New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick addresses the media during his conference call on Tuesday, November 10, 2009.
BB: Watching the Colts, as usual, they look pretty good. They're 8-0. They've won games in different ways - scoring points, playing defense, turning the ball over, making big plays at the end - like they usually do - or getting out in front and coasting along. Offensively, they look as potent as ever, even though there are some new faces in there in the receiving group. Defensively, some new faces in the secondary [Robert] Mathis, [Dwight] Freeney, [Raheem] Brock, they're still very tough up front, linebackers run well and they turn the ball over, they rush the passer well. They're a very disciplined team on defense, in terms of gap control and things like that. [They are a] real good football team, well-coached, execute extremely well, and they create a lot of problems and a lot of tough matchups. We know we've got our work cut out for us on this one Sunday night, but at the same time we're looking forward to getting going. It seems like we play these guys every year. It's always an important kind of game and this one's no exception.
Q: How has Indianapolis's offense expanded since the first year you played Peyton Manning?
BB: I think they've definitely expanded it over a period of years. But they do a good job of having the things they need. There might be something that they haven't run in a year or half a season - or whatever - for the situations that didn't come up, and then they pull it out when they need it and they get it against the situation, or the look, or the coverage that somebody springs on them. They know how to pretty much beat everything and they have their ways of doing it, so whatever defenses you run, that'll trigger concepts that they'll use against them. You might not have the exact formation, or they change their personnel groups around, but they attack - whether it's split safety coverage, or post safety coverage, or pressure, or four-man line, or three-man line, or stunting, or two-gapping - whatever the defense's system is, they have ways they want to attack it and then when they see it that's kind of what they go to. I wouldn't say they have a lot of changes. It's kind of the exact opposite of the Miami offense. They don't motion a lot; they kind of sit in the same formation. They want to see where you're at and then they'll go ahead, go to work and dissect it. That's sort of the challenge that we have there. I would say the things they've expanded their offense with were things that they felt like there was a need for, they found a better way to attack something than they had in the past and they go do it that way.
Q: What are your thoughts about the different styles of games that you've had against the Colts? We've seen back and forth games and whoever had the ball last would win and then we've had slow down type games. What do you expect this time?
BB: We expect a tough game, like it always is with Indianapolis. Scoring-wise and all? Who knows? And anytime you put turnovers into a game that could change the scoring and the pace of the game dramatically. I think in terms of preparation, what we want to do is prepare for the basic parts of the game, the things we know we're going to have - first-, second-, third-down situations, red area and then kicking situations and all that. And then be ready for some specific things - like two-minute, goal-line, end-of-the-half, backed-up kind of plays - very specific situational things, to make sure we're ready on those things. As you know, some of our games with the Colts have come down to that, whether it be a goal-line play on the one-yard line, or a two-minute play, or a last-second field goal, or a Hail Mary situation. We're not going to try to predict the way the games going to go, we just want to be ready to play through the situations, know how we want to handle the things they do and also how we want to try to attack them and make sure we're all on the same page, so we can go out there and be aggressive in a real hostile environment. That's really what we're trying to get set up here today and tomorrow.
Q: Will it be more important this week to have your offense stay on the field?
BB: I think the most important thing is to score points. I think you're a lot better off being on the field a shorter amount of time and scoring a touchdown than being out there a longer amount of time and kicking a field goal or giving them back the ball, punting it down to their 10-yard line, but not coming out of there with any points. I think when you play the Colts you've got to feel like you need to score to win. And field position - although it's important - it can be erased in a hurry with an explosive offense like the Colts have. They can get 20, 30, 40 yards in a hurry and negate that field position. Like I said, it's important but the most important thing is scoring points and not giving them up. Really, last year's game, I think, showed that. It really came down to red area efficiency and they were a little better than we were in that area. The year before, it came down to turnovers and we had a little edge there. Turnovers, red area, third down, just in general taking advantage of the scoring opportunities, and not giving up the easy ones and making sure you make them work for it; I think those are some of the main keys of this game.
Q: In what way has Jim Caldwell put his imprint on this team?
BB: Well, defensively, they're a little bit different than they were schematically. I'm not sure exactly how much of that is Caldwell and how much of it is Larry Coyer, but in any case I think they've got a number of young players - new players - on the roster, so obviously Jim's done a great job of getting that to come together in a very productive way. They don't make many mistakes. They don't beat themselves. They don't give up a lot of long plays. They don't turn the ball over with dumb penalties. They play very sound, very good fundamental football and make you go out there and beat them. So far nobody's been able to do that.
Q: There's been talk about Larry Johnson, would you put in a claim for him and are you interested?
BB: We will discuss that organizationally here this afternoon and decide what, if anything, we want to do. To be honest with you, right now, we've just been concentrating on Indianapolis. Our pro people are doing that. We kind of do that every week at this time. Our pro people go through the guys that are available over the weekend, whether it be waivers, or teams that have had injuries, or changes in a player's physical status, or guys that we've worked out or other teams have worked out - whatever it is. And then after all that - it's not just about one guy - but after all that gets done then we talk about the whole group and what our plans are for the week, whether it's to work a guy out, or claim a guy, or talk to the player or his representatives, whatever it happens to be. That's something we'll do between now and four o'clock.
Q: On substitutions, if the offense substitutes, does the defense have the right to match that substitution?
BB: Unless it's in a two-minute.
Q: Under two minutes to play?
BB: Yes, there's no matching under two minutes. Any substitutions after the two-minute warning, you are on your own.
Q: Before the two-minute warning, what is the approach if you're on defense? How is that managed by the officials, in terms of being able to not just get guys on the field but get them in position?
BB: As you know, it's an offensive league and most of the rules are put in to help the offense and scoring and all that. The substitution rule obviously wasn't a lot of consideration to defensive coaches, or defensive play-calling. The issue, in the official's mind, is whether you get the proper number of players on the field. From a coaching standpoint, it's not just getting a proper number of guys on the field, but it's getting them - as you said - to get lined up in whatever you're playing and everybody knows and understands what that is. Whether an official can figure that out or not is arguable, but I don't think they really care about that. As long as they've got 11 out there and you've got 11, I think they're OK with it. Defensively, it's a problem because even if you get the right guys out there, if everybody doesn't know what to do in a substitute situation, then you're at a little bit of a disadvantage, so you have to find a way to work through that. I don't think you can count on the officials to fully give you an opportunity to match up, they just don't do it. You've got to handle the situation yourself.
Q: The third quarterback rule, because you only have two have you given any thought to designating somebody else as your third quarterback on game day as the Buffalo Bills have been doing with Roscoe Parrish?
BB: Yeah, we've thought about that. That's a possibility. That's something - if it's the right situation - we thought it could be advantageous and within the rules, which there is a lot of third quarterback rules, situations that encompass all that that you have to look at. But sure, we'd consider that, absolutely.
Q: Maybe there's a wrinkle in the rule, but would there be a disadvantage to not just having an extra guy out there in uniform that you might be able to use in an emergency situation. If you get to the fourth quarter, he doesn't have to go into the game as the quarterback, does he?
BB: The whole point of the rule is to really be able to utilize that player if something happens to your first two guys. I think if you didn't really have any intention of using that guy as your third quarterback, if Rich Ohrnberger was your third quarterback, I don't know what advantage that would be for you. I understand the question, I'm not trying to be evasive. I'm saying, yes, that's something we've talked about and there are some very specific rules and situations that come into play. And if we feel like that's a beneficial thing to do, then we'd consider it, absolutely.
Q: Preparing for games like this against Peyton Manning, do you notice a different reaction to this game as you prepare for them, any extra excitement or nausea?
BB: It's hard to prepare for games every week in this league. Every team we play has talented players, great players, good coaches, a good system, things that are legitimate threats to what you're trying to do - what we're trying to do on our side of the ball. Each week, there're a lot of problems we have to face and of course this week's no different. Look, the Colts are a great team. They are 8-0. I think we all know how competitive they've been through the last decade. I'm not trying to minimize their performance or the challenges they present in anyway, I'm just saying those challenges exist on a weekly basis and each one's different, each one's unique and we have to prepare for each one differently. Every team we play is capable of beating us and every team we play we think we're capable of beating. That's kind of the way we approach is every week. I'm not saying this isn't a good matchup. There's nobody we have more respect for than the Colts, and what they've done through the years and how they've played against us. But the challenges are there every week.