New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick addresses the media during his conference call on Tuesday, September 8, 2009.
BB: Well, we've had a lot of different things going on here in the last few days from the Giants game and evaluating the film, making cuts, trying to work through our personnel situation and then getting ready for Buffalo. As I've said before, the first game is always the - probably - hardest one from a coach's standpoint to prepare for because you have not only the games this year in preseason, but also previous experiences with the team. Buffalo has new players on their team and you don't know exactly where they'll be using [them], like how they would employ a player like Terrell Owens because he's only been on the field for a few snaps here in preseason, so there is some guessing on things like that. There're some unknowns there that we're going to have to be prepared for a lot of different scenarios on. That's pretty challenging, as well as the fact the Bills are a good football team. They are excellent on special teams, as they are every year. They're a good coverage team, a good return team - very, very productive. Defensively, they've continued to improve over the last two years, particularly in the takeover area where they've done a good job this preseason of turning the ball over. I think they've had nine, 10 interceptions and some fumbles and strip sacks - things like that. That's a problem for us. We know they have a good running game. [Fred] Jackson did a good job, last year, against us at the end of the season. [They have] a very dynamic group of receivers and returners, so they present a lot of challenges. I'm sure there are probably questions about Richard [Seymour]. Along with our statement there on Sunday, at this point, because we don't have rights to Richard, there really isn't anything I can say about him or his situation. I have to pass on those questions at this time.
Q: I want to ask you about the changing complexion of this whole roster. As you look at it now, as it was from a year ago in comparison when you had a Tedy Bruschi, Richard Seymour, Ellis Hobbs and Mike Vrabel, what concerns do you have going into the first game about missing those guys and their leadership?
BB: There's a change every year on your team. That's part of the National Football League. It's part of every football team, really, and so we always deal with that. I think we have a lot of good leaders on our team and especially on the defensive side of the ball. Those players - even though some of them are young players like Jerod Mayo, Gary Guyton, Brandon Meriweather - guys like that, as well as some of our more experienced players like [Adalius Thomas], Vince [Wilfork] and Ty [Warren], [and] players like that. Each team has its own chemistry, its own dynamics, and I think ours is very good. It's different, but I think that our players, especially some of the players that have not only been here longer, but have a significant role on our team, have done a excellent job with their ability to lead and set a positive example for our football team, regardless of what side of the ball they've been on. No doubt about it. It's different, but I think it's good.
Q: Can you talk about what Richard Seymour actually provided for you on the field as a player, what you're going to miss most about that and how you hope to make up for it?
BB: I think we all know what type of player Richard was and I've commented on that many times in the past. There're a lot of things that Richard did well, but that's the way it is and we're moving forward and our team's moving forward.
Q: Are you as good defensively without him?
BB: We'll find that out starting this week.
Q: Is there a certain player that you can see stepping in and doing what he did? Somebody is going to have to fill that role.
BB: What we're going to have to do is we're going to have to play good team defense. Whichever 11 players are out there on any given play, in any given situation, then those players are going to have to play that defensive play well and that's what good team defense is. Which players those are and what situations those will come up in will vary quite a bit from game to game and even within a game. But that's the bottom line; we need to play good team defense. I think that's what we're all committed to doing here - players, coaches, everybody that's involved.
Q: Is there any chance this trade will go back? Is this a done deal?
BB: As I said earlier, we don't have rights to Richard, so I can't make any comments about him or his situation.
Q: So as far as you're concerned it's a done deal?
BB: It's not a topic that I'm going to address.
Q: Can you talk about the other cornerback spot opposite Leigh Bodden and what you think you're going to get from that? Do you think it's going to be Shawn Springs?
BB: Well, I think all of our defensive backs are hopefully going to contribute; we expect them all to. We'll just have to see how that goes. It might vary a little bit from game to game or in different situations within the game, but we have confidence in all those players. I'm sure they'll all play and get an opportunity to play at different points, and we'll put the best players out there and put the best team out there that we can. I think that includes Darius [Butler], Shawn [Springs] and even our safeties that played inside some too, like both Brandon's [Meriweather and McGowan] and Patrick [Chung], so I'm sure there will be different combinations of players out there and there may be the same position being played by different players or maybe not. I don't know. We will do what we think is best, but I think all those players will contribute.
Q: With the departure of Richard Seymour do you see yourself any closer to getting an extension with Vince Wilfork, or is that something you guys have put off until the end of the season?
BB: No, any negotiations with any player [are] between the player and the club. And so that's the way it will always be here.
Q: Can you comment on the depth of your quarterback position?
BB: Well, as I said all the way through camp, the personnel situation - we will evaluate any opportunity that we can to improve our football team and that includes every position. That's pretty standard. We talk about that on a regular basis with Nick [Caserio] and the personnel department. Isaiah [Stanback] has some background at quarterback. He also has some…He played a receiver in the league for a couple years at Dallas, so we'll evaluate him in our system. I'm not sure exactly what role that will be, but we'll take a look at it. But as it stands now, we have two quarterbacks on our roster and barring any changes then that's what it will be on Monday night, but I would never say that we won't do something to change our roster. That's always a possibility. If the situation is right and we feel that's the best thing for our team.
Q: You mentioned the difficulties in scouting a team coming off the preseason and all of that. Does it get harder when they just replaced their offensive coordinator and how do you go about preparing now that they have done that?
BB: I personally have been involved in a couple situations like that. I know from experience and from observing other teams and other situations similar to this, you can't really change everything you're doing in a week or in a few days. You have to take the foundation you have - you might modify it a little bit - but you can't completely overhaul it in a couple of days. I'm sure that Buffalo will continue to run a lot of the plays they've already run. They may cook them up a little bit differently or modify them somewhat based on a different philosophy, but I think it will be pretty consistent with what they're doing. Now that being said, I know that going into opening day every team holds back a few things for the start of the regular season that weren't out there in preseason, and I'm sure that's no different for Buffalo, regardless of who the coordinator was or is. We'll have to prepare for that and be ready for unexpected type things, things we haven't seen, as well as the ones we have. That's kind of inherent in every opening day game. That'll definitely be the case Monday night against Buffalo. I'm sure they'll have some wrinkles and things that we won't have prepared for, but at the same time when you've been in training camp and have had 40 practices, by the time you get to opening day there will be a lot of things that you'll be doing in that first game that you will have spent a lot of time on and hopefully you'll be able to do well in the regular season when it counts. We all know that we're going to have to rely on those things that we've been doing and not cook up a big new game plan - come out and run the wishbone, do something we haven't done all year and think that [we're] going to even be able to execute it very well.
Q: You thought enough of Alex Smith and Greg Lewis to trade for them in the offseason. What transpired that led to their release?
BB: Well, I think we've had very competitive situations at those positions. In the end, the players that are here we selected to keep because we felt they were a little more valuable or they had performed a little better than the ones that [aren't] here. But I think that Alex and Greg are both good players. I think they'll both play in the league this year. I think they could very easily, if they were on this team, play in the games for us. You can only keep so many players and you have to fill all the roles. If we were able to keep 56, 57 players we'd keep them and if we were able to take 50 to the game we would take them and they'd probably all play. There're a lot of players in this league that have talent. They can do things that could have a role, but you can only keep so many and that's a decision that we all make.
Q: When you give up draft picks for guys we just assume that it's a guy that you value highly. But was it a case with these two that you didn't know exactly what you were getting until you actually saw them up close?
BB: No. I think we knew what we were getting with both players. I think both players came in, learned the system, performed well and did a lot of positive things. I don't think there was anything negative about either one of those guys. In the end, we have to put together the team that we think is the best one we can have, so that's what we did.
Q: What did Doc Rivers say to your team when he addressed them?
BB: Doc was great. He came in yesterday. It was part of the NFL program and life skills presentation. He was awesome he talked about a lot of things that he had dealt with and experience through his career, from not making the basketball team in the fifth grade - or whatever it was - to being an All-American in high school, to going to college, to being a point guard in the NBA, to having some injuries that he had to deal with, [from] losing championship games as a player to winning them as a coach, to not having a good season and the next year winning it all. He gave a lot of personal insight into his attitude and his approach as a player, as a coach, as a broadcaster and all the things he learned along the way - not all of them, but many of the things he learned along the way. It was tremendous. I think every coach and every player there gained a lot of insight and took things out of it that can help us personally, each one of us. I know a lot of us took notes, either wrote them down or mentally took them and then wrote them down - things that he said that really struck a chord and hit home. I'd say that when you look at Doc, there are very few peoples that have done what he's done and experienced what he's experienced in his life. He's a remarkable man. As I told the team, I think he could probably take any 10 of us in that room, put us together and not have experienced as many things as Doc has in his career. We all learned a lot from him and it was one of the best presentations that we have heard. It was awesome.
Q: Did you seek him out to have him address the team?
BB: We did and he generously gave us his time. I know he has a very busy and demanding schedule. The start of their season is right around the corner, but he very graciously came in and gave us a lot of insight into so many different things. It was really a great presentation.