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Bill Belichick Press Conf. Transcript - 07/30/2002

BB: Let’s see, a couple updates for you today, one, Charlie [Weis] was in the meeting last night and so it was good to see him back. It was, I think, real positive to have his contributions both in the coaches meetings and the staff meetings, and so we’ll continue along that road for a little while.



            **BB:** Let's see, a couple updates for you today, one, Charlie [Weis] was in the meeting last night and so it was good to see him back. It was, I think, real positive to have his contributions both in the coaches meetings and the staff meetings, and so we'll continue along that road for a little while. We'll make Charlie [Weis] available to you today so you can save any specific questions for him, so I won't try to answer them for him. He wants to fully cooperate and give you the opportunity to welcome him back personally. On the injury front, yesterday Grey [Ruegemer] strained his hip, so he'll probably be a few days, we'll kind of take that one day-to-day, but I think it'll be a little bit before he gets back. We expect [Donald] Hayes back pretty soon; he's making pretty good progress. Leonard Myers had a procedure, I don't want to say it's the same alright, but I'd say similar to what J.R. had two years ago, so he probably will be several weeks. We'll just have to wait till he comes a little further along till we put a definitive time table on that one, but he'll certainly be out for a few weeks here after that surgery. So that's pretty much the major update, there's the bumps and bruises and all that, but it's that time of year in training camp and we're going to have those just like everybody else does. This morning and this afternoon, both those practices are going to focus a lot on team work, we did a lot of offensive and defensive team work that related to blitzes, and all those kind of adjustments, and this afternoon we'll do some other team situational things, and try to keep moving along as a team, getting to do more things together and change situations and make sure that we're just trying to get everybody on the same page as much as we can. We're in the process also of starting to make people double up on some positions. It gives them more versatility but also gives us more depth at certain spots. Again, in light of the 45 man roster on game day where you're gonna have to have. . . you just can't have a person backing up every spot. You can't do it with one person, somebody's gonna have to back up two or more, and so the sooner we introduce them to that process and give them the background on it, the easier it is to do. So, some of that's taking place a swell.  

Q: Who are some of the people that are going to work at different positions?

BB: I think it pretty much catches everybody except the quarterbacks maybe, and the running backs. The tight ends work at a couple different spots, the lineman switch from tackle to guard, guard to center, the linebackers, Sam, Mike, Will, the ends and tackles work some inside and outside, the corners play some inside corner in some situations, the safeties play some linebacker positions, so you can't move everybody at once so you know, one day or a couple days you work a couple guys, then the next day you change it up and work a couple different guys. So it's sort of an on-going process, I wouldn't want to single out one guy. [Adrian] Klemm for example is working some at guard, but you know, in a couple days that could be somebody else working in there at tackle, or you know, switching at guard and tackle, that type of thing.

Q: Willie McGinest?

BB: Willie, I expect Willie to be out there this afternoon.

Q: Is he here physically?

BB: As far as I know yea. I mean he might have gone out for lunch or something.

Q: Do you ever find any reluctance on a player's part to assume another role?

BB: Well I think when you explain it to them and they understand it, sometimes it depends on what the options are, but at this point in camp not really, it's just the hardest part's the mental part. Taking all your assignments and then having to learn another players assignments. You know, when you get into the game and situations during the season you don't have too many options. It's either you move or I move, somebody's going to have to move, you got seven lineman, somebody's gotta go, who's it going to be? Now, you got 13 or 14 guys, whatever it is, you've got a number of situations, but you just don't know how that final group is going to turn out because of who's going to be on the roster and injuries and so forth. So, there' s a fine line there between trying to build depth and getting some versatility from the players, and screwing them up. We're giving them so many things to do that they get too confused, so you just try to balance that out, and with the younger players you try to take it a little bit slower, and that was a part of the reason why we had them in earlier. Sometimes you take those guys right off the bat, where in mini-camp and out them in a position that's maybe their second position, and then when you go to training camp move them into their first position so they start off at training camp what you think is going to be their primary spot, but they've already had a little bit of insight into a secondary spot, so you know, there's a number of different ways to manage it, but the bigger problem is when you move them later. What you don't want to do is get through the end of training camp and then say, 'oh by the way, you've been playing tackle all training camp, now we want you to start running at guard.' Now you're just so far down the road on that, that that's really just a big jump, and you know, sometimes you have to do it, but it's not really the way you want to do it.

Q: You had two guys in [Terrence] Shaw and [Terrell] Buckley last year that did a pretty good job, [Leonard] Myers and [Tommy] Knight seem to be pretty good candidates for those roles, how much of a concern would it be to let them compete on the practice field?

BB: Well, yea, we'd like to have them out there, no doubt about it, we'd like to have them out there, you know [Leonard] Myers, [Tommy] Knight, [Terrence] Shaw, I mean [Ben] Kelly, Brock Williams, Tony Scott, Antwan Harris, those are all guys that fall into that category, and somebody's gonna have to replace the two guys that were here last year, so it will come for somewhere within that group. The guys that aren't here, it's unfortunate, and we'd like for them to get their reps and get their time, but that's the way it is. If you remember Shaw missed most of training camp last year as well, and not that that's what we're looking for, but you know, sometimes that's the way the cards are dealt. But that will just give more reps to the other players and it we're also working Daryl Porter in those sub situations as well. So you know, that would give them more of an opportunity, we'll just have to see how that turns out and when Knight, Myers, and Kelly, when those guys get back, and when they get back, we'll put them in there, and they'll have to catch up.

Q: What's Tommy Knight's affliction?

BB: He's got a little bit of a sore leg, he's probably still a few days away.

Q: Antwan [Harris], I saw him wearing the red shirt

BB: We gotta get that off him, he needs to come out of that. He's in the red jersey so people won't hit him, and then he's bangin' everybody else around, so we have to start to level the playing field there a bit. No, I think Antwan, he doesn't really have anything that's significant.

Q: Rob Kelly was out there on the bike.

BB: Yea, you know Rob's got a sore leg too, again, we've got a lot of guys that are a little tight or have a sore hamstring, or groin, or calf, or knee or whatever it is, and we just are managing them day-to-day. They get up in the morning, some guys are loose and they're out there, and other guys stiffen up over night, and you know, take him off in the morning, and put him back out there in the afternoon, or sometimes it's the next day. All that's just day-by-day, and the players and the trainers just have to manage each individual situation.

Q: How's Deion Branch progressing?

BB: Deion's, I think he's done a decent job coming in here, we've asked him to learn some different positions. And again, he's a good example of a guy that we want to try to build up to a little bit of a versatility, get him a little versatility so that he's just not locked into one spot. He has a good passing background, has a good understanding of, in general, of routes, and of reading defenses and making coverage adjustments, and those type of things for a rookie, but he's got a long way to go, and there's a lot of things that he needs to fine tune. He's got some good skills. If he can consistently be on top of his assignments, and react quickly to what he needs to do and just let his skills take over, he might have a chance to contribute something for us.

Q: Where does the acquisition of Victor Green leave Tebuckey Jones?

BB: Well I think Tebuckey Jones is one of our best defensive football players, in the last couple years he's been a real leader in the off season program, and he's been a player who's steadily improved on the defensive side of the ball, and is one of the top special teams players in the league. So we use him as much as we can, wherever we can. Tebuckey's the kind of guy similar to Troy Brown, you could literally put him on the field for every defensive and special teams play, just like you can put Troy [Brown] out there for pretty much every offensive and special teams play, but it's just a question of how many plays can they handle, and still maintain the quality, so we'll have to pick our spots there a little bit, but Tebuckey's, I think he's improved from last year, and I think he improved a lot last year from his second year, my first year here, when we moved him to safety, so he's a player that's certainly on the rise, and again is one of our hardest working and most diligent and dedicated players. So I think he's really well respected.

Q: How's [Victor] Green looked so far?

BB: Vic's gotten off to a pretty good start at camp, he missed mini-camp, but he's familiar with a lot of the things that we're doing. You know Vic, I was talking to Vic the other day, it's a situation where, with the Jets, he learned in three years our system, and he learned everything that we were doing, and then last year, pretty much had to unlearn it, to learn a different system, and now he's back and trying to relearn the system where the stress points for him had been to forget. So, he's just gotta bounce back and forth, but I think he's starting to get comfortable, the terminology, and things that we're doing and is working well with Tebuckey [Jones] and Lawyer [Milloy] and they've all kind of rotated through again so that they're comfortable playing strong safety, and free safety, they've been playing a lot of it left and right, just so they're familiar with both sets of assignments, and then when we get into the sub-defenses, then there will be times when all three of them are on the field.

Q: How would you assess the tight end position?

BB: Starting form scratch. None of the players were significantly with us last year, Jabari [Holloway] and Arthur [Love] were, but they didn't get any playing time, and had really minimal practice time as well due to injuries so, we're pretty much starting from scratch with them and of course Christian, Cam are veteran players who have played a lot of football in the league, but they're new to us and our system, and of course Daniel's pretty new as well, so we're starting from scratch with all of them, there's a lot of teaching going on there and we're trying to get all of them as much instruction as we can, and again, maybe overloading the a little bit at this point, and we'll just have to see how things settle out there, and really Scott [Dragos] fits in that same category too, Scott Dragos, in terms of special teams play, but also being a tight end, a little bit of a full back, a special teams player, a little bit of a long snapper, so he's another guy that fits into that mix. I think we're going to have to get to that point, somewhere in the second or third week of training camp where hopefully the situation will start to clear up a little bit, we may even need to define some roles a little bit cleaner than we have right now.

Q: How's the learning curve of Graham been?

BB: I'd say normal, we've thrown a lot at him. He's got a lot to learn, like any tight end, he's involved in every running play, every passing play, he's involved in a lot of the adjustments in the running game and the passing game, so he has a full load, and I'm sure like most of the other rookies, whether it's [Deion] Branch, or ]Daniel] Graham, or [Rohan] Davey, or Jarvis Green, I think they're all swimming a little bit . That's training camp, and that's being a rookie.

Q: What kind of camp is Walter Williams having?

BB: I think Walter [Williams] has steadily improved here during camp. He's a guy that really didn't play much college football, and what he did play at Grambling was kind of that wingback position, sort of a half receiver, two thirds receiver, one third running back type thing. So we're pretty much starting from scratch with him, even though he was around a lot last year he really had a long way to go. I think the extra time at the beginning of camp really benefited him a little bit and then he's probably benefited from just the three running backs in there instead of five, getting some extra reps. I think that each time he goes through a play or a situation he's a little bit better at it the next time. He's flashed some plays out there. Consistency will be a big thing with him. Again he's a guy that we want to try to teach the whole offense to. He might end up with one role or another during the year if he's productive enough at it, but all that still really needs to be defined.

Q: You had a hole develop in the offensive line yesterday, Is that the toughest position because there aren't enough offensive linemen out there that are any good?

BB: That's a tough question. You just don't know what's going to be there in September. In general the toughest positions to fill are tackle, corner, and defensive pass rush. In general I would say those would be the toughest to fill. You don't see a lot of those guys getting turned loose, and having trouble to find a team to play for. The other positions, it doesn't mean that there is going to be nobody there, or there might be somebody there, but its just not what you're looking for. Sometimes that works out, sometimes it doesn't. The one thing that I think you're getting at is it is hard to bring in someone on the offensive line because of the cohesion that a line needs to function. A line needs to function as one even though it is five people, the cohesion there and trying to bring in people and plug them in is tough to do. We got into that in 2000, and its not easy. When we brought in Sale Isaia and put him in there. All the calls and the adjustments and everything it's a tough thing to do, no matter how good the player is its still a tough adjustment to make.

Q: How is Daniel Benetka doing?

BB: He's doing ok. He's another almost raw type guy, not quite as raw as Steve Neal, kind of in that direction. He has a very limited playing background. He has played a little more football recently. He played in Colts camp, and he played in Europe, so he's gained a little bit of experience in the year and half. A guy that doesn't have a lot of background, has some raw talent, he's a big strong kid, works hard, gives a good strong effort, very diligent to do the right thing. He's just inexperienced and he's learning a lot everyday he goes out there. I think for guys like that if they can stay on the field, if they can keep working, if they be out there everyday, and they're working hard and they're giving good effort then they can improve. We just have to see how quickly that improvement comes along. A lot of time the first week in camp, from experience I can tell you that there are some guys who come in and improve right off the bat, there are other guys that go along or a week to ten days until they really go through it the second or third time. Then you can start see a little different rate of development. It really takes you about three or four weeks before you can get a real good handle on what the rate of improvement will be. You try to hold off as long as you can before you make a decision on those guys because some change quicker than others.

Q: Could you comment on Patrick Downey. What has to happen for him to stay with the team?

BB: Well he has to play well. Our job is to keep good football players and guys who are going to help the team. The best ones we'll keep. Its pretty cut and dry really, there is no favoritism or anything. The best guys play, and the guys that aren't as good don't. So to keep Patrick, number one would be his performance on the field, and another thing would be his position flexibility being able to play both inside spots, not just center, but be able to play center and guard, and be able to play it well. He's a strong kid, he's physically strong, he's a tough guy. The skills he'll need to play in there, are being able to block linebackers, being able to pass protect. The pass protection adjustments, and run adjustments that he'll have to make are what he's going to have to do. He's a working kid, he's a tough kid. He's got some bumps and bruises, but he's out there and he's competing and he's working hard, and he's getting better.

Q: Bill, physically and mentally is this the toughest stretch of camp? And are they more sore than they have been?

BB: This is by far the toughest part of camp. The thing that is toughest for the players is, number one they've already been through eight practices so that's starting to wear them down a little bit, and we've added a lot of different things everyday. So offensively what was this on Friday is now this. The real problem is defensively what was this is now this. Instead of going out there and just blocking an under front, they're blocking under, they're blocking over, they're blocking diamond, they're blocking dolphin, they're blocking ram, they're blocking safety in different alignments. So now you blocking ten fronts on one play instead of just two. Three four, and all of those reduced adjustments. One play now is ten plays. Same thing defensively, one defense that was just being run against a simple I formation, now you have all types of empty formations and three by ones, and two by twos, and backs going in motion, and tight ends in motion, so all of a sudden one defense becomes twenty different adjustments. If you have 50 plays those numbers add up quick. If there are 10 adjustments on each play times 50 plays, you have a lot of wheels spinning there. There is also the combination of being physically worn down, but I think it's the mental part that really wears you down because you're just grinding away to not only know what you do, but what you do in these multiple situations that you might not even practice against. We double cover tight ends. The last time you might have been In there for this blitz, and the next time I'm in there and It really might be the first time I've seen it. That's really where the physical conditioning is so important in training camp. The players tired at the end of the day when he goes into meetings at night, his mind wanders and he cant really focus on what is being taught. Then there are mental errors out there the next day or missed assignments, and things that were covered in the meeting or maybe were covered on film, and those mistakes end up showing on the field the next day. The physical conditioning part of camp is more than just running laps around the field, they get up at seven in the morning and they end at nine at night and they should be studying at night. If you're not in condition to do that those things can add up in a hurry.

Q: What do you as a coach to get them through this?

BB: Push them. We have to push through it. It's no easier on the coaches. Some one has to make those practices up. You don't just show up at a meeting and throw a transparency up on an overhead projector those things all have to be prepared, talked through, make sure you're not putting in, lets say on offense a pass protection and then the defense runs something that you didn't even bother to cover, of course the players wouldn't get it right the next day. We have to have an understanding of what both sides of the ball are doing so that I'm not standing there talking about something and then we never practice it, but meanwhile the defense runs something else that we haven't covered and we don't know how to block it. There are a lot of loose ends that need to be tied up there, and then of course you always run into the problem of the depth of your team, so you've got 14 defensive lineman, and like we had last year seven healthy offensive lineman. Well you just cant go out there and practice the way you want to practice, there's an imbalance. Then needs to be adjusted. From a coaching standpoint, and from a players standpoint, these are the dog days of camp. It beats working, and we just have to push through it.

Q: Is the mental burden more on the marginal player? I assume it's a lot less for the veterans.

BB: The thing that has to be done its it has to be done collectively. Even though I know what my assignment on the play is there is still a timing aspect that goes between the people that we're doing it with. We have some new people on the team, and Tom is going have to build a timing relationship with Deion Branch, and he's going to have to build one with Donald Hayes, and he's going to have to build one with David Givens. Defensively it's the same thing, just go through the different positions. Tedy Bruschi, Mike Vrabel, or Roman Phifer. On this particular block how is Rick Lyle going to play it, how's Steve martin going to play it. If you're going to be any good you have to have an understanding of those things, and that's what can really take you to another level of performance.

Q: Is there a point when you break through this point, or is it different for everybody?

BB: Well the big breakthrough is your first preseason game. If we run 70 plays on offense that would be about normal, so there is no reason to go into the game with about 130 plays, that would be impossible. You think you're going to run 70 plays, maybe your game plan is 40 plays, then some situational plays. A couple plays on goal line, a couple short yardage, a couple plays in the red zone, your two-minute offense. You narrow it down to a much smaller group of plays, and you're not working against every defense. The Giants use the over, they use the diamond, they use a little bit of under, they use the three major fronts, so you're not blocking against 10 different things. That boils it down. The next week you go to Philadelphia, now that's going to shift over a little bit because they don't play quite the same as the Giants do, and then you go to Carolina, and that's going to probably shift back a little bit defensively to where the Giants were, but offensively that may shift a little bit back to where Philadelphia is with the west coast offense. You just work your way through the preseason games with an eye on the first few games in the regular season, and that's where it of kind of gets tricky. You're playing your preseason games, and now all of a sudden in our case we start off with Pittsburgh, who we all know is a three four blitz zone team. Well the Giants aren't a three four blitz zone team, Carolina is not a three four blitz zone team, the Eagles aren't a three four zone team, and I don't think Washington is going to be a three four blitz team. You may be working on a lot of things during preseason which kind of has a settling effect, and then you come to the first game of the season and you're in a whole different ballgame. You're fighting a surface war, and now you're in a submarine battle. It's a whole different ball game. That's the first few months of the season. How do you know where your team is, I don't think you really know until that first month of the season when you've gone up against the real competition and they're really after you, they're going to attack your weaknesses, they're not out there running there stuff in preseason. They're trying to find a way to blow you up. Then you find out whether or not you can deal with it.

Q: Why don't you just call Spurrier and ask him to run the three four blitz?

BB: Maybe we could get that first months schedule to coincide with the preseason games.

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