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Bill Belichick Conference Call Transcript - 10/9/2012

Patriots head coach Bill Belichick addresses the media during his conference call on Tuesday, October 9, 2012.


BB: This is a real impressive Seattle team we've been watching here the last couple days. I'd say the things that really jump out are their overall playmaking ability, kicking game – they return kicks, they block them, they cover them, they're leading the league in kickoff returns, leading the league in kickoff coverage. They really have a lot of players that are very impact-type guys in the kicking game with good specialists. Defensively, big in the secondary, probably the biggest secondary in the league, big corners; physical, fast linebackers, real active front, they play a lot of different people up there but they're all playmaking type guys. I've really been impressed watching [Brandon] Mebane and [Red] Bryant and [Bruce] Irvin, of course [Chris] Clemons, [Alan] Branch, [Jason] Jones. They're a real good group and they take the ball away, they do a good job of stripping it out, it's not just sacks. A bunch of three-and-outs, which they have a lot of those but they also do, like I said, a real good job of stripping the ball away from quarterbacks, running backs, receivers, anybody who has it. They're fast and they're long. Offensively, it's an excellent group of backs. They run the ball a lot and they run it well – [Marshawn] Lynch, [Robert] Turbin who has been impressive, Leon [Washington] of course. Michael Robinson does a good job for them at fullback and in the kicking game. He's an excellent player. They have good skill players. Of course Sidney Rice is a go-to guy for them. [Golden] Tate is dangerous, [Zach] Miller, [Anthony] McCoy, Evan Moore, we saw him in Cleveland. We had trouble with him a couple years ago there. They have [John] Moffitt back on the offensive line which gives them a more solid group there. Of course, the quarterback, [Russell] Wilson is an active, mobile guy that's a hard guy to contain. He keeps a lot of plays alive with his scrambling and athletic ability. They run plenty of quarterback movement plays with him – bootleg and rollout plays and things like that. It's a team that we don't know very well. It's a team with a lot of new players, young. They're young but they're good. They're talented and we're going to really have to work hard this week to get familiar with their schemes and their players to be able to do a good job against them. We'll have a lot of tough guys to match up against. That's our deal this week.

Q:Seattle is known as one of the more difficult atmospheres to travel to. In your experience, do you see it that way?

BB: Absolutely. I think it might be the loudest stadium that we've been in and we're in a lot of loud ones. I'll put that one right up there. Their fans are vocal, it's really loud. When we were out there before, four years ago, their record was 2-10, it wasn't very good and there was a lot of energy, a lot of enthusiasm, a great atmosphere for football. The crowd is totally into it. They do a great job of being loud, causing false start penalties and things like that on the offense. Seattle has historically played very well at home. It's a huge home field advantage for them. Record-wise, their record at home has been among the best in the National Football League really. They're right up there with the Packers in the NFC. Absolutely, that will be another big challenge for us. The long trip out there and then the environment, the hostile crowd we'll be facing. Yes, all that is certainly part of the whole preparation and Seattle week.

Q:Obviously takeaways are very important to you. Are turnovers something that you look at as a bonus that's out of your control or can you actually generate them?

BB: You could definitely generate them, as Seattle does. I think they do it as well as anybody. Certainly, turnovers come in different categories. Some of them are just mistakes by the offense that the defense doesn't really have anything to do with, like fumbled snaps or a pass that goes off a receiver's hand and gets batted up in the air and is an easy interception and the defense doesn't affect it. Then there are other plays where the defense does affect the play that they read the quarterback, jump the route, strip the ball from the runner or receiver who is obviously trying to hold on to it but the defender is alert and if they don't put pressure on the ball then they just tackle the guy around the legs instead of trying to get the ball, those aren't going to be fumbles. I'd say there are a number of opportunities in most games for the defense to at least get the ball out, whether you recover it or not that's another part of the play but at least get the ball out or put pressure on it. That includes tipped passes and coverage and stripping the ball from the runner or quarterback and all that. It's an awareness of those opportunities and then taking advantage of them when they occur, which isn't on every play but they do happen. But then, there are some turnovers that are just unforced and those are just sloppiness by the offensive team, whoever it is just losing the ball. The defense doesn't cause a turnover, it's just bad offensive execution.

Q:I'm assuming you like where your team is at right now in regard to takeaways?

BB: Yeah, but it doesn't really matter. It's Seattle; it's what happens this week. Hopefully we can be on the plus side of the turnovers against Seattle but that's hard to do because they do an excellent job of taking it away and they do a great job of protecting it. Their backs really run hard, they get a lot of extra yardage. That's often a time when backs will be less protective of the ball because they're struggling for those extra yards and trying to break tackles and all that but not these guys. They run hard, break tackles, gain extra yards and don't fumble. We'll see how it all plays out Sunday but just because it happened in a couple other games or didn't happen, I don't think that really means anything for Sunday.

Q:You've talked this year about great running backs getting their own yardage. It seems like Marshawn Lynch breaks a tackle every time he touches the football. Is he one of the better backs in terms of getting his own yardage?

BB: Absolutely, yes absolutely. I would say Leon Washington is in that category too as a returner. The number of yards he gets after contact is very impressive. Whether he runs through a tackle or whether he just uses his quickness to make the guy who really should make the tackle miss him. But yeah, Lynch is outstanding. He has great feet, good balance, he's a powerful guy. There are times where he does get tackled but a lot of times it's with three or four extra yards because of his good pad level and his ability to maintain his leg drive through contact and by the time the defender gets him on the ground, it's an extra two to three yards that Lynch has created on his own. Absolutely, he's one of the best. But I'll say, they have different styles but when [Robert] Turbin is in there, he makes a lot of yards too on contact and avoiding guys and all that. If you're not really studying the backs, you're just kind of watching them, I don't want to say you can't tell them apart but both guys run hard, both guys make yards after contact, both guys are very good runners and so is Washington. It doesn't really matter who is in there, that's a very good group, which is one of the reasons they run it so much. They're giving the ball to a very good player, whoever they give it to.

Q:What are your thoughts on height as it pertains to the quarterback position? Is it important, unimportant, overrated, underrated?

BB: Well it goes along the line of a lot of other things. There are plenty of guys that are good quarterbacks, like the Drew Breeses of the world, that aren't 6-4. There are some very good quarterbacks that are up in that range. I think it's a lot more than that. Is it a positive? Yeah. I don't think there's really much negative about it, although generally speaking shorter guys are a little quicker than taller guys at every position, generally speaking. It's like anything – you give up something to get something. I think the decision making and throwing mechanics and accuracy are a lot more important than height.

Q:You've had quarterbacks on both ends of the height spectrum. Do you just look at these guys individually and not ignore people because they're undersized?

BB: We don't ignore anybody based on their talent and their production. We certainly recognize that there's a height, weight, speed standard at every position in the league. We've studied that as I know every other team in the league has. Whatever position you want to take, whether it's left tackle, right tackle, guard, quarterback, anything, you can look at all the players that play that position, all the players that start at that position in the league, take an average of those numbers and you're going to get a pretty good idea of what the consensus at that position is in terms of height, weight and speed. Then there are exceptions to that. There are players that are speed deficient, they're below the speed standard, they're below the height standard, they might be below the weight standard but that doesn't mean they're not good football players. Then again, when you take into consideration the overall percentages, there are a lot more big, strong, fast players than there are short, small, slow ones. But there are exceptions to everything. Our thing is always to try to evaluate the guy as a player, not just look at just strictly his height, weight and speed. We're certainly aware of it but that's not the final determining factor. It's how good of a football player is he? Or, how good of a football player do we think he can be? Certainly if you can find a guy that's a good football player that physically has at least the average or hopefully above average measurables relative to everybody else at his position in the league, then that's I think going to improve your overall success rate. That's certainly not the final measuring stick for us by any stretch.

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