New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick addresses the media during his conference call on January 6, 2008.
BB: We've kind of been spending, I would say of the three possible opponents, most of our time on Jacksonville over the weekend, given the fact that we played Pittsburgh a month ago and then we played Tennessee earlier in the [pre]season. But Jacksonville's one of the best teams in the league, and they have been over the last third to half of the season. They lead the league in scoring and yards per game and defensive yards per game, third down offense, time of possession, pass defense - You name it. They're very good at everything. Special teams - The long kickoff return against Pittsburgh the other night, that was obviously a big play. But they can run it, they can throw it, they don't turn it over, they can stop the run, they can rush the passer, they play good pass defense. They're a sound team, they're big, they're physical, they're well-coached and we had a tough game with them down there last year without Fred Taylor. I think Fred Taylor is one of the best backs in the league. He's a tremendous football player, he's got big speed that, like [Maurice] Jones-Drew, that can take it the distance as well as pound out the tough yardage. [They have] big receivers, big, physical team. We've got a lot to get ready for. They're an outstanding football team and [they're] coming off a big win in Pittsburgh. That's twice they've gone up there. That's something nobody else has done. We have all the respect in the world for Jacksonville and we know we're going to have to give our best, so that's what we're going to try to do. It will be a big challenge for us. These guys are really good and we have a lot of respect for them.
Q: David Garrard has had a good year, with only three interceptions. Last night he threw two. Did you see anything specifically that Pittsburgh was able to do to force him into those?
BB: No. It looked like one was overthrown. We'll take a little closer look at that game tonight and tomorrow, but overall he's had an outstanding year. They're the only team to beat San Diego in the last couple of months. They've played great in the second half of the year. He can kind of throw out that Houston game, but they lost by a field goal to Indy, or whatever it was. They're playing very well. They play well every week. I thought that was obviously a hard-fought game with Pittsburgh, two teams that had played each other just a little while ago. Both teams played hard and played well, but in the end when Jacksonville had to have it, they produced it. They stopped them and they got the ball back and took it down there and put themselves in position to go down and win it. They made the plays you had to make in that close game and that's why they won.
Q: You've faced a lot of quarterbacks with different styles this year, obviously. Is there anyone in particular that Garrard best resembles, someone who's big, who can run, who can throw on the run and kind of does everything?
BB: He looks pretty good to me. All of those things you just described: he's a hard guy to get down in the pocket, throws the ball accurately down the field, intermediate throws. Again, their production on third down, that says a lot right there. Throwing it when you have to throw it, and he can run it when he needs to. The running game, the passing game - That's why they've scored so many points. They've set franchise records in a whole bunch of different categories, or are right there at them in terms of production. People that think of Jacksonville as a conservative, run the ball, tough defense kind of team, they're way past that - way past.
Q: What do you think Jacksonville will try to do defensively to try and contain your offense?
BB: I think, as I said, they're playing the best defense in the league. They've been first in total defense, rushing defense, they have a whole bunch of interceptions, they have great players in the secondary, they're fast. I'm sure that they'll play what they play and they've been doing so well over the last third of the season, last half of the season that I'm sure they have a lot of confidence in whatever they're doing. I imagine they'll keep doing it.
Q: Did you see anything that Pittsburgh did to Taylor last night to keep him in check? As you mentioned, he's a very good back.
BB: I really haven't gotten a very good chance to break that game down yet. It just came in a little while ago, so that's something we'll do. Pittsburgh is an outstanding defense, too, we know that, but again, Jacksonville did whatever they needed to do. They scored whatever it was, 29 points, 31, whatever it was. There's not a lot of people that get that many points on Pittsburgh. They moved the ball, they got it in the end zone [and] they put points on the board - and that's a good defensive football team, we know that.
Q: Do you think they're a lot different team than the one that came up here two years ago?
BB: Yeah, I think they're a different team than we played down there last year, staring with Fred Taylor. We didn't see him last year. That's not to take anything away from Jones-Drew - we had plenty of trouble with him, too -- but you have those two guys, quarterback, receivers, offensive line, defensive. They're a solid team. I think their record speaks for itself. [They're] one of the least-penalized teams in the league. They don't make a lot of mistakes; they make you beat them. They do a good job.
Q: You've spoken about how 16-0 is over and done with and now it's a new season.
Q: Can you take anything from the 16-0 and apply it to your second season now?
BB: No. I think right now - Look, we're starting from scratch with Jacksonville and it doesn't make any difference what our record was. It's irrelevant. It comes down to a one-game season now and we just have to do our best to have a great week of preparation, be as well-prepared as we can possibly be going into this game and play and coach as well as we possibly can. As I said, they're one of the best teams in the league, so I don't think any other game really has much to do with this one.
Q: You said you looked at some film of Jacksonville over the last couple of days. What do you see from Garrard that he has made so few mistakes?
BB: [He] just makes good decisions. He doesn't throw the ball into tight spots. He pulls it down and runs or throws it away, but he has big receivers. Those guys can get open [and] catch the ball. He uses his tight ends and backs well in the passing game. They have a good offensive line - they haven't been sacked very much at all. They're one of the least-sacked teams in the league. I know part of that's the running game, part of it's protection, part of it's the quarterback, part of it's the execution in the passing game, him getting rid of the ball and the receivers getting open and all of that. They do a lot of things well, so they're well-balanced, they execute well and they score a lot of points. He doesn't make very many mistakes and people don't get to him very often. I think it's - Hey, there's plenty of credit to go around. There's a lot of good coaching and execution and playing out there on a consistent basis by Jacksonville. That's why they've scored so many points.
Q: You've spoken about the physicality of teams in the NFC East. When you look at Jacksonville, do they have that same kind of physicality? Are they as physical?
BB: They're a real physical team. Yes, they're very physical. Any team that runs the ball as well as they do and stop the run as well as they do, they're able to do a real good job on the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball.