New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick addresses the media during his conference call on Tuesday, September 8, 2008.
BB: We have a little bit of a luxury this week with an extra day with the long week from the Giants game. We are on a normal Tuesday schedule here with the players off. We had a chance to evaluate some of the things we did in practice yesterday and get those cleaned up. We looked at some of our plays and made some adjustments. It gives the players one more day to prepare for Kansas City. Starting tomorrow, we will be on our normal weekly schedule; with players off on Tuesday and then back on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, building up to the Sunday game. This week, Kansas City looks like a very fast team. They are obviously young and aggressive. Chan Gailey went in there and has changed their offensive system a little bit from what they have done in the past. It certainly looks like they are off to a good start with it. They had several long drives in preseason, a very good set of [running] backs, a great tight end and big receivers. On the offensive line, [Branden] Albert hasn't played, but that group is certainly coming along and playing well. On defense, they have improved their return game, particularly kickoff returns. There is a lot for us to get ready for this week. It is fortunate that we have the extra day. Like I said, it is a luxury for us. There aren't too many of these weeks during the year, but with all the extra preparation we need for this game, it is good to have it.
Q: The preseason games might not have been what you wanted. How have practices been and is that a better barometer of where you stand with the team heading into the regular season?
BB: That is really a hard question. I know I say the same thing every year, but it really is true. I don't think you ever know what you have until you get into the regular-season. With practices and preseason games, there is not enough game planning and your opponents don't attack you the way that you are going to be attacked in the regular season. Sometimes you can get through the preseason with no apparent problems in a certain area and then you get into the regular-season and people start putting stress on that area, or on a particular scheme that you are running, and it can be a big problem. You can go through practices, maybe it is the way your team plays, or [the way] one of your preseason opponents plays, and something is really causing you a problem, but for whatever reason it just doesn't show up during the regular season because other teams can't or don't do it that way and it slides by. I think the most important thing in preseason are the fundamentals: the blocking, tackling and all the little things. You try to get those to a high level and hope that those fundamentals will carry you through the course of the year. We were inconsistent at best in those areas. Although some of the problems we had, like every other team, were with players who are not even on our roster now. On the other hand, the guys that did have an opportunity to perform, had the chance to work on them and they can improve as well. To me that is really what you try to get done in preseason. You like to be successful. You like to go out there and have everything go great, but even in games where we have had that - and we have had that in games around here - that we have won. At the same time, that doesn't really tell you exactly where you are. You won't know that for sure until opening day, or the first quarter of the season, where you're really tested by the other teams' best players and best schemes against you. Where are we? I don't know. I just know there are a lot of things that we need to work on. We will keep working on those, trying to keep making progress with our team in all three phases, and try to execute, coach and play as well as we possibly can against a young, aggressive, fast football team that is well coached who is coming in here on Sunday. That is really what we are going to do. How it will turn out, your guess is as good as mine.
Q: With all the changes that Kansas City has made. How difficult is it to prepare for a team that you don't have a lot of film on?
BB: Well, that is true, offensively. Chan Gailey has only been running that offense for four games out there in Kansas City. We have a history with Chan and I think we have a pretty good idea of his offensive philosophy and the basis of it. We are certainly seeing a lot of that in the Kansas City attack. I am sure they will have plenty of wrinkles for us, some plays and looks that we are not preparing for. That is part of opening day. The flip side of it is on the defensive side of the ball. The Chiefs have employed this defense for a while and they have a number of players returning and playing the same spots as they did last year. Of course, they have added [Glenn] Dorsey, [Brandon] Flowers, and [Brandon] Carr in the secondary, but most of those other players are all guys that we have seen before. We have seen them on tape, seen them play well and do a lot of different things. In some respects, that is actually harder to get ready for because we have so much film on their defense. It is obviously a whole season, and they do a lot more than they can do in one game, but we have to prepare for all that we have seen. Offensively, it is a little more of the unknown. Defensively, we are preparing for a lot of things that they are not going to do. We are not sure which ones they will pick out so we have to be ready for all of them. That is the challenge. It is an interesting dynamic on this team because it is not really the same on both sides of the ball.
Q: Do you anticipate any more roster moves before the end of the week or might this be it heading into Sunday?
BB: I don't think it would be fair to say that there won't be anymore. There definitely could be. There are a number of things that we are still looking at and talking about. Whether some of those will actually happen or not, I am not sure. We know there will be one at the beginning of next week as part of the Kevin Faulk situation. Could something occur sooner? It is possible. Again, our main focus is getting ready for Kansas City, but we do want to have the best possible roster we can put together both this week and for the long term. Those are considerations Scott [Pioli] and our scouts are continuing to go through on the waiver wire and taking a close look at some of the players who are available. There were an awful lot of names there last week and there are still a few more [names] coming on there each day as teams adjust their rosters. They bring guys on and take guys off so you get another 15-or-so players that weren't on the wire yesterday. There is some juggling going on. Whether we will make moves based on that or not, I am not sure. But we are defiantly looking at it. If we can help the team, we will make it.
Q: Have you had any recent discussions with Ty Law?
BB: Right now the only players I feel comfortable talking about are the ones that are on this team. There are a lot of players that are not on this team and it is too long of a list to get into. The ones that are here, those are the ones that are getting ready for Kansas City. If we bring someone else in, we can talk about [that player] then; and if we don't, then, we are going with what we have and that is what we are going with right now.
Q: [On Kevin O'Connell's play]
BB: I think Kevin has come a long way from where he was in the spring after we drafted him. As I said then, mechanically, he had a lot of things he needed to work on because he was primarily a shotgun quarterback during college. Maybe 80 percent of his snaps were out of the shotgun a week. Our percentages are a lot different than that - the ball handling, the three-step game and the play action. All of those things are things that he didn't do. I am not trying to make more out of it than it is, but mechanically, it was a difference between catching the ball in the shotgun and throwing it [while] dropping back, play-actioning, three-step, five-step, seven-step and different kinds of roll out plays. In addition to learning about all the different coverages, defenses and identifying the fronts and coverages that go with certain fronts, there is a lot in the passing game in the NFL and Kevin has worked hard to learn it. I think he is coming along at a good pace. He certainly has a long way to go, but he has also made a lot of progress and has worked hard at it. I think he improves every time he goes out on the field or comes out of a meeting so that is good. I think of the opportunities he had this year in preseason, I thought he did pretty well with most of them. Not perfect, but he certainly had a lot of positive plays, and more good ones than bad ones. He did not make the same mistakes repeatedly. Once he saw something, then it was corrected. For the most past, it wasn't a problem and we would move on to something else. That was another good sign.
Q: How much cramming does Deltha O'Neil have to do this week and how much is Dom Capers helping him?
BB: Dom and Deltha will meet on a regular basis like everyone does. Then, they will meet on an extra basis before and after, whenever there is a time frame in there when they can get together. With any new player, it is always a little hard to tell how quickly things will come to him and how similar what we are doing is to what they have done in the past. How quickly they can grasp the concept and the technique is always a better chance with more experienced players than with rookies, but you never really know until you get into it. The difference between a player coming on to the team now versus earlier in training camp is that it is all game-plan specific for Kansas City. The only things we are really focusing on are the Kansas City things, whereas, three weeks ago, it was the whole playbook. Guys that came to the team during the course of training camp had more to learn because of the totality of the system that we were trying to run at that time versus the specifics of it now. The downside is, without getting the whole system, sometimes things don't fit together quite as cleanly, or you don't understand them quite as cleanly, because you don't understand the whole big picture until you get time to work your way through it. How that affects each player is really unique to each player, in how the learning affects him relative to someone else. Deltha will be working hard at it and Dom will be spending a lot of time with him. We will see if we can get him ready to go by this weekend.