Patriots head coach Bill Belichick addresses the media during his conference call on Tuesday, December 14, 2010.
BB: It's been the last day and half or so here on Green Bay and it's a pretty impressive looking team. They can really move the ball. [Aaron] Rodgers is having a terrific year. [He's] very athletic, can run it, can throw it. He's got a great set of receivers [and] tight ends. They have a very good offensive system with Coach [Mike] McCarthy there. They really use a lot of different personnel groups, a lot of different formations. It's very hard to prepare for. Defensively, [with] Dom [Capers], they've been playing very well. They can rush the passer. They have excellent coverage players, real good corners. They have a nice mix of pressure and coverage. Again, they mix it up on you enough where you have a lot of things to defend. But, they have a lot of good players and they can pretty much play whatever they want to play. It looks good: third down, red area, man-to-man, zone, [and] blitz zone. They haven't given up a lot of points and they make you really work for whatever you get. They've got a number of disruptive players on the whole unit. [They're] a good football team. They're another challenge for us, different from what we've seen in previous weeks. [They're] a very talented team that's well coached, disciplined, very sound fundamentally and we'll have to really have a good week of preparation here so we can get ready for them this weekend.
Q: What are the challenges in trying to block Clay Matthews and how disruptive is he on a play-by-play basis?
BB: Well, you know, Clay is fast, quick. He's got real good balance. He's a guy with a high motor, so even at times when it looks like he's blocked, he can still come out and get in on the play. He's a good pursuit player, but I'd say his speed and his quickness are big assets. He's a guy that's never really out of the play. You can run away from him but he can run you down or you can run to him and it kind of looks like you might have him blocked, but he spins out of things and uses his quickness and his athleticism to get out of tight situations, stay alive and make plays. So, [he's] a good football player.
Q: When you were evaluating Clay coming out of college, how did you see him as a possible fit in the Patriots defense?
BB: Well pretty much as what he is now. He's an outside linebacker, playing in a 3-4 defense. It's basically what he did at USC his senior year. He was very productive in the kicking game. You could definitely see him play in space and run well and cover kicks and do all those things. And his senior year, [when] he was able to get some more playing time, he became a productive defensive player there as well.
Q: How would you describe the differences between the Patriots' and the Packers' 3-4 schemes?
BB: Well, I'd say that the Packers system is definitely similar to the Steelers system. They use some of the same alignments and adjustments and that type of thing to what Pittsburgh does. But, of course it's with different personnel and different players, so even if it's the same defense, it plays differently because of Charles Woodson and [Tramon] Williams and Matthews and all the other guys that they got playing. It's different than the guys that Pittsburgh would use with the same plays [and] same calls. It's certainly unique and you have to match up personnel-wise to their defense. They give you a lot of problems because they have so many good players at every position on the line, at linebacker, at safety, at corner. They use a number of different people. They give you some tough looks on third down. It's definitely a challenge for us, but it certainly has its roots with the Pittsburgh system. I don't think there's any question about that.
Q: It's been two games now since Fred Taylor's come back and played. Is he starting to look like his normal self?
BB: I think the big thing is that he's gotten the chance to play. He missed several weeks there of not only playing, but also practicing. He's had an opportunity to practice, get some carries with the scout team, just getting his hands on the ball, read blockers and catching the ball in the passing game, recognizing blitz pickups and things like that. So, I think that our practices have helped him both as a scout team back and also running some of our players. And, of course, he has to split that with the other three backs that have been active basically all year. He's definitely regaining some timing and taking advantage of his opportunities in practice to sharpen up. So, I think that's helped him. He's gotten a few carries in the last couple of games. I think we're heading in the right direction there.
Q: The Packers have struggled at times to run the ball. Have they made up for that with their passing game?
BB: Well, I think they use some elements of their passing game, really, just as runs. They throw quick passes out to their outside receivers, to [Greg] Jennings and [Donald] Driver. On the coverages, people come down and play a lot of guys against the run and they'll throw it out there to them. They throw the ball quite a bit to [Brandon] Jackson [with] screen passes. They're a very good screen team and they use the check downs and plays like that, some three-step drop passes to get the ball to the tight ends, slot receivers or outside receivers. So, I think those plays - like any West Coast Offense - those plays are just as much a part of moving the ball and getting first downs and getting into scoring position as handoffs. So, no matter how they get it down there, I think the big thing, defensively, is to try to keep them from moving the ball and getting into scoring position. And I'm sure from their point of view, whether they throw a screen pass or run the ball and gain the same amount of yardage, I don't think it really matters too much to them. They're just trying to get first downs, make positive plays and stay out of long yardage. They do a really good job of that. They're not in long yardage very often and that's because of the efficiencies of their first and second-down plays, whether those are runs or short passes or play-action passes or shots down the field - which they do all them - they just do them pretty well.
Q: What did you take away from the year that you had Dom Capers on your staff and how much did you talk to him about different systems that you guys run defensively?
BB: Well we talked some about it. Dom had come from Miami where Nick [Saban] ran his system down there, so I think there was a good level of familiarity with what we were doing. There are certainly a lot of similarities to our system and what Coach Saban ran down there in Miami. But, Dom's had a great background at, of course, Pittsburgh and then when he was the head coach at Carolina and Houston. He certainly has some great ideas and thoughts of his own defensive system, but he was kind of in ours for that year. So, we talked about some of those things. He certainly gave me a better understanding of some of the adjustments and the philosophies that he and the Steelers used in building their defense and some of their keys and adjustments and why they did them and what caused them to adjust and things like that. And at the same time, I think he understands some of the things that we did that were maybe a little bit different from the way that Coach Saban did them and the advantages and disadvantages of all those different adjustments and things that you have to do to handle whatever formations and plays the offense gives you. So, it was a good give and take and Dom has great experience and has had a terrific coaching career and is an outstanding defensive coach. He's been there and done that at a number of different locations in the league, so I think his record and quality of his coaching speaks for itself and it was certainly a good learning year for me to have him on our staff. And I think he'd probably say the same thing from what he gained that year.
Q: Looking at Tom Brady's performance since the Cleveland game, what stands out to you?
BB: Well, I think the main thing for us is just our team performance. Everybody, all the players on the team, have a job to do. It's not always perfect. Sometimes it's better than others. Sometimes plays are better than others, but the bottom line is just the whole unit working efficiently. [The] quarterback is a big part of that, but he can't do it without everybody else and they can't do it without him and so forth. We all know that. I think Tom continues to work hard on his preparation. Challenges change every week. No two weeks are the same. Everybody doing their job makes his job better and him being prepared and doing a good job in his keys and reads enables us to perform proficiently on offense, whatever the situation is, whether it's first down, second down, third down, goal line [or] whatever it happens to be. I think the big thing for us is just to continue working hard as a unit, work on our executions, make sure that we all understand what our opponents are doing and what our game plan is and how those fit together and what adjustments we make. If we can all do that, collectively, through all 11 players, seeing things the same way and doing it well as a unit, then we'll probably be pretty efficient offensively. If we don't, even though there might be a few good plays by individuals on any given play, the overall execution of the offense won't be there unless it's there on a consistent basis with the entire unit. Put Tom in there with the other guys; I feel the same way about all of them.
Q: What are your thoughts on Charles Woodson and his skill set?
BB: Outstanding. Outstanding. He does everything well: man-to-man coverage, zone coverage, reads the quarterback well, has good anticipation of route and route combinations, outstanding ball skills, blitzer - [he's an] excellent blitzer - [and] good run-force player. When he plays inside in the slot position, or even in the perimeter, he plays very well. I'd say Woodson, [Antoine] Winfield, there are a handful of guys that really stand out in that area [and Woodson] would be in that group. [He's] an excellent tackler. You rarely see him miss. So, I think he's as good and complete player in that position that you will find in the league. Although I will also say that I have been impressed with Williams, playing on the other side. I think he's an excellent player, too; I think they have two real good corners. Woodson's outstanding, but Williams is really good, too. So, that's going to be a big challenge for us in terms of getting open and making good throws. Little mistakes, sloppy routes, bad throws or not having good distribution in the passing game with our route depths, those guys can take advantage of it and they can kill you. They're a ball-hawking secondary. They get their hands on a lot of balls and they catch them. Those two corners, in particular, are very good. They're as good as we will see or we have seen as being complete players.