Patriots head coach Bill Belichick addresses the media during his conference call, on Monday, January 3, 2011.
BB: Well, when we left here last night we were 14-2 and I think this morning, we're 0-0. We don't know who the next game is, but we know that whoever it is will be a team that wins this coming weekend, which means they'll be a very good team to win in that Wild Card round of the playoffs. I think right now, the most important thing for us is trying to improve in our own performance and preparation, doing things that we can do to help ourselves. And then once we find out who we're going to play, then we'll be a little more specific. Right now we have to prepare for three teams and then we'll wait until that gets trimmed down at the end of the weekend. So, that's where we're at for today.
Q: Today being the day that Brandon Spikes can come back, what is the corresponding move to create room for him?
BB: We'll have that this afternoon.
Q: Have you talked to Spikes or seen him? Does he look in shape? Has he been productive the last four weeks?
BB: Well, as you know, there are league rules and policy on that, so it's not something we have an option to do.
Q: I just didn't know if you've seen him today.
BB: The players will be in later on this week. That's when they'll be in.
Q: Is there time to self-scout and take a step back with this bye week or is it kind of full speed ahead?
BB: Yeah, really that's what I was trying to say is that we need to take a look at some of things that we're doing that we can improve on and then once we find out who we can specifically tailor that to, then we'll do that. But, in the meantime, there're certainly a lot of things that we can do a better job of and we need to address those regardless of who we play.
Q: How will you be spending this week? Will you be spending more time studying Kansas City because you've already played the other two possible opponents?
BB: Let me try to rephrase this. We're going to spend these next few days working on things that we feel we need to work on, regardless of who we play. There're certainly a lot of things that we can improve on and do a better job of technique-wise, assignment-wise and our overall execution. We'll do our preparation on the three teams that we could possibly play, but we won't know which one that is until after this weekend's games. So, until we can specifically tailor those improvement and adjustments and corrections to a particular team, we'll just have to do it on a generic basis to try and help ourselves get better for whomever that next opponent happens to be.
Q: What did you think of the special teams in general yesterday and specifically the blocking on Julian Edelman's punt return?
BB: I thought overall it was inconsistent. I thought we covered well other than the last kickoff where we let them bounce outside to the 40-yard line. Our return game was inconsistent. Kickoff return, we only had one chance but it wasn't very good. Our punt return, we had a big play there, but I think it was great blocking. I mean, it was okay. Julian did a good job of making a couple of guys miss, but we didn't exactly have them all blocked. So, I think there is still some room for improvement. Our field goal protection and all that operation was fair; it wasn't anything great. So, there are still a lot of things we can work on.
Q: What does it say about the depth you guys have the Edelman can come in and have the type of game he had?
BB: I think we all feel good about Julian and have a lot of confidence in him He's done a good job for us the last two years in the opportunities that he's had. And he had a good opportunity yesterday and he was productive with it, so that was great.
Q: We saw you use several combinations in the game along the offensive line. If Matt Light went down, would you go with Quinn Ojinnaka at left tackle or would you flip Sebastian Vollmer over?
BB: Well, if that comes up, we'll make a decision that we feel is best for our team at that time, depending on who we're playing and so forth. Part of the evaluation yesterday is to see who could do what. All those guys have done it. [Mark] LeVoir's played over there. Ojinnaka's played over there. Vollmer's played over there, so that's part of keeping everybody… You know, having our depth on our team to have players that can play multiple positions is to keep everybody ready to go there. So, hopefully we'd have some options. I mean, hopefully it won't come to that, but if it did, we'd have a couple options to consider.
Q: What were your thoughts on Taylor Price's first game?
BB: I thought he did some good things. It was really his first chance to play since preseason. I thought he did some good things. [He] caught the ball inside, caught it in some traffic. [There were] some other things that he could have done better, but I thought he showed up and made some positive plays for us.
Q: Was that Kyle Love on kickoff coverage?
BB: I think Kyle was on two kickoffs, yeah.
Q: Was that something that he wanted to do that was sort of quirky like the dropkick or is that something you might do in the future?
BB: I thought he was pretty competitive running down there and covering. Again, you never know when you might need an extra guy.
Q: Do you have a lot of big guys wanting to get on the special teams now after Dan Connolly's return?
BB: No, I don't think it's so much the case of that. We only have so many guys on our team and on special teams, you've really got 66 spots there when you look at all six units and 11 guys a piece. I mean, that's a lot of players just in the kicking game, so you can't have a backup for every position. [There are] just not enough guys. Somewhere along the line you have to practice people that in an emergency have to go in there and play. Again, yesterday we were fortunate to have a few kickoffs and we were able to put Kyle in there and take a look in a game situation and let him do one of things that he's done in practice.
Q: How do you feel Brian Hoyer responded when you put him in during the first half in that sudden situation?
BB: Some good things, some things he could have done better.
Q: Is that the evaluation of his play for the entire game or just that specific situation? Do you think he did better in the second half?
BB: Well, in the first half, he was only in for a handful of plays. [In] the second half he had an opportunity to play more, but yeah, I'd say overall that that'd be true for the whole. He did a lot of good things. He handled himself and the team well in a lot of situations. There were a couple things that he definitely could do better. I'm sure he's aware of some of those. Other ones are maybe more subtle and we'll point those out to him. [It's] no different than any other player really.
Q: This is a tough day around the league for a lot of guys with coaches getting fired and staff changing. Do you take any time to reflect on that?
BB: Yeah, unfortunately that's kind of the way it is in the National Football League these days. A lot of coaches didn't even make it through the season. One year they're in the Super Bowl, the next year they're out of a job. We've seen that over the last five, six years: a lot of great coaches getting fired at the end of the season or a lot of guys not in football that when you start to look at Super Bowl coaches and Super Bowl champion coaches and coaches without outstanding records and multiple division championships and so forth, that aren't coaching a team at the end of the year, you can put together a pretty impressive list. So, I think that's kind of the nature of the National Football League right now. To me, it's an unfortunate commentary on it, but you'd have to ask the people that are doing the hiring and firing about that.
Q: Is it too early to tell if what kept Danny Woodhead out of the game yesterday will keep him out of a playoff game?
BB: Well, like we always do, we'll bring the players in on Wednesday and we'll go from there.
Q: The team seems to have really bought into the thought that there is always room for improvement. How difficult of a sell has that been this year for these guys?
BB: One thing I'll say about this team is they've been pretty consistent. [They] come to work every day, want to improve [and] want to get better. I think that's a great attitude and a great approach to have. I think, really, all of us should be that way. We all come in [and] there're certainly things we can all do better. Once you recognize and identify what those are, then you take the next step and figure out what you need to do to correct the situation or improve it and then you work at it. And then, generally, eventually, what will happen is it will improve; it will get better. I think our players, for the most part, have done a good job of taking constructive criticism. More importantly, trying to do something about it and trying to improve it. I think we've seen positive results both on the practice fields and in the games. That hard work and those corrections have resulted in a better performance. When that's the case, it usually makes it a lot easier to do it the next time. It reinforces the whole process. That's what we all need to do. We need to continue to coach better, to game plan better, to practice better [and] to play better. The next game we play will be the toughest game of the year. We know that. Whatever we did in the past, whatever it was or wasn't, it needs to be better, it needs to be our best. We're going to get our toughest competition in our next game. So, I think that's what we're all pointing for and however we can improve our performance between now and then, I think all of us should do whatever we can to address that and improve it. That's our commitment to each other. That's our commitment to the team. I'd say overall the players have done a good job of that over the season. Again, it's no different for the coaching staff. There are certainly a lot of things we can do better. I mean, I know I can do a better job of coaching in certain areas and I'm sure that goes for the rest of the staff. We have to work harder to make sure that we do as good a job as we can do to prepare and coach the players so that they can do their jobs.