Patriots head coach Bill Belichick addresses the media during his press conference at Gillette Stadium on Thursday, December 2, 2010.
BB: It's a regular Wednesday for us today. It's been a long time since we've played. It seems like it's been several weeks, but it's only been a few days. I think we had a good meeting this morning. I think everybody's really getting right back into the routine here and we definitely needed to do that. We need a real good week of preparation here to get ready for the Jets. Like I said, they do a lot of things well. They're a good football team. Obviously, their record speaks for itself. [We've] got a lot of work to do, hopefully [we'll] get a good start - a good second day on it today, and just grind it through the week. We'll be outside, take care of the elements and get ready to go ... It looks like we've got a good crowd here. You must have a lot of news, a lot of stuff to write about, or TV about, sorry - I don't mean to offend the TV/radio people.
Q: What did you do yesterday as coaches?
BB: Oh, we played golf - golf, bowling, a little badminton tournament, ate some watermelon, played cards.
Q: That sounds relaxing.
BB: Yeah, it was nice.
Q: Did you get ready for the Jets?
BB: Totally about the Jets, other than the pony rides and canoeing.
Q: Can you talk a little bit about the ramifications of this game? It is a little unusual for a regular-season game to mean this much, where the outcome could affect who wins the division.
BB: Well, there's a lot of football left. There's still a third of the season to go. There's a lot of football left. It will be a different story every week. This happens, that happens, something else happens, it will be this, and next week it will be another one, and next week there will be another one. There will be five different scenarios in the next five weeks. I'm not worried about that.
Q: Do you kind of laugh when people make such a big deal about it? Obviously it's a big game, but you saw a few years ago, the Jets started 8-3 and then lost four out of their last five...
BB: Last year, they were out of the playoffs and all of a sudden they were, not only in the playoffs, but they ended up playing in the AFC Championship game. It's great for fans, but I don't really care about that. We just worry about this game and where it stands at the end of the year - that will determine something. But in the meantime, we can just control this game. That's all we're worried about.
Q: Can you sense that they players have any more energy after having a few days off?
BB: I think anytime you have some time off, you have that energy, but you also have to get back into it. So, it's a little bit of both. There's an energy, but there's also getting back into the flow of it. When you're doing it every single day, there's something to be said for that and there's also a little bit of a grind to doing that - it's sort of the flip side of it. If you can't get ready for this week, then I don't know when you can get ready to go. If you like football, this is a good week to be playing.
Q: What have you seen in the growth of Mark Sanchez?
BB: Like any young player, you can see his improvement. He's shown a lot of poise this year in big games, games at the end when he's had to drive the team or make plays at the end of the game for them to win, and he and his teammates have made them. He's done a good job of managing games, making big plays when he has to. He's taken care of the ball better this year. He's improved in all areas. He's got good players to throw it to in Santonio Holmes, [Braylon] Edwards, [Jerricho] Cotchery, [Dustin] Keller, Brad Smith, [LaDainian] Tomlinson, Shonn Green - there're a lot of good players there.
Q: How has the transition been so smooth on your offense, despite having a lot of new guys at skill positions like tight end and running back?
BB: I don't know how smooth it's been. Players are out there working every day, trying to get better, trying to improve, trying to do things well as a unit, as a team. Every team faces those challenges. Our guys have done a good job working through that. We've still got a long ways to go. There're a lot of things that we can do better. It certainly helps having experience at the quarterback position; that's been a big factor. Wes [Welker] has given us a lot of leadership and execution there at the receiver position. So has Deion [Branch] since he's been here. Young guys are working hard; they're coming along [but] they've got a long way to go.
Q: Rex says that he steals ideas from very few coaches in the NFL but that you are one of them. Can you see any of your schemes implemented in their offense when you watch his games on film?
BB: They do a lot of different things, so I'm not sure exactly. It could be a little thing; I have no idea. That's flattering. I'd say the same thing about the Jets and Rex. When he was at Baltimore and the Jets, you always watch their tape and see how he defends teams that you're going to play or kind of what they're doing and try to get some ideas. If you can figure it out - which you usually can - what they're trying to do, what their thinking is [and] what problems they're creating for the offense, whether that's exactly the same thing that you can do, maybe you can take an element or that part of the defense or that way they attack the offense and try and utilize it some way in what you're doing. I think he's really creative. He's got a lot of good ideas. He definitely pressures the offense and being on the other side of the ball, playing against him, offensively, with our team, there's a lot of things to get ready for. He creates a lot of problems and they have a lot of good players, too. It's a good combination there. He's an excellent coach. There's no question about that; he does an excellent job.
Q: As a defensive coach and being 31st in the league in stats, does that bother you? Or are you more concerned with the fact that you're 9-2?
BB: We play to win the games. That's what our goal is.
Q: But does that number embarrass you?
BB: There are a lot of things that we can do better as a football team - things we can do better as coaches, players, as a team - absolutely. There's a lot of room for improvement.
Q: While you and Rex are similar, it seems that he is a bigger fan of the blitz than you. Why do you think that is, philosophically?
BB: I don't know. We do what we think is going to give us the best chance to win. I'm sure he does the same thing for his defense and his team. That's the way I can answer that.
Q: The Jets have won two games in overtime and one on the final drive. What does it say about a team that can come back and win games like that?
BB: It says that they've made plays. It wasn't just plays on offense; they've made them on defense, too. In the Detroit game, they got a three-and-out...the defensive stand and the punt return against the Browns to set up that score at the end of the game. It's good team football, all the way across the board: good coaching, good playing in all three phases of the game. They're able to make the plays that they need to make to win and there wasn't much margin for error, whether it be the Houston game or the Detroit game or the Cleveland game - they were about to run out of time in that one, too. I think that says a lot about your football team and about your ability to stand up and make plays at critical times in the game. That's what wins them.
Q: Is it imperative to be physical when defending a guy like Braylon Edwards?
BB: There are a lot of different ways to defend. [It] depends on which routes they run. [It] depends on what they're doing. I don't know if there's just one way to defend anybody. If you try to play Braylon Edwards one way, whatever it is, he's a good enough player that he'd probably give you some problems with whatever you were doing.
Q: In the first game against the Jets, what was it that Aaron Hernandez did so well to have as many yards as he did?
BB: A couple of times he beat man coverage and broke a tackle. He broke a tackle on two of those catches. So, anytime you can break a tackle in man coverage, it's usually a ways until the next guy can get you because everybody's tied up in man-to-man. So, there're opportunities for big plays in man coverage if you can get by the guy that's covering you, either get open or he misses the tackle or whatever it is. The flip side of it is, usually, after you catch the ball in man coverage, the guy's usually close enough that he can make the tackle and you can limit those yards as opposed to zone where sometimes there's some space in the zones depending on the route and the throw and so forth. If you can split those zones, there are more run-after-catch opportunities. That's really the way it always is in man-to-man coverage.
Q: Do you expect a correction from them because of the game Aaron had?
BB: I don't know what they're going to do. You have to ask Rex that. I'm sure they have a plan to try and defend all of our players, just like we have a plan to defend all theirs. It's not like we throw all of our passes to one guy. It's not like they throw them all to one guy. You have to defend the whole team. As a defensive coach, whatever your game plan is, you might go heavy on one thing and light on another, but, in the end, you're going to have to defend everything.