New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick addresses the media during his conference call on Tuesday, December 08, 2009.
BB: OK, we're all moving on to Carolina here. I think these guys have played pretty well lately. They're a solid team. They run the ball, have a big offensive line, good receivers, good in the kicking game, real solid on defense, got a good front, some good defensive linemen, the linebackers are fast, good competitive players in the secondary; got some experience at corner, a mix of youth and experience at safety, and even with some of their backups in the secondary, so it's a team that's dangerous. Defensively, they don't make a lot of mistakes. They don't give up a lot of big plays and you've got to block them. They've got a lot of hard guys to block. [Jon] Beason's definitely one of the best inside linebackers we've seen all year. He's very active and he gets in on a lot of plays. Those are some challenges for us this week.
Q: They haven't announced their quarterback yet, so will you prepare for both and what are the differences they show in one versus the other?
BB: We'll definitely prepare for both of them until we find out something different - actually, all three because there is a possibility [A.J.] Feeley can be in there as a backup. [Matt] Moore is an athletic guy. They do a good job of moving him around. They've got a good running game, so you've really got to respect that and the play-actions and boots and things like that that come off that are dangerous. But he's an accurate thrower with a good group of receivers. He kind of gives them a little extra dimension back there. Jake [Delhomme] is obviously a very experienced player; he's seen it all. I thought he played very well against us in the games we've seen him going back to '03, '05 and '04 in preseason and all that. The times that we've seen him he's played well. He stands in there, accurate passer.
Q: Going back to the draft when you were evaluating Jon Beason, did you see him as a pure 4-3 player or could he have been a fit in a 3-4 for you?
BB: I think he could play for anybody. I think he could play for anybody, no matter what defense they had, I think there would be a place for Jon Beason. He runs well. He's big. He's physical. He's got great range, good tackler. I think any defense would get him on the field somewhere, probably off the line of scrimmage as an inside linebacker, but he can play over the center, over the guard, play over the tackle, [or] off the line. He looks very comfortable and very productive in all those spots for the Panthers. I think he's really a good football player and does an excellent job in pass defense, similar to [Jonathan] Vilma, but bigger. They are different but they are both very athletic, they run well, they cover a lot of ground. I would say Beason is bigger and a little bit more physical. And Vilma's a pretty instinctive player, but they are both very good.
Q: Am I right in thinking you spent some time with Jon Beason prior to that draft and how close were you? Because he was right around the area you were picking and you ended up with Brandon Meriweather. How was it spending time with him and how close were you to bringing him here?
BB: I can't remember exactly how close it was, but obviously we had a lot of interest in him. It doesn't surprise me that he's a good football player in the National Football League because he does a lot of things well. He's a smart guy that's big, athletic. He's a good tackler, plays good pass defense and those guys are hard to find at middle linebacker - guys that are real good pass defenders. There were a lot of good football players on that Miami team and those are two of them that you mentioned.
Q: As you watch the film and the different things you've done, is there any simple way to jump start the pass rush that you guys have been bringing? And have you been able to zero in on what is lacking?
BB: I think on pass defense it's a combination of the rush and the coverage. It is this year [and] I think it always is. Our pass rush could be better with better coverage and our pass coverage could be better with better rush. The more those two can come together, the better on pass defense we'll be. When one of them breaks down that creates problems with the other one and so we've certainly had a lot of situations of both, where we had real good pressure on the quarterback, or guys that are on block coming in on the quarterback, and coverage not being tight enough, and passes being completed and vice versa. We've had times where we've had them covered and the quarterbacks been able to hold the ball and then they uncover and get open. So we've just got to do a better job all the way around of coaching it, covering, rushing and getting the timing of the coverage and the rush to be a little bit more consistent and in sync.
Q: To follow up on that, does it make it that much more frustrating when sometimes it's the front end and sometimes it's the back end?
BB: Having been involved in defense for a long time, I would say that's an inherent problem for any defense against any passing game. That's what the offense is struggling to do to the defense, is to get them out of that method of playing. And defensively that's what you're trying to do to the offense. I think that's the constant struggle. The offense mixes in different types of routes, quick throws, play-actions, deep or intermediate throws, misdirection plays, bootlegs - all things like that to keep the defense from zeroing in on one type of play, or one type of timing pass, or [putting] the quarterback in different positions in the pocket at different depths and the ball going to different types of plays in the passing game, so you have to defend all of them. Defensively, the defenses are trying to do the same thing to disrupt the offense with hitting the receivers, getting the quarterback to move and not letting him throw on time and all that. That's the push and pull of pass offense and pass defense. And whichever side of it you're on, you are going to be challenged one way or another. As a defensive coach, that's always something you're working on. It's not anything unique to one season or even one game.
Q: You mentioned their running game has been productive but can you talk about some of the challenges you face with them?
BB: [Jonathan] Stewart and [DeAngelo] Williams, in particular, they've got great skills. They're strong. They make people miss. They break tackles, they run through them. They can run inside; they've got great vision, they can run outside. They are dangerous catching the ball out of the backfield. They are really two excellent players. It doesn't look like they really care which one is in there. [It is] different but similar to the Ronnie Brown/Ricky Williams scenario, where whichever guy is in there is a problem and whoever does a good job for them. As a fullback, [Tony] Fiammetta has gotten a little playing time there, too. They have good depth in their backfield and good quality.
Q: Did you look at DeAngelo Williams in the draft and what do you remember in the scouting from him?
BB: Good player. There were several good backs in that draft with [Joseph] Addai - he was in there, too. There were a lot of good backs. They've all been productive in the league. There was good depth in that position in the draft that year. [He's a] solid player, was tough in college and it doesn't surprise me that he's doing well at this level, too. Again, fast, quick, hard to tackle, makes a lot of yards on his own and like any back durability is always going to be a little bit of an unknown - How many carries? How many games? How many snaps do they get? I don't know if there is any good way to predict that, but that's part of the production that those guys are measured by.
Q: The Panthers have a local kid playing offensive line, Mackenzy Bernadeau. Do you remember him from the pre-draft process and if so, are you surprised that he's emerged in the NFL?
BB: He was a real interesting prospect, a little bit of a late name. I don't think we had much on him in the fall. He came up in the spring and [we] worked him out. He's definitely a guy that you felt like had some physical skills, had a way to go from a technique standpoint and his development, but a guy that you would have liked to work with. And that's a guy, had he not been drafted, that we would have been interested in post-draft as a college free-agent type of thing. Those are the type of guys that when you get to that seventh round, guys like that, or [Matt] Cassel, or Myron Pryor, whoever, sixth, seventh round that you take a shot at them if you like their skills and if you hit on them, a lot of times it really isn't surprising because they have the skills to play, they just need some time and some development. And then, of course, there are a lot of those guys that don't end up playing because they aren't able to come up to the competitive level that you've seen the guys - for the most part - who get drafted ahead of them to achieve. But I would say he falls into that category of a talented guy that I think a lot of the teams in the league wanted to work with, but small school, not a lot of experience, long way to go from a technique standpoint and at what price do you want to take that player? Do you want to take him as an undrafted player? Do you want to put a draft choice into him and be in the market with somebody else? But obviously a good pick by Carolina.