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Bill Belichick Press Conf. Transcript - 09/16/2002

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BB: Really not a lot new from what we talked about after the game yesterday. Nothing really new on the injury report, couple of nicks, but doesn't appear to be anything real serious at this point. As I said, I thought one of the big things in the game was just the short week and the preparation that the players and the coaches had for the game. We had to cover a lot of things in a pretty short period of time and then go on the road, in the division. I thought that all those people did a real nice job of pulling together and being ready to go and I thought our team played pretty physically yesterday. I was pleased with our running game. We got more yardage in there than we've been getting. I thought the backs ran real well, they did a nice job, ran well and blocked well, we were able to produce some points defensively that was just a good effort. Good effort on third down, had a couple big turnovers and we were able to do a pretty decent job on the running game. So it was a good complementary game, because we didn't have to play a lot of plays on defense and the one we did play we played at a reasonably good level. It was a good team victory. Now we just have to turn our sights to Kansas City. This is a dangerous team coming in here, they've got a lot weapons. They're a very disruptive team on defense. We're going to have to shift gears here in a hurry to be ready for Kansas City.

Q: Do you think you will be underdogs next week?

BB: I really don't know.

Q: What was the key to success with the running game against the Jets?

BB: I think the backs ran well. I think the backs some made yardage on their own both in terms of trying to run with power and also making some guys miss in the open field. Kevin (Faulk) had a couple of runs where he made some guys miss but I think our run blocking was probably the best it's been this year including preseason. We've had a play or two here or there, but to actually go out in a game and have, overall the run blocking was better. I thought the backs ran well, they ran hard and they got some yards on their own.

Q: Did you think the offensive line would come together so quickly?

BB: Well we'll see how it goes. The pass protection has been fairly solid. But the run blocking is something that has been more of a struggle with us that showed some improvement yesterday. Now whether we can keep that going or not that remains to be seen. At least there was some signs of life yesterday in the running game. Especially in the second half when everybody knew we were going to run it, they knew we were going to run it and we were still able to get some production out of it, so I thought that was good.

Q: What entered into the decision to switch (Mike) Compton and (Damien) Woody back?

BB: We thought maybe it was just kind of the right time to do it. We thought there might be some favorable match-ups in this game but also that our run game just hadn't had the production this year in five games that I wanted to have last year. Maybe this was a little better combination to do it this way, so we gave that a shot.

Q: At this point, do you see any weaknesses in your team that you are concerned about?

BB: I see plenty of them; I'm concerned about a lot of things. Let's face it, yesterday wasn't the Jets best day. They're a good football team and they can play a lot better than that. We were fortunate that we didn't catch them on their best day, so I wouldn't read too much into that.

Q: Isn't that the goal of a team, to take a team out of their game plan?

BB: Sometimes those games go that way. Anytime you have a lead, that takes everybody of their running game that's no secret. It's the same thing that everybody said last year with the Colts. They were averaging over 40 points a game and they won their first two games big. Everybody's was talking about this is the greatest team in the history of football and they came in here and they didn't have a good day here. This stuff can change in a hurry. We've played two games; that's it. We've got a big one coming up this week. I think it's way too early to clinch anything around here.

Q: Do you use that, what happened to the Colts here last year?

BB: Well that's obvious, sure. Nobody saw it better than we did. I mean they were averaging over 40 points a game. Everybody was already multiplying eight times whatever they had and all the records they were going to set, and how everything was going happen, nobody in football would ever approach what they were going to do and all that. I don't think they were too happy with the way it turned out last year, our game or the rest of the season. I think it's a little too early to start sending up all the balloons.

Q: Are you particularly happy with the pass rush?

BB: I think that has a lot to do with or anytime you are ahead, a team that has to throw every down, sooner or later you can't help but stumble under a couple.

Q: I know it's early in the season, but is it difficult for you to keep your team level headed each week?

BB: Well, I think that's a good question. I don't know if you ever know. I thought we played fairly well Monday night and came back Wednesday and just were awful, it was a terrible practice. We didn't do anything right. I showed the team a lot of the highlights, lowlights of practice Thursday morning. We talked about it Wednesday when we watched the tape and saw it again Thursday morning. Even thought the execution wasn't very good in practice on Wednesday, looking back on it, I would say they probably absorbed a lot of the principles and the idea of what we're trying to do and then the execution got progressed. It was better on Thursday and Friday and we walked through some things on Saturday that we ended up using in the game and executed them pretty well. There was a building process last week that occurred, but not every week is like that. If you would have asked me on Wednesday was that a problem, I would have said yes, definitely it was a problem. After the game, we were able to overcome it on Thursday, Friday and even though Wednesday was bad on the field there was obviously a lot of learning that took place, it just didn't show up on the field in that practice. I mean anybody who was out there will tell you that.

Q: The opposition has talked about how your team is physically tougher and your team wore them down. Is that a tribute to the strength and conditioning program?

BB: Well I think that it is a good program and I think we have a lot of participants in it. It's not something that you do a couple times a week, lifting weights during the season. A lot of our conditioning and strength and flexibility and all those physical skills are build in the months that the players train in the off season with Mike (Woicik) and Markus (Paul). There's no doubt that those things help. But I think we had a good training camp. I think there were some aspects of it that were tough. We had some heat. We had some days where we just had to grind through it and push through it and nobody felt like it and everybody was tired, but they just kept going. I think there's a point in time where that conditioning affects and pays off. You have to be tired to be in condition. You just can't be fresh and say we're going to work on our conditioning. The only time you can work on your conditioning is when the body is fatigued and you have to build past that point and that's how you develop that. I think that went fairly well in training camp. I don't know, we'll see how that goes when we're in a close game. We felt it in the third quarter but if it comes down to the end of the fourth quarter, that's when you find out a little bit more about your conditioning.

Q: In every player, that's something that can sense (fatigue). Is that something that they communicate when they come over to the sideline?

BB: I think we've been confident about our conditioning, I really do. I think we've been confident about it. I think we feel like we're not dying out there, then we can keep going. We had the ball for a long time offensively yesterday. We had a lot of plays. Ran the ball quite a bit, which for the offensive line is probably a little bit more demanding physically. I think there's a lot more confidence on that. They know they've worked hard. We're not playing volleyball or horseshoes and stuff. They know they'll been working.

Q: Tom Brady mentioned humility in the press conference. How important is humbleness on this team?

BB: Well I think it's important that the team understands that our success is based on what the team does, it's not based on what any individual does. It's how we collectively work together as a group. How all three aspects of the game – offense, defense and special teams, complement each other and play to each other's strengths so the other group can be successful. I think it's important for the team to understand that it works a lot better when it goes that way I can tell you that for sure.

Q: Do you feel lucky that the team buys into that?

BB: Well, I think that the team has overall played two pretty solid games. That's what I'll say.

Q: Are you aware in your history as a coach, a team having three safeties of this caliber and using them at the same time?

BB: I'd have to think about that one a little bit. But I do feel that we're fortunate to have three quality safeties like we do. Let's put it that way. I think we're real fortunate. Again, we talked about that in the off-season that if Vic(tor) (Green) was to come here, which didn't happen until July, but if he was to come here, how we would utilize Vic and Lawyer (Milloy) and Tebucky (Jones) and some of the flexibilities that would give us that we've never had that in the past. I think we've gotten some of that in the last three or four games. I think starting about the Carolina game that we started using a little bit of that. It gives you more speed on the field, a linebacker and it does give you some flexibility and versatility when those guys can do multiple jobs. They can play close to the line. They can cover. They can play in the deep part of the field, so that gives you a lot of versatility.

Q: Before Victor came, was that a package that you always envisioned?

BB: Well, let me put it this way. I think it depends on what the safety skills are. Sometimes you have a safety skills who are safety to corner. Sometimes you have a safety skills who are safety to linebacker. Depending on what the skill set is that he has, then that can give you some flexibility as to which way you want to push him. So if a guy is say a safety, but he's a very good coverage safety…

Q: Like Victor for example?

BB: I don't know if I would put him in that category. Say a guy like, well he's injured now, but Jerome Woods. Jerome Woods played corner in college. He played corner his rookie year for Kansas City and then played free safety for them. A safety that has played safety or maybe almost a corner, Carnell Lake would be another one going back a little bit at Pittsburgh who played safety and corner. Then you'd have some flexibility with those guys that you can do some corner type things with them that you wouldn't normally do with a safety and you get some match-ups that a lot of safeties wouldn't have. If you have a guy who has a little different skill set, maybe is more of a linebacker, a guy who can play closer to the line of scrimmage, blitz, do those kind of things, then you might use him in a little bit of a different capacity. There have been plenty of those types safeties in the league as well. Again, I think it depends on what the skill set of the player is, how you want to use that combination. These three players have a lot of similar skills, let's put it that way. So they're interchangeable.

Q: What was it about Tebucky that made him blossom into the player that he is today?

BB: Well I just think overall it's a better fit for him in our defense. Now if he was playing in a different defense, maybe somebody else would feel differently, I don't know. But for what we ask our safeties to do and for what we ask our corners to do, I think that he's a better fit for us at safety and he'll be a more productive player for us at safety. It's not to say that he couldn't play corner and maybe if our system was different, maybe he would play corner, I don't know. But for what we ask our players to do, I think that's just our spot. He's worked hard at doing whatever we've asked him to do whatever the job is. Whether it's kickoff coverage and which I felt the play he made on that kickoff was an outstanding play just like the one he did on the sack. But whatever it is we've asked him to do, he's worked hard to try and do it and perfect it. He's made a lot of improvement in three years for us.

Q: Charlie (Weis) missed some of training camp. Did he have to play catch up with the offense?

BB: Even though Charlie wasn't physically at camp the first week, we had a lot of communication with him and we sent him tapes of all the practices. He was in communication with us, this is what we're doing, here's the problems we're having, here's the things that are looking ok and this is why we are changing this route to that, this is why we made this little adjustment in the blocking scheme, here's the problem we're having with it, whatever it happens to be. Then when he came back, then the first thing that Charlie and I did was we sat in there probably for about an hour or so with quarterbacks and went through all the fine tuning, the adjustments that we had made while he wasn't there, so that all of us were on the same page as to why they had been changed or what the new nuances were. Some of them we changed back, and some of them we left and some of them we ended up adjusting again. As time goes on you find things that always need some kind of fine-tuning. That was kind of the process. I wouldn't say that, even though he wasn't physically there, mentally I don't think that he fell behind at all because we stayed in communication all the way through and we knew that he would be coming back. We didn't want, just exactly what you said, to happen.

Q: Has the offense exceeded your expectations, even though it's early?

BB: I think we've had more production offensively than we've had earlier in the year over the last couple of years. Whether that will continue or not, I don't know. But I think we're off to a better start than we have been. We need to keep building on that.

Q: Is there a secret to creating a turnover?

BB: Yes, I think you play the percentages on that. Each week we talk to the team about turnovers. 'These are the areas this week', against whatever team it is we're playing. Here's where we think we can get turnovers, these opportunities. Then we show them film, to show that situation coming up and talk specifically about 'hey if you're in that situation' or if you're going to be chasing a guy from behind or if they're going to be throwing the ball on the flat and whether you're going to be flat defender or somebody else, whatever the situation is we talk to them about hey here's an opportunity and if you're alert this is something that you might be able to take advantage of here. Where to tip balls, where the throwing lanes are, how guys carry the ball so forth and so on. When that situation comes up, then you hope that the player can apply that instruction to (a) recognizing the situation and (b) then using the proper technique to take advantage of how to turn the ball over. So it's not just making the tackle, it's not just getting to the guy with the ball, but we want to try to get the ball away from them when the opportunity arises.

Q: When you went out to Indianapolis last year, was that a trap game that good teams fall into?

BB: Yeah, they were on a roll. They were the best team in football. They had improved defensively. They were averaging over 40 points a game. There was no weakness in their game, everybody was like I said multiplying their score by how much they scored in the first two games, 42 points or whatever it was, by eight and how many points they were going to score and all this and that.

Q: Is that on your mind with Kansas City coming here?

BB: No, I'm just saying that respectfully to this group. How great do I think our offensive production is going to be? Well we've played two games, I don't know, there's 14 more to go. I heard a lot of the same things last year about how great Indianapolis' production was going to be and how many records they were going to break and all that and that came crashing down in a hurry. I'm not a big history scholar but I can remember a year ago at this point in time after two games that being said about another team. I don't think it really means much.

Q: Does it become easier or more difficult week by week to keep the team focused on targeting September?

BB: I think the challenge is always there. Every team that we play is a good NFL football team. It's not like college where you can play down the division and set the schedule up how you want to play in the non-conference games and all that. This league is very competitive; any team can win on any Sunday. The most important thing for us to have our team prepared and ready to go regardless of what the circumstances or situations are that will occur in the game and to be prepared for it and be able to execute it when it comes up and that's really what it comes down to and it changes every week. Every week the preparation is different, the challenges are different, the personnel is different, things we have to stop and things we have to try attack they're never the same. Even if it's the same team twice in one year, it still changes because they're always adjustments, teams will move things around, so it's never the same.

Q: With Buffalo at 1-1 and Drew Bledsoe, are you happy for him as a former player or are you consumed with your own team?

BB: Not really spending a lot of time with the division teams other than the Jets. Obviously it's hard to root for anybody in our division. They're our competitors.

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