New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick addresses the media during his conference call on Monday, October 19, 2009.
BB: It's nice to come in this morning, there're a lot of positive things on the film. As I said yesterday, I thought our players really did a good job in all areas. We didn't have any missed assignments. We took care of the ball. We had some turnovers. We took advantage of our scoring opportunities, made the plays in the kicking game, a lot of good plays by our team and by the players. Still a lot of things to work on even after a win like that. There're still a number of things that we want to correct and make sure we do a better job of, but right now the big thing is the quick turnaround and trying to get everything ready to go here by the time we leave on Thursday afternoon and head for London. We're onto Tampa now. It's a team we're not very familiar with that we need to get on top of in a hurry and have a good couple days here of preparation before we leave. That's where we're at for today.
Q: Is there one particular way your defense was as effective as it was? Was there a certain scheme or fundamental that was working better than it had in the past?
BB: The big thing defensively is we had good field position. Tennessee hit some plays on us, they were far away enough from the end zone that they weren't scoring plays and eventually we were able to stop them. I thought that our third-down defense was better than it's been. They only converted on a couple of them. I think one of those was on a penalty and [Chris] Johnson made a great run on the draw play. We missed some tackles, but he's a great runner so you're going to have some missed tackles on him. He forces those pretty much in every game. The big thing is we got the team to third down. Most of the time we were able to convert and get the ball back to our offense. We changed it up on defense. As we all saw, we played some different players, played some different schemes and things like that. In the end, we were able to make enough plays to get them to third down, and then on third down we were able to get off the field, for the most part.
Q: What made the combination of outside linebackers, Derrick Burgess, Tully Banta-Cain, Rob Ninkovich, and Pierre Woods, the better choice to have the bigger role in the game than Adalius Thomas?
BB: It's a combination of all the things on defense, and on special teams and third down. When you look at what the roles for those players were on all four downs - first, second, third and fourth - they each contributed in at least one and two areas pretty strongly. Again, every player has value. If we could have brought more than 45 players to the game, I'm sure we would have and I'm sure they all would have played. It's just we had to select the ones that we felt would have the bigger role in the game, so that's what we did.
Q: What does this mean for Adalius Thomas' future going forward?
BB: I don't know. It was one game. We'll evaluate it this coming week against Tampa like we always do. This week's different from last week.
Q: Has Adalius lived up to your expectation of what you thought he would be when you signed him?
BB: Well, I've said many times, I think he's a good football player. He's versatile. He's made some big plays for us and he's done a lot of different jobs and we have a lot of confidence in him. If that wasn't the case then he wouldn't be here. I'm glad we have him. I think he can help us, I think will help us and he has helped us and I feel that way about our other players as well.
Q: What did you see from Brian Hoyer? What was your overall assessment of his play?
BB: It was his first chance to play since the preseason game against the Giants. I thought Brian handled himself pretty well. We just ran our offense with him in there. We had some checks, some third-down situations and so forth. I thought he handled himself well and got in the end zone on one scoring drive. [It was] a good learning experience for him, different positions on the field. But I thought he handled those well, [he] handled the ball well, and managed the team and the situation he was in there on.
Q: What were you doing yesterday to convert those big plays that you weren't doing earlier in the season?
BB: I'd say that we executed. The players did a good job of executing it. A couple times, we had a chance there and we were able to hit them. Sometimes we called plays down the field and we really didn't get a good look, or the defense was such that Tom ended up going to a different receiver than perhaps he would have gone to down the field, if they had been in a different defense. That's always part of it. But the big thing was when we had guys up, the receivers ran good routes, the quarterback made a good throw, the protection was good, we had time for the route to develop and get rid of the ball, so [there was] good team execution on the plays that we converted.
Q: Often times you work on a play in practice, rarely does it work as you drew it up, but was the flea flicker an example of that?
BB: It probably was. It probably worked a little better in the game than it did in practice, but that's normally the case on play action and plays like that. When you get into a game a lot of times the defense reacts harder - aggressively - to a play like that than they do in practice. That's good practice for us to see it both ways, so we make good decisions based on if the defense bites up on play action or whether they don't. We don't want to just throw down there even though it's defended. We want to find something else to do that's a better option. I would say for the most part, in practice, it probably wasn't as open as it was in the game, but again that's not all that uncommon either.
Q: Were you down to just two healthy running backs for the second half of that game or was it the way the game unfolded that dictated having Laurence Maroney and BenJarvus Green-Ellis close it out for you?
BB: I would say that was pretty much the situation.
Q: Any idea if Sammy Morris' injury is a long term thing?
BB: We'll take a look at him today. There's always a little more information a day or two days after the game, after we get a chance to see where things are at 24 to 48 hours after. We'll do that like we normally do, and assess his availability for practice and ultimately at the end of the week for the following game.
Q: [On how difficult it is for a coach to make the decision to put a player on Injured Reserve]
BB: I think that pretty well describes it right there. If a player's out for the season, that's an obvious and easy decision, not a pleasant one, but that's what it is. If he's not, then you have to take into account how long the player's out, what the other options are. What are you going to do until he gets back? And that decision could be comprised of people who are on your roster, people who aren't on your roster, people who aren't even in your system at that point. Each situation's different. Also, has something to do with the other options and other players that you have on your team, whatever other roster situations are on at that same time or in that same timeframe.
Q: Did you envision the Darius Butler and Jonathan Wilhite combination continuing to be out there? Or was this a case that you look at your top four corners as interchangeable?
BB: We're comfortable with all of our corners - or defensive backs for that matter - on the field. They're in there in different combinations; whichever ones are out there we have confidence in them. I'm sure that as they've played, they'll continue to play to some degree. How that works from game to game or doing within a game from different personnel groups - nickel, dime - things like that. I think that will probably continue to be the case.
Q: Am I correct that today is first day that you could active Mark LeVoir or Brandon Tate?
BB: It's actually tomorrow, but it's this week in practice, yes.
Q: Any decision on those guys?
BB: Probably a pretty good chance that they'll be out there this week. But we haven't officially made it yet, no.
Q: How excited are you at the potential of Brandon Tate and what he can give you in the kicking game?
BB: We like all the players that are on our roster, including the practice squad, our 53-man roster and Mark [LeVoir] and Brandon [Tate] on the PUP list. That's why they're here because we think they could help us in some way. When we get a chance to evaluate all the players, then we'll pick the ones and do what we think is best for our football team like we always do.
Q: Did any of the young guys or reserved guys jump out after 30 minutes of looking at them?
BB: I think it was a good opportunity for a lot of guys to play, and some players played earlier in the game, like Darius [Butler], Myron [Pryor] and guys like that, Julian [Edelman]. Whether they played early or late, or third, second, third, fourth down, whatever their role was - whatever opportunity they had to play - we evaluate those and watch the tape with them and correct it and try to keep getting better individually and as a team. What that role is and maybe it expands a little bit as the player gains some experience. We'll just take it as a case-by-case basis. I thought all the guys that played yesterday contributed positively, certainly in a game like that, that was a strong team effort that everybody was a part of. We'll just keep working with those young guys. It's true with most teams and it's true most every year, usually those players, as the season goes on, tend to contribute a little bit more towards the end of the season than at the beginning. We hope that they will keep developing and improving and that will be the case.
Q: Can you talk about the process in planning this trip to London?
BB: Well, I really haven't personally been that involved with it. We had other people in our organization that handle our travel, security and all the logistics and accommodations along the way. They do that for every trip, not just this one, whether we have Miami, New Orleans - wherever it is - Denver. They do all that. We talk about certain things that we want to try to keep constant on the trips and we do that as much as we can, it's not always possible to make them all the same based on where the facilities are and where we're going and sometimes the timing changes a little bit. Those things are taken into consideration. But really all the work has been done by other people in the organization. When they've had a couple questions, they've come to me and said, 'Here's our two options - we can do A or B.' But usually I go pretty much with what they suggest because they know our team, they know our routine and they know the options better than I do. This is a little bit longer trip in terms of flight time and a little bit longer stay than a normal away game, but we'll try to do the best we can to make it as convenient for the players so they can get their preparation, get their rest and be ready to perform on Sunday. In the end, most all of that stuff is handled by people who know a lot more about it and do it on a regular basis than what I do.
Q: To what extent did your trip out West maybe serve as some foundation for this trip?
BB: I think those two trips last year were completely different from this one. Those trips were situations where we went out, we stayed, we took all of our preparation materials out there with us: the video systems, our copies - we rented them out there, obviously, but - we took our whole operation and moved it to San Jose, and we did everything there. We had our meetings, our game plans, our films and we did the preparation out there. This is a situation where we'll do all of our preparation here and - once we travel to London, when we get on the plane - we will have covered everything that we're going to do for the game. Schematically, we'll have practiced it, and then it's really just a question of making the trip and going through the usual day before the game and day of the game reminders, tying up some loose ends on a play here, a play there, if they do this, then how do we handle it, and that kind of thing. A great percentage of the work will be done when we get on the plane Thursday after practice to head out there and that's a lot different than the two West Coast trips we had last year where we did all of our preparation out there for the second game.