Patriots head coach Bill Belichick addresses the media during his conference call on Friday, August 27, 2010.
BB: We watched the tape this afternoon. [We] went through it this morning with the coaching staff. [We] went through it with the players. [There are] certainly a lot of things that we need to correct. [There were] positive things within plays, even some plays that weren't that good. There were positive things to the plays. We need to perform better than we did last night as a total team: coaching, playing, offense, defense, special teams, you name it. We saw it, talked about it, and will get back to work this week. That's pretty much where we're at for right now. We haven't really talked about our schedule in terms of what exactly we're going to do. I know we have some thoughts and I've talked to different elements of our staff about it, but that's something we'll meet on and decide here in the next couple days before the players come back in. [There are] a few bumps and bruises from the game. We're trying to sort that out and see how everybody is there. That's pretty much where we're at for today.
Q: Were you more encouraged or discouraged than you were coming off the field yesterday after watching the film today?
BB: [I'm] disappointed in the whole game. Regardless of how the last kick turned out, whether it was good or not good, that's really not the point. I don't think we did things as well as we are capable of doing them, so that part is disappointing. And then when your team doesn't do that, it doesn't make you feel very good as a coach. And when your team doesn't perform well that's a reflection on the coaching and how the coaches feel.
Q: Along those lines, in your history in the league, what has been your experience in how preseason performance translates into the regular season? Is there a correlation there?
BB: I think the way your team develops its fundamentals and its foundation in the early part of training camp and the preseason definitely is important in the big picture. If it wasn't, then we wouldn't do it. That being said, there are certainly a lot of unknowns going into the season. It's preseason, not the regular season, but you want to see things done well and last night wasn't a great example of that.
Q: With some of the success they had passing, specifically in the first half when Sam Bradford was in, did you think it was more the secondary not covering it as well or was that a result of not getting the kind of pressure you wanted?
BB: I think the two are interrelated. There were times when we had good pressure on the quarterback and hit him and didn't have tight enough coverage and the ball came out because the receiver was open. There were other times when the receiver was open and we didn't have quite enough pressure to force the ball out quickly when we had him covered. It was a combination of things. I would say it was a little bit of both.
Q: You mentioned a few bumps and bruises and that you were still sorting it out. On the Rams side, Donnie Avery was carted off, so I guess the Rams could rule that as serious. Can you say that your guys with injuries are not in that category of significant, probably out for the year category at this point?
BB: I don't think I can ever say that, no. But that's why they do what they do. Sometimes things look big and they turn out to be not that significant. And then other times you see things that look like they're not that significant and they turn out to be more than that. So I wouldn't want to try to speculate on what a medical diagnosis will or won't be.
Q: You got a pretty quick look at your run defense versus Steven Jackson on the first drive. With the relatively new defensive line, do you have any thoughts on how they did against one of the better rushers around?
BB: I would say overall, [in] the run defense we didn't give up a lot of yards [or] a lot of big plays. I think the longest run was a third-down run against a sub defense. That really wasn't the problem. We didn't have a lot of negative plays in the running game. Some of those four and five-yard gains were plays that we hoped would be one or two-yard gains or no-yard gains. In general, I think we can play better technique. We can play the running game better than we played it, regardless of who the back was, and we can tackle better. We missed some tackles and that's never good in terms of stopping the running game.
Q: When the offense went to the no-huddle, how did you feel it went with the umpire spotting the ball? That is a new change this year, so how did you feel that went as far as tempo you were trying to create versus the officials' operation?
BB: I don't think that slowed us down any. I just think it's a little bit different. And it's a little bit different when you're just working on it to work on it versus when you've really got to have it. If you're behind, truly behind like with four minutes to go in the game or five minutes to go in the game and say you're down by scores and you're really trying to accelerate the pace versus doing it in the first quarter or doing it in a preseason game. I think that tempo is a little bit different. We just wanted to do it, not so much for the officials, but just for our communication and an exercise for the offense. I think the timing of it is not quite the same. But as far as the game goes last night I don't think the umpire and all that was an issue.
Q: Speaking of some of the referees, you guys had those three hit to the head penalties. Was that a situation where it was being overly cautious in the preseason, or is that something you guys need to look out for?
BB: Again, it doesn't really matter what we think. The only thing that matters is how the officials call the game. They're close calls, but if they say they're fouls, they're fouls and we've got to correct that and eliminate those plays. The three roughing the passer calls and illegal contact and off sides, those plays led to points, so they were very costly. We've got to find a way to avoid them, regardless of whether we think they are good calls or not. That doesn't really matter. We've got to find a way to play without committing those fouls.
Q: Laurence Maroney didn't have a carry yesterday. Is this a situation where you know what you have with him and you don't need to see him in the preseason, or are you expecting that he'll get his opportunity in the game next week?
BB: As I said last night, we anticipated playing all the players in the game, [but] we had so few plays on offense, we just weren't able to do it. I think he does need to play. I think all players need to play in the preseason. I think it's beneficial to all of them. When you're a one-back offense, you can only have one in there at a time. It's like quarterbacks. We'd like to have played all three quarterbacks, too, but we never had the ball. There were no plays to run.
Q: From what you've seen in practice, do you envision Laurence Maroney helping the team this season?
BB: Oh, absolutely. I sure do.
Q: On a lighter note, going back to the first quarter. On TV there was a nice shot of Tom Brady trying to convince you to go for the first down. What does he have to do in that situation to convince you? Sell it a little harder?
BB: That's a decision that is a coaching decision. Players always want you to go for it. They always want you to challenge every play, which is fine. I respect that. In the end, you have to try to make the call that you think is best for the team. It's not always the one that everybody wants to do.
Q: You mentioned that you didn't have the ball a lot. One reason for that was Brandon Tate's return for a touchdown. You said you guys had target special teams and kick returns as something you wanted to improve on. Is it obvious that you're seeing what you want from Tate and the rest of the kickoff return unit?
BB: I think the kickoff returns have been...We've had our moments. At times they've been good. At other times not so good. They've been a little inconsistent. The same thing with the punt returns. There weren't many returns of any kind last week, so it's kind of hard to talk about the Atlanta game. We had some production on the punt return against New Orleans and the kickoff return, but we've also had some not so good ones, so we're trying to develop a little more consistency. Like most teams, we're working on different returns. It's not really game planed for 'this is the return we want to run against this particular team.' You kind of work on a certain return this week just so you can get everything installed here: middle returns and your sideline returns and all that. They're not necessarily an ideal match with the coverage your preseason opponent uses, but it's more important to get those in. I'm sure the same thing is true whether it be St. Louis last night or anybody else; if you're really game planning your coverage for a particular opponent's return, you do it a little differently than just running down there and making the blocking angles easy and things like that. The good thing is working on techniques, working on our ball handling and our blocking, and basic relationships that we have on middle and sideline returns. But I think it's way too early to try to judge where those are.
Q: You've got a lot of new faces on the offense, but Kevin Faulk has always been there. What does he bring to the team in now his 12th season?
BB: Kevin brings a lot. He's so dependable and can really handle any role for us on offense or in the return game on special teams. It's just a question of which ones we ask him to do. He's got great leadership and is a great example to, I could say the younger players, but really all the players [with] his preparation, his dependability, his unselfishness. He adds a lot to our football team and his roles are the type of things [that] as coaches can really count on because he has just come through so many times. He's done it so often that, I hate to say you take it for granted, but you start to just expect it because it has happened so many times. Kevin is mature enough to know how hard he's got to keep working to maintain that level of performance and he's not only a very good performer but also one of our hardest workers and best prepared players. He's got a lot of things going in his favor and I think we see that on a pretty regular basis. It's impressive. It's impressive.