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Bill Belichick Conference Call - 12/16/2008

New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick addresses the media during his conference call on Tuesday, December 16, 2008.

BB:We started digging in here on Arizona. They obviously have had a good season. They have already qualified for the playoffs. They do a lot of really good things, offensively. They have a great group of receivers, quarterback, running backs and a real good offensive line. They can move the ball. They can score a bunch of points. Their guys break a lot of tackles and are dangerous with the ball in their hands. [Anquan] Boldin and really all of their receivers, [Larry] Fitzgerald and [Steve] Breaston, are all good. Defensively, it's a fast defense. They have some good quickness up front with guys like [Darnell] Dockett, [Antonio] Smith, [Travis] LaBoy and [Bertrand] Berry. [They have] active linebackers. [Adrian] Wilson is a good blitzer. He has made a lot of big plays for them. They turn the ball over a lot on defense. They return the ball well too. [J.J.] Arrington is an excellent kickoff returner and Breaston on punts. They are both strong, tough guys to tackle just like they are on offense. It is a well-balanced team led by an experienced quarterback and a very good group of skill players, offensively, and a fast group on defense. That is what we have to get ready for.

Q:Starting with the wide receivers, how do you approach Anquan Boldin and Larry Fitzgerald?

BB:They are tough. Not only the first two guys, but the quality of the whole group is really outstanding. It is hard to zero in on one guy because they have all been so productive. Last week, [Jerheme] Urban, who is really their fourth receiver, took a five-yard pass and turned it into a 55-yard touchdown. They all can do some damage. It is just anytime you play a good offense it comes back to everybody doing their job. You can't just take one thing away because they have too many weapons. Everybody is going to have to take care of their responsibilities and do their job.

Q:How do you handle Fitzgerald's size?

BB:Like I just said, everybody has to do their job. However we match up on him, then whoever's got him has got him. Whoever has Boldin is going to have to take Boldin. With zone coverage, when they come into your zone, you have to try to defend them and tackle them.

Q:Sean Morey has been a productive special teams player for the Cardinals. You have some background with him when he first came into the league. How impressed are you that he has been able to stick around in the NFL as long as he has given where he was coming from, Brown University?

BB:He has had a nice career as a special teams player. He is a tough kid and plays hard. He gives you a lot of effort. He shows up in all the different phases of the kicking game.

Q:Have they been using Monty Beisel on special teams?

BB:Yeah, Beisel has played almost exclusively on special teams. He hasn't gotten a lot of time on defense.

Q:Do they use a 3-4 or 4-3 defense?

Q:They are really a 4-3 team. In sub situations, they use some different combination groups and some odd spacing and all that. As far as their first and second-down defense, they are primarily a 4-3 team.

Q:Last week we talked about how impressive it was for Wes Welker to come back from the big hits has taken. How much respect do you have for Boldin after he continued to play well after the hit he took in the Redskins game earlier this season?

BB:He is a tough kid and I think you see that in his play. He blocks. He is very good after the catch. He goes up for the ball aggressively, as does Fitzgerald. He has done a good job. He is a tough guy.

Q:Sports Illustrated has a poll earlier this year discussing if Boldin and Fitzgerald were one of the best wide receiver tandems in NFL history? You have prepared for great ones in the past, where do they rank?

BB:I don't know about making all-time comparisons. They are good receivers. They all do a lot of things well. They are big. They are physical. They run after the catch. They run short, intermediate and deep routes. Fitzgerald has real good hands, like Cris Carter kind of hands. They are very good.

Q:When you watched the tape from Arizona's game against Miami earlier this season, when both Boldin and Fitzgerald had receptions for over 75 yards, was that eye-opening to see a game like that where they both tear up a secondary?

BB:They have gotten a lot of people pretty good; you just go through and watch the passing game. They are making a lot of big plays. It wasn't just that game. They get them against everybody. It is not all long passes. It is a lot of catch-and-run plays. They have a good scheme and a good quarterback. They do a lot of things. It is a versatile group of players - especially, the two receivers Boldin and Fitzgerald - but I wouldn't want to take anything away from Breaston, or even Urban. And their [running] backs have caught about 50 catches with Arrington and Tim Hightower, the rookie from Richmond. They have a very diversified passing game. It is one that attacks all areas of the field and it is very well executed by the quarterback and all the skill players. It is a lot to get ready for. I don't want to take anything away from those two guys; they are outstanding. But they have a lot of other guys, too.

Q:Is Kurt Warner the same quarterback he was when he was with the St. Louis Rams?

BB:He looks pretty much the same. He can make all the throws. He gets rid of the ball quickly and reads defenses very well. He knows where blitzes are coming from and is able to redirect the protections and make adjustments. He doesn't make too many mistakes on the line of scrimmage, like throwing into coverage or that kind of thing. Just like any team that throws the ball, not every pass is complete. But he doesn't make very many mistakes. He is smart. He definitely knows what's going on.

Q:When you lost Rodney Harrison in the Broncos game, Brandon Meriweather went from being the first guy off in sub packages to more of a regular role. What has impressed you most as to the way Brandon has responded to more playing time?

BB:It is more. It is definitely more. I think in every area of Brandon's game he continues to get better. He's played a little bit more down closer to the line of scrimmage than he has in the past in sub situations or when he was in there with Rodney. He has shown to be a good tackler, good in run support and good around the line of scrimmage. He has done a good job in the deep part of the field and in some man-to-man coverage situations that he has been asked to play in, like the St. Louis game where we were facing four wide receiver personnel. He was playing the inside corner position on that. Through the course of the season he has been asked to do a lot of different things. He has really improved in all of them. I think he's having a good year. He has certainly come a long way as a player in these two seasons and continues to get better. He is a really dependable guy. He's smart and makes very few errors back there in the secondary - not just himself, but also in terms of the overall communication back there with the group. He is playing with a lot of confidence and we have a lot of confidence in him because of the way he's been playing.

Q:How impressed are you with the job Todd Haley has done and how well do you know him from your Jets days?

BB:Todd and I were together for a couple years down there. He started off in the personnel department and went from being a scout there to breaking down film on offense. We worked together. I didn't have a lot of interaction with him because he was on the offensive staff and I was on the defensive staff. He broke down film for Charlie Weis and that kind of thing. Todd is a bright guy. He has certainly done a good job with that offense. He is a good golfer, too. I am sure he is probably about a scratch down there in Arizona. If he gets out on the course, you want to be his partner.

Q:He has a good NFL lineage, too.

BB:Absolutely. His dad [Dick Haley] was one of the best. He had a great career in personnel with the Steelers and at the Jets. Dick is a great man. He did a great job on the football end of it. But, as a person and a friend, he is a great guy.

Q:I know you are moving forward from the Oakland game, but was there any thought in your mind that you wanted Matt Cassel out on the field to take a knee?

BB:Honestly, I don't think it was. I don't have any problem putting the next quarterback in a situation like that. But with the rain and the ball handling - even though we had a lead - to put Kevin in cold in that kind of situation with the conditions what they were, and standing there for three hours, I thought that was probably not the right time to do it. I know the offense likes to go out there and there is no better feeling offensively than to finish the game with the ball in your hands. Running out the clock - whether it's kneeling on it or running it - that gives those guys a lot of satisfaction to be able to finish the game with possession of the ball. It is nice when you can do that. It is nice when you win, period. But it is nice when you can do that.

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