New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick addresses the media during his conference call on Tuesday, October 6, 2009.
BB: Well, we're digging into Denver now and I'd say that one of the big things for them in the last month is just doing a lot of little things, and of course those make the difference in some close games, like last week or like the opener against Cincinnati. It's all the way across the board - offense, defense, special teams - approaching situations and players making good decisions in tight critical situations, really knowing how to play the situation properly and correctly has made a pretty big difference. Defensively, they're knocking the quarterback down more than anybody in the league, turning the ball over, putting the offense in good field position, putting them on a short field and offensively the Broncos have taken advantage of it. They've played smart, haven't turned the ball over, had a good mix of run [and] pass, and trying to keep you off-balanced, like we know Josh likes to do. Good players out there, they have some good players. [Champ] Bailey's a top player. [Elvis] Dumervil has done a good job rushing the passer. [Ryan] Clady looks like he's as good as any left tackle in the game, to me. They've got some outstanding guys and a lot of real solid football players, too.
Q: The secondary was one area that stood out in the last game, just a lot of options you seem to have there. Can you comment on your thoughts on the secondary this year?
BB: Sure. I think that position's been very competitive all year, all the way back into the spring, in training camp and in preseason games. We played a lot of players back there, and they've all contributed, and we've played a lot of people in the first four games in the secondary both at corner and safety. We've got good depth there, good quality. Those guys compete hard and we're going to keep using them. Maybe that will settle into one particular group, or maybe it won't, I don't know. But we'll just keep letting them play. As long as everybody's playing well and contributing, we'll keep doing that. I think that group's been pretty consistent all the way through. They've given us some plays. I'm not saying it's been perfect back there, but they've given us some plays. They've worked hard, and they communicate well together, and it's been good for the depth of our team.
Q: In one of the critical drives of the game, it looked like Jonathan Wilhite and Darius Butler were out there at corner. Was that part of a pre-planned routine that you would say on the third drive of the second half you were going to put these guys in? How are you managing shuffling to get some players in and out at cornerback?
BB: I think it's been a little bit of both. There have been some situations where somebody's been out for one reason or another. Actually, we had an equipment problem in the game on Sunday that caused a substitution that ended up lasting longer than we thought it would. Sometimes it's just … We get them in the game. I think you're right, that third or fourth series, after you've gone a couple - [you] kind of like to let those guys play a little bit rather than putting them in for a handful of plays and subbing. Let them play for a little bit, then you get somebody else in there and let him kind of watch it from the sideline a little bit, and not get out of the flow of the game. That's kind of the substitution pattern we were in. Then there were other times when there was a situation in the game that dictated some type of substitution; of course that overrides it when you've got to do what you've got to do.
Q: If you could go back to when you were a young coach at the Cleveland Browns and recall what kind of situations or conditions were there regarding having to establish credibility as such a young coach - maybe some players even on the roster who were older - and what Josh McDaniels may have had to go through to establish credibility with his team?
BB: I've never really felt like age was the big factor. I started coaching when I was in my early 20s in different organizations - Baltimore, Detroit, under a couple different head coaches, Denver, Giants. I was still in my 20s when I went to the Giants. I think anytime you go into a new situation, everybody has to establish [and] gain the respect of the other people that are on the new team, whether that's you coming in, or somebody new coming to your team. It's a process that all of us have gone through anytime we've changed jobs, changed schools or whatever. It's the newness and there's the gaining [of] everybody's respect even if you're in the same place under new leadership or [in] a new system. You have to re-establish that more so than if it's a continuation. Age is never a big thing for me, whether it was the head coach of Cleveland or any of those assistant jobs. It was more about doing the job. I feel like the players feel like, as a coach, you can help them, and you know what you're talking about, and you can tell them things that'll make them better, and help prepare them because they want to prepare, they want do well and they want to improve. If you can show them you can do that, then they respect you. If you don't - I'm not saying they're disrespectful - but they don't listen carefully, they're not as attentive because I don't think they feel like they are getting information or the assistance that they're looking for, and what they've been used to getting in the past. That's really what it's about for me.
Q: Was there ever anytime where you gave Josh McDaniels advice about that?
BB: Josh and I talked about a lot of things from a head-coaching perspective during his last year here, from the end of the '07 season to the end of the '08 season. I think we felt like, at that time, there was a pretty good possibility that he would be a head coach. Therefore, falling in line with that, there would be an offensive coordinator situation on this team, so we talked about a lot of those things. We talked about the coordinator position and different things that he went through, and saw, and explained problems, situations to me that - from his perspective - which was very insightful and good. And I talked to him about things that I saw from a head-coaching perspective, regardless of what the team was, that were maybe a little different than being a coordinator. We both asked questions, exchanged information and talked very freely about it. There were a lot of things that came up when we talked for hours and hours about that stuff, going both ways, so it was good.
Q: You've had a time of possession advantage in all four games, how important is that statistic and how do you focus on that?
BB: I don't think we focus on it a whole lot. I don't know how important it is. I think the more important statistic is points. If you possess the ball and don't score - like what happened in the first half of the Jets game - if you don't score enough points, I don't know how much good it really does you. On the other hand, if you don't have the ball very much, but you do score - kind of like the Indianapolis versus Miami game a couple weeks ago, and what the Colts did, they didn't have the ball much, but they got it and scored in a couple plays. That's really what it's all about is getting points, whether it takes two or three plays to do them, or 18 plays to do them. I don't know if there's a great preference for one or the other as long as you get them. Our job offensively, when we go out on the field is to go out and score points. If it happens in one play, that's great. If it happens on a drive, that's good, too.
Q: How did you first come about meeting Josh McDaniels and how did that lead to working with him?
BB: Well, he came here around the end of the 2000 season, and worked in personnel. Then, we moved him down and got involved in breaking down film on the defensive side of the ball. Then, eventually, he went over to work on offense, prior to the 2004 season. Then, when Charlie [Weiss] left, he coached the quarterbacks. That was kind of the progression.