New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick addresses the media during his conference call on Tuesday, December 15, 2009.
BB: OK, back in the division here with Buffalo. It's been quite awhile since we've played them. [There're] some things that look pretty familiar and the same. And there're other things - they have some new faces, new people there, of course the change with [Perry] Fewell taking over as the head coach. They've done pretty well here lately. They had a couple good wins and beat teams in our division that we've lost to, so we have a lot of respect for what they do. They've got - as always - a great group of skill players. I think [Ryan] Fitzpatrick has given them an element of mobility at the quarterback position that maybe they didn't have with [Trent] Edwards in there. Defensively, they're fast, active, lead the league in interceptions - [they] get their hands on a lot of balls. They're a good pass rushing team as always with [Aaron] Schobel and a lot of their other athletic defensive linemen, like [Kyle] Williams, [Ryan] Denney, [Spencer] Johnson, [Chris] Kelsay, [Aaron] Maybin and all those guys. And as usual they're very good in the kicking game, strong return game, good specialists, good coverage units. So I think we've got to be ready for a lot of things up in Buffalo this weekend. Certainly, the elements could play a factor in the game as we saw last year, but more importantly for the next couple days we've got to really focus on Buffalo and what they do, and how we can defend it or try to attack it. So those are the challenges that we have there. But certainly [they're] a team that makes a lot of big plays with their turnovers, their interceptions and their skill players on offense - [Lee] Evans, [Terrell] Owens and [Josh] Reed, and the backs that they have - [Marshawn] Lynch, Fred Jackson, [Shawn] Nelson. They've got a lot of players that can make big plays for them in all three phases of the game, so they are very dangerous on every play.
Q: What overall changes have they made? How do they appear to be a different team with the new coaching staff in place as opposed to the first time you played them?
BB: I think that fundamentally they look pretty much the same as the first time we played them. They run the same schemes. Of course they changed coordinators before our first game, offensively, but I would say that I'm sure there are little subtle things about the way they prepare, the way they go about their game plan. There have been some personnel changes of course, which we've seen, [Ryan] Fitzpatrick, [Fred] Jackson playing ahead of Marshawn Lynch. I think there's more of an effort to get the ball down the field to the receivers, not that they didn't do that before, but it just looks like there's a little more of it. Defensively, they continue to have a good mix of coverages, pressure, man, zone and all those things. I don't think they really do anything we haven't seen before. Maybe it's a little bit different percentages or a little bit different emphasis, but I think that's probably a better question to ask the guys from Buffalo that have seen it on a daily basis. But on film, Buffalo is still Buffalo.
Q: You mentioned yesterday you had more yardage on outside runs against the Panthers than you have had in recent memory. What did you think contributed to that production?
BB: Well, being able to get outside, the tackles, the tight ends, the receivers and of course the backs, we were just able to get out there a little bit more than we had. We had some draw plays inside that were productive, but I would just say we got the ball on the edge a little bit more than we have - I would say - in most games this year [or] games that I can remember anyway. Not that we haven't called those plays before, they just happen to get out there. I think Chris [Baker], Ben [Watson], all three tackles, Sammy [Morris] and the receivers did a good job of blocking the perimeter and giving our backs a chance to get out there. And the backs ran pretty well when they got outside. We had a play down there in the red area on the goal line with Kevin [Faulk] where it looked like the defense overplayed it. Kevin started wide, and a lot guys ran outside and then he cut it in to the end zone for a pretty easy score. So I think when you can get the ball out there that helps set up your inside plays and gives you that balance in the running game that makes it a little bit harder to defend.
Q: What does having James Sanders back in the secondary do for you and how did you think he responded to not having played for awhile and getting back into the lineup?
BB: James is very professional. He always works hard. I think you can always count on James on a daily basis. He's a very consistent player. [He] comes in, works hard every day, is always ready to go. Whatever you ask him to do, he jumps in there and does his best, whether it's every play, situational plays, or sub-defenses, or goal line or whatever it is. He's been very consistent like that. I thought he did get a chance for a little more playing time against Carolina, and I thought he did some good things - as he usually does - and he played hard. He's a smart player and of course there are always some things that can be improved on a little bit, but overall I thought he did a solid job. And his experience and communication and adjustment skills back there in the secondary ... He's seen everything for a number of years that that was probably a positive for him and Brandon [Meriweather] to just make sure that we didn't have any more - I mean, there're always some breakdowns and some plays that could have been better - but to try to minimize that aspect of it.
Q: Terrell Owens is battling an up and down season, does he feel like as much of a threat as he was in his recent years?
BB: Well, yeah. Ask Jacksonville, ask Miami. He does a great job on the vertical deep routes. He's obviously big and fast and he can go up and get the ball. But he's also very good on the underneath routes, like what happened last week on a catch-and-run play where he caught the ball underneath, broke a couple tackles, and got the ball in the end zone. He's dangerous. He made a nice play there against Kansas City, but he's also made nice plays down the field. They try to get him the ball underneath. They did that against us in the first game for a 20-something-yard gain, whatever it was. So he's a guy that can hurt you in a lot of different ways - deep, intermediate, run after the catch. He had a real nice play that got called back against Miami. He had a real nice play where he took a reverse and they had him in the backfield for about a 10-yard loss, and he ended up gaining about 10, 12 yards on the play and broke three or four tackles along the way. I think he's still got plenty of skill.
Q: T.O. and Randy Moss came into the league at about the same time. Do you think those two changed what that position is in the NFL?
BB: Since I've been in the league, I think the NFL has always had great receivers and great quarterbacks. And I think each player kind of has his own unique style, whether it's Steve Largent, Art Monk, Jerry Rice, Randy, T.O. or Wes Welker, whoever they are, each guy is in their own offensive system. All those players haven't played in the same system and they all have a little bit different skill set. And for the most part, they all have a different quarterback. How all that joins up is a little bit unique for each player in each situation. And they are all great in their own right and in the systems with the other players they are with. But defensively, I think you have to defend those players in the system that they're in and that's not necessarily the same for everybody else.
Q: I know you want players to have good weeks every week. Is it any more important for Randy Moss to come out this week and have a good week?
BB: I think you said it best. It's important for everybody to have a good week every week. That's for all of us - all the coaches, all the players - have a good week, go out to Buffalo and have a good game. That's what we're all here for.
Q: When you see Vince Wilfork come off the field the way he did and of course Ty Warren, what concerns do you have about running out a defensive lineman and getting them back in time with time dwindling in the regular season?
BB: That's a good point. It's something that I think every team - most teams anyway, if not every team - goes through at this time of year. You see a lot of players going on injured reserve and you see a lot of other players get signed to replace them, whether it's off the practice squad, which is usually where they come from, or wherever else they get signed, and it's definitely a concern. You want to have all your players out there. It's a long season. It's a lot of plays. It's a lot of games. Ultimately, at this time of year, everybody's got some players that are either on injured reserve or are inactive for certain games. You've got to fight through it. You've got to rely on your depth and a lot of times your ability for players to play more than one position so you can get those things covered. That's certainly a challenge. It's a challenge all year, but at this time of year it looms a little bit larger just because of the volume of plays and the number of people that every team has either out or on IR.
Q: During that game on Sunday, I know you had Titus Adams come up, but does it seem like you are just running out of defensive linemen?
BB: That's why we brought Titus up. Myron [Pryor] was inactive, and so Titus was up, and we have Ron [Brace], Myron, and we'll see how everybody else is doing. But, hey, that's what we got.