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Bill Belichick Press Conf.

Posted Dec 6, 2000

Foxboro Stadium, Foxborough, MABill Belichick speaks to the press.

Belichick Press Conf. 12/06/00 - (Part I) B: We made a couple of roster moves we re-signed Ula (Maugaula) Tuitele to the practiced squad and placed Brandon Mitchell on injured reserve today and re-signed Raymont Harris. That still puts us one under on the roster limit. We are kind of nursing a couple of guys along here and we will see how things shape up probably later in the day or as we go through the week. A couple of things on the Bears, this has been a pretty impressive football team especially recently they have improved dramatically on defense from where they were at the beginning part of the year. They have played a very difficult schedule, they have played a lot of good football teams and have improved a lot on the defensive side of the ball. They have got a real good middle linebacker and a couple of good safeties. I think there defensive front is going to be a good challenge for us and in the kicking game, Glyn Milburn is a dangerous returner one of the all-time returners in this league, especially kickoff returns, but also in the punting game he is a very dangerous guy. Offensively they spread you out a lot. They have got a good running back, they have got some big receivers this is probably the biggest, most physical group of receivers that we have faced, probably as big as anybody in the league and between the spread offense and the receivers and their ability to run after the catch and their running backs they present a lot of problems for you a lot of scheme problems. It is a team that we obviously are not very familiar with, we don’t have a lot of background. The last time that New England played the Bears was in 1997 and there are only seven plays from the Bears who played in that game who have a chance to play in this one so we have a lot of preparation and learning to do this week and need to be ready for a physical game because that’s the type of team the Bears are, they are a physical team and they are well-coached. I have known Dick Jauron for a long time. I coached him when I was in Detroit and he was a player there and a good player. I know that he will have his team well-prepared and ready to go and they will be physical like the Bears always are. That will be our challenge for this week.

Q: What led to bringing Raymont Harris back?

B: I just feel like where we are now and the type of games we are headed and the remainder of the season that Raymont is a tough, physical player, he is good on blitz pickup, he’s tough, I think he is a good cold weather player and I think we can use that kind of guy right now. We have been kind of banged up with the running backs and I think that he will be able to add that to our football team like we saw when we had him here in training camp.

Q: Does that say a little bit about whether you think J.R. (Redmond) may or may not be able to come back?

B: It has been unpredictable, it has been up and down. Every week has kind of been the same deal. There are a lot of questions at the beginning of the week and through the week and at the end of the week and we have had questions about performance in that position during the game and I just think that Raymont gives us a little more security and that he can add some things to that position that right now we haven’t been able to count every single week.

Q: Conditioning-wise is Raymont ready or how close is he?

B: I think so he has been in the league pretty much all year. He worked hard in training camp he was in good condition then. He was out in Denver for a number of weeks, he has been active on the roster, so I think we will be all right there.

Q: Did you feel at all that the hit on Mitchell was cheap or questionable?

B: I’m not going to get into that.

Q: Do you know exactly what the problem is there?

B: Not exactly, he is definitely out, he probably needs surgery. We will talk about it after the surgery and see exactly what the diagnosis is. It is a tough break for him because he had come back, he was doing well. I thought he played much better the last couple of weeks after he worked through the calf injury. That hurt him in training camp he got off to a slow start in camp and worked himself up to where he was playing pretty well and then he got injured in the middle of the year and came back and now he got hit again. It is a tough break for him.

Q: Do you have a backup guard?

B: We finished the game, Joe (Andruzzi) went out midway through the game so we will play with the guys we got. We also have two guys on the practice squad that have been working there all year so again we will kind of see how we go through the week and we may do something there with a practice squad player.

Q: Does the fact that you had Adrian (Klemm) play at right tackle have anything to do with gameplan, and was Greg (Robinson Randall) inactive because you were going to throw more?

B: No not really we are just trying to get the people who we think can play the best and we are trying to do what we think we can do on a weekly basis to produce the best results and we will try to do the same thing this week.

Q: How do you think he (Adrian Klemm) did this week?

B: It was all right. He did some positive things. He obviously made some mistakes, had a couple of penalties and there were some plays that could have been better, but overall it was okay. We will try to correct things that he didn’t do as well as we would like for him to do and see if we can get them better this week.

Q: Were they more technical mistakes rather than being overmatched?

B: He was playing against a good player, (Eric) Hicks made some plays, Hicks is a pretty good player. A couple of the mistakes, yes, were a technique thing. It is probably a little combination of both.

Q: Did you see any steady improvement through the game as he got more use to the circumstances?

B: I think he definitely played better later in the game than he did earlier in the game. Penalties and some of the problems that came up earlier there was less of that at the end. It wasn’t perfect, but hopefully it can improve and there are certainly enough positive things there to feel like it can get better.

Q: Is it fair to say that you picked up the kickoff return guy in (Curtis) Jackson?

B: I think Curtis certainly gave us a lift. He gave us a lift right off the bat on the first kickoff return and I think he gave us a lift with his overall play and it was a good opportunity for him. I think he capitalized on it and I am sure if he will get more opportunities and hopefully he can continue to be productive and help us and help himself and help establish himself in that position.

Q: He seemed like he was shot out of a cannon on the opening kickoff, you haven’t seen much of that this year?

B: I think that is his strength his speed. He is an explosive player. We have seen that in practice, we saw that a little bit with the Rams on the preseason tapes. You like to see it carry over onto the field and it did Monday night. Hopefully he can continue to do that. I thought the blocking was much better than it has been, certainly than it was against Detroit. Bobby Hamilton, Garrett Johnson, Greg (Spires) did a good job on the wedge, Tony Carter, (Patrick) Pass I mean he had chance to get going and then he helped himself by breaking a couple of tackles and running hard gaining some extra yardage. I thought that he took a real good hit there on the third or fourth return and held onto the ball and was running hard so that was good.

Belichick Press Conf. 12/06/00 - (Part II) Q: How do you feel about the hurry-up offense and do you think it can be effective over the long haul?

B: We have used it from time to time during the year. We used it in the opener against Tampa, last week and a little bit in-between. It is something that we have, it is something that we feel comfortable doing. Sometimes some weeks it might give us more of an advantage than others if we feel like it is something that will helps us that works in our favor than we will do it.

Q: How about just overall around the league?

B: Buffalo did it and they did it for three or four years with (Jim) Kelley. Baltimore did it when (Ted) Marchibroda was down there in 1996 or 1997 which was a continuation of the Buffalo program from when he was offensive coordinator in Buffalo, but just looking more specifically at our situation, we have it, we talk about it every week. If we feel like the setting is right and that it is our best option then we certainly wouldn’t hesitate to do it.

Q: Obviously you know the problems that it can cause for a defense having coached against Buffalo in the Super Bowl, did you find that you had to go more vanilla or how did you work the personnel changes?

B: In that particular system with Buffalo it was something that was their regular offense that did it all the time so that is all you really had to prepare for you didn’t have to worry about anything else you just did what you felt like you could do against that, that was the preparation for it. There were certain elements of that offense that you had to emphasize in defending it and I think that is probably what most teams did that tried to play against it. It was an uptempo offense and you had to play at that tempo defensively, it changes the tempo for you.

Q: Can you talk about that for the first time this year you had a tight end that produced in terms of getting separation, catching the ball and making big plays?

B: There is no question the production from the tight end is a welcomed edition offensively there is no question. It enables the quarterback to spread the ball around, it keeps them from putting so much coverage on the receivers and it forces the defense to play more honest, it opens it up for everybody else, it is something that we haven’t got as much as we would like overall for the year. It was great Monday night hopefully we can continue to get that kind of production, it was eight catches, 70 or 80 yards whatever it was and the score and a couple of third down conversions that was a big help.

Q: In retrospect, is this something that you say in your mind, ‘God if we had just fixed this maybe four or five weeks earlier things would have been different'’

B: Well we have tried to address it all year. It isn’t like we have been sitting there saying, ‘Gee maybe this would be a good week to try to throw a pass to the tight end.’

Q: I mean getting another player in here, a different player than what you had?

B: Look we had a pretty good receiving tight end in here, we signed him in the offseason, he has had production in the league as a receiving tight end and it just didn’t work out, it just didn’t work out. We are still going to try to get production out of that position and hopefully we will be able to sustain something like the production we had Monday night. I hope we can continue to do that.

Q: I know it is early but can you see Drew (Bledsoe) at some point developing a real comfort level with a guy like (Jermaine) Wiggins?

B: I hope so, Rod (Rutledge) or Jermaine. They both had some production Monday night. I hope that offensively the more chemistry you can develop between your quarterback and the receivers especially as it carries over to third down and the red zone. I mean that is critical and that’s the difference between offenses that keep moving and offenses that get stalled and I am not saying it has to be the tight end, but the more of those players you can get the better off it is going to be whether it is tight end, running back, a couple of receivers. It is hard to have just one guy do it all every week or two guys do it all every week. At some point the defense takes those guys away and you don’t want to tell the quarterback to keep throwing it into heavy traffic, ultimately we know where that is going to end up. I hope we can continue to do that. I hope the chemistry between Drew and Rod and Jermaine can build from this it was a big help to us Monday night.

Q: Do you find Chicago a difficult place to play even when the Bears are struggling with the wind and the cold?

B: Yes it is very difficult. First of all the Bears are always a physical team. I can’t ever remember a Bear team that wasn’t a tough, physical football team from George Halas to Abe Gibron to Jack Pardee and just go right down the line all the coaches that have been through there. That is something that has been an emphasis and the players have played that way and this team is no exception. So the physicalness of the game and the conditions, you never know what you are going to get at Soldier Field, but one thing you know you are probably not going to get is a real nice day, but you are going to get wind, you are going to get some cold, there are going to be some elements and their team is tough and they will play into it. I was there in 1985 against (Mike) Ditka and Buddy Ryan in the playoffs and you know you could get that, that was January, but you can get it in December, you can get it in November for that matter. You just have to be ready to play in any elements. We have talked to the team, I have talked to the team about this morning. We will work on it through the week. Number one it is the biggest factor in the kicking game, it effects the kicking game more than anything else, but it also can effect the passing game and certainly the ball handling and just the overall mentality of playing the game.

Q: Do you ever talk to Kevin Faulk at all about his last fumble it has been a problem all year do you address that any more recently?

B: I addressed the team this morning. We talk about the key elements every week, turnovers is always one of them, penalties is another one, finishing blocks, tackling, all of those things. We try to constantly impress upon the players the importance of those specific things and what it means to the team in general, but what it means individually to the players who are involved. As I have said many times before any player who handles the ball regardless of how handles it, whether it is the holder on the field goal team, a runner, a passer, an interceptor, a returner, anybody who handles the ball carries the entire fortunes of the football with him when he handles it. Every other player on the sideline and every other player on the field is totally dependent on how that player handles the ball when he has got it. It’s the game, it is critical issues so it doesn’t make any difference who is that is handling it, it doesn’t matter if it is the snapper, it doesn’t matter if it is the quarterback, a runner, a defensive player who has intercepted a pass it doesn’t make any difference. Whoever is handling it once they have got it the entire fortunes of the team are being carried with that player. That’s the way it is.

Belichick Press Conf. 12/06/00 - (Part III) Q: Is (Raymont) Harris more sure handed?

B: I don’t know.

Q: Do some guys run with a particular style that makes them more inclined to put the ball on the ground?

B: Every year as a coach at the end of the year you go back and look at all of the fumbles your team has had and they are all a little bit different. You can look at every fumble in the league we have done that before too and they fall into certain categories, but each play is a little bit different. You can always go back and say, ‘On this play if this had happened a little bit differently or that had happened a little bit differently it could have been prevented, but then the next one carries a another set of circumstances with it. The bottom line is ball security is ball security and there are going to be a very small number of fumbles each year that are probably unavoidable by the person handling the ball. For example a quarterback who is trying to deliver the ball on time and gets hit from the blind side and there is no way really that he can know that player is there and he can’t be looking at that player or he will never see the guys that he is supposed to be throwing to. So sometimes there is a contact fumble where the guy is running with the ball or catching the ball or gets hit in a way that he has very little opportunity to defend himself or really protect the ball, but for the most part ball security, when you have it that has got to be a high priority. I learned a lot about ball security when I was in Cleveland from Ozzie Newsome. Ozzie had a fumble that cost his team the game his rookie year and then after that he caught 620 some passes and never fumbled after that, he never fumbled the rest of his career. So you can say that fumbles occur because of hits or great plays by the defense or this or that, but there are some players that just don’t fumble very much and I think part of it is technique, part of it is a mentality, part of it is putting ball security at the top of the list.

Q: Is there any option there at the goal line where Henry (Thomas) would have carried the ball?

B: I don’t want to get into a whole goal line offense here, I mean I think we know that Henry is in there to block he is not going to be the featured ball carrier.

Q: That’s what they said about Fridge?

B: Well he was really in there to block.

Q: He carried it though.

B: He did, but he wasn’t the featured guy.

Q: Was Ty Law’s performance Monday’s more along the lines of what you expected and was it his best game of the season?

B: I think it was his best game of the season and I would say as much because of the level of competition as anything. He was on Derrick Alexander the whole game and Derrick is without question one of the top receivers that we have faced. He is the total package. He has got pretty much everything you could look for in a receiver in terms of size, speed, quickness, hands, run after the catch, deep routes, catch and run plays, clutch receiver and I thought Ty did a very good job competing against him. They both had their plays, but he played him aggressively and Derrick is an outstanding receiver.

Q: What made you decide to let him go with him all game?

B: He has pretty much done that all year. We have basically put him on, I mean it changes it depends a little bit on the call and the gameplan, but for the most part he has been on the other team’s marquee receiver.

Q: After the game Ty talked about the fact that you showed him tapes, you worked with him on some things so you obviously saw something that maybe Ty wasn’t doing or something that you wanted to work on or show him something?

B: I talked to Ty a little bit about his playing style and had him watch some plays that I thought maybe he could get a little insight into and I think maybe, hopefully he could change his playing style just a little bit form what it had been earlier in the year to what it had been maybe what it had been at other points in his career and I don’t know if that had a big effect or not. I thought that Ty played very aggressively in the game and that is the way he needs to play. He is not a passive, sit back type of performer he needs to play with an aggressiveness. I am not saying he hasn’t been aggressive, but I think he was maybe a little more aggressive in that game and certainly was, what we talk about, believe what you see and I think that is key for defensive backs. We had a little extra time to prepare for Kansas City and knowing what they were going to do and feeling confident about what they are going to do for a defensive back I think that is important so when they see something they can react to it and they can be confident that what they are seeing is really what’s happening. In other words believe what you see, and a lot of times you find players who everything indicates that a certain play is going to happen and then it happens and they don’t quite pull the trigger because there is something holding them back. They just don’t quite believe that this is really going to believe their route, what if it is something else, play a little tentative or whatever and this particular week Ty showed that a little bit during the week of practice and certainly did in the game when he saw it he went with it and was able to make some key breakups.

Q: How much did Raymont’s (Harris) experience playing in Chicago way into your decision to bring him back?

B: No not much. What is more important to me is what he did here in training camp, what we saw him do in camp. Obviously he played in Chicago and that’s where he had a lot of success, I don’t want to minimize that part of his career because that is why we signed him in the first place. He has been in our offense, we saw him in training camp, all through camp, he is tough, he works hard, he is dependable, he knows what to do. We got to the end of the camp and had to make out decisions at running back and there just weren’t enough spots, but it wasn’t anything negative toward him. The landscape has changed a little bit now we have eleven players on injured reserve, we have some guys down. I think we need some of the things he brings or can bring as a player and hopefully he will be able to provide those for us.

Q: How did he take the news then when you cut him and did you say that this day might come?

B: Like every player they are disappointed especially when you come back from an injury and you work hard and try to put everything you have into training camp and work hard and things don’t work out I mean there is no question there is disappointment there. Raymont is a class kid. I don’t have anything but respect for Raymont Harris, never have and probably never will. Those things are all very positive in his favor and they always have been. I don’t think he was happy about being cut I am not saying that.