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Bill Belichick Press Conference Transcript

Posted Oct 1, 2012

New England Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick addresses the media during his press conference at Gillette Stadium on Monday, October 1, 2012.

BB: As I said after the game yesterday, I thought our players really did a good job in all three phases of the game. We made a few plays and fought back from a 21-7 deficit; came back and did a number of things fairly well. It’s good to get out of the division, our first division game, with a win. Like I said, the players really stepped up, made a lot of plays in the second half when they needed to and that was the difference in the game. Now is the time to turn the page and move on to Denver. Obviously, they’re a real good football team. The quarterback is good; offense we’re familiar with. They’re good on defense; they’re good in all three phases of the game. As good as the Buffalo game was, we just have to get past it here and get on to the Broncos.

Q: What stands out to you about what you have seen from the Broncos and Peyton Manning?

BB: It’s pretty much like the Colts offense – two tight ends, three receivers. It’s very similar to what they did in Indianapolis.

Q: How about Peyton Manning himself in terms of the way he has looked?

BB: He looks good.

Q: What are the challenges you face in preparing for Peyton Manning?

BB: It’s him, it’s everybody else. It’s the entire offensive team. He does a good job managing that offense: getting the ball to everybody, running it, throwing it inside, throwing it outside. All the things, they have a lot of weapons. You have to be careful about giving him opportunities because he’ll usually find them. We have to do a good job of disguising and keeping him off balance and trying to make him figure it out after the snap or as late as possible. You certainly don’t want to just show it to him too many times and let him take a run at it.

Q: Was there a common theme that the defense did yesterday to press the issue and force six turnovers?

BB: No, I don’t think so. We emphasize it every week. We’ve gotten our hands on some balls this year, some we’ve turned over, some we haven’t. We’ve forced a few fumbles. Sometimes we’ve recovered them, sometimes we haven’t. Those things kind of went right for us. We got two out of three fumbles. We had a strip-sack that we didn’t get. I think if you just keep pressuring the ball, hopefully, sooner or later you’ll get it out and hopefully sooner or later some of those will come to you. The players have worked hard on that, we’re always conscious of trying to put pressure on the ball. Yesterday was a good day for us. We had an interception off a tip, looked like an overthrow and Devin [McCourty] made a couple good plays on the ball. They’re all different, there’s no common theme.

Q: From a coach’s perspective, when they are closer to takeaways than giveaways like yesterday’s game, is that more promising as opposed to the offense just being sloppy?

BB: Yeah. You have to take advantage of all of them but sure, that’s one thing you want your defense to always be attentive to, is not just making the tackle or making the play, but trying to get the ball when they can but making sure you make the play first and then get the ball. You don’t want to try to go for the ball and miss it and then give up a touchdown type of thing. It’s a calculated risk, we always talk about that. It was good. I think our players were aware of it and they made some good decisions and we got the ball. That was great.

Q: How impressed are you that Peyton Manning has been able to pick it up without missing a beat after being away for the game for an entire season?

BB: I’m not that surprised. He’s a pretty smart guy, he’s got a lot of experience, he’s got good skills. There have been a number of other players that have missed a year with an injury, whatever it happened to be, come back the next year and been able to play at a high level. It’s about what I would have expected him to be at.

Q: It was a big story this offseason about what team Peyton Manning would play for – with what interest did you follow that story as it related to the Patriots?

BB: Well yeah, definitely interested to see. He’s an impact player for whatever team he’s on. I’m not saying that I’m really excited about having to face him again, but you have to play somebody. Everybody is good in this league. Everybody has good skills, good players, good coaches, good teams. It’s out of our control, whoever it is, it is. It’s [been] great, competitive with Denver and with Peyton and now those two have kind of combined, so I guess that’s good. But I can’t say this is the quarterback you really want to face. He’s pretty good. He does a good job.

Q: Stephen Gostkowski has been historically accurate. Do you look at his struggles yesterday as a blip on the radar considering everything he has done in the past?

BB: Steve, again, had some real good plays yesterday. Again, that’s an operation that involves more than one guy. It’s not a pitcher taking the ball on the mound or a golfer teeing a ball up. It’s a snap, a hold, a kick – a whole process. We’ll keep working hard at it. I have a lot of confidence in those players – Danny [Aiken], Zoltan [Mesko], Steve. We’ve made a lot of them. Unfortunately we’ve missed a few, but we’ll keep working at it and try to improve it – coach it better and execute it better.

Q: Can you talk about Stevan Ridley and Brandon Bolden and how it felt to have them both have big games?

BB: I think Brandon ran well for us in preseason when he had an opportunity. He did well in the kicking game and he did well offensively, both running the ball and catching it. That’s kind of how he made the team. He was a productive player in college. But, it’s always good to see them do well. Those guys got a lot of help yesterday with the offensive line, the tight ends, the receivers. There were some good holes to run through, some good blocking and they ran hard, got extra yards on their own so a lot of people contributed in the running game. Stevan has done a good job for us too. The big thing for a back is just to be able to get him started and have a chance to use his running skills. When there’s a hole, then they have to get through the hole and hopefully make yards on whoever the next level tackler is, the safeties or the corners or whoever it happens to be. That’s really where a back does his job, is creating extra yardage on his own. But, the tight ends and the offensive line, sometimes the receivers depending on the play, they have to do enough to get the guy started to give him a chance. Like I said, I think the thing that really matters the most with the backs is how many yards they gain on their own. Any back can really run until the first guy gets to him, that’s not really that special, but it’s what guys do after they could or should be brought down, whether they can continue to add yards to the play after that. That’s the mark really of a good runner, which includes the receivers too. Wes [Welker] did that a couple times, where he caught the pass, broke a tackle, gained some extra yards. Woody [Danny Woodhead] did that on the scramble play for the touchdown. He caught a three, four-yard pass and ended up getting past a couple guys and getting into the end zone. Those plays are, that’s where those players skills show up, is when they have the ball and what they’re able to do with it on their own without that much blocking.

Q: Rob Ninkovich and Chandler Jones flipped sides a few times. What is the thinking behind that?

BB: It could be a number of different things but in the end, it’s either to change the matchup for the offense or it’s something that we’re doing that for whatever reason, we want to flip them.

Q: Some of the stuff you are doing before kickoff, is that more of an identification thing, where they group together?

BB: On the double huddle? Right, obviously there are always keys that we’re looking for when we come out of the huddle on kickoff – how many guys they have on the line, who they are, how the wedge is deployed, how the deep returners are deployed. Again, there are tendencies and keys on that, sometimes when you line up differently, they’ll make an adjustment to the way you’re lined up and you can tell by that adjustment or maybe get an indication on that alignment, what they may be trying to do. It’s like, before they changed the rule, you saw teams line up with six or seven guys on one side and then swing over. Sometimes you could tell by the adjustment that the kicking team made when they swung over, who was blocking who. Somebody has to adjust, either the front line has to adjust or the wedge has to adjust in terms of their blocking assignments, so you can get some keys on that, as an example.

Q: Matthew Slater and Marquice Cole made some plays in punt coverage yesterday. Is that just a matter of those guys going out and executing or is there anything else that goes into that?

BB: It starts with good punting, that’s number one, is to give those guys a chance to down the ball, to put it up high enough and to put it in a place where they have a chance to get it. The technique of downing it, whether it’s on Matt’s play, where [Leodis] McKelvin kind of ran out of the way and gave him a chance to catch it or on Cole’s play where the ball hit pretty far in front of him, it hit outside the five-yard line and bounced so he set the picket fence there on the goal line. There are different techniques depending on where the gunner or the coverage guy is on the play, where the ball hits and that type of thing. But yeah, we work hard on that because you have to read the returner and see whether or not he’s going to catch the ball. If he is going to catch it, depending on whether he fair catches or not, somebody has to deal with him, somebody has to deal behind the ball. [Patrick] Peterson had a long return on that last year, where the guys ran behind to down the punt, he caught it on about the seven and went 93 yards. There’s definitely things that those guys that are covering, rules that they have to follow in reading the ball, reading the returner, depending on where the ball is coming down, in the middle of the field, or over in the numbers area or on the sideline, how we want to try to do it. We work on all those things in practice over the course of the year and whenever it comes up hopefully we do it right, but you only have, call it a dozen punts in practice, so you don’t really know where that ball is going to land, whether it’s going to be in the middle of the field or the sideline or on the five or on the 10 but when it comes up you try to use the proper technique and work on it in practice. Sometimes we do individual drills after practice where the punter practices punting inside the 15 and the gunners go down there and practice downing it based on where the ball comes down or whether to play the fair catch or go to the goal line, whatever it happens to be. It’s something we work on all year, starting at training camp and work on all the way through. Whatever situation that comes up which is kind of unusual, we had kind of two different ones happen in the same game, one where we downed it, the other where we caught it and then another where he fair caught it, if I’m not mistaken I think he fair caught one down there around the 10 too. Those are all coaching points that we talk about how to play those, but they were done very well.

Q: Was the ball security and loss of fumbles one of the negatives from yesterday’s game?

BB: Yeah, exactly. That’s the number one thing – taking care of the ball. We didn’t do a good job of it at times and it hurt us. We have to do better with that. It’s never acceptable to give up the ball. We have to take care of it. They made good plays, but we have to take care of it, we have to handle it better.

Q: I have a question on one of your favorite topics. Dont’a Hightower –

BB: Injuries? We’ll list him on Wednesday based on what his condition is.

Q: I did not know if you wanted to give us a sneak preview.

BB: If I had one, I would but we’re not practicing today, we’re just in watching film and that kind of thing.

Q: Does he seem like he is doing OK?

BB: We’ll see on Wednesday. I’d love to help you out.

Q: Sometimes you surprise, there are occasions when you have lobbed one out to us.

BB: That would be more around Christmas time; put a bow on it.

Q: What are your thoughts on the first game back with the regular officials?

BB: We just really need to focus as a team on doing the best we can do. Whoever else’s job it is to do something else, we can’t worry about it. We’ll just do our job and see if we can do it better.

Q: Why was signing Matt Tennant the choice on Saturday? Was it just to fill out the 53-man roster or was it with Logan Mankins and Nick McDonald in mind?

BB: [It is] Because we think that’s a player we want on our roster. By rule, we had to have 53 players so we had to sign somebody. Because he wasn’t at the game, we could have signed him today just as easy as we signed him on Saturday, for all practical purposes. But by rule we had to have 53rd player on the roster so that’s why it was done Saturday.

Q: What is your reaction to the news about Chuck Pagano? I don’t know if you have heard about him at all?

BB: No.

Q: He was diagnosed with leukemia.

BB: No, I didn’t know that. I feel for him on that one. I don’t know anything about it.

Q: Did you like the hoodie? Was that a game-time decision?

BB: Yeah, maybe that might have been the problem the last two weeks.