New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick addresses the media during his conference call on Tuesday, November 4, 2008.
BB: Well, we are back in the division here and getting ready for Buffalo. That [Buffalo] is a team that has a few new faces - guys like [defensive tackle Marcus] Stroud that we have to deal with on the defensive side of the ball. Big play makers offensively with [wide receiver Roscoe] Parrish, [wide receiver Lee] Evans, [running back Marshawn] Lynch, the quarterback [Trent Edwards] is playing well, big offensive line - I think they are the biggest in the league, Philadelphia is big, Dallas is big - they [Buffalo's offensive line] are real big and fast on defense. I think the linebackers are real active, the front's active - [defensive tackle Kyle] Williams and Stroud do a real good job inside. I think the corners [backs] are playing very well - [cornerback Jabari] Greer has really emerged as a quality player for them [and cornerback Terrence] McGee. [Buffalo is] very good in the kicking game like they always are, good return team - very dangerous, good kickers. So we know this team well, they know us and we have a lot to get ready for. But [we are] looking forward to playing the division. It is a tough game coming up and it is an important game for us. I hope we can play well.
Q: It seems like lately we have seen more of Gary Guyton on the field, what are some of the factors that have contributed to him playing more?
BB: I would say the main thing has been when he's had an opportunity to play he has done a good job. But he has some versatility for us. He can rush a little bit and cover a little bit. He can play a little bit of inside or outside linebacker and those kinds of responsibilities. So he gives us some flexibility there - pace Tedy [Bruschi] a little bit.
Q: Thinking back to Gary [Guyton] at the draft, I am sure it was surprising to some that he would go undrafted but is contributing the way he is. Can you pinpoint why he would have gone undrafted?
BB: No. I can tell you that we were strongly considering him along with Bo [Ruud] in the [sixth] round and we ended up taking Bo. But those were two of the players that we were talking a lot about. When the draft was over we went back and Gary wasn't drafted so we came back on him and of course his question was, 'Well, why didn't you take me in the [sixth] round?' - and that was a good question.
Q: He won you over with his smarts right there?
BB: Yes. He knew more than we did at that point. But we were fortunate enough to sign him as a free agent. He is a smart kid. I think he may have gotten caught a little bit in the middle there between, 'Is his a 4-3 middle linebacker? Is he a 4-3 outside linebacker? Is he a 3-4 outside linebacker? Is he big enough to be a 3-4 inside linebacker?' He kind of has a little bit of everything but I don't know if he is the prototype in terms of size, speed and all of that for any of those positions. But he seems to do well enough to play elements of all of them. He was one of the fastest players at the combine at his position. His ability to run I think is evident and that shows up in the kicking game. We saw that early in the Baltimore game when he ran a return route out of bounds down there on the goal line for a long return. He has been on the field everyday. He just keeps getting better and working hard. He has some things going for him and the biggest thing is he is taking advantage of his play opportunity.
Q: Terrence Wheatley left the game, at this stage do you have a feel for if it is a long-term situation or are you still waiting for more information on that?
BB: Yeah, not yet. I think they are looking at it. They did some stuff yesterday and [we will] see how that comes out today. I don't have any more to add at this point. Going back to [Gary] Guyton for a second - I mean all of those positive things that I said lets not get him fitted for the jacket yet, ok?
Q: Prior to Sunday night you had a little rotation going at right guard but against the Colts you stayed with one option, how did you feel that worked out?
BB: I thought it worked out well. Steve [Neal] played about half of the previous two games. We felt that was a good amount for him to play and we felt like after last weeks game against the Rams that he was ready to go all the way in terms of his conditioning and a couple of weeks of contact, daily practices and all of that. We started him, played him and he didn't have any problems. Steve is in good condition. He is one of our best-conditioned guys for his position. He really didn't have any problems - although it wasn't perfect he continued to get better. We will probably continue to go that way as long as it keeps going in this direction. But I think that Billy [Yates] has done an outstanding job for us this year and I don't think he has had too many problems in any of the games. We are really fortunate to have a quality player like Billy to be able to step in and play as well as he did for the first six games or even in the [last] two in terms of splitting time there with Steve.
Q: Shifting gears to look at the Bills why do you feel Trent Edwards has been able to step in and be a starter so quickly?
BB: Because he is a good football player. He is accurate, makes good decisions and has a good feel for the position. Of course he came from a good passing background but he has good field vision, sees things well, reads coverages, goes to the place where the guy has light coverage and he is also working with some very good receivers so I am sure that helps the passing game as well. But he has been very efficient. Even last year when he stepped in he seemed to have a good presence on the field and good command of the offense.
Q: I know you didn't have a third round pick when he [Trent Edwards] came out but is he someone you looked at coming out of Stanford [University]? Did you give him any kind of a look knowing that he might be there in that fourth round range?
BB: Yes, sure we did. To be honest with you I think we were a little surprised that he lasted as long as he did. As you mentioned we already traded the second [round draft pick] for [Wes] Welker and ended up giving up the fourth [round draft pick] for [Randy] Moss - not that, that mattered. But we had players we just didn't end up with a full compliment of picks there.
Q: It seemed like those deals worked out ok?
BB: Yeah. But had he been there when we took Kareem Brown, I'd like to think we wouldn't have passed him up.
Q: How about Lee Evans? The history has not always been kind to receivers that have been drafted as high as he was but he is one that it has worked out for. What do you like about him?
BB: He sure has. [One of the] things with Lee coming out [of Wisconsin] - [he was] just off the knee injury. He had a great junior year there or the year before he was drafted he had a great year. Then he had the knee injury and I think that was a little bit of a question but he has a lot of speed. He accelerates very quickly. For that kind of speed he has very good quickness too. He runs intermediate routes, in-cuts and comebacks very well. He had a real good catch in the Jets game where they had him high low, they put a lot of coverage to him last week with [Kerry] Rhodes over the top a lot, [Darrelle] Revis underneath him and [Dwight] Lowery sometimes too. He made a real good move to beat the underneath coverage when he was sandwiched between the low guy and the high guy. He has real good quickness and a good ability to run after the catch primarily because of his speed. But as I said he does have good quickness and catches the ball so he is really a big play threat. You have to be careful about sitting on his routes or trying to play the intermediate stuff because he can blow by you and we have seen plenty of that. At the same time if you play too soft and give him too much room, there is a lot of easy 10-, 15-, 18-yard completions underneath [and] you don't want to give those up either. He is a hard guy to defend and they are moving him around more this year so it isn't as easy to find him. They will put him on the strong side, the weak side, run him on some under routes and crossing patterns, so it is not all-vertical stuff.
Q: I think you only ran it twice against the Colts but you refer to it as the wild cat when you direct snap to Kevin Faulk and having Matt Cassel flanked out wide - was that a new wrinkle for you?
BB: How did I think that worked out? Well, I thought the run was fine - that was a solid play. The slip screen - we didn't get much out of that. It just gives you a way to pick up an extra blocker in the running game - not a big thing, just another thing. I think when you get to this point in the season, the half way point, every team is sort of doing the same thing even when you run the same plays you try to give them a little bit of a different look and make the defense defend something different or try to do what you do but not make it quite as obvious - dress it up a little differently. That is something that you kind of work on all the way through the year especially on the running game - you only have so many running plays, no team has 40 running plays. You maybe have ten or whatever it is and you throw out a couple of those from week to week depending on how the other team is playing. Maybe you pick up a couple here or there but in the end after a few games everybody has pretty much seen your running game and it's hard to put in a lot of new running plays because there is so many moving parts with the lineman and the tight ends and the backs - you just don't have a lot of time to work on them. I am not saying you can't do it but it's hard to do a lot of it. So you find a way to change up those things. I think you see a lot of teams doing that in some form or fashion whether it is a motion or unbalanced line, direct snap to the running back, shifting - those kinds of things to give the defense a little something else to think about before the ball is snapped.