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Bill Belichick Press Conference Transcript

Posted Jan 16, 2013

Patriots head coach Bill Belichick addresses the media during his press conference at Gillette Stadium on Wednesday, January 16, 2013.

BB: It’s certainly a privilege to participate in this game – the AFC Championship Game. The Ravens are a great football team. I think that Steve Bisciotti, Ozzie Newsome, John Harbaugh and their respective staffs have done a great job of putting that football team together. They have a great organization. They’ve been in the playoffs five straight years and won playoff games every year. I think they’ve really shown over time the type of football organization they have down there. We know it will be a big challenge for us this week to compete against that organization. We’ve had some great games with them recently. Four of the last five games have either come down to literally the final play or in one case, overtime. They’re very good at really everything they do. They’re tough, they’re well coached, they’re sound, they’re explosive, they make a lot of big plays and they’ve shown that they can handle difficult situations, whether it’s playing on the road or the double overtime last week against Denver or what the challenges are, they stand up to them. They’re a great football team. Hopefully we can have a good week here of preparation, practice and be ready to play our best on Sunday. I think that’s what it’s going to take. They’re as good as any team we played this year, better than most. I think that’s the way it should be. We’re playing a team that we had a great, great game with earlier in the season. It came down to the last play. We don’t really expect much less than that this time around.

On whether he thought he would be the longest-tenured coach in the League.

BB: I really haven’t thought much about it. I’m just trying to think about the Ravens. We’re trying to get ready to win the AFC Championship Game. I’m not really too concerned about how long anybody has or hasn’t been with any other team or how long I’ve been here or anything else. I don’t really care about any of that, with all due respect.

On his legacy.

BB: Right now, I’m trying to beat the Ravens. That’s where our football team’s challenge is, that’s what we’re focused on. The rest of it is for another time or another place.

On how Aqib Talib has impacted the team since being traded for.

BB: Very positive. He’s a good football player, good teammate, he's very well respected because of his professionalism. He studies hard and prepares well. He’s tough. He competes well, both in practice and on Sundays. Smart kid. I like him; the team likes him. He's a good guy to be around, and he works hard and competes well. I think those are his most impressive qualities.

On how the team has dealt with losing Rob Gronkowski.

BB: I don’t know. We’re just going to put together the best game plan we can and prepare as well as we can for this game with whatever players we have available.

On how Tom Brady’s playoff experience has evolved.

BB: His first one or two playoff games? That was over a decade ago.

On what he has drawn from his playoff experience that has made him better.

BB: I’d say pretty much everything.

On the difference in the Ravens defense since the fIrst game without Ray Lewis and Terrell Suggs.

BB: Lewis played against us in the first game.

Q: On how much different their defense is now compared to earlier in the season and if they seem to be getting better.

BB: Is the question relative to when we played them in September or relative to where they were a month ago?

On whether the Ravens defense has improved relative they were at the beginning of the year to where they are now.

BB: Well, they’ve had some personnel changes like Lardarius Webb and Terrell Suggs is back. [Paul] Kruger has obviously had a great year for them; he’s done a great job. We’ve played against a lot of these guys before: Suggs and [Haloti] Ngata and [Dannell] Ellerbe and all the rest of them. They're a good football team: Ed Reed, obviously, [Bernard] Pollard. They're a tough, smart, physical football team on the defensive side of the ball that does a lot of things well. They take the ball away from you, they’re excellent in the red area, excellent on third down, short yardage, things like that. I mean, the big thing about the Ravens is they play good when they’ve got to play good. When they’ve got to make plays, they make plays. They’ve won a lot of close games this year. They’ve been in a lot of close games and they’ve won a lot of close games and I think that’s really what it’s all about. Some other stats and all, you can do whatever you want with them, but it comes down to being able to make a play when you need to make a play, whether that’s score or stop the other team from scoring or make a kick or block a kick or return a kick or whatever it is. It’s doing what you need to do to win and they do a lot of that, so that’s why they’re a good football team. They're well coached, they’re tough, they're sound. They’ve got great leadership in all three phases of the game and on the coaching staff. That's why they’re winning; that’s why they’re here.

On what he admires about Ed Reed’s career.

BB: Ed Reed’s career? It’s everything; his production. He's had fabulous production at whatever he’s done, including blocking kicks and returning kicks and things like that. His interceptions, his interception return yardages, his instinctiveness and his play-making ability, how consistent he's been over time. He just does things that nobody else at that position does or I don’t know if they’ve ever done it. He’s special. He's really special.

On whether the Ravens throw the deep ball as well as any other team they have faced.

BB: Yes.

On how good Torrey Smith is.

BB: Torrey Smith is good. They’re all good. It’s Torrey Smith, but it’s all of them. It’s [Jacoby] Jones, it’s obviously [Anquan] Boldin, it’s [Dennis] Pitta. It can be [Ed] Dickson. [Tandon] Doss. You can go right down the line; they throw it to all of them, and then they also have explosive players like [Ray] Rice, like [Bernard] Pierce, Like Pitta, like Boldin, even Smith on some catch and run plays where they take the ball for five, six, 10-yard pass and end up getting 40 or 50 with it because they’re fast an they’re tough to tackle. Some of them, they just launch it down there and throw I up and the receivers go up and get it, or they make great players like they did last week against Denver. But sometimes it can be a screen pass or an under route or something like that and it could turn into a 50-yard gain too because of their ability to run with the ball. It’s a very explosive team with a lot of big plays. It’s a lot of long balls, but it’s not all long balls. It’s a lot of catch and run plays, too. So they get you both ways. If you play off them and give you a lot of space, they’ll kill you on the catch and run plays. If you get up there and try to take those away, they can kill you on the deep balls. They're very well balances. They execute well and they can get a lot of yards in a hurry. They do a real good job on the deep balls, really good.

On the specific things Paul Kruger can do.

BB: Well, his pass rush – he’s really been productive on that with pressures, strip sacks, sacks. He's made a lot of negative plays. He's got good quickness. He plays strong. He's long; he's got good length to be able to be disruptive. He does a good job in pass coverage. Smart player. Pretty instinctive. Makes kind of the right play when he needs to make it. a good complement on the other side from Suggs. They're different, but they're both tough. He’s really just, I don’t know, he played quite a while with OK production and in the last 10, 12 games, whatever it’s been, his production has really jumped dramatically. I'm sure he's a hard working kid and he’s obviously improved and he’s a good football player.

On what the ‘Next Man Up’ mentality said about Shane Vereen and which of his three touchdowns were most impressive to him.

BB: Well, I think that’s the way our entire team has to look at this game. It’s the way we look at every game, but especially when you're in a one-game season like we are now. Everybody’s got to be ready. Everybody’s got to be ready to go. You’re one play away from doing different things that you thought you’d be doing. That could be guys having to double up and play a different position or play in the kicking game or go from playing in the kicking game to playing on offense and defense more. The roll could change. We only have so many guys out there, so we’ve got to double up. Something that could happen during the game could thrust somebody else right into the spotlight, so to speak. We all have to be ready for any of those situations, including guys on the practice squad, which we’ve all seen during the course of the year, that could be called up right at the end of the week is something happened to somebody in practice or something like that. You never know what those players could have to come in and be called on and have to contribute. So we’ve talked to everybody about being ready to go. Whether they actually get to play or whether it’s just as a scout team player to help prepare our team for the game, whatever their role is, this is the week that we need everybody’s best.

On which of his three touchdowns were most impressive to him.

BB: Well, I mean the touchdown run was pretty cleanly blocked; I wouldn’t put that down as the run of the year or anything. But it was a great catch he made coming out of the backfield. That was a pretty good play.

On what he has noticed on film in the last month or so that has changed about the Baltimore offense.

BB: I’d say they run a little bit more regular personnel, a little bit more of the fullback in there and a little less of the two tight ends. But I’d say the key for them is balance, they do a good job of balancing the offense. The running backs are going to get their carries. They’re going to throw the ball to complement the running game and then of course they can throw it as part of their third down, two-minute, spread offense package. I think they really make you defend the entire field. They make you defend it from sideline to sideline, from the line of scrimmage to the end line, the inside running game, the outside running game, deep passing game, short passing game. They get the ball to the receivers, tight ends, the backs. You’ve got to defend everything. They do a good job, they’re well balanced and they’re explosive.

On Tom’s struggles vs. the Baltimore defense.

BB: I don’t know, you’d have to ask them about that. I don’t know. We’ve had very competitive games against them. We’ve won some; we haven’t won all of them. It’s a game day battle out there. They’ve got a good team, we’ve got a good team, and those games have come down to the wire. On what he has seen from Joe Flacco and his progression.

BB: He's had a real productive year and as we’ve talked about the deep ball, I think his accuracy, decision making. They haven’t turned the ball over much all year, which is again, another credit to the quarterback – he handles it the most – but their overall team and their coaching. They make you earn everything. They don’t give up a lot of easy plays on defense and they don’t give up the ball on offense and they make a lot of big plays. I’d say his ability to number one, not turn the ball over and number two, to make big plays, and number three, to score points, which they’ve scored a lot of points this year which is really what the name of t he game is. It’s about points, not all the other stats that we sometimes like to throw out there. Those are the areas that he's excelled in. And I think if you're scoring points, you’re not turning the ball over, then probably playing pretty well.

Q: On the importance of special teams, the struggles last week and that the Patriots have a pretty good kick returner coming.

BB: Rael good. Yeah. Well, special teams is always important. It’s a third of the game. It’s important in field position. It’s important on the scoring opportunities as it relates to field goals and those scoring chances. Of course scores can come in other areas of special teams, but field position is key. I don’t know how much more we can stand up here and talk about it. We talk about it every week. It’s a huge part of the game. And they’re very good at it. John Harbaugh is an excellent special teams coach. They’re very well coached in the kicking game. They have very good players, good specialists. They have some fast guys in coverage. They have some physical guys in coverage in the return game. They have good quality players, they’re well coached, and they have had l t of production with it. They led the league in kickoff returns. They do a good job.

On what he appreciates most about Ray Lewis’ career

BB: I’d say his consistency, his production and the winning. He's won a lot of games. That’s really what it’s about. On his style of play.

BB: Well he’s very productive, yeah. He's got great instincts, great in the running game, instinctive in the passing game, play-actions and recognizing different route combinations. He's a good blitzer; he times up his blitzes well. He has a good command of the defense in terms of making checks and adjustments, controlling the front things like that. I mean, you're talking about a Hall of Fame player that has had tremendous production over a long period of time. I wouldn’t say there are a lot of weaknesses in his game, no.

On what Aqib Talib has brought to the defense.

BB: I mean, he's a good player. I don’t know that the answer to the last question is. It’s not like we’ve run a new defense. I think he's fit in well to our system. He's done what we’ve asked him to do. He’s worked very hard at it. He’s been very productive for us. He’s done a good job. I don’t think he's changed the game for us. I wouldn’t put it in that category, but he's done a good job. He's done everything we’ve asked him to do. I'm glad he’s on our football team. He's certainly made us a better football team.