New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick addresses the media during his conference call on Friday, August 8, 2008.
BB: We have the guys in here today to review some film…We will go back and get a lot of extra work in before Philadelphia [Eagles] and [New York] Giants games. It will be more just trying to get organized and get ready for those games. We are in a little bit of a transition week between training camp and the last couple of preseason games before we start our regular season preparations. We need to have a good week this week and prioritize what we are going to do. As far as last nights game goes it was pretty obvious to anybody who watched the game. There were things that were good and positive and there were other things that we didn't look too good at and the [Baltimore] Ravens looked better than we did. We need to address those and shorten some of those up. Most of all what we talked about and worked on, we just didn't do a real good job on them. There were other things that showed up better in the game and hopefully that is something we can be consistent with. We will just have to see, there is a long way to go. We can't base anything on one game. We will just have to keep working on all the areas that we have identified that need improvement. A lot of guys got playing time some guys got quite a bit. Two cornerbacks played the whole game, which is pretty unusual in preseason. Other guys didn't play as much, we had a number of players that didn't play. [We will] evaluate what we can evaluate and I'm sure will change in the coming weeks on some of those playing times. Ratios based on what we feel like we need to do, what's best for the players and also the availability of different guys. We will make those decisions, in terms of playing time, much later on next week. The guys that we got to see a chance to see play and saw them for an extended period of time - it gives you a longer evaluation of them and it was a good thing for us to see.
Q: You started the game by deferring the opening coin toss. Was that decision made to highlight the rule change to the team or is that something that you envision be a regular occurrence if you win the toss throughout the year?
BB: I think it will be a regular occurrence, I think it will be what most teams [do]. College coaches that I have talked to have pretty much all told me that everyone always defers when they win the toss in college 100 percent of the time. My guess is that it will approach that in the NFL as well, in time. Whether it does right off the bat, I don't know. It would take some type of extreme conditions or an unusual experience to not do that if you win the toss. That's our approach going into it. I think we will defer unless there is some overriding circumstances that would cause us to do it differently. We will start doing that now.
Q: On the punt team, what is the primary role of the personal protector and why is that player important?
BB: Well, he has several important jobs. The personal protector handles the communication on the punt team in terms of protection. If they bring eight players up to potentially rush the punt with the other two guys covering the gunners - you would have eight to block eight and you've got to get that right. You want to block that in the most advantageous way for your punt team so making the calls as to how to handle the protection, whose going to take who, whose going to go where and if that number diminishes whether it goes from eight to seven or seven to six or sometimes there is six guys in there, like five and one guy stacks. When you have more people than they do you can organize it so you can try to create a free guy. You have eight guys there which guy do you want to try to get free, how do you want to try to help your coverage and things like that. So, it's kind of the quarterback on the punt team. That position is like a quarterback on offense. There is a lot of communication and decision making in terms of protection and organizing the coverage. From a blocking standpoint, he is the last line of defense so that is another important decision as to when to release into coverage, when to stay a little bit longer and protect the punter, when to leave his guy to get somebody else who may be more dangerous that maybe a blocker had missed in front of him and those kind of things. He's the last line of defense. In coverage, you have your two left coverage players split out as gunners in an extended position. Sometimes they get inside and sometimes they don't but because the personal protector lines up behind the snapper four, five or six yards he can a lot of times get released, get through the line of scrimmage and end up being a very productive coverage player - in a sense like a third gunner for you coming from the inside as opposed to coming from the outside. There are a lot of important elements in that position. When you pick a player to play there, you might weigh one area more heavily than the other. I'm not saying that every player is necessarily great at all three of those [areas]. Maybe he is better at one than another or two than the third but it is an important position and there is a lot of potential for a lot of production at that position if you have the right guy.
Q: How about [Stephen] Gostkowski in last night's game? Can you comment on his performance?
BB: I thought he kicked well. I thought he had a good night. There wasn't much more he could do really than make the field goals and get two touchbacks. He did a pretty good job. There were a couple little things that he could have done a little bit better but I think he did a real nice job.
Q: In terms of evaluating the quarterbacks, how much do you have to factor in protection breakdown?
BB: I don't think it is very different than the other positions. Sometimes the player doesn't have the opportunity to be productive on a particular play, whether that is because of what the other team is doing or maybe because of another breakdown. Then there are other times when he does. In the end, the bottom line is how do you feel the player's production on any give play is rated towards the potential, or what he could have done or he should have been able to do in that particular situation. That doesn't mean every play has to be an eighty-yard touchdown. It just means given what happened on the play, what is the most you could have expected from him and you get that. Did you get less than that or was there a critical mistake that really put the team in a tough situation or put another player in a tough situation? That is how you look at that position and I think that you look at them all [positions] like that. Sometimes do you say in certain players in certain games, 'Well they really didn't have many chances in that game or it is really hard to evaluate them in that particular game because there just weren't a lot of opportunities.' In watching and scouting college players, you watch a guy play - it's not his fault, it's not anybody's fault - it is just what you are watching. You don't get to see the opportunities that you would like to see where you can really evaluate him. These situations where he is doing what he is supposed to do but there's not a lot of opportunities to do more than that or he's not put in a stressful situation that you can really evaluate how well he can handle that. That is the same thing we are dealing with when we watch our games.
Q: How do you think Kevin O'Connell did in those opportunities?
BB: I think some things were okay and I think some things could have been better. I'm sure Kevin [O'Connell] learned a lot last night. I'm sure the next time he gets an opportunity to play he will try to take some of the experiences he had last night and build off those. I think that is one of the things we want to see going forward is how players adjust and hopefully improve or if they don't, what level they are really at and how good is that.
Q: Some of the reporters in New York were curious to know if you had an opinion on the Brett Farve trade.
BB: I think he's a great player, one of the best players in the last couple decades. He has just about every record he could have at the position he played and that speaks for itself. It is always a big challenge playing the [New York] Jets and even more so now. They have a lot of talent and I'm sure we will have our hands full every time we face them. Right now, that is not at the forefront of our concerns, we have a lot of other things before we would even come to that and that is what we will focus on. He is a great player there is no question about that.
Q: On LaMont Jordan's performance:
BB: LaMont [Jordan] did some gpod things. He had a lot of carries and some other things being new to the system and running some of those plays for the first time especially under full speed contact situations that we don't do that much of in a practice setting. I think there was some good teaching for him and that he gained some good experience. He also showed up, made some tackles, made some yards on the run and made a few plays. It was good to see him out there, good to have him running the ball and I'm sure he will get some more opportunities to get a chance to build on those to go forward.
Q: What did you think about the rookie's performances?
BB: Some good things and some need to be better but I thought Shawn [Crable] and Jerod [Mayo] played hard. Same thing with [Gary] Guyton and [Vince] Redd too for that matter. All the rookie linebackers, I thought the play that [Gary] Guyton made on the punt was a real good effort play. [Guyton] showed us speed down there on the ten yard line. [Vince] Redd made a tackle on the kickoff and rushed the passer. [Shawn] Crable showed up in a couple different areas too on special teams and against the run and rushed it, got an interception and Jerod [Mayo] the same thing. There were some positives, some good bright spots. They really took the plays that we taught them and they practiced them and translated them over onto the field. Other things that weren't quite as good that need to be corrected and improved. I'm encouraged and glad they had the opportunity to play as much as they did. It was a good experience for all those young linebackers.