Patriots head coach Bill Belichick addresses the media during his press conference at Gillette Stadium on Monday, December 14, 2009.
BB: OK, well as I said after the game, it was good to win. I thought there were a lot of good things out there yesterday [and] as always, things we can work on and improve. At times we were a little inconsistent and our execution in the passing game, run defense, returning the ball in the kicking game, things like that - those things can always stand some improvement, but it was good to win. Now we’re back in the division; it’s important for us to have a winning record in the division in the big picture, so to get an opportunity to be 4-2 in the division this week against Buffalo...we know it’s always tough against them, like it was in the first game, like it was last year up there. Hopefully we can play a good football game and be competitive up there. We’re ready to pretty quickly get the page turned here and move on. It’s that time of year where every game’s a big game and every time you win, the next game becomes a little bit bigger, so hopefully we can continue to do that.
Q: How would you rate Randy Moss’ play and where he’s at now compared to previous weeks? Is the production where you want it to be?
BB: Offensively, because you have to talk about the whole offense, I think our production is good. I think it could be better and so everybody’s involved in that. We’re involved in the running game, passing game. All those things complement each other - third down conversions, red area efficiency, turnovers, all that. We’ve moved the ball offensively; we’ve had production and it could be better. And that would include all the players that are involved on that side of the ball and the coaches for that matter. It’s all of us. We can all do a better job. I don’t think it’s terrible, but it could always be better.
Q: Given how much attention teams give to Randy Moss and Wes Welker, what do you think is preventing a third receiver from emerging?
BB: Again, I think offense is about production. It’s about balance. However you can get the ball in the end zone and score points then that’s the way you want to do it. You need to have some balance in the running game, some balance in the passing game and I think we have that, but we need to score more. We need to score more points and that involves all the things I just talked about. Really, I don’t think it’s about stats. I think it’s about performance as a unit and that’s the way I look at offense, the way I look at defense, and that’s the way I look at the team. I know a lot of you don’t like to look at it that way, but that’s why we see the game differently.
Q: A couple of Carolina players accused Randy Moss of quitting yesterday. Do you agree with that assessment and how do you respond to that?
BB: My response would be that’s a lot of conversation coming from a team that just lost another game.
Q: Can you tell me how satisfied you are with the job Sebastian Vollmer’s done?
BB: Sebastian has done a nice job for us this year. He hasn’t had a great football background compared to some of our other players, but he’s a very smart guy that works hard. He’s got very good talent and he’s a hard worker. He’s picked up a lot of other things that we’ve asked him to do - which are different than what he’s done in the past - pretty quickly. He’s got a good sense of humor. I think he fits in well with the team. I think his teammates like him. He keeps his mouth shut, he works hard, he tries to get better and he’s got a good professional attitude, but he’s got a good personality that goes with it. We’re glad we have him.
Q: Historically, there hasn’t been a regular starter in the NFL from Germany. What do you think his chances are that one day he will be a regular starter?
BB: What do you call Dan Dierdorf? Is he not German or do they actually have a German citizenship? Well I am glad he’s [Sebastian] the first one, but I think Dierdorf would tell you that Vollmer’s not the first German tackle.
Q: Did you sense any frustration with Randy Moss yesterday?
BB: I think, as a team, offensively we didn’t have a great first half. Then we kind of got off to a good start in the third quarter and turned the ball over, so I think offensively we all had some frustration that we didn’t score more points. We were moving the ball and we had some opportunities to convert and stay on the field and get the ball down there, score some points and get in the end zone, we just weren’t able to capitalize on them. I think that was an area that we all, during the course of the game, wanted to do better at. I think we all felt that way.
Q: To be direct, were you satisfied with Randy Moss’s effort?
BB: Look, I said the same thing about everybody on the team. Could players have played better? Could coaches have coached better yesterday? Sure. Randy Moss has been one of our most consistent players since he’s been here. His production’s been pretty good and I think you certainly see that they way other teams defend him, that they must have an awful lot of respect for him, too, which I do. We can sit in here every week and talk about somebody who didn’t have big stats. 'So what happened this week?’ You could pick out somebody every week on the team that didn’t have big stats - somebody in the running game, somebody in the passing game, somebody on defense. Everybody can’t have high stats every week; it’s impossible. We can always pick out somebody that doesn’t have them and say, 'What happened to them?’
Q: Are we chasing this misconception when we say, 'Randy Moss dogged it’?
BB: You can say whatever you want. That’s your job. Say whatever you want.
Q: I’m asking the expert...
BB: I just told you that I have a lot of respect for Randy. I think he’s one of our best players. If you watch other teams defend him, watch other teams play against him, they think the same way, other than these two guys from Carolina after they lost another game. I guess they don’t think that way, but they haven’t won a lot of games now.
Q: Do you think sometimes Randy Moss needs to be reminded that just because you’re a great receiver and you get double teamed, you can’t get frustrated and you can’t have a day like he had yesterday?
BB: Well, I just said that about stats. You know how I feel about stats. Really, stats are for losers. Final scores are for winners and that’s really what it’s about. When we had games when I was with the Giants and we couldn’t hold Gary Clark to under 200 yards pass receiving and some of those were wins. That’s the bottom line.
Q: Pierre Woods has been your leading tackler on special teams. Does his production on special teams get noted and does it help a guy get on the field more?
BB: Oh absolutely. It’s interesting, a lot of players think that their role on offense and defense - if they’re not starters - their role on offense or defense comes first and then the role on special teams is secondary. It’s actually just the reverse of that. When a player has a significant role in the kicking game, then as an offensive or a defensive coach, as an assistant coach and when you’re putting together a game plan, you absolutely know that those players are going to be available at the game. And whatever role they have on offense or defense, you absolutely know they’ll be available to do that, versus if you set up a role for somebody else, maybe you think they’re a good player on offense or defense, but they don’t have a role in the kicking game, then they can’t get active for the game then they have no role on offense and no role on defense. So actually, a player’s best way to develop a role on offense and defense is to either excel in that area or have a role in the kicking game, which then makes them available for a more significant role on offense and defense. At least that’s the way I’ve always looked at it and that’s the way we approach it here. It’s interesting how that works. A lot of times you have better offensive or defensive players who are inactive for the game, or maybe not even on your team because of other players who are better in the kicking game because you need players in that role for your active roster on Sunday. Then that leads to more opportunities on the offensive and defensive side of the ball. Pierre’s played defense for us in the past and he’s done it at different times during the year this year, as have players like Patrick Chung, Sam Aiken, Brandon McGowan and guys like that. Sometimes those roles change a little bit from week to week, but they’re definitely important and when the whole package gets put together, as to who’s going to be at the game, who’s going to play, who’s going to contribute, some of those players that contributed in the kicking game contributed on offense and defense, and some of the players whose primary roles are on offense or defense have to contribute in the kicking game. That’s part of what putting together a team is about.
Q: You spoke a little bit after the game about wanting to get Sebastian Vollmer more reps and work him back in after the injury. Is it rare for a guy that young, at that position, to be able to play either side with as much facility as he’s shown so far?
BB: I’d say it’s a little unusual for tackles to play both sides at a high level, period. Usually when you look at a normal draft board, you look at tackles and you say this tackle is more of a left tackle, this tackle is more of a right tackle, and then you have a few guys - maybe a quarter of them as a guesstimate - that you could say, 'This guy could really be a swing tackle, potentially. He could play right tackle, he could play left tackle.’ Whereas you look at most other players and say, 'Well this guy - he’s really a right tackle. Could we put him at left? Maybe, but he’s much better suited to the right’, and vice versa. I think when you look at Vollmer, you look at him as we did last year and now after having him this year, he can legitimately play both tackles and the fact that all of our tackles, at least we thought, [have] some ability to do that. Nick [Kaczur] played left tackle in college, [we’ve] played him at right tackle, but he’s also played left tackle. Mark [LeVoir] played both tackles last year. He played right tackle when Nick was out, then he played left tackle when Matt [Light] was out. Then Matt, who we drafted and my brilliance I put him at right tackle as a rookie, which didn’t really work out at all, and I think he has the physical skills to play over there, but Matt’s just a left tackle. I think when you look at his skills, I don’t think you look at him and say that he doesn’t have the skills to play right tackle, he’s just much more comfortable on the left side and he’s a much better left tackle than he was a right tackle when we tried to play him there his rookie year. Once we got him back to left tackle, he was a much better football player. That was his rookie year. Maybe if that had happened his second or third year, maybe he would have adjusted to it better, I don’t know. We’ve just left him at left tackle because he’s done a good job for us over there, but it’s kind of unusual to have tackles that have that kind of flexibility. It’s a great situation to be in.
Q: You mentioned Sebastian Vollmer had a great personality, but has the language difference been a barrier for him?
BB: No, not at all. He’s probably more fluent in English than I am. This guy’s a smart guy. He’s very intelligent. He’s got a unique personality, but it’s good. He gets along well with everybody and he can laugh at himself and laugh with everybody else, too.
Q: Is he ideally suited to one side better than the other, at this point?
BB: No, I think he can play both sides.
Q: Who picked up the slack for Sam Aiken while he was out yesterday?
BB: If you lose a core player in the kicking game, like Sam was inactive yesterday - he’s really a starter on four teams. It isn’t always the same person that replaces him on each team, it can be a combination of different things and that was the case yesterday. That’s always a challenge on special teams; if you take one guy out, you’ve lost him on at least four teams. Sometimes if he’s involved in the field goal and field goal rush situations, it could be more than that. It’s a lot different than on offense or defense where it’s just that position on offense or that position on defense. It rolls into multiple positions in the kicking game and then you usually don’t have the same person where you just can’t do it, you don’t have enough people. It’s just like offense: you can’t have a backup right tackle, a backup right guard, a backup center. You’ve got to have one guy that backs up multiple positions and that’s true in the kicking game, too. One guy is out, that means 'you’re in on this team’, 'he’s in on that team’, 'you’re in on another team’ and it really challenges your depth. That’s one of the real challenging parts of being the special teams coach and even as a head coach - trying to put the roster together when you have a player like that who has a role on offense and is a core player in the kicking game. That’s a lot of jobs.
Q: Was yesterday a good job for Scott O’Brien overall?
BB: Well, I’m just saying the management is very challenging. It’s very challenging.
Q: On the tackle rotation, would you like to settle on two or would you be comfortable with a rotation like that for the rest of the year?
BB: I’d like to win. I’d like to win, so whatever gives us the best chance to win, whatever we feel is best to win, then that’s what we’ll do.
Q: In terms of the seven linemen you activated, I think it was the first time this year you had two tackles as six and seven. How would you juggle that in the event that you would have a guy go down in the interior?
BB: We’d have to make a move there.
Q: Transaction during the game?
BB: We’d have to bump people around in there. That would be something we’d rather not talk about until we’d actually have to do it.
Q: On Randy Moss, one way you can tell a receiver’s effort is by blocking. What did you see from him blocking yesterday?
BB: I think, overall, Randy’s a good blocker. Different players have different ways of blocking. I think Wes [Welker] is a good blocker. I think Sam [Aiken]’s a good blocker. I think Randy’s a good blocker. I think our receivers, as a group, are good blockers with different styles. Randy’s a bigger guy that covers people up. Wes is a smaller guy that uses his quickness and works for position. Sam’s a physical player - a bigger guy that’s more of a physical blocker. But the important part on that is keeping the guy that you’re blocking from making the tackle, just like it is a lineman, or a tight end, or a back or anything else. There’re different ways of doing that. Overall, I thought we had good production in the running game. That’s probably the most yards we’ve had running on the outside, on the perimeter, in quite awhile and I think our receivers, as a group, did a pretty good job of helping us out on that. Are there plays where it could have been better? Of course.
Q: Can you say that overall the production in the running game has been more consistent?
BB: However consistent or inconsistent it’s been, I think it could be better and I think we need to work to make it better. There’re times where it’s good. There’re other times where I feel like we leave some yards on the field. And there’re times when if you run the ball successfully, it’s really important like on fourth-and-one, or at the end of the game when you’re running out the clock, or in the red area, if you can run the ball into the end zone or run the ball to set up advantageous down-and-distance situations in the red area, all those situations are important. So it’s not just being able to run for some yardage or pass for some yardage. There’re critical times where your running game or your passing game - or whatever phase of the game we’re talking about - if that comes through, it makes a big difference. Like yesterday, being able to run out the clock in the running game - that’s good. Not being able to pick it up on fourth-and-one - that’s bad. Some of the running game, you could run for 50 yards and if you convert a couple short yardages and run out the clock at the end game and run in a couple in the red zone, you might feel like you had a great game running the ball if you make those key plays or vice versa. You could gain a lot of yards running and not get them at the right times and not feel good about them.
Q: How much of it is attitude?
BB: I think that’s some of it. I think having an attitude and having an aggressiveness is some of I, but I think a bigger part of it is the execution of it. The running game is a lot of people - two, three linemen, a tight end, a running back at the point of attack - all kind of seeing the same thing, seeing the way the defense reacts on a certain play and then being able to block those players, run the ball and set up the blocks, which is important by the running back to create the maximum opportunity to gain yards. So it’s not one guy; it’s all of them working together in conjunction. We could talk about attitude - and I’m not saying attitude’s not important - we could all sit in here and hold hands and talk about attitude, attitude, attitude, and I don’t think we’d go out and gain any yards running. There’s more to it than that, but it certainly starts with good execution, good footwork, good timing and good vision by the people involved at the point of attack. Not to minimize the backside, but for all the people at the point of attack to see the same thing, see the same picture and be able to sort it out as advantageously as possible. And then the running back plays his part in that of not only seeing it of helping us set those blocks up.
Q: (On it becoming harder to throw the ball due to the weather conditions)
BB: Sure. I think you’ve got to take that into consideration at this time of year or even back in October when we played Tennessee, or whenever it was. There’re times, like last year when we played in Buffalo, it was almost impossible to throw the ball even in pregame warm-ups. To get the ball from here to there it was almost impossible, so how many plays like that are you going to call? There weren’t very many passes in that game. The elements can certainly have an effect on your game plan this time of year. We’re playing in New England, we’re playing in Buffalo, like we are the next couple of weeks. I think you need to take that into consideration, absolutely.
Q: Was Tom Brady a game-time decision?
BB: Really, we waited until game time to make the final decision. I thought there was certainly a good chance that he would play, but also a concern, so that’s why it was listed the way it was.