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Replay: Patriots Postgame Show Mon Nov 23 | 03:00 PM - 11:59 PM

Bill Belichick Press Conf.

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            **B:**  Well, the funeral was yesterday.  The body is in the ground, it's buried.  It's done.  We're moving forward here to Minnesota.  I think in this league you don't ever have more than 24-hours to think about the previous game, win or lose.  So that one is in the books and we're focused on Minnesota.  This is a good football team you know, they're 2-0.  They've got a lot of firepower, guys who can really change a game in one or two plays on both sides of the ball and particularly on offense they're very explosive.  So we've got a lot of things to get ready for this week, in a short week, and that's just the way it is.  It's nothing we haven't been through before we've had a couple this year that were a lot shorter than this.  So we're moving forward.  We're not going to be out in pads today, we had a pretty physical game the other night and we'll do as much work as we can without the physical contact today, and then probably pick it up a little bit later in the week and be ready to go on Sunday.  Larry Whigham will be out of the game.  He hurt his knee.  I don't think it's real serious but it will definitely keep him out this week.  We've got a couple other guys that are banged up that are questionable for the game, but we'll have to see how they are as we progress through the week.  You know, right now we are still pretty close to the game time from the Monday night game so we'll probably need a little more time to see how those get resolved.  

Q: Bill what kind of shape right now is your offensive line going to be in? What is the state of the line right now?

B: Well, we probably won't know for sure until tomorrow. I mean I think there's a good chance that everybody will play. I think there's a good chance that Max Lane will be able to play and he'll be ready to play. But I can't say that with a 100% certainty right here, you know, Wednesday morning, but I don't see anything, it might need a little time to get through a day or so, but I don't see anything that is significantly different from where we were Monday night.

Q: Do you think (Bruce) Armstrong needs to come out and rest during games?

B: I think the current situation is that we've had several players who didn't participate in training camp, or didn't participate very much in training camp for one reason or another. I think when a player hasn't had, it isn't only the reps in the preseason games, it is the reps in practice and the daily conditioning that takes place, when you get into a game for an extended period of time early in the season whether it be on the offensive or the defensive side of the ball, and we had both of those situations in place, you need to think about managing it if you can. If we can we will. Again, there are several players that fall into that category.

Q: Is Bruce Armstrong's tank getting low?

B: I think any player that doesn't participate in training camp, regardless of what age they are at, that it is difficult for them to be at the same place at the start of the season either other players on our team, or the competition having been through five or six weeks of training camp and several preseason games. I don't care who they are or what they've done, I've coached some of the some of the best players in the league, at one time or another in my career who missed training camp, showed up for the first game, and weren't at the level that they had been at in the past. It just takes a while. This isn't wimpy. The guys are pretty good in this league. You just don't walk in. I think it is a little bit of a process that all the players, whether it is Bruce (Armstrong) or Ted (Johnson), whoever it is, that it takes a little bit of time.

Q: Given the last few weeks of the 1999 regular season and what happened on Monday night, does this team have to learn how to win?

B: I'm more concerned with the last two games this year than the last however many last year. What this team needs to do is it needs to understand and be able to execute plays under pressure in the fourth quarter. There are a lot of different facets of the game that come into play in a tight game, and it has happened the last two weeks in all three phases of the game – offense, defense and special teams – and it is not any one thing that I can single out, but there is a common thread there. We haven't executed, we haven't been able to make the plays in the opportunities that we've had to make them. There is no question that we're going to have to get over that or we'll be saying the same thing every week.

Q: Is Culpepper part of a new breed of quarterbacks that have come into the league few years?

B: He is. He's a little unique, but I think there is some common ground there. He's different than Randall Cunningham because he is 270 pounds. Cunningham was probably a little quicker. Culpepper, he's big, I mean this guy looks like a linebacker. He's a horse. He's big, he's fast. He runs over people and has a big arm. His reading, watching him on film, I've been very impressed with the way he reads coverages and sees defenses. A lot of times you see guys in their first or second year that you look at, you know he shouldn't be throwing the ball to that guy, but he throws it anyway. I think he has good judgement with the ball in his hands. As an athlete, he's a big quarterback. You don't see a lot of quarterbacks who are 270 pounds. This guy is big and he's fast, I mean he eats up a lot of yardage. That is an unusual combination, but we are seeing lot of athletic quarterbacks come into the league now. The five or six guys that were drafted last year all run well, get out of trouble, are elusive, and have big arms. This kid is just bigger and stronger.

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            **Q:  Drew (Bledsoe) showed a lot of mobility, is that something you've worked on?**  

B: We've talked about that a lot. Drew and I in training camp, sat down several times and talked about his footwork in the pocket and his foot quickness and being on balance and all that type of thing. I've seen him work on it and I thought, many times in the preseason, but in particular in these last two games – more than we'd like to see – he has shown good, I'm not as concerned with the running for 10 yards as being able to move in the pocket stay with good body balance and throw the ball accurately and he's done that.

Q: Was that something he's always been able to do?

B: I think it is something that to this point this year, has been more consistent, I think he's made a more conscious effort to work on it. I know that Dick (Rehbein) has stressed it with him. I have as well. I think he's done a good job with it. I wouldn't say that he has been unable. I think he's made more of an effort to work on his footwork and his quickness. He's been more aware of it. Dick works and talks about it with him everyday and does drills with it and maybe some of that has carried over.

Q: Is that by necessity or design?

B: I think all good quarterbacks should do it. There's no real good reason for a quarterback to stand flat-footed in the pocket and not be able to slide a foot or two to move out of the way of an offensive lineman or a defensive rusher and set his feet and throw the ball accurately. I don' think, as a coach, you would teach a guy that it is not necessary, just stand there and get hit. That's what we should do. There's a point in the pocket where the quarterback stands and everybody on the offensive line wants to defend that point, but there is some point in the play where if the quarterback slides that point a foot or two feet or three feet, one way or another, up or back or side to side, that can effectively help the play. That's what he should do, and that is why the linemen needs to stay on their blocks, because as long as they're on them, he just slides a little bit he can still step up and throw the ball.

Q: What kind of challenge does the Minnesota defensive front present to the offensive line? Are they more like Tampa or the Jets?

B: They're more like Tampa. The Jets played more of a head-up defense with their line and linebackers. Minnesota plays more of a gap defense. They are almost never head-up. They're always trying to penetrate the gaps, and their linebackers do a lot of adjusting behind the line of scrimmage similar to the way Tampa's did. Their defense is very similar to Tampa's. Their systems are cousins or brothers or whatever you want to call them. Defensively, they are from the same family. It is a very experienced and creative coaching staff, so every week, he is going to have two or three things for you that you're not seen in the previous weeks. He's going to do them just because of whatever it is that you do. In that sense, they have a good grain of unpredictability as to exactly how he's going to game plan his system for you. If you watch him enough, and I've seen quite a bit of Emmitt's (Thomas) defenses, through the course of time you can see quite a few different things come up. He does a good job.

Q: With a quarterback like (Daunte) Culpepper, do you have to talk about tackling him differently?

B: Definitely. We talked about that with Vinny (Testaverde) too. Vinny is a big guy, a strong player. Culpepper is even bigger. Tackling him is an issue, I brought that up to the team this morning. Not just his scrambling, tackling and getting him on the ground is definitely an issue. He shrugs people off, at times they just bounce off of him. When you watch films and you see the guy tracking him and you think he's going to get him, and Daunte just outruns him. He's a lot faster than what I thought he was in the games I've seen. He's got good speed. He does what Cunningham used to do. I mean, you see guys have the angle on him, he's got those long legs and he just outruns them.

Q: If Culpepper came into the league 15 years ago, where would he have been slotted?

B: I don't know. You can go back to the Roman Gabriels and guys like that. They've had some big guys in the pocket. I don't know if Gabriel was 270, those were back in the days when linemen were that size. I remember at the Giants in 1986 when we went to Super Bowl, 260 was big. Jim Burt was big, Leonard Marshall was 270, he was big. Now those guys, linebackers are bigger than that. That part of it has changed. You go back, there have been a lot of big quarterbacks. Roman Gabriel for one, (Terry) Bradshaw and those guys. They played relative to other players. The thing that separates Culpepper, is his speed. Not only his size, but this guy really runs well.

Q: Is he similar to Steve McNair?

B: McNair is probably quicker. Not that Culpepper isn't quick, but McNair is elusive. There's a difference between guys running and making people miss and then just flat-out, outrunning them. Culepper is flat-out, he just outruns them, they can't catch him. He's more of that than he is come in there and dodge two or three guys. Steve Young did a little bit of both, but Steve Young is a much smaller guy. It would take two Steve Youngs to build a Culpepper.

Q: Would they have moved him 15 years ago to a different position at his size?

B: I don't know. College or pro? You'd have to ask those college coaches. A lot of those big guys played option quarterback in college. Each player has their own unique qualities, it is hard to say. We've seen quarterbacks become running backs and running backs become defensive backs, wide receivers become running backs. Some guys it is the right thing to do, some guys it is the wrong thing to do. This guy is clearly a quarterback, he's an athlete playing quarterback. There are some quarterbacks that are just athletes. This guy is a quarterback and he's an athlete.

Q: Are the Minnesota Vikings better with Culpepper at quarterback than last year?

B: I didn't play him last year. Looking at (Randall) Cunningham at quarterback, I think there are a lot of similarities – other than age, there aren't any similarities there – I think Culpepper and Cunningham give them a similar package in a big quarterback with a big arm that can get the ball to those receivers. The one thing you don't want in that offense is a guy that can't throw the ball. Some weak-armed quarterback that can only throw the ball 30 yards. Randy Moss, you want to be able to get the ball down there to him and Cris Carter. Whether it is Cunningham or Culpepper or even (Jeff) George, those guys can chuck it. That's one thing you want. I think Culpepper has Cunningham's mobility. Obviously their styles are a little bit different, but he gives you the same dimension of mobility. It is a tough package. Having him in the game is like having six receivers because if the receivers are covered, he runs and it is another guy you have to cover.

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            **Q:  What does a quarterback like Culpepper do to a defensive coordinator's game plan?**  

B: You have to account for him. As I've said it is like having a sixth receiver. Normally you only have to cover five and you set up your defense to handle that. Having him in there is like having a sixth receiver. Some way you have to account for him one way or another. There is a number of ways you can do it. Some how some way you better account for him. The guy already has 11 first downs rushing. You're talking about five or six times a game where he's going to scramble and run for a first time. That's probably a third or a quarter of the team's first downs.

Q: How is Randy Moss different from Keyshawn Johnson?

B: Moss takes speed to another level. There is no other receiver in the league who can run like Moss can. There's fast and there's blazing fast.

Q: Can his ability go up?

B: I told our personnel people that when they want to know what speed is, put on a film of Randy Moss. That's speed. Not, I found this guy from Southeast Central Wisconsin State this guy is fast. Here is what fast is. Randy Moss. He's in a class by himself. You watch the other receivers out there with him. They all run go patterns, the ball is snapped, he's 12 yards down the field, the other guys are 8 yards down the field. Not that they're slow, but he's fast. Some guys build speed, they are faster in the second 20 (yards) than they are in the first 20 (yards), this guy builds it from the first step. He builds it in the second 20 too, don't get me wrong, but the first 20 he's faster than everybody else too. This guy is fast.

Q: Is he going to put heat on the secondary or more on the safeties or the cornerbacks?

B: Luckily they don't run up from one side of the field all the way to other. Whoever is on that side. This is no state secret. You have to cover Randy Moss on the vertical pattern. If you don't do that. There's not enough electricity in the state to feed the scoreboard. You have to cover that. However you do it, if you don't have that taken care of, you won't have to worry about anything other than your extra point block.

Q: How will you cover him?

B: We have a couple ways to deal with it. Clearly that is a priority in the game plan. This team presents a lot of problems for you defensively. They are very explosive. Their running back, Robert Smith is another fast player. Between Moss, Smith, Carter and Culpepper and they have a good offensive line. (Todd) Steussie and (Korey) Stringer are two good tackles. That Stringer and (David) Dixon now, we talk about speed and we talk about size Stringer and Dixon are about as big as it gets. I don't know what they list them at, but they aren't much under 400, I can tell you that. Dixon is big. Between the size inside, and the speed outside, including the speed at the quarterback and running back positions, they are to offense what Tampa Bay is to defense in terms of speed. There are a lot of fast guys out there. I'd like to see some sprints after practice in Minnesota. I know who would win, but I'd like to see second and third and fourth who would come in there. Between Culpepper and Smith, Carter and Matthew Hatchette. They have a lot of team speed.

Q: Did you watch Culpepper in college?

B: I knew about him. At that time I was watching the defensive players, in all honesty, I saw him. If you're scouting defensive backs you want to put on that film, because you know they are going to throw the ball and you know there will be a good level of quarterbacking too. I noticed him, but more as watching the defensive players than studying him because I was coaching defense.

Q: Are you concerned about the psychological effects of Monday's loss?

B: Am I concerned about it? Yeah. That can't happen every week.

Q: How do you get over that?

B: When was the last time a team went undefeated in the NFL, was it 1972, whatever it was. Every team this year will have some rough spots. Clearly we've had two weeks of them. It is just like a regular game. Everybody is going to get knocked down in the game at some point. The real competitors and the real players are the guys that get back up and don't let it bother them. Every fighter can take a punch, every guy is going to get hit, but that's part of the game. That's certainly not a part that you want to happen, and it is not anything that you enjoy, and it is not anything that you want to make a habit of don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that in any way. Unfortunately it happens, and you have to move forward, I think that's my attitude and that's out team's attitude. We took two tough shots, but we're still standing, we're going to correct the things that we had trouble with and do a better job this week. That's what we're about.

Q: Will Damien Woody practice?

B: We'll see how it goes when we get out there. We'll let you know after practice.

Q: Have you had a chance to evaluate Ted Johnson at all?

B: I think this week, he'll have the same role he had last week. Ted's a player who I think is getting stronger, I don't mean bench press stronger, but he's playing more, he's practicing more, he's building up his endurance, and I think that that is still going to continue to get better in the next week or two weeks, maybe three weeks, I think that improvement showed up on Monday night.

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