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Bill Belichick Conference Call Transcript

Posted Jan 2, 2012

Patriots head coach Bill Belichick addresses the media during his conference call on Monday, Jnauary 2, 2012.

BB: Obviously, it's a good feeling to have a 13-3 regular season. [There were a] lot of ups and downs along the way, a lot of challenges that we had to face. The players did a good job and they performed well enough to achieve that record and that's not easy to do in this league. [We] put ourselves in decent position here, now it's really time to end that chapter and onto the next one. There's certainly a lot of things that we can do better and improve on and all those type of things so that's what we'll try to do in the coming weeks, this week and in our game preparations for next week, whoever that is against. But still working on things that we can improve on in all three phases of the game. As coaches, take a look at some of the things that we're doing and trying to figure out better ways or improving some other things that we're doing to be a little more productive. It was good to see a couple players out there yesterday who hadn't played in awhile – that's always good. Hopefully we'll see more of those moving forward. We'll just have to take those as it comes. I think the big thing for us right now is to just to use our time and our opportunities and this position in a productive manner so that's what we'll try to do here until we know specifically who our next opponent is going to be.

Q: I assume you spend quite a bit of time during practice working on stuff for your future opponent. How will you fill your time this week since you don't know who your opponent is going to be?

BB: That's probably one of the things that we need to talk about here in the next day in a half as a staff, how to make the most of it. Of course, you know what the possibilities are and who it could be so you get a little bit of a jump start on those teams, as far as breaking down film and looking at them; two of the three we've played. That's part of the process. A lot of it is working on what we need to work on; working on things that have been a problem for us, that if they come up again we need to handle better. Part of it will be looking at our potential opponents. If there's something we feel like we need to devote a little bit of extra time to because of the difficulty that it brings, we'll consider using our time on that too.

Q: Specific to the season finale, why was Ryan Wendell the best decision for the team to fill in at left guard over Donald Thomas who had played there the week before?

BB: When you go into the game, a little bit different than last week, we went into this game knowing who was available and who wasn't. Last week, we had a couple situations come up, one prior to the game and another in the game that we had to react to and based on the way we had prepared for the game last week was a little bit different than the way we prepared for it this week, that's why our options and our setup was a little bit different. Whatever players we put out there, we have confidence in. we've seen a lot of them – we've seen four centers and probably at least that many guards and at least that many tackles too. However it works out we'll just try to go out there and make it work. We have a little of flexibility in all those areas, we're not locked into one thing. It's all based on what the makeup of the group is, what the game plan is and a variety of other reasons. We make those decisions on a weekly basis. Sometimes they're the same, sometimes they're different.

Q: I know you talked to the rookies before you cut everyone loose for the bye week. Do you do the same thing before the playoffs and tell them what to expect when it comes to postseason football?

BB: I talk to the team every week and I talk to them and try to tell them what I think the challenges are for this particular week, every week whether it's the first week of training camp or the second week or training camp or any week during the regular season. That's something I do on a weekly basis to try to give everybody a guide on what we're going to be doing this week, what our challenges are, what we're going to try to do to beat them, what we can do, what we can't do, on a variety of levels whether it's on the field or our preparations or a variety of other messages. I try to do that on a weekly basis. I'll do it this week, I'll do it next week, I'll do it every week that the team is here.

Q: Going into the game and after doing it for a week of practice, what did you like about Devin McCourty's skills that made you think he could play safety? Was it particular physical skills? Was it ability to diagnose stuff mentally?

BB: I think he can do all those things. I think he has physical ability, I think he has certainly the mental makeup, making adjustments, understanding what the concepts are, making smart decisions back there, reading, recognizing all those things. I don't think there's any one thing. I think he has good skills in all those areas.

Q: There have been a couple corners who have moved to safety and had some success. Is that a drastic move or is it like moving from left guard to right guard? How would you characterize the positional differences?

BB: I'd say it's a little different than moving from left guard to right guard but again, like we've talked about many times, some players can transition from one position to another more easily than others can. That's the only way I can put it. Some guys you can move from one side of the ball to another or from one position to another relatively smooth. Other players, you can make much smaller adjustments or even sometimes within the scheme where you have one particular group out on the field and then in a certain situation a player plays one position and in another situation he plays another. Sometimes that's hard for some players. Other players it's not hard. Some players can move around, play one side or the other; play one position or another, can change their responsibilities and do it a lot better than others can. Regardless of how hard or how easy I think it is or you think it is, it really depends on the individual player and what you're asking him to do and how well he can do that. If you ask a right handed person to play left handed – how long does it take you to adjust to it? Some people could do it quicker or better than others. That's an extreme example but I'm just saying some people can transition to that more smoothly than other people can. I'm not saying that's good or bad or anything else – that's just what it is.

Q: Now that the AFC playoffs are set and we know the six teams, what is your opinion of the playoff picture in the AFC?

BB: There isn't too much we can do about that for a few days. The most important thing is to focus on our team and what we can do to improve on our end. Certainly, we're aware of the three potential teams we could play next and we'll definitely do work on them and make sure we're prepared for them once we know who it is and get a little bit of a head start there. The bigger picture for us right now is just trying to make sure that we take advantage of our opportunities and practice and meetings and the time that we have between now and our next game to do the best things that we can do help ourselves individually and help our team. That's what we'll try to focus on, which obviously covers a lot of ground but try to prioritize those and it may be different for some individual players than others. If we can get as a team 10 percent better than where we are now or whatever the number is, I don't know, then that's good, we're helping ourselves.

Q: How much of a challenge is it for you as a coach to manage the extra time? On one hand you don't want to give players too much time off, you want to keep them sharp. At the same time, extra work could be of value for some players.

BB: That's definitely a big consideration but it is every week. Every week that we go through a practice week, we have some players who have played a lot, other players who have played some, other players who have played little or not at all. Then we go out on the practice field and they're wearing Patriots jerseys so it's all on one team. Those players are in a little different – the path is different and the projection into the future is different from player to player. It's something that you always manage. Again, sometimes you make a decision for an individual that you feel is in the best interests of the team. Sometimes you make a decision for the team that benefits the majority of the individuals but there may be one or two that if it was just made for those couple people, maybe it would be a different decision but for the overall benefit of the team, you do what's best for the team. It's always a balance and it's something that we've already talked about today but we'll talk about again over our next staff meetings and so forth. We have a lot of options and just try to figure out how to make the best use of our time and our opportunities.

Q: How would you rate Lousaka Polite's performance yesterday? I know he just came in last week and there was a lot to digest in a short amount of time. How do you think he put it all together?

BB: I think he's a smart guy. He does have some background in our system terminology wise and some of the play concepts and things like that. Fortunately, it wasn't as much of a new language and new learning situation as it could have been but it was still pretty substantial. We did ask him to do different things offensively and in the kicking game. I thought he had a good week. In the game, I think that there were some good things. [There were] things that could be corrected and improved on. Things fall into both categories. I'd say that's true not only of all the players but especially the players that came back yesterday, whether it be Polite or other guys that hadn't played as much in previous weeks and then played. There were some good things, there were some things that they can improve on.

Q: You haven't put Sebastian Vollmer on Injured Reserve. Is it realistic to think he could come back and begin practicing this week or next week?

BB: I think if a player isn't placed on Injured Reserve then there's an expectation that he would have a chance to play at some point the remainder of the year. Any player that isn't on Injured Reserve, we think there's a possibility that those players could play. If they were out and they couldn't play then they would be on Injured Reserve. How's everybody doing? We'll just take it day by day like we always do. [We're] not practicing today, guys are coming in and getting treatment but that's not the same as going out there and performing on the field. We'll see when that next time comes how close they are to be able to do that and a little bit more.

Q: Do you have any thoughts on Jason Taylor retiring? I know you saw a lot of him over the years and you seemed to have more than an opposing player-opposing coach dynamic.

BB: When I heard that, I put together a statement. Obviously he's a great player – he's been a huge thorn in our side. He's had a terrific career and unfortunately a lot of it has been against us.

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