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Bill Belichick Press Conf. Transcript - 08/31/2003

Belichick: was a competitive camp. There were some tough decisions in keeping the final roster.



BB: Everyone has the roster moves. Once again, this is a tough time of year for those decisions. There are a lot of factors that go in. Some guys come on later towards the end of preseason and their stock really rises, [there are] other guys that are falling and guys that are staying the same and you are just going to have to factor in all of those things into the mix and figure out where you think it is going to come out and what is going to be best for the team. Obviously some of the players that we released were productive for us either in training camp or in some cases the preseason games. There was a lot of consideration to keeping those people with us. On the other hand, the people that we did decide to keep, you have to look at what they did. That is to their credit. I think a number of these guys that maybe aren't on our team today, are still going to be playing in the NFL this year one way or the other. This is a time where there is a lot of roster movement in the league. The way things are today, may or may not be the way things are tomorrow or the next day. We'll just have to see how all of that develops. It's that time of year and we will see where things are on opening day for all of the teams; not just ours. I'm sure they will be a little bit different than the way they actually look at this particular moment. That being said, it was a competitive camp. There were some tough decisions in keeping the final roster. We'll just leave it there.

Q: How did the Mike Cloud situation work out?

BB: He went from the 65-man roster, to the NFL list.

Q: So he didn't have to be on the 53-man roster first?

BB: Correct.

Q: What about Dedric Ward? He seemed to have a really good preseason. Do you think that when Bethel Johnson gets healthy he can maybe supply some of that deep threat on offense than other guys?

BB: Well, I think that is a very competitive position and recognize that Dedric made some plays in preseason. There was good competition there. In the end, we decided we're obviously heavier on the defensive side of the ball than the offensive side of the ball. There are some young players on defense that we wanted to keep and therefore that means there are less players at those positions that you can have on your team. Basically, it comes down to a numbers game and everybody can't fit. Dedric had a good camp. I have a lot of respect for the way that he played and what he did when he came in here. I feel sure that he'll be playing in the NFL this year.

Q: Was balance an issue in terms of having five receivers and two tight ends? Was that a factor?

BB: Sure. Those numbers all play off of each other. Right. The receivers, the tight ends, the running backs. Those numbers certainly play off of each other. There are only so many skill position players you can have without it catching up with you somewhere else. Yes. Again, in terms of game day activations, there are certain positions where if you just keep carrying more and more players at that position, they are going to have to be de-activated. That becomes a 45-man roster issue as opposed to a 53-man roster issue.

Q: The potential of a guy like Patrick Pass who sometimes didn't show much of anything at all and then at other times it was almost a second coming. Does that make it really hard when a guy does a hit or miss thing?

BB: Sure. Anytime players play well and they are productive, you have to stand back and take notice of them. Patrick has had that for us, not only in this preseason but in the other years that he has been here. That is tough. In the end you just have to make some choices and they are not easy choices. The players that we didn't keep, again, I am sure that they will be playing at some point during the year in the NFL whether it is here or somewhere else.

Q: Was there a raging debate over a particular player or position?

BB: Raging? No.

Q: Was it all pretty much cut and dry for all of them?

BB: No. We could make a case and plenty of cases have been made for all of the players. They all have positives and had things going for them. The guys that are on the team, that we kept, we felt like they had positives too. Sometimes it's just a matter of choices. I wouldn't necessarily say that it's one player is better than another. Sometimes it is a better fit or just because of the combinations that you have. It's more advantageous for one player on your team than another. That is not to be disrespectful or not recognize the contributions and the productions that the other players have had. The wouldn't be here this long if they hadn't been productive.

Q: Was there a philosophy that you follow that overrode an individual thing? Like maybe speed overriding age?

BB: Well, I think that going back to whole offseason we talked about the defense, that if you want to be younger on defense, you are going to have to keep younger players on defense and we kept a number of those. You certainly have to keep and eye on that and again, some of that factors into the 45 versus the 53-man roster. Not to put the cart before the horse but the decision really is which 45 players are going to play this week and in succeeding weeks. 46 through 53 is depth but who are the players who are really going to play. Then some of your choices beyond that can be, there could be different parameters taken on those decisions. I would just say as an overall philosophy, you try to balance all of things that we talked about. You try to balance the age of the team, the speed or the abilities of the team in different situations whether its throwing the ball, running the ball, playing in the kicking game whichever side of the ball you are talking about. You to balance a little bit of the youth and the experience and the play making ability versus the solid steady dependable-type play. In the end, you have to get a balance all the way through your roster that you are comfortable with. Each is a little bit different, each year is a little bit different. All of those things play a part of it.

Q: Can you just give a summary of what your personnel department is doing right now?

BB: I will back up a couple of days just to get the background on it. At the 65 cut, there will be some players at that point that we will have some interest in. We will do more in depth to study those guys like making highlight tapes and taking a close look at what they did prior to the 65 release. That is three preseason games essentially. Between 65 and 53 you make a guesstimate of who you think some of those players on the bubble are going to be and you start working on players there that you are interested in. There may be some players that you think are going to be on that list that for whatever reason may not be the fit that you are looking for. There may be other ones that might be and you just do more work on those guys. You start to put that list together. There are also a lot of phone calls where teams are trying to move players and you have a dialogue on that based on who they are trying to move or what their situation is at a particular position. Then when the cuts come in tonight, the waiver wire is in at 4:00 PM and it's usually three or four hours tonight before we get it. Then when we get it, then we will go back through that list and start identifying the players that we would have some interest in on other teams rosters, whether on our 53-man roster or to move to the practice squad. At the same time, we will continue to talk about our players relative to possibly signing them to the practice squad which we can do beginning tomorrow at noon. A lot of balls in the air, but that is basically what they are trying to do.

Q: If there was a player on the waiver wire that you were interested in, how would that proceed? Would you contact them tonight?

BB: If it is a vested veteran, then he would terminate immediately. There is no waiver period on those guys. As soon as they hit the wire, you can talk to their agents and talk about potentially signing them to a contract. Any player that is not vested, then they go through the waiver procedure and that will be at noon tomorrow.

Q: What did you have the players do today?

BB: We are starting on Buffalo. We will give them the scouting report. We will go through some of the more preliminary basic stuff on Buffalo, go out on the field and start exposing them to some of their looks and some of the things we are going to try to do against it. On Tuesday, which will be like a regular Wednesday, there will be a lot more detail. We're just getting started here. We have certainly given them material to think about and look at over the next 48 hours.

Q: The Lawyer Milloy/Rodney Harrison combination, how has that worked for you?

BB: I think it has been fine. I think their communication has been good and I think they do the things that they are asked to do. Again, it's not as much strong safety and free safety-related as maybe it is with some other teams but I think they are both competent in doing the jobs that they have needed to do.

Q: Did you have questions about that for a while?

BB: I think they can both do what they need to do. I don't think either player has a tremendous amount of glaring weaknesses. If you ask them to do something, we are confident that they can do it and they basically have been able to do it. Whatever the call is, so you are not sitting there making a call saying, 'Well okay, we want to make sure that on this play we get this player here and the other player there because that is going to be a big weakness for it.' Romeo [Crennel] just calls it and whatever they have to do, they do. We don't really worry about it. It's just a good situation.

Q: Do you ever take into account the locker room community during your decision making process on cuts?

BB: I don't think it necessarily affects the final decision but it is certainly a part of the process and a difficult part of the process that we all have to deal with. Again, it's not easy to tell a player that you are releasing him when he has been with you through the whole offseason, through training camp, all the bumps and bruises that they get and are still out there working. That could be guys that have been with you for multiple years. Maybe not even just this year, it could be longer than that. You ask a guy to go out there and give you all that he has got and he does it and it's hard to sit there and say, 'I have got to release you.' It is not an easy thing to do. On the other hand, we go to camp with 80 players. We all know at that point that there is only going to be 53 at the end of preseason. Those are the rules of the league. We all have to deal with that. It is not unexpected that the process is going to take place. Sometimes who the people are and how it all comes down, sometimes that maybe isn't as predictable. We all know in the end that 27 of the 80 players aren't going to be on the final roster one way or another. That is the way it is. It doesn't make it any easier but you can't get around it either. I don't know how you can get around it.

Q: What would you say the odds are that someone out there on the waiver wire right would make your, not the 53-man roster, but the 45-man roster?

BB: I think it is just a question of time. For this game? I don't know. At some later point in time, that is a good question. If you see a player that you think would fit into your system, the likelihood of them coming in and doing it this week probably isn't that high. But, if you found a guy that you like that you felt was a good fit after 'x' amount of time that might work out. Matt Chatham is a good example of a player like that. He came in his first year in 2000, barely played that year. I don't' know if he was active for a couple of games, whatever it was, not much, and has been a very steady contributor for us over past couple of years. That is the kind of guy that you bring and in the long run, he is good for your football team.

Q: Let's say you see a guy, do you say, 'Can I get this guy ready within 'x' number of weeks?'

BB: Well, I think it depends on your situation. You've got a situation where you have a real need at a position and you get a guy, maybe you can get him ready in a week. Ted Washington, we got him ready in two days, not that he was on the waiver wire but I am just saying when you acquire a player, depending on the circumstances and the situation, I don't think you could get him ready in any less time than what we had Ted. He never took one snap with the team on the practice field prior to the Philadelphia game. It was just one walk through. You could do it that way if the stars were in alignment so-to-speak. It wouldn't be the normal way, I wouldn't think. Sometimes, it could work out.

Q: With [Russ] Hochstein, was it a decision positionally between Brandon Gorin?

BB: First of all, more players on defense means less players on offense. We have fewer players on the offensive line probably than what some other teams in the league are going to have. If you carry more on defense that is what is going to happen. I thought that Russ showed some versatility at the end of the preseason by playing center against the Bears. He has been with us. He knows the system and can play a couple of different spots. Those things worked in his favor. In the end, we are only carrying eight linemen. At some point we are going to have to add somebody else, sooner or later, one way or the other. We are not going to go through the year with eight linemen, I am sure of that, including practice squad and through the year. Where those guys come from, I am not exactly sure right now. Russ did some positive thins, but in the end, we are kind of thin at that spot on the offensive line and also at running back to obviously keep more defensive lineman and linebackers. We are heavy in those spots. We have to be lighter somewhere else.

Q: Does the fact you have [Stephen] Neal and Kenyatta Jones waiting in the wings play into that as well?

BB: I don't think that was a big part of the decision because, again, those guys are at least six weeks off before they are even eligible to come back. Not that we are so short sided that we can't see six weeks down the road, but that is still a lot of football. It is over a third of your season before they would even be eligible to come back. I think we will just have to wait and evaluate those players when we get a chance to and see where they fit at that point. In the mean time, we have to pretty much go with whatever we have.

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