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Bill Belichick Press Conf. Transcript - 09/04/2003

Belichick: We are winding down here. Our preparations are coming into the closing stages.



BB: We are winding down here. Our preparations are coming into the closing stages. We left Friday as a catch up day for us. We are on a schedule where we are trying to get as much as we can complete by today. I think one of the things that we have to guard against in opening games, and it's something that I have been guilty of at different times in my career, is over preparing. You have so much time and so much information on a team like this that it is hard to know where to stop because there are so many things that you have seen. There is so much film and you put a lot of time into studying all of the different things that a team like this has shown over a long period of time. It is tempting to want to cover everything but at the same time there is no way any team can do everything they have shown over the last year plus. We just have to manage that a little bit. I am sure there will be some new wrinkles in the game from Buffalo that we haven't seen. We will just have to adjust to those as we go. That is pretty much where we are. Any questions?

Q: Your reaction to Lawyer Milloy going to the Bills.

BB: That was kind of the story that was out there yesterday. I guess it is about what we expected. He is a good player. Buffalo is good without him. I am sure that he will help them.

Q: Does that throw a monkey wrench into your defensive calls at all?

BB: Sure. We will have to pay particular attention to some of the things like that, the communication signals, the play calling and so forth. Nobody knew our defense any better than Lawyer did over the last three years. He handled a lot of the audibles and checks in the secondary. I know he knows it and knows it well. We'll have to be aware of that.

Q: Does that make it particularly harder in putting a rookie safety back there and also with three new corners?

BB: Again, it's the type of thing that we have gone through plenty of times in the past, players on our team that had been with other teams and players on other teams that have been with our team. It's just coming down a little bit quicker this week but it is not something that is that far out of the norm. I think we will be able to handle it.

Q: Is Drew Bledsoe a quarterback that can go after inexperienced players?

BB: Drew is a smart player. He has good weapons offensively. I am sure that a big part of their plan has always been and will continue to be to try to find the most advantageous match-ups and work those as well as get the ball to their key players, [Travis] Henry, [Eric] Moulds, [Josh] Reed. I am sure that is always part of the program. I am sure that when he sees match-ups that are favorable, any quarterback would try to work those isolations when they can get them.

Q: How much do you think Lawyer can tell Drew what to look for offensively?

BB: I am sure he could tell him everything he knows. How useful that will be and how that will affect the game, I don't know. Lawyer is a smart guy. Everybody knows that. There is no question. He knows everything that we have done for the last three years. I mean, how much he will able to give to somebody and how much they will be able to use it, I don't know. He will certainly be able to give it to them. There is no doubt about that.

Q: On the defense, just going back to where the team ended last year, what has changed heading into this year specifically what were some of the areas that you were looking to improve heading into this year?

BB: Statistically and just in watching the film, defensively, there were a number of areas in our performance last year that I don't think were anything close to highlights, third down, red area, rushing defense, we gave up too many points. Where do you want to start? All of those things are bad starting with the points. That is the name of the game. The longer they are on the field, the more they score in the red zone, the more points they are going to get. We weren't good enough against the run, not good enough against the pass, not good enough against the red zone, not good enough on third down. You can pick out any area you want. They could all stand improvement.

Q: What is it about working in a 3-4 defense that you feel will be able to help the team improve on those things?

BB: The reason we started out in a 3-4 base was just to adjust the fundamentals and to build the fundamentals from there. The bricks have been laid on that base and we are certainly going to be able to do more than that. You have to build a base on something, a foundation, and that is what we built it on. The fundamentals of that defense are going to carry over into the fundamentals of other defensive looks. You just have to pick out somewhere to start and that is where we picked out.

Q: Was it to get faster on the outside? Was that one area that you focused on?

BB: I think the focus on the whole area of defense was to get younger and faster. That really includes all of the positions of defense, the defensive line, the linebackers and the secondary relative to end of last year, to be younger and faster and to play better defense. Just because you get younger doesn't mean you get better. When you are the oldest defensive team in the league, which we were last year, that was definitely something that we wanted to address. Playing better defense is more important than being younger but at some point the two are related.

Q: Larry Centers, what role do you see him playing in the game on Sunday?

BB: I think Larry is a versatile player for us and can do a lot of different things. He can play fullback, he can play the running back in a third down situations, and he is involved in special teams. He can do a number of things for us there. I am sure that he will be involved in all of them at some point. Now, how much in any of those, a little bit will depend on specific game planning and also how the game goes and what the needs are during the game. We only have four backs on the roster and all of those backs are going to have an expanded role overall on the team just because there are fewer of them to include both offense and special teams.

Q: What advantage, if any, has he been able to give you on Buffalo?

BB: Larry has given us some insight into all of the things that you would think he would be able to. He knows the players. He has been in that system for a year and knows some things about it. Larry is a smart guy too.

Q: Can you comment on Aaron Schobel?

BB: I think that Schobel has improved in each year. I think that he has had a good preseason. He is a good edge pass rusher. He's got, for a guy who is not real heavy weight-wise, good playing strength and good explosion. He is quick off of the edge and he is a good outside pass rusher. I would say he is underrated in terms of an overall run defender. He is a good player.

Q: You have that 53rd roster spot, do you have any news on that today?

BB: No. Our thoughts on that were, at this point if we brought somebody in I'm pretty sure whoever that was would be inactive. We don't see anybody that we would bring in at this point that we would activate for the game. I am sure in due course we will fill that. Scott [Pioli] and I have talked about it and we've got some options that we are looking at but I don't think we will see anything today.

Q: Will Adrian Klemm start at right tackle?

BB: He will definitely play at right tackle, yes. We will leave those unofficial starting lineups as unofficial. [Laughter]

Q: Heading into the season, obviously the goal is to win as many games as you can. How much, regardless of whether you win or lose, are you looking for certain things that you needed to improve on that you know are going to be tested?

BB: I think you try to get your game up as high as you can at every phase of it. There will be some things after one game or two games or three games and some things will look better than others. You either have to decide at that point whether you can continue to make those strengths or that is not going to be enough to carry it and you are going to have to sure up some other areas so that you have a little bit more balance. Those are all things that you work on as you go through the year. Those are all adjustments and emphasis points that you make with your team as you go through the course of the season. Sometimes you think you know what they are going into the early part of the season. Sometimes that is right and sometimes it isn't. Sometimes they change during the course of the year, whether it be injuries or just production one way or another from certain areas of your game.

Q: Scheme-wise, you have a pretty good idea of what Buffalo is likely to do. How long does it take before you know, individually, what kind of impact those players will have?

BB: I think it varies a little bit. I think it varies depending on the team and the player. It could be a few games early in the season to sometimes halfway through the season. Again, the thing about football is the mix of a lot of different people. Even though you sign free agents, you can take a group of players but once you put them on to a new team, how that mix gets affected, you don't know until you really start playing. Even though you might be better on paper, so-to-speak, at one point with certain acquisitions or not as good on paper it just depends how all of it fits together and how productive the team can be, not necessarily how productive each one of those individuals are. It's more the collection of it. When do you know? I don't know. I think you have to give it a little bit of time to see how it plays out. Again, there are certain expectations and there are some things that you think are going to happen. Whether they actually materialize or not, you see that in the early games when the real game planning and everybody is really putting their best shot out there on every play, not looking at players, which is part of the preseason process.

Q: Is there anybody on that roster that you pay particular attention to?

BB: You are talking about Buffalo's roster?

Q: Yes.

BB: The players that they have added, we can see where they have played in preseason. Whether they end up in those exact same spots starting Sunday remains to be seen. Defensively, they have had added a corner [Dainon] Sydney, a safety, obviously, a couple of linebackers, defensive linemen, offensive linemen. Offensively, they've had a change at receiver, a change at fullback, a change at tight end. They have swapped a couple of guys in positions on the offensive line, moving [Marques] Sullivan back out to tackle. They made a change with their kicker. There are some changes there. Some of those, I think, you probably get a lot better idea of where they are going to be during the game. But other guys, they may be moving around a little bit. Again with [Dick] LeBeau and Gregg Williams, they can be creative and try to create mismatches and maneuver their personnel so they can be at different points of attack. They have done that in the past and I am sure we will probably see some element of that on Sunday.

Q: With some of their personnel changes, does it appear that Buffalo may have changed the theme of their offense?

BB: That may be the case. I am not sure though. Certainly, Sam Gash's strength is as a lead blocker and I am sure that he will be a good lead blocking back for them as he has been. I don't think that means it means it is going to be a hand off on every play. I think that there is going to be a vertical element to their passing game with Larry Centers or with Sam Gash. That would be my guess. Sam gives them a presence in a two back offense that I am sure they will try to utilize that too. Yes, I think he will help them do some things. I don't think that necessarily they won't have their vertical passing game, maybe not quite as much as they had last year, but I am sure that they will still have plenty of it.

Q: Looking at the preseason, did they do more of the inside running than they had done in the past?

BB: It's hard to gauge preseason. Travis Henry, I doubt if he played a full half by the time you added it all up. He was only in there for a couple of series against St. Louis. It's hard to get a true gauge of….they were in plenty of two back offense with lead backs in the backfield. Whether the frequency of that is going to be the same in the regular season as it was in preseason, I sort of doubt it. We'll have to wait and see.

Q: Antowain [Smith] had his best game of the season against Buffalo last year. Does that affect who will get more carries on Sunday?

BB: Well we go into the game with roles for all of our offensive players and how they will work in certain personnel groups and things that we want to try to do with them. Right now it's not the kind of thing that you go into the game and say, 'Okay, this guy is going to carry the ball that many times. The next guy is going to carry the ball so many times. This guy is going to catch eight passes. This guy is going to catch four passes.' You run the plays that you think will attack the defense. Probably from the middle of the first quarter on until the end of the game you are either making some type of adjustments or you are reacting situationally to what you have to deal with. I couldn't sit here and say, 'Well this guy is going to get that many carries. Somebody else will catch that many passes.' I think that all of our offensive players who are active for the game I would expect to be involved and participate in the game. How much production they will have is probably going to vary from game to game. I am sure that some of their opportunities will depend on the situation and the adjustments that we make as the game goes along.

Q: Given the fact that Lawyer is a very savvy player, how hard do you think it will be for him to adjust to be ready for Sunday?

BB: I don't know. I don't know exactly what his role will be there or anything else. I mean, he is a smart guy. Lawyer picks up things quickly and he has got plenty of experience so I don't think any of those things will hold him back. It is just a question of how much they want him to do or ask him to do. I don't really know. I don't think he has any limitations in terms of intelligence or experience in trying to pick things up. He is probably as quick of a learner as any player that we have had around here.

Q: Does the Sam Adams/Pat Williams combination give the Bills the Tim Bowens/Daryl Gardner element that Miami had?

BB: Right, the system is a little bit different but yes, they are two big guys in the middle that you definitely have to deal with. They are big and they are both good players, with an active middle linebacker similar to [Zach] Thomas or [London] Fletcher, guys that can run and are active and have a lot range playing behind a couple of big guys.

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