New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick addresses the media during his conference call on Saturday, August 29, 2009.
BB:Well, after getting back in late last night, early this morning - whatever you want to call it - we went through the film here and it felt like overall, we had a decent showing against a good football team on the road in Washington. I thought there were a lot of things that we did that were good. There were a number of things that could have been better or weren't so good. It definitely wasn't a perfect-type performance, but I thought against a good and talented team that we competed well. We had a lot of good situations come up in the game. It was kind of unusual that we had some of the same situations come up this week that came up last week, and even the Philadelphia week. It was kind of unusual that the game kind of came down to a very similar scenario as to what we had in Cincinnati. Fortunately, we handled this one a little bit better. It was a good experience for us. We'll certainly learn a lot from the game and watching the tapes, making the corrections and those kind of things. We'll get ready for a short week against another good NFC East team and finish up our preseason preparations here and move onto the regular season, so I think we're at a point where things are starting to come together. We still have a long way to go, but they're starting to come together both individually - individual performances - and also in different groups and units. And to some degree, collectively as a team, as we share in a lot of the overall responsibilities and spread those out to encompass all three units on the field. That's kind of where we are today.
Q:If this were a regular season game and you needed to fill out an injury report, would Tom Brady be listed as probable with a right shoulder injury?
BB:Well, that's hard to say. We'll fill that report out when it comes, Ian [Rapoport]. That's happened before.
Q:What is the update on Tom Brady?
BB:I don't have anything to add. I don't have anything to add from last night.
Q:Did Tom require x-rays just to get a closer look at that?
BB:I'm not really comfortable getting into a public diagnosis of anything. Look, we played a physical game against a very physical team. I'm sure at the end of the game a lot of the guys were sore and had bumps and bruises. Everybody that played in the game would fall under that category. That's pretty normal after a game like that.
Q:One of the things you are allowed to do when you have a really good free safety is bring your strong safety down into the box. Do you think James Sanders has reached the point where you feel that it's OK to play Brandon Meriweather closer to the line of scrimmage and you can leave Sanders back there as the deep safety?
BB:Well, we've always set up our defensive system so we have a number of options and try to have multiple ways to handle formation and personnel problems that we face on a weekly basis. So within our defensive system we have different ways of doing that, and that varies from game to game and situation to situation, even within the game. Do we have those options? Yes. How much do we do it? That's dependent on game plans and situations that occur on a weekly basis and it changes.
Q:Are you saying that Tom's shoulder is a normal bump and bruise from a physical game and there's nothing more than that?
BB:I'm saying that we made the decision to play other quarterbacks in the Washington game because we wanted to see them play and that will be the same situation going forward into the Giants game. Tom had a desire to play, but we made a football decision to play other players because I think we need to see them at that position and make an evaluation there, so that's what I'm saying.
Q:Last year, when Tom got hurt you had Matt Cassel who hadn't played that much, but had time in your system. How comfortable are you right now with your backup quarterback situation in terms of knowledge of the system and what they could do should they be called upon?
BB:Well, I think that's a position, with Matt not here now, that's a competitive situation and we're evaluating that with all three players. It's an ongoing process.
Q:Jonathan Wilhite had the big pick last night. How about the rest of his game? What were his positives and negatives from last night?
BB:Well, Jonathan played both on the perimeter and in the slot in multiple receiver sets. He certainly had the big play that stood out there, on the interception. [That was] a huge play in the game. Jonathan - like every player that played - did some good things, had some good plays. There were other things that could have been a little bit better or technique-wise could've been improved on. That's just part of the process, part of the preseason games each week - matching up against different receivers. We've expanded our calls a little bit from game to game, so we try to work on all the things we would want to play - maybe not every one of them, but several of them. We don't play the same thing in all four preseason games, so we try to use different calls and different techniques. Those can always be improved and perfected, but Jonathan has been solid, certainly. [He's] way ahead of where he was last year and is playing with good confidence. We ask him to do a lot. He has a lot of different responsibilities and he's a versatile player that handles them well.
Q:A few weeks in, how would you assess the overall progress of Derrick Burgess?
BB:I think Derrick has come in here and has done a real good job of picking up our system. I think what we do, in some ways, [is] quite a bit different from what he's done the last few years out in Oakland or even in Philadelphia before that. He's done a good job with that from an assignment standpoint and to some degree from a technique standpoint, too. I think he's coming along well. His ability to work with other players on the front - which we've had a number of different guys in there when he's been in there - working with those guys, getting comfortable with them, getting the communication and all that. That's an ongoing process for all of us, but I think that's certainly coming along. I think Derrick…He's done a good job with it. I think those players are starting to have a good communication system, not just verbally, but an unwritten communication on the field: what the other guy is doing, how each guy works off of it, adjusts to it and so forth. I think all that's coming along well.
Q:We didn't see a lot of Benjamin Watson last night. Was that a conditioning issue or a coach's playing-time decision?
BB:I'd say it's more of a coach's decision. Benjamin missed a little bit of time the previous week from a practice standpoint, so he hadn't gotten quite the number of reps that the other three guys had gotten. That played into it a little bit too, as far as the way we broke that up.
Q:Did you get a look at what happened on Chris Cooley's 73-yard reception and where it broke down and got away from you guys?
BB:Yeah, I got a real good look at it. Yeah. Well, it was just really a play that we didn't execute well defensively and there were a number of problems from the pressure, which could have given the quarterback and the pattern a lot of time to develop, which that's not good. And certainly the coverage aspect of it was lacking, as well. We weren't really too close to Cooley when he caught the ball. Whatever the play could have been, it ended up being a lot more with not the best tackling. There were a lot of elements of that play that could have been a lot better than what they were. When that is the case, it's not too surprising that they end up with a result like that and they get three quarters of the football field on one play. We just had too many breakdowns on it. It could have been coached better. It could have been played better on a number of different levels, and we certainly have to do a better job on that type of play. I'm sure we'll see it again. All of our opponents will look at that play. Anytime you give up a 73-yarder, if you're the next team playing them you have to take a look at it and say, 'OK, maybe we ought to try that one on them.' That's a play we'll see in practice and we'll have to do a better job of defending. But Cooley ran a nice route, protected well. They let the play develop and they got us on a three level pattern. With the over route, it was open as you can get.
Q:Are you concerned at all with your pass defense? Your run defense has looked good thus far, but the pass defense seems to be shaky?
BB:Well, as I said in the beginning, I think there're a lot of things that we can do better as a football team in every area: coaching, playing, running game, passing game, kicking game, coverage, return - you name it. Everything can be better and we'll work hard to improve in all areas. Sometimes, when you watch the film, even though things might look good on paper, when you actually watch the plays you see problems - sometimes more problems than things that statistically might not look as good. When you actually watch them, you say, 'Well maybe it's only a few little things that are sometimes more easily correctable.' When you look at the whole, the big picture, there're elements of both there. There were some things that had been good in preseason or good in different games or good at different times that weren't really good. And there were other things that looked bad that I don't think were as bad as they looked, but there was a problem that if that problem doesn't get fixed, then it will continue to be bad. Hopefully you can fix that problem and overall the result will be one that you are satisfied with. I would say it's a combination of all those things and certainly we have a lot of work to do in every area. That starts with me and goes all the way down to the coaching staff, the players in all three phases of the game. We all have a lot of work to do and I think we've made a lot of progress, but the start of the regular season isn't that far away, so we've got to do everything we can to get our performance up as high as we can at this point in the year.
Q:How would assess the way Kevin O'Connell played last night?
BB:Well, I think there were again, some good things, some other things that could be better: decisions, results of the play - at times were good and at times could have been better. [It was] a learning experience that every player goes through on every play. We'll evaluate those along with all the other things in training camp, practices, games and all that. That's all part of the evaluation for the quarterback in particular because so many of the things in their position relate to managing the team, calling the plays, formations, obviously decision-making, accuracy in the passing game, clock management, so forth and so on, audibles, check plays - those kind of things. Some things were good. Other things definitely could have been better.
Q:Were you encouraged by the special teams play last night and throughout the preseason?
BB:Well, it was certainly a big improvement from last week when we were in a very similar situation and we made the stop on defense, didn't do a very good on the punt return, got a penalty, couldn't move the ball down into field goal range or have an opportunity to make the kick. Last night, in a similar situation, in addition [to] a punt that was down on the two or three yard line, then we combined that with a defensive stop after three plays - instead of after five from the week before. [We had] a good punt return instead of a not so good one and a game winning kick. That was good to see. Again, I thought there were some things in the kicking game that were good, but still inconsistent. We had penalties, ball handling miscues, we could have blocked better in the return game at times, although we had some production. Laurence [Maroney] and Patrick [Chung] both had pretty significant returns, but there were other opportunities there that we didn't get as much out of. Our coverage game was OK, but it could have been better, too, along with the kicking, punting and snapping. I think we had our moments. I thought we showed some signs of being able to execute those things well and at other times, not as good. We played a lot of people in the kicking game. We had a lot of guys out there that had opportunities that we wanted to evaluate. That probably plays a little bit of a part of it too, but we are always looking for a little bit better execution - not that it was bad, but it could be better.