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Bill Belichick Press Conference Transcript

Posted Jan 20, 2014

New England Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick addresses the media during his press conference at Gillette Stadium on Monday, January 20, 2014.

BB: I’ll just repeat a couple comments I made yesterday. After going through the game, once again, I thought Denver did a real good job – their staff, their players did an excellent job. They played well defensively, [Peyton] Manning had a great day, they were well prepared, they were well coached. They just did a better job than we did. I thought we were competitive all the way through the game. We had an opportunity to cut it to a one-score game there with [three] minutes to go in the game and couldn’t quite do it. I thought our players played very hard, extremely competitive, we just came up short. None of us really did a good enough job yesterday. I was asked about the hit on [Aqib] Talib and I feel badly for Aqib the way that play turned out. I went back and watched it, which I didn’t have a chance to do yesterday. I think it was a deliberate play by the receiver to take out Aqib; no attempt to get open. I’ll let the league handle the discipline on that play; it’s not for me to decide, but it’s one of the worst plays I’ve seen. That’s all I’m going to say about that. Sudden end to the season; those are the NFL playoffs. It’s always a crash landing when it happens in the playoffs like this. We have to turn the page and move on. [We have] a lot of decisions to make in the offseason and those will all come in due course. [We’re] certainly not going to make any of them any time real soon. We’re going to an opportunity, as we always do, to sit back, go through everything, take a look at the big picture, take a look at each individual situation – players, coaches, schemes, adjustments, training, you name it – and do anything we can to improve our football team going forward. That’s what it will be. That’s where we are today.

Q: How long does it usually take to assess all of those personnel transactions that you’re going to have?

BB: Yeah, that’s a great question. I would say, you know, in the neighborhood of six to eight weeks. Obviously free agency starts a little less than two months from now. We definitely need to be ready by then. There will be some other transactions along the way before then relative to tenders and those kind of things. There are a few other situations that will proceed that, but I would say somewhere in the four to eight weeks category, some sooner than others, some longer than others. But trying to compile all the information on individual players and situations, as well as, as I said, things like responsibilities on our staff and looking at our scheme and you know, maybe a player could fit a little bit better into a different scheme or maybe not as well into a different scheme if we’re planning on making some changes along those lines. That’s all part of it too. If we change, then that could affect how the player would fit. Those are all part of the conversation. I would say in the four to eight week range in terms of getting all the information together, being able to really sort through it and then ultimately make decisions in a timely fashion. Some decisions have to be made sooner than others. Other decisions, honestly, may wait. We’ve re-signed players here sometimes in April, May, June and we’ve also released players sometimes in that range. I don’t think there’s any specific time table but I would say in that four to eight week range is probably when most of the decisions need to be made or at least, even if they’re delayed, at least if you’ve made the decision to delay them. But that’s a great question because that’s a big part of our offseason right now, is pulling all those things together. It’s going to take a little time.

Q: A lot of times when you win, people will say ‘Coach Belichick made the move that won this game for this team.’ In this case, do you feel like you were outcoached and they were better prepared? When is the last time you’ve ever felt like that?

BB: Well, first of all, teams win games. Individuals don’t win them – teams win them. Look, I feel after every game, I go back and look at the game and I feel like there are things I could have done better, whether it was on the preparation, adjustment end, decision-making end, all those things. When you compete in a game and have 160, 170, 180, 190 plays, however many plays are in the game and you look at the preparation on those things, there are always things you look at and you can do better. There’s never been a game that I’ve felt like everything went perfectly. There are always things that you feel like you can do better. I feel that way today, I felt that way last Sunday after the Indianapolis game, I felt that way after the Buffalo game. I felt like that after every game that I’ve ever coached in the National Football League. I can’t imagine it would be any different.

Q: When you were flying back, how much did you dwell on the things you could have done better? Did you ever feel hamstrung by injuries while making adjustments?

BB: Look, in every game – as a coach and a player – I think you try to make the best decisions you can. Whatever the results are, they are. But I think at the time you make those decisions, as a coach you’re doing what you think is best, as a player you’re doing what you think is best. It doesn’t always work out. When you look back on it, you can say, ‘Well, should I have done that?’ Well, maybe not, but at the time you did it, you did it with the intent to do the best thing or the right thing. If you feel like you make a mistake on that after you analyzed it – which again, nobody makes more mistakes around here than I do, I’ll be the first to admit that – that you look back on them and you say, ‘OK, what could I have done differently? What will I do the next time?’ and you put that in the bank. Hopefully [when] that situation comes around the next time, you’ll feel better about the decision you make. There are a lot of decisions that could go either way. Sometimes you bat them back and forth and say, ‘Hey, I think I’ll do the same thing again,’ but at least in your mind you’ve gone through the process and you’ve done that. We’ve done that. That’s one of the things we did in the bye week prior to the Indianapolis game. We went through a ton of situations and talked about what we would do, what our strategy way, what kind of call we’d make, what coaching points we’d give the players, what would be our best option in those situations regardless of who the opponent was or maybe against a specific opponent that was a team that a team that liked to pressure in those situations or liked to cover or whatever their tendencies were offensively, just in generic terms. That’s something that as a coaching staff we try to stay on top of and I personally try to stay on top of all the way through the year. But there are always things you can do better.

Q: Aside from the hit on Aqib Talib, was there anything else that stood out from the film?

BB: I don’t have any other comments on that.

Q: When you evaluate potential changes to your scheme, do you have to establish that scheme first before you identify players to fit that scheme or is it fluid?

BB: Well, yeah, I think it’s fluid. They all go together. Again, we’ve talked about some of those things all through the year. It’s not like the season’s over and now we’re saying, ‘What are we going to do about this?’ or ‘What are we going to do about that?’ If we had a problem in Week 2, we’re going to anticipate that we’re going to have that problem in Week 3 and Week 4. We probably do to some degree. Other teams are trying to attack our weaknesses and that type of thing. There are things that we’ve addressed through the year. I think now is just the time to be able to sit back and not – certainly the Denver game is one that’s heaviest on our mind and it’s freshest on our mind, but there are another 17 games that we played that were critical games and there were issues in those games too. I think when you look at the big picture of an 18-game season in this case, what are the things that stand out that you need to improve? What are the things that maybe we didn’t do enough of? What are the things that we maybe need to adjust based on the way teams have played us and so forth? It is a fluid thing. Again, some of those things we’ve already talked about and addressed and said, ‘These are things we really need to look at [during] the offseason.’ There are definitely some other things when we really sit back and go through it with a fine tooth comb will be a little more evident to us. We’ll say, ‘You know what, we talked about that, we have to look at it further.’ Again, that’s one of the things we did in the bye week prior to the Indianapolis game, was we looked particularly at our last five, six games, going back to that Denver game and saying, ‘OK, what are the things that teams are going to be looking to do against us based on the last third of the season?’ So, some of that will be regurgitation of what did then and some of it will be new and look at the composite of, I would say, the 18-game season, if you will.

Q: Generally speaking as you prepared to Denver, to what extent does that offense use their receivers to set picks?

BB: I would say most all teams in the league do it.

Q: So they do it no more than other teams?

BB: It depends on the situation. They do what they need to do. That’s one of the things that Manning does a great job with on that offense: depending on how you’re playing them, then he’s going to attack you based on what you’re doing. If you do certain things, he’s going to do certain things. If you do other things, he’s going to do other things. He’s not going to run – he’s going to run the plays that are good plays against what you’re doing: runs, passes, schemes, whatever they are. That’s what makes him a great, great, great quarterback. He’s very, very good at that. He does an excellent job of, particularly in the passing game, but he did it in the running game yesterday too, of getting his team in a good play. I would say that doesn’t happen every play; it’s not like he changes every play, I’m not saying that, but situationally – red area, third down – sees a new look that he thinks he can take advantage of, there’s nobody better at that than he is.

Q: When will you take a break or is there no break because of how long the postseason went?

BB: As we all know, the downtime really in the National Football League is from the end of OTAs or mini-camp, whatever you want to call it, to the start of training camp. So, last week we had the East-West [Shrine] Game. This week we have the Senior Bowl. Then we have, really our scouts who have been out – our college scouts who have been out – doing the college regular season, then the college bowl games, now the college all-star games, the East-West Game, a couple other bowl games, the Senior Bowl, then they’ll come back in with all that. Then we’ll prepare for the Indianapolis Combine. Then we’ll have free agency about a week and a half after that, which brings in all the pro free agents in addition to all our own players. Then we’ll have the college workouts in March, which even though the draft has been moved back, our assumption is, based on all the information we’ve gotten from the colleges and the agents and so forth, that those workouts are probably still going to be pretty heavy through the month of March. Then where normally April is kind of a big draft preparation month and the start of the offseason program, which for all teams that don’t have new head coaches would be April 21, then that brings our players who are under contract back into the program as we prepare for the draft and of course the offseason program leads right into OTAs and mini-camp. When your season goes into the postseason as ours did for three weeks, you’re behind going into the college draft and to a certain degree, I would say the free agency process. To be honest with you, we’re into the 2014 season right now. We’re behind, so we have some catching up to do. That’s a good position to be in but it’s a bad position to be in. That’s really where you’re at when the season ends on the last day, whatever it is, December [29] this year, then you have those extra three weeks to try to get caught up on the college draft, get caught up on some other things. We’ve been trying to win games in the postseason, so now we’re actually behind there. The slower time in the NFL is that mid-June to mid-July range. Right now is really not it. It’s similar to the college season. Those guys end their season and the next day they’re out recruiting. That’s just the nature of the schedule. There’s not much we can do about that.

Q: Can you talk about the success of the team getting back to the AFC Championship Game with all the major injuries you had this season?

BB: I think I covered that pretty well yesterday. I’m proud of this team, proud to be the coach of the team. I respect the players and what the payers and the staff did in terms of their work ethic, their preparation, their mental toughness, physical toughness, playing hard every week. Every one of our games came, I would say – really the Denver game would be the game and that was potentially a very competitive situation there. It could have been a one-possession game with [three] minutes to go in the game, [but] it wasn’t; we didn’t make the two-point conversion. But all the other games have literally come down to the last play, the last possession. We played very competitively all year. We just came up short five times. I wish we could have done a little better job in any of those games, especially the one yesterday. That was our season. I’m proud of what our players did and our team did, but we came up short and that’s not our goal. We’re going to continue to try to work toward a higher level of performance, starting with me and our coaching staff and our players and we’re starting all over again. That’s where we are. We’re in 2014 now.

Q: Do you plan to watch the Super Bowl?

BB: Right now my plans are to try to start to get caught up on the draft. I’ll probably go to the Senior Bowl and probably do the type of things that I can do to try to help our team address the next round of opportunities to improve as a football team. So, the better prepared I am to go to Indianapolis, the more productive that will be. The better prepared that I and we are in free agency, I think the more productive that will be, better decisions we’ll make and so forth. I think it’s easy to say, ‘Well, we’ll just wait and deal with it all later,’ but every time you miss an opportunity to improve your team, then somewhere along the line that’s going to show up. It might be in November, it might be in December. It won’t show up in March necessarily or April, but it might show up somewhere else along the line, it probably will. We’ll try not to let that happen to the best of our ability.

Q: Is there anything that your father taught you that you’re thinking about now?

BB: I’d say pretty much everything I just said would have been reinforced by him. The results are what they are, there’s nothing you can do about them. They’re in the books; you can’t take them back. You have to look ahead and be ready to take advantage of the next opportunity and compete; in this case, start competing for the 2014 season. Yup, I’d say all those things directly or indirectly would have come from him.

Q: When you hit the ground at the airport when you arrived back here, were you resolute to hit the ground running?

BB: Unfortunately, yes. That’s not really the way you want it, but that’s the reality of it. Look, there are a lot of coaching changes throughout the National Football League, as it seems like there always are every year. How that will affect our coaching staff, I’m not 100 percent sure, but I don’t know; there could be something there. Our players, we have a number of players whose contracts are going to expire that I’m going to talk to one way or another. I’m not saying there’s any decision to be made, but there’s certainly a conversation to be had. There are a lot of other players, a lot of guys on our team that I have and will talk to personally about their situation or appreciation for what they’ve done or whatever it happens to be. Guys have stuff on their mind, whether it be coaches, players, other people in the organization that respectfully will say, ‘Coach, I didn’t want to bring this up during the season because we were involved in the season, the playoffs, whatever it is, but whatever it is.’ You get a lot of things that come up now. On a personal level – and I’m sure that this is true of our players and our coaches as well – but on a personal level, there are a lot of things that come up in the season, particularly as the season comes into the November, December, January range, things come across my desk. I open the drawer, I put them in there and say, ‘I’m working on Buffalo, I’m working on Indianapolis, I’m working on Denver, I’ll deal with them after the season.’ That drawer fills up and you put them in another drawer. Now it’s time to open those drawers and there’s a lot of junk in them. There’s a lot of stuff that I just haven’t dealt with in the last few weeks, even couple of months that you just say, ‘I can deal with it after the season. There’s more important things to deal with now.’ That’s where I’ve been. Now, whether that’s my drawer that’s opening or some player or coaches or some other person in the organization, they have that drawer too, because they’ve all been working just as hard as anybody else has to try to accomplish the goals that this team has. There’s some of that.

Q: One of the coaching changes in the NFL is that Bill O’Brien landed a job in Houston. Has he been in touch with you?

BB: No, and I wouldn’t expect him too. Bill’s been in this situation. He knows what we’ve been doing the last three weeks. Bill, I’m sure, is very respectful of that. Of course, he wouldn’t bring up something that would interfere with our preparations and our goals. I wouldn’t have expected him to and no.

Q: Now that the season is over, is there a chance?

BB: That’s the way it always is. You know, once the season is over then, look there are a lot of changes in the NFL on the coaching staffs. I don’t know what’s going to happen but I’m just saying maybe it will affect us, maybe they won’t. Sometimes they do, sometimes they don’t. I don’t know. But is it a possibility? Sure, I’d say it’s a possibility. I’m not even pointing to that organization. There are 31 other ones. Well, two of them are playing, but there are a lot of other organizations that there are going to be coaching changes on. We’ll just have to see how that plays out.

Q: In terms of the salary cap, it sounds like it might go up a little bit. Do you have a pretty good idea right now what you’re looking out right now in terms of space?

BB: I’d say the answer to that question is, look, I’m not oblivious to it, I’m not saying that. I think you get to the end of the season and again, our focus has been on winning games. There really hasn’t been anything that affects the salary cap, I’d say in the last two months. I mean significantly. You might bring a guy from the practice squad or whatever but it’s not a high monetary issue. Then when you get to the end of the season like we are now, you have different players who have hit escalators, maybe they have incentives in their contracts, there are offseason awards, there are rollovers into the next year’s cap. There are a lot of calculations that go on. Again, I’m not saying this is Earth-shattering news; it’s just a lot easier to wait and deal with it when it’s all done. Again, in relative terms it’s a small amount of money. I’m not saying a half million dollars is a small amount of money in an incentive or escalator, but I’m just saying on a 100 and however many million dollar cap, it’s relatively small. So, you wait until that’s over. You sort it all out. You have the people who work on that in our organization. We’ll get together with them. We’ll get a sense of where we are, what some of the issues are going to be, what some of the options are going to be. We have some players that are not under contract. We have some degree of cap space. We have whatever degree of flexibility we have with other things, we have draft choices, we can make projections on what they’re going to cost and you start putting that all together. That’s one of the many moving parts that goes with the whole offseason process. I’d say we’re not there yet but that will certainly be a big part of the discussions at some point, particularly as it relates to free agency, not so much the draft. The draft will be the draft but there is a salary cap implication to the draft in terms of where you’re picking and what those costs will be. Now that we know where we’ll be picking we can, because of the format, be able to estimate those costs as well.

Q: Are you just programmed not to take any days off until June or do your days go from 16-hour days to 12-hour days?

BB: Look, the intensity in the offseason is nowhere near what it is in the season. It just isn’t. Regardless of the amount of hours that you work, the urgency and the intensity, it just isn’t the same. I’m not saying the draft isn’t important, I’m not saying free agency isn’t important, I’m not saying salary cap management isn’t important but those things are a lot easier to manage from a time standpoint than when you have seven days to prepare your regular down stuff, your third down stuff, our red area stuff, goal line, short yardage, two-minute, four-minute, all your special teams – all the things you have to get ready to go against an Indianapolis or a Denver or whoever it is that you’re playing. It’s a whole different time frame. It’s a whole different level of urgency and I would say the effort and the work. Look, I’ll be OK. I’ll take all my frustrations out at Pebble Beach – see if I can hit the ball over the water instead of into it for a change.

Q: How much do you relish finishing the season coaching with your son?

BB: It was awesome. Yeah, that was awesome. Stephen was gone for six years, five at Rutgers and one at prep school so to be able to see him on a daily basis and work with him was great, it’s great.

Q: Who do you like in the Super Bowl?

BB: Honestly I didn’t even know who was in the Super Bowl until we landed. [It’s] two great teams. I’m sure it will be a very competitive game. They’re the two best teams. They were both number one seeds. They were strong all the way through the season. They’ll match up in a couple weeks, I’m sure it will be a great game.

Q: Do you plan on watching the Super Bowl?

BB: Again, I’m really not that far ahead. I’m sure I’ll see it one way or another. We play Denver next year, I’m sure we’ll see it whether it’s on the coaches tape or live, I don’t know. Honestly, right now I’m just trying to get the next few days, get through the next few days. There are many things that are in that drawer that are now coming to the top of the desk that I need to try to deal with one way or another. That’s what I’ll try to do.

Q: Are you a fan of the cold weather Super Bowl?

BB: I’m just trying to coach the Patriots. I’m not trying to schedule games or be a Super Bowl coordinator. Thanks for everything this year. I appreciate it. We’ll see you in the offseason.