New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick addresses the media during his conference call on Monday, October 6, 2008.
BB: It's good to wake up here this morning, get on the film and get working on finishing up the San Francisco game, [instead of traveling] back and forth across the country. I think we had a good meeting today. I think everybody's refreshed and is positive after the game yesterday. We did a lot of good things, far from perfect but after the first quarter we got a lot of things straightened out and we were able to play, for the most part, progressively better as the game went on. That was definitely encouraging. We are now looking forward to moving onto San Diego. We have a lot of respect for the Chargers and what they do. The last time we played them was a tough football game and very hardly fought, [we can expect] that and more in San Diego Sunday night. It's good to win and it's good to be staying out here. We are looking forward to a good productive week in the San Jose area and on Sunday night in San Diego.
Q: Logistically do things change for you dramatically this week in terms of what you tackle on certain days and when you do it?
BB: No, it will be a normal week for us. We will treat it right now like it's a home game. We really didn't travel last night. We are doing the same thing today that we would do on Monday following a home game. It will be like that for the entire week. Then we will have our normal Saturday and travel like we would on a normal Saturday traveling day.
Q: Can you talk about the three interceptions your defense had yesterday? Each were great individual plays but they also came at crucial points in the game.
BB: That's true. They were big plays in the game. The first play, the 49ers were trying to take a shot down the field. They tossed it up there to Delanie Walker and I thought Brandon Meriweather made a real good play on the ball. He batted it away and fortunately it came back down in his lap when he landed on his back. On the second interception, Rodney [Harrison] got a good read on J.T. O'Sullivan and made a good break on the ball. It came down and it was kind of the same thing [as the first interception]. It got broken up at first, ricocheted up in the air and he was able to finish the play for the interception. The last play was a third down play on a crossing pattern where [J.T.] O'Sullivan scrambled out of the pocket. I think he was trying to make something happen on fourth down. [The ball] went threw Rodney's hands but fortunately Deltha [O'Neil] was right there behind him. From a field position stand point it would have been better for us if we hadn't intercepted it but it's always good to see the ball end up in our hands at the end of a play so we'll take it.
Q: Getting that long pass for a touchdown to Randy Moss early in the game- how important was that to opening up other things for your offense throughout the game?
BB: It always helps to score on a big play. I think that forces the defense to respect you and it opens up some other things. It's not always possible but I think you always like to throw a couple down there to at least let them know that you are thinking about it. We did that or tried to do it. Some plays it went down the field and some it didn't. But we had some deep passes designed as we always do, to try and test the defense on all three levels - the short, intermediate and deep level. It's great to have it all happen in one play like that. Matt [Cassel] did a nice job of stepping up in the pocket. They had a free blitzer coming from the backside with Tarell Brown coming off the corner. Matt stepped up and put the ball right on the money and Randy [Moss] ran threw it. It was a big play for us, one that you always like to see. It's always good to see it all happen in one play.
Q: What was the biggest difference in your third down defense yesterday? I know that had been an issue before, did you do anything in the Bye Week in terms of changing your approach or personnel that worked out for you?
BB: In yesterday's game we used different combinations in our sub-defense. Some four man lines, three man lines, two man line and at times we only had one defensive lineman out there - Jarvis [Green] or Mike Wright. That was probably more of a game planning week thing than a Bye Week thing. It was something strategically that we felt we would want to run this week against San Francisco. Those guys did a good job, although we had several players that really stepped up in some of those passing situations. A lot of them third down but some of it was two minute in the fourth quarter - Jonathan Wilhite, Terrence Wheatley, Gary Guyton, Pierre Woods and Jarvis Green. We had a number of those guys, including Brandon Meriweather, come in and play well in passing situations and be productive for us. The bottom line was we were able to do a combination of things. One was get ahead in the game and two [was] do a decent job against the running game. Those two factors helped to push it toward a passing game and more of a one-dimensional game. So we really only defended one thing and that helped us on third down and on fourth quarter, two minute situations.
Q: Have you seen Matt Cassel's chemistry with his receiver's develop particularly with Randy Moss?
BB: I think that through the course of the year everything develops a little bit. I hope everything we are doing now is better than what it was a month ago and I hope everything we were doing a month ago was better than what it was back in August. I think there is a natural progression and at the same time Matt has worked hard. So has everyone in the passing game - the offensive line, the tight ends, backs and receivers. We try to work hard and get things running efficiently and be able to execute things as well as we possibly can. Certainly having a few extra days of practice over the Bye Week didn't hurt any. But at the same time there were a lot of good plays out there yesterday that were good throws, good catches, good execution, good distribution of the pattern and we were able to make enough plays and convert some third downs that we didn't get the week before against Miami. We were able to keep the offense on the field, convert those third downs, keep the defense off the field and win that time possession and field position battle.
Q: Will there be any update on LaMont Jordan today?
BB: He came in and got treatment today. We will have to see how he is later in the week. We didn't practice today and we won't practice tomorrow. Everybody is just walking around today. We'll see where everyone is when we go out there and get on the practice field later in the week. But he looks like a pretty quick healer.
Q: Can you talk about the job that Stephen Gostkowski did yesterday with the three field goals and the 49-yarder?
BB: That was a huge kick. With a six point lead that made it a two score game and that was a huge kick. It looked like that would have been good from a lot further than 49 [yards]. Steve's been kicking the ball very well in all situations - kickoffs and all the field goal extra point situations. Not only is he hitting them straight, but with good elevation, get-off time and good hang time on the kickoff. I think he's really done a good job in every opportunity he's had here in the past four games. He's been outstanding - he really has. On that kick that made it a nine point game, the 49-yard field goal, that was an outstanding play all the way around not only from the kicking aspect but it was a very good situational play offensively being third and twenty. We needed to gain some yards to get the ball in field goal range. I thought Matt made a good decision there. We have a three level pattern going and he hit Jabar Gaffney in the middle of the three. Jabar made a nice run and had good awareness to know we needed a few more yards to secure that field goal. When I say secure, [I mean] get [the ball] under 50 yards [and] at least you are going to be able to kick it. Fifty-five or 60-yarders, you don't even know if you are going to try those or not. Jabar had the presence to get those extra six or seven yards - that was a big situational play for us too. Then, Steve came through with the kick and made it all work.
Q: Can you talk about the running back situation? Do you see yourself using Kevin Faulk and Sammy Morris more often than Laurence Maroney?
BB: No. With the running backs and our offensive game plans, you know those change and fluctuate week to week and even sometimes within the game. So depending on how we have our personnel grouped for a particular game or the situations that come up, it could be different players doing the same thing or it different players doing different things on a week to week basis. We will just take that as it comes. This week will be San Diego. We will try to set up the best combinations that we feel like will give us the advantage against the Chargers. We will see how it goes the week after that. Really it is a game plan thing week to week as to how some of those things mesh together. But I thought the backs ran well yesterday, the line blocked well and we had a good solid day running the ball. That was encouraging all the way around. To follow that up, I don't think if you had told me that Kevin Faulk's role in yesterday's game was going to be to score two touchdowns from inside the five-yard line - I don't think that's what anyone would have envisioned happening in the game. But that's the way it turned out. You never really know how those opportunities are going to come up or how those situations are going to break, or what personnel groupings will happen to be in there in certain situations. Its really more players being ready and able to capitalize and take advantage of the opportunities they get and their overall ability to execute offensively in different situations. You just never know which ones are going to come up. You just try to prepare for them and execute them when the time comes.
Q: Do you think you are getting everything you should be getting from Laurence Maroney at this stage of his career?
BB: I think Laurence has done a good job for us. He's a good back. He's played well and I think he will continue to play well.
Q: Were you pleased with the way the defensive staff and players were able to make those in-game adjustments yesterday in light of what happened against Miami?
BB: I think each game, as I have said many times, is it's own entity. I don't think one game necessarily has any carry-over or effect on another one. San Francisco is a team, with coach Mike Martz, that presents a lot of challenges offensively and I thought our players and defensive staff did an excellent job of preparing for this offense, the scheme and these players. For the most part [they] did a pretty good job of defending it. It wasn't perfect, it could have been better but we made our share of plays and I thought there were a lot of things that we defended pretty well. Everybody gets credit for that. The coaches did a good job and certainly the players are the ones that have to go out there and execute the plays and they did a good job of that yesterday. It started with stopping the running game yesterday and that made it into a one-dimensional game. The offense certainly helped that too by getting ahead, giving us a lead and making it harder for the 49ers to run the ball in the second half when the time situation became a factor.