New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick addresses the media during his conference call on Tuesday, October 13, 2009.
BB: Tennessee is one of the most talented teams that we've seen in awhile. I know what their record is. But as far as what we have to prepare for, the team that we're seeing, their coaching staff, their scheme and the players - they're very good. [There's] no real doubt about how they won 13 games last season. They're really good across the board. They're a tough team. They're very physical. They can run the ball. They can stop the run. They are averaging over five yards per carry and giving up less than three, so they do a great job on the line of scrimmage - on both sides of the ball. They're an explosive team. [They get] a lot of big plays from Chris Johnson, and in the passing game with Kerry Collins, and his group of receivers and tight ends. All of that's behind a very good offensive line. Defensively, they're - as I said, in the running game - outstanding, very disruptive. [They] have some very experienced guys in the secondary, big-play guys: [Cortland] Finnegan, [Michael] Griffin, [Chris] Hope and players like that. [They have a] good kicker, good coverage teams. [They are] a lot to get ready for, a very talented team, a team that I have a lot of respect for - Jeff [Fisher], and the job that they do down there. I'm sure it will be a physical game like it always is against them. They are certainly tough on the line of scrimmage.
Q: How odd is it to see the Titans with a 0-5 record like this?
BB: Well, they've lost a couple close games. They had a couple fumbles against the Jets when they had the lead there. [They] lost a close game to Houston, lost a close game to Pittsburgh, played Indianapolis - until the last minute of the first half it was 14-9 - they missed a couple chances down there in the red area. We know that's the way it is in this league, a few plays, a possession, a lot of close games. But that doesn't take away from the quality of their team, and what we have to prepare for, and what they are capable of doing. I am sure that they are working hard to find an answer to win that first game and I'm sure they will be ready to go. That's what we have to prepare for.
Q: What are your thoughts about Jerod Mayo and the way he played on Sunday and what it will mean to have him on the field against a running back like Chris Johnson?
BB: Well, they have a very good running game with Johnson and [LenDale] White. They do a real good job. It's always great to have all of our players back. It's great to have Jerod back. He practiced a little bit last week, toward the end of the week, he felt good and played in the game, so hopefully we'll be able to build on that this week. We'd like to have all of our guys out there - certainly Jerod, our defensive captain. He's done a good job for us and hopefully he'll be able to go this week, too.
Q: Any update on Matt Light?
BB: No, not at this time.
Q: How has Chris Johnson been effective? Is it his speed, the scheme or the way they run the ball?
BB: Both. They have an excellent offensive line, that left side of their line there is very good. But he is very fast. There can't be many teams in the league that can catch him. He's got great vision and speed. And he outruns a lot of people, you don't see that very often, players that consistently outrun everybody, but he can do that. He's a threat to go anywhere when he gets the ball. He'll take it outside, take it up the middle, bounce it, cut it back. And he's got good balance. He breaks a lot of tackles. He's a hard player to get a solid hit on. He's elusive. He has good balance and he can outrun just about everybody. There're a lot of reasons why he's gained a lot of yards. That's what makes him so hard to stop. He has a complete set of skills and he pretty much matches up well against everybody, every team and each individual that's trying to tackle him. He has the quickness, the speed, the balance, or the combination of them, to make it tough on everybody.
Q: Now that Junior Seau's signing with you guys has officially been announced, I'm wondering if you could talk about how he's going to fit in?
BB: We haven't announced anything.
Q: His TV show announced that he signed a contract.
BB: We don't have anything to say about it.
Q: What were your thoughts about Sebastian Vollmer and the way he stepped up in Matt Light's absence?
BB: Well, Vollmer has played a lot for us through the preseason, and even has played in the games here in the regular season. He's gotten work at both tackles. [He's] an athletic kid [with] a real big frame, tall, long arms, strong. And he's done a good job for us on both the left side and the right side. Of course, Nick [Kaczur] has also played left tackle for us in the past. If Vollmer has to play, he's shown that he can play both sides, as has Nick. If that's the way it goes, then we will try to figure out what the best combination is there .But for a rookie he has shown a lot of positive things and has gone up against our guys in practice and in the preseason games. As far as being tough, being smart and playing with pretty good technique, he's still got a lot to learn and has a long way to go. But - for his background and all - he is a pretty accomplished player at his position for a rookie. Again, still has a long way to go, but considering everything, he is probably a lot further along than maybe what we thought he would be when he first got here. He's worked hard and he's continued to improve. He's definitely headed in the right direction.
Q: Is there anything that jumps out at you about the way Kerry Collins has played and how you might attack him?
BB: Well, I think Kerry is very good. He's got a very good arm, can make all the throws. [He] is very accurate; mechanically, he is outstanding. [He] reminds me a lot of [Vinny] Testaverde - a big guy in the pocket, very accurate, put the ball right on the nose 20, 30, 40 yards downfield. [He] has a good touch. He's a guy you have to defend everything with. He's good on the short balls, deep balls, outside throws, inside throws. His accuracy's good. He's not a guy that's looking to run around a lot, but he has scrambled and has made some third-down and red area scrambles to convert. So he's certainly a good enough athlete to do it if he wants to. I think he gives them a lot of versatility and gives them a lot of balance with Johnson and White in the running game, and their ability to throw the ball short and intermediate with their backs and tight ends. The big plays they get out of their receivers and the size those guys have with [Kenny] Britt, [Nate] Washington and [Justin] Gauge, those are all guys that are huge targets that can run after the catch and get down the field. They make you defend every inch of the field from sideline to sideline, from the line of scrimmage to the back of the end zone. That's a good thing offensively to threaten every single spot on the field. Defensively, it gives you a lot of space you have to worry about.
Q: What was your assessment of both return games, punt return and kickoff return with Julian Edelman back there on Sunday?
BB: More productive than it's been. I think we blocked better. I think Julian [Edelman] ran hard. We've got to keep working on it. We still didn't really get any big, explosive plays, but I thought we were - blocking wise - a little closer and Denver's a very good coverage team. They are one of the best that we'll face, although Tennessee is right there with them. They're outstanding in that phase of the game, too. With every returner, if you can get them started and give them a little space, then they have a chance to gain some yards. And when they don't, when there's somebody right on top of them - or on kickoff coverage, if somebody gets down there inside the 15-yard line, and is in the middle of the return and messes it up - then there's nowhere to go and it's an aborted return. Blocking is better, we need to keep improving. I think Julian, as a young guy, keeps getting better with each day and opportunity he has to see everything in front of him and make some of those decisions, especially in the punting game.
Q: Is there a discernable difference when a team is winless and are they playing with their backs against the wall?
BB: Again, I think when we prepare each week, we always prepare for the team's best performance. That's what we expect and that's what we try to work toward as well. I don't know how the game's going to go on Sunday anymore than anybody else does. But I know that Tennessee is a very veteran team, they are well-coached, they have a lot of pride. And I see them playing good football - probably not as consistent as they would like to be - but there are certainly a lot of plays and they do a lot of things very well, a lot better than a lot of other teams I've seen to be honest with you. They're outstanding really and - at times - they're as good as anybody in the league. At other times, they have some breakdowns, but you can never count on those kinds of things happening. You have to do a good job of executing what you're doing, then if an opportunity comes up, hopefully you can take advantage of it. That's no different than any other game. I still see the Titans as a real good football team. I have a lot of respect for them and what they do. As I said, I think the biggest things that stands out against them is their toughness, the fact that they run the ball, play the run, cover kicks as well as they do; that speaks to the toughness of their football team right there. I don't see any signs at all that being anything amongst the best in the league.