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Bill Belichick Press Conference Transcript - 8/15/2012
Q: It looks like you've been giving looks for some things you might see in the regular season, whether it's 3-4 or Wildcat stuff. What do you expect out of that? Are you hoping that something clicks, something sticks now and then revisit it in the future?
BB: We're working on things that we know we're going to see during the year at some point. We're going to see unbalanced line, we're going to see Wildcat, we're going to see five down looks on defense, we're going to see odd spacing, even spacing, some things that we don't do. When you put the play in, you put the play in against the different looks that you're going to see. Some of them you see; some of them you walk through. But sometimes you feel like you just need to run the play against a coverage or a blitz or if our offense doesn't run a play – like our quarterbacks aren't big scrambling quarterbacks so plays where the quarterback is running around – boot legs and nakeds and things like that, that we don't see a lot of from our offense – are plays that our defense needs to see because we're going to see those somewhere along the line. That's part of what this is for, is to just catch up on our installation, see things that we haven't worked on because we don't run them ourselves and we can't count on getting them in the preseason games.
Q: At least from the outside it still looks like a crowded group at wide receiver. How as Donte' Stallworth done with taking advantage of his opportunities?
BB: Good, good. I think Donte' has had a solid camp. He's shown that he still has his speed; athletic, gets down the field well, he's tough, comes in and blocks, good with the ball in his hands. I think he's been very competitive with that group. They've all had their moments, like any receivers. There are plays that haven't been perfect, but it's been very competitive. The next three games here and the remaining practices, we'll just try to sort it all out.
Q: Are you getting any sense of how your defense is coming together or is it just too soon?
BB: I think they're working hard. I think our defensive players have… most of them have been out there quite a bit of the time, they've had a chance to work on their techniques and we've been able to work together, so that's been good. Of course, we won't get put to the full test until we get to the regular season, in any area of the game but we have to compete against our offense every day. I think they're working hard. We'll see where we're at. We still have a long way to go, but I like their attitude and their work ethic and we have good competition at several positions. We'll see how all that works out.
Q: What have you liked about what you've seen from Patrick Chung and Steve Gregory out there and how they're meshing?
BB: I think they have a ways to go too, but again, every day it gets better. Every day we get new situations and are able to anticipate things and react a little bit quicker or anticipate what's going to happen and get the calls out and make sure we're doing the right thing based on the call and what we see. We've covered a lot of situations this week that we didn't cover last week so it's a lot of new learning; things that we haven't gone over but we know are going to come up. Sometimes we don't get it right the first time or the second time, but hopefully eventually we will and most importantly we'll be able to get it quickly in the game when it actually does happen.
Q: Can you notice early in camp or early in a season when two players mesh or sync well? Is that obvious to you or does that take time to develop?
BB: I think you have to work with a lot more than just one other player. We have a rotation in there at that position but the safeties as an example, there is communication between the safeties that's important but there's also very important communication between the safety and the corner on his side and the safety and the linebackers, whether it's the outside linebacker or the inside linebacker depending on the formation. Safeties can look at each other and confirm, ‘OK, this is what we're in.' But I'd say the harder part of it is then communicating to their respective side of the ball, ‘OK, this is what we're in,' and then ‘OK, what do you we have to do?' And what you're doing over there could be independent of what they're doing over here. I think honestly that's the harder part of the communication and it's always harder on defense to communicate at different levels: so for the safeties to communicate with the linebackers, for the linebackers to communicate with the defensive line. A lot of times it's easy to look over there and just make a signal or say a word to a guy that you're in a meeting with or that you're working with all the time. It's something else when you have to get a call to a defensive lineman who is in a three-point stance who might not be listening to really anything, he's trying to get off on the ball or a corner who is again standing out there, like he can't look inside and ‘What do you want to talk about?' He's out there focused on his receiver, that kind of thing. The communication at different levels, that's probably the most challenging part defensively. Not that there's not communication between linemen, linebackers and DBs, but I think it's even harder when you go… and then when you start getting into nickel and dime defenses and things like that, then the player who was a safety now is a linebacker and a guy who was a linebacker maybe now is a defensive end or is part of the rush and situations like that. That just comes from experience of knowing not whether the player is in the game or not, but what position he's playing. That's something that not everybody is familiar with – not every defensive player knows exactly in this situation this guy is playing Sam and in this situation, this guy is playing Mike and in this situation this guy is playing safety or whatever it happens to be. That part of it, the communication is a little challenging too.
Q: Is the defense building an identity and a confidence now or is it too soon because you haven't been tested yet?
BB: Nobody has been tested. I think our confidence level is good as team in all three phases. I don't think we lack confidence.
Q: Were you happy to see Dane Fletcher pass through waivers and stay in the program?
BB: Sure, yeah. That's what we expected.
Q: News came out this morning that the NFL is going to experiment with a new type of football with synthetic laces this weekend. Have you received them yet?
BB: That's news to me; this is the first I've heard about it. Sorry.
Q: How's the new coach-to-quarterback technology working?
BB: Like most other things in technology, when it works, it's great. When it doesn't work, then it doesn't work. When it works, it's great.
Q: Do you think it's better than the analog from before?
BB: That's really…I'm really pretty bad at that. When it comes to technology, I'm probably the worst. The on-off switch is challenging for me.
Q: Car clock, that kind of thing?
BB: Yeah, or when you have the three remotes – one to turn it on, another to change the whatever, another for something else – just to get the right remote to get it on. I'm really not the person to ask. We have people in our organization that are very good technologically, thankfully. It's a challenging situation: you've got a lot of communication, you have a lot of other things going on, in every stadium, both in the stadium and externally. If something breaks down for a few seconds, it's important. It's not, ‘OK, we have a while to get this fixed.' You're out there trying to call a play, you can't communicate to change, shift and signal it or however you want to handle it. So a few seconds seems like it can be a big deal. Even though it's only a few seconds, it could be the wrong time; it could be a big deal.
Q: On coach-to-quarterback communication, it looked like you did a lot of end of the half and situational work. It seemed like you let the quarterbacks control the clock and call timeouts. As you get into the regular season, is that something you want your quarterback to be able to handle? Is there a coach-quarterback interaction during the season?
BB: We can handle that communication in practice and we can handle it during the season, again, provided that it works. If it doesn't work then, right then the quarterback is on his own. But once the play is over, then it does come on, although there is a split second delay there. You could say to the quarterback, ‘Clock, clock,' or whatever code word you want to say. You can get that communication as they're going up to the ball, you could do that. But if that goes out then of course, he has to make those decisions on his own, other than the timeouts, because the coach can call timeouts. We're OK on that. But again, however long it takes to get the referee or official to call a timeout, but we can call them.
Q: Is there value to letting the player or offense control it on their own in practice without coaching assistance. ?
BB: Sure, we do that, definitely. We do that from time to time and let them call it and see how they do it and critique them. ‘This is a good play. This is really probably not the play we want to run in this situation.' A lot of our plays are done without scripting too, so it's the same thing for the coaches. We look at what we've called and say, ‘OK, this probably, in this situation, isn't really what we're looking for. We'd be better off doing something else.' Or, ‘We should change what this guy is doing because of the situation.' It's a constant flow of that, of the coach, quarterback or defensive coach-signal caller communication. Some of it is on their own and certainly once we get to the 15-second mark, then the offense is on their own on that, on the cut off. So we could be walking to the line of scrimmage and if you'd forgotten to tell the quarterback something, remind him to get out of bounds or something like that, then that would be on him.
Q: With any technology you have to consider worst case scenario that it breaks down. Do you go over that constantly?
BB: Absolutely. There will be days where we'll go without the headsets and do signaling or we've used different things – signaling, wristbands, chalkboard, stuff like that. Depending on where we're playing, what we're doing, we've used different techniques on that. We definitely would practice that so if it came up we'd be able to handle it and defensively, you have to be able to do that; you have to be able to signal if the communication ever goes down, then you have to get the information in to your signal caller.
Q: What's your impression of Ryan Mallett's improvement rate on the field right now?
BB: I think Ryan has improved significantly from last year.
Q: Is it about where you expect a second-year quarterback would be?
BB: Again, I try not to get into those expectations because who knows? Guys progress at different rates. I think what you're looking for is for improvement: to see players go out there and perform, take instruction, coaching, film, individual technique or whatever it is and then the next time they get a chance to perform, it's better and the mistakes have been corrected. Inevitably, new things will come up and we'll change things. There will be a new play and I don't want to say you're starting all over again, but it's a new play, it's a new read, it's a new situation, so we'll have to learn that one now too. I think for any player, you want to make sure the player is improving; as long as he's improving, then [you're] not sure really how far it can go. Once they stop improving for whatever their reasons are, once there's no more improvement, then you have to decide as an organization what value that player has at that level. If you're happy with it and it's a good level, then great. If it's not and you don't think it's going to get any better than you have to live with that or replace the player with somebody else that maybe isn't as good but you think will be better. Obviously if he's better than it's an easy decision. Normally the harder ones are a player that you think has leveled off and another player who is not at that level but you think in time might surpass that level. We've all been right; we've all been wrong on those type of decisions too, but that's kind of what you get into.
Q: When we're out watching practice, we don't have the context you have. Like yesterday in the two-minute drill, Ryan Mallett threw an interception which isn't what you're looking for, but do you look at it within the context of it being the first time he's doing it or something along those lines?
BB: Again, I think what you look over is the overall execution by whatever player it is of his assignment, his technique and what happens on the play. As some people like to do, every touchdown pass is a great play and every interception was the quarterback's fault. Unfortunately, that's just not really the way it works. Sometimes we score in spite of ourselves. Sometimes quarterbacks do the right thing and there are breakdowns somewhere else. Sometimes the quarterbacks throw interceptions like all of our quarterbacks have, like all our receivers have dropped balls, like all of our coaches have made mistakes in some play calling or substitution or something that we've done. The fewer the better and the less costly the better, but that's part of it. As I tell our players, that's part of what practice is for: is to take risks, to push it, to see how far it can go, to see how much you can do. Sometimes it's going to come up a little bit short, but if it's done in the right context then you learn from that and you realize, ‘This is how far I can go and I can't gamble beyond this but I can push it this point.' But if you never push it to that point, I don't think you ever really know how far it can go. Again, that's what practice is for. Every interception in practice or every play that doesn't get made in practice isn't necessarily a bad play. I think we can all learn from those plays, provided that we do learn from them and then apply it in a similar situation the next time it comes up. But particularly at the quarterback position, there are some balls that you try to stick in there and you learn that you just can't do that. There are other times, you learn that, ‘Yeah, I can. There are times when this play is OK and it will work.' Then there are other plays that you realize that you can't do that. Sometimes that's part of it. That's true of all quarterbacks, I'm not singling anybody out. I would say every one that I've coached – particularly one that I've coached here for a long time – we talk about that all the time: You can always make the safe throw and just take the easy throw then that's OK. But at some point, you're going to have to do more than that and you better know what you can do and what you can't do. Better to find out in practice then in the middle of the fourth quarter that, ‘No, I can't. I don't want to be doing that.' That's not the time for it.
Q: We heard from Logan Mankins for the first time since his surgery. He said he didn't have an MRI on his right knee. I assume that's because he didn't speak up about it. Wouldn't you like as much information as possible about a player and an injury?
BB: That's really between the player and the trainer and the doctor. I'm not a doctor. I don't get involved in the medical diagnosis or treatment or cure or anything else. The patient and the medical staff, they deal with injuries. We have a deal: I don't treat the patients, they don't call plays.
Q: Did you at least have enough information to know that you might need to keep an eye on Logan Mankins and that if something happened you might need to make a move?
BB: My information comes from the medical department and what they say about a player's physical condition, then that's what I do. I call the plays and they let the team run them. They don't get involved in that either. Really, it's a simple relationship. They do their job; they're not coaches. I'm not a doctor; I don't try to be a doctor and they don't try to be coaches. It works a lot better that way.
Q: They do give you medical reports, status reports on each guy every day?
BB: Of course, but I don't do anything other than hear the report and do what the medical advice is. If they say, ‘Here's the player's condition, this is what he can do,' then there it is. If it changes, which sometimes it does, or most of the time if the player isn't ‘out out', then it's: ‘He's doing a little better than he was yesterday, let's put him out there and see what he can do. Let's let him do this, let him do that, see how that goes. If that goes OK, then maybe he can do a little bit more.' So we go out to practice and the trainers put the player through those exercises or test him in whatever the area is. And then they come back and say, ‘That went pretty good, so you can do this or we can let him do that' or ‘This didn't go so good and we'll have to back him down today and we'll try it again tomorrow.' And then you guys come in here and say, ‘What's the story on this guy?' and then get all worked up because I can't see into a crystal ball and tell you how a player is going to feel and perform when he goes out there and does it. Especially when he didn't do anything on Saturday, didn't play on Sunday, we didn't practice on Monday, we didn't practice on Tuesday and here we are on Wednesday, five days later, and we want to say, ‘Well, how's the player now?' Until he really gets out there and tries to put some stress on whatever the injured area is, it's hard to really be sure. Yeah, he's walking around going to meetings. Sure, he's fine, but playing football, that's a different story. We'll see how it is when he gets out there.
Q: What's it say about a guy who is able to play on a torn ACL?
BB: I think we all know and think that Logan is one of the tougher players on our team. We have a lot of tough guys, but he's got a lot of physical and mental toughness, no question about that.
Q: Speaking of injuries, I know it's one of your favorite topics –
BB: Yeah, let's go on and on on that. Fortunately, we don't have to give injury reports now, so there isn't any big debate on it.
Q: Any chance we see Jonathan Fanene do something at some point here?