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Bill Belichick Conference Call Transcript

Posted Jan 24, 2012

Patriots head coach Bill Belichick addresses the media during his conference call on Tuesday, January 23, 2012.

BB: Well, it's certainly a great honor to be representing the AFC in this game. We're looking forward to that opportunity versus the Giants who are a great team. They've had a great year and we know this is going to be our toughest game. We've had two tough ones and we know this one is going to be on a higher level. We have a lot of work cut out for us ahead, but it's exciting to be able to have the opportunity to meet that challenge. Yesterday in particular was a big organizational day, getting a lot of the logistics, at least the process started – maybe not all completed but at least get things started that come with playing in the game. That's just part of the process. The coaches and the rest of us are really now started to really work to full steam ahead on the Giants. We've probably still got a few more logistics to iron out until we can put all that behind us. Again, it's a great opportunity and thrill to be in the game. We're looking forward to the challenge. As I said after the game, I think our players did a great job of stepping up, competing. It wasn't perfect, but they played hard and they played with great effort. I'm just glad that things worked out for them. We made a few more plays than the Ravens did and we were able to win and move on.

Q: Can you talk about approaching each practice with consistency whether it's a big game or not, and how important that is for players to know what to expect each week?

BB: I think every game is a big game, so I don't know what you about which ones are and which ones aren't; they all are. We don't have that many of them.

Q: But in terms of approaching all of them with the same consistency as a coach?

BB: Yeah, every time we get an opportunity to compete then we try to take advantage of the time leading up to that opportunity: the practice week, the preparation, the film study, understanding our game plan and our adjustments, all of those kinds of things, take advantage of the time we have leading up to the competition and make sure that we do as many things and the right things that we feel like we'll need to do for that particular game which will bring its own unique challenges from any other one that we play. I don't really think there's any other way to do it. What else is there to work on but the game, the next one on your schedule, the one that you're playing? You try to cover all your bases for that game, you play it, and then you start the process all over again with the next one.

Q: Where would you rate left tackle in the hierarchy of positions? How nice has it been to have Matt Light there virtually every Sunday for 11 years?

BB: Matt's had a terrific career. Absolutely, he's been a rock for us there for, as you said, for a long time, both physically and mentally as far as assignments and his mental toughness as far as consistency almost to the point where you, I don't want to say take it for granted, but when you don't have a lot of problems, you kind of assume that it's solid. But it's still a daily process on his part to prepare and physically and mentally get ready to play against some of the most athletic and some of the best players in the league and on our opponents on a weekly basis, which we'll see again this week. Every position out there is important. When something goes wrong, then it becomes real important. Everybody sees it and it becomes a big focus. The thing about the tackle position is there's a lot less help for those guys and there's a lot more space to defend than there is for the inside players. I don't want to say it's more important; it's just different. It's just a different type of challenge that a tackle faces than a guy in the interior of the line faces. They're all big, they're all important, none of them are easy, but they're just a little bit different.

Q: What's the main thing you guys need to get done before you leave for Indy? Is it game planning, practice, getting healthy or is it just doing the extra stuff that comes along with the playing in the Super Bowl?

BB: I think there are a lot of things, but the logistics and all that, that's part of it. That's something that we have to deal with on any away trip. This is an extended away trip so it has some elements of that, but there are additional things. But that's part of it. The health of the team is always important. That's what a team is: the healthy players that you can put out there on the field. That's always something that we try to be mindful of and do everything we can to get it to the highest level. We can get started on our opponent and understanding what they do and what we need to do against them and how those things match up and what adjustments we can anticipate or we've seen them make. I'd say it's all those things.

Q: Can you talk about Tom Coughlin? What is your level of respect and relationship with him? What makes him such a good head coach?

BB: I have a lot of respect for Tom. I think he's definitely stood the test of time in a couple organizations: in Jacksonville and at the Giants. Of course, BC [Boston College] but I'm saying at the NFL level, he's withstood the test of time. He's tough; his teams are disciplined. They play with great competitiveness and play smart. They're a good situational football team. They force you to go out there and beat them. They do a lot of things well. That's kind of the way Tom is: Tom is tough, he's very detailed, he has a lot of experience, he's an intense coach and I think that's reflected in the way his teams play. He's a good friend of mine that I've been with a long time as I've mentioned before. When I was the secondary coach and Tom was the receivers coach at the Giants, we worked against each other daily and we also had great rapport off the field of helping each other out, talking about the different techniques and players of our upcoming opponents and suggestions of how to cover them or run routes, helping each other out on things like that as well as working with each other on the practice field. Of all the coaches I've worked with, it was as good as any. I had an excellent relationship with him for us being on opposite sides of the ball, but being able to help each other and our players help each other and have a good, healthy competitive situation, but also you've got the coach on the other side trying to help you and you trying to help them just get better. That certainly helped our secondary when I was with the Giants.

Q: He was a head coach before you were. Did you ever go to him for advice?

BB: He was a head coach before I was? I'm not sure I follow you. Afer

Q: Did he ever offer you and advice as a head coach?

BB: After the '90 season, he went to BC [Boston College] and I went to Cleveland, right? I'm just not following you, that's all. You know, yeah, we talk to each other. We've talked about common problems. He's shared things with me and I've shared things with him. But I mean, that's part of a friendship, that's part of a mutual respect that we have. We both have similar positions within the same league, so there's some of that. We're not in the same conference, so it's a lot easier than talking about something with somebody that's within your division, let's say. I'm not really sure about the whole head coaching thing.

Q: Can you talk about Vince Wilfork and what his play and leadership mean to the defense?

BB: Vince, he's really the elder statesman on the defense in terms of time with the New England Patriots. There are other players that have played longer but not necessarily on this team. He's got a great work ethic, very unselfish, does whatever we've asked him to do. We've put him in a lot of different positions: nose obviously, on the guards, outside on the tackles, gap schemes, two-gap techniques, stunts. Whatever it is, he's a very smart football player, he's instinctive, works really hard, very unselfish, does a great job with the younger players in terms of helping them improve and things to work on, things to make them more aware of his experience and impart that on them. Again, very unselfish, very supportive of all the other players on defense – linebackers, the defensive backs – and trying to tie it all together and play good team defense. He's given [to] us on a lot of levels, on the field, off the field, as a captain in individual meetings and some group settings. He does a good job of all of that. I think the most important thing is just the way he goes about it. He doesn't talk as much as just demonstrate how to prepare, how to practice, how to do your job, how to be alert, how to communicate, the different line calls and things like that. That really is, I think, the best way for a player to lead is by first of all doing his job very well so everybody can see how it's done and try to emulate that.

Q: How important is it to have Josh McDaniels here with you with Bill O'Brien working two jobs right now? Has Josh's role expanded over the past few weeks? Can you compare Bill O'Brien's situation to Charlie Weis when he was preparing for the Super Bowl and his job with Notre Dame?

BB: It's great to have Josh here. Josh was here for a long time. He obviously made a lot of contributions to our team and our success. He and I had a good working relationship; it's great to have him back. That being said, Billy has continued to do in the last few weeks, everything -- since he's been named the head coach of Penn State, he's done everything that he's done this year and last year on a weekly basis. He's had the same responsibilities; he's just worked very hard to try to manage the two situations. By far and away, the majority of his time and energy and effort have all been put into the New England Patriots. He's done his fulltime job here well and very diligently, just like he always has; there hasn't been any difference. But it's good to have Josh here. Josh has a lot of experience. He knows our players. He knows our system. Again, we, Billy and Josh work together. Josh and I work together, Dante [Scarnecchia], Ivan [Fears]. There's a lot of background and history there that has pretty quickly come together, come up to speed and everybody has their roles that they've had and Josh has just added a little bit more to that by his presence but it hasn't taken away from anything that everybody else has been doing; it's just added to it.

Q: After watching the play that Rob Gronkowski got hurt on, how fortunate do you feel that it wasn't more serious? How concerned are you that he won't be able to perform at a top level in the Super Bowl?

BB: We'll see how it goes with Rob and some of the other players that are getting treatment. We'll just see how that is when we get back out on the field. We haven't practiced, obviously, in the past couple days. We'll just see how all that is when it's time to go. As you know, it's hard to gauge injuries. We've seen some of the biggest hits in the game and both guys get up and go back to the huddle like it's not any big thing. Then we've seen other plays that look like a lot less contact or less impact and because of the angle or the way it happened or whatever caused the problem, that it's more serious. It's just hard to – I just don't know how to really comment on that. You see plays that look like, ‘Gee, I'm surprised somebody isn't a little slow getting up off that.' Then you see other plays that don't like it should be that big of a problem but something happened and the player has some type of injury. It's hard to rank them that way because they just don't turn out the way that they look. We have a lot of tough players on our team. I think that everybody is going to do all they can to be ready physically and mentally but especially physically to try to compete in the game. We'll just see where all that takes us.

Q: What was your reaction to David Tyree's catch? Did you know it was a catch immediately? Did you realize how significant it was at the time?

BB: I think we've talked about all that. It was a long time ago. I have a lot of comments on the record after the game and everything else. You can go back and look at all the things that happened then or some other year.

Q: Can you talk about the play of some of your lesser known defensive linemen like Kyle Love and Brandon Deaderick and how they've progressed throughout the season?

BB: Of course, Brandon started out the year on PUP, so he wasn't able to participate with the team in training camp or in the first six regular season weeks and then started practice after that. He kind of got a little bit of a late start. But Brandon has worked hard; he's certainly improved a lot from last year, his rookie year, just in terms of technique and consistency and his quick reactions and so forth. He's had a good solid year for us, as has Kyle. Kyle, kind of similar to Brandon, had a good year for us last year, was able to contribute. But unlike Brandon, Kyle was able to start the first day of training camp and really build on his rookie season. He had a good camp and has had a good season. Every day, every week really, he's been able to work, to improve, to just refine his game and take it to a higher level. I think that time that Deaderick missed in the early part of the year , which was significant – all the training camp practices and the first six weeks of the season – just put him a little bit behind, but he's still way ahead of where he was last year. Both guys have done a good job for us. They're both good, young defensive linemen that are continuing to get better. They've contributed for us in a lot of different ways: the running game, the passing game, sub situations. They've shown good; they've been very valuable for us. It was good to get Deaderick back, along with Ron Brace after that sixth game.

Q: Can you tell us how gratifying it was to see your defense come together at in the AFC Championship? What was it like to see Sterling Moore, who wasn't even on the initial roster, make a play like that? How does it feel to be able to identify people like that and have them contribute in timely situations like he did?

BB: I think that our defensive players and coaches have really worked hard all year. At the end of the regular season, I think things, we had more to show for it, let's put it that way. I don't think that necessarily the work ethic or the desire or the competitiveness to do it has changed a lot, but the results started to improve because of a little more continuity, a little better execution, better technique, more confidence, all those kind of things that came together. I thought that we had our moments, but there were a lot of times in the latter part of the season where we had stretches where we played very competitively on defense. That was true in the Denver game and it was true in the Baltimore game. There were other moments that were certainly less than ideal, but overall it's a group of guys and coaches that have worked hard and tried to get better on a daily basis and I think they have over the course of the season, more so in the last five or six weeks.

Q: Can you talk about James Ihedigbo's progress from when he first arrived until now?

BB: He's had a solid year for us. [He] came in primarily with a lot of experience in the kicking game, which of course we had seen from when he was with the Jets and how well and how hard he played against us there. His role has expanded a little bit defensively, but I think he's still pretty much the same player. He's a tough guy that's smart. He has a very good understanding of defensive concepts and communication. He's a good leader and recognizes things quickly in the secondary, which is important for the safety position to communicate that in the secondary and also to the outside linebackers, run force and coverage adjustments, things like that. He's a hard worker, he's a really diligent guy, he knows the game plan, he studies the opponents well. He does a good job of communicating that on the field. He's tough; he's a contact player that is physical taking on blockers, he's a physical tackler. [He] does a good job for us in the kicking game. He has a lot of value in a number of different areas for us.

Q: What are your thoughts on the Giants playing in a lot of rematch games this season, having taken the second game of the series against the Cowboys, Packers and 49ers this year? What are they doing in the second game to help them win those games?

BB: I think in really a lot of games that you mentioned, like a lot of other games in this league, they're very competitive games; they come down to a play or two. That's what this league is; it's being able to make key plays in critical situations. They've done a great job of that. This is the third time we've played them now this season. I know one was the last preseason game, but we have a familiarly with them from that game and the regular season game and now working on them again. I think this is a team that we have some background with relative to most of the other NFC teams that we've played through the years. We know how good they are. They're well coached. It starts at the top; they've got great ownership from John Mara and family. [They've] done a good job acquiring personnel and players. Tom and his staff have done a great job of pulling the schemes together and putting their players in productive positions where they can excel and they've done that on both sides of the ball and the kicking game. They've performed well under pressure in critical games. They've played some of their best football when they've had to when it's counted the most. That's what you have to do at this time of year. If you don't, you're on the outside looking in. They've done that and it's a great credit to their organization, their coaching staff and their team. We know this is the best team we've played. This is going to take our best game and that's the way it should be.

Q: Do you look back on the days with Tom Coughlin in New York fondly? Do you still have an affection for the franchise?

BB: Yeah, absolutely. I was there for 12 years. Those were 12 great years in my life. I loved every one of them with the Giants; the people that I worked with, where I lived, our community. Two of my kids were born there, so there are a lot of fond memories there, absolutely. Tom and the relationship on the coaching staff with those guys, especially on defense, with Romeo [Crennel] and Al [Groh] and so forth. I think that came out in the whole piece in the interview there the last time I was in that facility. It was certainly an emotional moment that struck a lot of chords. That was a big, big part of my career and my life.

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