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Bill Belichick Press Conf. Transcript - 09/13/2002

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BB: What do we have this Friday morning?

Q: Can you talk a little about the offensive line development program you talked about implementing?

BB: You bet. We have a lot of young offensive linemen. Our offensive line compared to when I got here is young and some of those guys are playing and some of them are still developing. And that's for everybody. It's not just for the undrafted guys. It's for the draft choices, be they early, middle or late or not at all, college free agents. I think it is going good. I think Dante (Scarnecchia) has done a great job with that group of players and Jeff Davidson has also helped work with them. It's a tough position to play and a lot of it is physical development in the weight room, which Mike Woicik and Markus Paul work with those guys. And a lot of it is technique work on the field. We spend a lot of time extra with them, meeting with them extra in the morning and in the afternoon and staying out on the field extra with them working on their techniques. I think it is definitely been a positive for us. I think our young players are continuing to improve in that area as they work more together. They'll improve individually, but they will also improve collectively as they work more together as a group. Yes it is something that is absolutely a strong part of the program. I think that Scott Pioli has done a real good job of getting young lineman and the right kind of guys to put into that program because you need the right guys to fit into it too

Q: Is that a big advantage to be able to develop a young offensive lineman as opposed to going through free agency?

BB: Sure, it's a big advantage if you can develop any player, but particularly in the offensive line. Those players almost always take…every player can improve and every player can develop. I mean there is no rookie that doesn't need that. But particularly on the offensive line a lot of those guys bounce around to a team or two and then their career takes off. Or they sit around for a year or two and then they finally start to be contributors. Sometimes it takes a little more time, but we are willing to make that investment in them as long as the players reciprocate and work hard and get in the weight room and show improvement. Then we are willing to put the time in with them.

Q: What's the reason for targeting that specific position?

BB: Again, we do it with all the positions. It is not that we don't try to do that with the other positions as well. But I think the offensive line is one that physically those kids all have to develop. A lot of receivers or defensive backs or other positions, they don't need the physical development that offensive linemen do. Some of those 21 or 22-year-old kids just aren't as overall physically mature as a 25 or 26-year-old guy. The techniques are quite a bit different. Like I say, every position can improve, but on the offensive line there really are a lot of things that they need to work on that are usually different from college. They just haven't seen the pass rushers in college with the technique that they see at this level. So pass protection, that is really the heart of the matter right there.

Q: Given roster limitations, is it frustrating to let a guy like Drew Inzer go that you were working with? Was he a guy that you would have liked to keep on the practice squad and keep working on him?

BB: Right. Any time you work with players and they are making progress you want to keep working with them and see how far it will go. In the end you have to make your decisions as to, you can only work with so many and you have to expose the other ones. Sometimes they get picked up and sometimes they don't. Our decision obviously was to keep Steve Neal and Tom Ashworth on the roster and we couldn't keep everybody. So we brought in (David) Goren and that gives us another linemen. I think we still are working with a good group. I think Drew's got a chance to…that happened to us in Cleveland too. One year we brought in Orlando Brown. We brought in Herman Arvie. We drafted Herman Arvie. We brought in Shar Pourdanish who we cut in mini camp just because we didn't have enough space for him. He's had a long career. He's played for the Redskins and the Steelers. Dan Jones played for the Bengals that year. So we ended up releasing two guys that we couldn't even take to camp who ended up starting in the National Football League. At Cleveland we lost Quentin Neujahr. And Andy McCollum was signed by New Orleans off our practice squad who's of course playing for the Rams. Quentin Neujahr went to Jacksonville off our practice squad. Unfortunately I have seen that before, but again you have to keep the ones you feel that are best. We expose them and sometimes we get other guys that are exposed. Like we did with (Grey) Ruegamer, we took Ruegamer off Pittsburgh's practice squad. So it travels in both directions.

Q: With continuity, what prompted the switch of (Damien) Woody and (Joe) Andruzzi from one side to the other?

BB: Well first of all, at the beginning of training camp that wasn't really an option because Andruzzi wasn't there. So we had Mike (Compton), we had Damien, then when Tylski retired and with Joe not there then that it kind of threw things a little bit a different direction so since Damien had so much work in at center in the past we felt like it would be easier to work him at guard in training camp, and then if we need to move him back to center we would do it, rather than work him at center and then get to the end of training camp and say 'oh we're going to need Damien to play at guard' and then try to make a switch at that point after everything was in and we were too far down the road. We just felt that just gave us more long-term flexibility, same thing with Mike Compton. Mike had played a lot of center last year when he and Damien switched. We thought it would be easier for him to play center and then if we had to move him back to guard, we would; and we didn't. Mike has a lot of versatility at center. So I think in the long run that was a big part of the progression. Where we end up we'll just have to wait and see and that will give (Adrian) Klemm an opportunity to move him to left guard. I think Adrian is a little better suited on the left side than the right side.

Q: The idea of just keep Woody on the right side rather than move him back to left when Joe came back, why not put him back at right guard and Woody back at left guard where they played last year?

BB: It's a possibility. Well again, a lot of where we are now is where we've been. If things had been, if we had come out of the gate differently you know with everybody available and starting training camp in whatever position we wanted them in, it might look a little bit differently than it does now, I wouldn't disagree with that. But, you get to a certain point in camp, and if things aren't going too bad and if things are going ok, then you make the decision of 'ok do we want to move two or three of these guys around because that's where they were last year, or do we want to leave them where they are where they've had 30 or 40 practices this year and that's kind of the conflict that you run into. I think in the end, the versatility of those lineman, it's a plus for us. What exactly the very best combination is long-term and short-term, those may be the same discussions or they may be two separate discussions and that's really where you try to balance.

Q: Football looks fun again to Willie McGinest. Can you assess his preseason and first game?

BB: We talked about Willie a lot defensively. At this time last year he was just coming, he had his back surgery, he was still working his way back from it and really hadn't had the full training period to get ready for the season that he's had this year and that he's had in some other seasons. This year he's had an opportunity to train all off-season. We really tried to monitor his reps in camp so that we wouldn't, you know we want him to be ready but we don't want to overwork him and wear him down because he really is a defensive end. He's a little on the small side as a defensive end in running situations, not that he's not strong and explosive and all that. Just down, after down, after down, at 260 is a little on the light side. So we tried to manage his reps in training camp and I think that he's ready to go. He's had a good camp. He's in good condition. He's had a good opportunity to train for the season; I think he's had a good camp. Did a nice job the other night.

Q: Is this a result of him being pain free?

BB: I think that has certainly helped. I think the fact that he's been able to train all off-season and not have to rehab a surgery is, that's an advantage of any player.

Q: Does he seem like the Willie of old to you? Explosive?

BB: I think Willie is, I think every player goes through a certain progression in their career, I'm not saying Willie is 23, but he looks quick. He looks explosive. He can run and he's got his quickness. He matches up well against just about everybody he goes against either with his quickness or his explosion.

Q: Do you schematically do things that highlight him and the problems that he causes that you couldn't do last year because you didn't know how many plays you were going to have him?

BB: Yes. Certainly from a coaching standpoint, it's easier to count on a player that's out there all the time, that doesn't have any physical issues and he's really hadn't had any all year. It's a lot easier to count on that. No question about it.

Q: And healthy he is just a match-up problem?

BB: Yeah. Willie is a good football player. That's really never been a question. Unfortunately, he hasn't always been on the field or times he's been on the field at probably less than 100 percent just because of his competitiveness, the fact that he can still do some things but he's not the guy at 100 percent that we've all seen.

Q: Looking at the free agents you brought in, Marc Edwards and Mike Compton, when you look defensively, it seems like they all have that 'Jets' background. Is it because of the system? Is it really you have to know what you're doing to get an older player in here?

BB: I don't know about that, Terrell Buckley was never in our system, he's been a good contributor for us.

Q: I was thinking more about the guys up front, (Roman) Phifer.

BB: Well, there's no doubt those guys have made a good contribution to our defense and all I'm saying is I wouldn't exclude somebody else just because they weren't with us. Guys that we know that Romeo [Crennel] or Eric [Mangini] or I have coached, Scott Pioli, guys that we've coached that we've been with, we know what those guys can do we know what they're about, and in the case of the players that we brought in we felt like they could make good contributions to our team, and for the most part they have. Now, I'm not saying that somebody else could come in and do that, but it takes two to have a marriage, and if a player wants to be in the system and he has a background with them, he wants to be here and we want him here, then sometimes those are easier to pull together than a guys who's evaluating one thing along with two or three other options, and we're doing the same thing, it just doesn't go as quickly.

Q: It would be difficult to have a guy come in who has never played a two-gap before?

BB: You know, Steve Martin was with the Jets, but we didn't have Steve Martin at the Jets. I mean I know he wore the jersey and all that, but we didn't have Steve Martin with the Jets, and he's been around a while, but had never played in this system until he played here.

Q: (Bernard) Holsey too?

BB: Holsey too, he's another player who's never been in this system either.

Q: Never mind then, I didn't mean that question.

BB: We don't exclude anybody, we try to evaluate each player on their merits, and whatever they can do for us, we just try to be realistic with it, and not say, 'oh this guy's going to come in and be a great third down rusher.' Then find out he can't rush at all and shouldn't even be on the field third down, and that's just making a poor evaluation, but if we really feel like this player can come in . . . Riddick Parker was another player last year that came in and played for us, he had some snaps, but those guys have to make an adjustment, and if they're willing to make the adjustment and they're willing to learn and understand how to play in the system, then I think a lot of guys can play in it.

Q: Is it an exciting process for you getting the game plan ready for the week's upcoming game?

BB: That's our job to try to take the information, assess it, and figure out what's the best thing we can do about it given what our options are. I feel like we've got a broad enough base offensively, defensively, and on special teams that usually we don't end up drawing up alt of new things week to week. 'Like okay, this week we're going to run these 20 new plays.' Usually things that we draw from are things that we've already done, they're in our repertoire, we don't use them all every week, we pick out some this week, we pick out some the next week. Some that we think, based on how they stack up and match up against our opposition, so it's really more a selection process, what do we have that would be good, and sometimes things are going good for you and you just want to try to give it a little different look, so it's not as obvious that you're trying to do a specific thing. That's just the process every week, it really is, it doesn't really matter who we're playing, or whether it's a Monday night game or a Sunday game, or whatever it is, we just go through the same process, look at what the opponent's doing, try to see where their weaknesses are, try to see where their strengths are, what things do we want to try to stay away from, what things do we want to try to attack. Look at what we do and try to see how it matches up, every once and a while you get a situation where, if there's a certain thing that you want to try to attack the opponent with, you don't quite have exactly what you're looking for, for one reason or another, so then you have to decide if you're going to change. If it's worth it to run a play to gain five yards, you spend a lot of time for five yards, if you think you can really do some damage on the play, then that's a different story, maybe invest a little bit more time into, something that's new something that's different, you know, if works okay and it looks alright then you're going to keep that in your inventory for future games or weeks that come up later on if that situation presents itself. You know, the Jets case specifically, just going back to a couple of years ago we know we played Tampa in the preseason then opened with Tampa, then last year, Tampa's defensive coordinator went to St. Louis and we ended up playing them, or the linebacker coach ended up being the coordinator in St. Louis, we played St. Louis twice, [Herman] Edwards moved from Tampa to the Jets, we played the Jets twice, so all of a sudden, that thing that we played against offensively with Tampa's defense we played against to open the 2000 season, now starts to show up in three or four games a year because of just the way the coaches have moved and the way the schemes have fallen. And that's how things progress within your system, some of that stuff wasn't important and if you're not playing that style of defense it doesn't really matter if you have it in you're system or not, because you're not going to use it, but if you're seeing that type of system two, three, four times in a season, then if you don't have it, then you need it, and the same thing defensively, as you see the styles of offensive change, you see more west coast offense, you see more two-back offense, or you see more one-back offense, then that moves your scheme along a little bit in a certain direction so that you deal with those situations

Q: Do you sense that excitement from the players?

BB: Well, it depends. I think sometimes when the players see it they kind of look at what their role is, and if they like the role that they're seeing, you tell the receivers that it looks like we're going to have to throw the ball a lot this week and all that, their eyes light up, and sometimes the offensive lineman kind of drop a little bit. You go the other way and say that we're going to have to run the ball this week, we're going to use two tight ends, we're really going to pound it at them, the receivers are . . .can't wait to get started. And again, in the overall scheme of things, we tell the players we need to do what we feel like's best fro the team. Here's the bets way, we want to be balanced, and we don't want to exclude anyone, but sometimes it goes a little more in one direction than another. I think the guys that see their role, and every time you have a big game, a division game, a Monday night game, that kind of thing, there's a little bit more excitement that week regardless.

Q: When you look at the match-ups, are you assuming that you won't be able to run the ball against the Jets because of what the Bills did?

BB: Well, I think it's hard to always try to take your team and model it against another team. Whether it's the Bills, or whether it's the Dolphins, whoever plays the team a week or two weeks before, each teams have their own strengths and weaknesses, they have their own systems, and sometimes you can get ideas and general points of attack maybe, but to just try to do the same thing that somebody else does, unless that's really your thing, usually you end up not doing it that well, and it looks good the way they did it, and when you try to do it, it just doesn't look quite as good. You know, I think our job is evaluate what they're doing and how they're doing it, and then try to take what we do, and try to formulate a plan that will attack our opponent, rather than, and again, not that we don't get good ideas from watching other teams, but again, to try and really copycat those, sometimes you can, but usually it's something that you're fairly familiar with, so it's not a lot of new learning.

Q: You didn't see that as a fundamental problem that the Jets had versus Buffalo, running the ball?

BB: Well the Bills had some success running the ball against them, they had some success throwing the ball too, so again, it's more than one game we look at all the preseason games, we played them twice last year, we played the same system twice, so we look at our two games last year, some of their other games at the end of last year, whether it's against the Raiders, or whoever, and try to put it all together, Trying to over analyze one game, sometimes can be misleading. If you look at a team and they really look good or bad in one game doing something, that's not consistent, if we overrate that, and say, 'oh we can't throw on these guys because of their pass rush,' maybe that rush wasn't that good, maybe it was that one particular game where they matched up well against that particular opponent, and those are the decisions you got to try to make, but with the Jets, we have a long history with the Jets, we've seen a lot of games with them on tape, and the Buffalo game's part of it, but not by any means the final, you know, I think the final answer to this one.

Q: Is Jamal Anderson scheduled to make any more visits?

BB: No, none scheduled. I think the obligatory Friday question.

Q: Can you talk about the three safeties you have on the roster?

BB: Well, we really talked about the three safety idea back in the spring when Victor [Green] came up and visited. We have a good history with Vic and he's been a starting safety in the league, it's not like he hasn't played, we know what he can do and we've had a lot of experience with him, and we also know what Tebucky [Jones] and Lawyer [Milloy], you know, what they bring to the table, and so we talked about, 'okay if Vic came here, what are we going to do with him.' And we want to be honest with him too, and tell him, this is what we have in mind, and not try to mislead him and then have him here and say, 'well this isn't the way it was advertised.' So we talked about it in the spring, we brought Vic in, we talked to him, and that was one of the things that we told, we had good players, we're going to get them on the field and we're going to find a way to do it, and that was one of the things that we had talked about doing. So, you know, last year Matt Stevens played over 50 percent of the plays on defense, so we've used a little bit of a safety rotational system in the past, not purely rotational, but to a degree, and so we talked to Vic about the role that Matt had, we're basically looking for him to fill that role, and we would expand upon it when we started fitting things together and just see how it all worked, so it started as early as back in the spring.

Q: How common is that number alignment used?

BB: You don't see it a lot, it's hard to find one good safety, let alone three, it really is.

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