Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick addresses the media during his conference call on Tuesday, November 2, 2010.
BB: Well, we are starting to dig into the Browns here and they have played a lot of good football teams and they've really taken them all right down to the wire, of course other than New Orleans – they handled them. It was a very convincing win over New Orleans, which is kind of scary in itself, of course, down in New Orleans. [They are] a real physical team, tough, hard-nosed, running football team. [They are] tough on defense, good in the kicking game, have some young players that have stepped up. [Josh] Cribbs is a major threat, of course. They don't give up a lot of points. [Peyton] Hillis has done a real good job for them, running the ball, breaking tackles, keeping them in short-yardage situations with his first and second-down carries and then converting on third down. They are going to play very competitively. They are a good, tough football team. It is going to be a challenge for us to go up there and deal with this type of team, playing at home, coming off a big win they had against the Saints. I'm sure they will be ready to go with the extra week of preparation and the momentum they had from that big win last weekend.
Q: Was there that something you saw in the Saints game that hadn't translated to the other games that led them to win so easily?
BB: I think they played like they normally do; they played a good, solid, tough football game, but they had some big plays in the kicking game and that gave them some great field position which ended up in some bonus points that really tilted the game pretty heavily in their favor. They did a real good job on offense, defense [and] special teams. Of course they had the two returns on defense, the throwback, [and] the fake punt, so when you put those really four big scoring and field position change plays into that New Orleans game, it is a close game and it really broke it open.
Q: Following up on today's announcement that Logan Mankins has reported to the team, do the Patriots have a roster exemption?
BB: That transaction hasn't been turned in yet. That won't and wouldn't happen until later on today, but I would expect it, though, yes.
Q: Can you describe how it unfolded? Was it a surprise to you?
BB: Well, Logan came in. I met with him this morning. It's good to have him back on the team. He is a part of the team here now; he's reported. He's been a great player and person for our football team. He is tough. He's smart. He's a dependable player and he's done all those things since he has been here. You just can't have too many guys like that on your football team, so we're glad he's back.
Q: Do you have any idea what kind of shape he is in?
BB: We will take his situation day-to-day.
Q: Can you describe the contact you have had with him? Have you been talking to him throughout the process?
BB: I don't think really any of that ... I don't want to get into any of that, it doesn't matter right now. He's here. We're getting ready for Cleveland. We've got a big game on Sunday and that's really where all of our focus is. I don't want to rehash anything that has gone on in the past; it's all behind us.
Q: Obviously Logan has said some things about the organization and Robert Kraft in the past. When it comes to your decisions about whether to play a guy or not, will you take any of that into account?
BB: As always, we will do what's best for the football team.
Q: When you look at the Browns, defensively, how much do you see the Patriots in terms of what they are trying to do schematically?
BB: Well I think the Browns are the Browns. They have a very experienced coaching staff there. They do what they want to do. I am not sure what all their influences are, with Rob [Ryan] and Rex [Ryan] and so forth. I don't really know; that is something that you would have to ask them. They play a three-four space defense. They do a lot of different things off it. They pressure you. They cover you. They play man. They play zone. They're an aggressive team that has done a good job in the red area [and] haven't given up a lot of points. They're a tough physical football team.
Q: This seems like this is an every week thing, but they haven't announced their starting quarterback. Does that make it harder to prepare?
BB: It's very similar to the conversation we had last week. All of the players that are on the active roster that are eligible to play, we will prepare for.
Q: In terms of Hillis at running back, how would you describe his style?
BB: He is a big physical runner. [He is a] tough kid, breaks a lot of tackles [and] catches the ball well. They use him on all three downs. He is in there in sub situations as well. He is a strong runner, breaks a lot of tackles, knows where the goal line is [and] doesn't lose much yardage. He is a tough guy to get on the ground; he's been impressive.
Q: Benjamin Watson has come on for them. Is it nice to see him doing well there?
BB: Yeah, as long as it's not against us on Sunday.
Q: Are they employing him any differently?
BB: He is a tight end for them. He plays tight end and he does the things that a tight end does. He's a talented guy and a guy that did a good job for us and is doing a good job for Cleveland.
Q: On the goal line, in the Vikings game, Ron Brace stood up the Vikings right tackle and blew up that play a little bit. He was a guy that was inactive last week or a couple of weeks ago, is it nice to see a guy to come back after that and be a guy who could make a play to change the game?
BB: Sure. Ron works hard every week and that's what all of our players need to do: be prepared. And when they get the opportunity, [they need to] take advantage of it, and Ron certainly did that. That was a huge play on the goal line. He was right at the point of attack and did a fine job there. He's working hard and has been a good contributor this year and I'm sure he will continue to do that throughout the year. I don't know exactly what it will be from week to week, but I can't really say that about anybody for that matter. Sometimes it just depends on our opponent, the game and how it goes and so forth. But that certainly was a big play, but he had a number of other real good plays in the game. He had the opportunity to play, and he did well with it. That's great to see. That's what you hope every player does: take advantage of the opportunities that they get.
Q: Are you comfortable enough with Devin McCourty now that you feel you can play him in a lot of man coverage?
BB: All of our players that are out there have to play whatever defenses that we have called and we've called plenty over the course of the season, preseason, regular season, [of] man, zone, blitzes, even-man lines, odd-man lines, and so forth. You can't call defenses for one player; all 11 guys have got to play it. Whatever is called, then everybody plays that call. If they are out there then we are comfortable with the players doing the things that we call.