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Patriots Unfiltered Tue Apr 07 | 11:55 AM - 02:00 PM

09/21/00 - Bill Belichick Press Conf.

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            **B:** There are no changes in the injury report, nothing really new to report on this end. Just plugging along on the Miami preparations. I think the closer you watch this team the more you appreciate what they have done, they way they play, the way they play together and the overall continuity of Dave's (Wannstedt) team both offensively, defensively and in the kicking game. I think that this is a good solid club.  

Q: Offensively have you been surprised with the way they have been able to emphasize the run? They have always talked about it and now it seems that (Dan) Marino is gone and suddenly they find a way to run the ball.

B: They have run it well and they have created more opportunities for themselves to run, in other words by being ahead in the game, by having good field position, by having control of the situation. Even though they were behind against Minnesota, it was 6-0, or 3-0, they were in control of the situation. They were able to keep calling, so it is always tough to call them when you are behind in the score and how much time do you have to keep running, but it has been even or they have been ahead and they have been able to keep calling them and it is paying off. They are running a couple of plays a little bit differently than they ran them last year. I don't know if Chan (Gailey) or Dave (Wannstedt), however they are doing it, but they are productive and their running back runs hard, (Lamar) Smith runs hard. He is a tough runner, he is a good inside runner and they are doing a good job. (Rob) Konrad has done a good job blocking.

Q: How much of that is a fact that Marino is not there, you know that you are not going to have that automatic free play available to you?

B: I don't know, I haven't seen Marino carry too many times in the last 17 years.

Q: I mean the fact that when he was there they knew that they had him there to make big plays passing?

B: That may factor into their thinking I don't know, but looking at the plays themselves they are well executed. Those inside guys (Mark) Dixon, Ruddy and Donnelly do a good job, they have gotten good production out of their tight ends and (Rob) Konrad is really an underrated player, I think he is going to be the next Darryl Johnston type of fullback in the league. He can run, he can catch, he can block, he is a big guy, he's tough. He is a pretty impressive player.

Q: Can you talk about Joe Andruzzi and Sale Isaia, two guys who came out of nowhere to be starters and are they starters permanently or are they starters until Max Lane and Todd Rucci are healthy?

B: Let me answer the second question first I don't know what is going to happen. I don't know what is going to happen two weeks from now, six weeks from now or a year from now, I really don't. All I know is that those three guys (Damien) Woody, Andruzzi and Isaia that is the best it has looked all year, that's the best that it has looked all year. I don't think we can do any better than that right now and I think that hopefully it will continue to improve. This is the first time that we have had three guys at those three positions for two consecutive weeks going all the way back to training camp. Hopefully that situation will continue to improve and where will they be I don't know in two weeks, in two months or in two years, I really am not sure, but it is the best we've got right now. I am seeing some improvement I think there are some positive things hopefully it will continue to go in that direction. Whatever anybody else can do we will evaluate that against what they've done.

Q: In Isaia's case he didn't play for three years?

B: Sale, when he came to us in Cleveland he had a background as a defensive lineman, I think he played offense for one year and he was on the practice squad all year. He was a long way from being an offensive lineman at that point, but what you did see was a lot of strength, good balance, toughness and a smart kid. Kirk Ferentz was his line coach in Cleveland and also when he went to Baltimore. Kirk is a really good line coach and I know that he imparted a lot of knowledge into Sale and Sale worked hard and he was in position to start two times in two different years and he got injured. Obviously that was a concern, but in bringing him in here and looking at him physically, of course he played in the World League and then he played the whole training camp in Oakland this year and didn't have any problem and didn't miss any time. So when we brought him in here we wanted to evaluate his injuries and there was no problem. He had them and they are healed and they don't seem to be limiting him, so why he didn't start for a couple of those years is obviously because he had a legitimate injuries. He had a torn Achilles, it was legitimate. Now he has an opportunity and I know that he is working hard to try to take advantage of that opportunity and he has been in that same position a couple other times. It is not because he is not a good football player, I think it is because unfortunately he had an injury at the wrong time.

Q: What about Andruzzi?

B: Andruzzi is a guy that is a local guy. Scott (Pioli) and I kind of go back to when he was coming out of Southern as a free agent and he ended up going to Green Bay. He started out there and then he got hurt last year came back and then this year obviously they released him, but he is another guy who has got more experience then Sale does, but he is a big, stout, tough guy and pretty smart. Scott is from Central Connecticut and Joe is from Southern Connecticut and there is a little bit of a rivalry between Southern and Central academically and athletically so I will leave that one alone, you can fill it in from there. But anyway Joe has got some experience and watching him play in Green Bay he looked certainly better this year than he looked at the end of last year when he was coming back off a knee. He has been able to step in there in a couple of weeks and do a good solid job. So I think that as he and Damien and Sale work together I am optimistic that those three positions will continue to improve as they have the last couple of weeks, and like I said it is the best that we have had since the beginning of training camp. Hopefully it will continue to get better.

Q: In terms of what you have seen in the first three weeks and some of the mistakes that you have talked about is this going to take longer than maybe you had thought coming into this situation to get this thing turned around?

B: I don't have any timeframe. It's day-to-day and I have been talking to our team about this for a couple of weeks, well really since the beginning of training camp, but particularly in the last couple of weeks given the results of these games, we need to work to get better every day. We need to continue to improve and work on the areas that are not up to the standard that they need to be at. I think we've showed these first three weeks we've played three pretty good football teams, it's been three pretty competitive games, a few plays here and there we weren't able to make them there is obviously a gap, but we need to close that gap. The only way I know how to do it is to identify the problem, emphasize it to the players, work on it on the practice field and then hope that those results show up in the game. Now obviously from week to week there are going to be a couple of new situations that somehow or another are going to come up and that maybe you have talked about or you have covered, but you haven't had them in live game situations and you may not react to them quite as well as you need to, but you better learn how to do that in a hurry or that will catch up with you too. I don't have any timeframe. I don't think that our record necessarily has to be what it is right now. I think that we had the opportunity to make it better than what it is right now, but we didn't and we are going to work hard to try and improve it from here on out.

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            **Q: Getting back to the guard situation, where does that leave Max Lane when he becomes available and looking further down the road Todd Rucci?**  

B: If they get out there and perform it's easy. I think that is one of the easiest things to do in coaching, put players out there, let them play and decide who plays better. It's in the players' hand, their performance establishes it and that is the only way that I really can do it. I can't go on what happened two years ago, what happened four years ago, or anything else. Both Todd and Max are limited in a certain way right now because of their physical situation and that is what it is and there is nothing any of us, but the man up above can do anything about that. It is the natural healing process and that's what it is so once that becomes better than the evaluation will become clear, but right now it is not apples and apples.

Q: In Todd's case he has been the starter here for many years is that his job when he comes back or does he still have to earn that?

B: He hasn't practiced one play all year.

Q: Before settling on Sale and Andruzzi you had been shuffling guys in and out to try and find the right combination, did that in any way effect your strategy in the passing game to this point?

B: Has it effected the game plan running and passing, yes absolutely because the lack of experience at those two positions, not individually as a player, but collectively as a group there is only so many things you can get ready for any game. Whatever experience level you are at there are only so many things you can get ready for a game and if you don't have a lot of experience in whatever the position is whether it is the secondary, the offensive line, or the linebackers whatever it is, then that is going to limit how many things you can do in that group or you are just asking for trouble. We want to try to do the things that we feel confident in and that the players feel confident in and that has built a little bit further up each week. Initially when you start with a new player, particularly in this case where it was really two new players, or a mixture of players in those positions then I think you definitely have to measure your steps as you go and not try to just assume that everything is going to fall into place when you have never even done it before, it definitely effected it.

Q: How do you feel about the rookies' development to this point in the season?

B: As a group, not bad, not bad. I think every rookie on our team has made significant progress from where they started. One hasn't really been on the field yet so it is hard to measure where he is, but I think he has made progress too though even though he hasn't played, but the rest of them I think have made significant progress. I think that like any rookie they have a ways to go. I think that we are headed in the right direction with that group of players. I think that collectively they have worked hard, they've improved, they are able to grasp what we are doing and right now at this time they all have somebody ahead of them. Guys that either have more experience or at this point in time are just ahead of them, but I see that gap closing, I definitely see it closing and I am sure that at some point it will probably change.

Q: Have any of them exceeded your initial expectations?

B: That's really a tough question because the timeframe that you look at again changes. For example you take a rookie and go out the first week of training camp and the guy looks great and by the fourth week of training camp it's not that great it's just okay. Or you look at a guy the first week of training camp and it is just okay you think, 'Maybe I have blown it on this one.' But four weeks into camp and you start to see that there is some consistency, he's starting to build up some credibility and you build up confidence in him. It is tough to pick out, like right now to say, 'Okay this guy is ahead of where I thought he would be or that guy is behind where we thought he would be', because it is hard to put a timeframe on the rookies. It is hard to say, 'Well they will be here in week one and here in week two and here in week twelve.' To me what I am looking for is initially wherever they are, wherever they come in at the first week or so you see where that level is and then you try to see where the trend is. Is it here, is it here or is it here and as long as it is here then you pretty much want to keep working with him. Once it goes the other way then you have to decide, 'Is there something that we need to do to correct that or is that the way it is going to go?' If that is the way it is going to go then that's not good for a rookie or for any player. As long as they are moving in this direction I think you would want to continue to provide them with opportunities and give them more and see how much more they can learn and what they can do with it.

Q: How do you handle the teams psyche right now being 0-3 and how do you keep from getting down on yourself?

B: What I talked to the team about this week is just strictly what we need to do to beat Miami. Obviously our record is important don't get me wrong, but I think in terms of preparation for a game from Monday to Sunday it maybe effects it a little bit in the background, but I think that you have to put that aside whether you are 0-3, 3-0, 10-1, 1-10 and focus on what you have to do in the immediate future because that is all you can control. You can't control what happened in the last three weeks and you are not going to be able to control what happens in the next twelve weeks. The only thing you can really do anything about right now is the Miami game. That is what I have tried to emphasize this week and I think that is what the players mind should be on, not what happened the last three weeks and not what's going to happen the next twelve weeks because we can't do anything about either one of those situations.

Q: What is the trend with J.R. Redmond, up or down, will we get to see him Sunday?

B: Every week what we will try to do is pick out the players and activate the players that we think will give us the best opportunity to win and as I have told the players every week is different. The opponent is different, our game plan may alter a little bit and we will take the players that we think will give us the best opportunity to win. What each player needs to do is establish a role for himself on the team. Anytime a player can establish a role. A solid role then it is very hard to replace that player regardless of what that role is. If it's a role on third down, if it's a role on coverage teams, if it's role as a returner, once a guy establishes a spot and you have confidence in him, the team has confidence in him and he is good at that role, it is hard to get somebody better once he has established that. It is up to each player to establish a role for himself and each guy is different and the sooner that a player can do that then the more opportunity we are going to have to use him and the more opportunity he may have to contribute in something other than that role, but that is the role that initially gets him active. If a player can't establish that role then as a coach you are sitting there saying, 'All right if we activate this player and bring him to the game what is he going to do? He is not involved in the third down defense. He's not involved in the goal line defense. He is a backup on the coverage teams and he is not involved in the return team what is he going to do this week?' It is just insurance. You would only play him if something else happened. Then you would think of another player and you say, 'We would play him on third down and we would play him to return kicks.' Well that's a role, so immediately your magnet is going to go towards that player and you say, 'This is a guy that we know is going to do this and we know that he is going to do that and then he could also backup somewhere else if something else happened.' Great then that guy has a role. He has something that is established and that you want to use him for and that's how they get to the game. Each week it is eight guys. One quarterback is going to be inactive. We have four quarterbacks, so one quarterback is going to be inactive and then there is going to be a third quarterback and then it is the other six guys are the guys that have the best role for the team not including injuries. For example last week Larry (Whigham) wasn't able to play so there was no decision whether to activate him or not, he couldn't play. There are going to be a couple of those maybe in a given week, but aside from that then the other players are all fighting for those active spots and it just depends on what they can create, what they can bring to the table, what they can do in that game.

Q: Miami hasn't lost a home game in September since 1993 that suggests the south Florida weather, is that something that you talked to your team about this week and is that a factor?

B: We have gotten a couple of warm days out here, we tried to turn the temp up a little bit for practice, no we don't have too much control there. I think hydration is an issue. I think your conditioning is what it is. You can't create 100-degree days here this week even if you wanted to. Your conditioning is what it is, but then beyond that it becomes really a hydration issue. Obviously what you want to do is have your body as full of fuel and liquid and those types of things so that you don't run down quicker than somebody who is use to participating in those conditions that their body is acclimated to it. I think that is what we have tried to emphasize for this week both our nutrition and Mike (Woick), with the weight coach and I have done that and I think that is the biggest thing we can do. We can't make it any hotter than what it is.

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