New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick addresses the media during his conference call on January 13, 2008.
BB: As I said last night, we're a privileged football team to be in the AFC Championship. That was a tremendous win today by San Diego at Indianapolis. They've beat them twice this year, of course, and [they're a] good football team. [They're] strong in every phase of the game – offense, defense, special teams. We've seen them make a lot of big plays in all three areas of the game while I was watching during the season, as I know all of you have. They're physical. Going out on the road and winning in Indianapolis today I think shows what kind of mental toughness they have. We know we're going to have to play our best game of the year, so we're on that, but on the same note we're excited to play and we're excited to be in the game. It's a privilege to be in it and hopefully we'll be able to go out there and do our best on Sunday against the Chargers.
Q: They had some injuries today. As you prepare for them will that create difficulties for you, not knowing which quarterback or which running backs you're going to have to prepare for?
BB: We'll prepare for everybody and, as we saw today, any number of players could be in the game, so if they're on the 53-man roster, we'll prepare for all of them. Then whichever ones are on the 45-man roster on game day, then we'll focus our preparations on those guys. In the meantime, though, we'll take everybody that's on the roster and we'll prepare for all of them, which is what we do every week, so that's nothing different there.
Q: As for your own team, did you guys come out of yesterday's game fairly injury-free?
BB: We'll see where we are on that. We still have a couple of days here before we start practicing and all of that. We'll see where everybody is on Wednesday when we get back out on the practice field.
Q: Does the fact that you played them so early in the season mitigate whatever preparation you can get from that game?
BB: Well, a lot's happened since then. We'll definitely start all over [on] the preparation with it, just almost like it's a new team, then look back at some of the things we had from back in September, but that was such a long time ago and I think the most important thing for us to focus on is what the Chargers have done in the last couple months. There have a long winning streak. There's plenty of games for us to watch and see how well they're playing and focus on those first. We'll probably reflect back on the earlier game just to put it all in perspective, but we'll put a lot more attention on what they've done recently.
Q: What are your thoughts about [Patriots Director of College Scouting] Tom Dimitroff being the new Falcons GM and what strengths and skills he brings to the position?
BB: Tom's done a good job for us. I've known him a long time, since I was in Cleveland, but right now we're really focused on what our team needs to do going forward against the Chargers in the AFC Championship game. That's where our attention is going to be focused.
Q: How are the Chargers a better team now than they were when you faced them back in September?
BB: I think every team has improved over that amount of time. I can't imagine all of those practices and all of those games and all of those meetings and everything without any team getting better, so I think we've all improved.
Q: How about the Chargers in particular?
BB: What I just said. I'm sure they're better at everything, just like every team is. I mean, how could you not be, after all of that practice and meetings and preparation and game reps on all of that stuff.
Q: What kind of a luxury is it for them that they have a guy like Michael Turner who can step in when LaDainian Tomlinson goes down?
BB: They have a very talented team. I think everybody realizes that. They're good in every phase of the game – they can score, they can play defense, they can return it, they can cover, they're a good pass defense team, they're good against the run, they can run the ball, they can throw it, they have big-play receivers [and] backs. Their skills players are very good, they have a good offensive line, they have outstanding players and outstanding depth. That's why they're in the AFC Championship game. They're a good football team and they've played well. They're well-coached. They deserve to be here.
Q: We've made a lot out of the "revenge factor" and all of that, but given the fact that there was an emotional aspect to last year's game in San Diego and now they're coming out here, the tide has turned a little bit. Is that something you have to keep your players in check a little bit, keep them focused and grounded, or is that just normal procedure?
BB: I mean, both teams are playing for the AFC Championship, so I can't imagine there'd be a game you'd be any more focused and have much more riding on a game than this one. I'm sure everybody will do their best to prepare and coach and play as well as they possibly can in this game. Our whole season's at stake – so is theirs. It's a one-game season. One team moves on, one team goes home, so I don't think anything that's happened in the past has all that much bearing on it. It's going to be whatever team is able to perform the best next Sunday. That's the team that's moving on. We all know that and I think that's plenty right there.
Q: Tom Brady said in his post game remarks 17-0 was nice, but it doesn't mean anything. The only thing that means anything is the game that's coming up. Having lost in this game a year ago, do you think that helps a team that's 17-0 keep its focus on the target?
BB: I think that we put in a lot of hard work and effort, and we've played a lot of football games to get to the exact same point that we were at last year. You just don't play the game that we played in last year and then show up and play another one. You have to earn a lot along the way to get to that point, and we've done that, but all of that work and all of that effort… Whatever we've done to get to this point, now we're at the same point we were at least year. I think the big things is we just understand that, what we have to do going forward. Hopefully we'll be able to do better this time.
Q: Given the size of Vincent Jackson, what potential match-up problems does he pose in the secondary?
BB: There's a lot of match-up problems with San Diego. They have very good receivers, [Chris] Chambers and Jackson, tight ends, backs. We'll have trouble matching up against everybody. They're a very good, very talented team. Jackson's a terrific player. [He's a] big, strong, fast guy, catches the ball well, runs good routes. He'll be tough to cover -- So will all of the other ones.
Q: You guys have played the Chargers in some big games in the last year. Does that help you guys in preparing for these guys, that there is a certain level of familiarity?
BB: Last year was a whole different coaching staff, so I wouldn't worry too much about that game. It's a whole different staff. Like I said earlier, I think the most important games are the ones they've played recently. We'll certainly reflect on our game back in September, but that was a long, long time ago, and last year's game is so far away, again, with different coaches, and the way the schemes match up a little bit differently than last year, I think that game would take on a lot less significance than even the one back in September.
Q: Now that you've had a chance to assess last night's game, how would you assess the play of your secondary and are you at all concerned that teams have been able to throw on you a bit in the last couple months of the season?
BB: I think there were things last night that we could have done better – there's no question about it – in all three phases of the game. There's always room for improvement. That's part of our after the game analysis every week – look at the game, look at the things that we can improve on, correct the mistakes, emphasize some of the things we did well and try to build on those and get ready for the next team. We'll do that this week, just like we do every week, and there are things we can improve on in every area of the game, every phase of the game, in all three phases. You can put whatever you want; that would include everything.