New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick addresses the media during his conference call on Tuesday, September 16, 2008.
BB: We are digging through the Miami stuff here today. Of course, seeing them play against the Jets last week gave us a little bit of a head start on them. We are so familiar with the Jets that it's a good comparison to see how they match up against a team that we just played, a team that we are familiar with in our division. [There are] a lot of new faces [and] new schemes at Miami. The coaches are a little bit different than what we've seen from them recently. We have a lot of preparation to do. I think the Dolphins improved in a lot of ways. They have added a lot of young players. They are big. They are physical and I think they have a different mentality than they have had previous years. I am not taking anything away from what they did or didn't do. I am just saying, I think they have installed a tough, hard-nosed attitude across the board on their team and that's evident in their play. I am sure it will be a tough, physical game against the Dolphins and again we have a lot of work to do this week to get ready.
Q: How much work did you do on Jake Long before the draft? Assuming you did work, what did you see in him?
BB: We did a little bit on him but not a whole lot. Of course, he was signed early. Even right there at the end it never really came down to it. We knew that he made an agreement with the Dolphins. He's a very physical left tackle. You look at some guys for example, last week we played against [D'Brickashaw] Ferguson who would be a very athletic left tackle. [Jake] Long is relative to Ferguson, [but] is a lot bigger and physical player. He may not be as quick or athletically gifted, but he is a much bigger and much more physical guy. He could probably move over and play right tackle as well. I think that when he was drafted, he looked familiar and similar in Bill's [Parcells] eyes to a guy like Jumbo Elliott in that same kind of style. They have a different way of blocking over on that side by being physical. It helps the running game over there because a lot of left tackles aren't great run blockers and maybe worry about their athleticism in the passing game. But, they're usually matched up against a smaller guy and if they get their hands on them, they can get into them and block them that way, as opposed to blocking them with the same kind of comparable quickness and athleticism that some of the good pass rushers on the right side have. I think Long has played very well. He's been starting from day one. I think he already is a good solid tackle. I am sure he will end up being one of the top tackles in football as he develops and gets into his prime. He is being well coached down there and he is very fundamentally sound, as well as, big, tough and athletic. He is a good finisher. He pretty much does everything well. He run blocks, pass blocks, plays in space, is consistent [and] is a good technique player. He's a real good football player, along with their other additions to their offensive line - I think that is probably the most improved area on their team.
Q: Did you have any chance to catch up with Bill Parcells this off-season?
BB: I am not sure exactly where everything starts and stops between Bill, the coaches and other people in the personnel department. I am sure he has quite a bit of influence. I am sure he did around draft time and with some of their free agent signs. I think from the type of players that they have acquired, Bill probably has some influence on that too. Bill's always liked bigger, physical, tough guys and it seems like they have added those to the team and have kept a lot of the ones that were already there too. Guys like [Channing] Crowder, [Samson] Satele and younger players that were already in that program. [Yeremiah] Bell was hurt last year, but players that are already in that kind of style, had that kind of style of play that were already down there. But, bringing in guys like [Anthony] Fasano, he's a tough kid and [Jason] Ferguson is another tough kid. Guys like that, you can see the emphasis on that, as well as, with the younger players that they drafted.
Q: A year ago at this time Richard Seymour was on the PUP [physically unable to perform] list. How far has he come in the last 12 months?
BB: If you take it back that far, he's come a long way. But, it's a gradual process, as we all know. He came off it and played. He played through the regular season and played in the post season, training camp and preseason games. It's been a steady progression but Richard has gotten off to a good start this year and had a good camp. I think athletically he looks good. [He] has played with good power, explosiveness and has been productive.
Q: What difference does it make that he was able to do all that off-season work, that he had missed in previous years?
BB: Well, it is a big help. It starts a player at a much higher level. Some of those guys that have off-season surgery, or rehab - they basically spend the whole off-season trying to get back to the previous year, if everything goes well. Where as a player who is healthy going in the off-season really has a chance to make some gains and start at a much higher point the following year than he was at in the preceding year. That's a huge difference. It's the difference between rehab and training.
Q: In your opinion, what makes Wes Welker so effective after the catch?
BB: His quickness [and] his running style in that he's not a big guy. But, he's strong for his size. He has good balance and he's a hard guy to wrap up and tackle. [He is] similar but different than Troy Brown, who was another smaller type of guy who was hard to tackle because he could make people miss and bounce off some tackles because of his size, lower body strength and balance. He's able to stay on his feet and gain some extra yards. So, it's a combination of quickness, running style and vision. I think Wes does a good job of finding where there is a soft spot on defense and getting what's there.
Q: Rule based question: On the last play of the game where Stephen Spach was called for a false start. The offense was called for a penalty yet the clock ran down. Can you explain that?
BB: To be honest. I didn't understand that one myself either. I need to check on the ten second run off. I am not sure. I will have to check on that one. Or maybe, you can find out and let me know, that would be even better.
Q: Can you comment on Ray Ventrone? What has he done to become a key player for you in the special teams area?
BB: No one has worked harder than Ray. He's just continued to improve the last couple years. He has good playing strength. He has good speed and he's a tough, fearless guy. He will throw his body in there, anywhere, in any situation. He has good concentration, like we saw in preseason, catching the ball - taking hits in traffic, hanging onto it and running with it after the catch. Ray's the type of player that works hard. He's improved steadily. He's gotten stronger, faster and quicker in his training. He's become a better football player because of his techniques and work ethic on the field. He's not really a starting type of player on offense and defense that's actually helped him in ways that he's been able to get reps on both sides of the ball. He's really been able to develop as an offensive and a defensive player, as well as, his role in the kicking game. That's kind of self-contained. But, on offense and defense he's been able to work into roles on those sides of the ball and actually take reps in both areas on a pretty consistent basis. He's kind of a unique player in his role, his niche and his versatility. You usually don't see a player have the kind of exceptional toughness and the kind of physical play that he does - that does all that. That's kind of a rare combination of forces coming together in his skill set
Q: Can you comment on Adalius' [Thomas] sack - where he took two people down the field 20 yards? How impressive was that and does it show any more comfort in the system that he's able to play so aggressively?
BB: It was a pretty impressive play. To go in there and take [Leon] Washington back and then get a hold of [Brett] Favre and keep taking them back, sort out who had the ball, and then throw them both down. It was pretty impressive. Adalius has made a lot of other impressive plays. The interception last year against San Diego and his speed down the sideline. We've seen him do a lot of things, rushing the passer, playing in coverage, stopping the run, [and] tackling. He's a strong powerful guy and I think he showed it on that play.
Q: After the game Matt Cassel said that Tom Brady had helped him through the week, basically through conversations or text messages. Is it your expectation that Tom will continue to be around the team this year and could possibly help Matt each week as you go along the way, or is it too early to tell if something like that might be a possibility?
BB: I think that will be true to some degree, we don't have a specific schedule on it or anything like that. Right now, the priority for Tom is to rehab and do everything he can to get back to 100-percent, and that's a long process. That will be the priority for him. When that's taken care of and depending on how the schedules fall and so forth, Tom's always been great about helping other players and being part of the team, or being part of whatever we're doing. Last week, he came in a little bit at the end of the week. He was in our quarterbacks meeting on Saturday and stuff like that. Going forward this week that might be the same, it might be a little bit different. It goes depending on how his rehab schedule goes and what we're doing at the times when he is available. It's not a real structured thing, is what I am trying to say. I'm sure that Tom will continue to be involved like he always has. To what degree, what the time frame is and the structure of it and all that, that's not in place and it will change during the course of the year too. The things he's doing now, there will be different points in his rehab where there will be different areas it will be focused on, different time frames and so forth. We'll just have to take it as it comes.
Q: Bill you mentioned Tom [Brady] and his knee. Have you had a chance to talk to Charlie [Weis] - he took a heck of a spill there on Saturday?
BB: Yeah, I have talked to Charlie. I think whatever Charlie wants to say about his injury. I think he's perfectly capable of talking about that. I don't want to. That was a tough hit though.