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Bill Belichick Conference Call Transcript

Q: I have a feeling I know what you're going to say to this, but you won however many in a row against Buffalo convincingly. Do you have to sell your team up this week a little bit on the dangerousness of Buffalo?

BB:Well, we look at the last game we played against Buffalo and it was as competitive a game as you could have. They outplayed us for the better part of the game and we were fortunate to make a couple of plays there at the end in a critical time. But Buffalo's a good football team, and they played well against us in the opener and they've played very well in the last month of the season. They could have easily won all four of these last games. They've gotten a couple of big plays called back - the kickoff return against the Jets and the two penalties that called back touchdowns in the Jacksonville game or they could've won that one going away. I think they're playing very well in all three phases of the game. We have a lot of respect for Buffalo and they certainly gave us all we could handle in the last game we played against them ... And that was true of the game before that, too, we finished with them last year in Buffalo, so it's always tough against Buffalo and we know that.

Q: They had some success in the screen game in the first time they faced you this year, but they haven't really used that a whole lot in successive weeks. Are you surprised by that?

BB:I think that they've certainly had their share of plays on it. But you know it's like anything else, if you're successful at it, other teams in the league see that and set their defenses and their keys to try to take some of those plays away. Buffalo's been successful doing a lot of different things this year and that's what makes them hard to defend. They have an excellent running game with two great runners. They get the ball down the field to [Lee] Evans and [Terrell] Owens for big plays. And [they have] a quarterback that's athletic, he can make plays moving around in the pocket or getting out and running like he did against Miami. They can attack in a lot of different ways. You might be able to try to take one of them away, but then that inevitably opens up something else. They just have too many good players to defend and you take away one thing and they do something else. And a lot of those touchdowns against Miami, the Owens touchdown against Jacksonville, the long pass in the Tampa game to Evans on third and one, those are all plays that the quarterbacks audibled to. They got the look, they saw single coverage on those receivers and they threw it down there for big plays and touchdowns. I think that's an example of you try to take one thing away and you open up something else. That's what's hard about defending Buffalo.

Q: Despite the fact that New England's been so dominant this decade, what do you make of people trying to put dents into your armor with questions about Randy Moss, and fourth-quarter struggles that you've had of late, even questions about Tom Brady?

BB:Well, right now the only thing we're thinking about is Sunday's game in Buffalo. That's the game we have and can control. Whatever did or didn't happen in the last week, last month, last year, last decade, it's really all in the books. It doesn't matter at this point. We just want to have a good week of preparation and get ready to play Buffalo on Sunday. That's really where our focus is right now.

Q: Is it easy to ignore that?

BB:There's something every week that doesn't really have anything to do with the current game. And we try to block that out, we've won some big games, we've lost some tough ones and we've done in between. Right now, it doesn't matter what happened last week. Right now, we're on to Buffalo and that's where our focus is.

Q: It doesn't seem like there's an awareness of vulnerability in this team. Is that because it's not in your vocabulary?

BB:I don't really ... If that's your characterization of it. I have a lot of respect for this game and I appreciate the game, and the opportunities it's given me, and the teams that I've been with and I respect the competition in this league. Right now, I'm focused on the Buffalo Bills and if you want to do a documentary on the Patriots or my career and all of that, right now is not the time to do that. Now's the time to focus on Buffalo. So that's where I'm at. I'm sorry that doesn't fit your criteria, but that's really where our mindset is right now.

Q: Is there anything specific to this game then, how concerned are you about the Randy Moss situation where his game is at, where his head is at?

BB:Well, I think Randy Moss - his situation - pretty much speaks for itself. Over the last three years with the New England Patriots and throughout his career, he's produced probably more than most every other player in the league at his position, or even in the history of the game for that matter. His teammates have elected him captain the last two years, I think that speaks to his leadership and the respect that he has off of the field. I think right now everybody - as I've said before - is focused on getting ready and prepared for this week's game against Buffalo and the challenges that the Bills bring. So that's where everybody's mindset is.

Q: You guys ran the ball 40 times last week. Are you trying to be more focused on getting the running game going? With regards to Laurence Maroney, too, he seems to be running with more authority the last few weeks.

BB:You know you guys have seen us play before and there's time where we've run it 30, 40 times. And there are times where we've thrown it 40 times, or 25 straight plays or whatever it is. Our philosophy offensively is to try to move the ball and score points. Whatever plays those are - if they contribute to that end result, then that's good; if they don't, then we'll try to find something that will. To me, it's not about runs or passes, or which player has stats or what player doesn't have stats, it's about the team moving the ball, not turning it over and ultimately scoring points. That's our job on offense. However that happens, if it's happening, it's good. If it isn't, then we need to find a better way to do it.

Q: So what has changed with Maroney over the last eight weeks or so? He seems to be running with a lot more authority and just seems to have a lot more energy right now.

BB:I think Laurence has run hard all year. I think he's run hard all year and he's work hard. He's had a good offseason, which he really didn't have last year, and then of course missed most of the season last year. But he's had a good offseason. He had a good training camp. He had a good preseason. He's gotten a lot of reps out there and he's gotten better every week. And he works hard at it. I think he's doing all the right things and ... Is there room for improvement? Or is it perfect? I mean, no, it's not perfect and there's room for improvement, but he's working hard and doing a good job of trying to get better. I think we all respect that. Hopefully, that will continue in the coming weeks.

Q: We're going to be talking to Kevin Faulk in a few minutes. Obviously, his great contributions have been well documented. Would you say he is one of the best over-achievers you've ever had or is that phrase not giving him enough credit?

BB:I don't think that'd be giving him enough credit. Kevin's a pretty talented player in his own right. He does a lot of different things for us through the years, through his career when he came here in '99. He's run, he's caught passes. He's made big plays, he's returned kicks. He was one of the best teammates and team players that I've coached. He gives great leadership, not only to his position, but to everybody on the team with his attitude, his unselfishness, his work ethic and his ability to make big plays at critical times in games when we need him the most. Those are all things that Kevin does well and I think he should be recognized for what his accomplishments are. I don't think he's ... I mean, he works hard, but he's not an over-achiever. I think he's a talented player that plays well consistently.

Q: I know you appreciate every player you have, but is there a special appreciation for a guy like Faulk, who really does whatever is required for you to win and kind of sets an example?

BB:Yeah, absolutely. I mean, Kevin is a coach's dream. Whatever you ask him to do, he'll put his heart and soul into it and do the very best he can do at that job - whatever it is. He's a guy that can - in a hockey example - he can score goals, he can play defense and he can go into the corner and dig out the puck. Whatever you need him to do, he does it, and he does it very unselfishly and he does it pretty well. There's satisfaction in every job, whether it's blitz pick-up, or returning kicks, or being a decoy part of route so that somebody else can come clean. Whether it's him handling the ball and making the play, he does all those things. He's been a great leader with our younger players, like Laurence when he came into the league, or BenJarvus Green-Ellis, who was a rookie last year. He's been a great mentor to players like that, as well as other younger players on our roster. He's been here since 1999, so he's got a lot of seniority, he's well-respected and he's still a very productive player for us. So yeah, he's in kind of a special category there.

Q: This is a little off-topic, but at the start of the decade there were only a handful of teams playing the 3-4. Now, you've got 13 teams and next year, who knows? Is there a concern that with so many teams playing it, it's harder to find a nose tackle or the outside linebacker going forward?

BB:Absolutely. One thing that's really come to note for us, when I came here in 2000, it was basically us and the Steelers. The competition for players - the ones that you mentioned, the nose tackles, the outside linebackers, some of the two-gap defensive linemen - it wasn't very much. Players like Mike Vrabel, who didn't get a chance to play very much in Pittsburgh because of the players that were ahead of him, he was a find here because of the chances he had to play outside linebacker in a 3-4 defense that he just didn't feel like was there for him in Pittsburgh. Now, you look at teams - like you said, 13 teams and there's even more than that because there are more teams that play versions of the 3-4, depending on how you want to count it - but my point is that they look for the same types of players that we're looking for. And that increases the competition for those type of unique players that have roles like nose tackles that might not have quite as good of a fit in a 4-3 defense, or those rushing outside linebackers that would be a little bit more of a projection in a 4-3 because they're not big enough to play defensive end and they're not really off-the-line, inside linebacker types, like the 4-3 players are. I think what Buffalo did was interesting, when they moved [Bryan] Scott down to linebacker. He's done a good job for them, he's a good football player and that's something that their system allows them to do. I think we would have a hard time in a 3-4 finding a place for a player like that in our 3-4 defense. But Buffalo's done it because of the scheme that they play and because Scott's a physical kid and he runs well. And the way that their linebackers play, he can adapt to that. I think he's done a great job for them and I think it was an excellent move by the Buffalo staff and the organization. But it's kind of a little bit different from what we do, so it's interesting to watch how that has evolved this year.

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