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Bill Belichick Press Conf. Transcript - 07/28/02

You guys deserve the real nuggets today; I wish I had some to give you. We didn't practice in pads this morning, we'll be out there this afternoon, we've had three pretty physical practices and a lot of teaching to install this morning, so we went through a lot of our blitzes, blitz adjustments, new ball handling, some defensive calls and so forth. So we had a lot of things going in and we thought we'd take this morning to teach it and we'll be back out there in pads this afternoon. So that's it, the weathers been on our side. I don't know if anybody ordered that? Hopefully it will pick up. What you got Kevin?

Q: Do you have the same feeling this year that you did last year?
BB: I think a lot of the elements are in place there but I think we'll have to get through camp and get over a few hurdles before I'll feel the way I did last year, you know, it's going to take a little time, but I think the players have worked pretty well. We had good attendance in the off season; we worked pretty hard in the off season. The concentration, effort, and attitude were pretty good in mini-camp. It's been ok so far in training camp, but we have a long way to go. So far there are a lot of guys that want to work hard, footballs important to them, and they want to get it right, and they want the team to win, so those are all real positive signs.

Q: Did Brady actually get that choice parking spot because of off season workouts?
BB: Yea, all the parking spots were earned. Those are all achievements based on the off season program that those 12 players all earned based on their overall off season performance, there's a lot of things that go into that, attendance, improvement, overall achievement, and so forth, and in the end those are all earned.

Q: Are you surprised that the general perception of the Patriots isn't better, the over under on wins is eight, and they predicted them to finish no higher than second in the AFC east?
BB: Is that what they're talking about? We can't control what everybody else thinks, but what we can control is what we think and what we do and that's really where we want to focus all our energy.

Q: Does that surprise you?
BB: No. It's my 28th year in the NFL; I'm not surprised by any preseason predictions, or somebody else's guesses. It really doesn't mean much right now anyway, teams got a long training camp in front of them, every team in the league does, preseason games, long training camp, and there's a lot to do to get a team ready for the regular season. We'll see where everybody is in September, and more importantly, in November and December.

Q: Bill, what would you say the biggest improvements for Brady were in the off season?
BB: While I think compared to a year ago, there's no question he's way ahead of where he was one calendar year ago in every aspect of the game. His understanding, his execution, certainly his confidence, all those things are about as big a step as you could take. Relative to the last game of the season and now, I think a lot of those things have obviously leveled off a little bit, but Tom [Brady] again has worked hard in the off season, he has a good grasp of the playbook and what we're doing and a command of the offense, and from that standpoint, I think he's ready to start the year in control and in charge.

Q: It seems that Tom [Brady] is more confident with his receivers.
BB: I think the confidence in the plays and with the receivers, and the other people you have to work with, you have to build that up over time, you know, there's a certain carry over from last year but, I think that's just a mental thing, you really have to go out and establish that execution on the field every year and he [Tom Brady] and Troy Brown are going to have to re-establish that again. He and David Patten are going to have to re-establish that again, and just because it was there last year doesn't mean it's going to ever be there again unless we go out there and make be there, and that's what it will take, but we are starting off where there has been some success, and that's a point you hope you can get to and then maybe improve on it and get beyond it.

Q: Bill how long does it take into training camp before you know there's and area that perhaps they're not getting?
BB: You know, that's a really tough question. It's a really tough question to answer, and I don't think you ever fully know the answer to that question until maybe the third or fourth regular season game because even in training camp things can go along and look ok but you might not really get tested in the preseason, or you might not really get tested in a certain area even by the other side of the ball on your team just because of the way things match up, or the schemes, or you just might not run into a type of player or a group of players you might run into a front like you might run into the early part of the regular season that runs games or that's quick or that's big or whatever it happens to be. But I don't really know if you know 100% you know where they are, but you try to identify them along the way and a lot of times you get exposed on your own team to some of your weaknesses but they might not manifest themselves when you play your opponents because they don't have the same strengths that your team has. So I've been in situations where you really want to go and address things because you feel like in training camp 'we're just having trouble with this, we're not holding up well here' and then you get into the regular season and it's really not a big because the other teams don't do it as well as your team does, and vice versa.

Q: So you can get fooled in the preseason?
BB: Exactly, I think there's certainly the opportunity for that to happen. On the other hand, if you walk out there and you can walk out there and if you don't see your team executing a certain thing very well very often, a lot of times that has to do with your execution than your opponents, but I think there's a good example of both there. You know, I'll give you an example, when I was with the Giants we went through training camp, played a couple preseason games, it was, you know, I forget, '87, '88, '89, right in there, you know, we had a pretty good defensive team, it looked like things were pretty well under control. We were on our normal course to prepare for the season, and we went down to Houston in a preseason game and they ran the run and shoot offense so they've got all those little, [Earnest] Givens, and all those little receivers running around down there, and you know, we were totally unable to match up with them. Now they had some trouble with our size and power, but the ball was coming out so quick and the field was spread out so far that guys that were 250 pounds running 4.8, 4.9 trying to chase guys that were 150 pounds running 4.3, 4.4, we just couldn't catch them. I think we came out of that game saying we were ok against the Redskins, and the "hogs", and we're ok against maybe the Cowboys and their line, but with these guys we have a whole new set of problems on our hands, so and that's kind of the way it is from week to week in the NFL, you know, one week your seeing a certain set of challenges here, and the next week, it shifts based on their personnel and based on their scheme. But really to get to the heart of the matter, teams don't game plan, and they don't really show how they really want to attack you in the preseason. They go out there and they work on their things, try to get their stuff up to speed, but then when the regular season starts, boy if somebody sees a weakness, and the bulls eye's right on you, ands then you really find out how good you are.

Q: Was there any specific area last year where you came out of camp thinking you were better or worse off?
BB: Well, I think just I general, coming out of camp last year, some of the main issues were, number one, we weren't very productive at all on offense in the preseason games until in the last Washington game, then we had our most production in that game in the first half with our first group. So we came out of the Washington game thinking, 'Alright we got off to a slow start in the preseason, now maybe this is the point where we turn the corner and we're going to start to put it together and gel a little bit. Then we got into the first regular season game and couldn't score enough against Cincinnati, and then the Jets, you know, we couldn't score at all against them, so I think in retrospect that was kind of an aberration that we scored so much against Washington, which, you know, it's hard to put a lot on that last preseason game anyway, so you know, again, there were some signs negatively, and there were some signs positively at the end, obviously we were in a lot with the offensive line when things were scrambled around quite a bit. We were hoping that by the start of the regular season when, you know, when [Mike] Compton came back, when [Matt] Light came back, we started to get those guys back, you never know how quickly that group's going to come together, and it took a little bit longer than we all would've hoped. I don't know if there was anything, you know, I'll say this, the one thing, the one position we did feel we had depth at was quarterback. I though that Tom [Brady] and Damon [Huard] both did a good job in the preseason, and we felt like we had good depth at the quarterback position, and as it turned out, you know, we were right on that one, so that's one out of four.

Q: Given Tom's success, do you have to watch him to make sure he's not doing too much?
BB: I think that's something you always have to guard against at the quarterback position, with any quarterback. I think that there is a natural, but tendency for quarterbacks to have a comfort level in executing the offense, and they know they hit a little drop off pass to a back, or a little hitch route, and if I can hit this seam or this corner pattern, or this skin cut, then I'm gaining 20 yards instead of four or five, and we want the quarterbacks to be aggressive and we want them to think like that, but at the same time you got to take what's there, and take a profit, and move on, and cash it in, and that's a fine line between a quarterback being aggressive and making good decisions, and taking those plays when they're there versus taking a positive play, taking the profit as we say, and you don't want to be so tentative and cautious that you're always throwing two yard passes, but on the other hand its not worth trying to gain 15 and getting it picked off, and I think that's true with all veteran quarterbacks vie been around, Bernie, or Vinny, Drew, Tom, they all want to make plays in the passing game and when they're there to be made that's great and when they're not there is a fine line between forcing it in there and there being enough opening to gain a chunk of yardage.

Q: Was Tom inclines to take the short passes last year?
BB: No I don't think so, I think that we had a number of balls downfield. We hit a lot of in cuts, we hit a lot of curl routes, and we hit some balls down the filed. We didn't have a lot of people to throw to, we all know who the targets were. We hit some of those, and we didn't hit some of them. For the quarterback in an offense like ours that's kind of the fine line. If you're in an offense where everything is predicated around a lot of short throws, like the west coast offense, then again that's a discipline that a quarterback in that system also needs to have.

Q: You seem pretty comfortable with Tom's decision making.
BB: I feel pretty comfortable with Tom's decision making as a starting quarterback. Look when you have a starting quarterback, that guy handles the ball on almost every play, and even on the running plays there are still checks they guy has to make there is ball handling, there are still things that has to happen, and then you're going to have another 25-40 passes a game, however many that is. Those are decisions that he's got the ball in his hands. Everybody on the team all the coaches, teammates, are counting on him to make good decisions when he has the ball 40 times a game or 30 times a game, whenever a pass play is called. If you don't have confidence in your quarterbacks decision-making abilities, it's hard to call plays, and it's hard to manage a team the way you want to manage. You have to have confidence that when he has the ball he's gonna do with it what you want him to do, and what's best for the football team.

Q: Donald Hayes-What was it about him that you though would make him an upgrade?
BB: Well Donald, number one has been a big receiver, and size wise, which our group is not particularly big, and he's been productive in Carolina. We had alittle bit of a background with him, a couple of our coaches that knew him, and he's got a good work ethic, and he's a tough guy. He's a tough guy, and he's a big receiver, and we're always looking to improve our production in the red area and on third down, and have a big guy to throw to, and a guy whose been productive, and is still fairly young in his career. We just thought that he had the qualities we were looking for in a player.

Q: This ailment that Andruzzi has, is it a concern with you?
BB: It's a concern, because he's not out on the field, and we're anxious to get him back out there as soon as possible. On the other hand if he's not ready he's not ready, and I think it's going to take a little bit longer. When he's ready then we'll put him back out there, but that's a process that we don't have any control over.

Q: Are you planning on testing the trio of lap runners tomorrow?
BB: When we think they're ready we'll test them again. We'll take a look at them this afternoon. There is no sense in testing them if they're not going to make it. I think the experienced people on our strength and training staff have a pretty good idea based on the workouts that they do, how they perform whether they're really going to be able to make it or not. As it looks like they're getting in better condition and closer to making it then at some point we'll test them. If they fell like they can make then we'll give them a shot at it, until they do then keep working to get them back.

Q: Would you rather them run when it's cooler out or with temperatures in the 90's?
BB: well I think there are two points on that. With a moderate temperature you can do more work, on the other hand, as I said before the games are going to be played in heat, they're are scheduled to be played in heat at the beginning of the season, and there is an acclamation to that heat and playing in that conditions that also has to take place. If you're getting the heat during conditioning, and you're maybe not able to do as much work. If it's a little cooler you may be able to do more work, but you're still going to need the heat conditioning at some point. Another thing, we try to make the best out of whatever the situation is. If we could turn up the heat we would, but we cant.

Q: Apparently next week it's supposed to be warmer?
BB: We just don't have any control over it. Its ok, look training camp is a time to go out there and sweat and get in to condition. The thing I've always emphasized to the players is, it is each players individual responsibility to be in condition to play football. We can give them fruit to eat, and protein, and buy a million dollars worth of weights and all that stuff, but in the end its going to come down to each player individually training his body to play the position and perform the skills he needs to perform. Nobody can do that for him, the coach can't do it, the trainer can't do it, the strength coach can't do it, and all the way weights in the world cant do it. In the end the players are going to put forth enough effort, and sweat equity into o it to get any kind of results. At this level, at another level a guy might be good enough to do nothing and go out there and win, but not at this level.

Q: Woody was five pounds under weight; you have to be happy about that?
BB: Damien looks good. He was at his weight last year. He's obviously worked hard. He looks good. You can see the difference in his body from the last time we saw him six weeks ago. I'm sure it took a lot of work, we know that, and he's got some results to show for it, and he's certainly to be commended for what he did. Lets hope we can keep it there.

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