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Bill Belichick Conference Call Transcript - 10/11/2011
BB: We're digging in on the Cowboys here. We have a lot of work to do. They're a really good team – could easily be 4-0, just a couple of plays away. They're really talented. They have a lot of good players in all three phases of the game. They're well coached. I think Jason [Garrett] has done a good job with the team. Rob [Ryan] with the defense. They're explosive in every area of the game. They have a lot of very talented players. We've got our work cut out as far as preparation goes and just becoming familiar with a team that we don't know very much about. I'm sure they're way ahead of where we're at right now with the time they had last week. We have to work hard to get caught up on that. They have three real good coordinators with Joe DeCamillis on special teams and their offensive and defensive systems and good players to go with it. They're a tough game to get ready for.
Q: They've had some injuries they're dealing with like everyone. They seem to be getting a lot of guys back after the bye week. How does that affect scouting and preparation for them if you haven't seen guys like Miles Austin or Orlando Scandrick for a couple of weeks?
BB: Yeah it makes it a lot tougher, it really does. First those players you mentioned are outstanding players, same thing with those guys in the secondary with [Terence] Newman being out of a couple games and Scandrick being out for a couple games and [Jason] Hatcher and so forth. We're looking at the more recent games and you're seeing the Cowboys having to juggle different players in their receiving corps, their secondary, on the defensive line, the kicker so that's not really where they want to be. You have to dig back into preseason and also into some of their games in '09, especially on offense where their system was the same. Defensively you can see some of those players in '09 or even a little bit in preseason but in '09 it was with a different coordinator. So that changes, if you want to go back and look more at Scandrick as an example, a guy whose missed the last three games. It does, it just makes it harder to prepare. Just have to go back and find different games and watch different things to try to encompass all their personnel and what their skills are and their talents.
Q: You have had some pretty good success over the last few weeks slowing down good tight ends like Dustin Keller and Antonio Gates and you have another good one in Jason Witten. What does he bring to the table and what do you guys need to do to try to slow him down?
BB: He's outstanding. He's really a guy you have to be aware of all the time. I think the big thing that separates Witten from a lot of other tight ends is his blocking ability. He's a very good point of attack blocker. They run behind him so you have to deal with him in the running game. In the passing game, he's really good in all three areas. He's good on the short routes and he's a hard guy to tackle. He's good on the intermediate routes and he can get down the field. He had a huge play there against the Jets opening week, 70 yards or whatever it was where he beat Eric Smith. He's a guy that can pick up the tough yardage on third-and-short, over the middle and break a tackle and things like that. He's good on play-action passes and intermediate type routes and he can also get down the field. He's really a complete player. He's a smart guy. They move him around a lot. They put him in motion, put him outside, put him in inside, put him in the slot. They have different personnel groups where they use him in conjunction with other tight ends and other receivers. It just makes it a little harder to figure out where he is and how to get him. Then of course you have to deal with all the other guys too – the running game and [Miles] Austin and Dez Bryant and [Tony] Romo and his scrambling ability and so forth. Witten's really an outstanding player. I think he's one of the best tight ends in the league, no question about it. He also complements a lot of other players they have and that multiples there create a lot of problems.
Q: I know sometimes when you guys are scouting for the draft you look at guys coming out of college and try to compare them to guys in the NFL. Do you look at Rob Gronkowski and think if everything works out, he could be like Jason Witten? Would that be a fair comparison?
BB: I think they have a little different styles. They're both big guys that can block and are productive in the passing game so there's some similarities there. Again, right now we're just really, I don't know if we know Witten well enough to even compare him to Gronkowski. He's obviously got a lot of skills – we have to try to figure out how to deal with them. That's one of the things we're in the process of doing. I think both guys are similar in that they can block. They're productive in the running game and the passing game. You have tough matchups in both spots. You have to be careful with Witten who you have on him for the run and the pass. You might put a guy in there that you think can cover him but can he handle them in the running game? That's a whole other story.
Q: How closely did you look at Dez Bryant through the pre-draft process? What stood out with him for you? Maybe not so much as a player but as an individual?
BB: We really scout all the players in the draft. Again, our scouting staff definitely scouts them all. There are certain players that I don't spend too much time on just because of where they're going to be drafted and what our opportunity is to get them. We definitely did our work on Bryant. I think the things that we see: he's a big receiver, a strong guy, hard to match up on outside, hard guy to tackle after the catch. He's got, like a lot of these receivers, it seems like we see one every week that have outstanding size or they're very strong, they have great reach and even if you have them covered, you really don't have them covered because of their length and their ability to either body-up the defender or just out-jump them or out-reach them for the ball. He's definitely in that category and a hard guy to tackle when he gets the ball in his hands.
Q: Can you talk about Jermaine Cunningham and his progress to this point? Are you satisfied with him and are there more things you need to see out of him defensively?
BB: I think one of the things that Jermaine has had to work through is the time that he missed in training camp and the preseason games at the end of preseason; for a second year player, especially. With him, last year really playing outside linebacker and doing that and this year we transitioned into a little bit more of a multiple defensive front, it's been a little bit of an adjustment for him. Missing that time didn't help him any. He's worked hard and he's done a good job to get back on the field and get rehabbed and get back out there. He's improving; he's gotten a little better each week. I think he's definitely on the upswing here and a guy that we hope will be able to contribute for us.
Q: What is your history with Jason Garrett? Do you have one? Do you know him at all?
BB: We've talked a few times; met a few times and talked a few times. We've never worked together on a staff or anything like that, no.
Q: Is there anything about his style or the team he has that indicates one thing or another about his past or his coaching tree? Or anything that jumps out about the style of his team?
BB: Offensively, there are definitely a lot of similarities to the San Diego offense, Norv Turner's system. Norv has had an influence on what they do, Norv has had on the whole Dallas offensive system over the last whatever 20 years, whether he's been there or not. Hudson Houck, the offensive line coach and people like that, there's a lot of history there. I think the Dallas offense going back to Norv and the offense Jimmy [Johnson] had when he was there, that there are lot of elements that are still in place today, obviously with a different personnel and with a lot of modifications and Jason's own changes and adjustments to it. There's certainly carryover from a lot of the things that they've done in the past because there are people that are there that have kept that system in place.