Patriots head coach Bill Belichick addresses the media during his press conference at Gillette Stadium on Friday, August 13, 2010.
BB: We spent this morning as a staff going through the film and we played a lot of players, we have a lot to look at, both our player evaluations also looking at our scheme things and some Xs and Os and how we handled and adjusted to some of the challenges that the Saints gave us, which were numerous. And then went over the corrections with the players this afternoon in the film room. On balance I think that we played aggressively, that we made some plays in each phase of the game. We also..there were things that we need to improve on certainly. We finished out the game, the guys that were out there were able to make a goal line stand defensively, get the ball in to field goal range offensively and make the winning kick on special teams and defensively on their two-minute drive on the first play coming back. I thought that they showed a good level of competitiveness to finish it out. So now we try to take that performance and our level of play from last night and get ready to build on it this week and as a team move to higher ground and the opportunities on Sunday and Monday and then the practices and game with the Falcons later in the week. That's kind of where we're headed. We'll have time here as a staff to regroup and see how things are going. We've been running around so much just trying to keep going one day at a time and I think now we can take a day tomorrow and try to regroup and see where we're at and try to have a good plan for the players when they come as to how to do the best we can to improve the team this week [inaudible] and also in Atlanta. That's kind of where we're at there. We placed Ty on injured reserve today, tough break for Ty but we have to move on. He's missed quite a bit of time the last couple of years so we've had to deal with that anyway. Unfortunately that's part of the game. We'll just move ahead. Good to have Derrick [Burgess] here and ready to go. We'll take stock of what our health is and take the players that are healthy down to Atlanta and work with them. The guys
Q: Was this decision to place Ty [Warren] on injured reserve something you had been considering for a while and had you been planning for it as far as getting players work and that kind of thing?
BB: All the players that are out there on the field are getting work. I think it's more a question of just doing what's best, given all the circumstances and the situation. We knew a little while ago that there was a possibility that it might be a longer period of time and there was also a possibility that it might be for a shorter period of time, and as more information was gathered from various sources, a combination of all of that coming together and the player and medical people and so forth, this was the decision that was made.
Q: When did things change with Derrick Burgess?
BB: I think that's between Derrick and myself. Personal conversations. It changed basically when he arrived here and passed his physical and conditioning test this morning and will be out on the field the next time we're out there.
Q: So he arrived this morning?
BB: He came to the facility this morning.
Q: For someone who had been considering retirement, does this move mean that you're convinced he's committed to playing football for the year?
BB: Well, I'm glad he's here and I think that [inaudible].
Q: Yesterday Laurence Maroney had six of his eight carries inside the red zone, four inside the 5-yard line. Were you trying to get him looks so close to the goal line given his issues with fumbling by the goal line last year?
BB: That's a great question. It's really hard when you go into a preseason game, or any game for that matter, but especially a preseason game - to really know what you're going to get. You don't know if you're ever going to be in the red area. You might never get down there or you might score, like New Orleans did, on a long kick return and never even have the ball. I think the main thing is you give the players opportunities and some of it you can control, but a lot of it you really can't, especially situational football like two-minute, red area, short yardage and things like that, special teams, which is all situational. You might not have any punt returns, you might have a dozen of them. You might not have any field goals, you might have five or six. Whatever the opportunities are, the players' mentality and certainly what we tell the players is that you need to be ready for whatever your situation is and whatever your opportunity is and be ready to do the best you can with it. It's not like a scrimmage where you can structure it and 12 plays, 'here's the down-and-distances' and 'here's this' and 'here's that.' In a game, whatever comes up, comes up. It's part of being prepared for a test and not knowing what questions are going to be on the test. You just don't know. What I look for more is how the player responds to whatever situations he is put in and again, a lot of that is out of our control. It's just the way the flow of the game goes and the situations that come up in it.
Q: How encouraged have you been up to this point with the work of Gerard Warren?
BB: Gerard has worked really hard. I think he's shown a lot of improvement. He's a good player to begin with, but the thing with Gerard is he's never played in a system like this. At Cleveland and Denver and Oakland he was, technique-wise and from a system standpoint, he was asked to do things differently from the way we do them. That's just the way those particular defenses were constructed. Gerard and I have talked about it and he's been very willing to adapt his style of play to what's required in our defensive system. He's done a good job with it. He played well last night. I think he did a lot of good things in the game. He played with good effort and he made a nice play with a screen pass down the field, for example, things like that. We know he is a strong, physical player on the line of scrimmage and he's show good ability to rush the passer. [He] had a couple quarterback hurries and also he showed up well in pursuit. I think he's made the transition pretty well. Like all of us, we've all got a long way to go and of course he's in that category as well. I think he's done well. I think he will have a good ability to contribute for us this year based on what I've seen so far.
Q: With BenJarvus Green-Ellis getting the start and so many carries, is that an indication of his place on a depth chart or was that you wanting him to get looks against a first-string defense, or something completely different?
BB: Well, I think with the running backs, we have seven running backs on our roster, so instead of giving each guy three carries or four carries or whatever it is, we've been doing it. And this is no different than what we did last year in preseason, where a couple of couple guys get a lot of work in one game and then the workload is split up . We have four preseason games and that workload is split up differently in different games. Everybody gets an opportunity and we just felt like it would be good to get each guy eight to 10, 12 carries, somewhere in that range. Give them a chance to get into a rhythm, give them a chance to play for a while, evaluate his conditioning, evaluate his ability to not just go in and play for one play, but to be in there for a series of downs and see how that goes and get a feel for the line. We've worked a lot of people in at line and tight end and even quarterback for that matter with ball handling and things like that. We just wanted to try to have a little bit of consistency out there. Understanding that there are always going to be moving parts, but to try to let the group that is in there work together. I think for the most part we were able to do that.
Q: Looking back, what do you think you learned in the 2002 season (your first season after winning a Super Bowl) that helped you when you did repeat in 2004?
BB: I don't know. That's a good question. I don't know that there's anything I could put my finger on. We've always taken the approach that every year is a new season and last year is last year. The slate is wiped clean for all us: rookies, veterans, coaches, experience or inexperienced. We're all starting all over again and we all need to build a good base, build a good foundation, reestablish our level of performance in the next season. It's been six months since any of us have really played or coached competitively in a game like we had last night, and we all need to go through the same process of fine-tuning our skills and bringing the team together as one, collective unit. That includes, again, all those people: players, coaches, play callers, coordinators, trainers, all the people involved in the game day operations. This year is its own entity and [you] start all over again from scratch. That's the way we've always kind of approached it. We've had successful seasons and we're had other seasons that didn't end the way we wanted them to, but the following year we've tried to take that approach every season,
Q: Was it a Super Bowl hangover that hurt your team the first time?
BB: Not that I can remember. Certainly you come into the season with a good level of confidence after having a successful season the year before, but I think we're all mature enough to realize that it's a new year. You can look at the standings from last year and the year before and year before that and you see teams go from the bottom to the top and you see them go from the top down the line. I think there's no better example in the NFL than last year and the year before or every year for that matter. One year the Dolphins were, whatever it was 1-15, and the next year they won the division. We see that pretty regularly in the NFL now, those types of examples.
Q: On Damione Lewis - is he kind of in the same boat at Gerard Warren?
BB: I think it's very similar. Damione played in St. Louis and Carolina again, primarily as a three-technique, lining up on the guard's outside shoulder. In a 3-4 defense, we really don't have that player. Not that there aren't some alignments that put him there, but for the most part that's not a primary base alignment for us in our 3-4 defense. It's been a transition for him as well. Like Gerard, he's played a lot of football. He's played against a lot of good players. He's a smart guy and a very experienced guy and he's been able to make the adjustments to our system and our style of play. I think last night was a good example of however how much you practice it or go through it in drills or even practicing against another team, it's still a little bit different in a game where the speed is higher and the blocks and tackling and a lot of things like that are involved that we don't really do in practice. We just get as close to them as we can, but we don't actually do them. I think Damione is working hard, coming along, making good progress in our system, I think he's in pretty good condition. I think he can help us this year.
Q: Is there a line of thinking with some of the young guys - the tight ends, Brandon Spikes and Devin McCourty - starting the game and then also playing deep into the fourth quarter. Is that to get them conditioned to playing the whole game?
BB: I think the main force behind things like that is just the overall depth of the team and the depth at certain positions. That's how I would characterize it. Where we have more people we can get more playing time and give everybody a longer look. Where we have fewer people, those players have to play more.
Q: So there isn't as much of a conditioning element to that to get those guys ready?
BB: I think conditioning is important and that again, every play that players play in preseason is beneficial from a learning standpoint, a technique standpoint and also conditioning. We run around the field and all of that and that's great for conditioning, but it's still not quite the same as the actually playing the game, and the intensity of it. What actually occurs in the game and the conditioning levels that a player has to be in to play a game, again we try to simulate those in practice, but it isn't quite the same. Whichever players play, when they're in there, they get those opportunities and experiences, and when they don't, then it goes to some other players. That's why practicing against the Saints was so good. We really probably had the equivalent of, in terms of snaps, maybe three full games of snaps against the Saints instead of one. Everybody got to play more plays and I think that benefited our entire team.
Q: After having a season of coaching Derrick Burgess and working with him, can you talk about some of the things you liked about him, what skills and abilities he brought to the team and what you'd like to see out of him this year?
BB: I think Derrick is a very knowledgeable pass rusher. I think he has a good understanding of his opponents, pass rush technique and how to defeat blockers and how to specifically defeat individual blockers based on their strengths and weaknesses and how he matches up against them. He has played primarily in a 4-3 defense in Philadelphia and Oakland the majority of his career. In our defense he played some in that position but also some as a 3-4 outside linebacker type and again, that's a little bit different compared to what he had done in the past. I think this year based on the spring and the workouts we had in May and June, I think he's certainly a lot further ahead in understanding what we do and our terminology and techniques and so forth than he was at this time last year. Derrick is really a pretty versatile player. He can do some different things and can do them pretty well. We'll build on what we did in the spring and see where it goes.