Patriots head coach Bill Belichick addresses the media during his conference call on Tuesday,December 28, 2010.
BB: We've turned the page from Buffalo here to Miami. Going back over the last game [at Miami], it was a game that really hinged on a few really big plays but it's hard to count on anything like that happening in a game. It's been a long time since we played them and I think those teams have changed some. We've got a lot of work to do. We've got a lot of things to get ready for here. They're certainly doing a good job on defense - in the red area and not giving up very many points. They're playing very strong on that side of the ball. [They] have some playmakers on offense - the [Davone] Besses, [Brandon] Marshalls, of course the running backs [and] guys like that. We have a lot of new things to get re-acclimated with and be ready to go on Sunday.
Q: It looked like Eric Moore was playing some defensive end in the 3-4. Can you comment on that? Was it a game plan thing or more circumstances of other players on the roster being out?
BB: Yeah, he did. He played some inside and more of a four-technique where the ends play in a 3-4 and also played some outside and wider alignments. He's a pretty versatile guy and looks like he can play in some different spots. I think it's always a combination of game plan and availability and your opponent and the matchups and so forth, so I think all those things are a part of the equation and have to be taken into account. I thought [Moore] did a pretty good job of doing that. Since he's been here, he's done a nice job of showing us the versatility that he has playing in different spots, both sides of the line: left and right, some inside, some outside, shown a little bit in coverage, pass rush. So, he's done a good job for us.
Q: Do the players get flu shots? How does that work?
BB: Well, all that channels through our medical staff; that's not an expertise for me. As we all know, there're a lot of different types of flu and I think that word kind of gets tossed around with a lot of different meanings. It could be anything from a 24-hour type of thing to obviously something a lot longer and more extensive than that. Bottom line is we've all had those kinds of things, especially at this time of year. It's fairly common; it can go around. We've had some of that. What the exact diagnosis of it is and all that, I don't really have a whole lot to add as far as the symptoms and the strand of it and so forth. But our medical staff takes care of it the best they can and the players have to do as much as they can to stay healthy at this time of year, and if something comes up then our medical people try to address it.
Q: Do you feel that Jerod Mayo has had a Pro Bowl type year?
BB: Jerod's played very well for us. He's done a very nice job as a captain, providing a lot of plays on the field and a lot of leadership and preparation off the field. Again, I haven't seen all the players play - just the ones we've played against - and I'm familiar with them, but I know there are a lot of other outstanding players in the league. If I could vote for our own players, I'd vote for a lot of them, but, again, the people that see them all play... We'll see how it all comes out. But, he's certainly done a good job for us and he's had a real good season.
Q: We know you do what's in the best interest of the team preparing for the last game of the season with the No. 1 seed locked up, but has what happened with Wes Welker in the finale last season altered your outlook?
BB: I think you take into consideration all the information that you have and do the best you can with it. Whatever we have to work with over current [or] previous experiences and so forth - it could be a long list of things - but in the end, you take it all and put it together and do what you feel like is best for everyone: individually, collectively as a team and all that. Sometimes those aren't necessarily consistent or they run [at] some type of conflict and then you try to make a decision and resolve it the best you can.
Q: How did Ryan Wendell grade out in his first-career start at right guard?
BB: I think [Wendell] did some good things in the game. He had a couple of tough matchups there with [Marcus] Stroud and Kyle Williams and [Paul] Posluszny; those are some good athletes and some good defensive players that everybody on the front had to block sooner or later along the line. He had some good plays and some that could have been a little better. Overall, I thought our offensive line as a group performed pretty well. We could do with a few less penalties, but overall I thought it performed pretty well [and] he was a part of that group and that's really the way the whole group has to operate: how they perform as a unit and making sure that the execution across the board is such as we can run the play, whether it be a pass protection or a running play or whatever it is. There're certainly some things he can improve on, but I thought he did a solid job in there.
Q: What are your thoughts on Zoltan Mesko's season, especially after a game where he had bad conditions to punt the ball and he performed very well?
BB: Well, sort of the same thing - some good things, [but] certainly a lot of things he can improve on. I'd say, overall, he's done a good job on his plus-50 punting. I'd say that's been probably a strong area for him. But, there is a lot of situational punting [and] a lot of things that come up at that position. As we've talked about before, it's not like just hitting balls off the driving range. You've got placement and protection and plus-50 and wind and so forth and so on. As he gains more experience, I expect that he would be able to improve on those things. He's improved on some of them over the course of the year. There're other things that he still needs to work harder on to get him closer to perfection. But, I think he's definitely made some progress. He's more consistent than he was earlier in the year. [He] still has a ways to go. He's got good potential for his position. If he continues to work hard and apply himself and be diligent on a daily basis so he can have that consistency, then yeah, I think he's got a chance to be a good, solid player, but there are still a lot of things that he can do. Of course, he's had the holding responsibilities, too, and we've had some changes with our snapper and our kicker over the course of the year so there've been some moving parts there. Overall, there've been some challenges and he's done a decent job of addressing them and made some progress, and there's still a long way to go.
Q: You have had a lot of 'street free agents' contribute to the team this year. It's not the first time it's happened, but it seems like the number of them is a little bit higher. Do you think it's rare to get production from multiple players picked up off the street this season? From your perspective, is it rare to have as many as you've had?
BB: Well, I think - as we've talked about before - I think when you get to the final 53 cut, there's certainly a significant pool of players out there that, for whatever reason, aren't on a roster in Week 1 or Week 2 that are good players that end up playing in the league and end up contributing in the league. So, part of that is opportunity and part of that is situation - what opportunities come up, but also what schemes and what situations those players come into - and then obviously what those players are able to do with those opportunities. There are a lot of factors there. I don't know, again, that there's any formula or some kind of historical percentage that is or isn't really accurate or applicable. Each one's kind of very unique on its own, based on all those circumstances I just mentioned. We've had some guys that have done a good job and we've had other guys that haven't worked out as well. I'd say that's kind of the way it usually is. Maybe [we've had] a few more this year that have contributed than in the past. I think that's a process that comes up for every team, every year and, again, preparation meets opportunity. And [if] players are able to take advantage of the opportunity, they can be productive in a system that they weren't in in the beginning of the year. I think that's been the case with a couple of our guys. But, like I said, we've also had some that haven't really worked out, so that's common, too.