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Bill Belichick Conference Call Transcript: 'We have a lot of work to do'

Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick addresses the media during his conference call on Tuesday, September 16, 2014.

BB:Obviously we have a lot of work to do here to get familiar with the Raiders. It's a team that we don't know very well and haven't played against this coaching staff. Even though we've seen a number of these players on different teams, this is kind of our first shot at them with the Raiders. There are certainly a lot of very good, very experienced players on this team. But you know, guys like [LaMarr] Woodley and [Justin] Tuck, [Tarell] Brown and [Carlos] Rogers we saw at San Francisco, [Charles] Woodson, guys like that coming from other teams, guys that are very experienced, have had good careers and kind of the same thing on the offensive side of the ball with [James] Jones, [Donald] Penn, [Maurice] Jones-Drew, guys like that. We've got a lot to study up on. I think they also have some very good draft choices: [Derek] Carr, [Gabe] Jackson, [Khalil] Mack, have all had positive impacts for them; [TJ] Carrie defensively and in the return game; [Justin] Ellis, [Keith] McGill. They've got some good, young players as well as obviously a very experienced group of guys on that team. Those are some of the things that we have to work on here to be ready this week.

Q:How do you view the distribution of targets in the receiving game? One line of thinking is that if Julian Edelman is playing as well as he is, keep throwing it to him. Another is you don't want the majority of the balls going there. How do you view it based on the first two games?

BB:I think offensively we could certainly stand to get a lot more balance into our attack overall, period. We didn't have it in the run-pass ratio in Miami and we didn't really have enough of it in the passing game last week or really for Miami for that matter. We have to do a better job as a coaching staff. I have to do a better job of creating a little more balance on our team offensively with our personnel, our play calling, our plays and so forth. We have a lot of good players. We have to be more effective utilizing all of them.

Q:What are some of the challenges Derek Carr presents your defense? How do you prepare for a rookie quarterback when it's so early in the season? Is there enough tape to go off of through two weeks of the season and the preseason or will you go back and mine your pre-draft evaluations as well?

BB:I'd say definitely both. We had a good evaluation of all the players coming out in the draft and we got a good look at Derek at Fresno [State] and his athleticism, arm strength, just ability to get the ball down the field and avoid negative plays in the pocket with his athleticism, mobility and some running ability too are all things that we saw in college that I'd say are showing up this year in the NFL as well. He's only been sacked a couple times. He's an athletic guy back there. He can certainly get the ball down the field. We know he's a smart kid. I think all the things that we saw from him at Fresno and when he's had an opportunity to do them in this league have continued to show up. Obviously the systems are different but from a skill standpoint, I think his skills are his skills and they're pretty good.

Q:When there are as many off-field issues swirling around you have people in our business trying to get information or perspective. Do you instruct your players on what is appropriate to comment on? I think it's interesting when we appeal to people who happen to put football helmets on to comment on social things. What's your perspective on that?

BB:I'm not sure I understand the question. My perspective on what exactly?

Q:Do you feel as if your players shouldn't comment on things when asked about social issues that are brought to the forefront by activities or incidents around the league?

BB:Of course everybody is entitled to their own opinion. It's a free country. That's what everything in our country is based on. I think we all understand that there's going to be a variety and diversity of opinions on probably just about anything that is talked about. I think that's part of society. I'm sure it's part of our group of the people that comprise our team and probably every other team. So, I wouldn't expect it to be any different, especially when you have a football team that has people of so many different backgrounds. No matter how you want to look at it – socially, geographically, economically, racially and so forth, different beliefs. It's a wide spectrum of people that sit in that room. So, I'm sure there are a lot of diverse opinions in there. But, I mean, we're all here for one reason and that's to come together and work and compete and win football games. That's really what our job is when we all walk into the building. Then we all have separate lives when we walk out of it. I don't know if that answers your question or not.

Q:If memory serves me correct, your coaching staff considers a fumble a fumble. Do you consider a difference between a player who fumbles a punt when he's trying to field it versus a player who gets a ball knocked out when he's running down the sideline alone?

BB:I'm not really sure I understand what you're asking. Of course they're different, it's two different plays.

Q:Do you treat it differently? Maybe there's a higher degree of difficulty in catching a punt in traffic so there's a higher acceptance level there. Do you attach a degree of difficulty to plays when you assess ball security in those areas?

BB:That's probably a lot longer discussion than we have time for. But I would say to summarize my personal philosophy, first of all, ball possession and ball security is at the absolute top of the list when it comes to winning and losing football games. So, we're going to do everything we can to get it and we're going to do everything we can to protect it. So that would be number one. That means above all else. So there's nothing more important than taking care of the football. Whatever else is happening on the play, ball security and ball possession doesn't fall below anything else. We're at the National Football League. It's a pretty high level of proficiency at this level. I don't think we would send somebody out to catch a punt that we didn't think could catch it. We're not going to put Sealver Siliga back there to return punts. I mean, the guys that go back there to return punts and catch kickoffs and catch passes and take the ball from the quarterback and snap it to the quarterback or the punter, whoever it is, those are all highly skilled players. We wouldn't put them in those positions if they weren't accomplished at doing it. Part of their job is to take care of the ball. I don't know how to put it any other way. That's their job. I don't think you put a pitcher out on the mound in the major leagues if you don't think he can throw it over the plate. I don't think that's asking too much. There are some plays in football that are, maybe the ball possession is, I don't want to say unavoidable, but maybe it's part of football. Sometimes there are going to be certain plays, certain situations where the ball is going to come out. Maybe when you take every precaution that you can possibly take to secure it, maybe it comes out anyway. But I would say over the long haul, those situations are few. The more common occurrence is either poor or sloppy ball handling or ball security or in some cases, an exceptional defensive play maybe with a combination of less than ideal ball security. Like I said, that's the way I see it.

Q:Do you know how this new drug policy which seems imminent might affect Brian Tyms or Brandon Browner? If so, is that something you could share with us how that might affect their status?

BB:Certainly not anything I could share with you because I don't have any idea. I have no knowledge of it at all – zero. You'd have to talk to the league and other people that are involved with that. The drug policy in the NFL is an extremely confidential and sensitive area. I would say that in most cases, you probably know more about it than I do and certainly more in advance because of the great sources that you have. We don't have any knowledge, input or really involvement whatsoever in the league's drug policy. Any information that we get comes from wherever it comes from – I don't even know where it comes from. I'm not even sure exactly how the process works from the other end. I just know that when we receive information, then we act on it as we receive it. It's not anything that I'm involved in whatsoever other than being the recipient of the information of suspension or if it's revoked or amended or adjusted or you know, whatever. I'm just the recipient of that information. I'm not in any way, shape or form whatsoever involved in any part of the process. So, whatever happens, when it's announced, when we know about it, then we'll deal with it. Until then, it's 100 percent out of our hands. That's something that you should address with league people and not with an individual club, certainly not our individual club because we have no part in it whatsoever.

Q:Nate Ebner saw some significant time in the secondary this week. Is that a sign of growing confidence in him? Have you seen him grow as a player in these three years?

BB:I'd say it's yes on both accounts. We certainly have a lot of confidence in Nate. We've seen Nate grow and improve. I would probably put him in the, not the all-time top, but maybe in the top five percent all-time of players that I've coached from where they were in college to how they grew in the NFL. Nate had almost no defensive experience at Ohio State. He's adapted in a relatively short amount of time – going into his third year so it's really two-plus years – adapted very well to the knowledge of our defense, to the understanding of opponents' offenses, to instinctiveness and reading and recognition at a position that he plays right in the middle of the field, which is among the most difficult – inside linebacker and safety where the volume and the number of things that can happen are the greatest, where you have to really see everybody on the field, all 11 guys. His development has really been outstanding. I think [Safeties] Coach [Brian] Flores has done an excellent job training him. I think Nate has worked very hard and the play time that he's earned defensively has come through his hard work and performance and consistency. It's really been good. We have, I think, a number of good players at that position. There's a lot of competition there and there's not an unlimited number of opportunities for all those guys but we have a lot of confidence in that position. They all played solid roles for us last week, defensively as well as in the kicking game. I think we're very fortunate to have the quality of players that we have at that position. Nate has, I'd say, far exceeded our expectations defensively based on what he had coming out of college. Players like Steve Neal, with zero experience, [Matt] Cassel, very little playing experience at Southern Cal, guys like that, Nate, very little defensive experience at Ohio State, for those guys to become the type of players that – I'm not putting him in that class yet, but I'm saying the evolution and development for guys like that is pretty significant relative to a lot of other players who have just had a lot more opportunity than guys like that have.

Q:From what you've seen from the Raiders so far, are there any characteristics of Dennis Allen's defenses that jump out at you?

BB:They're very aggressive. They have a lot of good players, a lot of very experienced players. They give you multiple looks and different blitzes and pressures, mixtures of man and zone, man, zone and pressure, man pressure, zone pressure. It's a lot of four-man line but they use [Khalil] Mack as a defensive end at times. He's sort of a linebacker, defensive end, whatever you want to call him. There are times when he's involved in coverage as well from the defensive end position, so that gives them some flexibility as well. I think he gives his players the ability to play instinctively and be able to, like [Charles] Woodson, just doing things, like reminiscent of Ed Reed type of things – just making instinctive plays. There's a level of discipline to the defense but at the same time there's a level of instinctiveness. It looks like he's given his players the opportunity to see and react and make plays based on their experience and their ability to instinctively react on the field. You see that from guys like Woodson and [Justin] Tuck and Carlos Rogers and guys like that. Sometimes they don't quite do it by the book because they've seen something they recognize, anticipate, whatever it is, and are able to do the right thing that they need to do to make the play or to mess up the offensive play. I'd say those are some of the things that we've noticed about their defense. And they're big, they're fast, they're athletic and they've very experienced. Obviously Mack, but [Tarell] Brown, Rogers, Woodson, [Tyvon] Branch. I don't know, that must be 40 years of experience in the secondary. It's like 17 with Woodson, so it's probably over 40 years. Tuck, [Pat] Sims, Antonio Smith, [LaMarr] Woodley, there's, has to be 35 years of experience there, whatever it is. They have a lot of experienced players on the field. I think that works into the coaches' favor, to be able to do some things with the confidence that those guys can handle it.

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