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Bill Belichick Conference Call Transcript

Posted Sep 6, 2011

Patriots head coach Bill Belichick addresses the media during his conference call on Tuesday, September 6, 2011.

BB: Just another day here in terms of just trying to get things in place with the roster, practice squad, kind of figuring out what we're doing here going into the week. At the same time, [we're] getting ready for Miami from a game plan standpoint. As I said yesterday, it's always tough to go on the road in this division and play down there at this time of year. It looks like Miami has played well in their preseason games. They have a lot of weapons on offense, they're a big physical defensive team that has good speed and athleticism with their linebackers and defensive backs. [They are] much improved in the kicking game from where they were last year. It will be a big challenge for us. We have a lot of work to do to get ready for a team that has quite a bit of volume with their scheme. Offensively and defensively they do a lot of different things that you have to prepare for and that will be challenging as well.  

Q: How challenging is it to prepare for a season opener, especially for a team like the Miami Dolphins with a new offensive coordinator and a new running back in Reggie Bush?  

BB: Right. I think this is always a really tough game to prepare for, but particularly in this specific case for all the reasons that you mentioned. We can go back and look at all the things they did last year and some of those may apply. With Coach [Tony] Sparano and I'm sure he had a lot of input into things but with [offensive coordinator] Brian Daboll there now, he has some new ideas. How much they'll retain from last year, how much they'll put in new, how many new things they have with a player like Reggie [Bush] that they haven't shown – that's a big question mark too. No question, from a preparation standpoint there are a lot of possibilities and we know they won't be able to do all of them – we just don't which ones they'll do or which ones they'll feature. From a game plan standpoint, that's difficult. You kind of have to be careful – if you have too many things for something they don't even do then you wind up wasting a lot of time on that. If you have not enough for something they do a lot of, you could be caught short. That could be a problem too. It's definitely from a preparation stand-point, it's a little bit of a guessing game going into this opening game. We just haven't seen them run their best stuff under ‘gotta have it' conditions yet.  

Q: How would you describe how the safeties are used? How do you view the way the Patriots' safeties are categorized?  

BB: Well, I think that categorization, which I think is a very interesting question that you bring up. I think to put safeties in that category was the way it was many years ago when you had a lot of two-back offenses and one safety traditionally played closer to the line of scrimmage and another safety traditionally played in the deep part of the field – the Paul Krauses and the guys like that. As the game has evolved, over the last I'd say 20 years, offenses have done a much better job of trying to make your strong safety play free safety, make your free safety play strong safety, not let your defensive players get comfortable playing where they want to play and make them play where you don't want them to play. So defensively, that's kind of made the defenses transition into getting away from that a little bit because again, the more unbalanced you are, the more you have one guy who plays one way and the other guy who plays the other way, the more the offenses try to reverse that on you and formation you into situations where you play them the way you don't want to play them. Or you have to make tough adjustments to get it the way you want it and that causes some other problems. I'd say the short answer is I think that in our system we have always taught our safeties both positions. If they're on the strong side of the formation or on the weak side of the formation, to learn how to play of those because inevitably there are going to be times when the offenses are going to do that and force you to do that and then sometimes we, by game plan, adjust that from week-to-week on what specifically we want them to do. Sometimes we can control who is the strong safety and who is the weak safety but a lot of times we can't so they really need to learn both responsibilities for when it gets to that point, which like I said, inevitably it does.  

Q: With the way your safeties are now, whoever winds up on the field, do both players have the potential to play both positions?  

BB: Yeah I think that's the way it's been for – really I'd say about the last nine years or so. From when it was Rodney Harrison and Eugene Wilson, even though Rodney was more of a strong safety and Eugene was more of a free safety, both of those players could play both positions to a degree. Ever since then, we have always, again for the reasons I just talked about, we have tried to have players on our team that have some degree of versatility because the offense forces you to do that. Do I think it's perfect? I don't know about that. Do I think that all of our safeties have some degree of flexibility to do that? Yeah, I do.  

Q: Has Deion Branch come to camp and put himself in the position to have the same type of production as last year?  

BB: I think Deion [Branch] has had a pretty good camp – [he] hasn't missed any time at all and that was something he wasn't able to do last year. We had to manage him a little bit in practice but he was, I think, in good condition. He took certainly his share of reps out there in training camp and I thought he looked good doing it. I think he's in position, based on what I've seen so far and what he has done in training camp and preseason, I think he's ready to have a good year. [He] works hard, gives us good leadership at that position, very smart player, instinctive player, knows what to do, does the right thing and is very dependable. I think everybody in the organization feels good about counting on Deion. He's a very consistent guy every day. Every time the ball is snapped he almost always does the right thing, does it the way you want him to do it. We all have a lot of confidence in Deion.  

Q: Would you like to see a third tight end added to this group?  

BB: We'll do whatever we can on our roster to improve the team, at any position, whatever position that is. Wherever we get the opportunity to improve the team if we can, we'll try to do that.  

Q: How would you describe Brandon Spikes' offseason and preseason and do you think he will be ready for Week 1?  

BB: I couldn't really describe any player's offseason – we didn't see any of the players in the offseason. I thought Brandon got off to a good start in preseason and then he missed some time and so he's a little behind with the time that he missed, but he's back on the field now and working hard on getting back – his conditioning and all his timing and all those things. We'll see how quickly he can get back to where he was at a few weeks ago. It's unfortunate that he missed a little bit of time because he was doing well, but he's back out there now and looks like he's doing OK now. We'll see how quickly he can get back up to that level, that speed.

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