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Bill Belichick Conference Call Transcript

Posted Aug 12, 2011

Patriots head coach Bill Belichick addresses the media during his conference call on Friday, August 12, 2011.

BB: This afternoon we've been kind of pounding away here, going through the film and talking about last night and then now trying to get ready for the coming week. It's obviously a big week for us in terms of building on where we're at. Just a quick review on the game, [there were] definitely some encouraging things, some things I thought we did well. There were, of course, plenty of mistakes out there and lots of things we need to get corrected. Some things we haven't gone over as thoroughly as what we'll be able to cover. Other things, I feel like we've spent quite a bit of time on and we should be doing them better. That's true for all the individuals that played. Coaching-wise, we still have a long way to go there, too, in terms of all of our communication and adjustments and just kind of getting back into game mode, which we haven't done in a while – six months or so. [There is] A lot of work for all of us to do, but I feel like the players went out and played hard, gave a solid effort. They played with some energy, even though we got off to a slow start. Once we got going, I felt that they had some energy and some presence on the field. We handled some situations fairly well and we can certainly teach from them. I think it's a start, so we'll see where go from here, but I think we know more than we did yesterday at this time. We'll just try to take that and continue to build towards the regular season and opening day.

Q: You mentioned some encouraging things. What are the areas you would put on that list?

BB: I think fundamentally we did some things fairly well: passing, catching, kicking, tackling, blocking, our footwork, our hand placement, we didn't have a lot of penalties, things like that. It was far from perfect; I'm not saying that [it was perfect], but overall I'd say that we were able to play 80-some plays on offense and 50-some on defense without…we've all seen fumbled snaps, dropped balls, false starts, offsides penalties, missed tackles, just sloppy, poor football. We had some mistakes out there, but I thought overall that the fundamentals and techniques were at a decent, competent level.

Q: What did you learn about your depth last night with so many starters not playing?

BB: Well, I just think we gave some people an opportunity to play. And we can evaluate what they've done. They'll get another chance to play and we'll see how they improve on that. A lot of the players that didn't play have played a lot of football before, whether it's here, or in a couple cases, somewhere else. That will all start coming together a little bit more this week, and then in the succeeding preseason games. We just try to evaluate the guys that played last night, and I feel like we gave them a pretty good amount of playing time so that it wasn't just a handful of plays or a series, but they were actually able to go in and play, come to the sideline, make adjustments, make corrections and go back out and play again. We were able to evaluate the players' stamina and overall conditioning because they were in for consecutive series, things like that. Plus a lot of players last night participated in kicking game as well. Like I said, I think we learned a lot about the players who played. There were 30-some that didn't play, and we'll continue to evaluate them on the practice field and in other preseason games.

Q: One thing that you guys showed last night was Leigh Bodden playing sort of the slot cornerback. Do you like what you saw from him inside?

BB: Well, as you've seen in practice, we've used a lot of different players at different positions, mobbing them around. They've learned multiple responsibilities. Some of the things that we did last night we'll do differently in other games so we can let people who are competing for positions, give them opportunities to compete there. Leigh has played inside before. He did that with Cleveland. Like in our game when we played them in whatever year that was, '07 I think, so he's done that in the past. Darius [Butler] has played in there. Kyle [Arrington] played in there. Jonathan [Wilhite] played in there. [Patrick] Chung has played in there. So, we've worked a number of different combinations and at some point in the preseason, as we'll do with a lot of other things, we'll have to narrow that down to who we feel has done the best job and what our best groups are and how everything fits together. But Leigh has played outside and he has the versatility to play inside. That helps him and it helps our team.

Q: In the first half, you guys had some good success defensively on third-down. How would you assess some of the edge pressure that you were able to generate on third-down in the first half?

BB: I think at times it was competitive; at other times, certainly a lot of room for improvement.

Q: Watching the film, was there anything that jumped out about how Nate Solder played that you didn't see on the field? And what did you see out of Steve Maneri at the other tackle? Is he developing into an NFL tackle after moving from tight end?

BB: Steve is certainly way ahead of where he was last year. Last year he was converting from a tight end position at Temple to an offensive tackle in the NFL. This year, he's got that whole year of experience of that conversion under his belt. From a technique standpoint, he's worked hard in the offseason. He's improved his strength and explosion and power and he's still pretty athletic for his size, but he's grown into the position and into the frame that he has and his techniques are a lot better. He's still got a lot of things to work on, but I think we saw a lot of improvement from him since the last time we saw him in January. I would say similar comments on Nate. I think Nate improved quite a bit in the last few days that he's been in camp. A couple of his techniques that he used in college we've asked him to change, and he's done a good job of adapting to those. I think both players had some good plays and there were a lot more positives than negatives, but there were still plenty of things with both players that they need to correct and understand. And some things that I'm, sure when the opponents study them in future weeks, that if they don't get corrected will become bigger problems after teams have had a chance to scout them a little bit. There were definitely some good things there and plenty of things they have to work on.

Q: What have been your initial impressions of Mark Anderson?

BB: Mark is a versatile player, a real hard working kid. He competes hard on the practice field. [He's] very attentive. [He] wants to do well, puts a lot into it, can play both sides. He actually played inside in Chicago as well – some 3-technique and worked some as an inside pass rusher, so he's pretty adept when he lines up outside and comes inside. He's been in there and kind of knows how to deal with the interior part of the pass rush with guards and more in front of the quarterback than on the edge. He's flashed some good pass rushes through the course of camp in one-on-ones and in our teamwork and then again last night. He's definitely adjusting to what we're asking him to do and he's got a pretty good skill set. He's an experienced player who's rushed against a lot of good players in this league, so he has a good set of moves and skills to attack them with. I think he got off to a good start last night and we'll see where it goes from here, but I'm glad we have him.

Q: Buddy Farnham was talking about how he had played a little bit of defensive back here and there last year. Can you talk about what goes into asking a player to add to their role? Is it a give-and-take kind of conversation? And have you ever run into a situation where a player wasn't receptive to taking on a new position?

BB: I can't remember too many times when a player has not wanted to change positions. Normally when we talk to a player about taking on more responsibilities, it's with the idea that those extra responsibilities – whether it's on the same side of the ball or a different side of the ball or in the kicking game – it's with the idea that those responsibilities will give him an opportunity to get on the field more and/or increase his value to the team in terms of making the roster or again, being on the field and having a bigger role on the team. I don't think there are too many players that don't want to play, that don't want a bigger role. Now, when you make those moves, sometimes after the player does it, they don't feel comfortable of confident in taking on those responsibilities and it doesn't work out. But you usually don't know that until you've given it a try. They player and the coaches don't know that, but you go into it feeling like, ‘We'll give it a shot and see how it goes,' and then you evaluate it as you start to gain more information about the change. I can't say that I've ever had too much resistance on that over my career. The intent is to not only make it better for the team, but to make it better for that individual player. I think we can all remember plenty of examples where that versatility has paid dividends for the players involved and the team. So, that's the intent. Sometimes it works out; sometimes it doesn't and you go back to where you were.

Q: Dane Fletcher looked like he was getting a lot of penetration last night. Has he added some quickness to his game?

BB: I think Dane's made a big jump from his first year to his second year, again, similar to some of our first-year players. We just talked about Steve Maneri, Taylor Price or whoever you want to name. The fact that they have been through an NFL season in our system and all that, they're way ahead of where they were last year. It looks like Dane has had a very good offseason. He looks good physically and he's certainly a lot more confident and is reacting quicker and anticipating things better than he did, definitely, at this time last year. Although he made a lot of gains over the course of the season and by the end of the year, he was doing a real good job for us in that aspect. This year, he's just starting from a much higher level. I don't know how much quickness and strength he's gained. It might be a little bit because he has worked hard and he's in good condition, but I'd say more than that it's probably his reactions, being able to recognize things quicker, anticipate them. Dane has started to take on a role, especially last night as the middle linebacker, of making calls, making adjustments, helping to tell other people what to do or how we're going to handle a certain formation or a certain set. I think those are things that he really wouldn't have been comfortable doing last year; somebody else would have been telling him. This year, he's helping to tell other people. With that understanding and that confidence, allows the player to become more aggressive and to react quicker because there's just less thinking involved and he's just more ensured of what he's doing. I think that they play faster even though they may not time better or that type of thing. They just play faster because of experience, confidence and knowledge.

Q: We haven't talked to you since Logan Mankins signed his contract, so can you talk about what it means to have him for some years to come?

BB: That's great. I think the world of Logan and he's done a great job for us here since he's come to the Patriots. I'm glad that he'll be here for many years in the future. He's one of our best players, one of our most consistent players. He's been durable. He's got a great work ethic. He's really smart. He plays hard. He's tough. There're almost no negatives with Logan. He's an outstanding person. He's an outstanding player, and he does things the way that we would like our team to do them, so he's a great example for all of us to look at because he plays hard, he's unselfish, he's tough, he puts the team first and he's a winner. I'm glad we have him on our team.

Q: Did you get an explanation from the officials yesterday after the first two touchdowns? I know they have to confirm each touchdown, but that seemed like a long time. Did they give you any insight into what the regular season will be like as far as confirming touchdowns?

BB: I mean, that's all handled on their side of it. As I understand it, the official upstairs, if he feels there's something that needs to be looked at, then he buzzes the referee and he looks at it. And if he looks at the play and feels like there's not really anything to question on the scoring play, then they go to the extra point. I think it's really officiating mechanics. That's not really something that I'm involved with. We're just there to play the game, so whatever that timeframe is between the score and the next play for them to do their thing, then that's what it is.