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Bill Belichick Conference Call Transcript

Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick addresses the media during his conference call on Tuesday, November 26, 2013.

BB:Getting into the Texans here. I think that in spite of what their record is, they've played very competitively in recent weeks. They've lost several real close games: overtime game to Seattle and one-point game against Kansas City and played Indianapolis and Arizona tough, Oakland. It's a good football team. They do a lot of things well; they have a lot of good players. Their offensive line is back intact. They have quality receivers; [Garrett] Graham has done a good job for them at tight end. I don't know what the story on [Owen] Daniels is, but he's another good player there. They're real good on defense. The front is disruptive; the linebackers are fast, make a lot of plays. They have a very good secondary. It's a good, obviously [Shane] Lechler is one of the top punters in the league, [Keshawn] Martin is really dangerous as a returner. [They're] strong in every area of the game, got a lot of good players. I think the talent and the competitiveness of this team is a lot more reflective of last year's record than this year's record. Of course, playing them down there, that will be a big challenge for us too. [There's] a lot of work to do this week on them. We're playing a good football team.

Q: You've had a lot of different receivers have one big game one week and then less of an impact the next week as someone else has a big game. Is that a reflection of someone practicing well that week or a matchup thing or just the way the game unfolds?

BB:I think it's a function of the plays that are called and what the coverages are and who is open. We don't target anybody. We call plays and Tom [Brady] throws the ball where the best matchup is, based on what the coverage dictates. Sometimes we can anticipate what they'll do and maybe it turns out the way we anticipated but there's, more often than not, we don't. Everybody has to be alert. We need everybody available in the route. Depending on what coverage we get and what our matchups are, that's where Tom goes a lot of times. As you know, Tom doesn't always go to the primary guy. He looks at one part of the pattern and [if] it's covered, goes somewhere else. I don't think you can pin it on the numbers - who is targeted, who isn't. There are plenty of times he'll look at a receiver and if that receiver was open, that's where he would go but he's not so he ends up throwing it somewhere else. So, the perception is that the guy who caught the ball is the guy who was the primary guy but often that's not the case. We don't have a 'We're going to target this guy or we're going to target that guy.' That's just not really how we do it.

Q: Jamie Collins was very active in the game plan. Was that a reflection of him playing better in practice or was it just a matchup you liked for that specific game?

BB:I think, as I said last week, Jamie has really been improving through the course of the season in the kicking game and defensively. We have no problem with him on the field at all. [We] like what he does, we like what the other guys have done too. We have pretty good depth at that position with obviously High [Dont'a Hightower] and Brandon Spikes and Dane [Fletcher] has done a good job for us and Rob [Ninkovich], Jamie, Chandler [Jones] has played some of that, Mike Buchanan. All those guys have gotten a lot of snaps for us, from time to time. We have confidence in all of them. Sometimes it's just a function of how things go in the game or maybe a guy has a certain role and we obviously we rolled Collins with Spikes in some passing situations in this game. There are a lot of passing situations when you play against Peyton Manning. Even though they had a lot of success running the ball, you still have to be very conscious of the passing game. He got a lot of playing time last week but we have a lot of confidence in him in the game.

Q: What do you remember from the playing surface down there in 2009? Do you have any concerns about footing after what we saw in that game in '09?

BB:Well that was a long time ago so I'm sure - there's been plenty of new grass and maintenance and upkeep since then. We looked at the films and we'll do what we usually do when we play on the road: talk to teams that have played there before in order to at least have the proper footwear options and that type of thing and then check out the conditions and the environment before we go out there.

Q: When you watch it, do you see the seams on the field? That stood out to me when watching one of their recent games - it looked like a decisive patch.

BB:Yeah, there's a little bit of discoloration or different colors on the surface. But, you know, again, I think that's normal. Any time you play on another field, especially one that you haven't been on, prior to the game that's one of the things you talk about is making sure that you go out there, walk the field, get familiar with the environment, the 40-second clock, the game clock, the lights or the wind conditions, whatever it happens to be. So when you go out for pregame warm-up, you're prepared for all those things. Then you go out there in pregame warm-up and test it out. You test out your footing, you test out the lights or the sun or the wind conditions in various points in the stadium and that's part of getting familiar with environment, the surroundings that you're going to play in. we do that every week; we'll do it this week. It will be like that in all of our away games.

Q: Have we reached the point of the season where management and how the guys take care of their body has really reached the forefront and is as important as the actual on-field reps? Are mental reps as important as the physical stuff now?

BB:Yeah, I think we're definitely at that point in the season. I think, to be honest with you, we've been there for awhile too. Of course it varies with each individual player so some players are in a little different situation than others but overall when you look at the entire group of all the players on the team, I would say that there are a lot of them in that category. The individual coaches that coach the position at times will manage certain players, make sure that they get reps on plays that they need, maybe it's a new play or a new look or something that's a little bit different that that's important compared to maybe other plays that we've run a large number of times against a similar look, that type of thing is done by the assistant coaches on a daily basis. It's a very important part of our preparation. If players aren't really -not that they can't take every rep, but do you really need them to take every rep and can another player take some of those reps and benefit him; a guy that's not playing as much or something like that? Those are decisions that the assistant coaches make every day in substituting the players for practice and which plays to put them in on, which plays not to have them in on, that type of thing. At the same time, you're trying to balance reps with execution and consistency and timing and so forth. There are a number of things involved there, but yeah, absolutely, rep managing players and their overall workload is important at this time of year. But I'd say it's been like that for awhile here too, probably five or six weeks. Once you get into that first third of the season and then you pile it into the training camp before it, that's eight, nine, 10, 11 weeks of football that a lot of guys are starting to feel a little wear and tear at that point and it just builds from there.

Q: Last week I'm sure Denver's passing attack was a focus for your defense and you held it fairly in check. Do you take that into account when you look at the rushing numbers and take that with a grain of salt because overall you had some success or is it cause for concern?

BB:We have to do a better job with the running game overall than we did last week. There's no question about that. We can't think we're going to win games giving up that kind of rushing yardage and turning the ball over like we did offensively. We were fortunate. We were in a very close game that could have gone either way. Both of those things could have led to our demise. We have to correct them and we have to do a better job of protecting the ball. We have to do a better job of defending the run. We have to keep doing a better job defensively on third down and the red area. Those areas weren't as good as what they need to be either. It's good to win and it's good to feel good about the things that we did well. We have to keep doing those well but then there are plenty of things that we need to improve on or they're definitely going to catch up to us or they're going to cost us. There are a lot of things we need to work on.

Q: A year ago when Houston came here they were rolling, now they've lost nine in a row. What does that say about the state of competition in the NFL?

BB:As I just said, I think that the football team looks a lot like last year's football team. They're very, very good on defense. They have a lot of good players. They're very disruptive up front. They're fast. Their offensive line is intact and it's really the same guys they had last year, with the exception of [Antoine] Caldwell but [Brandon] Brooks has obviously taken on a bigger role. They've added another quality receiver. This group looks, in going back and looking at last year's games, this year's group looks a lot like last year's group, it really does over the whole, when you look at the entire time. We've been in a lot of games this year that could have gone either way. You say if we won all of our close games, our record could be one thing. If we'd [lost] all of our close games, our record would be a whole other thing. You could probably say that about most teams in the league. There aren't too many teams that are out there winning by 21, 24 points every week. I see them as a real good football team. They've obviously had disappointing results on the record, but they're well coached, they have good players, they play hard and they look very much like the team that we saw last year. We have a lot of respect for them and I know the type of football they're capable of playing because they've played it on a weekly basis against the opponents that they've gone up against here recently. You look at the Seattle game, you look at the Oakland game, you look at obviously the Kansas City game, you can go right down the line; Arizona, that's another team that's playing well, Indianapolis. They took all those teams right down to the wire and had their chances. They're a play or two away from, I would say, breaking out and winning a whole bunch of games. They're going to win them too. I don't think they're all going to turn out the way some of these have in the last four or five weeks. They're right there, they're close, they're one play, one call, one thing away from winning. They're going to get those. It's a good football team.

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