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Replay: Best of Patriots Radio Thu Jan 26 - 02:00 PM | Tue Jan 31 - 11:55 AM

Bill Belichick Press Conf.

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



            **Q: How are the injuries coming?**  

B: Good.

Q: Do you think Willie (McGinest) will play?

B: He has practiced both days so he is a lot closer than he was last week.

Q: Someone asked the other day why more teams don't copy Denver's offensive line, but how come more teams don't use zone blocking techniques?

B: A lot of teams do.

Q: So what's there secret?

B: They do a good job of it. There are other teams that can run the ball too, but they have a real good back and they are well coached. I think Mike (Shanahan) does a real good job. Of all the offensive coaches that I have coached against in the last ten years I think he does the best job week in and week out of game planning, particularly in the running game, but creating situations that are hard to defend defensively. I think coaching both in terms of game plan but also in terms of the fundamentals and the techniques on the offensive line with Alex (Gibbs) and they have some pretty good players there. (Tom) Nalen is a Pro Bowl player. Tony Jones is a Pro Bowl player. (Mark) Schlereth has played for seventy years. (Dan) Neil and (Matt) Lepsis are good young players and they have some good young backs. Griffith is a good fullback and (Dwayne) Carswell is a good blocking tight end who they used quite a bit even when they had (Shannon) Sharpe out there in some of there two tight end sets and obviously they have some good running backs.

Q: This might be a chicken and egg theory, but can a great running back make an offensive line as well?

B: Sure

Q: So it goes both ways?

B: Yes I think some of those lines that Barry Sanders ran behind it is really a credit with the yardage that he gained.

Q: They have also had some criticism mostly from opposing players for their techniques, some of their blocking and cut blocking, have you seen that?

B: They cut block a little bit, but all the West Coast offenses do. That is part of the way they run the ball with cut blocking and trying to either create blocking angles or just use their quickness and ability as opposed to their size.

Q: How do you feel about that is it a legitimate technique or is it right on the line of being illegal?

B: No I don't think it is illegal. Look no defensive players wants guys going thrown at their legs and neither do the offensive players. You watch those offensive guards come pulling around the corner and have some defensive guy come in and cut them down they are not too excited about that either, that's just natural. There are rules that legislate what is legal and what isn't legal and I think they are pretty closely monitored by the league.

Q: When they eliminated the no clipping zone there were some coaches that talked about how that might effect the running game for like a Denver or a San Francisco has that not been the case?

B: The way they changed the rule, I think what it eliminated was good. I think those blocks should have been eliminated and those were basically blocks in the clipping zone in the legal clipping zone which came from more than one man removed. For example if you are playing on the center and the guard pulled and the tackle came down and clipped the nose, there was a time when that was legal now that is not legal because it is more than one man removed. In other words the nose can see the center and he can kind of see what the backside guard is doing, but he can't see guys coming from two or three positions away.

Q: So the guard can clip him legally?

B: Yes.

Q: Isn't that a hard thing for the referee to keep track of?

B: Yes and especially when it is on the backside and officials have said that. They have said when the ball goes front side the umpire looks front side he doesn't look back here for clipping, but the officials are on film and if they pick it up on the film then they go after him and they fine him and all of that. They probably would get away with it in a game, but it would get called on film and then they take the action that way and kind of everybody in the league knows that. You could get away with a backside clip in the game probably, but you are nor going to get away with it on Monday.

Q: That first week when Michael Bishop was the third quarterback and he had that disciplinary thing it made it sound like that was the reason he was the third guy and know he has been the third guy since, is that still a disciplinary matter, has he lost something since the first couple of weeks?

B: No I have said right from the beginning that every week it could be different and just because it is one way one week doesn't mean that it is going to be that way the next week.

Q: He can't play himself up and down the depth chart?

B: He can just because it was Drew (Bledsoe), John (Friesz) and Michael one week doesn't mean it can't be Drew, Michael John the next week. It doesn't mean that the week after that that it couldn't flip back so what we do with that second and third would be depending on what we feel like is going to be best for the game. Taking into consideration what Michael's strengths are and what he can do and what John's strengths are and what he can do and kind of what the overall offensive situation is.

Q: Is part of the reason he is still the third quarterback because he hasn't done enough to show you?

B: No I think both John and Michael both have strengths that they bring to the team and there is no question that if we could have all three of them active at the game we would have all three of them because they clearly have strengths and they bring something to it. Our decision every week is who is two and who is three and what strengths would you rather have and which ones are more important to you at for that particular game at that point in time and that is the decision you have to make.

Q: Is (Tom) Brady always four?

B: He has been.

Q: How is he doing?

B: He is doing okay.

Q: Does he have a chance to move up?

B: I think everybody has a chance to move up. I really do. I think everybody does and I think that some of that depends on opportunity, but also some of that depends on performance and the better they perform the more opportunity they will get and that just snowballs. I think in this particular situation, where we are this year really it is a weekly decision. It is not like we are going to say, 'Okay for the next three weeks it is going to be this way, or for the next three weeks it is going to be that way.' Both players have different strengths it is a question of which ones you want.

Q: You make it sound like it is all based on game plan, I guess my question is does their performance factor in?

B: It is a combination of both. The game plan is definitely part of it, but if you feel that one player has been performing significantly better than another one then we would want that player.

Q: Is this a position where we are making too much of the depth chart? You know who your quarterback is…

B: Right. I don't really think anything has changed and it could change, but to this point I don't see where anything has really changed. I think Michael's strengths are Michael's strengths and I think John's strengths are John's strengths. I don't think Michael is going to get fourteen years of experience anytime soon and I don't think that John is going to be the same type of athlete that Michael is anytime real soon. I don't really think those things are going to change. So each player has a certain package they bring to the table and it is different from the other one and that is not positive or negative that's just the way it is.



            **Q: Do you think the decision to not have him play in NFL Europe was a wise one, do you regret it?**  

B: I don't think I really regret it. We really haven't had tremendous success with that league.

Q: When you say we do you mean the Patriots?

B: Yes. The players that we had over there this year…

Q: They are all gone.

B: Garrett Johnson is on the practice squad. It was okay. So when you say regret, I don't know would one thing have helped a player more than something else I don't know. The decision with Michael was he played his senior year at Kansas State then he came here last fall and learned an offensive system in 1999. If we had sent him to Europe that would have been another offensive system in the spring of 2000. Then he would have come back to training camp and learned another offensive system in the fall of 2000 and we just thought that was a lot to ask of a player with his experience particularly in the college background which was more of a running option type of offense. Whether that was the right or wrong decision we could argue that one, but that was the thinking behind it that is just would have been three offensive systems. From the end of the season until training camp it would have been three offensive systems in about eight months and we weren't sure that was in his best interest. Now looking forward I think with a player who has been in the system for a year then goes and plays in another system, but then comes back to a system that you have already seen him build up some familiarity with that maybe colors the decision a little bit differently.

Q: As a rule are you not high on NFL Europe as a developmental league?

B: I just haven't been around a lot of dramatic results.

Q: Do you think it hurt Sean Morey?

B: No I don't think it hurt Sean and I don't think it hurt Mark (Megna), but I don't know how much it helped them I don't think it hurt them. The thing I worry about with the NFL Europe is for players who need physical development. Who needs strength, who needs more power, explosion that type of thing. They can get that from an off-season program I don't think you can get it playing football everyday it is just hard to play football and build that kind of strength. With players like Sean and Mark who physically really didn't have a problem. They were both pretty well developed. They both worked very hard and hey both trained hard so for those guys to gain fifteen more pounds on their bench press I don't know how much that would have helped them versus the playing experience they gained. But when they came back it was probably better than it was. I don't know, but it wasn't that significant to make a difference. It probably helped Mark more than it helped Sean because at least he was playing a different position. Maybe it would take two years there I don't know.

Q: What about Tony Simmons, a couple of weeks ago you mentioned that some guys had to find themselves a role to get themselves on the field, has he done anything to find another role?

B: I thought that he had a few opportunities in the Miami game and he did a little bit with them. He didn't have a lot of opportunities, but the couple that he did have he did a little bit more with them. I think he has tried to do that in practice. I think he understands, I think all of the players understand what finding a role means, but I think maybe he has addressed it a little more and worked a little harder at it.

Q: Was he on coverage teams?

B: He covered some. Shockmain (Davis) did it some in Miami and then Tony did it some too in the second half so they both did with Tebucky (Jones) and Antwan Harris.

Q: Are you still working with him (Tony Simmons) in trying to use his size more?

B: We try to get all the bigger receivers like Shockmain and Tony to try to be more physical you are always trying to do that.

Q: With the trading deadline coming up do you look for opportunities to deal at this point or are you all tied up?

B: I think if there was an opportunity we would consider it. There usually aren't too many at this time of year. I have heard from a couple of people, but I certainly don't see anything right there on the horizon, but several teams have guys that they would move for the right situation and that type of thing so they call down and tell you about them. If you are interested you follow up on it, if you're not you don't.

Q: Excess at positions?

B: I don't think anybody has excess at any position. I really don't. I think that if you have a player that you are willing to move that those teams are saying that, 'We really for whatever reason can't get too much production out of this guy this year maybe you can and maybe we will take whatever the compensation is', for whatever the reasons are.

Q: You should swing one of those NBA deals a three-way trade?

B: It is hard enough in the NFL to just trade a guy for a draft pick at the end of the draft that seemingly aren't that valuable relative to NBA trades. A couple of ones, a couple of twos, a couple million dollars, I'll give you six guys you, he gives you five and I get four. Here it is hard to trade some guy for a fifth round pick that's hard to do. I can't imagine how they do it in the NBA when they swap five guys and 20 million dollars.

Q: (Bill) Parcells use to do that with (Ron) Wolf every year do you have a guy like that around the league?

B: I made one of those deals with him when I was at Cleveland. I gave George Williams a defensive lineman from Notre Dame for the kid from Holy Cross, a linebacker named Mac McGovern. McGovern for George Williams.


B: Give me the name of the guys you are cutting at the 60 cut okay here they are okay who are you cutting at the 60 here you go. Is there anybody there that you would be interested in? Maybe I'll take a look at the George Williams I don't know. Is there anybody that you would be interested in? Well our linebacker got hurt last week any of these linebackers any good? Yes you might want to take a look at this McGovern guy. All right. So we could either cut them and claim them the next day or just I'll give you Williams, you give me McGovern and save a day. That was that deal and then both teams cut the guy four days later.

Q: Isn't that how Ferric Collons and Mike Bartrum come here on a deal like that?

B: I didn't make that deal, but yes there's…

Q: How does it work when you trade? Do you trade the cap number as well?

B: You trade the player's contract. So whatever contract your player has goes to the other team.

Q: What about the pro rating?

B: Then all of the accelerations hit immediately.

Q: So it is like cutting a player?

B: No when cutting a player you take the pro rated portion this year and that counts this year and then you get the rest of it because it is after June 1st. Like say with (Vincent) Brisby for example, when he was released we had a pro rated portion of his contract for 2000 and then in future years that will all hit on the 2001 cap. Had we traded him then everything would have hit right now. So from a cap standpoint it is hard to make a trade. For example Tyrone Poole in New Orleans, this has been pretty well publicized this is no state secret, they have kind of come out and said they really can't trade this guy because they just signed him to a contract a year ago and if they were to trade him then it would all accelerate into this year and depending on what your cap situation is you that might put you over the cap and you would have to cut somebody else. I'm sure if the price is high enough you would find a way to do it. I am just saying they have already publicly come out and said that a couple of times that gee this is a guy that we would like to trade, but it is just prohibitive.

Q: That's why nobody will trade for Barry Sanders, right?

B: They can't afford to trade him, but you would have to figure our someway to manage it. You are going to have to take that cap hit sooner or later and maybe if you did it in the off-season you could plan for it and budget for it in that year. But if you were to do it now, like if they were to trade Barry Sanders right now then it would all accelerate into the 2000 cap. I mean that definitely is a consideration. There are some players on your team that you just can't afford to trade for cap reasons this year not that you can't afford to trade them because all the acceleration that would hit this year. It's like cutting a player before June 1st. That same thinking that takes place in the spring when you want to wait for June 1st to release him to move it into next year. It is a little bit of the same thing with a potential trade.

Q: It would have to be a guy in the last year of his contract?

B: Which most teams aren't too excited about giving up anything for that type of player or you just would have to be able to have enough space to absorb whatever the acceleration is.

Q: How have the guys been this week?

B: Good. We will find out on Sunday.

Q: Did you see any drop in practice or meetings?

B: No actually I had to pull the pads off of them yesterday halfway through practice.

Q: Why?

B: They were killing each other.

Q: So that's a good sign?

B: We have had a really good tempo and I don't want to take anything away from the preparation, but I wanted to lighten up the contact a little bit during practice yesterday because it has been pretty good.

Q: Is that frustration?

B: Maybe more determination I don't know. That's a good question I don't know.

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