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Bill Belichick Conf. Call Transcript 8/14/04

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BB: In going through the tapes this morning, I think that this is a step in our process. We are certainly far from perfect. We have a lot of things we need to work on. There were some good things. We got to look at a lot of people. I like the attitude that the team played with. I thought they were physical. I thought they were aggressive. I think they tried to do things the way we worked on them and use the techniques that we have been working on in training camp. Like I said, we have a long way to go. We have a lot of things we have to get ironed out. I think there was an effort level and a performance level that we can build on and correct and hopefully get better in the succeeding practice opportunities and the future preseason games where we can improve in some of those areas. It was nice to see some people back out on the field that haven't been out there for a while. It was good to look at some of our younger players. There were a lot of people that didn't play in the game and hopefully we will have some of those people available to us either this week in practice or later in the week and we will see where they are closer to game time. I don't really have any update on that now but I think that everybody is coming along. We got some guys back last week. I think that everybody is coming along and improving and hopefully they will be closer and will be able to participate this week. That is where we are. There is nothing big that happened last night. [There were] some bumps and bruises. We will assess that and see what we have on the practice field when we go out there tomorrow. That is it.

Q: What were your impressions of David Patten?

BB: David had a nice camp. He made a couple of good plays in the game last night. He is one of the guys that I was talking about. It was good to see him back out there. It was good to see him playing like we know David can play. Again, there are still a number of things that he needs to work on but he showed up productively. I think that his skills that he has shown through training camp are there. He runs well. He has good quickness. He can make some people miss when he has the ball in his hands. He did that on the kickoff return. It is good to have him out there. It was good to see him in a Patriots jersey and be able to participate, not just stand there and cheer us on.

Q: How did the team tackle last night as far as technique goes? Did they tackle well?

BB: It was okay. I don't think it was anything great. We have a lot of work to do. We had several times where we missed guys right on the sideline and let them cut back a couple of times on kick return. Those are the kind of situations where the sideline is pretty close and by taking the proper angle and keeping a good leverage on the runner you can use that sideline and be pretty sure to bring him down to keep the gain to what it is. You have him right there. A couple of times we lost that. We didn't maintain that leverage or we over-ran it. I thought at times, for the most part, the tackling was okay. There are certainly a lot of things for us to work on. The more space that the runners have and the more opportunity they have to get away from the tackler, then the harder it is tackle them, then the better fundamentally you have to be, then the better you have to use your leverage. It is easier to tackle a guy when he has his back turned to you and he is catching the ball and he doesn't see it coming. It is a lot harder when they face you up and have some space to work in. We had a little trouble with that with their returners and their backs.

Q: Philadelphia did get two returns on you last night. Is that traditionally the last part to really come together for a team?

BB: I think it is all a process of coming together. I don't think, certainly in our case, I can't speak for the other teams, we talk about putting the punt team together or the kickoff return team together, whatever it is, just like we talk about putting together any offensive or defensive unit, the dime group, whatever it is. We talk about those all at the same time. Not, 'Let's wait and see how this shapes up,' because the special teams affects our offensive and defensive units and vice versa. They are all definitely related. There is an inter-play there and players create value to the teams, they don't just create it for one unit. I think it is important in our staff meetings that the offensive and defensive coaches know what the players role is in the kicking game and is important or lack of importance to the kicking game so that it is not assumed and ultimately misunderstood that we clearly express what the players role is in each phase of the game and everybody understands that. Hopefully, your special teams can come together just like you are trying to bring your other two units together.

Q: Do you have any updates on Benjamin Watson?

BB: I don't have an update, no. How about you?

Q: No, nothing right now.

BB: Okay.

Q: How did Chas Gessner do last night? He has had a pretty decent camp thus far.

BB: I thought that Chas helped himself last night. In the second half we didn't have a tight end, so we played primarily three wide receivers and he was the inside receiver functioning sort of like a tight end would and he was involved in a lot of blocking in the running game. We ran the ball quite a bit last night, overall 38 times. In the second half, he was involved in the point of attack in a lot of those running plays, as I am sure you noticed him. [He was] coming in blocking on linebackers, cracking on safeties and that kind of thing, plus as you mentioned, he was rushing the punter and involved in a little bit of coverage as well. I thought that his toughness, he tried to play with his size and his strength and play big like a physical receiver does. I thought he really helped himself in those areas. He showed good toughness and good competitiveness and made a nice catch on that scramble.

Q: Is he a decent player on special teams because obviously that is the way anybody has got to make the team if they are not going to be a top guy?

BB: I don't know how you define decent, but I would say, yes, he is decent. I am not sure exactly what that constitutes. There are a couple of different levels of special team players and they are all important. Not everybody does everything, but some guys play on every team and they are good on every team. Some guys only play on only a couple of teams but they are real good on those teams. Some guys play on a lot of teams and they are okay. They are not the impact players that other guys are, but they can play on all of the teams and you need people of fill out those spots. Then you have guys that only play on one or two teams and they are sort of just okay there too. You have to have all of those roles filled. It is a question of whether a guy can take himself from being, 'Okay, he can play on the team,' versus, 'He is really an impact player. He makes a lot of plays on the team,' and therefore you are taking him to the game and you are going to give him a roster spot on Sunday to play because of his productivity on special teams. That is where those guys earn their roster spots. In the other scenario, 'Well if he is there, then we will use him on the punt return team or we will use him on the kickoff team. If he is not there, then we will use somebody else.' That value, just by the verbiage, you can tell that value is a lot different for a guy that, 'Yes, we have to have this guy. He is going to play on all of the teams and he is going to make a bunch of plays and he is going to help us win.' That guy is going to the game.

Q: I know that personnel will change but does the objective really change much for the first preseason game from year-to-year?

BB: Well, I think some of the goals are the same. You want to look at new people, young people, guys that you haven't seen before and you want to see how those personnel groups mix with each other. You also have certain things on your team that you want to look at, the progress of your running game, your passing game, defending it, things like that. There are also things specifically from year-to-year that based on the way camp is going, based on the way your team is starting to formulate, are more of a priority this year than it was last year or vice versa. There is some degree of flexibility depending on what you feel like the needs of your team are as you evaluate them at that particular time for that year.

Q: How did last night's game play out as far as what you were looking to accomplish in your first preseason game?

BB: We saw a lot of people. We played everybody that we could. We got a lot of reps for some of our younger players. We evaluated some scheme things. We have had meetings on those today with the coaching staff. Some things looked better than others. Some things we thought we need to modify a little bit. We also started to get an indication of people working with each other and how some different combinations looked. We will do some different things this week so that we will see some other combinations and then ultimately try to get the people who we think are most effective, that we can most effectively put out there together. We will start grouping them up like that as we wind down in the preseason.

Q: Michael Jennings and Ricky Bryant both caught touchdowns last night. They were both pretty active. How would you assess their camps and their performance last night? Do they fall into that Gessner category where they may have helped themselves last night?

BB: Yes, I think they definitely helped themselves. Jennings and Bryant both showed up in the return game and they showed up as receivers and they have done that through camp. They have been out there. They have gotten a lot of reps. Bryant missed the first couple of days, but once he got straightened out, he has gotten a lot reps. They have gotten a lot of practice opportunities. I think they have improved as players in the last few weeks and they were able to take some of that to the field yesterday and make plays to help us win last night. I really think with guys like that, they kind of fall into the category of they have really helped themselves with their play last night. That is going to get them more looks. It might get them a longer look. If they can continue to improve, they will help themselves even more. If they don't, if that is the best we are going to see and it starts to level off from there, then we need to know that too. That is what we will find out by giving them more opportunities. Some of the guys who played last night, with the time they played in the game, we'll maybe try to move that around a little bit so that we see different types of competition for those guys.

Q: Do you anticipate this receiver spot being one of the toughest decisions that you are going to have to make as cut downs approach just by the way the competition is shaping up?

BB: It could be. That is not going to be for a couple of weeks. I think in the mean time, rather than trying to make a big decision on it, we will keep evaluating it. Usually, those things kind of have a way of taking care of themselves. I do see good competition at the spot and good talent there, but I think that in the end, as long as everybody can participate and we get a good look at everybody, we will be able to make the evaluations and determinations of who is best for our football team. The hard part is if you have a situation where a guy is not out there and then you have to kind of estimate where you think he is or where he will be.

Q: How do you perceive this week in preparation for the game in Cincinnati? It is just about a seven-day layover before the game. When do you start to get into your routine with the season opener around the corner?

BB: Our season routine will begin between Cincinnati and Carolina. That is a full week, Saturday to Saturday and we will take that week just like we do a regular season week moving it forward one day. Tuesday will Wednesday. Wednesday will be Thursday. Thursday will be Friday. Friday will be Saturday and Saturday will be game day on Sunday. We will try to get right on a regular schedule for that game. This week is still going to be a training camp week. Yes, we are preparing for Cincinnati and that is a team that we play during the regular season, so there is some added importance to that preparation, but we are still installing some things. We need to really take some time and emphasize some fundamentals that need a little more attention. In order to do that, we will have to cut back on some of the preparation time that we would normally put into a game in a regular season schedule. We are kind of combining the tail end of training camp this week with a good week of preparation, but it won't be to the same extent that we will prepare next week for Carolina in order to simulate a regular season week.

Q: What did you think of Adrian Klemm's play?

BB: Adrian got a lot of snaps. He played on special teams on the kickoff return and field goal teams. He went up against some pretty good guys over there on the left side and got a lot of playing time. I thought he did some good things. Some things were better than others and there are some mistakes that need to be corrected but you could probably say that about everybody. I thought that he showed up pretty competitively, particularly in pass protection against pretty decent people, so that was a positive.

Q: How about Rohan Davey? Some of the things that he struggled with last night seemed to be setting his feet, completing those short balls. Did you view it that way?

BB: I think that, again, Rohan's performance could be summed up like a lot of other people. He did a lot of good things and there were other things that could have been executed better. He got the team in the end zone. He made some plays both throwing the ball and scrambling. He managed some game situations very well. There were a couple of tough things that came up and he managed them well. There were other things that could have been better. Hopefully he will take last night's experience and build on the positives and the things that, when they come up again that he didn't do as well, he will be able to correct those and improve on them. Again, I don't think I can get too heavy on an evaluation based on a few plays. It is going to have be based on a consistency and on several preseason games here. He will get plenty of opportunities next week and succeeding weeks in the preseason to show his continued improvement and development, which has been consistent since he has been here. He wasn't a finished product when he got here. He is not a finished product now, but he has improved tremendously during that time and hopefully that is where he will continue. It probably will as long as he continues to work hard.

Q: You have some guys who are still out due to injury, does that worry you?

BB: Well, you would like to have everybody out there for all of the practices and all of the games. Realistically, it usually doesn't happen that way. I think that a lot of the people that you are referring to are going to be out there. When exactly that will be? I can't tell you, but I think they are going to be out there. They are making good progress and they are getting close. When we have them, we will look forward to putting them in there. Until then, it will give other people the opportunity to get more reps and for them to improve and show how they fit into it. I would definitely like to have everybody out there. There is no question about it. Until they are ready, they are not ready and the other people will get the turns.

Q: I know he only played a few plays, but if I could ask you about Tom Brady and one play in particular where it appeared he was going down and he still managed to get the pass off to David Patten. Is that a play that might be indicative why he has been so successful?

BB: I thought the play last night was a real good play. He was under a lot of pressures and he did a good job to shrug the rush off and stay on his feet and then stand up there with the defender hanging on him and still make a good throw to Patten for a nice gain. It was an excellent play. Let me put it this way, without going to him, I will just say it about everybody, I think when a player steps on the field in preseason, he is still out there to do his best. He wants to establish his level of performance and he competitively wants to do the best he can in that situation. I think that is what Tom did and I think that is what they all did. I am not saying it was perfect, but I don't think last night the team went out there with anything basically other than that attitude, to try to take the situations as they came and do the best that they could with them. I think that is true for him. I think it is probably true for everybody else too.

Q: Have you ever considered instructing him to unload the ball and not get himself in that situation?

BB: Not put himself in what situation?

Q: Where he should unload the ball before he gets contacted and be more conscience of that than he would in a regular season game?

BB: No, I have never told him that. We try to play the game, every situation, the best way we can play it. So, if it is to get rid of the ball to avoid a loss or avoid a negative play, and that is what we would do in that situation, then I would expect the player to do it in training camp or in preseason. Whatever the situation called for, I want the player to play it that way because that is the way we are going to play the game. Now practice is practice. Preseason games are preseason games and everybody knows what the tempo is. Everybody knows the way the game is going to be officiated and what is legal and what isn't and you play within those rules. I can't really envision doing it any other way. Once you put them out there, you play to that standard and that is how you get better. You just can't sit around and talk about it all year. At some point you have to go out there and experience it in game conditions.

Q: What about Justin Kurpeikis? Is he a kid that helped himself a little bit last night with his performance?

BB: He got a lot snaps in the kicking game, on our regular defense and sub-defense. I think that Justin made a lot of plays. He is a smart player. He has been around a little bit. He has a little bit of experience. I think that he has been able to utilize that and he has picked up things well. He is pretty instinctive and he works very hard. He really worked hard this offseason. I think he has made himself a better football player. He definitely made some plays last night that helped him. You noticed them. We noticed them and it wasn't just on defense. It was in the kicking game as well. That is what players need to do. They need to have those kinds of performances so that you can really see the kind of skill and play making ability that they have

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