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Bill Belichick Conference Call Transcript 11/26

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Q: How important is Matthew Slater's leadership to younger special teams guys like Brandon King?

BB:Yeah, it's been great. Matthew does a great job of helping everybody out. Really he's a great example for all of us both on and off the field. Nobody works harder and puts more into it. Matthew really understands what his role on the team is, he's embraced it and he's turned it into a great career for himself. He definitely imparts his experience to other guys, not just rookies, although he does it to them, too, but really he's a great inspiration for all of us and all the players in how professional he is, the way he goes about his business and how committed he is to the team. He gives us tremendous leadership.

Q: Does the altitude affect Stephen Gostkowski's range? The Broncos seem to be prone to penalties. Do you take that into consideration?

BB: As far as the field goals and all that, we evaluate that every game at game time so there's really no way to know right now what that range is going to be. I mean we can anticipate it being a little bit longer out there, but that may vary depending on what direction we're going and that could vary on the temperature and the wind – those two things that affect the distance of the ball. We kind of make that decision at game time after we go through pre-game warmups and look at the conditions and maybe try to gauge if the conditions are going to change. Sometimes you get gusting winds and depending on whether it's gusting or not that could affect your distance there by somewhat of a significant amount of yardage. Those are all really game-time decisions based on pre-game warmups and field conditions. We reevaluate those possibly in the game if the conditions are extreme but more so at halftime and talk about if there's anything changed from the second half to the first half relative to our strategy or relating to that type of thing. I think the Broncos have been penalized as much or more than any other – on defense – more than any other team. But we can't really control that. There's nothing we can really do about it one way or another. We're going to play the game the way we know how to play it and however the officials call it, they call it. I don't really get the sense that there's anything really that would be in any way send up any kind of a red flag for me or that type of thing. I'd say some of the penalties they've gotten I'd say are pretty tough calls. They put a lot of pressure on the passer. They've had a couple roughing the passer calls and things like that where I'd say they're pretty marginal. They have good rushers. They're getting there and maybe they don't hit them quite right or not, I don't know. The rest of it, they're aggressive, they're competitive and we've all been on that side of it. We've all gotten those calls go against us. You try to coach it better, you try to eliminate them, but I think that's part of being an aggressive team and they definitely are that and they do a good job there. We'll just have to take it as it comes and try to … What we need to do is play penalty free on our end. That's really the most important thing. Whatever else happens, happens.

Q: What has Shaquil Barrett shown this year and what does he do for their defense?

BB:He's done a good job. They've got a lot of guys out there, they have a lot of depth at that position, and he's one of them. He's done a good job for them. He's got a little less length than some of those guys. I think he's in like the 6-1 range, somewhere in there, maybe a little over 6-1. But he's strong, plays in the kicking game, runs well, but he's given them good plays off the edge as well as kind of the rest of those guys have, too. And I don't want to say you don't know who's in there because you definitely notice [Von] Miller in there and [DeMarcus] Ware, but if you're not really paying attention you kind of lose track of who's in there because they get pressure from all of them. They've got really good depth and I don't want to say … It definitely matters who's in there but they have good depth and a lot of times you don't notice when Ware or Miller isn't in there because they're getting so much production from the rest of that group.

Q: What have you seen from Denver's first-down defense?

BB:They've been really good – hard to run against and very disruptive in the passing game so that creates second- and third-and-long obviously. Third down is important because it's a possession down but first down has a lot to do with third down and being able to get off to a good start at the beginning of a series or the initial first-down play and not face two long-yardage situations – second and third down. They've done a great job of that and that's helped their defense. A number of their turnovers and disruptive plays have come in those long-yardage situations where the quarterback has got to hold the ball and bad things happen, whether it's strip sacks or coverage getting to the play, tipped balls, interceptions and all that. Staying out of long yardage and getting off to a good start on first down and second down, that will be a big key for us.

Q: What have you seen from Joey Iosefa in the time you've worked with him?

BB:Joey played running back at Hawaii and he had a good amount of production there. But he's a bigger guy and he's somewhere between a big halfback and a fullback and so with our depth in the backfield we really only have three guys on our roster there and he's the fourth guy on the practice squad. He's given us some when we go up against other offenses that have a fullback, he's been able to kind of be the fullback on the scout team in those kind of situations, as well as give our three backs a break on scout team running plays, that kind of thing, give us a little more depth there. He's done a good job. He's a smart kid, he's got some versatility, he's definitely got some size, and like I said he's somewhere between a bigger halfback and a smaller fullback, without a lot of fullback background but probably the size of the position. Within the other league there – the FXFL or whatever it's called – he was there and he came to us right near the end of their season.

Q: Does field position become an even more important factor in November football?

BB:Absolutely, but we always want good field position so I don't want to say that it's not important at some other time because it's really always important. Just like we talked about in terms of field goal range, I'd say the game is being played a little bit differently than what it is in September. Field position is critical and that really starts with the kicking game and then of course turnovers impact it tremendously, but the kicking game overall is a big start to that. I think last week's game against Buffalo was a good example there of the advantage we had in field position. We got a good punt return from Danny. We got a couple good punt coverage plays and then we got a strip fumble by Brandon King on the punt. That was a big field position swing that involved a turnover. Those plays are huge and we've just got to keep working to get our offense and defense the best possible field positon because that always works in your favor. You've still got to go out there and play, but it definitely helps the whole field position situation – I mean the opportunity for the offense and defense in their field positon.

Q: One final question?

BB: I'll jump in there and just wish everyone a happy Thanksgiving. I appreciate the professional way that this group covers us and being the conduit of information from the team to the fans. We have great fan support. Today is also a day to be recognized with the high school football level with so many traditional and rivalry games taking place. Having been at high school and played in those games myself, we always had a traditional Thanksgiving Day game between Annapolis and Severna Park, and I know how important that was to the teams, the families and really the whole school body that supported us. It's such a good traditional way to capture and bring a lot of things together – family, community, friendship – and do it in a competitive way but also in a way that bonds friendship and community support. And just recognizing the high schools, the great job the coaches and those programs do to develop players that eventually become our players and how impactful they are to our players. When I talk to players at the combine in the spring and so forth usually the two most influential people for kids are their parents or in some cases one parent and then the high school football coach or maybe a junior high school football coach – somebody who mentored them along the way or kind of helped them develop as young men. All of us who have had that opportunity have certainly gained from it and taken from it. So just reaching out to them with our level of appreciation for what they do for kids that we eventually see at this level and for all the support that the parents and the families and the high schools gives those teams and those players and how it brings everybody together. And again, thanks to all of you for taking time on your Thanksgiving morning to accommodate us, and we look forward to seeing you out in Denver. Happy Thanksgiving.

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