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Bill Belichick Press Conf. Transcript - 08/27/2002

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BB: Just two roster moves to announce this morning, we released Jimmy Farris and Ryan Benjamin, we've got a couple more to go, there's are some injury situations there and we'll get those cleaned up and have those announced obviously by 4:00pm this afternoon when they have to be turned in. Just another thing on Jamal Anderson, Jamal came in yesterday. He just isn't ready to go at this point. So he's not with us, that may or may not happen later on but for right now we're status quo there. That's the update on the personnel. From the football standpoint we started our preparation on Washington, it's really a two-day week yesterday and today and then we're traveling tomorrow and playing Thursday. Today is kind of a situational day for us to get a lot of those things wrapped up, two-minutes, third down, short yardage, goal line, all those kind of things a couple of areas that we haven't been as sharp on as we would like to be, hopefully we can take that time today and tighten the screws a bit. That's it, we had about 4 or 5 guys out there practicing yesterday which we didn't have last week and that was good to see them back, good to get those players back out there. I think that we still have about 4 or 5 that we'll have take another look at today and make some kind of decision on them, whether they will travel or not tomorrow.

Q: Is the snag with (Jamal) Anderson a contract thing?

BB: No. I just don't think he's ready yet.

Q: Was that the result of a physical examination or was that your observation?

BB: We talked about it, mutually agreeable.

Q: Did you come to this conclusion after working him out?

BB: We talked yesterday at the end of the day and that's where we arrived at.

Q: Did you make him do any on field things?

BB: He took the physical, again after talking to him and watching him, we both felt like this was the right thing to do at this time and maybe we will revisit it later on.

Q: Was it a regression from when he visited before?

BB: No. This is a different step in the process.

Q: When you say revisit it you mean later on in the week, a couple of weeks, middle of the season?

BB: I don't know.

Q: Was is a discussion thing, commitment thing or was it physical?

BB: I think it's physical; he's just not ready to go right now.

Q: Did he try to pass the conditioning drill?

BB: It was a combination of things. Again, in the end without getting into a lot of specifics which I really don't want to do, I just would leave it and say I don't think he was quite ready and we'll revisit it later, maybe that will change, maybe it won't.

Q: Besides coming out of Washington with no injuries, if you could write a script, what would you want to accomplish with the first unit and beyond on Thursday?

BB: First of all, in each of the three areas – offense, defense, special teams, we have certain things that we want to try to do in this game some of which we have done previously and some things we haven't that we haven't had enough work on and we want to get a few more snaps, a lot of snaps in this game. So we'll see those, we'll get those things called, we'll get them run and get them evaluated. I think we'd just like to generally improve our timing, our execution in all phases of the game – running it, passing it, stopping the run, pass rush, pass coverage, you know our punt return unit hasn't really had much production in the preseason and that's been fairly productive for us the last couple of years. So there's things like that we can continually use. Washington presents some different challenges with things that they do, different than the things we saw last week and the other three games so that will give us good exposure to those and one of them being a lot of audibles. This is a team that audibles a lot and changes the plays, it will be incumbent on our defense to do a good job disguising their coverage's and the defenses, not make it easy for Washington to check into the clean plays that they want to, they're playing at home so they have an advantage in that system. We'll have to defend it and try to execute that defense correctly.

Q: Realistically, how many jobs are up for grabs on Thursday?

BB: Well I think that all 65 players are competing for spots on the team and again I'm not saying Ty Law's job is up for grabs, I think that everyone of the 65 players has a scenario where they bring value to the team and there will be a place for them on the team. Depending on how things mix, depending on how some of these injuries shake out, another week of evaluation, I think every guy has his own package. Some guys bring more to the table in the kicking game, some bring more on offense or defense, some have more experience, some have more potential, each guy's got his own package, in the end we will have to put that all together. I don't think you want all the same of anything, you need a little bit of a mixture. Some of those guys, their spots or their positions on the team are impacted by what happens somewhere else, I think every guy though is competing for a spot on the team, if he wasn't I think we would be able to find somebody else that could.

Q: Do you have a general sense of how the team has responded this camp?

BB: I would just evaluate the training camp, not relative to what happened in the past but just how things have gone this year. I think that we've had some positives; there are certainly a lot of areas that could stand improvement. In general the team came in pretty good condition, has worked pretty hard in training camp, I think that we've accomplished, in terms of time and energy spent, accomplished most of the things that we set out to accomplish, now from an execution standpoint. I know there's still some work to be done; quite a bit of work to be done. The players have worked hard, its been a tough camp, its been a grinding camp, I don't know any other way to do it, there's just no short cut, there's no real corner you can cut and get your team ready for opening day and for a 16 game regular season by not going out there and putting the sweat and the investment in it. There's an old saying that the price for success is always paid in advance. That's one of our little mottos.

Q: Is there an ideal number of offensive lineman you like to keep?

BB: As many good ones as you can.

Q: Is it 8, 9, 10?

BB: As many good ones as you can. They're always in short supply - offensive lineman and defensive linemen; you can never have enough of them.

Q: How do you feel your depth is at offensive line?

BB: It's a long season and I don't know if you ever have enough depth at the lines. It can look good on paper one day, or one play later, or one quarter later or one game later and it can totally change in a hurry. I think it's ok, we have a lot of young players on the offensive line which in a way is good, but it can come and go in a hurry, we've seen that the last two years in training camp. We start out with 15 linemen and end up practicing 7 three or four days later. It can come and go in a hurry. Last year we were fortunate during the season, we ended up playing the same group of guys, repetitively over a couple a number of weeks. I don't know if you can count on that.

Q: Is (Mike) Compton being at center etched in stone and (Damien) Woody at guard?

BB: Well first of all on the depth chart, you can shuffle those names around pretty easily. I would say that both players could play both spots and have played both. If the season were to start today, its probably more likely that (Mike) Compton would be at center and (Damien) Woody at guard. I certainly wouldn't rule that out. We still need to see what Joe's (Andruzzi) progress is, how's Joe coming along at guard, he only got his feet wet a little bit last week, we need to play him a little bit more this week. I think we need to evaluate that situation, continue to evaluate Adrian's (Klemm) progress at guard; we have a fairly experienced center there with (Grey) Ruegamer as well. How that mix is going to finally ultimately be determined we're still waiting to see, Damien (Woody) has missed a little bit of time on the field; he missed last week's game, so it's not like everybody has been out there all the time, so probably leaning a little more toward the way it is right now, but I think there's more information that needs to come in before we want to say ok this is what we're going with.

Q: Is there a scenario where, depending on match-ups, they would switch depending on the opponent?

BB: That's a good question. It's really a good question because we really haven't considered that to this point. We've been just more trying to get ourselves ready and looking at a particular team if there was a certain match-up that we thought was more favorable, I think it's something that we would consider. Moving guys around on the offensive line isn't the ideal thing to do, but I'll say this, I wouldn't rule it out. It really is something that we haven't address just because we haven't game planned to that degree in preseason; it's a good point. I wouldn't rule it out; we're a little bit of a match-up orientated team and if there was something to be gained by doing that, I think we'd have to consider it.

Q: Is there an advantage to having (Damien) Woody at guard over center, is he just better at guard?

BB: Yeah. Well, I think it depends on your scheme really. When you evaluate your overall scheme, there are certain pressure points on each play. If a certain player, certain guys get isolated, generally speaking, you want your best players or one of your best players isolated as opposed to where you might not have as good a match-up. When you look at your overall play selection, your overall scheme, some points are just more exposed than others. The pressure points are greater at some positions than others, if the higher percentage is going to be at another position, you might want a stronger player at that spot. It's the same thing at every position, you know, if one receiver, generally speaking has a better chance of getting single coverage and all other things being equal, you probably want your better receiver in that spot where you think the single coverage is going to be more often.

Q: Do you think Jamal Anderson is going to play football again?

BB: Do I think he's going to play football again? I would probably tend to say yes, but again, that's totally his decision. I think he has the talent to play and the skill to play, I think if he wants to play again, he can, and that's ultimately his decision and he controls that.

Q: How many guys have you seen personally come back from injuries like this one?

BB: All the time. ACL injuries? All the time. ACL's those are high percentage rehabilitation. (Jamal) Anderson came back after the first one and had 1800 yards rushing. I think you can find a lot of players that have come back from the ACL's, a lot of them. The fact that he had two, that's a pretty high, it does takes some time there, but once the rehab has been completed most of those guys pretty successfully come back. I mean it's a tough rehabilitation, 9 months to a year, there's a lot of hard work in there, mentally you've got to fight, but once they get back, for the most part they are back.

Q: When you first started coaching, wasn't this type of injury a career ender?

BB: Oh yeah, when I first started out coaching, those knee injuries were horror stories. You know, cut them open look for something, can't find it, go in the other side look for something else, it look like an Easter egg hunt after you heard the results of it. We thought it was a ligament, a cartilage, we thought it was this, it was that. The medical procedures on those joints are just … I mean, it's phenomenal. We had a guy at Detroit, we drafted [Lawrence] Gaines in the first round, a kid from Wyoming, a big fullback, a strong, good-looking kid, a good running back, tough. One day there was a little click in his knee and the next day they went in to try to do some little cartilage thing and the guy never played again. It's a whole different ballgame now.

Q: Does that make a guy like Jimmy Hitchcock amazing because he tore both of them in high school and he's never had them repaired?

BB: As I understand it, and I'm no doctor, his knees are ACL-deficient, which they were coming out of college. Now Jimmy's never been hurt. He didn't miss any time in college and he hasn't missed any time in the NFL. But when the doctors examine his knee, it's just not a normal knee. But somehow or another, it's stabilized itself and it really hasn't been a problem for him. All the time that I've been with him, he's never had any problems, he's never been in the training room and he's never been hurt. He's just built a little bit differently from most everybody else.

Q: What does that mean ACL Deficient?

BB: Well, the ACL is a little ligament that runs down through the middle of the knee and gives stability to it.

Q: So he doesn't have that? When you say ACL-deficient…

BB: Evidently not. I'm not any major in knee constructions, but his knees are built a little bit differently than everybody else's.

Q: How many NFL Europe Exemptions do you have?

BB: Three.

Q: Who are they?

BB: [Maugaula] Tuitele, [Pat] Downey and [Radell] Lockhart.

Q: So you can technically have 68 players after today?

BB: Yes, that's correct. Yes. Then at 53, those exemptions expire. Correct.

Q: Is there any area where [Jimmy] Farris was held back during camp?

BB: No. I just think there were some other people ahead of him. I think that Jimmy's a real competitive, young player that still has some upside and I wouldn't be at all surprised to see him in the league at some point. Right now, we just have a couple of other players ahead of him.

Q: What is your middle linebacker situation for Washington?

BB: Ted and Ula.

Q: Did you expect David Givens to have the special teams coverage ability that he's shown?

BB: You know, David's a pretty versatile player and David is one of the top high school athletes to come out of Texas. He was recruited at Notre Dame and he was a guy that everybody in the country was really impressed with his overall athleticism. He's a little bit of a 'tweener in terms of a receiver/running back/slot back.

Q: Didn't he switch?

BB: Yeah, he's played both. But he's got a little bit of size, he's got a little bit of speed and he's got some toughness. So he's a little bit of an in-betweener there, but on the other hand, that can sometimes play to a player's advantage, where he could be big enough to play some of the bigger positions on special teams and fast enough to play some of the faster positions on special teams. He has a little bit of versatility there, and he's a good athlete, and he's shown some toughness. It's kind of a unique package. Some of those guys fall in the cracks and you can't find anything for them and there are other guys that can actually sell with those kind of traits and create a little bit of a mismatch in the kicking game where usually you have safeties and corners playing different positions or receivers and tight ends playing different positions. If you can get a receiver to play a tight end position, then you've got a lot faster guy. If you can get a tight end to play a receiver position or a back to play a corner position, then you've got a lot bigger guys. Sometimes you can create some favorable matchups there. A guy like Tebucky Jones, you always say is he a corner or a safety in the kicking game? He's a corner who can play safety and a safety who can play corner. That creates some mismatches.

Q: Where do you call off the dogs in preseason? Do you play to the final whistle? Is there a set of unwritten rules that you adhere to?

BB: No, they're actually written down. They're written down and they're firmly emphasized to the team and to the coaching staff every week of the preseason, and that is regardless of what the situation is in the game, we're playing it to win. Whatever the situation is. If it's third-and-three, we're looking to pick up three yards or stop them from getting three, whatever it is. If the situation says that we should play for the onside kick, then we're going to play for the onside kick. Now if whoever's in there is in there, that's not to say that we're going to use out personnel and whatever the playing schedule, however that's set up, it's set up. But I tell the players every week, whatever the situation is, whoever's in there, whatever you're called on to do, we expect you to do your very best at that situation. Just the way you've prepared for it, that's the way we expect it to be executed. It's the same thing with the coaches. If a situation calls for a certain strategy, taking our time outs or getting out of bounds, or whatever it is, then that's what we expect to do and that's the way we practice it. That's absolutely the way we approach every preseason game. Every one of them are the same. When the situation presents itself, we expect everybody's best effort and total concentration and alertness of the situation to play it as the situation dictates it be played.

Q: Are you a guy who tends to observe and weigh in what the other coach is doing?

BB: I'm a lot more concerned about my team than his team right now. That goes for the other 31 teams, too. I'm just coaching one and I'm going to do the best I can with that and try to get that right. I really don't have too much time to worry about or think about what Steve needs to do or what John [Fox] needed to do last week or what Andy [Reid]'s doing the week before, or what Jim [Fassel]'s doing the week before that. I doubt that they're spending much time worrying about what we need to be doing. It's kind of mending your own fences first and that's really what I feel like I'm trying to do and our staff's trying to do. We're trying to take care of the New England Patriots and what the Redskins do, we don't have any control over. We just try to take care of our situation.

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