Make 'em defend every blade of grass.' "
His point? If you can force opposing defenses to spread themselves thin while keeping track of multiple receivers in multiple places, it will make life easier.
"I think that's a great thing to do," Brady said. "That's how you stress the defense, is when you can force the ball to all different parts of the field, and they never really know who's going to get it. They can key in on certain players, but if you do that, you're vulnerable to other things.
"It's good to kind of have a lot of tools in your toolbox and be able to use them at different times. Then, whatever you need, you gotta go out and be able to do. Good offensive execution takes all 11 of us, and so much of what we practice is us all being on the same page, every play, every day, every week so we can be at our best."
Brady is in the middle of one of the best short stretches of his career after throwing for nearly 800 yards through his first two games back from suspension, and part of the reason he's had so much success is because he has a multitude of options who can effectively occupy different sectors of the field. If a team tries to take away Rob Gronkowski over the middle with a double-team, that may leave more room for tight end Martellus Bennett or running back James White underneath. If someone wants to focus their coverage on Julian Edelman's intermediate routes, that may leave Chris Hogan in a one-on-one situation down the field.
Against the Steelers, Brady said, the Patriots will need all of their weapons working in concert yet again.
"This team really forces you to have every guy on the same page because it's hard to anticipate what they're going to do because they do so many things," Brady said. "We've gotta be on high alert."