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Bill Belichick Press Conf. Transcript - 09/18/2002

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BB: We have the injury report and we had one roster move we made yesterday, we released O.J. (Brigance) and re-signed Jimmy Hitchcock so that fills us out for the day. Just on Kansas City, this is a team that has had a lot of changes since the last time we saw them in the Monday night game in 2000. They've got a new coach, not a lot of new players, new offensive and defensive coordinators, a whole new package. Of course one thing that hasn't changed is (Tony) Gonzalez. He had a career night against us that night. He caught 150 yards worth of passes even though we doubled him most of the night it was a pretty big day for him. I think this is a real explosive offensive football team. They've got a top running back, good receivers with (Johnnie) Morton, (Eddie) Kennison, obviously Gonzalez who's is like a receiver playing tight end. {inaudible} offensive line, couple of good tackles with (John) Tait and Wille Roaf, good quarterback. This is a team that is averaging over 400 yards a game offensively and they deserve it because they are well balanced, they can run the ball, and they can throw it. (Priest) Holmes is their leading receiver as well as their big time runner so they really have a pretty well balanced attack offensively and can move the ball. Defensively, Greg Robinson is the type of coach that has always been high in the league in turnovers. They're a ball-hogging type of defense. They strip the ball well; they take it away from you. Historically whether it was with the Jets, Denver or now in Kansas City, he's always been a coach and his teams have always been teams that have been high up in their turnover percentages in terms of taking the ball away in the NFL. They've got a good defensive line; they rotate a lot of people in there. They've got some guys that can be very disruptive. It's a defense that's going to blitz you, they're going to pressure you and if you don't have your eyes open and you don't know what you're doing, they can make you look bad in a hurry. Special Teams they've got real good kickers. A good returner in (Dante) Hall and (Dan) Stryzinski and (Morten) Andersen are good kickers they cover well. They're a good solid team. Obviously they're well coached, they have an excellent head coach. Dick (Vermeil) has been around as long as anyone. He knows how to win games in this league. So this is a team with a lot of new faces for us especially compared to our last two opponents. I've already talked to our team quite a bit about in terms of bringing our level of familiarity up with the Chiefs like it has been with division teams and teams that we've had more of a recent history with so we have a lot of work ahead of us this week. Offensively this is real explosive football team. Real explosive runner, this guy is fast, he can go to the house on any play. He can run in space, he can go.

Q: Is Dick Vermeil doing anything similar to when he was St. Louis with (Mike) Martz?

BB: Sure absolutely. This is basically a St. Louis offense. Al Saunders came over and was with him at St. Louis. They do a lot of the shifting; a lot of the plays that they run look very familiar to what St. Louis does. They have a few of the same concepts, obviously they tailor it a little bit differently on personnel and they have a tight end that is a say little more of the focal point of the passing attack than St. Louis where the receivers were maybe a little bit more of the focal point but a lot of the passing principles of what they try to do and how patterns are distributed and so forth, there is certainly a lot of carryover there. For Dick that is quite a contrast to what his offense was in Philadelphia. I remember when I was a defensive coordinator there with the Giants and we were playing the Eagles, they ran so few plays that normally you would do a three game scouting report on them. We used to go back five, six seven games just to try to get another play just so we could get a different play to run in practice. But they ran the same plays time after time after time, same formations. It was one of those deals where you kind of knew what they were going to do. You knew Wilbert Montgomery was going to run the toss in the sprint draw, and they still won the Super Bowl in 1981 running that stuff. They were very methodical, very well disciplined and very execution oriented on a very small number of plays. Now they're kind of at the other end of the spectrum where they're still obviously a real disciplined team and can move the ball up and down the field as well as anybody in this league but a lot more variety than what it was with the Philadelphia offense.

Q: You talked about Dick in the 1980's and you can remember the stories of him sleeping on his couch.

BB: That's what was so funny about it because defensively, they played two coverage's. They played three and they played a three man rush cover three we called 'p3'. They played 'p' and 'p3'. Offensively they ran two plays – they ran the sprint draw and they ran a toss. And they threw a couple of passes to Harold Carmichael, a quick screen and a couple of routes to him and you used to sit there and think 'what takes so long'. We'd get the plays in practice, say you'd have twelve, nine on seven run plays in practice but we only got four plays, can we draw up something else? Well there isn't anything else. You'd just be making them up; you'd just be drawing them in the sand. But that's what they did it and they did it very well. You knew what Wilbert was going to do; you knew what Carmichael was going to do, you knew (Ron) Jaworski had two routes to (John) Spagnola and Mike Quick, you know they had good players but it wasn't very complicated and they would line up and beat every team every week doing the same thing. Marion Campbell the defensive coordinator, honest to God, they had two coverage's and never blitzed. A blitz period, you couldn't even get enough blitzes to run a blitz period, they didn't run them; it was all coverage. It's quite the contrast.

Q: Is it more difficult now to coach? Do you ever sleep on the couch in your office?

BB: It's been a while. Looking back on it, it's funny, it certainly wasn't the volume of their scheme and obviously they were very well prepared with the Eagles, they have good football teams don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that at all. But in terms of the volume of their scheme compared to what it is now, maybe 1/20th of what they're running.

Q: Does Tony Gonzalez present a special situation for you?

BB: Absolutely. He's really a receiver playing tight end in the passing game. He does a good job in the running game too. He'll stick it in there and block; he's got long arms and he can cover people up. Obviously they run the ball as well as anybody in the league. He does a good job in his area of responsibility. But in the passing game, he's really a receiver; he's not tight end. He's got great vertical speed; plus his jumping ability, a lot of his catches the guys are right on him. It's not like he's wide open, the defenders are right there saying how did he come up with the ball. He's got great hands, can really adjust to the throw wherever he needs to go to get it, high, low, behind him. He's really a special player. It's impossible to match up with him. It's a lot like, again going back to Philadelphia, when they had Keith Jackson. You couldn't put a linebacker on him because the linebacker just can't run well enough, and if they can run well enough, they're not tall enough. You put a defensive back on him and they can run with him, but he's got 40 or 50 pounds on his guy, so it's an impossible match up. They spread him out and then they make your linebackers or your safeties go out there and cover him or if you got a corner on him and they put him at tight now your corner's got to come in and try to cover him in a close position where he's not used to doing it. It's tough. He's a special player. Again, he does a good job in the running game too. It's not like he's just in there to catch passes he's an all around player.

Q: Is he one of those players that is almost too quick off the line of scrimmage?

BB: Well again, that's another one and it's pick your poison. Because you get right there on him and he beats you, now you're really scrambling. If you give him space to work, he's too quick and too athletic but if you give him some space he can get through there; it's tough. I've seen him deep, every kind of coverage that you see teams put on him, and he can beat it.

Q: Priest Holmes, was he not a guy you were looking at as a prospect?

BB: We did have a little bit of interest in him. It was prior to the 2000 season, he was still restricted in Baltimore. After the 2000 season when he went to Kansas City, you know we talked about him you know we weren't really in that one too much. It was more when he was restricted after the 1999 before my first season here, we had a little more interest in him then, but again it was a tough situation because you had the matching offers and all that we never really could come up with anything that looked like it was going to be that good.

Q: {On Priest as a player}

BB: I think that he's got an opportunity and obviously he's done an awful lot with it. Priest did a lot of good things in his first three years at Baltimore. He's got good speed; real good speed and he can turn short runs into long runs. He can outrun just about everybody on the field but he's got a low center gravity, good balance and he's got good lower body strength; he's a hard guy to tackle. He breaks a lot of tackles and then he also outruns a lot of people so that's really a lethal combination because he's got the speed to get by but when you do get to him, he's got enough lower body strength to run through them and he's got excellent hands. They throw him the ball, I think he's their leading receiver, they throw him a lot of short passes, catch and run plays, screens, stuff like that so that they get him balls where you don't have to block everybody just throw it out there to him in space and let him go. He's done a real good job. Once he got his chance and the opportunity to get the ball he's shown what he can do with it.

Q: Can you talk about your progress offensively from last year to this year?

BB: We've been able to put a few points on the board this year and that's helped everybody out. It's helps out the defense, it helps out our special teams. I think we've been able to connect a few plays. We need a little more consistency and we're going to tested on that soon this week and in the coming weeks. We can't afford the turnovers that we had at the beginning of the game last week. That's not what we're looking for. We have made some catch and run plays and anytime you can do that, that gives you a big play factor not just trying to throw it over top of them, but also being able to throw it in the shorter areas and try to make a guy miss or break a tackle or get a block to spring somebody. You score on those catch and run plays; you really end up getting some bonus yardage. But you don't count them when you call the play.

Q: Do you think that the offensive productivity is what has improved your team?

BB: I think it's a little to early to start ranking those kind of things, we've only played two games. We'll see how things go here for a little while.

Q: Can you talk about having three tight ends on the roster giving you more flexibility?

BB: Absolutely. Of course we only carried two tight ends last year on the roster so having a third guy creates some formation opportunities that we definitely haven't had. The production at that position is coming along. Hopefully we can sustain it and that will give our offense a little bit more balance. There's no question that's important to us to get production from that position and hopefully we can get that through the year.

Q: Is doesn't seem to matter who starts?

BB: Right, they're all going to play and I think that's true of a lot of positions on our team. It doesn't really matter who is out there for the first play but what kind of production those players have throughout the course of the game. They're all going to play, they're all involved in different packages and I think that Charlie does a great job with utilizing the skills of our offensive players in different situations. He's been able to do that very effectively so far.

Q: Where is (Daniel) Graham's adaptation to the passing game?

BB: Well it's coming. I think he's made good strides since the beginning of camp to now the second or third week of the regular season. He's still got a ways to go. Right now, like all the rookies do, he's got a ways to go. He's making good progress and you can see improvements in Daniel every week; he works hard. Jeff Davidson spent a lot of time with him; you know he's got two experienced guys in Christian (Fauria) and Cam (Cleeland) to learn from. Those guys have done a great job of helping him with some of the little finer points and things at that position where he can benefit from their experience even though he hasn't had it himself. It's been I think a good learning situation for him and he's also contributed for us, you know we saw him a couple of weeks ago, but he's contributed every week. He's been out there; we're asking him to do a lot both in the running game and the passing game. Hopefully that will increase as we go along.

Q: What determines how much a rookie can contribute right away, is it talent or attitude?

BB: I don't think there's any set formula. I just don't think there's any set formula. I think that all the points that you made are valid. The position has a little bit to do with it, the player has a little bit to do with it, sometimes it's the opportunity of who's playing in front of him and who else is available at that position and how much opportunity he gets. I think all those things are factors and again we site a lot of examples of guys that start quicker and don't do as much, other guys who start slower and come on. Some guys get off to a good start and they are able to sustain it. I don't think there's any formula; it's a long season, it's a long year for the rookies. They're just not used to (a) the level of competition that they're at here and (b) the length of the season. You look at a lot of teams and they have three or four games on the schedule that aren't really that demanding. Here it's 16 weeks plus the preseason plus everyday out there in practice they're going against people as good as if not better than they are in college. Probably 90 percent of the time you're going against guys that are significantly better players than the competition. It's a whole different ballgame for them; not to mention the mental part of the game. There's a lot more scheming and a lot more technique than takes place than in college; so that's just part of the progression and the growing pains of being a rookie. Plus the veterans and the coaches and everybody beat up on you too, so it' s a lot of mental anguish they have to go through. We've all been rookies at one time or another. We've all paid that price and in the end it probably brought you some good even though it's painful going through it.

Q: There are all kinds of relationships between quarterback's and head coaches. What's the chemistry between you and Tom Brady?

BB: I think that my relationship with him is probably with what I would like to be with every player on the team. Which is player to coach. I coach him, I tell him on the things he needs to improve in and what we're trying to do from a game plan stand point and what his role in it is and what we need him to do and how the team is going to attempt to perform in each game in those situations and I expect him to work on that and go out try to execute it in the game. But that's no different from a linebacker or defensive lineman or a corner or receiver or anybody else. It just so happens that because of the situation in the last two years that I've met more with the quarterback and I've spent more time at that particular position due to the circumstances. But in terms of how I feel about him or how I would coach him or my approach to him and his position really wouldn't be any different than it would be for any other player in his position.

Q: Because of his style, were you confident that you wouldn't have the sideline exchanges with Tom?

BB: I would just say, first of all, I mean I've been involved in a bunch of those in my career. Football is an emotional game and there's a lot of things that happen within a game that we all have to react very quickly to. You can't sit down and have a big seminar on something that happened. You've got a few seconds to make a decision, a few second to communicate that decision and usually you don't have too much more time before you're back out there trying to do something about it again. We're coaches and players on the sideline and when it gets replayed on TV 8,000 times and analyzed 16,000 times on top of that, I really think a lot of that is overrated. What's really important is just really that whole sequence. A problem comes up; you have to solve the problem, you don't have much time to do it. However it get done, it needs to get done. Whether somebody yells at somebody else or whether they don't yell at somebody else, whether its drawn on a board or whether its shown to them on a picture or whether its verbally communicated, somehow that stuff needs to get straightened out, it needs to get done. Sometimes the dynamics, I know for sure, they're a lot less important than whether problem gets actually solved or not.

Q: Can you talk about your rotation at running back?

BB: It's absolutely a factor. We have to inactivate eight players every week; seven not including the third quarterback. Again it's just is going to come to every week, the overall game plan, strategy, not just on offense and defense but also in the kicking game. The players we think can contribute, again I think that all our players, if we could take 53 to the game, I think that all of them would have a role maybe other than the quarterback position, we could count on them playing on a regular basis every week. So it's not that we don't think somebody could play or help us, the only time that situation would come up is if a player is injured. We just have to decide which one's are the best fit based on that particular point and time the way we perceive it's going to go. Sometimes that changes, Monday morning quarterback in the 20/20 hindsight is usually done differently. Specifically to the running back situation, that's certainly part of the mix. We have five receivers on our roster, we have three tight ends on our roster, we have five running backs on our roster. Realistically, it would just be hard to take 13 offensive skilled players, not counting the quarterback, now you're getting to 15 or 16, that's a lot of skilled players to take to a game when you have a lot of other needs on the field as well. Those are definitely related – tight ends, receivers, running backs; you can only play five of them at time, you can carry 13, but then you're too short in too many other spots.

Q: Have David Patten and Troy Brown helped the development of Deion Branch at all?

BB: I think that they definitely have. They both have a lot of experience in the league and they've had experience in our system, so there are things that Troy and David can convey to Deion about the NFL, about things that go on in the league, things that go on out in the field, things that happen in games. But there are real specific things that 'on this play here's what you need to look for' or 'when this happens you've got to break it out quicker' and 'when this happens you've got to slow down and not break out as fast' and things like that. I think that the fact that they know the offensive system well, they can really help Deion on some real specific things as well as just some general things about getting ready to play in the NFL on a weekly basis or for any particular game. Brian Daboll our receivers coach and Charlie (Weis) have spent a lot of time with Deion as well. I think he's getting a good amount of instruction from a lot of people and that he's done a good job with being open-minded, and hearing it and then trying to apply it when the situations come up.

Q: Are you comfortable with Kevin (Faulk) protecting the quarterback at this point?

BB: Well I think that whatever back is on the field, there are three things that those guys are going to have to be able to do (1) is run (2) is block and (3) is catch. So whoever's out there, they're all going to do it sooner or later. You just can't design very many plays where one of those three things isn't going to happen. You just can't get them the ball every play or you can't throw them the ball every play. There are other things they are just going to be able to have to do. Whether it's Kevin, J.R. (Redmond), Patrick (Pass), Marc (Edwards), Antowain (Smith) whoever is in there, they're going to have to follow their assignments on that particular play. For us to plan we need to be confident that not only they can do it but probably they can do it better than somebody else that could be out there doing it as well. As long as that's the case, then I think that each player can establish a role or a niche for himself in that.

Q: Did Kevin do alright on Sunday?

BB: Yeah he did. I though he did a good job in the Jet game.

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