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Patriots Monday (WEEI Simulcast) Mon Sep 28 | 08:58 AM - 06:00 PM

Bill Belichick Press Conf.

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            On the injury report Max (Lane) is questionable with a hand and Tebucky (Jones) is probable with a leg, but everybody else should be ready to go. Looking at this game, obviously it is a key division game for us on the road. The Jets played very well against the Packers last week in pretty much every phase of the game. From our standpoint we have some things that we talked about on Monday after the game that we need to get worked out. I think that and expect that we are going to see some improvement in our performance. I think we learned a lot about our team in the Tampa game and we need to do a better job all the around of executing the plays on the field against good competition. There were times when we did it, but there were some times when we didn't do it and in the end that cost us in a close game.  

I will hit on a couple of the Jets questions that I am sure are coming. Right off the bat, one I am feel that, from a personal standpoint twelve years with the Giants, three years with the Jets, that is a lot of games in Giants Stadium. Obviously I have a lot of found and strong memories from my days of playing there. I certainly couldn't say that this is just like any other game. I haven't played fifteen years worth of games in any other stadium besides that one, but on the other hand that aside, and that will be over pretty quickly before the game even starts, my main focus is on what we can do as a football team against the Jets. I think that a lot of the hype and who knows who, who's familiar with what, and what coaches and what players were on different teams last year is all pretty irrelevant to, again, getting our team to do what it can do against a high level of competition on the road in a hostile environment. That is really where my focus is going to be and that is where it is, not on the things that have happened in the past. On the other hand I don't want to sit here and tell you that they don't mean anything to me because they meant a lot to me and my career, but that is not really the point right now. It is the same thing with the Jets players. I coached a lot of those guys for three years down there and when you coach somebody for three years you develop a strong relationship with them and they do with you and we moved on. That's the way it is. I have got a job to do here and they have got a job to do there and when the ball gets kicked off Monday night we will all do that and we will shake hands after the game. It is nothing on a personal level, but from a competitive standpoint we are looking to get back to 1-1 and that is really what our focus is this week. So there are probably no more New York Jets question right?

Q: In regards to your offensive line, with the rotation is it hard for you to get a feel as to who the best five are in practice situations, do you need to see them in game situations?

B: It has been hard to see them in any situation because a lot of them haven't been practicing or playing until just recently and it is part of the problem of them being able to play the whole game anyway. But as soon as we can identify for sure without having to continue to make moves, as soon as we can identify the people who we think are the best combination together, that is what we will do, no question about it. I think we are obviously a step closer to that this week then we were last week. Hopefully we can get a little more continuity and certainly a little better execution, but there were a number of times when the players in there had done the things that they had done in practice correctly and couldn't get it done in the game. The performance is still what matters and that is something that we have to continue to evaluate. We can't go through too many more games like that where we have missed assignments and turn guys loose and let the quarterback get hit in the back.

Q: When you look to play Jets do you look at stopping Vinny Testaverde, Curtis Martin or both?

B: All of the above. This is a well-balanced team. You better start with stopping Kevin Mawae, the best center in the league. Vinny is a tremendous quarterback. I brought Vinny to Cleveland. That guy is a good as it gets right there. Curtis Martin is as good as it gets. Wayne Chrebet, we have seen what he has produced. He has done as much in his career as any receiver in terms of number of catches and third down conversions and all of that. (Dedric) Ward had 100 yards receiving last week. So this is a well-balanced team offensively and I don't think you can just gear up and stop one guy because they have too many other people that will kill you. Just like last week, Ward had 100 yards receiving, I am sure Green Bay was geared to stop other people more than him, but he stepped up and made some big plays. Richie Anderson, (Fred) Baxter, they have got a lot of talented players.

Q: What was the deal last year when Testaverde went down was that as down as you have ever seen the team after that game?

B: Unfortunately that is part of football. Every team gets players hurt and you just have to go on. There is nothing that you can do about it. However tough it is for another person on the team, it is even however many more times difficult for the person that actually suffered the injury and all the work they put into it. I know we all have a lot of feelings for Vinny last year when he got hurt, but when that happened there was nothing you could do to bring him back no matter how much you wished it would happen. You just have to try to do your job better and everybody picks up the slack.

Q: Does your knowledge of their personnel help you in game planning?

B: Sure, I think it helps to know the personnel and the people you are playing against, but I think it works both ways. These teams know each other well and the staffs know each other well. I think that is a little bit overrated. I don't think there is a significant edge either way. Both teams know what the other team is doing and it is going to be a question of who can go out there and do it.

Q: Tedy Bruschi was calling most of the plays in the huddle on Sunday, was that because (Ted) Johnson and (Andy) Katzenmoyer were in and out?

B: All of those players have been in and out preseason at one time or another. So we have had to make sure that everybody can do the signal calling and they are all comfortable doing it. All three of them have called them and can call them.

Q: Did Tedy (Bruschi) play any middle linebacker on Sunday?

B: Yes, it depends on the call. Sometimes he plays in the middle sometimes he doesn't it depends on what the defensive call is.

Q: Most guys

B: Well, yes when we want them to be. I mean they don't do it on their own and play where they feel like.

Q: You say that you have to make plays, hat leads you to believe that they offensive line is going to make more plays then they did against Tampa Bay because of who they are playing against or because they can make the plays?

B: Some of the things we did against Tampa Bay shouldn't have happened and they are going to be corrected and we are going to work on them in practice. My experience as a coach has been in the past that if you have a problem then you address the problem. You tell everybody what went wrong, you explain how you want it done right, you run it in practice until you get it right and then when you do it in the game you usually do it better. I am not saying perfect, but in order to move forward I don't know any other way to do it. I don't think you can roll out the ball on Sunday and say, 'Gee everything is going to be just magically improved.' You have to find a way to address it and we have addressed it as a staff and we are going to address it to the players. We did this morning. We are going to address it out on the field and I expect to see some improvement this week. I am sure we will see it in practice and I expect to see it in the game.

Q: Are all problems correctable?

B: I don't know that no matter who you play or what happens that you are going to go out the next week and win 75-0, I am not saying that. We are going to address some of the problems that we had and I expect that we will improve on them. I expect to improve on some of them defensively too. We had problems in the kicking game. Things that we addressed I expect to see some results on. If we don't then you better start getting new coaches or new players, one or the other. You just can't go on making the same mistakes week after week after week.

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            **Q: Were you presently surprised with the special teams and what kind of objectives do you give them going on?**  

B: Every week in the kicking game we try to gain the edge on special teams in terms of field position and big plays. That is really a third of the game so if you can do that consistently then offensively and defensively, if you can play those sides even you should come out ahead. If you can control one of those two phases and control special teams then you have two thirds of the game basically in your favor and your odds are pretty good. I think that we have made some progress in the kicking game through preseason and I think there is still quite a bit of ground to be covered. We had a big play on the punt return and it would be nice to have that every week, but I think that there were some other areas of the game that we can still improve on.

Q: Your defensive scheme was given a lot of credit for the Patriots downfall last season do you expect that all will have that same type of scheme to defend you guys?

B: I think that though there will certainly be some elements of what the Jets did last year with what the Jets do this year because it is essentially the same defense. I am sure there are modifications, but essentially the base is the same so a lot of the elements will be the same. I am sure you can change up the look a little bit. Do one thing but do it a little bit differently. I am sure there will be plenty of game planning and things like that, but I am sure that a lot of the essential elements will be there. As to how it fits into the scheme of offense that we are running this year, this year's offensive scheme is a little bit different from the scheme that was run here in 1998 and 1999. So as a defensive coach I know that you have to take into consideration the things that you are defending and I think that there are some difference between what we are doing this year and last year.

Q: Specifically can you mention some of the things that you did stop the Patriots offense?

B: I would have to go back and look at some of the situations, but again we were defending an offense at a different point in time. Tendencies and things that were being done last year that we were trying to gear up to stop and they were very specific to that point in time. This is a year later. The running backs are different, the receivers are different, and the tight ends are different. There are different people out there on the field and the plays were different. Last year's offense was a lot more of a two-back offense and ours hasn't done as much of a two-back offense, so your calls and the way you adjust your defense and all of that, it would have to be different. You just can't do the same thing against those different types of formations. I guess you could, but there would be a lot of coaching to do if you did it.

Q: Obviously you and Al Groh share a lot of the same philosophies over the years, but is Al a lot different from you in many ways as well?

B: I think that from a football standpoint we are probably pretty close. I don't know that any two people would be exactly the same. Al and I worked together at four different organizations, the Giants, the Browns, the Patriots, and the Jets. In three of those organizations Romeo (Crennel) was the third person in that mix. Working with Romeo and Al was extremely enjoyable for me. I thought we had, as a group, a great camaraderie and affection for each other and relationship as well as being able to do the job that we had to do on the field. I think that it was a really good, a complimentary staff. I think that Al has got and Romeo too, I would say the same thing about both of them, that they probably haven't got the recognition that they deserve maybe publicly and maybe I have benefited form that. I think that Al is a real good football coach. He coached special teams in the league and he was a good offensive coach in college. He has a real good understanding of the overall game, not just one area like linebackers. He understands kickoff return to any offensive play and he was able to implement that knowledge to his players and I think that philosophically he and I are pretty close. Understanding also that we were coaching the same team. When you coach different teams sometimes you have to manage your personnel differently even though philosophically you are the same you have to manage it differently because of what you have to work with. I think Al does a good job of maximizing the talents and strengths of his players and I believe in that too. On one team it might be this player and on another team it might be that player it is not because this team features the cornerback and that team features the safety, it is maybe because that is the way the personnel is situated for you.

Q: When you brought Vinny Testaverde to Cleveland, up until then he hadn't had a lot of success in his career what did you see at that time that convinced you that he could rise up to the level that he has?

B: It was funny in 1993 when we were after Vinny as a free agent there really wasn't any other team that was pursuing him. I was shocked because from watching him at Tampa, again the record at Tampa wasn't that good I think there other problems down there besides the quarterback, but I think Vinny can show you everything he needs to show you as a quarterback. I think once maybe twice in Tampa he was named NFL player of the month. So there were stretches were he was extremely productive and we just thought that in bringing him to Cleveland we would set up an offense with him not the first year, but essentially in 1994 that complimented his skills, the running game and play-action passing which he is a very good ball handler. Vinny is a tremendous athlete there are not many quarterbacks in this league that have rushed for over 100 yards and he is one of them along with Cunningham and Steve Young, a couple guys like that. That is a pretty select group. As far as passing the ball accuracy, velocity, he is very athletic and he is an extremely good passer. He had a lot of rap about interceptions and what ever the other stuff was down there, but in Cleveland he took care of the ball pretty well. I think we only gave up 15 sacks or something like that in 1994. He was very good in the pocket.

Q: You brought in Sale Isaia, he played a lot on Sunday in a situation like that where you were involved in signing him out of college do you track a guy like that and when you realize he became available did you say he can help us right away?

B: Sale played defense in college. He was a guy that we really had to work hard to get in Cleveland because he is not from the East Coast. He is from Hawaii lives on the West Coast and has lived most of his life out there and I don't think he was that keen on coming to Cleveland from a location standpoint. So we recruited him pretty hard to get him after the draft and we really saw a lot of things we liked he was just too far away. After a year in the 1995 season in Cleveland it was pretty clear that he could be a real good football player, a real good offensive lineman. Even though he didn't have a lot of experience things came relatively easy to him mentally and physically. Then after that he subsequently ran into a couple season ending injuries with the Achilles and the knee and all of that. Of course Scott (Pioli) stayed in Baltimore for a year and so he went a little further with him than I did, but I think it was pretty clear that Sale would have been a starting lineman at least two years in this league had he not gotten hurt when he did and he got hurt pretty early in training camp. I have kind of had my eye on him all along just to see how he would do because we had such high hopes for him in Cleveland. Then he didn't end up with anybody in the league for one reason or another and we were in a pretty tight cap situation and couldn't really do much with him this year in the offseason. Then Oakland signed him and then when they released him, given the situation as I saw it here, I thought that with his physical strength and his experience as a player, even though he hasn't had as much game experience as what the four or five years would indicate, he still has had a lot of snaps on the offensive line. I think he is certainly more experienced than a rookie or a guy who is just starting out in the league so I thought he could add something to us. We will see how it goes. I am sure that he will be more comfortable with the system this week and hopefully he will be able to produce more this week then he did last week.

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            **Q: On the snaps, Lonie Paxton is the guy you kept, he really had some laser beams back there is that what you saw and made you willing to use a roster spot on him?**  

B: We had two long snappers in camp from college, Lonie and Thad Sheldon. Those are both free agents after the draft obviously they weren't draft choices. We tried to get people that we thought would be able to compete for that spot. We had to release Bartrum when we signed (Tedy) Bruschi and then Philadelphia signed him right up so there was really no chance to get him back. We wanted to go with those rookie snappers and see how they did and Lonie just competitively out on the field just showed that he was the best one and had opportunities to snap in the games in the preseason and did a good job. As we talked about in here it kept making the decision harder and harder and harder to go with anybody else and he did a pretty good job for us last week. That is six games of pretty consistent snapping. There are still some things that he can still do better, but overall it has certainly been acceptable and hopefully it will continue to improve.

Q: What reception do you expect to get from the fans in New York and secondly how would you describe your relationship presently with Bill Parcells?

B: In terms of reception I think back to 1997 when I was at New England and then went to New York and then came back here for that Sunday night game the second or third game of the year. It was early in the season, and the New England fans were not very accommodating. They let us all have it pretty good on a first name basis. So I would imagine the New York fans will probably do the same thing. It is a division game, there is a lot of competition, New York fans wants to win, Patriots fans was to win, they don't care anything about what you did for them last year or two years ago or anything else and that is understandable. They are strong, loyal fans and I am sure they will be juiced for the game and I am sure it will be a hostile environment and that will be a big challenge for our football team, how we handle ourselves in the hostility of Giants Stadium. It is a tough place to play. Just like it is tough to play for the visiting teams up here, but we have got to accept the challenge.

Q: (Kevin) Faulk catches eleven passes, (Troy) Brown catches seven, and (Terry) Glenn catches four, what about the rest of the receivers?

B: I think if you look at games like that when one guy catches a lot of passes it is usually because a defense is playing a certain way. In the case of the Tampa game the way that Tampa was playing it was more difficult to get the ball to the outside receivers and it was easier to get the ball to the inside receivers which is where Kevin and Troy basically were playing in our three receiver set. The quarterback's job is to read the coverage and get the ball to the guy that is open. Had the coverage been different in some of those sets then the ball might have gone in some different places. Is that the way you want it? Well if they are going to play that coverage I would rather do that then throw five interceptions jamming it into somebody else who has got double coverage. To a certain extent you have got to take what the defense gives you. You have to create some things, but to a certain extent if they take them away then your only option is to take what is left.

Q: The second part of his question was if you had a relationship with Bill Parcells, do you think you have a relationship with him at this point given what has happened?

B: Do I think I have one? Yes, I worked for him for 14 years or whatever it was. It is like with Al (Groh), Bill and Al and all the other people at the Jets we are in the same division we are playing each other twice a year, it is hard to have a real close relationship when you are playing somebody like that competitively. As far as what my relationship was with Bill when I left and what it is now I don't know of anything that has changed it. I don' think it is any different than what it was. We had a professional relationship and we won a lot of games together, but I don't think it would be more appropriate for Al and I to be going out to dinner every night then it would be for Jim Mora and I or Dave Wannstedt and I to be doing it. We each have a job to do, we are trying to get a team ready to play and we are in the same division. When you are on the same team you are in the same building you are working together it is a whole situation then when you are trying to beat the other guy in key division games.

Q: Going back to receivers watching the Green Bay and Jets game it seemed like (Wayne) Chrebet caught a lot of balls in double coverage. Is that just his ability to get open and similarly Terry (Glenn) seem to have the same ability to catch balls in double coverage.

B: Wayne is one of the best slot receivers in the game, he is very good. I can tell you from working against you in practice, I don't care how many guys you put on him, he is tough to cover. Believe me he has been doubled before. Last week was not the first time he ever got doubled and he knows how to beat double coverage. There is a significant different between double coverage on a slot receiver and double coverage on an outside receiver and the freedom that an outside receiver has. I understand what you are saying with the question, but again I can tell you from experience whether it is Troy Brown, Wayne Chrebet, Terry Glenn, or Marvin Harrison, whoever it is in the slot, that you have a certain amount of increased flexibility and latitude and where you can go and what you can do versus outside. I think that is why you move receivers around to make it harder to get them. Like with Keyshawn (Johnson), in some respects it was easier to cover him as an outside receiver then as an inside receiver. Probably where he was most productive in our game was the inside so I don't think that is uncommon.

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