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Replay: Patriots Unfiltered Thu May 23 - 02:00 PM | Tue May 28 - 11:55 AM

Bill Belichick Press Conf.

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



            **B:**  This is a big week for us here, with the Colts coming in to town. This is a real good football team, as we all know. I am sure a lot of you saw the game against Jacksonville on Monday night were they were pretty dominant. Even though they are the defending division champs and they're clearly one of the top teams in the league it still seems like they are a little bit underrated. I think that this may be the team to beat. Offensively they have great talent at all positions.  They are very well coached and have a good scheme. Tom Moore has done a terrific job with the offense over the last three years since he has gotten Peyton. Defensively, another area where they really are pretty strong at every position linebacker, defensive line, secondary. They have good experience a lot of team speed, good specialists, and good returners in the kicking game. They are just a real solid football team. Bill Polian, Dom Anile, the people in the organization that have done a great job putting this team together the last three years and they really have a great football team. The players play hard, you can tell they work hard. They are pretty good. I have been very impressed looking at them on film and they are going to be tough.  

Q: That said why do you think they are so underrated?

B: I don' know. Believe me I don't think it is from people who watch them on tape because the more you watch them the more little things you see them do and the more you can appreciate the overall team play. Other than the Oakland game, defensively they don't give up very many points, they are aggressive, they can rush the passer, they cover well, they have good team speed at linebacker, they're good at the kicking game. Offensively, they can run it, they can throw it, they are almost 50 percent on third down and they are averaging 30 points a game. They are pretty good. They've got good, young players in the system, they've got some experienced guys especially on the defensive side of the ball they have been through some wars. I really don't know why (underrated) they look pretty good to me.

Q: Do you tend to look more at the Oakland game because of the way they seemed to be in complete control and then it got taken to them or do you just look at every game?

B: I bet I have seen practically every game they have played in the last three years and probably have watched ten or eleven games in the last couple of days. I went back and watched six gams from last year and then a couple of preseason games plus the regular season games this year. I think they are very consistent football team. There are always a couple of plays or a couple things here and there, but overall they don't give up a lot of points. They are aggressive on defense. They score a lot of points and move the ball. They hit a lot of big plays not a lot of two and three yard gains. They can make a lot of 20, 30, 40 yard plays they happen every game. Everybody is involved (Marcus) Pollard, (Ken) Dilger you don't even hear about the tight ends. Pollard and Dilger are two of the best tight ends we played all year. They bring in third and fourth receivers that make big plays, that make big catches. That catch Dilger made last week against Buffalo was as good play as a tight end is going to make. He showed a lot of speed down the field, caught the ball with one hand and he's an excellent blocker. They have got a lot of good football players.

Q: You have seen Peyton Manning since he came into the league how good of a quarterback is he in your eyes?

B: He's pretty good. I think he is about as much of the total package you are going to see. Obviously he has got a good arm. He's very active I think that accounts for a lot of the yardage that they get in the passing game. When you talk about all of the great quarterbacks like (Dan) Marino, (John) Elway, and guys like that Joe Montana, the one thing that they did in my mind that separated them was their ability to put the ball right on the receiver so that when he caught it he made a lot of yards after the catch. I know that when Bill Walsh was in San Francisco, and I have talked to him a number of times about this, every year they would do a statistic on the number of yards in the passing game from the quarterback to the receiver and then after the catch. Every year they had more yards after the catch then they had from the quarterback to the receiver, but a big part of that is the quarterback being able to put the ball right on the receiver so he doesn't have to stop and he can just keep running and continue to gain yardage. I think Manning in that vein is very good. Very seldom do receivers ever have to work for the ball. The ball is there, they've got it and then they are moving forward to gain more yards into the secondary. So he is accurate. He's got a quick release. He's a good scrambling quarterback, not in the Dante Culpepper mold in terms of being quick in the pocket and people not being able to get him down and when he scrambles he scrambles effectively. He gets what they need for the first down and that is the mark of a good quarterback. When it is third and eight he doesn't scramble for four he gets it and that is just good decision-making. He is very impressive.

Q: Because of your defensive backs, do you change anything a little bit, do you bring them up a little bit?

B: You better have them covered and you better have them covered when the ball is in the air because you are not going to have a lot of time to make it up while the ball is in flight. You need tight coverage on the receivers or he will put it in there. He can thread the needle. He is very good.

Q: What about (Edgerrin) James not only is he a good runner, but he can catch the ball as well?

B: Absolutely, he is much more involved in the passing game this year than he was last year and he is very good at it. I think the one thing you can see about the Indianapolis offense over the last couple of years, the last three years really is how each year they have expanded it. In 1997 when Peyton was the quarterback they really only used one or two formations, it was very basic. They built a good foundation and then the next year Peyton did more audibling and they did more plays and more formations and that has expanded even more this year. You can see it with James. Last year James wasn't really asked to do very much in the passing game this year you can see there are a lot of routes where he is the primary receiver or he is a very interval receiver in the route, that's expanded. This guy is really a good back. Nobody can tackle him I mean every team has trouble. It doesn't make a difference whether it is linemen, linebackers, defensive backs. He runs over people, he is elusive, this guy is really a good back and he is strong. He is very impressive.

Q: What did you think of that trade they had Marshall Faulk then they trade him and get James?

B: However you want to put it I have always hated Marshall Faulk or loved him however you want to look at it. I think he is one of the best backs in the league. I have tremendous respect for Marshall Faulk. I don't know if there is a better receiving back in the game. I mean he is a guy that can go out and play wide receiver I mean like a receiver, not just go out there and run around, but go out there and really be a receiver and to go with his running skills and his toughness and his elusiveness. That guy was a great player, still is.

Q: But is James better for what they are doing?

B: They are both good, but James is a different type of player. He is bigger. He's a more physical player then Marshall was. I am not saying necessarily better, but more physical, breaks tackles by running over people and he makes people miss. Don't get me wrong he is no snowplow. He's got good wiggle and can make people miss. Marshall was a special player. James is more a combination of a bigger, more physical, elusive back that does a good job on pass protection, but really has no weaknesses. I mean you can't sit there and say there is anything that is lacking in James' game.

Q: Do you have to have a perfect game to beat this team?

B: They are pretty good, they are averaging 30 points a game. They are 50 percent on third down and they run the ball well and they throw it well and take your pick on who they want to throw it to they have Pollard, Dilger, (E.G.) Green, (Jerome) Pathon, (Marvin) Harrison, (Terrence) Wilkins, James. They have more guys than they get in the game that are good receivers. They are a well-balanced team offensively. They can score a lot of points, they have scored a lot points and I think that defensively it will be a big challenge for us, no doubt about it. These guys are good.

Q: Last year you held them in check, what did you do and can you do it again this year?

B: We are hanging on a lot. You are just hanging on it is not like anybody has really gone in there and just shut them down. You don't give up quite as much as what they are getting against everybody else. Last year we intercepted a pass in the end zone, we held them to a couple of field goals in the red area, that's how you keep the points down. It wasn't like they couldn't move the ball. They were able to move it and defensively that's similar to the way they are playing. They have given up some yards, but they are not giving up a lot of points and just going back to the Jets games last year we couldn't score against them. We got thirteen in New York, and I think it was sixteen in Indianapolis so we couldn't score. In two games, we probably didn't have twenty points in the two games combined. Defensively they do a good a job of keeping you out of the end zone and that is what it is all about. Everybody talks about stats and yards and all of that, it's points that's what matters.

Q: Does their defense get overlooked because of the prolific offense that they have?

B: I don't know why people aren't talking about them more than they are, I really don't. I don't see many weaknesses on the team. They're well coached, they're tough. This is not a front running, banner waving outfit. They have a real good work ethic. They play hard. Defensively there are some pretty good players there. They have a good secondary (Jason) Belser, (Chad) Cota, (Tyrone) Poole, (Jeff) Burris, (Chad) Bratzke, Ellis Johnson up front, Cornelius Bennett this is a pretty good solid group. There are more veterans on the defensive side than the offensive side, but those guys play well together and they don't make a lot of mistakes and they make you pay for yours when you make them.



            **Q: Do you look forward to the challenge personally of stopping an offense like this?**  

B: Yes I look forward to every game. I really do. Every week is a challenge, every single week.

Q: When you have a team like this with weapon, upon weapon, upon weapon…

B: They are in our division, we know we are playing them twice a year and they are good. They are good this year and I will tell you the other thing about these guys that is impressive they are there every week. This is three years in a row, four years in a row with Manning, but every year it is the same guys, they never get hurt, they are never on the injury report. They are there every week. We watched games last year and it is the exact same guys. There is nobody out of that lineup. They are there every week. They are making the same plays week in week out. They have tremendous continuity. I know those players work hard, but they are in good shape and they are there every week and that certainly helps the overall consistency. I don't know what the stats are but I would like to know how many games those guys have missed in the last two or three years. I can't think of any.

Q: Is it an advantage or disadvantage to have the two Colts games so close together?

B: I don't think it is one way or another. They get us in two weeks too so whatever advantage we have they have, whatever disadvantage we have they have. It's a wash.

Q: Did you ever get a sense that Drew (Bledsoe) might have had a lack of confidence?

B: No I never sensed that at all. I think that every week Drew went out there and I know I felt the same way and Charlie (Weis) did too and Dick (Rehbein), Dante (Scarnecchia) and the rest of the offensive coaches. Every week we went out there and expected what happened in the Denver game, we expected that kind of performance every game. Looking back on it I don't think it would have been unrealistic in any game for us to have scored 28 points, but we were a long way from it. The plays weren't there we just didn't make them, but it wasn't that we didn't expect to make them and it wasn't that we didn't think we could make them, we did. This is the first game it happened this year, but I have seen those plays in practice. I have seen the execution out there, it isn't like it's never happened before. It's happened on the practice field, it's happened in some of the games. The results have been as proficient as they were Sunday.

Q: Does a win like this get guys believing?

B: Here is what I told the team this is the way I really feel about it. Last week getting ready for Denver, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, even up to Saturday night preparation didn't stop. It went all the way through the week. We constantly worked on preparing for Denver. What we needed to win, how we needed to do it, how to try to tie everything together, how to maximize our performance and our execution and that game is over with. We spent all week filling that tank up with gas and I think we had it pretty close to full, probably did. Then we went out there and played Sunday and we went to empty. The tank is empty. I don't think really anything we did in the Denver game from the preparation standpoint really will have much bearing on this game, I really don't. I think we have to as a team go back and go to the pump everyday Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday right up to game time and re-prepare and re-focus on this challenge which is totally different from last week. Not that one is any easier than another, but they are different and it is not the same. If we don't go fill the tank up again this week we won't have good results and if we do then it gives you an opportunity providing you can carry it over to the field on Sunday. We had a couple of times last week and I mentioned it after the game that I thought we practiced well, but in the end the only thing that matters is how you perform on Sunday. I have been around teams that have had good practices and lost and I have been around teams that have had bad practices and won and good practices and won and bad practices and lost. So I don't think that is an exact science, but I think the more you can do to prepare, the better prepared you are the better your chances are that things will go right when they happen at a faster tempo in the game and that is all we are trying to get ready for. Honestly I don't think that there is really any carryover from last weeks game and I think if we think there is it will turn the other way in a hurry. We need to fill it back up again this week.

Q: Several Denver players on both sides of the ball said that there were some different looks that you gave them that they hadn't seen, is the goal the same and the looks change, what is the strategy when you change looks and packages?

B: I think every week it is different. Every week you have to sit down and you have to analyze who you are playing against and what it is going to take to stop them and then you have to take a look at your team and say, 'Okay what can we do?' So you look at the Buffalo game and there are somethings that Buffalo did a really good job of that maybe I don't think that we would do very well. That is just their style of play or their match-ups or whatever they are. Then there are other things that they do that you can look at it and say, 'That's the way we need to do it,' and you show that to your players and say, 'Here is a good example of it, we do it this way and we know how to do it this is what will happen.' But there are other things that other teams do that just aren't our style. We don't have Ted Washington and probably neither does anybody else. Some of the things that Ted Washington does are unique to Ted Washington and that is just the way it is. Each week you have to decide. Some weeks you make the decision that you don't want to do anything different for whatever the reason. The next week you might say, ' If we do it this way we are going to have trouble and we better come up with something else or what are we going to do if this doesn't work?' And sometimes you come up with something else, but I don't know of any formula where you have got hit a, b, c, d and e. Those change week to week and you never know. A lot of it depends on the state of your team. Sometimes even though you have an idea and say, 'Boy this is great.' You just don't have the flexibility to do it. Maybe you are down a couple of receivers and you can't play a lot of receivers or your back is not fast enough to run outside and you see people hurting them with outside plays, but you know that you are just not fast enough to do it, whatever the case might be. The team runs screens but you are not a good screen team.

Q: Are you getting right now what you want to get out of Ty Law, is he playing up to a level of what you expect?

B: I think in the secondary probably more than any other area on the team the secondary is a function of teamwork. Certainly there is a lot of teamwork on the offensive line, there's teamwork in the passing game and there is teamwork in every area, but in the secondary the ability of the coverage unit, which includes linebackers and multiple defensive backs when you substitute them in and safeties, but the ability of that unit to totally maximize the players that are available in coverage and how they are located and how to leverage the receivers in the passing routes, that's the game. As a unit I think that we are not where we are capable of being and I think until we get to that point people are still going to be able to throw the ball better than we would like to see them throw it. As I have told those players and I have told many defensive players and I have coached some good ones, but particularly in the passing game I don't care how good anybody is, until we as a unit understand how to maximize, because we have more people in coverage than they have receivers, but they have more options on their routes, it isn't like they run just one route, they have multiple options, but we have to balance off the coverage to be able to take care of a lot of different problems. Until everybody plays with the proper leverage and the proper technique of the total defensive call and we understand that there are going to be seams in the defense and quarterbacks are going to hit them in this league. It isn't like college where you hit them half the time, here if they're open they are going to hit them. That's what we need to do as a total unit and that transcends everybody. Linebackers, corners, safeties, everybody and I think that is a shortcoming right now of our pass coverage. It is a shortcoming on third down, it has been a shortcoming in the red area even though it was better this week. In fact I can't think of more of a team concept than pass defense. When one guy is wrong the other six can be right and it is a completion and it looks bad. It looks like, who has got that guy? That's the way it is in this league.

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