Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick addresses the media during his conference call on Tuesday, October 26, 2010.
BB: We were really just getting into Minnesota here last night and today. They're really a good football team, very talented. We see a lot of great players on the field in all situations - offense, defense, special teams. Kind of like last week with [Darren] Sproles, Percy Harvin - you know great return guys and a lot of weapons on offense, big offensive line, great running backs, and outstanding receivers. Defensively, [they are] a very talented group up front, active linebackers, good in the secondary. There is a lot to get ready for. They run a lot of different formations and looks, personnel groups on offense and they are a very good, fundamental team on defense. So, I know they're disappointed in their record, but they're just a couple plays away from being 6-0. They've lost three games on the last possession and a five-point loss to New Orleans. They're really close to winning every single game they've been in, just like they did last year.
Q: Why do you think the Vikings defense is not getting to the quarterback as frequently as it did last year?
BB: I think their pass rush is very good. The quarterbacks and the offenses - there's definitely a conscious effort to not hold the ball, to get rid of it, to throw quick passes, screens and things like that where they're really not under that kind of duress and hold the ball back there. We all know what can happen when these guys have enough time to get to the quarterback. I know there are a lot of plays that time a lot of time to execute. That's probably not where you want to be against this group.
Q: What have you seen in Randy Moss' progression since he re-joined the Vikings?
BB: They use a lot of different people on offense. They have a lot of depth at their skill positions. They play all three tight ends and all five receivers that are active. They have a lot of different personnel combinations out there. He's out there most of the time. Randy looks like Randy. He's a big weapon for them. He can do a lot of things. They used him probably a little bit less in that first game against the Jets, but he got plenty of action last week, even in the two-minute and things like that. He didn't play as much against the Jets in that situation, but he's out there most of the time.
Q: How have opponent defenses handled Minnesota's addition of Moss?
BB: When you're talking about Minnesota, it depends on which team is playing them. Different teams have different philosophies about how they want to play defense, whether they want to run the plays that they want to run or how much they want to game plan for the offense and certain personnel. But, I would say just in general that Minnesota has a lot of weapons and Randy's definitely one of them, but so is Percy Harvin, so is [Visanthe] Shiancoe, so is [Adrian] Peterson. You can go right on down the line. They have a lot of players that can make a lot of big plays against you and certainly with [Jim] Kleinsasser and [Jeff] Dugan and [Naufahu] Tahi and their offensive line. Their running game is a big problem so we have to be careful how many guys you're going to commit to the passing game and then not be able to stop Peterson. In both the Green Bay game and the Jets game, neither team overloaded on anybody. They had to really defend the entire offense and that's really what they were trying to do.
Q: How would you describe your relationship with Brad Childress?
BB: Brad and I have never coached together. Like all the other coaches in the NFL, you see everybody at the combine and owners meetings, stuff like that.
Q: Do you have a problem with Childress calling you guys the 'World's Greatest Sign Stealers'?
BB: Right now we're just trying to focus on the Vikings, get ready to go and play them. We're not really worried about other games that happened in the past or any later ones that are coming up on the schedule. We're just getting ready for Minnesota and that will consume a lot of energy and time right there. That's plenty to work on.
Q: What are your thoughts on Percy Harvin?
BB: Percy is a very explosive player. He has tremendous speed, strong runner for his size. He breaks a lot of tackles, runs through arm tackles, excellent hands. [He has] been a threat really every way they've used him - as a kick returner, as a running back, as a receiver - catch and run plays like tear in screens and things like that, long shots down the field, probably some go routes and those type plays. He's a very dynamic player, a guy you certainly have to be aware of when he's on the field. He can get it all in one play. It doesn't matter what the play is.
Q: Does the news that Brett Favre has two fractures make it more likely that he won't play, or does that have any factor in your head?
BB: No, I'm not really worried about any of that. If he can't play and he's out, then I guess they'll put him on injured reserve. If he's on their roster, then we prepare for him.
Q: Are you expecting Patrick Chung to be out for a significant period of time?
BB: The players aren't practicing today. So, they'll come in tomorrow and the players that need treatment today will come in tomorrow and we'll see where everybody's at tomorrow relative to practice. If they're able to practice, then they'll be out there. If they're not, then give them their treatment, do what we can to get them healthier and re-evaluate them on Thursday. We'll just treat it day-to-day and evaluate based on whether they are able to practice on a daily basis. That's what we do with everybody.
Q: You mentioned yesterday that he is a fast healer. Do you think he dodged a bullet with a major injury?
BB: We'll see how it goes. I don't really want to make any predictions. We'll see how it goes.
Q: What type of tight end is Visanthe Shiancoe and what type factor is he in their offense.
BB: [He is] A big factor. He's really a good player - fast, athletic, has a big frame, takes up a lot of space in the running game. He can get up on guys and use his length to cover them up. He does a good job for them all the way around and he's really a tough guy to match up on in coverage because of his speed, athleticism and receiving ability down the field. He's a go-to guy for them in a lot of situations: vertical routes, play action, third down possession-type plays. It looks like they're comfortable throwing to him in any situation. They game plan plays that look like they try to get him the ball or get him open or put him in a situation where they can get him mismatched like by splitting him out and things like that. They clearly have a lot of confidence and I can see why. He's been a very good and very productive player for them.
Q: Can you assess what you have seen from Devin McCourty this season?
BB: Devin has been real consistent all year. He works hard, studies hard, shows up every day to work in practice, tries to work on a lot of little things to get better and he is getting better. He has been really a consistent guy for us both Monday to Saturday and in the games on Sunday he's not perfect, but competes well, tackles well, plays pretty good coverage techniques and is gaining experience and learning more about the receivers and quarterbacks, play-calling and things like that he goes up against every week. He just keeps getting better.
Q: Is it safe to assume that the plan for Sergio Brown was to play mostly special teams on Sunday and what do think of him stepping up to make that big tackle on Antonio Gates at the end?
BB: Well, I thought Sergio had a lot of good plays in the game. Certainly he had more of an opportunity when Patrick [Chung] went out. I think he would have played on defense anyway, but regardless of that, he certainly got more of an opportunity when Patrick went out. I thought that Sergio had a number of good plays in the game, in the kicking game and on defense. Again, there are other plays that could have been better, but I think Sergio's a smart guy. He's worked hard. He's a guy that's been in a system similar to ours at Notre Dame. [He] played for Corwin [Brown] and so forth, so he had a pretty good background here right off the bat even though he wasn't drafted, but coming in here, understanding the techniques and some of the things we do. He's worked hard. He's improved a lot. He's a versatile guy that can play a couple different positions for us. He did that in preseason and he does it in practice and actually did it in the game on Sunday. He did a good job in the opportunity he had on Sunday. I think that's a great example for all of our players to just be ready to go. You never know when you're going to get that opportunity. Some players aren't active and guys are on the practice squad. Or some guys that are active don't necessarily get to play that week depending on their particular role. But that can all change in one play and Sergio's a good example of a player that worked hard, that was prepared and that when he got an opportunity, really took advantage of it and performed well. That's the kind of thing you need to have a good team. You need to have players that are unselfish like that and when your opportunity comes, be able to step in and deliver for the rest of the team and let everything else keep doing what it does and not set it back. Sergio definitely did that in the San Diego game. He played well and was able to keep things going without us having to change much. That was great.
Q: Would it be stretch to say that playing against a player like Randy Moss aided in Devin McCourty's development?
BB: Sure. Yeah, I think our defensive backs had an opportunity to get one-on-ones in during practice sessions, work against a lot of quality players. At the tight end position - Alge [Crumpler], Aaron [Hernandez] and Rob [Gronkowski] are all a little bit different. They all are good, but all have a little different style. Same thing at receiver with Randy or Deion [Branch], [Brandon] Tate, [Wes] Welker, [Julian] Edelman, [Matthew] Slater, Taylor Price, that group - those guys all have different skill sets and it helps us to work against them. As it helps our receivers to work against different types of corners - physical corners, athletic corners, guys that have a little bit different playing style working at safety. [Patrick] Chung and Sergio [Brown] have played some inside, are out covering slot receivers in certain matchups are different for guys like Welker and Edelman to work against compared to [Darius] Butler and [Jonathan] Wilhite and guys like that that also play in the slot. It's good for both sides to see different types of players and sooner or later, you're going to match up against somebody that's similar to that or has a similar skill set. It gives them an opportunity to match up against guys that are faster than them, not as fast; bigger, not as big; quicker, not as quick; and so forth. That's been good for Devin to see and it's been good for all our DB's and our receiving group too. He played against a lot of good receivers in college, guys like Kenny Britt, Underwood, and guys like that he worked against there. Games are important, don't get me wrong. There's nothing more important than games, but all those practices against quality receivers and quarterbacks like [Tom] Brady and [Brian] Hoyer, they make a better practice and that helps you in the game too. So, that's all tied together.