Patriots head coach Bill Belichick addresses the media during his conference call, on Monday, November 29, 2010.
BB: We're back at it here. The Jets are really an impressive team to watch. It's easy to see why they have the best record in the league. They do a great job at everything. Their return game is good. Their kicking and coverage teams are good. Offensively, they can run it; they can throw it. They've got big-play receivers, production out of the tight ends, [LaDanian] Tomlinson is the leading receiver, a lot of production out of the backs. They're doing a good job with the offensive line, mixing some personnel groups in there. They give you a lot to get ready for, and of course defensively, they're a good coverage team, good pressure team, strong against the run, good situational team. Rex [Ryan] has done a really good job of putting that team together. They're obviously well coached. They're solid in every phases of the game and in the games where they have had to make plays at the end of the game, whether it's to get the ball back or score or whatever they've had to do, they've done it. So they're really doing a good job in clutch situations playing good situational football. They have strengths in every area of the game. It's a very solid football team and a big challenge for us Monday night, so we've got a lot of work to do, but we're always looking forward to the matchup with the Jets.
Q: Obviously you guys have changed a lot since you last played the Jets when Darrelle Revis covered Randy Moss a lot, who obviously isn't here anymore. Do you game plan for how you think they may cover you, like who Revis and Antonio Cromartie might be on, or how do you handle dealing with the matchups of their corners?
BB: Well, we'll look at the different games that the Jets have played and how they have matched up against different teams and try to have an idea of what we think they're going to do. But Rex is a really good game planning coach. I'm sure he'll set up the matchups however he feels is the best way to defend us and we won't know exactly what that is until game time, so we'll have to be prepared for what we think is going to happen, but also be ready to adjust if they do it differently and try to take advantage of whatever our scheme matchups are offensively, whether that be in the running game or the passing game or formationally or whatever it happens to be. We know there will be some wrinkles there Monday night and we'll have to adjust to them one way or another.
Q: What initially drew you to Danny Woodhead and how would you characterize his contributions since joining the team?
BB: I'd say that of course we were aware of him from his time out of college and when he initially was with the Jets. We certainly got a good look at him in preseason when we were starting to break down the Jets games and then at the beginning of the season when he wasn't on their 53-man roster. He was right at the top of our short list and after we traded Laurence [Maroney] then we had an opportunity or a spot and a little bit of a need at that position, so we signed him prior to Kevin [Faulk's] injury, which really made it a need. Danny has done a really good job of learning the offense and the kicking game. He has contributed for us in those phases of the game and he's been an important member of our team all year. He's made plays in the running game, the passing game and on special teams, so he's done a real solid job.
Q: Is there a common thread you've see from the Jets in how they have performed in late-game situations?
BB: I mean, the common thread is that [Mark] Sanchez has made plays. He's used different receivers. He's used his tight ends and backs. And of course, [Santonio] Holmes, Braylon Edwards, those guys have come through for him, too. [Jerricho] Cotchery had a huge catch in the Cleveland game. He's used all of his receivers and defensively, when they've got to get the ball back, they're going to be more aggressive. They're going to get up close to the line of scrimmage and put more pressure on the offense. I don't think that's any secret. They've done a good job of all those things and also in the kicking game, whether it's making the kick or getting themselves field position in the kicking game like in the punt return against Cleveland [in] getting the ball into good field position to set up, finally, the winning score. Again, they're a solid team and they've made those plays in all points in the game, but the ones that really stand out are the ones they've made at the end of games which have won [games] for them.
Q: Every team makes drastic changes and improvements from training camp to the end of the season. Is there any way you can describe the level of improvement this team has made over the course of this season from week one to now?
BB: I'd say overall that the team has improved on a weekly basis and for the most part on a daily basis. A lot of times it's little steps or it's little things. Sometimes the things you improve on in practice don't necessarily show up in that particular game that you're preparing for. Maybe it's a game two or three weeks later that you come back and the situation that you've practiced doesn't come up until later. So it's really hard to measure that on a daily basis or a weekly basis. But I do think in just standing out there watching practice and observing it, you see improvement in different areas throughout the course of the year, whether that's individual players and individual techniques, or whether it's something that a group does better based on the execution of the whole unit on a play that involves a lot of people. I'd say it's been steady and for the most part consistent. And it's been a combination of individual and collective things, which is the way it should be. It's the way it is usually every year and that's the way it should be and hopefully we can continue to do that in our remaining opportunities left this season to keep getting better and working on things that we can improve on. Some of that is coaching. Some of that is playing, and as I said, some of it is individual technique.
Q: A lot of the players point to the way you say the season doesn't start until after Thanksgiving. Is there a mindset you have that has helped you guys be successful in the late-season stretch in the past or how do you deal with that?
BB: I think it's just obvious that there are fewer games. A lot of teams are packed closely together, whether it be in division races or overall records, and there aren't many games left, so each game becomes more important, more critical and has more influence in the final standings. I think that's obvious. We just go into it with that kind of emphasis. Right now you just want to be in good position where you are still in contentions, which obviously both these teams are for Monday night, and then go from there. I think you can look back to just about any season and see teams that played well in September or October or got off to a good start, or maybe not such a good start but then played better at the end of the year or not as good, whatever the case might be, and that's usually more the way their season gets defined. I think that's another part of what I would be referring to: it's not so much which team was playing good in September, as which team is playing good in December [and] January.
Q: You have a pretty long layoff between last game and this Monday night's game. Is that good at this point of the season or would you rather stick to a regular schedule?
BB: We stick to whichever schedule we get. A short week last week means a long week this week. And a long week this week means a short week next week. Whatever it is, that's what we go with. We try to take advantage of our time and our practice opportunities to get the most out of them, whatever they happen to be. That's the way it is. Every other team is in the same boat, too. We all play the same number of games and we play them over the same amount of time, so it all evens out.
Q: Jarrad Page and Fred Taylor were active against the Lions but didn't play. Is it a case where they would have played if you had needed them, but you didn't want to push them just coming off their injuries?
BB: I would say that is fairly accurate. They were active; they could have played. They didn't play.
Q: Would you expect a similar situation next week or will it depend more on what happens this week in practice?
BB: I think for all of our players, it's kind of the same every week: get ready to go, be ready to play. Based on the game plan and matchups and practice performance and all those things, we select the players that will be active for the game and based on the game, some players will play more or less. There are a lot of factors that go into those decisions. I expect every player to come in here and get ready to go this week and be ready to play against the Jets. And ultimately the playing time decisions are coaching decisions; those aren't things the players can control. We'll make those decisions based on what we feel is best for our football team to try to win the game.
Q: I know how much respect you have for your former assistant Josh McDaniels. I'm just curious what your thought are on what's unfolding out there in Denver right now?
BB: I'm really focused on the Jets.