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Bill Belichick Conference Call Transcript

Posted Sep 11, 2012

New England Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick addresses the media during his conference call on Tuesday, September 11, 2012.

BB: We’re getting familiar here with an opponent that we haven’t seen in awhile. We spent some time on them in the offseason but it’s still a new team for all of us. There’s a big challenge there in terms of our preparation here, getting ready for players and some of the things that we do that are a little bit different. Of course this team has a lot of roots in the Pittsburgh system in all three phases of the game: offensively, defensively and special teams. There’s definitely some carryover there to the type of game that the Steelers play and that Arizona plays. I think the Cardinals have some very, very good players, some of the very best players in the league at their position, guys like [Larry] Fitzgerald and defensively [Adrian] Wilson, [Darnell] Dockett, [Calais] Campbell, [Patrick] Peterson. They’re very good in the kicking game. They block a lot of kicks, they’re very dangerous returning them. They’re a very good special teams unit that we just have to worry about every time they come out on the field. Kevin Spencer, their special teams coach, has done a great job. I’ve known Kevin a long time and I know he’s got his team very well prepared and they’ve played extremely well in the time that he’s been down there and when he was at Pittsburgh. Defensively, they’re a very good red area team which showed up against Seattle when they stopped them at the end of the game there to win it. We’re getting ready for both quarterbacks; those guys are different but both very capable. Tight end, [Todd] Heap, we’ve had plenty of problems with him through the years; very good running backs. Good football team, does a lot of things well, has some really outstanding players, very dangerous in the kicking game. We’ve have to make a quick turnaround here and really have a good week of preparation for the Cardinals. They’re a hard team to prepare for scheme-wise, they do a lot of different things. I don’t know if I’ve seen as many personnel groups and formations from a team as what these guys have shown. They really put every combination together, really that’s conceivable. Of course they run all the blitz packages that we’ve seen in Pittsburgh and that’s a multitude of them. It’s going to be a tough week. They’ve won eight of their last 10 games. They got off to a slow start last year, 1-6 and then won most all their games at the end of the year and beat Seattle. This is a team that’s I’m sure gaining confidence every week and they played very well over the last 10 games or so.

Q: How about Larry Fitzgerald? It seems like there aren’t too many things he doesn’t do well. Can you assess what he brings to the table?

BB: Yeah, he does everything well. He’s a great, great receiver; will go down as one of the all-time greats and might end up being the best one ever, I don’t know. He has size, quickness, ability to separate and gets open, exceptional hands. He’s good short, deep, with the ball in his hands after the catch; strong, very smart, sets up his routes well. They move him around, they put him in a lot of different spots, it’s hard to even find [him]; you have no idea where he’s going to line up from play to play. He has a very big route tree; he runs all the routes with double moves off of them and complementary moves so one route sets up another. It’s very hard to defend him. It’s very hard to find him and then it’s very hard to defend him. Again, he’s just as dangerous going down the field as he is taking a shorter pass and running with it so that’s not really the answer either – just letting him catch it in front of you and not give up any big plays because he can make plays there too. Try to keep the ball out of his hands but that’s not easy.

Q: You’re always talking about how things can be better. What kind of qualms can you have with your run defense after Sunday’s performance?

BB: Well, like anything, when sometimes plays happen…it’s like when you run the ball, only one guy has to make the tackle so you could have several good blocks and one bad one and gain no yards. In Tennessee’s case, there were times where we could have played plays better. The production ended up being OK because we made the tackle and they didn’t gain any yards but there were other parts of the play that we didn’t do as well that were breakdowns that eventually when a team is able to get to those spots, that will show up. From a production standpoint, it was great but all the parts of the play didn’t necessarily always equal the final production. Like I said, eventually those things are going to show up.

Q: How would you assess the pass defense on Sunday?

BB: We did some good things. I would say the pass defense and everything else is really about the same. We did some good things, there are other things that we need to improve on and do better. I think that was true in every aspect of our game. There are positive things to build on and a lot of things we did right. There were also plenty of things that we didn’t get for one reason or another. We need to do better – we need to coach them better, we need to play them better and we need to communicate and adjust quicker on things. It’s the first game, there’s plenty of room for improvement for all of us.

Q: Could you talk about the field position you had because of the work of your special teams on Sunday?

BB: Our kickers and our coverage units did a real good job. The field position was exceptional. They were always going 80 yards-plus to the goal-line. Defensively you can’t ask for more than that – to be playing on a long field all day. It’s a team thing. Our specialists did a good job and our kicking coverage units did a good job but also our offense did a good job of at times when we didn’t have good field position of being able to move the ball into the midfield area so when we did punt it, we were able to keep Tennessee on a long field. It’s hard to have good field position when you’re punting from your 10-yard line, nobody can kick and cover it that far consistently but when you’re punting from midfield or in that area and you have a chance to get the ball up in the air and cover it and pin them up. Part of that is the offense putting the special teams in a position where they can create that field positions and then the other part of it is the special teams doing their job and maintaining the field position. That was a big factor in the game.

Q: Can you highlight what you’ve seen from Patrick Peterson so far, on defense and as a returner?

BB: Very dangerous on punt returns, that goes without saying. Big guy, has good length, good speed so hard guy to throw over in the secondary, excellent ball skills. If he gets his hands on the ball, you’re looking at a lot of trouble, not just interceptions but probably run back for touchdowns too, it would be like a punt return. He and [Adrian] Wilson are two outstanding players back there. Of course, Kerry Rhodes and [William] Gay, [Jamell] Fleming, those guys – it’s a good group. Peterson has exceptional ability and exceptional size for the position with real good ball skills.

Q: We saw Jermaine Cunningham rushing from an interior position in the opener. What do you get from that compared to what we normally see from him rushing on the edge?

BB: He played both spots. When you move players around, you create different matchups. [We] just created a different matchup, [got] one of our productive players on the field. Fortunately he was able to make a couple big plays for us – the holding penalty he got on the quarterback draw was a big play, knocked the quarterback down, had a couple pressures, made a couple plays at end. We try to get our productive players on the field and create some different matchups for the offense to worry about.

Q: What have you seen from Jermaine Cunningham this year that you didn’t see the first two years?

BB: I think one of the things that affected Jermaine [’s development], like it did a lot of players, is not really having the offseason that he had this year. He didn’t have that opportunity prior to the 2011 season [due to the lockout] and after the 2010 season, at the end of the season, he had surgery on his shoulder so that limited his offseason too. One of the things that really helped Jermaine this year was right from the beginning, even at the end of the season last year when he was on IR, he trained very hard, he worked very hard on all the aspects of his physical conditioning – strength, explosion, flexibility, all that – and had a real good offseason, had a good spring. That offseason led into a good spring, good spring lead into a good training camp, good training camp led into some production in the preseason and the first regular season game. I think it’s just a combination of a lot of days of hard work, a lot of sweat, a lot of work in the weight room, a lot of technique work on the field and all that that’s just made him a better football player in a lot of different areas. I don’t think it was any one thing or just waving a magic wand –it was just day after day of hard work and he’s just at a higher level than where he’s been.