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Bill Belichick Press Conf. Transcript - 10/02/2002

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BB: I think everybody has the injury report. As I've talked about before, a lot of guys are really in the day-to-day category. We'll just have to get them warmed up out there today and see how they are progressing along with what they can do. I'm sure some will be able to more than others. Nobody has any real long-term situations. They are all manageable; they're all day-to-day. We'll just have to see how quickly they come around. In terms of Miami, obviously this is a real big challenge for us this week. Miami is good in every phase of the game. They're good in the kicking game. They're good on defense. They're good on offense. They are a well-balanced team. I'm sure they will be at a high emotional level like they usually are at home. (This is) a team that plays with a lot of spirit and they're tough at that stadium when they're playing like that. That's a big challenge for us all the way around. So right now what I've emphasized with the team and to the coaches is that collectively, playing, coaching, we've just got to do a better job than we did last week. We need to coach better. We need to play better. We need to execute better. We need to bring a sharper game to the field on Sunday afternoon than we brought a week ago. That's what we're preparing to do. I don't think … there's some specifics but I don't think it's really any more than that or less than that. We collectively just have to perform better than we performed in San Diego.

Q: Why the decision to go down on Friday?

BB: It's one of our longer trips of the year and I just felt it would give us a little more chance to rest the day before the game rather than travel down there. So I thought from a preparation standpoint that worked out ok last week as well.

Q: So it won't be a case of getting used to the heat and humidity down there?

BB: It looks like it's going to be pretty hot here. Whatever it is, it is. It's a long trip and I mean it's one of our longer trips. So to just give us a little more time to get off our feet on Saturday and not travel the day before the game.

Q: Can you talk about Ricky Williams and what he means to Miami's offense this year? Is he similar and or different from the backs you have faced in the last two weeks?

BB: Well I think Ricky, as we all know, is a very powerful runner. I think he's probably as powerful of a runner as there is in the league. He's a big guy, he runs hard and he likes to run north and south. Not that he can't run outside, but he's very effective when he can run with his pads parallel to the line of scrimmage and really build his momentum and hit down hill. He's a good receiver. He adds a good dimension to their offense because they can flip it to him, they can hand it to him and let him run it. They can use him in the passing game, he's good on blitz pick-up so he's really a complete back. He's done a good job for them and they're asking him to shoulder a good portion of the load and he's come through for them.

Q: Is he similar to (LaDainian) Tomlinson or (Priest) Holmes in any way?

BB: Well I think they are all similar that they are all good backs. I think that each back has his own style and some individual characteristics; none of us are exactly alike. They're effective in their own ways. Ricky is bigger than those two guys. They may do a little more perimeter running. But they run inside, Ricky runs inside. They run outside, Ricky is going to run outside. There are certainly some similarities in their effectiveness and some of the types of plays that they run. But in terms of size and power I don't think anybody is going to bring pretty much more than Ricky Williams will.

Q: Is there a similarity between the way the Saints running game operated last year and the Dolphins running game?

BB: I think the Dolphins running game is Norv's (Turner) offense and that's similar to teams that run that type of a system which Cam Cameron in San Diego is a good disciple of that system. I think it's a little bit different from what New Orleans did last year, yes. But of course in our game against the Saints last year, that game was one of those games that where at halftime, the score dictated a little bit of the strategy in the second half. So I don't know if that was really a fair indication. But we've got a lot of respect for that back and for this team.

Q: Do you make any changes defensively to stop the run better?

BB: Each week, you game plan each team a little bit differently. No two teams have the same personnel or exactly the same scheme. Each team is unique in its own offensive approach. So we will try to take that into consideration so as a part of the game plan would be to try to fit our scheme to what Miami does but also as it is every week a significant part of our plan is to try to execute that we can do regardless of what they do. Whether it's something that they've been doing or whether it's a new wrinkle that they want to put in and show to us, we need to be sound in our defensive responsibilities across the board. We need to play better team defense than we've played the last two weeks and that's obvious. That's what we're working toward. But that goes to all positions all areas, all groups, all coaches. We just need to do a better job. It's not just moving the tackle a little bit wider or moving the end a little bit tighter. If that was all there was to it, that would be great. We need to do a better job all the way across the board.

Q: So is it more desire?

BB: No it's execution. It's execution. It's team defense. If 11 guys have to do their job, then when they do, you play good as a team. When they don't then you don't play as well. One guy can't go out there and cover (Chris) Chambers and rush (Jay) Fielder and stop Ricky Williams outside and stop Ricky Williams on the cut back and cover (Randy) McMichael. One guy can't do it. Cover (Oronde) Gadsden, there's no way. It's team defense. Everybody's got to take their part and again from a coaching standpoint, we need to do a better job collectively starting with me and going all the way down. We need to do a better job of coaching. We need to do a better job playing. So we're all accountable.

Q: What happened to Miami in their game last week?

BB: Kansas City is a pretty good offensive team. I think we know that. They were able to capitalize on some relatively small cracks, some mistakes. It's a good offensive team and a good defensive team. Kansas City made a couple of plays and the game got to the point where some turnovers were involved and field position was a factor. A couple of times Kansas City got the ball on a short field. You're behind, you're gambling, you're aggressive, you're trying to get the ball back sometimes you give up another play there.

Q: Last year this team's worst loss came against Miami. Defensively, is this team, Miami, not as dominant as maybe what we've seen in the past few years?

BB: I think they're pretty good. I mean they were pretty dominant against the Jets. They were pretty dominant against Detroit. They've played well this year. I think you can look at every team in the league and find couple of bad plays here or there on any team's defense, any team's offense, on any team's special teams. Miami is a good defensive football team. They're good up front. They can rush the passer. They have big guys in the middle. They've got as good a middle linebacker as there is in the league. They've got two outstanding corners. They've got a great free safety, Brock Marion. They bring in good sub pass-rushers like Rob Burnett. Good cover guys like (Jamar) Fletcher. I think they are a well-rounded team that has depth at a lot of positions. They have talent in all the positions, line, linebacker, secondary. They are strong in the kicking game, a lot of those guys play on special teams and they are good in the kicking game. They have good specialist in the kicking game, good kickers, good punters. They're a solid football team. This is going to be a big test for us. Playing them down there, a big division game on the road and it will be a good challenge for us. I don't see them slipping at all. I think this is probably a better team than I thought they had last year. They improved at running back and got another year in the system, they haven't lost a lot of people and have had some good additions starting with Norv Tuner. Starting with their tight end and a running back. I think they're pretty good.

Q: You emphasized team defense since you have been here. Has the message been lost at this point? Do you think it needs to be re-emphasized?

BB: I don't think it's been lost. I don't think it's been de-emphasized. I just think that our execution of it needs to be better. You can find plays last year, you can find a long run in the championship game by Kordell Stewart. You can find a long run in the Atlanta game. It wasn't like every play was a 10-yard loss last year. We gave up plays and we made plays in our wins and our losses and that's true this year too. We've had areas that even when we've won the game that need to be tightened up as well as in last week's game. That's always an emphasis point. It's hard to play a perfect game on defense. You never really do it. You're always looking to strive to correct whatever problems you have or whatever areas were exposed, wherever weakness the defense was hit or where the defense wasn't played correctly and the play wasn't made so it doesn't come up and hurt you again. But that is just an ongoing process. It certainly is not any, like I said, de-emphasis or putting it a different way or trying to do it differently. We're coaching defense around here the way we've coached it for the last three years. I don't think it's really going to change. Each week's game plan changes a little bit and the strategy may change a little bit but in terms of the overall philosophy in what we're trying to do and how we're trying to do it, that's been consistent and I expect it to remain that way.

Q: Talking in general terms – is it possible that players that can do something one year for some reason have their skills diminish a little bit that they can't do it as well the next year?

BB: Sure that's possible. There's an old saying, you either get better or you get worse. You never stay the same. I think that's true for all players, probably all the teams. It's true for all of us. You're always working to improve and if you are not then you're losing ground to somebody else who is. Football is a game where physical skills have a lot to do with performance. There are a lot of variables there. Injuries, training, match-ups things like that. Some players look better against some guys than they do against others and vice versa. That's all part of it on a weekly basis. Each week is a little bit different. The match-ups are a little bit different, the circumstances are a little bit different. That's what makes the game exciting; you don't know how it's going to come out, how each of those little things will unfold.

Q: Once again you are switching back to a team that you are familiar with. Does that aid/simplify it in any way?

BB: I think it does because, I wouldn't say it simplifies it, we know them better no question about it. And they know us better. So I think we're playing on a level field there, that they have as much familiarity with us as we do with the Dolphins. So that makes it a little bit more of a game within a game. You can go back and look at the last three, four meetings between the teams and you want to see what a match-up looks like, you can see them squaring off right there. Whereas you elude to teams you haven't played as frequently you don't see that. You see them playing a guy and you playing a guy and try to make a comparison but it's not the same as you lining up across from the opponent directly multiple times.

Q: In its simplest form the object is to score more points than the opposition. From an offensive standpoint, you are moving the football; you are scoring a lot of points. Would you like to see more balance where you would maybe like to run the football more because you passed it an awful lot or does that not really matter?

BB: Well scoring points is the name of the game. That's why we're keeping score. That's what everybody wants to see. I don't think it really matter whether you get them on the ground or you get them in the air or scoop up a fumble or whatever you do. You're always looking for balance offensively as well. I think they are related and I think it's a significant point. You just can't do one thing all the time for too long in this league unless you're very, very good at it. It catches up with you sooner or later. There's something that takes that element away and you have to be able to balance it all. I think there are times this year where we've run when we had to run. Then there were other times when we needed to run and we didn't run as well. The same is true in the passing game. There were times when we needed to throw or needed to convert in certain situations and we weren't able to do it as consistently as we needed to. I think there's room for improvement in both areas. If we can be balanced we will but if there is a way to attack a team thats seems more favorable, one seems more favorable than another, honestly I think it would be not in our best interest to ignore that type of attack.

Q: Is the instability on the offensive line so far part of the reason you can't run the ball so well when you've had so many guys in and out with injuries?

BB: I mean that's part of the game. You have to play with who you play with. Last week we played without our leading receiver. So whoever is out there, we feel good about the depth in our team and the guys we kept on the roster. If we put them in there, we expect them to do the job. Last week we had I don't know, five yards a carry, whatever Antowain (Smith) had. So it's hard for me to really feel like we couldn't run the ball when you're getting that kind of average per carry.

Q: How would you rate the offensive line over the past four games?

BB: I think there is room for improvement in every aspect of our game. There's room for improvement offensively, running game, passing game, offensive line, defensively all the way around. I think we can improve every area of our game. Whatever rating we want to put on it, I don't know if it really matters, D, C minus, C plus, B. I don't know. Give it whatever you want. I don't really know what it is. It's not really important to me. What's important is that wherever we are, we work to improve it and get better and that's really what we're working toward. I don't know if we're working toward an A or a B or a D plus. I don't really know that. I just know that we need to improve on our performance totally as a team in every area. If we want to get where we want to go, if we want to win games, that's what we're going to need to do. We're going to need to play better.

Q: You mentioned twice about coaching better. What would you like to see different?

BB: Well I think you can always do a better job of putting your team in the right situation making decisions both in the game plan and game day decisions that just are a little more favorable towards the overall team. If your team's not executing well then part of the problem somewhere along the line has to be the instruction and the repetitions or the way that the practices are structured and the looks that the team is getting to improve that execution. I mean a player just can't go out there and just decide, or a team just can't go out there and decide on their own that they're going to get better. They need some type of instruction and direction from a coaching staff and that's part of our job. So if the execution is not there on the field then I think as a coach and as a member of the staff there's a certain accountability on the coaching end of it to. Every great play isn't made by the coach and every bad play isn't made by a player. It's a combination of all of us working together to perform more effectively.

Q: What have you been doing different in that area this week?

BB: You're tightening the screws in every area, preparation, technique, game plan, looking at the things that have been good for us, things that haven't been as good and either deciding on the things that aren't going as well to either correct them or change them or technique them better or do something to make them better or get rid of them and go with something else that's seems to be more productive. That's an ongoing process. You've got to evaluate that on a repetitive basis. If you call one defense is giving up seven yards a play and another is giving up three yards a play and you've had enough plays to fairly evaluate them then you'll be calling the one that's giving up less yardage per play or fix the one that's giving up more yardage per play. Maybe there is a reason that we shouldn't be calling that as much. Maybe there is a problem there that we could fix it but it's going to be too hard and take too long and going to take away from the other things we're doing, we're just better off moving on without. But those are the kind of decisions that we have to make on a regular weekly basis. What are we going to do and what's the best thing to do and try to put the players in the best position to do what they need to do. At the same time the players have to play better, they have to do a better job executing their assignments. It's all tied together.

Q: You mentioned technique and execution. Do you see anything on film that says be the defense hasn't been as aggressive as maybe you would like or maybe as they have in the past?

BB: I think you can find that on some individual plays. I think you can always find that there are always plays where the technique could be better or the aggression could be better, where the read could be better. A lot of the aggressiveness is just based on having a clear picture of what you see and knowing that is what it is. If there's a hesitation between 'is this a run or a play action or is this play going outside or is it going off tackle', those kind of things, then that slows you down the split second that takes away from your ability to attack your responsibility. The more you are sure of what it is or the quicker you read what it is then the more aggressive you can be hitting it. I think there's always an element of that. We're always looking for ways to help our players but also for each player to look at keys – what tells you that it's going to be a run or it's going to be a pass or what tells you that the guard is going to pull or that the back is going to release or he's going to pick up, all those little things like that. You're always studying film for keys like that and if you have a good one then that helps that player or maybe the players in that particular area, whatever it happens to be. It helps them be more aggressive when they can anticipate by a certain key, a formation or a guy's stance or his alignment or whatever it is, there is a high, 80 percent chance this is what is going to happen, that key triggers it. So you're always looking for those things. That's part of preparation. That's part of coaching and it's part of film study, too, for the players.

Q: Do you think that inability to immediately identify what the offense was doing was that a little bit more of a problem last week against the Chargers than it has been in the past?

BB: I think it … No … I think it's … all of that is problems, they're all problems. These guys are good coaches that we're up against every week too. They are not there to make it easy for us. So you know they're always trying to create problems. They're trying to put your defense at a stress point at it's weakest link so to speak. They're making their game plans too. They're trying to stifle what you're doing just like you're trying to penetrate and get into their plays and mess them up. That's what it's about from a coaching standpoint. There are always problems. The offenses never make it easy for you, not in this league. We try not to make it easy for them, but that's the game within a game and that's the preparation and sometimes it works out better than others. We're striving to improve it, that's all I'm saying, at every turn not just, you know everybody's looking for one answer, can we put Rohan Davey in at middle linebacker that will solve all our problems, well that's not going to solve all of our problems. It's not that simple. We need to play better team defense. That's what we need to do. That's from A to Z.

Q: You mentioned offensive changes with Norv Turner coming in, Ricky Williams and McMichael, Chris Chambers has another year, how much better offensively different are they from 2001?

BB: I think they're better. I think they have more weapons. I think as a group that their execution is a little bit better. I think they have a little more stability on the offensive line. They went through some personnel transition there in the offense particularly at tackle. That seems to be more stable this year. (They have) a better weapon at tight end as you said, Chambers has a year up there, you know Ricky Williams. I think they've added some weapons and they're executing well. Not taking anything away from anybody else, Norv is one of the best offensive coordinators in the league and has been for a number of years. So the combination of the system, a couple of additions to their roster, other guys gaining another year of experience guys like Chambers, they can't help but be better and it is.

Q: With your experience, do you anticipate generally a better effort from a good team that loses? Do you almost have to say this is going to be a different level they play at?

BB: The way I look at it, I expect our opponents' best effort every week. I've never gone into a game saying 'well, these guys aren't going to play well or they're going to fumble three times or they're going to do this or they're going to do that.' I always look at them and expect their best effort. I mean, when you've seen guys do it, when you've seen guys break tackles, you're seeing guys make good catches, you've seen guys stuff inside runs then I expect them to play like that against us. And that is what we plan for. Now if it doesn't happen that way, maybe it doesn't happen that way, but we're certainly not going to go into the game saying 'well this guy is just going to let us run outside of him because he got beat outside last week.' We're going to say 'ok, well even if that happened last week, maybe we're going to try to do it', but we expect him to play the way he did in some other game and that's what we really have to be ready for is the opponents best play not one that we are fortunate enough to get that isn't a good play and it's just a mistake on their part. Hopefully we're alert enough to take advantage of those mistakes. I think San Diego is a good example last week. I don't know if there's any secret formula but there's a team that didn't have any penalties, had one turnover, ran hard, broke tackles, had good position in the kicking game. A lot of teams play like that and win games.

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