New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick addresses the media during his conference call on Tuesday, September 30, 2008.
BB: We are plugging along here. We had a little bit of a jump-start on yesterday. We will look at some of those things on practice and also the New Orleans game, which we didn't get a chance to look at until after practice yesterday because it didn't come in until late yesterday afternoon. We will add some of that into our preparation and try to correct some of the things that happened yesterday on the practice field and get ready for Wednesday when the players come back in.
Q: How important is it for you to establish more consistency in your running game going forward?
BB: We would like to be more consistent in everything. The running game is part of it, passing game, run defense, pass defense - you name it. We are always looking for more consistency there. Staying out of long yardage on offense and trying to control the down and distance situations, stay on the field and convert them on third down.
Q: How are the 49ers using Justin Smith?
BB: Basically, as a defensive end. He flips sides. When they want to play over-under he is the outside guy on the over-under side, most of the time. They've used him inside some and in some pass rushing situations. They move him around a little bit so you don't know exactly where he is going to be. But he has been a good play maker for them this year and a very productive guy.
Q: You mentioned yesterday that rookies had to earn their playing time. Does that go for Kevin O'Connell as well or is it a different set of circumstance surrounding a rookie quarterback?
BB: It is definitely different. You can only play one quarterback. We have a lot of defensive formations where we have multiple backs on the field anywhere from five to six and sometimes seven. So there is a lot more opportunity there, speaking about [Terrance] Wheatley and [Jonathan] Wilhite, than there is when you are just playing one quarterback. Regardless of what position they are playing, everyone has to earn their spot.
Q: How has Shawn Crable looked in practice and is there a chance he will get into some games down the road?
BB: I think there is definitely a chance. I think Shawn has improved all the way through camp and in the regular season in the opportunities that he's had. If we were able to take more players to the game, I am sure Shawn would go to the game and I am sure he would play. So far this year we have to limit it to 45. He hasn't been on the active roster but we have a lot of confidence in Shawn and I'm sure that he would be able to contribute for us if he was at the game. It is just a question of whose place he would have to take and what other ramifications would come into play there. But he has done a good job and he's getting better all the time.
Q: How would you assess your turnover differential so far this season?
BB: Always looking to get more and give up less. It's always a point of emphasis for us every week - plays to turn the ball over and at the same time take care of it when we have it - ball handling and decision-making. In general, taking care of the ball no matter who handles it. It could be a lot of different people but that's all a big point of emphasis. Especially this week against San Francisco - who is a good ball stripping team. We have to do a good job of breaking the ball out, punching it out, knocking it loose. We are really going to have to take care of it. Defensively, we can always use more turnovers.
Q: It's three games into the season but going back including preseason it is seven games. Do you differentiate between preseason and regular season and is there a concern that things you saw in the preseason are continuing now?
BB: Again, that is something that you work on all the way through. You don't just start working on it one week. Third week of preseason, third week of regular season - it is something you work on all the time. You are always looking to get better at it. I think the biggest thing is to take advantage of the opportunities that we have and try to create some opportunities. Those are somewhat limited but when you have them you want to be able to capitalize on those. When you have a good opportunity to turn the ball over, you don't want to miss it. Taking advantage of those and being alert that's part of it too.
Q: Judging by Matt Cassel's two starts this season - how confident are you that he can lead this offense the rest of the way?
BB: Good. Matt had a good week last week and a good practice yesterday. I think he's doing things. I think offensively, collectively we have to do everything a little bit better. Have confidence in the players and confidence in all the players we put out there.
Q: When do mechanics become complete for a guy like Kevin O'Connell?
BB: I don't know. We are still working on those things with [Tom] Brady. I think it's an on going process. I don't think your throwing mechanics - I don't think you ever take them for granted anymore than Tiger Woods takes his golf swing for granted. He works on that everyday. If he can stand out there on a driving range for 14 hours and hit balls, then I think our quarterbacks can work on mechanics, our kickers can work on kicking mechanics [and] the defensive line can work on pass rushing techniques. I think that is an on going process. I don't think it ever stops.