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Replay: Best of Radio Thu Apr 11 - 02:00 PM | Tue Apr 16 - 11:55 AM

Bill Belichick Press Conf. Transcript - 1/6

Belichick: Tennessee is a good team. They are a good road team.


            **BB:**  Good morning.  I guess I would just say the more I look at the Titans the better they look.  I have seen pretty much every game this year, we had them early and we have had them late and all of the games in between, offense, defense, special teams, I think the credit in that organization really has to start at the top with Floyd Reese and the players and the acquisitions that they have made.  Of course Jeff [Fisher] and his staff.  They are well coached.  They are tough.  They are strong.  They present a lot of problems in all three phases of the game.  They have dropped a couple of games like we all have.  They cause everybody problems every week in one-way or another, usually in multiple ways.  I just think they are a really good football team.  I have a lot of respect for, again, the organization, the coaches and the players and the way that they play.  It should be a good football game on Saturday night.  

**Q: When you look at them on film, do they looked banged up?

BB:** You know who looks banged up? The team playing against them. That is the team that looks banged up. When the blows are over, it seems like they are the ones who do more damage than get damaged. They are pretty physical.

**Q: Was there ever a time during this year where you thought it might be much to overcome with the all of injuries?

BB:** I never look at it that way. Every week is its own challenge. You put together the best you can with the resources that you have. We have a lot of good football players in that locker room and a lot of tough guys. [We have] a lot of guys that have a lot of pride and are good football players. We felt like every week that we have walked out there we could be competitive with our opponent. We've faced some good teams. I don't think there has ever been a lack of confidence that we couldn't be competitive with them.

**Q: I know you don't put a lot of stock in awards that get voted on by media.

BB:** Right.

**Q: But what does it say that nine guys got All Pro votes?

BB:** That the media voted for nine guys. I don't know.

**Q: Does it speak to the depth and high level and…

BB:** Well, I am sure there are other teams that had guys that got a lot of votes too. Like I said, I think we have a lot of good football players in that locker room and I am sure that some are going to get recognized and others may not. That is the way it is. I have a lot of respect for the players in that room and what they have done on the field not only this year but through the years. That is the way it is with that type of thing. Some people are going to get recognized, some aren't. That is the way it is.

**Q: It all goes under the same umbrella that you talked about earlier with the coach of the year award?

BB:** I am not losing any sleep over it. I don't know if anybody else is or not. It is out of our hands.

**Q: When you played Tennessee in October, you had the dictionary definition of a 'patchwork' offensive line. What were you realistically looking for coming out of that Washington game?

BB:** Again, I don't think I ever really thought of it that way. After Washington you are thinking about Tennessee. After Tennessee you are thinking about whoever the next game is.

**Q: Well it can't be nice thinking about Tennessee and being without Mike Vrabel, Willie McGinest and Ted Washington.

BB:** Well look, I don't like thinking about Tennessee no matter who you have. They are a really good football team. At that point in time we were just trying to put together like we do every week, the best game plan, the best personnel match ups and try to prepare your team for what you think the biggest challenges are. At that point in the year, it was, what the fifth week of the season? Every team is going through a little bit of a transition at that point somewhere on their team. Whether it is a personnel thing. Whether it is rookies like in Tennessee's case [Andre] Woolfak, I think he played one game maybe two, whatever it was, in their sub-defense. Every team is in some kind of transition in that third, fourth, fifth or sixth week of the regular season. Whatever the circumstances are. Then at some point, you become more stable. I am not saying things fall into place, but it seems like there are less moving parts and there is more continuity. You have played some regular season games. That is where we are. That is probably where everybody was at that point.

**Q: Can you talk a little bit about your defense and the evolution from last year to this year?

BB:** Well from a personnel standpoint, we made some additions starting early in the offseason with guys like Rosevelt Colvin and Rodney Harrison and later on in the season, even at the end of preseason with the Ted Washington trade and of course some of the rookies being integrated in there as well. I think that Scott [Pioli] and the scouting staff obviously have done a good job of evaluating talent and bringing people to the table that fit into our system and we have been able to utilize and for them [the players] to be productive in it. Schematically we have changed a few things around. There is nothing, I think, fundamentally different from what we have done in the past but with the emphasis points maybe shifting a little bit from some of the things that happened last year and also looking at our personnel and our talent trying to decide how it would best fit together. It has certainly been a long process. It has been an ongoing process. It is one that continues to evolve.

**Q: Looking at Tennessee now on tape, are you surprised that you were able to run the ball on them so well?

BB:** Well, like I said, we had a couple of big plays in that game and that contributed a lot to the yardage. Anytime you have those big plays, statistically it is going to look a little bit different. It is not like every time we handed off the ball we gained seven or eight yards even though our average was good. There were some big plays in there and that was true of Tennessee in terms of their offense. They had a number of big plays against us. You sit there and you say, 'Well they had 450 yards but if you take out these six plays they had 250.' You can't take out those six plays. Just like they couldn't take out the ones that we had, we couldn't take out the ones that they had. That is the way that game went. Whether it will be that way or not this week remains to be seen.

**Q: Would you say this is the best rookie class that you have ever had?

BB:** As a head coach or been a part of?

**Q: Whichever gives the more definitive answer. [Laughter]

BB:** [Laughter] Touché. Well I would say that the 1986 rookie class with the Giants was a pretty good class. That was [Eric] Dorsey, [Mark] Collins, [John] Washington, Erik Howard, [Greg] Lasker and that Pepper [Johnson] guy. He was pretty good too.

**Q: Is that everybody?

BB:** Well that was the first six picks. All on defense by the way. As a defensive coordinator you are always happy to see Christmas coming a little bit afterward.

**Q: Do you know the last six picks?

BB:** You know, I don't think there were a lot of impact picks after that. But that was three rounds worth. Six guys in the first three rounds and I think four in the second round, but whatever it was that was a pretty good class. Again, look, let me just say this – with these guys, it has been one season. I think it is a little too early to evaluate any group of players after their first year in the league. We have had other years where guys have been better in their second season. Take [Tom] Brady for example. Whatever grade you want to give him. I know how you guys like to put grades down every week, you know, 'Give him an 'F' for his rookie season, or an 'F-minus', or an F-plus,' whatever he got that year. Then one year later, then that grade looks different. A year later these grades might look different. Let's give the guy two or three years and see how they do.

**Q: How big of a game was it for Tom Ashworth against Tennessee the first time you played them?

BB:** Well, yes Tennessee has a real good defensive line. The combination at right tackle that he facing was [Kevin] Carter on regular downs and then [Jevon] Kearse on sub downs, so that is a lot of heat over there. It was a big challenge for him. But again, Tom had played all the way through preseason and taken a lot of snaps in preseason and played in Washington. He has faced these kinds of challenges every week. We have seen a lot of good ends. You can just go right down the line. You have to put Tennessee right up there with the best of them. He has been competitive every week.

**Q: [Steve] McNair passed for a lot of yards in the first game. What that something they did schematically?

BB:** They made a lot of big plays. I think you have to give them credit. I don't think that was our best game. You have to give them credit. They threw some balls down the field, the receivers went up and got them. They hit some short passes and broke tackles for long runs and they just hit some intermediate plays too. We need to do a better job covering. We need to do a better job tackling. We need to do a better job rushing, right down the line.

**Q: Did you feel it was a situation where they saw a weak spot and exploited it?

BB:** Again, I think it was a combination of different things. Some plays were one type of play. Other plays were different types of plays. On one play maybe they did. Maybe they got a match up that they liked. Again, they have a lot of good receivers. They have good tight ends. They use their backs. The quarterback is a guy who can stand in the pocket. Until he is down, he is still throwing it 50, 60-yards down the field. He is a guy that can buy more time for himself just on his pure strength and ability to stand in there. I think it came from a number of different areas, problems hit in different areas and we are going to have to address all of those.

**Q: In your mind, what are Jeff Fisher's strengths?

BB:** I would say just about everything. I think he has done a really good job. You are looking at a team that has won about as many as anybody has won in the last five years, have been to the playoffs, been in big games, they are strong defensively, they are strong offensively, they develop young players. He has a good veteran team. They are tough. They physical. They don't make a lot of mistakes. They make you go out there and beat them. You have to play a good game to beat them. They have come from behind and have had some big wins coming from behind. They have had some big wins coming from behind. They were down 21-0 against Atlanta, they came back and beat Houston, and they came back and beat Baltimore on the last drive. They have been able to protect leads. What can you say? I think he is solid all the way through.

**Q: In your experiences, what are the challenges of being such a young coach in the league? He is not anymore, but he was. At one time you were the youngest coach in the league right? He was when he started.

BB:** Right. Well Jeff was the defensive coordinator in Philadelphia. He obviously played in the league so there is a significant difference. But he has been in the league a long time one way or another. As I have, he has coached special teams, he played special teams and he was a very good special teams player with the Bears. He has been in the league as long as anybody. He has a wealth of experience and has been in a good system, the Buddy Ryan system obviously is different from ours but it has been very successful on a number of different levels. He has done a solid job all the way through. Whether it has been as a player, as a position coach, as a coordinator and as a head coach. He kind of rebuilt that program. When he took over down there in Houston, they weren't very good. They had three or four wins, I don't know, whatever it was. Now, that organization has gone through a big transition where they have moved into a different state, been in a couple of different stadiums, have turned over a lot of different players and now their program is one of the top programs in the league. Between Jeff and Floyd and all of the other people that are involved down there, they have done an outstanding job.

**Q: Are there similarities between the two organizations from that standpoint? Did you look at what Tennessee did? Do you ever do that kind of thing or do you just go off your own vision?

BB:** Yeah I think you want to take a look at other successful organizations in the league and pick up some of the things that they are doing maybe in certain areas. Again, I go back a long way with Floyd. He was one of the people that I spent a lot of time with in my first couple of years in the league and he was very influential to me, not just in X's and O's and that type of thing, but in an overall approach to the game and the philosophy and things that are important to look for in players and in coaches. He was a role model for me as a professional coach in my second and third year in the league. He was ahead of me and I learned a lot from just observing him. I think all of those things were part of my makeup as a coach and my development as a coach, working with people like Floyd, and I think that philosophically we see a lot of things similarly, let's put it that way. Based on being with him and on maintaining a relationship with him through the years we see things the same. I am not saying identical, but the fact that maybe there are some similarities in the organizations and even with Jeff I think that philosophically we would agree on things even though we might have different methods of doing them. Certainly the defensive system that he runs is different than ours, but fundamentally I think there are a lot of things that would probably carry over from one to another, especially from talking with Rob Ryan, a guy who has been in that type of system. We have spent a lot of time talking about that.

**Q: Coach, with the playoffs comes an elevated performance level. If the team doesn't recognize it the first time and as the more and more they are in the playoffs, is it possible for teams to become playoff wise? In other words, you don't have to explain the stakes to them? Do teams have that ability?

BB:** Yeah. I think there is certainly something to be said for experience, don't get me wrong. Every season is a new season. We are in a second season already this year, and whether that correlates to the other part of the season, the first part, who knows? It is good to have been through some of those situations, but I don't think it is a prerequisite. There are plenty of teams and plenty of players who have not been in those situations recently that have done very well. In the end what it comes down to is what team plays better coming forward. They are all good teams. They all have good players. They all have good systems or they wouldn't have gotten this far. Now, it is who can play the best in the situations coming up. That is really what it amounts to. That is what playoff football really is.

**Q: In games played in extreme cold, what are the ways the cold shows itself and develops in the game?

BB:** I think starting with ball handling and turnovers. That can be a big factor. Sometimes the ball is tougher to handle just because of the conditions. Footing can be an issue. How the surface plays. In the end, the execution I think really a lot of it is the same, but depending on your substitution pattern and players being able to stay warm and stay loose and be effective going in the game, all that stuff adds up. Certainly taking care of the ball and handling the ball is important not just offensively, but in the kicking game as well. I would say those are some of the factors. If you watch a high school game in cold weather you would be talking about a lot of the same things.

**Q: Jeff is taking his team under the lights to try and prepare them for the cold. Is there any preparing for how cold it is going to be?

BB:** We all feel great now and if you walk out into that element, then you are going to feel a little bit differently. That is just the way it is. At this point, everybody has played in those conditions in one-way or another. I don't really think it is going to be a factor. I'm sure Jeff is doing what is best for his football team. That is what he should do. Not everybody does it the same way. There are a lot of different ways to approach your practice schedule and your routine and there are a lot of different ways to get it done.

**Q: You have coached defensive backs for a long time. How do you address or coach gambling or guessing or jumping routes, that kind of thing? How do you coach that? Do you leave it alone?

BB:** I don't think you leave it alone at all. I think that regardless or what position you play, you play percentage football. To me that is A) knowing what you are doing, B) knowing your opponents and their tendencies and being prepared and then C) when those things merge together, and you see the stars coming into alignment, to be able to pull the trigger and take the calculated percentage play. I think if a player is going to just gamble and be hitting this on everything, there are going to be misses and he is not going to be very productive. For a player to play sound, fundamental, good football for 85 percent of the game, but maybe on 15 percent things really line up to really where he knows where it is going to be and he can anticipate it and he can beat the play however it is, whatever position he is playing, to take advantage of that opportunity when everything comes together, that is where guys can make a lot of big plays. It is not every play. It can't be every play. Sometimes those situations come up and I think that is part of what makes good football players good football players.

**Q: How is Ty Law's percentage when it comes to guessing?

BB:** It is pretty good this year. It is pretty good. Again, I wouldn't call it guessing. I would call it playing the percentages and being aggressive at the right times. Ty has a lot of strengths. He is a very strong competitor and he is a tough player and he has the skill that, if there are mistakes made around him or if he anticipate plays, he can take advantage of it and that is a big key for a defender, to be able to catch the ball and to be able to turn those mistakes or turn those plays where you anticipate what is going to happen into a turnover and not just knock it down where it becomes just a foul ball and they are back up there snapping it again.

**Q: Can you talk about the value of strong defensive guys in the postseason? Is there any difference between that and the regular season?

BB:** There is an old saying, 'defense wins championships.' That is said in a lot of different sports. I don't know if that is totally true or not, but I don't think it hurts.

**Q: Can you talk about Richard Seymour and his effect on the team and what he has meant to this team this year?

BB:** Richard has had a good year. I think Richard has grown as a player in the three years that he has been here. We have asked him to do a lot of things. He is a very talented player and he has played very well for us in a number of different areas—at end, at tackle, inside, in sub defenses, as a pass rusher, as a run defender, the leadership that he has given the team. He is one of the team's captains this year, which speaks to the respect that his teammates have given him. He has really stepped up and had an outstanding year. He has played well for us in the previous years as well, but I think he is continuing to grow as a player and I think that is attributed to his work ethic and his preparation and that has been able to manifest itself in the games.

**Q: To what do you attribute Brady's run towards the end of the season where his ratio of touchdown passes to interceptions was really exceptional? Is there any adjustment he made? Anything you guys did?

BB:** Not specifically. Offensively you always try to take care of the ball. You always try to prevent and eliminate turnovers. There is never any game or any play where we say offensively, 'Well it is okay if we lose the ball this time.' That is just never part of it. You always try to do that. Sometimes you have more or less than others. Some of that is circumstantial, but I think the better you can execute, the better you can play, then the fewer chances that it has of happening. A quarterback—and I think Tom is very good at it—has to have a time clock in his head. He has to know when time is running out and be able to make those decisions to either throw the ball to somebody or throw it away or sometimes take the sack and cut your losses at that point as opposed to giving it up. That is something that all quarterbacks have to face. It is not easy. Every situation is different. One of Tom's strengths is his decision-making and his ability to see the whole field and be aware of the total situation. I would say those things add to it.

**Q: Has that improved over the last three years?

BB:** I think he has been pretty good at it the whole way through, but sure I think in three years and the course of the last three years that, yeah, I think it has improved. I think that his overall management and execution is better than what it was, although I think it has been relatively good.

**Q: How difficult is it for Jeff to have built a team that has won 11 games in a season a few years in a row?

BB:** Well I think that is the model of consistency. You look at them, you look at Philadelphia, you look at teams that have been able to do that on a regular basis and that is hard to do. You have to give them a lot of credit. I would say Tennessee is going to keep going. They have a strong program. They have a lot of good football players. They have some young players. He has an outstanding staff and a good organization. They are up there every year. You are fighting with them every year and it is certainly a credit to him and to the other decision-makers in the organization and a credit to the players that they bring in there because those guys are physical, they play hard and they play well week after week. Like I said there may have been a couple of games where they came up short, but they have certainly given their opponents plenty of problems in every game this season. They are a consistent, good football team. Like I said, this is the biggest test we have faced all year. They are very worthy of being here.

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