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Bill Belichick Press Conf. Transcript - 08/26/2002

Belichick on Lions: They’re big, again, they are strong. They are physical; they are hard to knock off the ball.



BB: Well, things are really pushing along quickly for us here naturally this week. I think from watching the Lions on tape (there are) a couple of things that really jump out. Number one is the running game. (James) Stewart has done a real good job of carrying the load there, almost five yards per carry. (He is) a strong runner, tough, physical, Ricky Williams type, you know, just run over guys. He's also their leading receiver, so he's a threat on a lot of other check down screen passes, stuff like that where they give him the ball out in some space and he builds up a head of steam. But, he has done a real solid job for them. Defensively, they have a real good defensive line. They're big, again, they are strong. They are physical; they are hard to knock off the ball. They are very good against the run. Yards per carry against them is pretty good. They are tough to run against plus you have (Chris) Claiborne who is a big linebacker, there's almost like you have another defensive lineman in a safety with Corey Harris who will come up and hit you. So they really do a good job in the running game there and run the ball well. I think that is always an element, a big threat to you in terms of being able to run the ball and stop the run. Again, having been in Detroit, having been in this game as a Lion, I know that this is the biggest game of the year for Detroit. It's big for the city, it's big for the fans, it's big for the team. You know before the schedule even comes out when you are a Lion, that you are playing on Thanksgiving. It's a nationally televised game. There's going to be a lot of excitement and enthusiasm for that event. I know what it's like going in there and I know what it's like being on that side of it. It's a real emotional game for the Lions. They are always tough on Thanksgiving. Always. They have done a real good job lately of playing well in that game regardless of what else is going on and that's really what we're expecting on Thursday. I'm sure they will play well. I hope we do.

Q: Have you ever in your coaching career gotten mad enough at a player in game and confronted that player after a game or do you ever foresee a situation where that would happen?

BB: Do I foresee it?

Q: I mean has that ever happened to you? What would do it for you?

BB: What would do it for me would be if a player just didn't do what he was supposed to do. I mean we all go out there and make mistakes. I mean guys go out there and try to do something and they get beat on a play or something happens and they are trying, that's one thing. But for a player to have an assignment to do something, and we all have things we have to do in a game, and then not do it then that is a problem.

Q: I meant an opposing player.

BB: Well, in my personal situation that's what would do it for me. If somebody was supposed to do something, everybody is counting on each of us to do it and to not do it, then that would create a problem. I'm not going to get into what is going on with any other team. I don't know how certain things are set up or what the different dynamics are, where the boundaries are and that kind of thing. To me that would draw the line.

Q: The changes that you have made on the defensive line the last couple of weeks, are they more or less changes in terms of matchups or because guys weren't playing as well as they were in the beginning of the year?

BB: It's game plan adjustments with the different things that we've faced the last couple of weeks are things that we want to specifically address. You can even go back further than that, go back to Buffalo, go back to pretty much any game all year. There are certain things that we feel that are priority defensively to try to get taken care of and sometimes that involves utilization of other personnel, try to get that down, especially when you have a couple of guys that have some flexibility say guys like (Willie) McGinest who is an end or a linebacker depending on what scheme we're using or how you want to look at it. Their role or impact in the game can vary by game plan and by opponent.

Q: Jarvis Green has gotten a lot more playing time. Has he really come along? He must be doing something to keep playing.

BB: He's been okay. I think that he has been able to come in there as a role and make some contributions. That's really what we've got him doing. I don't think he's come in and just dominated to the point where it's that significant over some other players. But we've had a lot of guys who roll through there and try to do things in different packages, try to split the jobs up and get everybody to contribute. He's been able to do that. He's done a good job of it.

Q: You mentioned earlier about how Detroit is tough to push them off of the line. Was that part of the problem against Minnesota where you weren't able to get the yards per carry?

BB: One of things that really hurt us in the running game were the negative plays. We had a couple of toss plays where we dropped the ball and lost yardage on those, which I don't think really had anything to do with Minnesota. We just didn't do a good job with it. We had a reverse that the ball handling there, that ended up being a loss of about five or six yards on that. You take your running game and then all of sudden subtract 15 yards or whatever it was off of it on three or four plays. You never call a run thinking you are going to lose five yards. You know when you throw the ball there is a chance that you are going to sacked, I mean nobody goes through the year without ever getting sacked. Some passes are going to lose yardage. That's part of throwing the ball. You are going to call a pass play and something is going to happen, you are going to lose yardage. But when you call a running play, you never call a running play thinking you are going to lose five yards, you just don't do it. You gain nothing or you gain positive yardage in the running game, maybe you get hit for a loss, a one-yard loss, but you don't lose five, six yards on a running play. Those plays are like sacks. They are drive stoppers.

Q: So if you take those plays away, how glad were you?

BB: No, I think it was competitive. I certainly think it was competitive. You know (we're) always looking to be better. I thought that we were able to keep them off balance with the running game particularly the mixture of some inside runs and some outside runs and a couple of draws. But when you are starting on negative plays in there, they are drive stopper plays.

Q: Does (Joey) Harrington remind you at all of maybe a younger Jake Plummer, a guy who looked pretty bad the first five minutes and then pulls something out of the bag?

BB: He doesn't look bad to me. I think he can maybe be a little bit of a streaky guy. I don't think he's got a lot of bad spots. He makes some plays, but to me, he doesn't look like he doesn't belong back there or he doesn't know what he is doing. I think he does. He looks very mature, he looks like he has a good understanding of not only what they are trying to do but defensively, you see him overlook coverages and he comes back to the weak side, sees the blitz and he's got good quickness in the pocket. I mean he hasn't been sacked hardly all year, probably less than any other quarterback in the league. So he has got a good presence on the field, a good presence in the pocket. When he has had chances to make plays, he's made them. I think he is really, considering that he has stepped in there and been behind in a couple of games, done a good job.

Q: The Lions are struggling …

BB: The Lions are not struggling. The Lions are 3-2 at home.

Q: Well there are just a lot of very controversial …

BB: I don't care about that.

Q: The coach and the general manager are under a lot of fire.

BB: But everybody is under fire.

Q: But as someone who understands what that is about, you had a season from hell in 1995, is Thanksgiving enough to pull them out of this?

BB: Here's the only thing I will say, the Lions always play good on Thanksgiving. Minnesota beat them one time a few years ago I remember. Other than that, I can't remember them not either winning or coming right down to the end of the game. They always play well on Thanksgiving. They play good at home. Anybody who doesn't think that just go ask New Orleans. Just ask New Orleans what they think of them. Green Bay, they lost to them on the last play of the game in their home opener this year. They are a good team at home. They have beaten good teams at home. They've got a winning record at home. Why all that is? I don't know. But that is the way it is. We've seen it before. Thanksgiving game in Detroit, that's their best game of the year it seems like every year. That's just the way it is. They know it, they are confident in it, it's a big game even to them, everybody is ready for it, players, fans, city, you name it, team. They do well with it.

Q: Does the short week mean you will have to be prepared to make even more adjustments and changes during the course of the game especially early on in the game than you might even ordinarily?

BB: Sure could. Absolutely. There's no way we can prepare for a regular week like we would normally do. There is just no way we could prepare for it. We've got to try to take Detroit's basic package and they've got a bunch of change ups and we can't go over all of them. We've got to pick out a few and say, 'Okay, here is something that they did against Buffalo, here's something they did against Green Bay, here's something they did against Chicago.' There is no way to hit it all and if you do you are spreading yourself so thin that I don't know if you get anything covered. The things that we think are the most important, we played 10, 11 games this year, hopefully we've seen all of that stuff at one point or another but there will be some things that will be specific to the game, and when we get into the game we will have to adjust to them as they come. The only thing I would say on that though from our standpoint and from their standpoint is, it's hard to cook up a lot of new stuff in one or two days. If we haven't done it to this point, or they haven't done it to this point, it would be hard to come up with something too exotic and then to be able to go out there and execute it well. I think the thing you really have to be really concerned about though is something maybe teams been doing, but they just haven't shown. Maybe they practiced the onside kick every week and this is the week they onside kick or maybe they practice a reverse on a kickoff return every week and this is the week that they pull it out and you haven't seen it. You just not as in tune to it, playing a team that isn't in our division and so forth and so on. Speaking on that, I think that the Lions have done a real good job in the kicking game. They have got real good specialist. They've got good kickoff return, good kicker, good kickoff coverage. They hold a substantial ledge in field position over opponents. That was one of the factors that has helped us in a few of our games the last couple of weeks and hopefully we can neutralize that. To me that is the biggest concern, is something that they are pretty familiar with and they do a lot of but they just haven't shown it on the film.

Q: Are they similar to any other team that you have played this year?

BB: Sure. You bet. Offensively they are very similar to Green Bay. There are a lot of similarities to Oakland, again the West Coast offensive teams, Philadelphia who we played in the preseason, certain elements of Denver. Very similar to those teams offensively, it's all the same package, Marty (Schottenheimer) and the Green Bay system, the Philadelphia system, they are all kissing cousins. It's funny, you see a play and you get it against a different coverage but when you draw the play up, you draw it even differently than the way they actually run it because the coverage forced an adjustment that is really not the way the play is supposed to look if it was a coverage that we were running. Again, each team has their Charlie Garners and not James Stewart even though the plays are the same they are not the same. They are a lot different. Those are the kind of things that are specific to each of those West Coast systems.

Q: The Raiders were pretty successful when they went into the no huddle and so was Minnesota. How has Detroit done on that? Do you expect to see much of that?

BB: They use it. They have shown it more of a two-minute, more of a hurry up type of thing rather than in the early part of the game. It's something that we certainly have to be prepared for every week, particularly, as you mentioned, it has come up the last couple of weeks. People may look at it and say well Oakland and Minnesota had some degree of success with it so maybe it is something that we can pick up on. One of the things that Detroit does a lot of is they change formations. They run different people in and out and they do that a lot in their two-minute system which is a little bit different from the way that say Oakland did it or Minnesota did it where you just leave the same group out there and run with the same people every play. Not saying Detroit couldn't do it, I'm just saying to this point, that hasn't really been a big thing for them even in the two-minute situation. They like to shuffle different people in and out similar to the way Philadelphia does it.

Q: Will that make it more complicated for you to communicate, as far as your substitutions that you might bring in?

BB: Anytime we get the personnel switches, that presents a little bit of a problem defensively in terms of if you are trying to match up man-for-man, then getting the subs in there and getting them in there in a hurry, then that could be a little bit of a challenge. The flip side is when you are doing that though, you create a lot of moving parts for yourself offensively as well particularly if you are trying to go in a hurry. That's why when most teams do that, again if it is a two minute desperation situation at the end of the game that is one thing, they huddle up, they re-organize because there is more communication and more things that need to be verbalized in the huddle rather than just standing out there and saying, 'red Nebraska, red Nebraska,' and everybody knows what to do. The more moving parts you have in terms of personnel on formation and motion and all of that. The harder it is for one word to take care of everybody.

Q: Was it as simple as a communication issue with as far as the substitution problems the last couple of weeks?

BB: In the end, it was definitely communication. The players that came out thought that they weren't on a certain group and then that group is what we intended to be on the field. So yeah, there was a mismatch on it. Sometimes you have an injury and I am not talking about a guy being out for the season, but a guy comes out, he gets the wind knocked out of him so he is out. Now you make a substitution change because he is out of the game, then 10, 15 minutes later he is back. Then that switches to, 'Okay now he's back in those packages.' Sometimes you end up with 12 guys out there because it probably doesn't get communicated all the way around. That's not an excuse, that's just … we've got to get that straightened out. That's just bad football and that how some of that stuff happens. It' s usually with the packages. It isn't normally when you just put your basic group out there. It's all the things, all the attributaries that come off of that.

Q: With Tebucky (Jones) out, are you still working with the group, I noticed Antwan Harris got some more time out there, is that still that free safety look or is it more of a nickel back look?

BB: We can do both. With Tebucky and Victor (Green) and Lawyer (Milloy) in there we actually did, we worked it with Antwan, for any of those guys so that we could continue to keep the three safety package. Hopefully, Tebucky will be able to resume that this week and we can work with him. But if not, then Antwan is responsible for that and he knows that. Antwan's got a little bit of flexibility because he can play some corner type assignments as well. So that gives us a little bit of flexibility between, is it really three safeties or three corners depending on what the matchups are on the offense we could actually go to either one of those. It gives us a little more depth there

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