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Bill Belichick Conference Call Transcript - 10/2/2012
Q: You talked a little bit yesterday about what makes a good runner, particularly getting yards beyond what he should based on the blocking. Of the 247 yards on Sunday, do you know what the total was after contact or after the ‘should have been tackled' mark?
BB: No, I don't have a specific number on that. No, sorry.
Q: Is that something you gauge?
BB: We track the actual numbers, absolutely. We track it in each game and at the end of the year when we evaluate the players and all that. That's something we definitely keep track of. Wide receivers, well anybody really, anybody that has the ball – running backs, receivers, tight ends, whoever it is, yup. Yards after contact is definitely something that we keep tabs on and really emphasize to the players every week. I just don't have the exact number though.
Q: Does it seem like through four games, with Stevan Ridley being the one who has carried the ball most, does it seem like he and the rest of the runners have done a good job of that so far?
BB: All of our skill players have been productive doing that. I would certainly put the backs in that category; we've had plays really from all of them. Again, those are the extra yards they get on their own. Whatever the play is executed for it is, but being able to break or avoid or make defenders miss tackles, then that's kind of extra bonus yardage that the players make on their own individually.
Q: Daniel Fells seemed to have a positive impact in the game on Sunday. Revisiting the decision to sign him – what drew you to him?
BB: Dan's had good experience and production in the league. We've seen him do a lot of different things: block, catch, play in the kicking game, pass protect, you know, all the things you see a tight end do. I wouldn't really classify him as a one dimensional guy or ‘this is just what he does.' I think he has a good set of skills and can do a number of things at the tight end position. He has good size, runs well, smart guy. He's versatile and adjustable mentally to different assignments, formations, adjustments, things like that. He has a good combination of skills and is a versatile player for us at that position.
Q: Your team is usually very good at creating takeaways. What do you advise your players to do in calculating the risk in getting those turnovers?
BB: First of all, we want to make the tackle and make sure that we get the guy with the ball in our grasp and get him down. Sometimes that contact comes with pressure on the ball, sometimes it doesn't. We try to be aware of when it is, when we're tackling a player and we're able to make contact with the ball then part of the tackle can be to dislodge the ball. But we don't want to just be grabbing at the ball all the time and then we don't get it and the runner breaks the tackle. So a lot of times, those plays are caused by the second or third guy in. Sometimes the first guy, if he's able to make contact with the ball as well as make the tackle, like on [Rob] Ninkovich's strip-sack for example, which those are usually pretty common in coming in from behind where you can secure the tackle with one arm and try to get the ball out with the other arm. That's kind of straight forward but that's an easy play to coach from. Sometimes there are tackles where the tackler get his shoulder or helmet or arm on the ball and is able as part of the tackle to get the ball out as well. So, I'd say that's how we try to coach the players.
Q: In the first month of the season, it seems like this team has established itself as a balanced team in the two wins you have had. To what extent do you think that is a function of your success in those wins? How important is that? I know it is important for every team, but yours in particular with your personnel groupings and dictating what you want to do by establishing balance.
BB: I think it's a great way to play because it just forces the defense to have to react and cover everything. Defensively, I think that's where you want them – you want them to have to think about all their responsibilities, outside runs, inside runs, deep passes, short passes, screen passes, misdirection plays, point of attack plays, inside routes, outside routes, inside receivers, outside receivers, I mean just to have good balance kind of keeps them from ganging up on one thing. If you can do that, then it opens up a lot of other things. I think, as an example, like on the touchdown pass to [Rob] Gronkowski, it's so hard to get a player like that open on a drop back pass. The defenders see the pass, they go to match their coverage and take their guy, but when you can have a run action that draws the defenders up and then you get a guy behind them like Rob did on that play. That's a big part of that play was the play action and the run threat that we had presented in the game that caused the linebackers to displace a little bit and we were able to get behind them. The running game helps the passing game; the passing game helps the running game. Throwing it to the receivers helps the tight ends, throwing to the tight ends helps the receivers, throwing to the receivers helps the backs. It just all creates spacing and forces the defense to handle the whole field. I think that just gives the offense good opportunities. I think it's a good way to be able to attack offensively. It's not always where you are, sometimes the defense will be intent on taking a certain aspect of your game away and say, ‘OK, we're not going to give you this, we're going to make you beat us with that.' Sometimes you have to be able to do that.
Q: You put a defense on the field right away when you establish that.
BB: Right, I think the more balanced that you can be, then the less they can say, ‘Well, we're just going to concentrate on this one thing', because you've shown them too many other things that they have to defend.
Q: Will it be as strange for you to see Dan Koppen in a Broncos uniform as it is to see Peyton Manning in one?
BB: We kind of go through this every week, players on other teams – James Ihedigbo, Mark Anderson, whoever it is. There are players on other teams that have played for us. Yeah, it's a little bit unusual, it is but it isn't. We haven't seen Dan Koppen in another uniform but we've seen plenty of other players in similar situations and that happens. That's the way it is in the NFL, you can find that on every team throughout the league.
Q: Can you assess Ryan Wendell's performance through four games and how he's done as the full-time starter?
BB: I think Ryan has done well. As with any player, there are definitely things that he can improve on, but Ryan works hard, he's a smart guy and he definitely is very attentive to details and coaching and when you ask him to do something, he really tries to do it the way you ask him to. He came to camp in good shape, he's been out there every day, he's worked hard and he's continued to get better. I think he's played a good, solid, including preseason, he's had a good, solid stretch here of playing good football.