New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick addresses the media during his conference call on Tuesday, November 24, 2009.
BB: I think we're up against as big of a challenge as we could have here, back in the NFC with the undefeated Saints [on] Monday night. They're pretty much at the top of the league in everything - offense, third-down defense, turnovers, big plays in the kicking game. They're playing extremely well. They've got a lot of good players. They've got a good coaching staff and scheme. I think Sean [Payton] has done a great job with them [and] Greg Williams on defense. They are really solid in every phase of the game. They give you a lot to get ready for from an X's and O's standpoint, and they've got a lot of players that you've got to really almost game plan for and you can't get them all. I think it's one of those games where everybody involved in the game is going to have to do a good job, take care of their area and their responsibility because it's really hard to help somewhere else because as soon as you lighten the load in one spot you are giving them opportunities. You've just got to be sound, be solid across the board, and hope you can hold up and they make it tough on you. To me, it's easy to see why they haven't lost; they are very good at everything.
Q: A lot of the Saints players have said that you are the franchise they are trying to emulate. How are they doing so far?
BB: Well, I just watch them on film, and I see them play and - as I said - they are good at everything. They don't make many mistakes. They cause a lot of problems. They're very explosive. They can put up a lot of points in a hurry and they have. It's hard to give them any more compliments than that. They kind of look, in some ways, a little bit like the Rams did back in 2001 with a player like [Reggie] Bush similar to [Marshall] Faulk - a guy who could come out of the backfield, and split out and be a receiver, but line up in the backfield and be a running back. Players like that that are just rare - very hard to match up with - that give an offense a dimension that you just don't see during the course of the year and then all the other things that go with it. Defensively, with their pass rush and [Jonathan] Vilma and Will Smith, [Darren] Sharper, they've got a great scheme and great players to go with it. Like I said, they do everything well.
Q: Having watched the tape, again you always talk about expanding the multiples as the season goes on. Are you blitzing more now from the corners and blitzing from the secondary?
BB: I'd say just about everything we do we've had. I don't think there are any ... Very seldom do we have a defense that we draw up and have to put a new name on. It's usually something that maybe we haven't run in awhile, or we ran in training camp or we ran earlier in the season. But just about all the things we've done - and I'm sure we might be missing one or two of them - but for the most part all the things we've done in recent weeks have been things that we've had and I don't really remember putting anything new here in the last three or four weeks.
Q: [On the Saints threatening offensive records set in 2007]
BB: We're really not thinking too much about that at all. I'll tell you one thing, it wouldn't surprise me if the Saints set whatever records there are because I can't think of too many teams, I can't think of any really that are anymore explosive than this team is. I've talked about the Rams, I've talked about the Chargers in the early 80's, but these guys can run with anybody. But what's more important to us right now is this game, and our season, and how we do in 2009 and how we do this week against the Saints. It's a big game and we know it's against as good a team as there is in the National Football League this year. They're certainly going to be in it all the way through and they should be; they are outstanding. So it will be a great test for us to kind of see where we're at against as good a team as there is in football.
Q: Would you like to see a little better output in the second half in terms of your offense, particularly in the third quarter?
BB: We'd like to see ... Look, every time we send our team out onto the field we want to see a productive series, whether it's offense, defense or the plays we send the special teams unit out there. That's why they are being sent on the field [that] is to be productive. We'll keep working hard to get as much production as we can out of each unit and out of our entire football team. That's what we are here for. That's what our job is. We want to be productive every time we go out on the field.
Q: Can you put a finger on why in five out of 10 games you haven't scored any points in the third quarter?
BB: I think after you play as many games as we have that there's some merit to the numbers that are up there. I don't think that tells the whole story and I don't think that tells a weekly story. But from a standpoint of production, what you produce, that's what you've produced. We want to try to produce more in every area, whether it's third down, red area, second half, punt returns, net punting, everything. We want to try to get it to the highest level we possibly can, so we're going to keep working to try to get those the best we can in all those areas and the ones that have gone statistically pretty well or are going well. Then, we need to keep working on those to keep them at those levels.
Q: Do you change this game at all and how you approach late game situations?
BB: My attitude every week is to try to make the decisions that I feel like are what's best for our football team - whatever those happen to be - and that's what I'll continue to do. Whenever and whatever those are, that's what my job is, that's my commitment to the team. And I will make the ones that I feel are best for our football team.
Q: You included Dave Thomas on your 53-man roster and then traded him to New Orleans. He's become a pretty productive player there. Is that one of those cases where you say you wish you could have kept him?
BB: Yeah, Dave played quite a few snaps for us over the last few years, too, when he was healthy. Yeah, the options are to keep players on your roster, release other players, or if you are going to release them, and somebody wants to make a trade and get some value for a player, then to take that value and create that roster spot for somebody else. I think that Benjamin Watson and Chris Baker have both done a good job for us. We have a pretty productive offense. It would be hard for me to say where would we be without those two players, offensively. And I understand Dave's been productive for New Orleans and Dave's a good player; we drafted him in the third round and helped us here, too. But you can't keep everybody and you can't play everybody. Those are the kind of decisions you have to make every year on your roster at the final cut down or right there at the end in August or early September. We've had them both ways, guys coming or guys going. But you're always trying to get your team in the best position you can for the early part of the season, and also for the long haul and that's what your options are.
Q: As you mentioned the comparison to the 2001 Rams, is there anything you can take out of that experience in terms of game planning from those Rams teams in the early part of the decade and apply it to this week's game against the Saints?
BB: That really wasn't what I was trying to say. We were just talking about explosive offenses and I think I was just saying one thing that was common with the Rams that is common with the Saints is a player like Reggie Bush. And there are not many players that are running backs that when you split out a receiver look like receiver or receivers that you bring in to play running back that look like running backs. I was just drawing a comparison there. I wasn't trying to get into a big game-planning thing or say the two teams are identical because I don't think that's the case at all. I think there's a lot of differences between those teams. But I think what's common is they are both explosive and they both have a very unique player, like [Marshall] Faulk and Bush, that adds an element to those offenses that's different from most of the other offenses that we've faced over the course of the year. Really, there's not too many that I would say are similar to that over the course of the past eight years that we've played that I would put into that category.
Q: Would you say one difference between Faulk and Bush was that Faulk was more an every down back than Bush is?
BB: Look, they are two players that are playing in two completely different systems, so you're not comparing apples to apples. They are both great players and they both add an element to their teams that's very productive, very unique and it's hard to defend.
Q: Any moves to try and sure up your offensive line?
BB: We'll do the same thing this week that we do every week and that's to activate the 45 players that we feel like give us the best opportunity to win the game. And based on the players that are healthy, the game plan, the opponent and all the other factors that go into that situation, we'll take the players we feel give us the best opportunity to win on Monday night. So what that will exactly be, I can't tell you now [because] I don't know the answer myself. But as we go through the week and we get more information, then whatever that decision is, those are the factors it will be based on.