Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick addresses the media during his conference call on Tuesday, October 19, 2010.
BB: We are getting a jump here on San Diego. We are pretty well into it today. That team played very well against Jacksonville and Arizona at home. You can see they have a real talented team all the way around, real good on offense, defense, a lot of big plays, explosive players and really good specialists. So, we certainly know what this team is capable of. They've had a couple tough breaks - turnovers and a couple plays that have hurt them on special teams. But, you can see why this team has had the kind of success they've had and they're very talented, they're tough, they're big, they're physical. It's going to be a big challenge for us, going out there and playing them in San Diego, trying to get a win on the road.
Q: (On the San Diego Chargers' running game)
BB: Well, they really have three guys. Ryan Matthews is a good all-around player - good speed, quickness, a versatile guy. He can catch the ball; [he] does a lot of things. [Darren] Sproles is more of their third down back, but he's also in there in some other situations. I think we all know Sproles - an explosive guy, can score from anywhere on the field, great speed, quickness, tough, runs hard. And then [Mike] Tolbert is really a tailback in a fullback's body. He's big. He's real physical, runs hard, tough, breaks a lot of tackles, runs really hard and is a hard guy to bring down. I know he's a short, stocky guy that has good lower body strength and a lot of toughness. So, the three runners have three different styles. Then there's [Jacob] Hester, who plays fullback. He carries the ball a little bit, too. And, he's a very athletic fullback - not as big as some of the guys we've seen, but has real good hands, is effective in the passing game and can also run the ball, so he's more than just a blocking fullback. He can also handle the ball. So, they have a good group of all four guys back there. They are all pretty skilled and help the team in different ways and complement each other.
Q: What have you seen from Brandon Deaderick that had him play a significant role in Sunday's game?
BB: Well, Brandon got a decent amount of playing time in preseason and was a pretty good technique player for a rookie. He comes from a really good background at Florida where he's been well coached. He's had an opportunity at practice and in some of the preseason games and has kept working hard getting better. Did I say Florida? I'm sorry, I meant to say Alabama. I said Florida. Although, both of those programs are pretty well coached, but… [he was] obviously well coached with Nick [Saban] down there at Alabama. [Brandon] has been out on the field and worked hard, just keeps getting better. We felt like last week was a good opportunity to play him at left end there. We felt good about that matchup and just good overall about the way that front lined up against Baltimore. So, that's how we did it for that game.
Q: Is left end a spot where it is a game-to game matchup? Or did you like what Brandon Deaderick did for a more regular role?
BB: Well, I think Brandon did a good job in the game, but we have other players on the defensive line - Mike Wright is a good football player, Ron [Brace] has played for us, Myron [Pryor]… So, I think that whole group, we have a lot of confidence in all of them. It could be the same [lineup] or it could be different. But whoever we put out there, we have a lot of confidence in. Those guys have all done a good job.
Q: Have you heard anything from the NFL on a possible suspension for Brandon Meriweather?
BB: I'll leave anything from the NFL to the NFL.
Q: Do you view this as a changing of the rules midseason as far as a possible suspension?
BB: I don't know. I haven't really heard anything that I would want to comment on officially. So, there's a lot of media speculation and commentary there like there is every game. After every weekend there is in the NFL season, that's what people talk about is plays, and things that happened in the previous week. So, whatever the league decides to do, they decide to do. Whatever their comments are, they can make their own statements or comments on whatever it's going to be.
Q: Did you think a similar hit on Wes Welker against the Jets from Eric Smith earlier this season warranted a suspension at that time?
BB: Well, those are all league matters. Right now, my focus is on San Diego, trying to get our team ready to go out there and play them. All those questions really need to be asked of somebody at the league office.
Q: How difficult is it for a player to control where a player strikes an opponent at full speed?
BB: Well, every situation is different. Every single play is different. So, it doesn't matter what I think. Whatever the rules are, that's what they are. However the officials call the game, that's how the players and the coaches have to perform, is within those guidelines, whatever they are. We've seen lots of different ones and they come and go and they change. The same rules get interpreted differently and all that. So, you just have to understand how the game is being officiated and what the calls mean - what's a block in the back, what isn't a block in the back; what's illegal contact, what isn't illegal contact; what's pass interference, what isn't pass interference; what's holding, what isn't holding. There are a lot of gray areas in all those calls, so we have to learn what those are and hope that the officials call them consistently from week to week, which, that's an issue too. Again, [there are] a lot of shades of gray that have to be interpreted. But, whatever it is, it is. That's out of my control. What I can do right now is try to prepare our team for the Chargers and that's really where my energy and focus is today and will be for the rest of the week.
Q: How much thought do you put into keeping the pads off in practice this week after a hard fought, physical game that lasted almost five full quarters?
BB: I think there's nothing really more important than the health of your team. So, whatever combination of preparing your team for the game and having a healthy team for the game…however those two forces meet, that's what you try to do as a coach. As a coaching staff, you try to make sure that your team is prepared for the game, but you want them as healthy as possible going into that game. So, when we meet this afternoon and talk about practice schedule for tomorrow and for the week and all that kind of thing, we always talk about that. We talk about drills, what specifically we want to do in the periods, whether it's individual periods or whether it's in group and team periods; what things we want to emphasize; what things we want to make sure we get covered; what things we're going to have to catch at other times, just because we have to prioritize. So, all those things are part of the preparation which includes contact drills and pads and how long they're at practice and all those kinds of things. That's something we do Tuesday afternoon, Tuesday evening as we prepare for not only Wednesday's practice, but we kind of talk about the whole week and how it's going to fall together so we can know what we don't get covered on Wednesday - this is when we're going to get it on Thursday or Friday or however it goes.
Q: Have the Chargers made up for the Shawne Merriman void in their pass rush?
BB: Well, they have 21 sacks and a lot of other hits on the quarterback. They've shown that they can get a lot of people doing it - [Shaun] Phillips and [Kevin] Burnett of course. Those two guys have obviously have gotten a lot of plays there. They're a good group and I think you have to be careful about putting all your attention on one guy and having somebody else do the damage. They're solid across the front. They're a really good defensive team. They cover well; make the quarterback hold the ball. That's led to some pressures and sacks, also just good pass rush. I think they have good depth on defense and a lot of guys who can run, hit the quarterback, tackle, cover. They're pretty solid all the way across the boards. I think they can rush, they can cover, they can stop the run. They are a pretty well-balanced team.
Q: (On playing Gerard Warren playing out of position at Nose Tackle on Sunday)
BB: Well, Gerard has really played all the positions across the defensive front, from training camp and preseason games, practices and all that. He has worked at every spot, really, really all of our linemen have. They've all played different positions there. So, again, we kind of felt like that was the matchup we were looking for against Baltimore for a number of reasons - what we were doing and how we matched up against them and taking into account what our other defenses were, our nickel and sub packages and so forth. We just tried to tie it all together and felt like that was the best mix. Again, whether that's the way it will go next game, next week or for the rest of the year or not, we'll just have to wait and see. Gerard has played in there a lot. He's played a lot of his career on the nose in a one technique, with a shade on the nose. He's also played a lot of it as a three technique on a shade on the guard, which is pretty close to the defensive in the 3-4. When you play an over and under scheme like he's been in a lot, one play you're on the center, next play you're out there on the inside shoulder of the tackle. In a 3-4, if you move a few inches one way or the other and you're pretty close to where he's been almost his whole career, which has been somewhere between the tackles. I think he can handle all those spots. Like I said, he's done it his whole career, so I don't think it's really that big of a deal.
Q: (On travelling Friday for a West Coast game)
BB: Yeah, I think it's pretty much been that way. I could go back and check the rest of the schedules, but I'd say for the most part that's been pretty consistent - we leave after practice on Friday and do the travelling at night. Then get up there on Saturday and try to have a normal kind of day. You know, get up in the morning and do all that normal morning meeting, practice, walkthrough, Saturday night meeting and then get into the Sunday routine. We did that last year, or two years ago, whatever it was - with the San Francisco and Seattle games and of course we stayed over for the games after that, Oakland and San Diego. But when we went out there the first time, you know, the same kind of deal.