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Bill Belichick Conference Call Transcript

Posted Dec 18, 2012

New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick addresses the media during his conference call on Tuesday, December 18, 2012.

BB: We’re digging in here on Jacksonville. They’ve certainly been very competitive against good teams here like Green Bay, Houston, obviously they did a good job against Tennessee, Indianapolis earlier in the year. They’re young, they’re aggressive and they’ve got a lot of good players. The receivers are an explosive group there, [Cecil] Shorts has really been impressive, as has Justin Blackmon. Of course, we know what [Chad] Henne can do. Real good set of backs, those guys have all been impressive; they can definitely run the ball. They’re an explosive team. Defensively, [Jason] Babin has helped the front with [Jeremy] Mincey and a couple big guys inside there like [Tyson] Alualu and [Terrance] Knighton, [C.J.] Mosley. Pretty experienced secondary, [Dwight] Lowery, [Dawan] Landry, we’re seen those guys before. [Aaron] Ross, if Ross is active but [Rashean] Mathis, [Derek] Cox. [Paul] Posluszny has done a real good job for them, makes a lot of tackles. [Russell] Allen has been solid. It’s a pretty good group defensively as well. I’ve been impressed watching them. I think Jacksonville has done a good job with taking care of the ball recently, not many turnovers. They lost a couple tough games in overtime, three overtime games. Very competitive football team in spite of their record. I don’t think that really means anything just watching them on film. They’re pretty competitive. They certainly gave Miami – that game was a lot closer than the score indicates as well. We’re underway on these guys.

Q: After two highly hyped games against division leaders, how do you approach this game with the players to hopefully have them avoid what could be a mental letdown based on this team being 2-12?

BB: We don’t talk a lot about records. We just don’t do it – we didn’t talk about Houston’s record or San Francisco’s record or Jacksonville’s record. It doesn’t really mean anything. What we do is we look at our opponent and try to analyze their strengths and the things that we have to do to be competitive against them and the areas of weakness that we feel like we can attack. Whatever their record is doesn’t really matter. Those are against other teams, we didn’t have anything to do with those games. It’s how we match up against them. All our preparation and focus will be on what Jacksonville does well, what we need to stop and where we think we may be able to gain some advantages or have opportunities and how we can hopefully exploit those. That’s really the way we approach every game. What the team’s record isn’t really very important because the most important game that we’re going to play hasn’t happened yet.

Q: As you plan to address the team as they come in, how much do you consider human nature – some weeks there are going to be games that are easier to get up for based on the level of competition and others that are a bit tougher?

BB: Like I said, we’ll address it pretty much the way we usually do. We’ll break down Jacksonville for what they are, the team that they are and the problems that they present, which are numerous, just like we have everybody else. I think the players won’t have any trouble seeing that. They’ll watch [Cecil] Shorts, they’ll watch [Justin] Blackmon, they’ll watch the backs, they’ll watch the pass rush, [Jason] Babin and [Terrance] Knighton and [Jeremy] Mincey and those guys. They know Aaron Ross and [Derek] Cox and [Dwight] Lowery, all those guys that we’ve played against before and they’ve all given us trouble individually. Some of them were with different teams, some of them when they were with Jacksonville, like Dawan Landry, a physical safety in there; [Paul] Posluszny. There are several guys on defense that we’ve played against before in other organizations that we know are good football players, plus guys like [Rashean] Mathis that have been there awhile, [Jeremy] Mincey, that are outstanding players in their own right. I don’t think it will be a problem.

Q: You did not fill the 53rd spot last week. Any thoughts on how you will fill it this week?

BB: That’s something that I’ll talk to Nick [Caserio] about today. We’ve had a couple preliminary thoughts on it but nothing definitive. We’re both doing a little research and thinking and trying to see where some of our players are relative to their availability this week. We’ll have that conversation probably later on this afternoon and meet with the coaching staff on it and figure out where we are. But as you know, we have to inactive seven players anyway, so signing a player at that position to then have to inactivate him, the gain on that is marginal. We would anticipate Jermaine [Cunningham] returning to the team after this game, so we’re going to need a spot for that if he comes back and is activated and all that. I know it hasn’t happened yet, but that’s on the horizon and we would need a spot for that. One thing we’ve talked about is just leaving that spot open in anticipation of that happening rather than fill it and have to reopen it, that type of thing. We’ll look at our options and try to do what we think is best for everybody involved here.

Q: Maurice Jones-Drew has not played in quite some time but there is a possibility he will return. What does he bring to the table and are you preparing as if he will play?

BB: We definitely have to be prepared for him to play. I think we all know what type of back he is. I’d say it would probably be good if he waited one more week, I’m sure he could another few days of rest before he comes back. Great speed, balance, strength, he’s got a low center of gravity, kind of built like Ray Rice with great lower body strength, hard to knock off his feet, real good balance, good vision, can accelerate through the hole, excellent hands, good coming out of the backfield. [Rashad] Jennings s is a very explosive player himself. He can really accelerate through the hole, he’s got good quickness and elusiveness in the secondary. He’s done a good job for them. They have a lot of good backs, fullbacks, they’ve got more backs on their roster than any team in the league, they must have like seven or eight of those guys. But they all are effective but I think Jones-Drew is certainly one of the top backs in the league and has been for a long time. He always gives us trouble, even when you have him, you don’t have him because he’s a hard guy to tackle and get on the ground even if you play the play properly and it looks like you’re in position to defend it, still tackling is a problem and he gains a lot of yards after contact.

Q: This is the first time you will have the regular routine with six days to prepare in awhile. Is it nice to be back on the full week schedule? Does that help your preparation?

BB: I think it’s definitely good to be back on a regular schedule. I think that all of us – players, coaches, really everybody in the organization – you kind of get used to a routine. You play on Sunday and you have that routine and then you play again on Sunday so you kind of know where you’re at on Wednesday, where you should be in terms of your preparation, where you are on Thursday, whether you’re ahead or you’re behind in that preparation, where you are on Friday in terms of getting things done leading up to the game. When you change that game time or game date, whether it’s an eight-day week or a four-day week or a six-day week, whatever it is, you’re trying to find your equilibrium there of where you are. So like last week, on Wednesday, we weren’t the same point we usually would be on a Wednesday because having played Monday night, those type of things. I think it’s good to be in a routine and it’s good to be playing from Sunday to Sunday. I think just for today, on Tuesday, as a coaching staff we know where we normally are on Tuesday and I think that in terms of our preparation, our targets of where we need to be, what we have to have done, we can be there and then moving along to Wednesday, Thursday and if we have an opportunity to gain al little ground and get ahead, you can take advantage of that and really know what exactly it is you’re ahead on and how you can maybe better prepare for a situation for this particular game relative to some other game because of the problems that Jacksonville presents. It is good to be on that.

Q: Can you talk about Sebastian Vollmer and what you saw to draft him? I do not believe he went to the NFL Combine. Did you expect him to turn into the player he has become? Can you talk about his evolution?

BB: Sebastian was an interesting player. Of course, he came from Germany and initially one of the many questions about Sebastian, he didn’t have a lot of playing experience. He played football in Germany and all that relative to American high school football. He didn’t have a great background. He was a developing player at Houston and certainly made a lot of progress through his career there but had an injury to deal with that set him back a little bit. He was just I would say in general, behind. The language barrier was something that we had to investigate. He played left tackle at Houston and I would say based on his college film, if you just looked at the film, you wouldn’t say you would draft this player in the second round. He just didn’t have that kind of performance in college. Then he went to the East-West game I think it was and played right tackle at the East-West game and I would say that that game probably wasn’t a second round performance level either, for a draft eligible player. I think some of that is reflected in as you said, he wasn’t invited to the Combine which most second round players would be. It’s pretty unusual for a player taken at the point to not be invited to the Combine. Some of the concerns were the left tackle, the right tackle – really what is he? He’s really become, I think if you just look at the player, he’s probably more of a right tackle looking player than a left tackle but that’s what he played in college. So what position is he, how can he adapt to a higher level and different techniques and learning all that from a player that didn’t have a great college background or even high school background in the game. There was certainly an injury concern based on his college career and we wanted to make sure with the language thing that we could communicate with the player. As we worked him out and got to know him, all those things cleared themselves up. Language is certainly no problem. Sebastian is very, very smart, speaks several languages fluently. At the rookie show, part of his skit was in German so nobody understood it, but he’s very quick-witted and thinks quickly and adapts quickly and can really process information probably about as well as anybody can. In going through the workouts with him and getting to see him athletically, he has the kind of size, which is rare, size, strength, quickness, athleticism for his size that’s pretty special. He’s played both left and right tackle for us. I’d say his rate of improvement once he got to the National Football League was extremely fast. I don’t think any of us really thought that he would be able to contribute much as a rookie. We kind of saw him more as a developmental player that might take awhile but of course he played quite a bit his rookie year, played against a lot of good players, like Indianapolis and teams like that had very good pass rushers and he performed well. He learned quickly, he adjusted his techniques quickly to this level and he’s a very intelligent player that can make adjustments and handle things on the fly and all that. [It’s] different, but some similarities to Steve Neal, that type of developmental player that developed very quickly and contributed very quickly. Long answer to a short question there.