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Replay: Patriots Unfiltered Wed Dec 07 | 12:00 AM - 11:55 AM

Bill Belichick Press Conf.

Foxboro Stadium - Foxborough, MABill Belichick speaks to the press.



            **B:** Today is an important day for us in terms of preparation. We are going to spend some time in the red area and the goal line today. That was an area last week that was not good for us on either side of the ball offensively or defensively.  We need to get the ball in the end zone and we need to keep them out. I think today as I have talked to the players this is one of the most important days of the week very week, but particularly this week and in light of last week's performance we need to show some improvement there. That is where we are at. There are no changes in the injury report and there is not much else new.  

Q: Will Grant Williams start at right tackle again?

B: I am sure that Grant will play.

Q: Will he play when the first offense is on the field?

B: He might. You might see him out there.

Q: To me the most surprising part of the game last week was that Bruce Armstrong, whether it was that his knee was bothering him he didn't look like the same player. Are you concerned at all the level of play that he can maintain?

B: I said this about everybody in the game and I would say it about Bruce and I would say it about everybody else, I think everybody had a couple of plays that could have been better. We all had them. Maybe it would have been better if they had all happened on the same one or two plays and we could have got it out of the way, but we had a breakdown here or there, different guys contributed, a couple of calls could have been better. Hopefully we are going to be able to correct those things so that A: there aren't as many of them and B: they don't occur as frequently.

Q: How many of them are mental mistakes as opposed to getting beat on a play?

B: A combination of both, a combination of both.

Q: Given Bruce's (Armstrong) experience you would think that if he was totally healthy he would be able to pick things up?

B: It is for everybody. It is a new system. We saw some things at game speed and in regular season action that are a little bit different from what we have seen in preseason. There were some route problems, defensively adjustment problems, a couple of missed tackles, a couple of missed coverages, a couple of missed pickups on protection it was kind of through out the game. I can't single any one thing out. In a close game like that any thing could have made a difference, but there were enough things everywhere that everybody needs to tighten it up a little bit.

Q: Will you continue to audition guys on the line or are you set in your mind what the best combination is right now?

B: I think we know more than we knew last week and I think we are closer. I think we found out some things last week and we will try it again this week. I think we are going to see some improvement, we saw some in practice. Hopefully that will carry over into the game. I think we are getting closer to finding out exactly who we are and what we can do.

Q: I read that (Al) Groh called a team meeting and specifically told his players not to say anything to incite your players, did you give your players a similar notice?

B: I don't think I ever said that. I talk to the players about the game and some of the things that could be brought up surrounding the game, but my main message to the players is that the game starts Monday night. Once we walk across the white lines that's the game and whatever happens before is really irrelevant. Let's concentrate on getting ready to play the Jets and that is where all our attention should be, not where I coached last year or where somebody else played last year or where somebody else coached last year. I mean what difference does it make?

Q: How do you feel about that in general, bulletin board material, is that overrated or is that something you think players should be careful of?

B: First of all there are some league rules and league policies on that type of thing which every club is supposed to follow. Secondly I would like to think that we are a first class organization and we try to handle ourselves with class and dignity in whatever situation we are in. I don't think in general that making derogatory comments about any other professional team, coach, player is really appropriate. I really don't.

Q: Did Keyshawn (Johnson) regularly violate that last year?

B: I can just tell you what my philosophy is. I can't tell you how everybody else feels. But it wouldn't matter who we are playing I don't think it would be appropriate to make derogatory comments about their coaches or their players even if you really feel that way. I think those things are better just kept to yourself.

Q: But can you motivate with that? I saw where Warren Sapp made a comment about something (Kevin) Mannix wrote last week in the Herald. You know some coach put that in his locker to motivate him.

B: Whatever you can do to motivate a player or motivate a team as a coach that is your job. If you think it will help then it is probably worth doing. It is probably like anything else if you do it too often and make too much out of it then it loses a little bit of its punch, but sometimes those are things that some players respond to. I think some respond to it more than others do. You just have to calculate what kind of reaction you are going to get and whether it is worth doing.

Q: Can it work the other way?

B: I wish it were that easy, make a few comments and think that a guy is not going to cover you, I don't know, but I wish it were that easy.

Q: Kevin Williams tells stories about you, not only as a coach, but beyond that, when he got sick. Can you talk about some of those stories about what you did for Kevin particularly the non-football things, the hospital, etc?

B: That was a real unfortunate situation. Kevin was a player that I worked out at Oklahoma State and had a little bit of a relationship with before we drafted him and then when he came in, like any other rookie it was trying to learn the system and learn how to play and learn what we were teaching. Then in his second year he had that infection. He was coming back on the plane from Denver and he had a sore throat like we have all had before, but he kept getting progressively worse and worse. A couple of days later they had him in the hospital and then a couple of weeks later they final find out what it was. He was about 190 pounds, a pretty lean kid and he was down in the 160s, he lost 35 pounds or whatever it was it was a lot. He was, I think, pretty close to the end there. I spoke with him several times in the hospital and tried to encourage him and talk about the situation, not as a doctor, but as a coach and a friend. Then when he came through it, of course he wasn't able to play at that point either he was just trying to regain his strength and try to get back on his feet. We spent several hours, several times in my office just talking about football and life, what he had learned and how to move forward with it. I think all of us that were with the Jets that year, I can't speak for everybody, but certainly for myself it gave me an appreciation of how lucky I am, how lucky the rest of us were. It could have hit anybody. It was probably just something that he ate somewhere, a bacteria or whatever it was the triggered this thing that occurred. It could hit anybody. As strong as he was and as good a condition as he was in and physically strong as he was in the end that is probably what saved him. Somebody less healthy might not, he was pretty sick. We talked about a lot of things. I think I probably learned more from him than he learned from me in hearing what he went through and how he handled it and how he was looking at the rest of his life, getting a second chance type of a thing. It was pretty emotional, in fact I remember the morning before I resigned in New York just seeing him in the treadmill. He was walking, I wouldn't say running but he was walking at a decent pace for 15 minutes that was like a big deal. A couple of months before that he would go out there and run as long and as fast as anybody else on the team. It was a pretty dramatic change, this is two months later. That happened maybe in early October so that was early January, three months later and it was pretty significant of how far down he had come and it was really heartening for me just personally to see him back on the field this year playing well and being a starting safety. That is a tremendous accomplishment on his part. He has a lot of will.



            **Q: He singled you out, he said of anybody in the organization you were the first and you were the most it is nice to know that somebody I appreciated what you were doing.**  

B: Yes I appreciate him saying that, like I said I think that in my conversations with him he probably did more for me than I did for him because he was pretty inspirational. I have been around a few guys like that Dan Lloyd and a couple of them unfortunately passed away, but Dan Lloyd battled cancer with the Giants and Doug Kotar, John Tuggle, guys that really went through some hard times and you realize how fragile life is.

Q: Did you have a similar attachment to those guys?

B: That team was made up of a lot of different types of players. Like Vinny for example I had at Cleveland, I had a real good relationship with him that extended that. A lot of the receivers like Wayne (Chrebet) and Keyshawn (Johnson). They were helpful to me and I felt like I had a good rapport with them. We spent a lot of time off the field talking about how to cover people and how to get open and things like that. Some of the guys like Jumbo (Elliot), Kevin Mawae that I have either gone back with or we have talked a lot of football those things, Rick Lyle, Ernie Logan guys like that that have come from Cleveland that I have a pretty good history with and I spent some time with them.

Q: Is that unusual for a head coach, I know it is different for an assistant, do most head coaches not have the opportunity to develop that kind of relationship with individual players?

B: I wouldn't say that. When you are the head coach you have got a lot of people that want to spend time with you and a lot of people that you need to spend time with. All of your assistant coaches, your players, other people in the organization, and other people that you have to work with like the media and marketing people, it is a big list, but in the end the players and the coaches have to go to the top of that list. Those are the people that you count on and they count on you so you need to bond with them. In Cleveland as the years went by I was able to do that a lot more than I did at the beginning because I thought I had things more under control. There were less day-to-day pressing things as the years went on. As an assistant coach you probably have a little bit better opportunity to do that, but I know a lot of coaches that make time for that as well.

Q: Can you explain the idea behind not renewing the contract of Michael Morris, I guess his contract expired in July, I don't know if you got a new strength coach and you are going in a different direction?

B: Mike was under contract when I got here and he and Mike (Woicik) had worked together at Syracuse so they had a previous relationship together. We hired an assistant strength coach in Markus Paul and I think the way that Mike and Markus are set up as strength coach and assistant strength coach is probably similar to and I don't know because I wasn't here, but I am just saying it is probably in some respects similar to the way Johnny (Parker) and Mike were set up. Markus is Mike's assistant and Mike was Johnny's assistant. I am all for giving the players the most help and guidance and coaching and direction that we can, but on the other hand I really don't want satellite staffs, five guys in the strength department and five guys on special teams. Since Mike was under contract he had helped the players previously and continued to help them and that was great and I think the players benefited from it and I am not in anyway ruling out a continuation of working with Mike Morris, I wouldn't say that at all. Nevertheless his contract did expire and at this point in time we really are fully staffed in that area and that's in no way being disrespectful to Mike, it is just Mika and Markus are the two strength coaches. Maybe at some point in time next year in the offseason when the demands increase maybe we will or maybe we won't bring Mike back into the picture. We will talk about that in the spring.

Q: Did you make those cookies that you brought to Kevin Williams?

B: No, my three kids all like to cook and I like to eat, but it is probably better if I don't eat as much.


B: No actually they did, Amanda and Stephen and Brian. They of course saw the story and wanted to know how he was doing and I told them, 'I am sure he would like to have some good homemade cooking that you guys can come up with,' They took that and ran with it and again he probably did more for my kids than the cookies did for him. They probably enjoyed making them more than he enjoyed eating them. Kevin is a special kid, he really is. The same type of deal, no scholarship and went to Arkansas as a walk-on. I think he transferred then to Oklahoma State and had to sit out a year because he had some eligibility deal. The class that he took, I forget the specifics of it, but there is a certain day that the course have to end, say it is August 15th and the class ended August 17th so he was ineligible for the year. So he missed the whole year his senior year, so he came back for a second senior year to play. He has continually persevered and had to handle some situations that a lot of guys just go through and it just falls into place for them, makes up a class and gets knocked out for a year and that type of thing. He is the type of kid that hangs in there and if anybody could handle it he could and he did.

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