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Bill Belichick Press Conf. Transcript - 09/23/2002

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BB: Well, after looking at the tape this morning I think that there's probably not a lot different from what we talked about yesterday after the game. It was kind of a contrast of halves where the first half ended up 10-9 close kind of defensive game, and then everything broke loose in the second half and both teams were up and down the field quite a bit. Fortunately we were able to score a couple more points than they were but that was obviously an explosive offensive half by both teams. We were able to make some big plays and get into the end zone and so were they. I think all the way around when the game is over, when all is said and done, we have a lot of things we need to work on in all three phases of the game, offensively, defensively and special teams depending on what half you want to talk about or what series you want to talk about. It was not a real consistent effort in any phase for any extended period of time and that's what we'll do today. Make those corrections and move on to San Diego, which is obviously a good football team that's playing well that presents a lot of other challenges for us. I think we've got some guys that are stiff and sore from the game. It was a physical game and I don't really have any updates on anybody. I think we're probably just going to have to wait and see on Tuesday and Wednesday how they loosen up or don't loosen up and take it when we practice Wednesday what their status is. But at this point nothing really outstanding to report any more than yesterday. That's pretty much the story.

Q: Is this one of the more physical games you have been involved in?

BB: I think it was a pretty physical game. Both ways. I think they got some licks in, I think we got some in too. It was a hard fought game. Both teams played hard right down to the wire and that's the way it is in this league. That's pretty much the way it is every week.

Q: Is Tom Brady one of the guys who got banged up yesterday?

BB: I think he's ok.

Q: Watching the game yesterday, you know that San Diego is going to run the ball against you. Did you talk specifically to the team about that?

BB: Well sure, yes. Just looking ahead we see several teams on the horizon with that have good running games, San Diego's definitely in that group. (LaDainian) Tomlinson's…we got a good look at him last year, he's one of the top runners in the AFC and I'm sure we'll get challenged there. We see them every week, whether it's been (Jerome) Bettis, Curtis Martin, Priest Holmes, Tomlinson, you can go right down the line there's a bunch of them on the schedule. We'll need to do a better job than we did yesterday, there's no question about it, in the second half. We need to do a better job than we did in the second half yesterday.

Q: You have been throwing the ball very effectively. How much of a concern is it that if you continue to throw the ball, are you exposing Tom (Brady) a lot more to a series of hits that could impair his effectiveness?

BB: Well I think we've got to protect it a little bit better than we did yesterday. Sometimes if that's what you've got to do, that's what you've got to do. If their going to be blitzing and bringing everybody up on the line of scrimmage and kind of forcing the throw behind him, it's just to many guys to block then you're going to have to throw it. The more you can balance them up and we've seen that in that in different games from different teams, the more you can balance them up or the more effectively that we can run the ball, and we can do a better job at running the ball. It wasn't all about them playing a lot of eight-man fronts, although clearly Kansas City is an eight-man front team; they don't play anything but that. We still have to be able to block them and do a better job at blocking them at times yesterday. We could use more balance and more production in the running game and we need better pass protection when we are going to throw it whether that's once a game or 50 times a game, whatever it is. We need to protect a little better than we did yesterday.

Q: How early in Tom's career did you see that he could stand in against the pressure and deliver the ball?

BB: I think that's been a strength of Tom's all the way through. He did it in college, he did it his rookie year in preseason games. He played at the end of the preseason in the 2000 season in the fourth quarter with the offensive line problems we were having there that there wasn't a lot of protection. I could tell you that there wasn't much protection in those days. You know we swung the pendulum back on that a couple of weeks ago we we're talking about him managing the game and that was about all he could do and now we're throwing too much.

Q: Was their (Kansas City) effectiveness offensively running the ball because of (Tedy) Bruschi being out, (Roman) Phifer being out?

BB: It wasn't in the first half, the problems started in the third quarter on the first drive and then they accelerated in the third and fourth quarter and they ran the ball outside, they ran it inside. There were plenty times where we had him and he broke tackles and gained extra yardage there. They hit us on a couple of reverses or counter reverses. That was part of the problem too. Just about all of it came in the second half. It wasn't a problem in the first half. I don't think he's averaging three yards a carry in the first half.

Q: Did they make an adjustment that wasn't expected?

BB: No. I think they ran what they ran in the first half. They blocked it better, we made some mistakes, we missed some tackles. So I mean there was a combination of things. It wasn't just one play, it wasn't just one spot, it wasn't just one guy missing tackles. We didn't tackle well the entire second half.

Q: Did you sense that your team might be flat coming out yesterday? Did you sense late in the week, do you remember saying to yourself 'were not ready to play'?

BB: No, not during the week.

Q: How much value is there in duplicating situations in practice?

BB: Well, you try to replicate them the best you can. It's hard to create the exact game situation. But I think what is important is that the team understand, and I'm talking about the entire team not just one or two players, but the entire team understand what exactly you want to do in those situations. Most of the ones that came up yesterday we had covered. We had a situation at the end of the half where it was fourth-and-five and we elected to punt. We got a good punt, got the ball down inside the five yard line, used our defensive timeouts, got the ball back, kicked a field goal before the half. Those were three important points. We had a situation at the end of the game where we we're able to get the ball into field goal range and try to position it a little bit for the kicker on the last play, execute it outside. Some of the things that came up in the game specifically to one situation, when I say situation I'm really talking about one play or maybe two plays that I thought we did some of those things fairly well, we did that better sometimes than we did some of the stuff that we get more repetitions on in practice.

Q: Do you feel like Deion Branch is coming along pretty well in the kickoff return department?

BB: I thought he did a decent job returning kicks yesterday. We had decent field position. We had a penalty that knocked some yardage off a long one there. If we had held a couple of blocks maybe just a little bit longer, we could have gotten a little bit more. I thought that Deion did a good job of attacking the entire field. He'll run it up in there and when the coverage collapsed on him, he was able to bounce one outside and make a play on it. I think that he and Patrick (Pass) give us a good combination back there. That production has been a little bit better, certainly better than it was last year. So that's a little bit of an improvement, it's been more consistent this year.

Q: Can you talk about the running game yesterday? How effective was it?

BB: No. It was inconsistent. Like a lot of things, it was inconsistent. We had our moments. We slid a couple runs and Antowain (Smith) popped through there a couple times. There were a couple of times we got hit in the back field. We didn't do a good job of sustaining it or making it a consistent running game and that really led to some other problems. I think overall on third down our conversions yesterday were good when the yardage was a reasonable eight or less. We probably got most of them, I don't know 80 percent, 75 percent of them, and we got a lot of them. But when the yardage is longer, when it got to third and 10 or whatever it was, around third and 10 or more, we had six of those and only got one. A lot of that comes from what you do on obviously on first and second down which the running game is a part of that. Penalties played a part in some of those calls too, but that running game really leads to your third down distance and that leads to your conversion rate and time of possession and so forth down the line. So it wasn't what it needs to be.

Q: Do you think about the tempo or the frequency of the running game?

BB: What we talk about as a coaching staff and what we tell the players is we're going to do what we think is best to win the game, period. Any call that is made is called with that intent, is to try to help us win the game. It's not to try to get somebody the ball to get somebody so many catches to get somebody else so many yards. That's not why we do it. We're just doing it to try to win the game. That's all we really care about. Sometimes you call runs, sometimes you call passes. Sometimes the game situation dictates that you have to throw and you have to throw when you have to throw and sometimes the game situation dictates that you need to run and you run when you have to run. There are going to be certain situations in certain games that are going to be dictated. But other than that, we have a broad base and we're going to call some runs and we're going to call some passes and whatever we call, we're going to go out there and try to execute it. I'm not going to accept it, Charlie (Weis) is not going to accept it, Dante (Scarnecchia) is not going to accept it 'well we only ran the ball one time in those five plays that's why we screwed it up'. That's not what it's about and if we call 10 runs and call one pass in those 10 plays we're not going to accept 'well we didn't throw well because we didn't have our timing or didn't have our rhythm.' To me that's just a lame excuse. If you call it, you have to run it.

Q: Is there an overnight cure to the inconsistency you talked about?

BB: Well what we'll do is look at the tape, we'll make the corrections on the tape. Point those out to the players, and certainly there's some coaching adjustments too, don't get me wrong. There are things that the next time we see a particular look we'll maybe change it and do it just a little bit differently to give the player a little bit better angle, a little bit better opportunity, maybe a couple of tougher blocks. But in the end, you point that out to the players, and the next time that situation comes up, I think we'll execute it better. Now that may or may not happen against San Diego. They might not be in exactly the same front or they might not run the same stunt against that particular play, but if and when it happens, we hope that we'll learn from the game experience and improve. That is what football is about in a 16-game regular season. You go through training camp, you go through all your rules and principles and so forth and then you apply them in the regular season and as they come up during the regular season you continue to use that experience to refine them on a weekly basis. You may not see one of those situations again for two weeks. You might not see it again for a month. But when it comes back up again, a good player and a good team will do a little bit better the next time.

Q: Is one of the reasons Kansas City had success with the run is because they stayed with it? Did that you get off balance in the second half?

BB: I mean we expected them to run in the second half. The score was 10-9 at the half. We came in and talked about it. It wasn't like we sat in there said 'ok boys, they're getting ready to air it out.' We expected that they would stay with their game plan. It was a close game; they had a one-point lead. It's like a 0-0 game at that point. I didn't see any reason…Romeo (Crennel) and I talked about it, we didn't see any reason to think that they would do anything other than run the same game plan that they ran in the first half with whatever alterations they were going to make. That's what we expected them to do. What was disappointing was they took the opening kickoff and ran that back about 60-something yards and then put it in the end-zone in just a couple of plays and looked like we didn't expect any of it when in fact that's exactly what we thought they would do when they came. They executed it better than we did at that particular point in the game.

Q: Can you talk about your three wide receivers and what their skills are, specifically Brown, Deion and David?

BB: Well I think that all three of those players, number one it starts with they have good hands and dependable hands. Number two, they are good route runners. What a quarterback wants is somebody that runs good routes and can get open and number two will catch the ball. Beyond that, you take whatever you can get. Whether that comes in a 6-2 package or a 5-10 package or whether it's 4.5 or 4.45 or a 4.55 or whether the guy is an eight-year veteran or a two-year veteran, the bottom line is can he run routes to get open and, number two, can he catch the ball? If you can't do those two things then really it's hard to be effective in the passing game. So that's what those three guys do. They do a good job of it. They run good routes, they get open and they catch the ball with consistency so that for their fourth year quarterback but that's the guy you want to throw to.

Q: Is (David) Patten becoming better than you projected him to be?

BB: David has improved a lot. David's improved a lot from last year to this year. I thought that he had a real good off season and I think he had a real good mini-camp and training camp. He's improved his route running and I think certainly he understands our offense a little bit better some of the finer points, the route adjustments and that type of thing. There was a play at the end of game there where Kansas City blitzed and we had a pass on and he and Tom made a nice blitz adjustment where Tom just flipped it out to him and he stiff armed (William) Bartee, made about 15, 18 yards on the play, whatever it was, got us down to field goal range. Little things like that, if you miss that it's an incomplete pass, maybe it's a sack, you make it and it turns into a 15-, 18-yard play and it ends up being the field position that gets you in there for the field goal at the end. There's a lot of little things like that, that David has improved on. Not to say he was poor at them before. I'm not saying that at all. I'm just saying he's better at them now than he was a year ago because he's worked in the system and he knows the system better. He's refined his route running and his timing with Tom.

Q: How long does it take for a receiver and a quarterback to develop a relationship?

BB: I think it depends on the receiver and the quarterback. I think each union there is different. How long does it take you to develop a solid relationship with somebody else? It depends on who the other person is.

Q: Where would you say Tom and Troy (Brown) are?

BB: I'd say they have a very good one. I think that Tom knows what Troy is thinking and I think that Troy knows what Tom is thinking. Not that we don't have our screw ups out there every once and awhile. Somebody will have that shrug look like 'what happened I thought it was going to be that and you thought it was going to be something else.' That's part of working it out. But I would say overall I think they have a good feel for each other.

Q: Have you noticed an improvement with them over time? Tom's been the starting quarterback now for a year.

BB: I think it's better now than it was, say, a year ago or even mid-season last year. I think it's definitely better. It's better with David and it's improved with Deion too as well from earlier in the preseason to where we are now.

Q: If the roles were reversed, would you have considered going for two on the last play of the game?

BB: I don't know. I really have given that one much thought. I think it would depend on… well obviously the situation would have been totally reversed. We'd be looking at our offense and their defense and all of that. It didn't surprise me that they kicked it. That probably is a percentage move.

Q: Do coaches, generally, would they want to take their chances and want to drive and let their defense and offense and see 11 plays on either side as opposed to one play for the entire game, generally?

BB: I don't know. We had that situation in preseason against Philadelphia. I mean it wasn't the last play, but it was right down there near the end. Philadelphia went for two, it was a close play, we had two games and one went one way and one went the other way. I know one was a preseason game, I don't know if it would have been that way during the regular season or not. But there's certainly an argument for going either way on that.

Q: What was the mess up with Tom's interception?

BB: Well it ended up in their hands. That was the big breakdown. Anytime there is an interception, it didn't happen the way you want it to happen. So if we had to do it over again, I'd probably do a couple things differently, a combination. It could have been better protection, could have been a little better route. I'm sure Tom would like to have that one back and not throw it to (Mike) Maslowski.

Q: How much flexibility does a consistent place-kicker give you? Does it allow you to take more risk?

BB: I think when you have a lot of confidence in your kicker, you want to give him every opportunity to kick. So if you have one of those fourth-and-one, fourth-and-two situations, if you're really iffy about your kicker, then you might as well go for it. If you really feel confident in your kicker then you sometimes feel like 'ok, I'm giving up a sure three points for what am I going to get if I don't kick it, nothing? Or are we definitely going to score or are we just going to get a first down and have to kick a field goal a series later,' that type of thing. That's really what you try to weigh there. I think if you feel like you have a chance to get the ball in the end zone, then it's worth maybe bypassing a field goal. If you really in your heart feel like 'well even if we pick this up, I'm still not sure if we can get it in the end zone we're going to probably have to end up kick it anyway,' then you might as well go ahead and kick. Those kicking situations, I think bring up some interesting decisions for the coach. I do think in the end that a kicker's job is to kick it and if you've got a kicker on your roster then you can't go into the game thinking 'well I've got a kicker but I'm not going to kick a field goal.' You just can't coach like that, there's no point in having one. If that's his job then you have to count on him to do that job. You just can't say 'ok well we're going to go for it all the time because I don't think he's going to make it,' you just can't coach like that. Then you've got to get another kicker.

Q: So Adam's value must multiply many fold in overtime because it gives your offense a shorter field to work for?

BB: Absolutely. There's no question. In a situation like yesterday, once we got the ball down there around the I think it was the 22-, 23-yard line, we felt like we could have kicked it from there. The closer the better. When we got the second down, we just wasted a third down play to try to get what we could to get the ball a little closer to the middle of the field and give him an opportunity to win it. I don't know that everybody in the league feels that good about their kicker, but we feel that way about Adam and its certainly a big plus, a lot of confidence in him.

Q: Bill you may have answered the question yesterday, but I didn't hear it.

BB: Can we just read the answer if I did that.

Q: After your first touchdown, what was the decision making there in going for the two-point conversion?

BB: We looked at the tape and thought we could make it. I thought that we were a little…that's one of those where going into the game when would you use it, what would be the situation we thought we could get on extra point. At that point in time I thought we were a little stagnant, we had a little trouble getting going and obviously we could have kicked it there but thought well we thought it was a solid play and I was trying to use that to get a little bit of an extra spark there, grab an extra point. We thought we had a good opportunity, obviously they made a good play on it and reacted to it and stopped Kenny (Walter) about a foot short of the yard, the goal line so we missed it. I was trying to get a little spark into the team. We thought we had a good play, but we just … guy fell off the rush, we didn't quite get him soon enough.

Q: How much running back experience does Kenny have?

BB: Not a lot. That's one that's either there or it's not. We weren't really counting on him to break two or three tackles. We thought it would open up and we would be able to punch it in there and they fell back off the rush and we just missed on him and he made the play.

Q: Tom often talks about throwing to a variety of receivers. What kind of patterns do you ideally run for your receivers?

BB: Well I think that what you want to have in your passing game is something that gives the quarterback an option, depending on what coverage you get, so the team plays zone coverage he's got somewhere to go with the ball. If they play man coverage and they take the zone pattern away, then he's got somewhere else to go. If they blitz, he's got some alternative on the play. Depending on what coverages you think the team is playing, whether you're getting two-deep, whether you're getting quarters, whether you're getting three deep, whether you're getting man, whether their a team that likes to double cover in man or whether they just want to play straight up and give deep help, depending on what the team's got maybe three or four primary coverage's then you take a primary pattern depending on what coverage it is, you feel like you got a route that can win at some point in the coverage. I'm not sure exactly how Tom put it, but the way I see it is that you don't want a quarterback to go back there and say 'oh it's cover two, I don't have anything,' either throw it into some tight spot where you get it picked off or throw it away. If the pattern isn't good, it gets cover two, if cover two takes a certain part of the pattern away then there should be somewhere he could go alternatively to be able to complete the pass or if they play cover three or whatever it is. So he just follows his reads and the receivers run the proper routes and beat the coverage that we feel like they have an advantage to beat then there should be somebody open to throw the ball to.

Q: Would you expect any other quarterback in the league to do what Tom did on the lateral with Kevin Faulk where he fumbled it?

BB: I thought that was a heck of a play. I really did. I think a lot of guys would have belly flopped on that one. Tom really made a nice play to scoop it up and have the poise and the presence to know that he had just enough time to get it and throw it up there towards Branch to save the grounding call. I thought it was really a heads up play. And those are the toughest plays that a quarterback has to make. Believe me, when I meet with the quarterbacks and we go through things every week, I always, always make an emphasis point with them to tell them that the hardest play you are going to have in the game is when something unexpectedly goes wrong. A receiver falls down, a receiver runs the wrong route, a guys gets jammed, back goes the wrong way, you high snap, you stumble coming away from the center, whatever it is. Whatever happens, you expect something to happen and then it doesn't happen that way now all the pressure is on you and you've got to make the right decision with the ball at that particular point and it's already screwed up. So how are you going to make the best of a bad situation. And obviously the worst thing that can happen is to turn the ball over. So let's start from there; (a) don't turn it over and (b) let's get what you can – an incomplete pass or get back to the line of scrimmage, (c) if we can gain any positive yardage out of a screwed up situation – great, but let's try to cut our losses at that point. But it's a very tough thing for a quarterback to make the right decision in that situation because again it's unexpected that it's gone wrong. It's one thing when you've got a pass called and there's cover two, this is a guy you want to throw it to but he's not quite there. You're thinking a receiver is going to run an in-cut now he runs an out-cut and now you're standing there holding the ball – what are you going to do? That's where a quarterback has got make good decisions or the team pays for it.

Q: How many guys would have tried to continue the play?

BB: I don't know. But I thought he made a great decision in a very tough situation with his back to the line of scrimmage trying to scoop up a bouncing football and know that you only have a second or two to make a key decision. There would have been a big loss if he would have fallen on it, it would have been even more disastrous if it had been a turnover. We got out of it with an incomplete pass, it was a great decision similar to the one that (Willie) McGinest made in the fumble against Pittsburgh, that type of thing. For a quarterback those are the toughest situations.

Q: Troy had 15 catches in the second quarter. How does that happen? Was it just him getting open or Tom finding him?

BB: Kansas City played a lot of softer coverage, a lot of zone coverage and that's what they were giving us. We throw for however many yards we threw for yesterday, a whole bunch of them, when you think about it really there weren't a lot of long passes or a lot of big plays in there. Now David (Patten) made a big play after he caught the ball and ran with it, Troy got a decent play out of the one that he caught and (Greg) Wesley fell down. Again, those weren't long passes they were maybe only 15-, 18-yard completions when the ball was actually caught. For all the yards we got yesterday, it was like it came like it was in the Colt game last year where it came on a 90-yard touchdown pass and 60-yard touchdown pass. Those passes just weren't there yesterday. There were a couple of catch and run plays on intermediate throws and then the rest of it were really short to intermediate throws. I think that just goes to show you that you can make yards in the passing game if you can execute against that type of coverage and you have to be able to run with the ball after the catch, that's where you get some bonus yardage. I think normally when you see a game that has a lot of yards passing you usually get a 50 or 60 yarder in there that comes on one play, but that really didn't happen yesterday – the ball was never thrown that far.

Q: Is yards after the catch one the biggest improvements this year?

BB: It has been. And that I think is also part of the receiver is hustling to get a block because there had been some good blocks on those plays as well. Not so much yesterday, although David almost knocked off Bartee on Troy's play but Bartee just tripped him up there, but David was really hustling almost got a block on that one too. Actually we got the blocks on Antowain's (Smith) long run. But part of it is running after the catch and part of it is also hustling and making that first block to spring the receiver after he's caught it to get him going.

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