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Replay: Patriots Unfiltered Thu May 16 - 02:00 PM | Tue May 21 - 11:55 AM

Bill Belichick Press Conf.

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



            **Q: Willie McGinest having him back last week how big a difference does it make to you to have him in the game?**  

B: Willie is an impact player and the more of those you have the better off you are. I don't know how you can define it. I don't know what percentage it is but it helps and it was a big play early in the game. It definitely helps I can't give you a percentage.

Q: Does he help the flexibility in going from the three to four man fronts?

B: Willie is a versatile player and he gives us something in the pass rush. He gives us the ability to stay in the scheme. It gives us some flexibility in coverage. I think things can just operate a lot smoother when he is in there not that they can't operate when he is not in there. He makes plays but he also creates flexibility on the defense that is kind of unique to him.

Q: Have you played more 4-3 or 3-4?

B: It depends on how you want to count them.

Q: Well even when you have four down lineman and Willie is one of the down lineman Willie is not playing two-gap so you are always in a 3-4?

B: Honestly I think that question should be asked to the teams that play us. Do they consider us 4-3 or do they consider us 3-4?

Q: Griese said 3-4.

B: Well okay then I think that answers it for you then. I guess we played in their eyes more 3-4 because that is the way they are treating us. I really can't speak for the opponents as to how they look at us. We just try to do what we think is best and we do what we do. It is really in their eyes how they see us that's really the answer to your question. I mean we can put it out there however we want it, call it whatever we want to call it. If they call it 3-4 then it is 3-4. If they call it 4-3 then it is 4-3.

Q: Denver said that you guys did things that you hadn't shown all year, is that true do you put together special tactics because of Terrell Davis and Mike Anderson?

B: I think we have a defensive system it's not real narrow I don't think it is real broad, but it's a system and we try to stay within that system. Sometimes it leans to the 4-3, sometimes it leans to more of a three man front, sometimes it's pressure, sometimes it's man coverage, sometimes it's zone coverage, but we have some flexibility so I don't think that we really try to go too far outside of those boundaries in terms of coming up with a game plan that is something that is foreign to us, if it not too far from what we are comfortable doing. Now how it looks to them is how it looks to them and it may look different to them. We never really feel like it is that different for us because we don't want to go into every game saying, 'Gee, we have never done this before fellas here is what we are going to try this week.' It is a lot easier to go into a game saying, 'Hey we are doing the same things we have been doing it is just this week we are just going to move you over a little bit here and we are just going to do this a little bit differently,' but really it is the same thing we have been doing all year and they feel comfortable with that. To the opponent it may look like, 'Boy this is really going to be an adjustment for us,' and I hope it works out that way, but we try not to get too far out of the boundaries.

Q: Are you concerned by the fact that a guy like Griese can throw for over 300 yards? What happens with Peyton Manning and that offense? Do you play them with an entirely different perspective than Denver because of the weapons that he has in the passing game?

B: We are very respectful of Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis passing game make no mistake about that. I think statistics can be whatever you want them to be. If you look at when some of that yardage was gained and how it was gained it mattered, but some of it wasn't nearly as significant as a couple of ten yard passes that (Jay) Fiedler completed the week before, or more significant than 300 yards of some of the passing yardage that came against Denver. All we are trying to do is do the best we can to contain and control the Indianapolis offense running and passing and it is going to be very hard to do.

Q: I think Manning said this week that your philosophy is to give up a lot of yards but then get it tight when they get into the red zone is that accurate?

B: No that is not our philosophy. I have never told the defense, 'Let's give up a lot of yards.' I have never said that. That is not our philosophy. Our philosophy is to try to stop the opponent, try to stop them from scoring. Sometimes you give up yards, sometimes you don't, but our philosophy is not to give up a lot of yards. I have never said that. I have never told a defense we are trying to give up yards. The only time we have ever taken yardage out of the priority is when the clock is totally in your favor. Where you don't care about yards all you care about is the expiration of the time and there is very few situations in the game where that occurs, very few. The end of the half last week in Denver was a good example on maybe I guess it was the last play of the half the probably gained 25 or 30 yards and time expired and that was the play we were trying to make it in that situation was to let the clock run out. By keeping the runner in bounds, not, not letting them get into field goal range, but letting them gain yards by letting the clock expire that was an efficient play in that situation and that is what we were looking for, but there aren't very many of those.

Q: What can you do to keep Manning from going to his right?

B: He hits a lot to his right because (Marvin) Harrison is over there to the left, but he hits them on the other side too.

Q: When he rolls out?

B: Well if you look at the third or fourth play of the Jacksonville game that seam or post-pattern whatever you want to call it back there to Harrison third or fourth play of the game 85 yards, that's our right his left. No question he hits plays to his left, but I don't think you can overplay him too far because he can hit them on both sides.

Q: Will that put an extra strain on McGinest, him rolling to his right all the time?

B: Well whoever is on the left yes. Whoever is responsible for containing the quarterback on the left side that is a more prominent and a more important job on the left than it is on the right because the rollouts do come that way. Whether that is McGinest or Slade, whoever is over there that is an important job absolutely, yes.

Q: Will you swap them to keep them fresh McGinest and (Chris) Slade?

B: Well they don't play exactly the same position. Chris's responsibilities are a little bit different from Willie's so it would be hard to make that exchange just one for one. It would be hard for us to say, 'Chris you do what Willie does this time and Willie you do what Chris does,' because they don't all have the same jobs.

Q: How about the running back situation last week you spread out the carries much more than usual is that a function of keeping (Kevin) Faulk's numbers in check or did you like what the other guys had done that week and wanted to get them in there?

B: It kind of worked out that way. We ended up in the Denver game being spread out quite a bit and a little bit of it was that was what we wanted to do and a little bit of it was that's kind of what they dictated, or the way their defenses were set that we thought it was more advantageous to do it that way so it was a little bit of a combination of both and that's kind of the way it worked out that game. I can't sit here and say that's the way we would like it to work out every week because the way we need to play one game versus another game might change a little bit. I think that all of our ruinning backs Harold (Shaw), J.R. (Redmond) and Kevin (Faulk) and even the fullbacks when they have had some carries Tony (Carter) and Chris (Floyd) they all have certain things that they do well. There are some things that some players do better than others and size is definitely an issue all the way around. Whether it is in terms of being a power runner, or a pass protector and speed to a certain degree is an issue. I don't know that we have jut one guy that we can stick in there for every play to do everything, you know Edgerrin James style that's 230 pounds that is a big time runner, is a big time catcher, is a big time pass blocker, that style of a player. So I think we are going to have to continue to utilize the players with the skills that they have in the most efficient way.

Q: Looking back is nine carries not enough or is it?

B: On the one hand nine carries at two yards a carry is plenty. Overall the yardage per carry is low, but on the other hand what was good about the Denver game was when we had to run the ball we ran it and made critical first downs, that was good. The overall production in the running game isn't what you would like it to be but again the way the game was played the way they were playing it is hard to gain a lot of yards running the ball when there are more people up there than you can block and they are kind of challenging you to throw it. In order to beat them the way they were playing that particular game I think we needed to throw the ball in order to really gain some significant yardage.



            **Q: Do you spend a lot of time on Manning's play-fake ability, more so than with other quarterbacks?**  

B: They do a pretty fair amount of it so yes it is definitely in the meetings to try to get keys on what the difference between the runs and the passes are because the play-fakes sell the running game and also on the practice field to try to simulate that with our scout team offense. That definitely is a big emphasis point and they do a good job of it. They probably have done a little bit less of it this year than maybe what we have seen in maybe the last couple of years, but I think that is a function of the teams that they have played on defense, teams that are real penetrating, gap charging type teams. Some of those play fakes don't have quite as much effect because the way the defenses are set the guys are just charging at the gaps run or pass. I think we will probably see more play-action then what they have run against other teams.

Q: Do you show a lot of film on that, focus in on that?

B: Yes. We have all of the play-action passes broken up. They have a couple of different actions. They have one action where they try to fake an outside play and Manning kind of rides James out and sets up real wide. Then they have a bootleg play where he fakes and then he rolls the opposite way. They have an inside play-action where they kind of fake it up the middle and run their routes off of that, more a drop back type, the quarterback is more in the pocket. So they have different actions we try to divide them up by these are bootleg plays, these are spread out plays, and these are what we call load passes or just kind of more the conventional play-action type routes and studying that way

Q: Your teams have done a good job with that in the past your Jets defenses have done a good job not biting on some of those play-action plays.

B: Well it's tough because they do a good job because they do a good job of making the running plays look like the passing plays and vice versa and you don't want to be late coming up on the runs when James has got it and on the other hand you don't want to be up on the runs when Manning is throwing the ball twenty yards down the field to (Terrence) Wilkins and Harrison. So keying them is really the main thing, no matter what defense you are in if the play is keyed properly then you will react to it pretty quickly and have an opportunity to stop it. If it is miss read then you are going to have some problems.

Q: Is Lawyer Milloy a key in this because he is a run support guy and a safety?

B: All of the guys in the secondary are.

Q: A safety more than a cornerback?

B: It depends on what route they have on. A little bit of it is a guessing game because when you run play-action you just can't get as many receivers out. If you are faking the run and the offense is really selling the running game then those guys instead of receiving are blocking. Then you are only running maybe a two man pattern and then offensively you have to try to figure out what are you going to do with those two guys and sometimes you can put them in a place where there is a big hole in the defense and then other times they run a pattern where that is the only good position that the defender has but the route runs right into them. So that is a little bit of the guessing game that goes on when you are just running two man routes. If you run them inside and the defense is inside you've got nothing. If you run them outside and the defense is inside you've got big plays and you are just going back and forth on that just trying to hit the right route against the right coverage. It is a lot easier on offense if you know for sure what defense they are going to be in and where the soft spots are then you can really sell the play-action. You can run everybody and dive up in there and know that you are going to have some space to throw to. Again if the corners get sucked then there is space out there. If the safeties get sucked there is some space inside. It just depends on, I can't tell you who is going to be more important because I am not sure exactly where the routes are going to end up. They do a good job of hitting you across the board. Everytime you call a defense you could say, ' Boy I hope they are not running the outs,' and then the next play, 'I hope they are not running the ins,' but that's kind of the same, they are spinning the wheel a little bit there too.

Q: There were reports that teams were interested in Corey Dillon were you interested in pursuing anything like that?

B: I have not had any conversations with Cincinnati.

Q: Is something like that too disruptive at this point in the season?

B: I don't think it is disruptive if it helps your football team.

Q: Did you see him come off the field and then not go back on when (Bruce) Coslet wanted him to?

B: No.

Q: Looking at the Colts their rushing and passing defense are ranked low among others in the NFL, but yet they seem to win what is it about their defense?

B: They have done a good job in the red area. Last week was a good example of that in Buffalo. Buffalo I think on the first three drives had about 165 yards and no touchdowns. That is a lot of yardage and not very many points. That's happened several times this year where they have done a good job of keeping teams out of the end zone and that is really what it is all about. They gave up some points against Oakland obviously so they have been scored on, but overall it is the points that matter and that's the red zone defense has been pretty good for them. Again that happened last year, I mentioned earlier in the two games that we played them last year with the Jets I think one was 13-6 we didn't score a touchdown and the other one was 16-13 or 13-10 something like that we again couldn't get very many points against them. I just know from experience the teams I have been on haven't scored a lot of points against that defense regardless of what the yardage has been the points haven't been that high.

Q: Being a young quarterback is Manning's mastering of the game surprising to you?

B: He's pretty good. The thing that I have been impressed with is his progression from year to year. What he did his first year, what he did his second year, his third year. They have asked him to do more, they've expanded the offense, they've expanded the formationing, the types of plays are a lot different now then they were. I was just looking back at my 1997 or 1998 scouting reports and game plans just looking at the plays that we had on the scouting reports and they are the same plays, but they are different and you can see that they are asking him to do more and it is obvious he's handled it very well. So it is impressive. Am I surprised? I don't know he was pretty good as a rookie in 1998. 1998, again I remember the two games on the Jets the first game was 41-0 or something like that. It wasn't a very competitive game and we had a good team and they hadn't won many games and we went out to Indianapolis and he killed us. He had a two-minute drill at the end, took the team 70 yards down the field, hit a pass to (Marcus) Pollard right at the end of the game and beat us. Not only did they move the ball, but they moved it in the two-minute situation and they made the key plays to win the game. Just in that year alone he really made a lot of improvement and played well last year. What were they last year 13-3 or whatever it was. They are asking him to do more this year and he's doing it. It is pretty impressive.

Q: Can he get only even better?

B: Yes, I hope there is a ceiling here sometime soon. He is the whole package. He's more mobile then people give him credit for and he's got good legs. He makes plays on scrambles, he's accurate, he's got a strong arm, he gets rid of the ball quick, makes good decisions. You can see that they ask him to do a lot of audibling and changing plays at the line of scrimmage. You can see him getting them into the right play. I thought he made two real good plays in the Buffalo game. The first play of the two-minute drive Buffalo blitzed him on the strong side just as he was releasing the ball they hit him he got the ball off, but it was incomplete. They came back two plays later and he slid the protection into the strong side and they picked up the blitz and made another 15-yard gain. He made a good play on it. Buffalo once they saw the protection being slid into the strong side, on the last play before the field goal they brought two on the weak side and they are in the two minute situation and just before the ball is about to be snapped you can see Manning in there redirecting the protection and he changed the protection at the line and the slid and picked up the weak side blitz which would have hit him if they had just stayed in their normal protection because they had just blitzed on the strong side. So he slid the thing the other way they picked it up and he made the completion and they kicked a field goal the next play. That is the kind of player that wins the game. If he hadn't done that and he got hit and they hadn't got the ball off, instead of a 42 yard field goal or whatever it was, it would have added about another 10 or 12 yards to that. Had he not made that protection change right at the line of scrimmage right at the second. He was already back in the shotgun and then he went up and changed it on the road in a critical situation. SO those are the kind of plays as a coach you admire, that's pretty good.



            **Q: But you could see that coming from the first time you saw him with the Jets to the second time could you see that kind of…**  

B: I didn't see it the first time I saw him with the Jets they couldn't do much that day, but the second time he played well, the team played well, Marshall Faulk played well and we had a hard time. It is the same thing when you are up against a good quarterback like that you have plays that you think should be good plays and then he makes them. Even though it looks like you got him he makes them and that's the mark of a good player.

Q: So you would have to do something different every time that you see him, there has to be a twist in there somewhere.

B: You've got to do it well. I think with Buffalo you could see what Buffalo was doing. The first time they blitz him strong and they nail him. The second time they blitz him strong the protection picks it up. So you come right back and blitz him weak and they had that same strong protection on because they had just picked up the last strong side blitz, but then he switches it at the line to put it into weak side protection. That's changing it up and that's, 'Okay they blocked us on the strong side now we hit them on the weak side,' but he switched it and made the play and that's the kind of thing that you can switch it, but not if he know's you're switching it. You have got to find a way to do it where they can't see it or disguise it better and that's the way it was with Marino. I got to the point with Marino where I didn't try to do that because you would work on it all week saying, 'We did this last time so we'll do it the other way this time,' and the first time you do it he nails you. So you spent all week trying to get that stuff ready and the first time he doesn't even blink he is just kind of laughing at you like, 'You think I haven't seen that one before? Sure.' Then you spend all week going, 'That blitz and you say we are not going to run that one anymore fellas forget that one.'

Q: How about his ability to read defenses as a young quarterback?

B: I think when you watch him at Tennessee that's an offense that uses a lot of four and five open receivers and a lot of times there were not a lot of backs in the backfield. Of course he threw the ball a lot down there. He definitely had a good background, forget about his family and all that, but just in terms of playing he played a lot at Tennessee. They threw the ball a lot, they had a lot of spread open offenses and I am sure that this has just been a continuation of his growth as a player.

Q: Is your offensive line getting better at protecting Drew (Bledsoe) or are you just getting rid of the ball quicker?

B: I think it has gotten better. Overall in the last four games our protection has been pretty good. It has broken down at times don't get me wrong, but even the Jet game there weren't many problems in protection until the last two minutes of the game, but prior to that point it was pretty good. It really wasn't that bad against Minnesota. It was good against Miami. It was pretty good against Denver. I think the inside part of the pocket Sale (Isaia), Joe (Andruzzi) and Damien (Woody) have done a pretty good job there and that has made the tackles job easier because the pocket wasn't getting collapsed, the quarterback can step up and the tackles can push the ends wider. Our blitz pickup has been better. I think that part of our game has improved. There is still room for improvement don't get me wrong, but compared to the preseason game against Washington and Detroit, the opener against Tampa. Even on the ones that we are getting off the pocket is better, it's firmer and there is more room for the quarterback to step up and throw.

Q: A lot of times earlier it seemed like if they tried any kind of twist outside two guys would end with one and another guy would come up free has that improved?

B: Our pickup on the games yes have definitely improved, but the most important thing when the defense runs the pass rush game the most important thing initially is to stop the guy from getting penetration. Once the defender penetrates into the pocket then no matter what they are running you are going to be in trouble because you're at different levels and there are gaps in there and they get through. If you can initally stop the penetrator then the guy who is coming around has to loop around this way as opposed to penetrating also into the pocket and again that's what I am saying I think our guards and our center have done a much better job of solidifying the interior of the pocket so there is not any initial penetration which then keeps the loopers from having the seams to run through. That's helped everybody out because once they initially break it and the quarterback gets off his original spot then you don't have a very good chance to hang on for very long.

Q: Has Drew seen a lot of what is going on in front of him and taken advantage of that room in the pocket?

B: Yes he has had the opportunity to step up and he's stepped up. Not so much stepped up and run, but he has been able to step up and find a good passing lane and get clear vision to throw the ball.

Q: Does Greg Spires have a defined role as a backup or has he shown in the last couple of weeks that he can handle an expanded role?

B: I think what we are getting on defense other than the corners and Lawyer, and I am saying the corners because usually whoever plays corner plays corner whatever the offense does doesn't really effect that position too much in terms of substitution. Other than that I think that the roles on defense are starting to establish themselves and everybody has taken a pretty significant role. At linebacker Ted (Johnson), Andy (Katzenmoyer), Tedy (Bruschi) and Chris (Slade) have pretty consistent roles. They may change a little from game to game, but they have pretty consistent roles every week and Brandon (Mitchell), Chad (Eaton), Henry (Thomas) and Booby (Hamilton) on the defensive line have pretty consistent defined roles and Greg and Willie the same thing. Nobody in that group really plays the whole game. Everybody Willie, Chris, Chad, Henry, Brandon, Tedy, Ted Johnson, Andy, all of those guys don't all play the whole game, but they all play a significant part of the game and their role from week to week is usually pretty constant. So the guys involved in the sub-passing game, the pass rush and that maybe will be his focus for that week and will backup in the regular stuff. Or if a guy is in the regular stuff he may backup in the sub. I think we are getting into a comfortable situation there. It is kind of a luxury really to be able to do that where each guy doesn't have to go out there and play 80 plays in the game. Particularly the last two weeks it would have been hard to do anyway given the conditions of the game. That may change a little bit as we get toward October, November games, but that's where we are now.

Q: How long after this game do you have to make a move on (Todd) Rucci and (Adrian) Klemm?

B: It is just an option. They can start practicing next week and they can practice for three weeks and then the decision comes at the end of that period.

Q: At the end of the three week period?

B: Right, well you could do something in the interim in other words you could activate them after one week, you could activate them after two weeks, but at the end of three weeks you either have to activate them or you have to put them on reserve for the year or you obviously release them.

Q: Are you going to clear them to practice, have you made that decision yet?

B: Well they can't practice until next week.

Q: So you will decide on Monday, have you made the decision yet or will you wait until Monday?

B: Well Monday if they can practice they will practice, if they can't they won't. The window is the window you can't move the window.

Q: So are they physically ready to go on Monday or have you not made that determination yet?

B: I hope that they will be ready to go. Until they are actually out there, in other words I wouldn't take a guy and put him into the first contact drill, he would go through the individual drills and he would build up in the contact and then assuming that went okay then you would put him into the harder more contact part of practice. So I am saying yes, but qualifying it that provided that the steps along the way are met, yes.

Q: But the way things are going there really is no hurry to get them on the roster?

B: To get them on the roster at this time we would have to create a spot since we are at the 53-man limit. They could practice without taking a spot then that is what I am saying at the end of that three week period or during the three week period they either have to go to reserve where they wouldn't take a roster spot, but they wouldn't be able to play anymore for the year, or to activate them then they would have to take one of the 53 roster spots somebody else has.

Q: Some tough decision ahead?

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