New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick addresses the media during his conference call on Monday, November 3, 2008.
BB: Well, it was a short night here. We are scrambling around a little bit this morning. But a couple of things on the game - it is certainly disappointing to be that close, do a lot of things well in the game but in the end not come out with the most points. [It was a] tough game, hard fought game. I thought both teams really played well - there weren't a lot of negative plays, turnovers or things like that. It just came down to a lot of little things in the end, they had just a little more than we did. So I think we want to try to take the positives from the game and work hard on doing a few things better: red area offense, red area defense, third down defense, taking advantage of our scoring opportunities offensively - we had a couple that we missed. If we made any one of those plays it probably would have made a difference in the game on either side of the ball in any situation. So we just have to keep working harder, do a good job on those things [and] turn our attention to Buffalo - a big division game coming up and get ready for the Bills.
Q: Now that you have had a chance to look at the tape what was your assessment of the unnecessary roughness call on David Thomas?
BB: Well, I could see why they called it.
Q: You mentioned positives - one of those would be the continuing development of Matt Cassel at quarterback. How pleased are you to see the kind of adjustments he has made in his game?
BB: I think Matt [Cassel] has continued to improve every week since week one. It doesn't surprise me. He works hard, he is a very attentive, smart kid who has talent and every opportunity he gets a chance to practice, take reps and play I think he improves. He's worked hard on it and I think that has shown up in his performance on a consistent basis.
Q: You mentioned red area offense as a place you would like to improve, could part of that be putting the ball in Matt Cassel's hands to throw the ball more now that he is more comfortable?
BB: We have thrown in the red area; it just comes down to better execution. An area where there is not much field space it is harder to throw down there than it is out in the field but it is still something you have to do. It is harder to run down there too because everyone is closer to the line and there is less space to defend. We just have to do a better job of getting it in and we have to do a better job of keeping them out. That is execution all the way across the board with whatever plays we are calling - runs, passes, defensively, blitzes, zones, mans. I am confident in Matt throwing the ball, I am confident in us running it, I am confident in us stopping them but we just have to do a better job of it that's all.
Q: Is that typical of the progression of young quarterbacks - that is an area that maybe you have to focus on getting them to move the ball between the 20's and then doing it in the end zone is taking another step in their evolution?
BB: There are a lot of things about every play no matter where it is called. There are things out in the field that you have to deal with but you don't deal with in the red area and vice versa. There is a lot of things for all players to learn, pick up, adjust to and get comfortable with - red area is part of it, third down, all the different fronts and flip packages, coverage adjustments that goes on out in the field and all down and distances - it's a lot for any player to work with. Red area is challenging but so is everything else.
Q: You ran a lot of two tight end sets throughout the game and it looked like it helped in keeping the edge rushers off of Matt Cassel. Where you happy with that outcome?
BB: I am just happy with the fact that we moved the ball. We had long drives, maintained ball possession and changed field position. I just wish we could have gotten it into the end zone a little bit more. Having a little more presence on the edge creates another gap for them to defend in the running game. It creates a little wider alignment or different leverage position for the rushers against the offensive tackles so there are some advantages to that. I thought overall that our pass blocking was pretty solid. I thought our run blocking was pretty consistent; we just didn't score enough points.
Q: Did you ask Jerod Mayo to do more in coverage this game?
BB: I think Jerod has been involved in coverages all the way through. Again this is one of those games with the Colts where it is hard to substitute people so whatever group was out there you've got to be prepared to play with. They go to shot gun, they spread [Dallas] Clark out - he's kind of like a third receiver and then sometimes he comes in and he plays a tight end. He is a very versatile player so defensively you have to be able to shift in and out of those different defense formations to match up with him. So sometimes that involves your guys doing things a little bit differently because you don't have the opportunity to substitute. So you could say that the way it ended up our linebackers ended up in quite a bit of coverage on the tight end and the backs. I think that any team that has played them they are going to be in that situation a decent amount of the time too - they kind of force you into that. I am not saying we are uncomfortable with Jerod and Gary [Guyton] doing that but it probably came up more in this game than it would normally come up.
Q: Are you surprised with how close the AFC East is?
BB: Well, we have played two of the teams. We had a very competitive game with the Jets down there and got beat up by Miami pretty good. So, I have kind of kept an eye on Buffalo - they have played a lot of teams that we have played so we have seen them to some degree. But now is really when we start zeroing in on them. I think all three of those are good football teams. We certainly knew about the Jets and Miami - that wasn't any surprise. The way that Buffalo has been built with the job that Dick [Jauron] has done there and getting a lot of young talented players on their team and how explosive they are in the return game, on special teams and offensively with [Lee] Evans, all the receivers and [Marshawn] Lynch. Defensively their speed and quickness up front with some talented guys in the secondary - it doesn't surprise me that they have won five games, no.