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Bill Belichick Conference Call

New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick addresses the media during his conference call on Friday, August 21, 2009.

New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick addresses the media during his conference call on Friday, August 21, 2009.

BB:As a follow up to last night, I thought that, as I said, there were a number of things that we could have done better on all levels, from situational football to just basic execution, certainly the penalties and other little things. But within that, there were plenty of good individual performances, or at least things that were maybe four or five good things on one play and then something that wasn't as good, that if we can just get that one thing straightened out, that would make things go a lot better. Hopefully, there were some positive things we can continue to build on - and if we can get a few things straightened out and pull some stuff together - then we can get back to playing a little higher level of football that we need to play. Cincinnati did a good job. They gave us some good looks, things that were a little different from what we saw the week before with Philadelphia. It was certainly a good learning experience for us. So we spent quite a bit of time going through the corrections and watching the film today, and now it's time to move on to Washington and some of the challenges they present for us.

Q:When you talk about the lack of some of the fundamentals, is that emblematic of what you've seen in camp, or was that more of an aberration and something that surprised you?

BB:We really only had two penalties last week against Philadelphia. [Last night ], we had alignment problems, as well as some penalties - the fair catch interference, the pass interference, holding calls, things like that - a few little things that we need to clean up. But I think [it was] a combination of both, relatively new-type problems, things that we haven't seen a lot of; maybe that was this game being called a little closer than last week's, I'm not sure. You're always going to have mistakes in a game, especially when you play a lot of people like we did last night and a lot of young guys. Things are going to come up that they haven't really experienced before and so those are good experiences for us.

Q:I know sacks aren't always indicative of pressure, but when you get four, like you did last night, is that an indicator that pressure was good and are you happy with that?

BB:It's always good to get negative plays, whether it be sacks or tackles in the backfield or penalties that you cause because of a good play. Those are good. I thought there were times when we had some pressure on the quarterback. It could have been more consistent, more frequent, but we did see some of that. Considering the fact that there weren't a lot of long-yardage situations in the game and [on] several third downs Cincinnati ran the ball, they did a good job of keeping us off balance on that. I thought, given the number of opportunities, we had decent production. But I mean, there's plenty of room for improvement, too.

Q:Why did you decide to go back to Kevin O'Connell on that final drive of the game and how did you feel he operated on that drive?

BB:Brian [Hoyer] came out after that series, after the previous series, I think on a play that he scrambled on and he, you know, got hit pretty hard and was just a little unsure of a couple of things when we were going over the two-minute call with him on that last drive. So we thought at that point, it would be just better to put Kevin [O'Connell] in to make sure there wouldn't be any communication problems or anything like that.

Q:Was that a good opportunity for Kevin O'Connell in the sense that, as a reserve quarterback, he may get put in those situations where you're not expecting to be in there in a key situation, but you have to go out and execute?

BB:Yeah, absolutely. It was a very good situation. As the backup quarterback, you never know when that call is going to come. It could come in the first quarter; it could come in the last drive. Those guys always have to be ready. It was a great situation. It was a tough one in that we didn't have any timeouts and we needed quite a bit of yardage to get in field goal range. Some of the plays were kind of what we wanted to do from an execution standpoint, but then there were ... we had pressure, we got sacked, we had to scramble out of there, so it wasn't the drive we were looking for. But it was a good situation for all of us to learn from. As I said, I think Kevin did some good things on that drive, but ultimately we'd like to have gotten the ball closer so we would have had a chance to at least have attempted a field goal kick, but we weren't able to do that.

Q:Did you see Joey Galloway making progress last night and - at this point in the preseason - where do you think he's at?

BB:I think Joey is definitely making good progress and I think he's done a good job picking up our offensive system. Last night, we played him more in the slot than we did last week in Philadelphia and so that was - I don't want to say a new experience for him - but it wasn't something we did a lot of last week or even in the week leading up to the Philly game. It was something that we spent a little more time on this week so that helps build his versatility and gives us another dimension to what we're doing, offensively. I though he preformed pretty well last night in some limited opportunities. Again, it was nice to see him be able to handle the different responsibilities that we gave him in the passing game. I didn't think he had any problems with them all. It was good.

Q:Obviously you research Fred Taylor before you signed him, but has there been a point yet in training camp or in games where you said, "Yeah, this guy has enough juice left to help us," or a point that reinforced what you guys thought when you brought him in?

BB:It's all been real positive with Fred from day one, in the spring an in the spring practices and OTAs. Fred showed up very well in the passing game and I think we felt the best about him in his run skills and his run vision and all that, but we didn't really get a chance to see that until training camp. As you know, in the spring, most of our runs were against bags and more teaching-type drills than they were [in training camp]. You couldn't really evaluate much. But in training camp Fred's done a good job in tackling drills. He's done a good job in running drills with the vision and playing with a good pad level and seeing things and making quick cuts and setting up blocks and all those things running backs need to do. He's good at, really, all of those. I think we felt good about Fred. He's been very consistent all the way through. I thought he did good things last night [in] his first real opportunity. I thought he ran the ball well, broke some tackles, made some guys miss, and played physically.

Q:It looked like Shawn Crable got a limited amount of action. Was that due to a medical situation or a coach's decision?

BB:I think probably a little bit of both. It was kind of the way the rotation was set and he had a little soreness during the game last night so we decided not to push that and put him back in.

Q:Obviously, you spend a lot of time trying to develop rookies and young players, particularly players you draft high. How do you determine the point at when you have this rookie that you drafted who might not pan out? How do you go about doing that?

BB:I think we try to evaluate all the players pretty much the same way. There's competition at every position. We teach them all the same things. They have different skill sets that we try to evaluate what they do and how consistently they do it and we make our decisions based on that. [With] young players, one of the things you look for is improvement and some of those guys are going to go out and perform as well as veteran players. But, after a certain number of repetitions and coaching, you expect them to go out and do it at a competitive level. When that improves and you see a guy getting better in certain areas - maybe not all areas, but at least in the areas that your working on - then you probably have reason to think he'll improve in those other areas as well, in time. It's kind of a combination of all those things, what you're actually seeing and how much improvement the younger players are making until at whatever point you feel like they've reached, past all the inexperience and they know what to do. Then, you're strictly evaluating their performance.

Q:How do you think Shawn Springs has come back from what he was dealing with and how did he do last night?

BB:Shawn practiced this week and I think he's ... It was good to have him back out there. I think with the successive days and reps and competing at a high level - especially, against our receivers in practice - that's real good work for all of defensive backs and that those things will help him sharpen up his game, as well as actually playing in the games. He's working hard at it. Mentally, he's into everything. He makes very, very few mistakes. He's really on top of his game and situations and all of those kinds of things. I think we'll see here in the next few days, couple weeks, and the coming practices and games, how quickly all that comes together. But it was good to have him back last week and out on the field last night.

Q:There are a lot of rookie head coaches in the league this year. When you started as a head coach, what was the toughest part about doing that?

BB: I think one of the hard things is just coming into a new organization - if it's a new organization, which it isn't always. Sometimes a coach comes up from within his own organization. But when you come into a new organization and try to kind of get things in a way that either you're used to or you're comfortable with as a head coach - not just the head coach, but the whole program that you're trying to institute. All the support people that are involved in that are important components there, too, because they interact so closely with the coaching staff and the players and the team and all that, trainers, doctors, video people, equipment people, grounds crews, so forth and so on. There are a lot of moving parts in and around the team. So trying to get all of that coordinated and done in a way that is really efficient, so you don't feel like you're wasting a lot of time on things that in the past were pretty smooth for you wherever you were before, and it feels like you're having time taken away from football, the team and preparation to deal with all of those other things, so that's one thing. The other thing is just trying to institute your program, what you believe in, the way you want to play the game, your plays, your philosophy, your practice tempo, just all the little things that in some way or another in the big picture, are all connected. It might seem like it is one little isolated thing on a team, but when you tie that in to a lot of other things that are going on, it can be an important component of the whole team-building process. Trying to get all those things to work properly and efficiently, that's a challenge, too.

Q:What were your impressions of Ty Warren in the exhibition game?

BB:It was good to have Ty back out there. I thought he showed up positively on a number of plays. There were things that he could have, at times, read a little and reacted a little bit more quickly to. But, for the first time out there, I thought he was OK. I'm sure that he'll continue to build from that. He had a good week of practice and he seemed to get a little better each day as we went through the week so hopefully that will continue here this week and the next couple weeks and he'll have his normal reactions to blocking schemes and plays and things like that. I think, physically, he's fine: his strength, his conditioning, his speed and quickness and power and all that. It's just reacting to all the things he sees in front of him in a split second or less.

Q:[Chinedum Ndukwe] posted something on Twitter last night saying how Tom Brady ate dirt, I think was the quote. How long did it take you to decide you didn't want your guys tweeting and what is your general philosophy on that kind of stuff?

BB:Well, I think whenever you have a group of people doing something you have to have some type of rules or policies, a way to manage a large group of people, just so it can be efficient and so you can be consistent and everybody can work together towards the common goal. Our rules, all the policies and schedules that we have for that are internal. That's something that we talk about outside of the team or the people directly associated with the team. Right now, my biggest focus is getting the team to play better and do things better fundamentally, do things better situationally, execute the plays we need to make to win, get ready for Washington, get ready for Buffalo and the 16-game regular-season schedule. Those are the things I'm really focused and concentrated on, right now.

Q:Could you see yourself using Kevin O'Connell in a situation - if you're up by two touchdowns in the game - to see how he would handle live action in the regular season?

BB:I wouldn't rule anything out or in. Hypothetical questions like that are always hard to answer. The best thing I could say is that each game we play, my first responsibility is to do everything that I can from a coaching, to a decision-making standpoint, to give our team the best chance to win. So that's what I would do every week no matter what the score or situation is within that. Sometimes there're opportunities to get players experience and sometimes there are opportunities to rotate players based on short-term benefit, as well as long-term benefit. We weigh each case on its own merits and - in the end - do what I think is best for the football team and the most important thing would be to win the game, as far as playing time is concerned.

Q:Just as a point of clarification, when you asked about Tom Brady getting hit, you said there was a foul up on the play. Were you talking about [Keith] Rivers, when he threw the ball away and got hit, or the actual sack with [Robert] Geathers coming around the edge?

BB:You can make it whichever play you want. How about that?

Q:Were both plays foul-ups?

BB:No, I'll just let you pick whichever play you want.

Q:[On Darius Butler's offensive pass interference call]

BB:We always talk about technique and how the players should play the play properly in our opinion as coaches to gain the best position and leverage that he can on the play. Sometimes those calls get called; sometimes they don't. Like, for example, if it had been just a little bit less, would that have been a foul? And were we in the right position? And so forth. We always talk about position, leverage and technique, whether they caught it or not. It's still about trying to do the things properly, based on our rules and our techniques that we're playing. Could that play and other plays have been played better? Absolutely, and that's why we go through the films - to critique them. It's just like if they throw a long pass and the receiver drops it, or the ball's overthrown by a yard, but we still don't have it defended. It's definitely a problem because had it been done just a little better they would've hit it or next week, I'm sure the next team we play would come back and try to do the same thing because we look vulnerable to it. Just because the play didn't work or maybe the offense made a mistake in their execution on it, it certainly doesn't keep us from correcting it and emphasizing the importance of how we need to do something so we don't have a problem with that again.

Q:Last night, Chad Ochocino said in reference to you: "I love that guy. He's so fun to play against. He makes it ultra competitive." He just talked about how much he loves and respects you. Do you feel the same way about Chad?

BB:Yeah, absolutely. I remember when I worked Chad out on the USC campus, when he came out in the draft a few years ago and we had a great visit and workout and kind of stayed a little bit in touch with him- like in situations like last night, when we play him, before the game and that type of thing. Also, at the Pro Bowl a couple years ago when he was out there, we had a chance to spend a week together like a lot of players. He's a fun-loving guy, very competitive. When he's on the field, he loves to compete and he works very hard, practices hard. He challenges guys in every situation. I respect that. I think he's a terrific player. I love his competitiveness. He's a hard guy to compete against because he's very good. I don't - if you could say that Chad and I are a lot alike - maybe in some ways we are. I respect that about Chad and I love his enthusiasm for the game and the competitive level that he brings. Although I don't like playing against him because he's a good player and he's hard to defend. I never thought that after the game last night that I would be saying that his extra point was the difference, but it was. That just shows what type of player he is - something that he doesn't usually do, he steps in and makes the play that ends up making the difference.

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