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Bill Belichick Conference Call Transcript: 'We have our work cut out for us this week'

BB: We just really started on Miami yesterday but definitely grinding through on them today. Good football team, we had a lot of trouble with them up here last year and of course they beat us down there. So, we have an awful lot of respect for their team, coaching staff and competitiveness with which they play and have played us. We know we have our work cut out for us this week and opening day down there. We're going to have to play a good, solid 60-minute football game in all three phases of the game. They do a good job, they have a very experienced coaching staff and they do a good job of attacking all the areas of your team – offense, defense, special teams. So, there are really a lot of things that you have to prepare for and be ready to handle.

Q: With offensive coordinator Bill Lazor coming over from Philadelphia is there any benefit to going back and watching what the Eagles did last year or is that not even on the radar screen?

BB: No, I'd say it's definitely on the radar screen. That's the type of thing you do in the offseason when you have a little bit of extra time. You see the schedule, you see who your opening games are with. That's a good time to study things like that. I'd say it's definitely on the radar.

Q: How has he managed to put his imprint on this offense?

BB: I would say that they look very similar to the way the Eagles look offensively; different than what Miami looked like last year. I'd say it's quite substantial.

Q: Rob Gronkowski said he's ready to play on Sunday and planning on playing. What have you and the training staff seen from him in practice that made you feel like this was a good time for him to go now?

BB: Well, I'm glad that Rob's optimistic about his situation. We'll go through the week of practice and take a look at everything, everybody and see where everybody is at and do what we feel like is best for the team. With all due respect to Rob, I'm glad he feels the way he does but in the end, we'll have to make the decision that we feel is best for the team and we'll do that as we go through the week.

Q: When a veteran player doesn't play in the preseason, what are some of the biggest hurdles that they have to overcome when they do finally get on the field for regular season play?

BB: Even though players are experienced and so are coaches, when you start the preseason – in your example, a player hasn't played in preseason, there's still game speed and game situations and all the communication that goes on in the game, whether it's on offense, defense or in the kicking game, that's just different in practice. You have to be ready to handle that and work with your teammates in those conditions and that kind of timeframe and those type of game situations that change so fluidly. You can try to create some situations in practice but a lot of practice is done in segments because it's more efficient that way – first down, second down, third down, punt team, kickoff return team. It's hard to go from one of those to another in practice or you'd be out there all day in the time it takes it get it organized that quickly. But that's not the way it is in a game. Your mind has to transfer situations and transfer them very quickly because every play takes on a new down and distance or possibly field position could be any of the three segments of the game. Players that aren't in the game need to be able to have that time on the sideline to make adjustments and be ready to anticipate things that are going to happen the next series and all that. You don't get good at those things with your teammates without being able to do them. It takes some time. Guys that don't play have to make that ground up.

Q: How much did the preseason finale have an impact on the claim of Kelcy Quarles or did you have him on your radar before that game?

BB: There's a decent amount of tape on Kelcy prior to our game but I think he played in the neighborhood of 30 plays, or something like that, against us. It was certainly a chance for us to get a closer evaluation and also see him against people that we know how good they are because they're our players. Sometimes when you're watching guys on film, you not only have to evaluate the player that you're looking at but also the competition that he's against. So we had a lot better handle on that. Yeah, I think that game was consistent with what it's been from him. Again, for a young player it's always good to have two or three games.

Q: What traits do you see from Kelcy Quarles and Bruce Gaston that make you want to take a stab at working closer with both those guys?

BB: It's a position that we didn't feel like we had a great deal of depth in. They're young, they're healthy, they're big, they run well, they have good physical qualities, they have good mental makeup, they've been productive in preseason on other teams. So, some combination of all those things I guess.

Q: Does Ryan Tannehill represent more of a running threat than Nick Foles? Do you see that as an added dimension to what Bill Lazor will do with this offense?

BB: No question. Yeah, I'd say he's a lot faster than Nick Foles. They haven't run all that much. We'll see how it is in the regular season. They haven't run him all that much. Again, a lot of those plays, including Foles' plays, instead of running with the quarterback, there's some built-in screens and slip screens to wide receivers and things like that. So, that sort of replaces the quarterback keeping the ball on an option to a degree. I think that anytime you go up against an option offense, you can say, 'Well, they don't do this or they do that,' but we all know that it's based on the read of the defense. So, if the defense is taking away one thing, it doesn't necessarily mean they won't do it, it just means that the defense is lighter on another part of the play and that's the play that offense has chosen to emphasize or feature based on the look. If you get a look that's fairly consistent then a lot of times you see the same play over and over again and say, 'OK, we're going to stop that play,' but as soon as you go to stop that one, then there are other parts of the option play that they see you have that stopped, they're not even trying to go there. I think that he's certainly capable of running. He's kept it on us up here last year in the first game for, I don't know, about a 15-yard gain or something like that. He's a dangerous scrambling quarterback if the receivers are covered and the pass rush doesn't have him contained. We're very aware of him. He has excellent speed. He can run away from most defensive linemen and linebackers. So keeping leverage and containing him is going to be a big part of us being successful against the Dolphins. We're going to have to do a good job with that. I'm sure if he has a chance to keep it, he'll keep it. If we take that away, then he'll do something else. You have to defend everything in option football.

Q: The September conditions in Miami are as daunting as any place can be, except for maybe Arizona. When you go into a game where you know the weather could be a big factor and could be a factor in terms of sapping energy and fatigue, do you acknowledge this with the players going in or do you not want to put it in their minds. If you do or have done some things, what did you try to concentrate on in July and August to get these guys ready for South Florida?

BB: First of all, the game has been on the schedule for quite a while so it's no secret that we're opening in Miami in September. Every player has been aware of that for months. We've had some hot days here at the beginning of the season. I think you can get a hot day pretty much anywhere. It really comes back to the conditioning of your team. Whether it's hot or not, it's the same for both teams and the player's conditioning level and his ability to perform at a high level is going to be reflected later in the game based on his physical conditioning. I think you always want your team to be in good physical condition regardless of where the game is and certainly in the early part of the season or I would say in any dome game at any time of year. Those are obvious situations that are going to be challenging. They're the same for both teams. We played down there opening night a couple years ago [2011], it was a night game but it was still a hot, humid night. I think that we've been down there every year. We know what it is. I think it will just come down to what kind of condition the team is in. that comes from the practices, the preseason games and the conditions that we've worked in. I think this week is a good week for the guys to at least get used to it. I would say, look, it's always hard to play down there. They have a good football team. That's the number one thing. It was hard to play them up here too. Personally, I would rather play in a warm climate at the beginning of the year than at the end of the year because at least we've been practicing in it. Likewise, when the teams come from the south in December and play up here, it's probably a lot harder than coming up here and playing in October. In the end, we're playing the Dolphins. I don't think this game is going to be decided on the heat or the weather. Just like I don't think the ones at the end of the year are decided by the cold. It's a little bit of a factor in the game but we're playing a good football team. If we play well, we'll be competitive and we'll have a chance. If we don't play well, it won't make a difference what the conditions are, we'll be in a lot of trouble. That's where most of the emphasis is going to be this week, and where it should be.

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