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Replay: Patriots Unfiltered Tue May 21 - 02:00 PM | Thu May 23 - 09:55 AM

Bill Belichick Press Conf.

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



            **B:** No change in the injury report today. I talked to the team a little bit this morning on the game in terms of even though there is a lot of familiarity with this game both knowing the schemes and the players both ways, I think that it is real important that we don't take anything for granted. There are definitely going to be some curve balls and some change ups thrown. What I really cautioned the team on is trying not to get into any comfort level where we know the Jets, we know the plays they run because we run a lot of the same ones and all that and then get surprised by something Monday night. Even though there is an advantage with familiarity and knowing what they do and the players that they use and how they use them and that type of thing, the one thing I worry about is becoming a little complacent in our preparation as opposed to a team that you are totally working on from scratch like say Minnesota. We haven't seen them at all this year. It will be a totally different type of preparation, but the preparation is just as important in one as it is in the other. That was my big thing this morning.  

Q: One of the people who has been involved in both sides of this is Otis Smith, why did you pick him up, is that a good thing or a bad thing when a guy keeps going round and round?

B: All I know is how I feel about him and Otis has been a real good football player for me for the last five years now. We know the background, he came into the Patriots in 1996 about a quarter of the way through the season. He was a starter and helped take us to the Super Bowl and then he started for two years New York in 1997 and 1998 before he broke his clavicle in training camp in 1999 and he probably would have been a starter in 1999 too. Why they made their decision I don't know, but he is a real pro. He is very well prepared. He does a good job jamming receivers at the line of scrimmage. He is a smart player that understands the system and knows how to play within it. I think that he is a great leader not only for the younger players on the team, but the older players on the team as well because his preparation, his work ethic and the way that he manages his time and gets ready for a game.

Q: He has some versatility too right?

B: Yes. He is good in the kicking game. He has played both corner and safety. In Philadelphia he was the special teams player of the year once or twice whatever it was. He is an all-around player. He has good size for a corner. He runs well, he's tough, and he's smart. There are not a lot of things not to like about him.

Q: How are they using (Vincent) Brisby, strictly as a third wide receiver type of role?

B: He comes in as the third receiver right. (Dedric) Ward and (Wayne) Chrebet are the first two. They play on their two receiver sets and Brisby comes in as the third receiver.

Q: Did he see a lot of action last week?

B: The Jets use a lot of different personnel groups, depending on how much they use three receivers, if they use it he is in there. Sometimes they use it a lot, sometimes, they just sprinkle it in. It is obviously a game plan decision on how much they want to be in that formation to attack the opponent. Whenever that group is in there he is in there.

Q: Last year's game film between these two teams, do they have any significance in terms of looking at them in preparation?

B: I think you can see some match ups. It is just like watching any other game of a team on film. You can see how they handled certain situations and then you can relate those situations to what you are going to be doing, how close it is. It's like when you watch any other game. When you watch the Jets against Green Bay there are certain defenses that Green Bay runs against them that just gives you a little more insight into how they are going to handle this and how they are going to handle that and our plays.

Q: So that is just normal preparation for any opponent you would look back at what the games were like last year?

B: Right, I think it depends on how far you want to go back, but if you watch six games on a team I think you know a certain amount about a team. If you watch 20 games on team and it is basically the same team and the same coaches, you just have more information. Things that you see you just see more frequently, it is reconfirmed time and time again. You see more change-ups, but you understand when those are being used and you either disregard them or know that is something that they have got in their pocket that they haven't shown yet.

Q: When does the law of diminishing returns kick in with that or is it just a question of how many hours there are in the day?

B: I think a little bit of both. I think the law of diminishing returns kicks in when you feel like you know all that you are going to know. You can watch ten more games and you are going to see the same thing and you have a good understanding of what is being done, how, and why they are doing it. On the other hand time is definitely a factor. As a coach you have to do several different things. One you have to get the information then you have to take the information formulate some type of plan and then you have to take that plan and implement it to the players. Each step of the plan is important and sometimes in giving the plan to the players there are several different ways to do that. You do it on paper, then you go out on the practice field and practice it and then you show it to them on the film. In all honesty some players learn quicker in one method than another so it is hard to eliminate any one those steps. Sometimes it is repetitive for some guys it's, 'Okay you should have shown me on paper, I got, okay we go out and practice it, I got it, okay we watch the film I still got it. There are other players that don't get one of the three or maybe two of the three, but they get the third one and when you are dealing with a large group I have found it is generally better just to cover all three areas and make sure that everybody has got it.

Q: Do you see any changes in the starting unit?

B: Part of our offensive and defensive system is just the flexibility that is in the system so who we put out there in part depends on who they put out there or how we want to attack them. Offensively we have more control on who we put out there defensively. Most of the time we are reacting to what they put out there on the field. To a certain degree it depends on what we are facing from the opponent, how we want to match up with them as opposed to a lineup change. Do you know what I am saying?

Q: So there aren't going to be any changes starting wise?

B: If you look at who is out there on the first play of the game it could be a change, but again part of that would depend on who they put out there. On the offensive line if Max (Lane), who is questionable, if Max isn't able to play then there would definitely be a change there, that is pretty clear cut.

Q: How far ahead of you in preparation, did you look at films for the September games over the summer?

B: Oh sure.

Q: Are you a week ahead, what kind of timeline is involved?

B: The timeline is when the schedule comes out usually in April before the draft, you start working on, not so much before the draft, but people on your staff start working that then in May. You start looking at the early teams on your schedule and do a scouting report on them based on maybe four or five games from the previous years. You also do your preseason opponents because there is not going to be any new information on them. Like when you open in preseason with Detroit and San Francisco, there are no more games from December until when you first play so you can do all of that ahead of time. Then you look at the preseason games as they came in. So during preseason you are not spending as much time on your preseason opponents. You are spending a little bit of time on them, but a lot of that has been working from the previous year you are spending a majority of the time on your early season opponents just to see what changes they have.



            **Q: By the time you get to regular season you have a good feel on pretty much everybody, or at least a starting point?**  

B: I think you have a good feel on what they have done last year and what they have done in preseason, but that doesn't always carry over into the regular season. For example a team like Tampa had a new offensive coordinator, so that was a change, They had (Jeff) Christy, (Randall) McDaniel, and Keyshawn Johnson, three significantly new offensive players and they also had a quarterback who was going into his second year not his first. What they showed last year with a different coordinator, what they showed in preseason where things were somewhat under wraps, and then what they are going to show during the regular season when they have different players to work with, a more experienced quarterback and a new coordinator. It is quite a bit more extensive then what you are able to see. If you look at a team like the Jets as another example, they are a team that has the same coordinator, basically the same cast of characters that they did last year other than quarterback and Keyshawn (Johnson) which are two significant guys. Keyshawn was there and isn't and Vinny (Testaverde) wasn't and is. Again in preseason you are not going to see how they are going to work without Keyshawn and what they are going to do with Vinny that was different from Ray Lucas last year, but you know there are going to be some changes and then you are going back to 1998 and all of that.

Q: What part do you look at, especially with the Jets?

B: I think you just have to make those decisions based on where you think the information is. In other words if you think it would be really beneficial to go back to 1998 and look at three or four games then you do it, if you don't…

Q: Did you?

B: There were one or two in particular that we looked at. We know that team pretty well. Even things that weren't shown here in preseason we know are in their system. We know the plays, we know how to call them, we've got them. It is not like. "Gee I wonder if they have a screen to the tight end?' We know they have got one. It is a little bit different in this situation, but in a normal scenario, again I think you do the work until you feel comfortable that you know what you are doing. Then at that point you set up a game plan and move on.

Q: When you talked about complacency with players doesn't that effect you too? You know what they are going to do, maybe they will do something completely off the wall?

B: And they might. I don't think it effects me as much in this particular case because I know the team and I know them from the inside out. I think the players that are here are still looking at them from the outside in. They haven't been in that locker room, they haven't run those plays in practice, and they haven't seen those defenses on the practice field they have only see them in a game scenario. I don't think complacency is the word that I used, I would just say to not take the preparations to the full extent that you would normally take it because you might feel like you know the team. I think that is something that I would just caution them against that. I hope that none of us, collectively any of us are doing that, but I think it would be a mistake if we did.

Q: After all of these years of working with Al (Groh) and he working with you and all of the people that have been on your staffs and worked together for so long, is it really possible for you or him to do something that is so surprising that neither of you could expect it without going so far our of your character?

B: No, exactly. I don't think that is going to happen, but I can tell you that the volume that you are talking about is really more than you can practice during a week of practice. In other words the things that we have run over the last three years at the Jets defensively, you couldn't practice in one week of practice. It is not a question of whether it would be something new it is you have to sit here this week and say, 'Okay what am I going to prepare for? I have 30 things here to worry about. I know they can do all 30 of these. Now which ones are we going to prepare for? Are we going to take 1 through 10 and they run 20 through 30 or are we going to take 10 through 20, or are we going to take all 30, which now you are trying to stop everything and that is pretty tough to do. Everything that is run is, 'If they do this then we do that' type of thing so we could possibly never be right there. What you really want to do is select the things that you think they will do against you and you want to be most prepared for, but inevitably you are going to miss something. Once you see you will know what it is but the question is whether your team is totally prepared for it or not and that is really what the reference I was making to the players is. Hey, there is enough things that they do that we don't know exactly which one of them we are going to get so the more you prepare and the more you see when one of those curve balls does come the better chance you will have to hit.

Q: How is (Antonio) Langham doing, how did he grade out last week?

B: Langham is doing a pretty good job for us. He's done a pretty good job. Last week, like everybody in the game I think there were one or two plays that could have been a little bit better, but for the most part he did a pretty solid job.

Q: Would it be correct to say that he didn't do anything last week that made you lose faith in him?

B: Right, yes that would be fair. That would definitely be fair.

Q: With the switching of center and guard for the shotgun, is it as simple as appears in some ways or is it more difficult for the two of them?

B: No question it would be easier if we didn't have to do it. The question is whether the consistency of the shotgun snap is going to be there if we don't do it. Again that is certainly not the ideal way. Do we want to use the shotgun and if we want to use it what is the best way for us to use it. Either (Damien) Woody can snap it or (Jason) Andersen can snap it and if Jason snaps it that means we have to switch positions. So there is a little bit of downside either way. At this point in time, or maybe at a later point in time Woody will snap it and then we won't have to make any switches.

Q: From the outside people look at the two positions and say what is the big deal they both block, what is the big difference in the positions?

B: One it is an assignment thing and two, I mean obviously the assignments are different, the guard needs to understand what the center is doing and the center needs to understand what the guard is doing. There is no question about that, but this specific assignment is different and the technique is different and a lot of line play is footwork and position. Even though us two are blocking these two, the technique of how we get it done answers the question as to whether you can successfully do that. Technique is important and footwork is important and the more fluctuation you have there the harder it is to do it consistently.

Q: You have seen this team defend Curtis (Martin) for the past three years how do you think they have done?

B: I think at times we have struggled and at other times it has been okay. I don't think we have ever really held him to negative yardage or anything like that. At times I think we have been all right, but he has been a problem to defend.

Q: What does he mean to the offense?

B: Everything. Curtis is a great back. He is not physically big, but he is a strong player. Pound for pound he is probably as strong a player as there was on this team in 1996 as there is on the Jets team pound for pound. He has good hands. He has great vision and good speed. He is a very consistent player, you know what you are going to get from him. Every time he touches the ball you are going to get his absolute best. He is tough to bring down one-on-one and breaks tackles, but he can also run with power and move the pile for a couple extra yards. He really is a complete back.

Q: When you got at the Jets what did he do instantaneously for that team, you had Adrian Murrell?

B: Curtis is a much more powerful runner and a tougher inside runner than what we had in 1997 then what we had in 1997. Curtis has great leadership too. He leads by example, but I think everybody that comes into contact with Curtis, player, coach, fan, I mean anybody, that guy commands a lot of respect because of the way he handles himself, the way he carries himself and the way he goes about his job in a very professional way. That leadership, again it's a quiet leadership, but it is a very effective leadership and I think he brought that to the organization immediately, within a week.



            **Q: When he did go to the Jets were you surprised at all that a team would let that type of guy go?**  

B: At that point in time the way that the collective bargaining rules were, and it happened with other players in the league as well, the restricted free agents could get a contract from another team and then the team that they were on had the opportunity to match that contract. But at that point in time you could put basically a poison pill in there that effectively the team who had the player couldn't match. That is in essence what happened with that contract and it happened with several other players in the league too in 1995, 1996, and 1997 in that range. Then the league closed the door on that, not the league but the collective bargaining agreement, the players association and management council got together and they closed the door on that so it eliminated the poison pill if you will that could be put into a contract. So was I surprised that the contract wasn't matched? No because the way the contract was structured it would have been almost impossible to match. If that same contract was presented to another player today I think it would be a lot easier for the team to match it and retain the player then it would have been in 1997.

Q: Was that because of the one-year part of the deal or because of the franchise label?

B: All of the above and the bonus, the one year structure, some of the incentives that were tied into team performance. Anytime team A had a lower performance than team B, team A could take team B's player and present a contract that would be cap favorable to one team and unfavorable for the other and there was a differential there. That was eliminated by the league by the beginning of the 1998 season if I recall correctly.

Q: Do you think Tony Carter will play a little bit more this week with the blocking problems you had last week?

B: I assume you are talking in terms of pass protection, here is what you think about as a coach, if you keep one more player in the box than it gives them one more player that you have to account for. It becomes a recognition thing. If you run the run and shoot and spread everybody out you have less people that you really have to block because the other people are just too far away and they have too far to come so it simplifies the number of people that we have to block. What it does do is it creates more space for the rusher. So yes it's five-on-five, but they can run up the field more, there is more edges, there are a lot more things that they can do because there is more space in there. If you bring everybody in tight you could have eight blockers in there, but now they have eight or nine defenders that you have to account for and they can position them in different places. They are a lot closer and then it becomes more of a recognition thing and we still have eight to block eight just like we had five to block five, but now finding out which eight have which eight, that becomes a little bit of a problem. That is just a conflict that you run into there is no question that you can do it both ways. You can spread them out and block fewer people and make it easier to identify and maybe a little bit harder to block or you can bring more people in and have more blockers, but also more potential rushers. You just have to decide what you think is the best for your team or your system to handle. That is really the dilemma in pass protection.

Q: Was (Kevin) Faulk's blocking or figuring out his assignments as bad as it looked to the naked eye?

B: No I don't think it was bad at all. I don't think that was the problem. The problem was some of his teammates.

Q: Will we see more of the hurry up offense?

B: It is an option that we have. Clearly we can do it and I think it can provide some benefits and if we feel it would be advantageous in a game we would do it. I don't think it is necessarily something like Buffalo did where they ran the no-huddle all the time for years. I don't think that is going to be our style, to be a perpetual no-huddle team, but I think that there could be times when that could be a change of pace and it could be beneficial to us. There are probably other times when we would want to change the temp and substitute and create some other match ups.

Q: Can you give us a quick description of what your call to the New York media was like yesterday?

B: Like most conferences calls. There were a lot of familiar voices and probably about what you would expect for the type of questions. Coming back to New York, the rivalry, being at the Jets and now being at the Patriots and all of that. I don't think there was anything earth shattering.

Q: You talked about coming back here with the Jets and how intense it was here, was it even worse than you expected?

B: Here they start getting you on Route 1. You are a mile away from the stadium and they are hitting pretty hard with the eggs and the signs and the verbal assaults and all of that. Then coming out of the tunnel they have got you on a first name basis walking down the ramp. I think it will be probably the same thing in New York, the same thing in Kansas City, the same thing in Green Bay, and the same thing in Miami. There are no parades there. It would probably be like that in Cleveland too to tell you the truth.

Q: Worse in New York or Cleveland?

B: Whenever you have a packed stadium and a big game you are going to have it pretty much everywhere in this league. That is part of the rivalry and passion of pro football. Fans support their teams and they get behind them and they want to make it tough on the guy coming in and that is the way it should be. It is a good challenge for us to play in a hostile environment.

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