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Bill Belichick Conference Call Transcript - 8/21/2012

Posted Aug 21, 2012

Patriots head coach Bill Belichick addresses the media during his conference call at Gillette Stadium on Tuesday, August 21, 2012.

BB: We went through the film this morning and then worked with players this afternoon. We're getting ready to head out to Tampa here in a little while. A lot of things that we learned from last night, obviously there are some things we have to improve on. This is another big week for us in terms of working three days against Tampa, seeing the different players, a different style of play, working out in different conditions than we're used to and all that. Good opportunity for us to improve our football team and we'll try to take advantage of each of these days and make the most out of it and I look forward to playing Tampa on Friday night.

Q: After watching the tape this morning and having some time to digest it, do you have an expanded thoughts on the play of the quarterbacks, both Brian Hoyer and Ryan Mallett?

BB: Some good things; other things we can learn from, need to improve on. I thought they both managed their situation well at times and there were other times where they, I'm sure there are plays they would like to have back but you can say that about everybody. There were some positive things; some other things that need to be improved on.

Q: What are some of the circumstances that led to the decision to release Jonathan Fanene?

BB: It just didn't work out. I don't really think there's much to add than that; it just didn't work out.

Q: Going back to the two quarterbacks, can the same theory be applied to the two starting tackles last night, both Nate Solder and Marcus Cannon?

BB: I thought those guys handled their situations overall, they did a pretty good job against a couple… Philadelphia was rotating some players out there but against good players and it's a very good front that the Eagles have and they have some depth in it too, they rotate guys through, they have good depth up front. I thought those guys did a pretty good job. Not perfect obviously, there are certainly things that they need to improve on too, there were a couple plays that they can learn from. But overall I thought they did a pretty solid job, [yes].

Q: I think you had four guys taking reps at center starting with Ryan Wendell leading off the game. What is your assessment of the position overall last night and the rotation in general?

BB: Part of what we look for in the offensive line are some players who have position flexibility and also there's competition for that starting center position. We had four guys play it last year and they all did a pretty good job. We've also worked Donald [Thomas] in there a little bit to give him some flexibility from playing the two guard spots. So it's a combination of all those things – it's a combination of competition for the position and also for flexibility for guys to play multiple positions so they increase their value to our overall team but also to, if they're not starting, to being active for the game as one of the backup offensive linemen that has position flexibility. It's all that's going on.

Q: We saw Patrick Chung leave last night's game which was announced as a shoulder injury. Any update on his status?

BB: No, not too much. We've been really scrambling around here today trying to get caught up with the game and going to Tampa and all that. I'll check in with those guys a little bit later before we leave.

Q: It looked like Stephen Gostkowski had a pretty good night last night. Can you address the work of your specialists, particularly Stephen and Zoltan Mesko throughout training camp and the preseason?

BB: Sure. I think first of all, we had some transition at that position over the last, going back to when Steve replaced Adam [Vinatieri] and then we had a little bit of transition there at the punter position and then in the last three years we had a little transition at the snapper spot. This year with all those players returning – Danny [Aiken], Zoltan and Steve – I think it's a good group that worked well together last year even though we didn't get Danny until the end of preseason but throughout the season and in the offseason and then of course now so far in training camp. I think the continuity between those specialists and the rapport that they have and the time that they work together and the quality of their work is good and I think that it shows up in their performance. Our overall timing and consistency and I'd say overall execution on the punt snaps and punts and the snaps and the holds on the field goals and all that has been good, probably better than it was at this time last year; certainly getting Danny and also having the continuity has something to do with that. As it relates to the specialists, Stephen has had a good year, had a real good offseason and came to camp in great shape, has kicked the ball throughout camp and has kicked well throughout camp. Zoltan has built on his first two years and he's certainly become a more consistent punter, his technique is better, his handling of situations with his experience has improved, he's really doesn't just go out there and kick the ball but now he's much more aware of circumstances and situations in the game [and] is able to communicate those to his teammates like the personal protector, or the snapper or the gunners or whatever it may be. He's done well. Hopefully we can continue to work that group together on a consistent basis and let them develop individually but also together with their timing and their execution. It can only get better with more work and attention to the details of getting it perfect.

Q: There was a lot of Deion Branch last night, I think all but one offensive snap. Is that more of a situation of where you're trying to see more of what you have in a guy or is it more of a product of the number of guys you had dressed last night?

BB: We played the players that we played and we told them they should expect to play a lot and a lot of them did. That's kind of how that worked out. Deion did play a lot and of course he didn't play last week so this was really his first game action even though he's been out on the practice field a lot. I thought he competed well and made three pretty good catches for us in pretty tight coverage and traffic so that's always good to see. He's worked hard through camp and it was good to have him out there last night and all the receivers played, well other than [Julian] Edelman, all the receivers that played, played quite a bit.

Q: You have been very outspoken about your support of holding joint practices. What, if any, are the drawbacks to having a joint practice?

BB: I wouldn't characterize myself as an advocate of it. I just say that I think that as a coach you try to do what's best for your team. If you feel like you can do something that benefits your team then you consider doing it. If it works out, if the logistics and the timing and whatever circumstances that are involved work out to the point where it's beneficial for your club then that's something that I would want to do. If the circumstances just don't work out for whatever reason, then I wouldn't be in favor of it. I've talked to many teams about doing something along the lines of what we've done this year or in the past with New Orleans and Atlanta a couple years ago. Sometimes it works out; sometimes it doesn't for one reason or another and that's true on the other side of it. It has to be mutually beneficial. If it works, it works. If it doesn't work, then I would prefer not to do it rather than do it and solve one problem but create two other ones down the line. The drawbacks of it are if it doesn't work than you'd be doing more harm than good. You wouldn't be able to reap the benefits of seeing the different players, a different scheme, if you're traveling being in a different environment, adjusting to something other than what you normally do. Those things are good but they can be all outweighed by other things if it doesn't work out right for you. I wouldn't do it just to do it. I would only do it if I thought it was beneficial to our team.

Q: Earlier in camp you talked about taking calculated risks in practices for quarterbacks. Last night during the opening kickoff, the ball was driven five yards deep into the end zone and Donte' Stallworth took a knee at the urging of Shane Vereen. Because you have so few live reps in kickoff returns, do you ever see a benefit to telling guys that it is worth running the ball out just to see what you have in a unit?

BB: Sure, yup, sure. Yeah, there's a fine line there and some of that comes with experience and judgment and decision making. I'm not going to second guess the decisions that the players make on the field. I think they're trying to do what they think is best at the time, like we all are. I make a lot of decisions during the game. I try to make the ones that are best but they're not all right. The things that we, when we look back on it, sometimes we say, even though that was good intentions and that was trying to do the right thing, sometimes it wasn't the right thing. We all have those mistakes. I think that's part of learning from game experience. You learn on the practice field but it's a little bit different in the game. There are a number of things to take into consideration, score, situation, the hang time, what return you have on, what the direction of the kick is, how a deeper kick on one type of return and a deeper kick on another type of return might not put you at the same decision point. There are a lot of things like that going into it and some of our decisions are good; some could be better and we'll work on those.

Q: Brandon Bolden had a pretty eventful game last night. What did you like last night from him?

BB: I think Brandon competed well and he definitely showed up with some positive plays in the kicking game and also offensively. He had never returned for us. He has done some in practice, not a lot. We wanted to give [him] an opportunity to do that in a game so he did, he handled the ball a couple times in the return game as well as playing his usual position on punt and kickoff returns up front. Again, just taking a look at different people doing different things, trying to see what kind of depth and versatility we have with some players before we decide for sure to lock in to one particular spot or maybe we use that person's versatility in a couple spots if that's what we need based on the makeup of our roster. I think he showed some versatility, he made some positive plays for us in those two phases of the game and there are other things that he can learn from and probably will execute better the next time around. Overall, I think a positive performance but not perfect.

Q: Are you at a point or do you reach a point where you're hoping that one of the running backs in the group creates some separation from others or are you okay with how things are going at this point?

BB: Well I can't control how the players play, that's up to them. What we can do is coach them and teach them to the best of our ability and prepare them for when they do play through practice, giving them repetitions and making sure they understand their assignments and all that. The players have to go out and perform so I can't tell you how that competition is going to work out – whether it's going to be a couple guys or a few guys bunched up close together or somebody is going to separate from the group or not. That's decided competitively, it's not decided by a coach; that's decided by the players. We'll see how it works out. We'll let them compete and we'll let them, over the period of, we've had over 30 practices this year and now two preseason games and a couple practices against New Orleans, we'll have a couple practices against Tampa, we'll take that whole body of work and we'll evaluate the players based on all that and also to some degree how much they've improved and whether we think that improvement is on the way up or leveled off or maybe they've peaked. We'll just have to see how all that plays out. We tried to play those guys last night and in a lot of cases just left them in the game, so they played on first, second and third down so it wasn't always a third down substitution. We did it more by groups that had practiced together rather than by down. Again, to try to help ourselves evaluate those players on all three downs and not necessarily pigeonhole them into one situation because that's what we chose. We wanted to let them play in those situations and compete and see how it turned out. That's what we did last night and next week we'll talk about it again and make a decision as to how we want to use those players in this week's game, whether it's the same way or whether it's by down and distance or by some other method. That will be a week-to-week decision based on what we feel like we need for that position or for our overall offensive unit for that week or that game and that emphasis time.

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