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Bill Belichick Press Conf. Transcript - 10/01/03

Belichick: I have had a chance in the last couple of days to take a good look at the Titans. They are an impressive football team.



            **BB:**  I have had a chance in the last couple of days to take a good look at the Titans.  They are an impressive football team.  I thought they played well last week in the win against Pittsburgh.  They are off to a good start.  Their record over the last few years speaks for itself in terms of being able to win on the road and the regular season record over the last three or four years, that is kind of the streak they are on now in terms of their regular season wins, whatever it is, 13 out of 15, 15 out of 17.  It is quite a few.  They do a pretty solid job defensively.  They have got a nice package that mixes in the pressure.  They are very active up front.  I think this front four is probably as good as we have seen in a while.  It is as good as I have seen in a while.  Offensively, they have a very good group of receivers, some big guys, [Derrick] Mason.  They have a big play quarterback, a big running back, a big offensive line, and big tight ends.  They are a big strong physical team that just does a pretty good job in all phases of the game.  They are well coached.  They are sound.  They are tough.  It will be a good challenge for us this week.  We didn't really have much control in the game that we played down there even though the score was competitive and it was close, they had a big edge in time of possession and things like that.  We will need to do a better job there this time.  Tennessee is a good football team.  They are well coached and their record kind of speaks for itself.  

**Q: You talked about Tennessee being a physical football team. You actually have three physical opponents coming up. One of the hallmarks of this team two years ago was what you tried to develop is being a very physical team as well. Can you still do that with a lot of your players out especially on the defensive side of the ball?

BB:** Well we are just going to have to match the physical play that Tennessee brings and that is a strong level. That is what we are going to have to do in the game because they run the ball, they have a big offensive line, their defensive line tries to control the line of scrimmage. We will have to meet force with force against this team. That is the way they try to play.

**Q: How do you do that?

BB:** Well I think there are two things really. You have to have an attitude about playing that way and you have to be confident. You have to know what you are doing so you can go out there and do it aggressively. Anytime when there is indecision where you are not sure if it is this or that and you are a little bit tentative and you are waiting to see how it goes then try to put your foot on the gas, you don't have the same level of aggressiveness that you have when you just absolutely know what you are doing and you are confident and you hit it with all you have got.

**Q: Can you talk a little bit about the season that Steve McNair is having?

BB:** I think Steve is off to a good start. He is throwing the ball well. He is spreading it around and using all of his receivers and tight ends. He has shown the ability to throw the ball deep. They put up a lot of deep balls but it is not all deep passes. He has done a good job on third down and converting on the short to intermediate stuff using their tight ends. They have got a good play-action game. That of course is helped out by a strong running game where they run the ball a lot and that helps their play-action passes. They have had a couple of games where they have been solidly in control of the game and they have been able to play from ahead so that has been to their advantage too. The Oakland game was a good, competitive game all the way down to the wire. McNair made a lot of plays to help them win that game.

**Q: What about his toughness? It seems every week he is listed on the injury report.

BB:** He is a tough player. I don't think there is any doubt about that. Has he missed a game in the last three years? He is there. He is a tough guy. He played well against us last year. We saw that. He ran well, he threw well and he led the team to a victory down there in Tennessee. We have all of the respect in the world for McNair, for Eddie George, for [Jeff] Fisher, and for their whole football team. They are a good.

**Q: Is he harder to pressure than a guy like Donovan McNabb because Philly uses a lot more three-step drops?

BB:** I wouldn't say that Philly's passing game was all three-step drop. It had some elements of it as does Tennessee. I think the bottom line is in order to pressure the quarterback, you have to beat the blockers up front. Once you beat the blockers up front, if you beat them, you have to keep leverage on the quarterback. You have to keep him where you have him under control and he can't, not just run out of the pocket and gain yards, that is part of the problem, the other part of the problem is where he just moves around and buys time and then finds open receivers and it forces some more pressure on your coverage. It is a combination of both of those things. I think both teams, Philadelphia and Tennessee; I would say they are in the same category. They use short drops. They use deeper drops. They use play action. You are going to get some shotgun on third down. So it is all a combination of different protections. It is not all one thing and you can't just tee off on a guy in one spot. They vary the depths of their drops and the type of passes they throw and their protections.

**Q: What do you have to see from Michael Cloud this week to make him a legitimate part of your planning? How tough is it to see what you have to see considering you are in preparations already?

BB:** Well it is tough. We are trying to get ready for a game against Tennessee. We will do the best we can to evaluate Mike. We will just have to take what we see and evaluate that. Again, I don't know really what it is going to be because it has been so long since he has been on the field. We will just have to see what that is. I really don't know. What would it take? He would have to look good. [Laughter]

**Q: [Laughter] Are there any significant differences between the Tennessee you are seeing now and the Tennessee of last December? Are they pretty much still doing the same things well?

BB:** I think [Jevon] Kearse is playing more. That was his first game back when we played him and all of the games leading up to it he wasn't in those games. I think that is a change for them. Their defensive line, it looks like they have more depth. They are playing a lot of guys and they have a lot of guys playing well. They have made a couple of changes in their secondary. They have picked up [Andre] Woolfolk. [Scott] McGarrahan is playing. There were a couple of changes on the offensive line. [Frank] Wycheck isn't playing as much but [Shad] Meier is playing more. I think their young receivers have come on. [Drew] Bennett is playing well. [Justin] McCareins is playing well. [Tyrone] Calico, they are spotting him in some and he is giving them some plays as an outside receiver. There are certainly a lot of similarities. There is no question about that. It is not like you are seeing a totally different team but they have added a few new faces and those guys have been productive for them.

**Q: Along those lines, McNair has only carried eight times in four games. Is that because he has more open receivers?

BB:** I think that his passing has been very efficient and I think the receivers are doing a good job. To me, there is no doubt in my mind if he wants to pull it down and run, he will pull it down and run and he will make yardage running the ball. He is still the same player. So whatever his numbers are or aren't I don't think that really means a lot going forward because I know what he can do. If he sees an opening, he runs the ball. It's not like he is going to gain two yards and slide. He is going to run for whatever he can, run over somebody and pick up a first down. I think that is what we have to be ready for. I would say overall that the receiving core has been pretty consistent. I think that he has thrown the ball well. I think their passing game is probably overall a little more efficient than maybe it was when we saw them at the end of the season last year. I am not saying that it wasn't good then, I am not saying that. I think it is just maybe a little better now.

**Q: How creative do you have to be or what types of challenges are there with [Kevin] Carter and Kearse as far as your protection scheme goes?

BB:** Well, yeah, that is a problem. Actually it's even a bigger problem when they move Carter inside and bring [Carlos] Hall. So they have a very explosive front. It is powerful. It is explosive and then they also blitz with that. No matter where they put those guys, it is a problem. It is certainly a problem on the edge. But it is a problem inside too.

**Q: Doesn't Kearse switch sides on certain plays?

BB:** Well they move Kearse all around. Carter plays inside a lot. You will find them in different spots. They do a good job. Jimmy Schwartz and Jeff do a good job of creating mis-matches on the protection trying to get one-on-one isolations or mis-matches where they think they think they can gain the edge which with those guys, they probably have the edge no matter where they line up. But they try to even maximize it beyond that. Yes, it is a real challenge. You have to know where they are and unlike a lot of weeks where an offensive lineman can get in there and watch tape because he is basically going to block the same guy maybe 80 or 90 percent of the time, this is one of those weeks where it doesn't matter where you are playing, you could get four or five different rushers with different styles. You could get a speed rusher like Kearse. You could get a guy with a lot of quickness and movement like Carter. You could get a power rusher like [James] Atkins or [Albert] Haynesworth. They have a lot of different type of guys that they move around on you. That is tough for a lineman to prepare for. It is not all the same. Even if you have the right guy, the whole technique of blocking him is different.

**Q: You mentioned it was Kearse's first game back against you last season. Is he back to his 'freakish' level yet?

BB:** He looks pretty good. The only problem he has is sometimes other guys get there before he does but they are coming. It is a very good defensive front. They put a lot of pressure on the quarterback.

**Q: Having played them last year and lost to them, does it help you in preparation? Does that make the team want kind of that second chance to get back at them?

BB:** I think you always want to play well against a team like this and you would want to play well against a team that has beat you the time before. I think that right now the big challenge for us is to get back on track, to get back in the win column and to improve our play. We are going to have to play well against Tennessee. This is a good football team. Sure, you always want to win. You always want to play better than you played last week. You always want to play better against a team that you didn't beat the last time you played them. Yes, those elements are all there.

**Q: Do you use that at all in your motivation with the team and getting them ready?

BB:** We've talked about the game. We have certainly talked about the way that game went and obviously if it goes the way it did the last time, we are not going to be happy with the results. So there are some elements of that game that we are going to have to change if we expect to do better and here is how we will address those things in terms of the problems that we had down in Tennessee in all three areas of the game, things that we need to do better to give ourselves more opportunities.

**Q: Where does the defensive pass-rush rank among the teams you will face this year?

BB:** I would certainly say they are as good as anybody we have seen.

**Q: The best?

BB:** Well, I couldn't put anybody ahead of them.

**Q: How are they against the run?

BB:** It's the same guys. They are pretty good. They are big, they are physical, they can run, and their linebackers can run. Tank Williams is a safety but he is 230 pounds or whatever he is so he is like really having another linebacker there. He is a fast guy. They are a big, physical team.

**Q: Do you see [Keith] Bulluck becoming a star?

BB:** He has got good speed, good range, and he is another physical player. I think that those linebackers, and I am not taking anything away from the linebackers because they are a good group and an active group, a lot of times there are problems in the front because guys are getting double teamed or their defensive linemen are creating penetration that disrupts the play that frees them up to have good, clean shots at the runners and things like that. Sometimes on blitzes they come clean because the other people are drawing a lot of attention or they penetrate and knock blockers off. It is good team defense. The linebackers are fast and they are active and they are also playing with some good guys in front of them. It creates some opportunities for them.

**Q: They spotted Pittsburgh 10-points last week and then came back with a run away. What did they do to them?

BB:** I would say the big thing was they scored 16 points on defense. They returned one interception for a touchdown. They returned another interception to inside the one-yard line. They tackled the quarterback for a safety, so there was 16-points right there. Pittsburgh, as we all know, is a good defensive team. They are tough. Tennessee offensively and Pittsburgh defensively, that was a good battle. It was like two heavyweight boxers and both sides got some good punches in but clearly the difference in the game was Tennessee's ability to put 16 points on the board when they were on the defensive side of the ball. That basically negated the points that Pittsburgh was able to score.

**Q: Troy Brown had seven catches last week and has 16 catches through the four games. Is he receiving extra attention this season?

BB:** I think that he is certainly getting some attention and he has gotten it before. I am sure that there is a high level of respect for Troy in the league and from our opponents. They are certainly giving him attention and he has seen that before. I don't think he is seeing anything this year that hasn't come up previously but he is getting some. It is not all double coverage, I am not saying that. But you can tell they are paying attention to him as they should.

**Q: On Richard Seymour, I understand that he played both inside and out last week and will probably do that going forward. But he has probably seen more time inside last week than he has. I think going into the season you wanted to keep him more away from the center. Was that something you considered in re-doing your defense adjusting the injuries?

BB:** Well, Richard has the versatility to play pretty much any spot along the defensive line from the tackle into the center and on the guards and all of that in between. I think there is a difference between playing inside in a four-man line and playing inside in a three-man line, just with the bubbles with the linebackers off the line. It just creates some different blocking schemes and different situations. What we are trying to do is put the best defense, the best team that we can put out there. Sometimes that puts guys in different spots and whatever we ask them to do, we expect them to do it because it is what we feel like is the best thing for the team. I think that Richard can do it and has done it and has done a good job of it. There are some advantages as a player to playing outside. There are some advantages to playing inside. He'll do both and he has done both. In a 3-4 defense the idea was not to put him on the nose and I don't really see that changing when we are in a 3-4. When we are in a four-man line then he becomes more of a player in the guard area than out on the tackle. That is the way it has been when we have been in a four-man line since he has been here.

**Q: With the versatility of the front seven that Tennessee has, clearly you are going to need a really good game from your offensive line. How did [Tom] Ashworth, [Dan] Koppen, [Russ] Hochstein hold up? How will this challenge differ?

BB:** I think they held up okay. It wasn't perfect but it was okay. I have seen worse. This challenge will be a big challenge. These guys, they are good and they keep coming in waves. It's not like it is you just have to block one guy. You have to block four and then the next series you have to block three more. Like I said, they are good and in a lot of ways they are different too. They bring different problems, they create different match-ups, they move them around between their 46 kind of diamond look that they run and some of the regular stuff that they do, their sub-stuff and their over fronts and all of that, mentally it is a challenge to get them blocked and make sure you have everybody accounted for the way it is supposed to happen. Then, physically, it is a big challenge too. I think our line is definitely going to be, and they know it, a big challenge for them this week.

**Q: You have a situation where Fred McCrary is either doubtful or questionable.

BB:** I don't think he will be blocking any of those guys.

**Q: No, well I mean it extends back if you go back into pass protection I suppose.

BB:** Right but when you deal with a front like this, your backs aren't involved in pass protecting on the linemen. You have your linemen blocking them and backs might have linebackers or secondary guys or that kind of thing but we are not going to end up putting our full backs on Haynesworth or Kearse or any of those guys if…

**Q: They don't stay in to help out at all?

BB:** It only helps if they don't have something else to do. The problem is if you don't send them out in the pass pattern then you don't have any flare control and the linebackers and the safeties just hang around in there and it is hard to get the ball into the receivers. If they blitz the linebackers then you can't help anybody. Somebody has to block the blitzer and then the linemen are on their own. There is plenty of that too. So, it is hard to sit there and say…I mean you can do it, you can take a guy and say, 'Okay, we are going to keep the tight end in and he is going to help.' The problem this week is though, it is hard to say, 'Well he is going to help on Kearse,' because you don't where Kearse is going to be. Kearse could be on the center and the tight end can't help on the center, or you could say, 'Well this guy is going to help here to help there,' but you don't know where they are. That is a little bit of a problem there in terms of if you want to try to put two guys on him but as soon as you start double teaming those rushers with tight ends and backs you run out of receivers.

**Q: Eddie George this year, the numbers don't match but do you look at him as a serviceable back?

BB:** Serviceable?? 116 straight starts, he played well against us last year, yes. He is a big powerful back. A lot of things that he does, sets up the rest of it. You want to go out there and double cover all of the receivers and loosen up the front up and try to stop everybody else, he will rip you apart inside. If you want to stay in there and take care of his power running style, which you have to do, then that is going to create some opportunities for somebody else and it is going to open up their play action passing game. He is a strong part of their game. They use [Robert] Holcombe as a sub-back which we had problems with him last year. McNair is a potential runner. I think their running game when you look at it on a broad stroke, and they ran the ball against us last year, they had well over 200-yards and that was a combination of a lot different people. The bottom line is they still had a lot of rushing yardage. It is a big challenge and George is a big part of that. A guy starts 116 games, I mean that is not a throw away back now.

**Q: At 10:00pm will you be watching Titans film or will you be watching the Red Sox game? [Laughter]

BB:** [Laughter] I will be cheering for the Red Sox in my sleep, how about that?

**Q: [Tom] Brady has been known throughout his career for making sound decisions and has made some uncharacteristic throws in the last four weeks. Has he been guilty of just trying too hard to make a play?

BB:** As I said before, anytime you turn the ball over offensively, obviously you are making mistakes somewhere along the line. It is a combination of a lot of things. It is a combination of the play, the execution of the play, from the blocking, to the route running, to the throwing, to reading coverages and all of that to go in between, it is a combination of all of those things. It is certainly something that could be better all the way around, from the quarterback standpoint, from the protection standpoint, from the receivers, to the coaching part of it as well. We all need to do a better job to avoid those turnovers. That includes the quarterback but it includes everybody else too.

**Q: You said that Holcombe hurt you in the running game last year. Was that a matter of something they did well that night or is that something that they do well?

BB:** Well it is a good part of their package. They run those sub-runs. They do a good job of it. They try to set you up in a situation where formation-wise when you have to defend the passing game, you have to make a choice. You can defend their running game in third-down situations, but it kind of softens you in the passing game. If you try to put your players in position where they have better match-ups in the passing game, then you are a little bit lighter in the running game. They had a couple of good plays, like the first third-down play, they had a couple down on the goal line, they had some good calls against the defenses that we were in and we couldn't recognize them as quickly as we needed to and we missed a couple of tackles on top of that. I think the combination of good game planning on their part, they have a good strategy and a good scheme there and defensively we didn't play it exactly the way we wanted to play it and as I said, we missed some tackles on top of that. There were a combination of things there but it was definitely a problem. That is one of the things that you face on third down when you put more pass, not only coverage people in the game, but when you call defenses that are designed more to stop the passing game, you have a certain vulnerability in the running game and that is something that you have to balance when you are in those situations. We didn't do a real good job of it last year against them. I totally agree with that. It was certainly a problem in the game.

**Q: Was that extra stress on your safeties and defensive backs or your linebackers?

BB:** All of them because when you put extra defensive backs in the game, however you do it, once you put in your fifth or sixth defensive back, then those players, somebody in that group, is effectively playing a linebacker position. He is a defensive back and he may be covering a receiver but in terms of your normal defense that would be the same guy, a linebacker, who would normally be covering a tight end. They've just replaced their tight end with a receiver and you have replaced your linebacker with a defensive back so it really gets into some linebacker-type jobs even though it is a defensive back playing the position

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