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Bill Belichick Press Conf. Transcript - 08/23/2003

Belichick: I think, after watching the tape this morning, the obvious things that we saw last night are the things that still continue to stand out.

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BB: I think, after watching the tape this morning, the obvious things that we saw last night are the things that still continue to stand out. We were good on third down efficiency, easily the best we have been in preseason and that led to more opportunities, more plays, and more time of possession and that was good. Turning the ball over four times is a problem. We had some careless plays. We missed scoring opportunities because we turned the ball over or it led to points at the other end. Those are all important plays that hurt us. Defensively, I thought our third down defense was better. We gave up a couple of big plays on pass interference calls and on a scramble and at the end of the game on a third and 29 or whatever it was. One thing we need to try to do it to eliminate giving up big plays on defense. We still had a few too many of them last night. Anytime you can keep a team out of the end zone, that is a positive. So there were some things to build on. I thought that the return game on special teams was a little inconsistent, although it had its moments. It's the best we have returned punts in preseason although it wasn't anything sensational. It was better than the other two weeks. Our coverage was good on punts. Kenny [Walter] had a good night punting the ball. It was just okay on kickoff. We were fortunate that we had their one long return called back. So that made it look a little bit better than it probably really was. Overall, as I said, it was a solid effort. Not great but solid. Preseason is winding down here. We've only got a few days left until we begin our regular season preparation. We still have a lot of things that we want to work on and we need to do but the time is running short. We will have to try to make the most of the few opportunities we have left both to just tighten some things up on our end and also prepare for the Bears. It's a short week and we need a little extra focus from everybody here to get it together by Wednesday night. That's pretty much where we are at. Injury wise, there is really not much new there. [There is] nothing definitive on anybody. We had some guys get banged around in the game but we will have to wait until we get out on the field tomorrow and see what everybody can do. It doesn't look like there is anything real serious at this point but there may be some guys that aren't able to work on Sunday. We will just have to wait and see on that.

Q: What were your first impressions of Ted Washington and did you notice a mark and difference in the teams run defense when he was in the game?

BB: I thought for Ted, for no practice, played the position pretty well. As you know, Ted uses his hands well and does a nice job recognizing double teams. He did a good job splitting a double team early in the game and making the play. There was a little bit of a power rush on the inside and I thought he did a decent job in there for the first time out. He has a lot of experience at the position. There are things that, I don't know if you can say they come naturally to him because he had to learn them at one time just like everybody else does, but again, at his experience level they look like they came back to him very quickly and he handled them well. I was glad to see him in there. I thought he had a good outing for the first game.

Q: Have you seen what you want to see so far out of your back-up quarterback?

BB: I would like to have seen more out of that position but it is what it is. They've had some opportunities and there have been some good things and there have been some other things that didn't look as good. We'll have to get it resolved here pretty soon. I don't have an exact time frame on it. When I would like to make the decision is when I think we are going to make the right one. I don't know if we are at that point just yet.

Q: What would your message be to the Patriots fans that might have gotten a little bit carried away with the fact that you did so well against a team that had been to the Championship game the last two years?

BB: All we are trying to do is get the team ready for the opener and the 16 game regular season schedule. These are steps involved in our preparation. These games don't count in the standings. That should keep it in perspective.

Q: That being said, through these first three preseason games, are you pleased with what the team has accomplished in taking those steps? Do you feel like the team is where you want them to be right now?

BB: What I am pleased with is the team's attitude and their work ethic. I think that the team overall has worked hard and diligently through camp. At times it has been trying, as all camps are, which it should be. This hasn't been a group that has really done much other than be prepared and try to do their job, not a lot of excuses, not a lot of complaining. Just coming and going to work and trying to get better and I've been pleased with that. The results, some are good, some haven't been as good. We'll try to correct the things that weren't done the way we needed them to be done and hopefully we will improve. That is what preseason and practice is for. It doesn't really mean anything until the real games start. You asked about being 3-0 in the preseason; we were 3-0 last year at the start of the regular season. It's where you finish, not where you are at this point in the year.

Q: Did you at least see some signs that this will be a better defensive team than it was last year?

BB: Are there some signs? Yes, there are some signs. I think we have a chance to be better than we were and improve on the defensive performance from last year, yes.

Q: This is the time of year where coaches start making more definitive decisions on starters. For you, are you at the point where you are ready to make a definitive call at running back between Antowain [Smith] or Kevin [Faulk]?

BB: I'm not sure how that is going to go. What I do think is, both players have had good camps. I think both players will be productive for us this year offensively. How exactly that works out, we'll just have to see. It might be different from game-to-game. I can't give you a definitive answer other than to say I think that both players will be productive for us offensively.

Q: It's almost become a cliché, I almost hate to use it but could this be a tailback by committee situation?

BB: I wouldn't characterize it that way, no. There are a number of positions on this team where we have different rotations. I am sure you saw it last night on defense in a number of positions and you saw it on offense in some positions too. That is part of the way we do it. The idea is to be productive and win games. That is what we are going to try to do. That is true for, really, a lot of different positions. I think that just trying to isolate the running back spot…there are a whole lot of other spots where we have multiple players playing a position or involved in some type of rotation.

Q: Based on what you seen from the offensive line through camp and these three preseason games, are you comfortable going into the season with the personnel that you have on the offensive line right now?

BB: I think at this point, you take your team and you plan on maximizing and utilizing the people that either are on your team now or you think are going to be on your team when the season starts. That's really where your focus is. It's not about making up a Christmas list of, 'What if we had this guy?' Or, 'What if some guy parachuted down and landed on this team.' You take the players that you have and you take the team that you have and try to figure out, 'Okay, what are our strengths? What things does it look like we can do well? How do we get the most out of those? What areas are we maybe not quite as good at and how do we work around that? How do we anticipate other people attacking those areas and what do we do to sure them up?' That is really what my mentality is and that is what our coaching staff is thinking about right now is putting together a team and thinking about our strengths and weaknesses and how the team can best perform at that point. That is really what we are looking at. Could things change? They could always change. There is nothing absolute about that. I am sure there will be a lot of personnel transactions around the league in the next couple of weeks or week to 10 days, whatever it is. Those things, you kind of take them as they come and if there is an opportunity, you evaluate it. If there isn't, you got a whole lot of other things you need to worry about and making decisions on that consume a lot of your time rather than hoping that somebody may come along that would be of great addition for you. That is just my thought process. That is kind of the way it works for me.

Q: Speaking of transactions, you have to make some before the Bears game?

BB: Right.

Q: Because of the timing of the situation, would you be tempted to make them earlier or are you going to wait until the last-minute on these?

BB: It could be a combination of both. We are going to talk about that here over the weekend and before the Bears game. What the exact timing is or what's the best timing for us, because as you said it has to be done by then, we'll just try to make the right decisions. Once we know for sure what we think those are, then we can probably go ahead and do them. If there are things for whatever reason don't clear up then there is a possibility they could go until the end when we actually have to make the decision and make it at that point. I think it could be a combination of the two.

Q: A layman would look at Ted Washington and he is a four time Pro Bowl-er, do you think maybe you got him cheap? Do you feel that way?

BB: I don't know. We talked about what we thought was the value for us. The Bears put a value on it for them and we were able to come to an agreement there. I guess both teams felt comfortable with the deal. I don't know if it was right or wrong but it was what we agreed on. You could probably make a case there either way. We were comfortable with it. We certainly gave up a substantial pick. We felt like we got a substantial player.

Q: Did they maybe have an abundance of talent at that position?

BB: You would have to ask them that.

Q: With this next preseason game coming up pretty quickly on Wednesday, have you considered not playing your starters at all?

BB: Like we always do it, the players that we feel like need to play, beginning with the players who we expect to play in the regular season, the most in our opinion, for one reason or another, we will play them more than the guys we don't feel should play for whatever those circumstances are. Then they will play less or not at all. There are a lot of different factors that could contribute to that. It's really done more on a case-by-case basis. But I am sure that we will have starters playing in this game. I don't think there is any doubt about that. We will definitely play starters in this game.

Q: You mentioned decisions would be forthcoming on transactions. Has anything happened today? Have you made any personnel decisions today?

BB: No we haven't. And we won't make any or announce any today. You can rest easily on that one.

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