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Bill Belichick Press Conference Transcript - 9/19/2011
BB: After watching film this morning, I think it's pretty much about what we saw yesterday. San Diego is a really good football team and fortunately we were just able to make a couple more plays than they were yesterday. [They're a] good team, a lot of good players, well coached, they definitely present some problems for us. I was just proud of the way our guys hung in there. [We] battled through some situations that were less than ideal. Again, San Diego certainly made their share of plays; we made some ourselves and we were able to make a few more, so think I that was really the story of the game. The turnovers were big. Our ability to get the ball in in the red zone was important, as well as our fourth-down stop on the goal line. That was a big swing of points there, too. You add a few of those plays into a tight game and that's really the difference. I think that's the way it was yesterday. [It's] time to turn the page and move on to Buffalo. They're playing well, obviously. [They're] doing a lot of things well. They've got a very explosive offensive group, use a lot of receivers, spread the ball around, [Fred] Jackson is having a great year running the ball already, which we all know how good he is. Defensively, they're strong up front, have a lot of good athletes in the secondary and at linebacker. This will be another big division game on the road for us to start the season. We have to turn the page quickly here and move on.
Q: Was there a common thread in the four turnovers you caused yesterday?
BB: No, I don't think so.
Q: There's no one thing that you guys did as a defense that jumped out at you?
BB: I mean, Vince [Wilfork] made a good play on the interception. We had a good pass rush when Sergio [Brown] undercut [Antonio] Gates on the next interception. [Mike] Tolbert kind of got tripped up, was struggling a little bit there and Jerod [Mayo] knocked the ball loose. And you know, it's the end of the game, they're trying to get the ball downfield and Mark [Anderson] came around and strip-sacked him. [They're] kind of like four different plays to me.
Q: On Sergio Brown's interception, you guys had jammed Antonio Gates a lot and I think Patrick Chung wasn't on the field at that point, was the plan for Rob Ninkovich to jam Gates there or was the plan to let him go?
BB: We mixed it up or we tried to mix it up – mix up our coverage looks between jamming receivers, doubling them on the line with the jam, not doubling them on the line and trying to getting more pass rush, doubling down the field. We had various degrees of success and not so successful times doing that. But we tried to keep them off balance, give it a little mix, change the coverages up a little bit. [Philip] Rivers is a smart quarterback and they have a bunch of good receivers, so it's hard to get them all. The [running] backs did a good job. Rivers did a good job of finding the open guys – be it backs, [Antonio] Gates, [Vincent] Jackson, [Malcolm] Floyd. We tried to spin the wheel a little bit and they definitely found some guys that ran good routes and he did a good job of getting them the ball.
Q: How were you able to successfully take Antonio Gates away from Philip Rivers as an option?
BB: The players that were responsible for him did a good job – jamming him at the line and trying to cover him downfield.
Q: Did you do anything different in this game than you've done in previous games against the Chargers?
BB: I would say nothing revolutionary, no. We have played them a number of times and again he's a hard guy to stop. Some of that's sometimes good fortune. We tried to hit him at the line of scrimmage, double some down the field, depending on what formation they're in or what we think they're trying to do. [We're] try not to give them the same look every single time, I don't really think that's the way to go.
Q: This is the second week in a row you've given up a lot of passing yards. In real time, it seems like the cornerbacks are in there in position, it's just that the quarterback makes a great throw or the receiver makes a great catch. Are you seeing anything more than that on the film to explain those high numbers?
BB: I'd say the big problem we had yesterday was we had our chances to get off the field and we just didn't do a good job of it. We had several plays we could have made on third down that I think were pretty makeable plays and we just didn't make them. So we have to do a better job with our pass rush, with our coverage, with our overall execution of the defense against the passing game than we did yesterday or than, really, we have in the last two weeks. I don't think it's any one specific thing or one particular player or position or anything. We just collectively need to do it better.
Q: With the understanding that each series is different, are therer any commonalities that you're seeing in these long, 80 and 90-yard drives you're able to put together?
BB: Yeah, a series of successful plays for the most part. I mean, trying to stay out of long yardage which we didn't always do. We've had to overcome a couple of second and 15s or whatever they were, longer-yardage situations. That's certainly not the formula to good drives, but we've been able to overcome a couple of those. Again, any time you can stay on track – first and 10, second and five, first and 10, second and four, third and one – you have a lot better chance of keeping it going than first and 10, second and 10, third and 12; that's just not the way you want to play. If you can keep the ball moving forward and stay ahead of the down-and-distance situations and make the defense defend the running game, the deep passing game, the quick passing game, screens, defend everything, then it's a lot easier to call those plays when you're not in long yardage situations. You don't have as many options and you can keep the defense more off balance. It still comes down to execution – blocking, running, passing, catching. The players have done a good job of that.
Q: At one point in the game it looked like Antonio Garay dove into Tom Brady's knee. He wasn't blocked into him, so were you given any explanation why that wasn't a penalty?
BB: Yeah, you'd have to ask any of those questions to the officials or the NFL office or whoever you'd talk to about that. I can't speak for them.
Q: Buffalo looked like they used a lot multiple fronts last year. Are they doing anything different now with the addition of Marcell Dareus? How are they utilizing their front seven?
BB: You know with [Shawne] Merriman, Dareus, they're in a little bit of a combination of a 3-4 with some overs and unders off that and of course they play a lot of sub defense, too – a lot of five defensive backs, six defensive backs. They played some depth seven defensive backs against us last year. I mean, I think they have a lot of multiples on defense and they certainly use a lot of formations on offense, a lot of different personnel groups – different numbers of backs, tight ends and receivers in the game and in various multiple combinations, but too numerous to mention. Defensively, they also do quite a bit of that, multiple defensive backs, multiple defensive line and linebacker combinations – 2-4, 4-3, 3-4, 3-3, you name it. They definitely have a lot of looks.
Q: When they reviewed the extra point late in the game yesterday, did you get an explanation why they were reviewing it?
BB: They don't tell us. It's not like a flag, like if the opposing team throws a flag then they'll come over and say ‘the other team is challenging whether the runner was down by contact' or ‘whether the guy scored' or whatever it is.' On a scoring play, it's an automatic review of a scoring play, including an extra point is a scoring play. What they were looking at, really, they don't tell us. We just sit there and look dumb like everybody else and then they come back and say it was a touchdown or if it wasn't, they tell us it wasn't. We sit there like everybody else. I don't know what part of a play they were looking at.
Q: Aaron Hernandez was banged up yesterday. If he's out next week or whenever, I know he's a tight end but he's split out a lot. Could you put a receiver in there and ask him to do what Hernandez does?
BB: I mean, we have a lot of different skill players in our offense. We have a lot of different formations and things. As you've seen, we use multiple personnel groups, multiple formations so whatever we have to do, we'll use some combination of those.
Q: Along those lines, if you had needed to punt at any point after Zoltan Mesko got hurt, who would you have turned to?
BB: That would probably have depended on the situation. Fortunately, it didn't get to that.
Q: Stephen Gostkowski, I imagine, would have been one of the options?
BB: Possibly. It would probably depend what the situation was – where the ball was, how far we were punting, that kind of thing.
Q: Vince Wilfork said on his interception that you always tell players that if they're going to take a chance, they better make it. Was that him just reading things and seeing where Philip Rivers was going and taking the chance, as he says?
BB: Well, I think what Vince saw was the back releasing pretty quickly into the flat and he came off and I talked to him about the play, I'm not sure whether he thought it was a screen or whether he just saw the quarterback looking at the back who released kind of right in front of him. But he kind of pulled off on it and was able to get in the throwing lane. Look, the defensive linemen are trying to rush the passer, that's what they're in there for. But good defensive linemen will have an awareness of the backs – backs run screens, backs run in wide flare patterns, sometimes backs are checking through the middle – that indicates a potential passing lane to that guy, whether it's there or there or a screen passing lane, those kind of things. Instinctively, if they can get into that passing lane, which is pretty much what Vince did on that play – he kind of dropped off and got into the lane between Rivers and the back and made a great play on the ball. It was a really instinctive play on his part. That wasn't really something that we had designed or he was specifically coached to do. I think he just saw it and reacted like a football player and did what he thought was right and it was definitely the right thing on that play.
Q: You hear the play call and then you watch – when you see something like that, are you surprised to see how it happened?
BB: Yeah I was actually looking, on that particular pass, I was actually looking more downfield at the rest of the route and I saw the ball get tipped. I didn't see exactly what happened. I saw the got ball tipped, I didn't realize he tipped it, I thought it was like tipped and then it went to him but then obviously he tipped it and kind of tipped it to himself. Yeah, I didn't see that part of the play when it actually happened real time.
Q: You guys don't work on protecting the ball with anyone besides running backs, but he kind of looked like a running back the way he protected it.
BB: Actually, we work on ball protection with everybody who handles it. There's nothing more important than possession of the ball. If you handle it, whether you're a center or quarterback or running back or receiver or a defensive player that has it or a returner or kicker or holder, if you snap it – if you handle the ball, then there's nothing more important than the responsibility of that ball when it's in your hands. That's just football. If you have it, there's nothing more important than taking care of it. And if it isn't taken care of very well, then you probably shouldn't be giving it to that person.
Q: How good are Deion Branch's feet? You constantly see him working on his footwork.
BB: Deion is quick. He's got very good quickness.
Q: Has he just developed that? Is that something you can work on or is that just something he came into the league with?
BB: I think you can work on all of your physical skills, sure. I don't think you take a 5.8 guy and make him 4.3 but I think you can improve 5.8 to 5.6. You might be able to improve 4.8 to 4.7, 4.75, I don't know. But I think Deion has always had good quickness. When we scouted him at Louisville, watching him his junior or senior year, he showed good quickness in and out of breaks and good footwork. He was able to make guys miss, return punts, which is a sign of quickness, to be able to have a guy running full speed at you to break down and avoid it as opposed to a kickoff returner where you have some time, usually, 10, 15, 20 yards before you hit the first wave. I think Deion has those skills as an athlete, saw them in college, you saw them through his professional career. He still has very good quickness. Of course he's very instinctive and he knows what to do, and that is part of it because a lot of times he kind of does the right thing a split second before maybe other players would do it, just because of his experience and anticipation. But that combined with his good athleticism and foot quickness, like after he caught the in-cut and broke the tackle there by [Bob] Sanders down field and was able to pick up another 15 yards after the catch. That's not what you'd call ‘strong running,' running through tackles, but it's quickness to avoid a guy that is coming at him hard and get off to the side and avoid him laterally and then get up the field. So he's always done a good job of that.