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Replay: Best of Radio Thu Apr 11 - 02:00 PM | Tue Apr 16 - 11:55 AM

Bill Belichick Conf. Call Transcript 8/17/04

Belichick on Jennings: I went down and watched Berlin practice ... and then when they made their cuts, Michael was released so we signed him and he went into our offseason program.



BB: What are you working on today?

Q: Is [Dana] Stubblefield here?

BB: He is.

Q: He hasn't been out there the past couple of days.

BB: He has a sore leg. Hopefully he will be back out there soon.

Q: Could you go over how you found Michael Jennings?

BB: He was with Berlin in Europe. We heard a lot of reports about his speed and in talking to Ro [Davey] he said, 'We have a real fast receiver down here. This guy is about as fast as anybody I have thrown to.' I went down and watched Berlin practice maybe the first week of March, late February/early March, I can't remember when it was. I watched practice and then when they made their cuts, Michael was released so we signed him and he went into our offseason program. Here he is.

Q: How raw is he?

BB: Pretty raw. He didn't really play football. He was a track guy. Again, different, but Stephen Neal-ish.

Q: Do you know why he was released from Europe?

BB: A lot of players are allocated and so if the number of players are high on the allocations, that eats up a lot of spots.

Q: Did that work out better for you almost that he was able to get here and get into the spring program?

BB: I think he is probably one of those guys where either one would have been beneficial to him. In the end, it was fine because he did come here and he learned some things and now he is getting some playing time. He would have had more playing time if he had gone to Europe but would have had less time in our system. He is the kind of kid that needs both.

Q: How would you assess training camp for Justin Kurpeikis?

BB: Justin started in the offseason so I think that he had a good foundation going into the offseason both conditioning and strength-wise but also technique-wise. He spent a lot of time with Coach [Dean] Pees and Pepper [Johnson] on his pass rush and his linebacker techniques through the spring camps. I think that he was pretty well prepared coming into camp. I think that he has gotten off to a good start. With Willie [McGinest] and Rosie [Colvin] not getting all of their turns earlier in camp, he got more reps and took advantage of them. I thought he played pretty well Friday night against the Eagles. I think that he has done well with his opportunities and he will continue to get more of them.

Q: How do the linebackers look out there as camp comes to a close?

BB: I think it is a competitive spot. We will see how it shapes up as we go down the road here. I think we have good competition at outside linebacker and we have good competition at inside linebacker both with our veteran guys and some of our younger players and some competition in the kicking game as well. Guys like Larry [Izzo] and Don [Davis] and Justin and people like that who are pushing them.

Q: Is there a good mix with the veterans and the younger players?

BB: Sure. I think that is kind of what you would like to have at every position. You would like to have some veteran experience, some guys that are kind of right there in the prime of their career, then some younger players to keep that cycle going. It is hard to keep that smooth cycle at all of the positions. Sometimes you end up with a different balance than that. In the end, you put the best players out there for your team. In an ideal world, you would like to have that kind of flow so you have new people coming in and experience at the position.

Q: How is Colvin doing?

BB: Rosie is doing fine.

Q: Do you expect him to play on Saturday?

BB: It is possible. He played last week, so I would imagine he would play this week, yes.

Q: Quinn Dorsey, can you go through his history and how he is doing?

BB: Quinn played defensive end in college so we are converting him to outside linebacker like, really, all of our outside linebackers do. He missed the spring camps because of the rule about the completion of the college graduation dates which his were later and he didn't get a lot of time in our spring camps. He was a little bit behind but I thought that he came to camp in good condition. He has lost a little bit of weight from what he played in college because he played down there and now he is on his feet. He still has a big frame and probably is in the 255 range, somewhere in there. He has shown up in the pass rush. He has shown up in the special teams coverage. He is a big guy out there that can set the edge and be competitive against the tight ends in the running game. I think he has come along. He kind of fits a similar profile of the other outside linebackers, McGinest, [Mike] Vrabel, Colvin, [Tully] Banta-Cain, [Matt] Chatham, all of those guys that really played down and have been converted, even Justin now, to standing up now.

Q: Do those guys that have experience playing with their hand on the ground have a big advantage coming in here?

BB: No, I don't think that have any advantage at all. It is a disadvantage that they have that they have to adapt to. Guys like McGinest played some on his feet in college and even before I got here. Guys that have played exclusively with their hand on the ground, that is a big adjustments when you stand up and play on your feet and play further away and have more people that have angles to block you than when you are on the ground, it is only one or two guys that can really get to you. The coverage aspect of it, that is the big difference. Formations and coverage. That is a lot to see and a lot to handle and the defensive linemen don't have to do that. They usually get their calls from the linebackers. If there is an adjustment to be made on the front, the linebacker makes it, either slants them or shifts the line over. That is not something they have to worry about. But when you are linebacker, then you have communication with the linemen and you have to make decisions and recognize things and there are more adjustment responsibilities than there are at the defensive line.

Q: If it is a disadvantage, what give you the confidence that you can convert guys?

BB: Where else are you going to get them? That is what they play in college. You look at guys in college that are 6'3-6'4, 250-255, they are playing down. They are not playing on their feet. The guys that are on the field, are more on the undersized linebackers. The bigger linebackers, they don't last too long. Even some of the ones that went high this year in the draft, they just don't fit that profile, the 6'3-6'4, 250-260 range. Those guys are not playing on their feet in college. Yes, it would be great if they were but where are they?

Q: Do you find that in signing rookie free agents that the other teams like Baltimore that play the 3-4, that is who you are kind of competing with for them?

BB: Sometimes. It depends on how the other teams see the player. But each team has to really find a position for the player and it is not always that easy. If it is a natural fit, if he plays the same position in college that you want him to play in your system, then that is easy. Like Ty Warren. Ty Warren played 3-4 end at [Texas] A&M, he is playing 3-4 end for us. That is an easy one to envision. Guys that play a different system in college then you have to project where they are going to play for you. [Dan] Klecko is a good example. Our outside linebackers are all good examples of people who played at a different position in college and those guys just couldn't play defensive end for us. They are not 290. They are not 300 pounds and they just can't play that spot. So, you have to find somewhere else for them, either outside or inside. In the end sometimes, it is just not a fit. He is a good player, but he just doesn't really fit in our system. What are you going to do with him? He will end up going somewhere else that has a system that his skills will fit better in to and I am sure that those teams will find them. But that is why you see some of those waiver wire transactions at the end of training camp and guys that don't make it with one team and then make it with another team. It is not that they are not good players, it is just they are a better fit in a different system.

**Q: Is Greg Spires a good example of a player who wasn't a good fit here?A: Well, Greg is a little bit of that gray area. He's a little short as a 4-3 end. He's a little big for an outside linebacker. He's too small to play 3-4 end, but he can rush the passer, he's got a good motor and he's strong and he's tough. He has a lot of qualities that are good and that will keep him in the league. You just have to find the right fit for him.

**Q: What do you look for in a defensive end coming out of college?A: Number one, he has to be athletic enough to have the coverage responsibilities. You don't want really want to be dropping really a defensive lineman into coverage. You need a guy with linebacker-type athleticism. That's one thing. The intelligence and the ability to handle multiple responsibilities both in terms of formation adjustments and coverage, I think you're looking for a guy who has that kind of football instinctiveness or intelligence that you feel comfortable with him doing that and he could pick it up. You're looking for a guy who is going to have to have some skill in the kicking game. It's hard to have linebackers on your team that don't have some skill in the kicking game unless they are starting players, that's a different story, and you're getting a lot of defensive production from them. If you're talking about the free agent or the later draft choice-type guys, if they can't play in the kicking game, then how are they going to be on the team? They're playing behind somebody else on defense. They're not playing in the kicking game, what are you going to do with them? Special teams, athleticism and the ability to play a coverage and adjustment game, not just a hand on the ground game and go one direction. I think that is what you have to look for, and sometimes it's hard to find. A lot of these college teams now that are doing a lot of zone blitzing, which is pretty popular in college, you can see the defensive ends dropping out into coverage and you get some type of evaluation on how they deal with that type of thing.

Q: Do you try to go for those guys who have played the zone blitz in college?

BB: Well sometimes you can see it and sometimes you can't. If you can see it, then that helps you in your evaluation, if you can't, that wouldn't rule it out, but you put them through drills in the spring and work them out and see what kind of athleticism you think they have. Sometimes guys like that, depending on their college situation, might have been in a different system earlier in their career. So, if the guy is in college for four or five years, maybe they changed coordinators or changed coaches or something like that, sometimes you might go back a year or two and see them playing a different position or more of an on-your-feet position depending on their scheme.

Q: How is Rohan Davey doing and what sparked you to bring in more competition?

BB: Well I think the thing that helped Rohan was getting the game experience in Europe. Rohan's quarterback skills I don't think have really ever been a question around here, he just hasn't had a lot of playing experience other than in a few preseason games, and the only way to get him game experience is to get him in a game. You can do all the passing camps you want and all that and they are good, but it is not the same as playing in the games, it is not the same as getting hit and those are all things that he experienced. Jim [Miller] is a guy who has won a lot of games and has played a lot of high-level, quality NFL football. He is in rehab and isn't quite ready to go yet, so we'll see how that plays out once he is out on the field. Kilff [Kingsbury] has improved in his second year. There is no question that he is a lot better than he was last year, as most players in their second year are. Again, any time a player is improving, then you want to continue with the player and see where you think that is going to lead to. Once it plateaus and levels off then you have to decide whether or not you are happy with the player at that point. But, as long as it is moving forward and the guy is getting better, then you are encouraged to think that it will continue at that pace and eventually he will be able to contribute more than he has in the past.

Q: Tom Brady plays a lot—are you the type of guy who needs a clear-cut number two going into the season, or is that something that will change week to week and month to month?

BB: Well I think that everybody wants to have a good number two quarterback. If anything happens to your first guy, you want to be able to win with your second guy, whoever that is. If anything happens to the second guy, then you want to be able to win with your third guy. There is no question, that is what the goal is. That is what you are looking for. How that plays out and how experienced that player is and so forth, that varies from team to team and each situation is different. We don't want anything to happen to Tom [Brady], but at the same time, we have to be prepared in case something does.

Q: Do you have a clear-cut number one receiver?

BB: I think Tom [Brady] tries to throw it to the guy who is open, and whoever that is, it is. And that is the way our passing game is designed, to try to get the ball to the open receiver based on the way the coverage works. We don't really have many plays, other than a screen, where the ball has to go to a designated guy, for the most part. Otherwise, the quarterback reads the coverage and tries to throw to the area of the coverage where it is the weakest, and our receivers at that point have to do two things—get open and catch the ball, whether it is man or zone or whatever it is. But that is where the reads take him and that is where the ball should go. It is not 'go back on this play and look for this guy or go back on that play and look for that guy'. On a certain coverage, that is where we are going to be looking. On a different coverage, we are going to be looking somewhere else.B: Does it make it more difficult for you to decide who to keep?**

BB: I think we have good competition at the receiver position, and how that will work itself out, in part, depends on how the receivers perform and it also depends in part on how the rest of the team is formulated and where an extra roster spot may or may not be available. And a lot of that will depend on the kicking game. They are all inter-related and to be honest with you, I don't really know how that is going to turn out. That is why we keep practicing and that is why we play the preseason games, and those evaluations in the end will be decided on the field by how the players perform.

Q: Have you noticed an improvement in Kliff Kingsbury and the number of reps he has been able to take?

BB: Well, the opportunities for the third quarterback are diminishing as we go forward because the priority is number one and then number two. I don't think he has necessarily gotten more reps, but the reps that he does get are reps that just go to one player rather than being split between two. In absolute terms, he is probably not getting any more than he did before, but if there were somebody else here he would be getting even fewer. So, that is really the way it breaks down. Look, a third quarterback has to be ready at any time. There is no way that you can go into a game and say 'here is where you are going to play and here is what the situation is', so that is something that Kliff, or whether it was Rohan when it was him, or whoever it is, that is a situation they are just going to have to be able to deal with, and when it comes up they are going to have to be able to react to it. If they go in the game, it will be relatively unexpected, there probably won't be a lot of preparation and who knows what the situation will be. We could be down by 10, the score to be tied, who knows. Whatever it is, they are going to have to deal with it at that point, so when we put them in at practice, or even if we put them into a preseason game, like I told Kliff, 'you better be ready to go at any time—I don't know when I am going to put you in and you don't know either'. I'm not going sit here and say 'well, you are going to go in at this point in the game. You'll go in at some point that could be very unexpected, because that is probably the way it is going to happen if you go in during the season'.

Q: Do you look at Chas Gessner or J.J. Stokes and think that you would like to have at least one of them for a large target?

BB: If they are good enough, sure, if they are good enough. But it is based on production. Again, for a receiver it comes down to two things—he has to get open and catch the ball. So, if he is able to do that, regardless of what his height, weight, vertical jump, bench press, body fat or anything else is, if he can do those two things, get open and catch the ball, then you are probably going to be happy with him, and he is probably going to be a good receiver. If he can't do those two things, if he can't do either one of those two things above average or on a consistent basis, then you are going to try to find somebody that can do both of them. That is really what is comes down to. Whether guys get open with their size, their speed, their quickness, their route-running skill, whatever it is, if the guy is open when the quarterback is throwing it, great, if he is not, it is problem. It is a problem in the passing game because sooner or later you have to come back to receivers, they are going to have to beat man coverage, and if they are not open, you are not going to be able to complete the pass and that is the bottom line **

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