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Bill Belichick Conference Call Transcript

Posted Aug 10, 2012

Patriots head coach Bill Belichick addresses the media during his conference call on Friday, August 10, 2012.

BB:  After going through the tape here, I think that there were definitely some encouraging things last night and also a number of things we need to work on, both individually and from the team or overall scheme standpoint. I thought overall the players competed well. We were trying to, obviously our first time out there, trying to get our game day operation running without too many bumps in the road. I thought that was a step in the right direction. The big thing for us this week is we just have to, really the only chance we really have in the whole preseason to actually string some practice days together, so it's important for us to get the most out of them and try to improve our team because once we play again, we'll be playing three games right in a row. There won't be really much time to do anything but very quickly prepare for the next game. That's kind of where we're at for today. On the injury front – the news on Dane [Fletcher] doesn't look very good, so he'll probably be out for a while, which is unfortunate because he's worked hard, specifically this offseason and training camp. We've had good competition at the position so it we'll have to look for somebody else to step in but it's unfortunate for Dane. That's where we're at for today.

Q: You mentioned some encouraging things, outside of the way the team competed which you mentioned last night, what were some of the encouraging things you saw after reviewing the tape?

BB: I thought individually there were good plays from a lot of players. We were inconsistent in certain areas or guys had good plays and the other plays weren't so good. Some of the things that we worked on in practice showed up out there on the field from the fundamental or technique standpoint and that's been a big emphasis, as it always is in training camp, is to play with good fundamentals, blocking, tackling, things like that. We had some production running the ball. Defensively we didn't give up a lot of points. I thought we played competitively against both the running and passing game. Overall the kicking game was pretty competitive. Again, as I said there's a lot of, I wouldn't say that we're three in any of those areas.

Q: Specifically in the run game, in this game it seemed like this was a little bit of I-formation. How much of that did you guys do last year without the pure fullback on the roster?

BB: Not a whole lot.

Q: What was your thought on the way those plays looked with Eric Kettani back there and at one time, Aaron Hernandez back there? What was your thought on the production on those plays?

BB: Again, some of the production was good; some of it was not so good. Again, even on the plays that were not good plays, there were some good blocks and some good things done on the play; we just didn't execute it well enough to gain a lot of yardage. Even on some of the plays that we gained good yardage, there were still things that we could have done better. It's all part of improving and getting better process. We've been running those plays all through training camp – you've seen them out there. We tried to work on things in games that we've been practicing the last couple weeks.

Q: What is the benefit of an I-formation versus using two tight ends? Is it just a bit of a different angle to give the different look or do you actually get something more out of that formation?

BB: I would say it's pretty basic. If you line your tight end up on one side of the formation… If you put the other tight end wherever you put him, with that tight end or opposite of him, his alignment kind of declares where the strength of the formation is. You could run him all the way across behind the ball and across the formation when the ball is snapped to get him to the other side but that's a long way to go and it's a counter-type action, there's not a lot you can do from there. When you put them up on the line, you kind of declare to the defense where the strength of the formation is. When you have a fullback in the backfield in the I-formation or even if he's offset, it's a lot easier for that player to go to either side of the ball and he can get to the tight end side or he can get to the weak side and become a blocker at the point of attack but the defense doesn't know where that's going to be until he runs his course after the ball is snapped. If it's a tight end, you can line up a tight end up at fullback of course and do the same thing, it's just a question of how the tight end would be at doing that. But if you line him up on the line, then your formation declares pre-snap whereas in the I-formation, your formation doesn't really declare until after the ball is snapped; final formation.

Q: With Dane Fletcher being out for a while now as you said, do you have plan for how you will shuffle that linebacker corps? Will we see Bobby Carpenter more and will we see more of Dont'a Hightower in the middle on a more regular basis?

BB: We'll just have to see how that goes. Again, those players have played multiple positions through training camp and even last night. It's one of the things we'll probably talk about tomorrow as a staff or later tonight and tomorrow as a staff, as we always do after a game and as we head into the next week, talk about what personnel we have available, which guys we think might have a chance to practice this week, which guys we think for sure are going to practice and then which guys will have a chance to practice and what we think how we want to practice those players and possibly play them in the upcoming game against Philadelphia. Those are things that we'll talk about tonight and tomorrow and try to put into place next week when start practicing the best that we can.

Q: What are some of the things that you and the coaching staff hope to accomplish in the next 36 hours or so without practice?

BB: We'll take a look at what we've done over the last two weeks, both on the practice fields and against the Saints, in practice and in the game. We'll try to take a look at where we are, where we feel like we definitely need work, where we feel like we need to stay on it but overall our execution is at a fairly competitive level. New things that we need to put in, eventually later on in the week, things that we know we need to do because of what Philadelphia does that we'll have to prepare for or adjustments that we know we'll have to make for them and continue in general to build on what we've done the last two weeks with our team in terms of fundamentals, techniques, conditioning, situational football and just continuing to progress to be as ready as we can on opening day for all the different things that we're going to have to face.

Q: There were a couple of plays made by Jerod Mayo, the primary one where he tracked down Darren Sproles on third down. Is he a guy who is able to use different strengths depending on how he's being deployed? Like in the middle he plays it one way and on the weak side he can play it another and he can be very adaptable.

BB: Sure, I think Jerod has a lot of strengths and he does a lot of things well – that's why he's such a good player. He can run, he can tackle, he can take on blockers, he can chase down plays. He can play good zone pass defense, he can cover guys man-to-man, he has the ability to blitz. He's smart, he calls our defenses, he makes adjustments. He's a versatile player, but he's also a player that if you just put in one spot that can do a lot of things well and help your defense in a lot of ways, so absolutely. He gives you good flexibility on your team all the way around just because he does so many things well. And he has a very good understanding of not only what we're trying to do, but what the opponents are trying to do and what things we would or wouldn't want to do against certain looks or certain problems that they try to give us. He does a nice job of getting the defense to something that we would want to be in or something that we would want to play in that situation.

Q: Going back to Dane Fletcher, are you leaving open the possibility that he could return this year or is it likely that he is heading toward the season-ending Injured Reserve status?

BB: I'm not trying to speculate on his injury. I just think that he's going to be out for a while; we'll see exactly what that means. I don't know.

Q: In 2010, you called the Saints practices some of the most productive practices you've ever been part of. Would you say the same about these three days with them this year?

BB: It was great to be with them. The good thing in 2010 was that was a time when we had two practices in the one day and we were able to kind of split things up, but it is what it is and I think we got a lot out of it, obviously. They're a good football team and they're good to work with. Joe Vitt and his staff and Sean's [Payton] staff do a great job. We certainly learned a lot and had a lot of good teaching situations come up in practice and in the game from working against the Saints. I'm glad we did it and we definitely got a lot out of it.

Q: What are your thoughts on linebackers Bobby Carpenter and Mike Rivera? What do they do well that has made you want to work with them this year?

BB: Well, I think they're a little bit at opposite ends for comparison. Bobby is a very experienced player. He's been with several teams. He's played inside and outside in the 3-4, he's played the different positions in the 4-3 and nickel defenses, he has a lot of experience in the kicking game. He's done a lot of different things for Detroit, Miami, Dallas and us. He's a versatile player with a lot of experience. Mike is a player that is trying to work his way up from the other end. He was on our practice squad last year; wasn't in training camp for us but had a good year on the practice squad and did enough things that we re-signed him this season and he's been very competitive in camp. We're trying to give him some opportunities to see what he can do and how effective he can be doing it. But he's certainly well ahead of where he was last year because of the spring practices, the OTAs and being here in training camp, so he knows our system a lot better. He's a hard working kid that has shown up in the kicking game and on defense. He's done some good things, but still has a long way to go to establish himself as a veteran NFL player. I think Bobby has done that.

Q: I could call the league, but do you have the option of a shortened Injured Reserve for one player? I know that was something that was talked about but I forget if it was passed.

BB: As I understand it – and don't take this as gospel – but as I understand it, the rule was passed by the clubs and the membership, but because it has other implications with players and rosters and so forth, a lot of things that I don't understand, that there needs to be some type of agreement or approval or negotiation or whatever it is with the Players Association. As of right now, my understanding is that the rules have not changed but there is a possibility that they could change or could be modified, I don't know, based on the clubs' approval of the changes. But I don't know what the exact processes is for all that to happen because there are some things that I guess would come into play with those changes relative to the CBA. That's a long answer to a short question. Bottom line is, I don't think there are any changes and I don't really understand the whole process in this particular case for what would constitute, what would be necessary to even make that change. The best thing to do would be to call the league office and talk to someone who is a lot smarter than I am about that.