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Bill Belichick Press Conf Transcript - 10/03/03

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            **BB:**  What is up this morning?  

**Q: Are there any upgrades or downgrades on the injury report?

BB:** If there is anything it will probably come after practice today. I think after talking to some of the guys this morning I think they are feeling a little bit better. I think we might get a little more participation today in practice than we had yesterday hopefully. We will see how it goes. Hopefully we will have a few guys that will be able to do a little bit more than they have done this week.

**Q: You have a pretty tough stretch of games ahead of you and I know you don't like to look ahead.

BB:** Right.

**Q: You have Tennessee, the Giants and Miami. Is it harder to not look ahead when you are 2-2 and you really need to win?

BB:** There is nothing we can do about any game other than this one. This is the only one we have any control over right now is the Tennessee game. I don't think there is a lot of point in putting a lot of energy into two, three, four, eight-weeks away from now. We will get there and we will deal with those when the time comes. There is nothing we can do about the four we have played one way or the other either. It is just this one.

**Q: Have you noticed on the other teams that you have been on that is has cost them by looking ahead?

BB:** I would say for the most part, no. Certainly not the good teams. I've thought about this a lot, all of the successful teams that I have been with, those teams were day-to-day and week-to-week. They didn't talk about the next game until it got there and we had a lot more success doing it that way. Some of the teams that have thought ahead about, 'Gee, I can't wait until we play so-and-so in two weeks,' then you are not there when you get there.

**Q: Are you any closer to making a decision on Mike Cloud? Is there a day that you have to make a decision on him?

BB:** 4:00 p.m. on Monday.

**Q: How about to be active for the game?

BB:** Well, it would have to be before the game.

**Q: But you can make the decision on Sunday at 11am?

BB:** No. 4:00 pm Saturday is the last personnel notice. Again, in the NFL you are in one of two categories: you are either active or you are on reserve. That is it. If you are on reserve, you can't play. If you are active you can play. For a player to go from reserve to active it has to be done officially through the NFL waiver system which is basically 4:00 p.m. everyday. There is no personnel notice on Sunday, so it would have to be done by Saturday at 4:00 p.m.

**Q: Just to clarify, you would have to cut someone by Saturday?

BB:** Well we would have to create a roster spot. Right now we are at 54 not counting Mike. If we were to count Mike we would have to somehow create a roster spot. There are different ways of doing that. Bur right, it would have to be done. For him to play in the game he would have to be active. As of now he is still technically on reserve. If he is on reserve he can't play. If he is on the active list then he could play and then other guys would be inactive during the game.

**Q: Have you worked him as a kickoff returner?

BB:** He has handled a couple on the show team.

**Q: You are not any closer to deciding on that?

BB:** We have seen him out there for a couple of days, which is more than what we had seen two days ago. I don't think it has been anything negative with Mike. It is just more of a question now of if we are going to do it and what we would need to do to create a spot if we were going to do it. Monday, we could be looking at the same decision although there would be new information based on whatever happens in the game.

**Q: Do you have more options as far as buying time that we are not aware of with him?

BB:** Either he is on the active roster or…

**Q: I mean, after Monday is there anything that you could possibly do?

BB:** No.

**Q: Is the status of Kevin Faulk going to weigh into your decision that you make or don't make?

BB:** It could be a factor. Again, you are talking about a guy that hasn't played in quite a while.

**Q: Can Mike do the same things that Patrick Pass can do on special teams?

BB:** Patrick has been doing a lot of those things. I know he wasn't with us for the first couple of games but he was with us last week and was with us all of preseason and he was with us the three years before that. I think in terms of reps, Patrick has had a lot more reps, which goes without saying, than Mike has. Mike has never really done any of those things for us other than the three or four days at the very start of training camp. You are going into a little bit of an unknown there. I think that is part of the problem is we just haven't seen enough of Mike to be able to stand here and definitively say, 'Well here is what is going to happen.' It is hard to know that without really having much of an opportunity to observe it. Then he did have an injury and now he is coming back off the injury. We need to make sure we are over that hump first and then second of all just try to evaluate the player on what we think he can do and where we are at this point and time.

**Q: Is it really an uphill battle for him then? It is going to be week five of the season.

BB:** Sure. He really hasn't had a chance to do much of anything this year.

**Q: Does already knowing what a guy like Patrick Pass can do already weigh into your decision?

BB:** Well I think where we are right now, I don't Patrick Pass is going anywhere. I think you can book that one. I think that is relative to where we are with some of the players who would be less likely to play. Patrick is healthy. He played well last week. He has position flexibility for us in terms of half back and full back. We have a short supply of those guys.

**Q: Who are the guys you anticipate will practice today?

BB:** Well let's just wait and see.

**Q: Is Faulk one of those guys?

BB:** I think it is a possibility.

**Q: Do you yourself more inclined to push a player who may be questionable to play in a game if you were playing against a team like the Jets who are division rivals and it may come down to a tie breaker at the end of the season as opposed to a team like Washington who is in the NFC?

BB:** I don't think so. We only have 16 games and all of them are important. You saw what happened last year in the standings. I don't think you can say, 'Well this game means more than the next game,' because that next game is going to be important too. I think it is really more of a case-by-case basis. I think you look at the player and say, 'Okay, what is his particular situation,' and make your decision based on that regardless of whether you are playing the Bad News Bears or the world champions. If you can play, you don't think there is really much chance that he would set himself back and he would be able to go in there and help the team and not hurt himself and you think there is a pretty good chance of that and he feels good about it then I think you play him. I think when the player is not confident or when you are concerned that 'Well, yeah, you may get a few plays out of him,' but then you feel and the medical people feel that there is a reasonable chance that this could become more significant during the game and you have a guy out there for two or three plays and then you don't have him. Nobody wins on that one. You try to avoid those situations. Nobody knows for sure what the answers are going to be. You just have to do it on judgment and where you think the player is at that point and time. That is why so many times I have said it is a game time decision and it is day-to-day and truly that is what is. We have our meetings with the coaches Saturday night with the coaching staff and say, 'Okay, here are two or three guys, we will take a look at them tomorrow and here is there story. If this guy can go, then we do this. If this guy can't go then we do that.' We go right down the line. You come in Sunday morning and you are there in the locker room and you talk with the medical people and you talk with the position coach, the strength coach and everybody weighs in on their opinion. Usually all of the opinions are the same. I don't think we have had a really big difference of opinion since I've been here. Usually everybody sees it the same way and then you execute the plan that you have talked about the night before, that if this player can't play, here is what we are going to do. It comes down like that a lot. I know you don't want to sit out here and believe that. You want to say, 'Well we made up our mind on Wednesday and we are just saying it is going to be Sunday morning just so you guys can't put it in your headlines on your story on Sunday.' That is the truth. It is Sunday morning. It was like that last week. It was like that in Philadelphia. It is kind of like that every week. Sometimes you know for sure going in but I would say most of the time there is at least one player and usually more than one where there is something in the balance of what the decision is going to be on Sunday. Look, I write down the notes to every meeting that we have Saturday night before the game. I have them all from back to the Tampa game in 2000. When I go back and look at them, there is always something there. There are two or three guys and you put a question mark by their name and then what the alternatives are based on what it turns out to be Sunday morning. That is what we talk about as part of the Saturday night meeting. Honest to God.

**Q: What did you see from Tom Ashworth and Russ Hochstein that you liked? Obviously they have survived a few cuts here and there as guys who are virtually unknown.

BB:** I think that both of them truly have been developmental type players that they certainly weren't where they are now a couple of years ago when they came in or when they came out of college. In Tom's case, Tom was a tight end at Colorado. They converted him to tackle. He was kind of an undersized tackle but fairly athletic because he had played the tight end position and that gives you and idea of his athleticism. I would say he just mainly lacked the experience at tackle number one but lacked the overall bulk and strength that you would like for an NFL tackle to have relative to the guys he is playing against. That is not an overnight process and Tom has worked hard. He has improved his strength, particularly his lower body strength. I think he is till athletic for his size. He has gained some strength and bulk for the position that he just didn't have a couple of years ago even tough he played with a good aggressive attitude and all of that but he just packs a little more lead in his pencil now. Russ is a guy that did the same thing. We got him last year. He was inactive most of the time last year, if not all of the time but again, through a better understanding of the offense, more experience, a good offseason program and a lot of reps in training camp, when he has had an opportunity to play, Russ is a tough, competitive, hard-nose guy that will give you everything that he has got on every play. I think he is very well respected on our team from the coaching staff of that style of play and has gained a little bit more experience and has been able to covert that into some playing time and a better performance when he has an opportunity to play. He has also worked a little bit at center. He played center in most of the Chicago preseason game. That has certainly helped his versatility and his value on the team to have the ability to play all three spots, really both guard spots and center.

**Q: Did you coach Mike Curtis?

BB:** When I went to Baltimore in 1975, Mike was there. Early in the '75 season I would say maybe about the fourth or fifth game right around the trading deadline, early October say about this time, he was traded to Seattle.

**Q: What were your impressions of him in the short-short time you were there?

BB:** Well it wasn't that short because we went to training camp in July 5th and we had six preseason games and all of that. I probably saw him play 10 games, which is really about half a season's worth. Mike, first of all, is very smart. We had put in a new defense that year. Maxie Baughan was the defensive coordinator and he put in the Redskin's defense, which was a very complicated defense that George Allen ran over there. There were 8,000 adjustments on every single play and three different code words for every adjustment. It was very hard to get. Mike being the middle linebacker really controlled the whole defense and all of the checks and all of the calls and everything else. Mentally, he was outstanding. He was quick, explosive guy, and wasn't as big and powerful as say a guy like [Dick] Butkus, but he was a little smaller but I would say he was quicker and he had a very good initial explosion. So he was a very good blitzer because he could really accelerate to the line of scrimmage. He came with a lot of juice. He was an explosive hitter but he anticipated things very well and could recognize formations and read stances and all of that kind of thing. A lot of times he could call the play before it was run.

**Q: We talked about toughness yesterday and I am sure that you have seen the NFL Films story too…

BB:** Oh, when he whacked that guy who came in and picked up the ball? [Laughter]

**Q: [Laughter] He just seemed so intense.

BB:** Mike was intense.

**Q: Do you remember, having been in Annapolis, watching him play?

BB:** Sure. He played at Duke and played Navy when he was at Duke. He was a real good college football player too. But he was very intense. He was a very intense practice player and very competitive. When the offense would go against the defense that was just like a division game for him. He would play it all out and again, because of the multiple defenses that we had at that time, the reason I say this is because later on in the year we cut it back to about two defenses and ended up winning nine games. But as the play would be called and Mike would figure out what the play was that either Bert Jones or [Marty] Domres was calling or if they would audible, then he would change the defense just to stop that play. He had a little bit of an edge to him too that ultimately led to him being traded to Seattle. Joe Thomas traded him.

**Q: Because he was cuckoo?

BB:** Well, no. What happened the year before, I wasn't there so this was relayed second hand, but basically the way I heard the story was that they went up to play Philadelphia in the maybe the third or fourth game of the 1974 season. [Howard] Schnelenberger was the coach. Whatever happened during the game between the press box and the headphones and whoever was down on the sideline telling Schnelenberger who to play at quarterback and so forth. Anyway at the end of the game, they came down in the Philadelphia locker room and fired Schnelenberger. I am not sure if they knew who the head coach was going to be or not but Joe Thomas told the team that he was going to be the head coach and Joe was also the general manager at that time. Mike kind of spoke out against that right at the time and that led to a continued confrontation between the general manager and the player. Then coincidentally Mike opened up, I am not sure if it was his first restaurant or second, but he had a big opening and opened up a restaurant in the offseason, right around August or September of the 1975 season which was really a big deal. A lot of those guys had them, [Alan] Ameche had all of his restaurants. Johnny Unitas' Golden Arm, [Gino] Marchetti's, which ended up being Kentucky Fried Chicken. Right down the line, they all had them. Curtis had one too then about two to three weeks later after that restaurant opened he was in Seattle. It's about as far away from that restaurant as you could get.

**Q: It's hard to watch the game from there.

BB:** Very tough.

**Q: With guys like Ted Hendricks, I don't know if you overlapped with him but who were some of the guys who were tough, intense, good players but also a little bit on the edge?

BB:** Like Lyle Alzedo?

**Q: Yeah, kind of.

BB:** Well, he would be one.

**Q: On the Giants did you have much of that? Maybe Lawrence Taylor?

BB:** Lawrence's book 'Living on the Edge' if you haven't read that…Have you read that?

**Q: No I haven't.

BB:** You should you read that book because, it certainly isn't very flattering, but it is him talking about him and he lived on the edge, played on the edge and was on the edge. I think that book really defined Lawrence Taylor. I couldn't really tell you any more than what he does in the book, like climbing up the fourth story dorm floor on the balconies, not even the fire escape, just climbing up on the balconies and sneaking in.

**Q: How much were you in that book?

BB:** Not much. It was Taylor's book from North Carolina to some of the things in transitioning to the NFL and kind of his outlook on life, which was a lot like the way he played. He totaled three or four cars in one year.

**Q: Did you worry about him as his coach off the field?

BB:** Well I think we all know what some of his off the field issues were.

**Q: You had a funny balance then?

BB:** Sure. It was no secret.

**Q: Was it the kind of thing where you went to bed Thursday night and when your alarm clock went off you would be worried to hear, 'Today, Lawrence Taylor of the Giants did so-and-so?'

BB:** Well I would say every night but Saturday night.

**Q: Do you look forward to matching wits with Jim Schwartz? How has he progressed?

BB:** I don't really look forward to matching wits with Schwartzy because I think that he is a very good coach and a very smart coach. I would like to see him coaching against somebody else this week. I have a lot of respect for him. I think he is very good at what he does. He is smart. I have had a lot of young guys work for me through my career, and I have had a lot of good ones and a lot of them have gone on to be very successful. None of them have been any better than Scwartzy. Put it that way. None have been any better. He is as smart as anybody I have been around and is the kind of guy that just remembers everything. When you have 400 guys up there on a draft board and he knows what high school the guy went to and events he ran in track in high school and you could pick up any guy. He just had one of those photographic memories and could handle 20 things at once. So no matter how many things you gave him to do, 'Where are we on that?' and then he would just lay it out for you and say, 'By the way I also started working on something else.' I mean, he was just one of those guys that could process enormous amounts of information with an extreme amount of accuracy. I have tremendous respect for his intellect. Personally he is the kind of guy that has a real good feel for people and personalities and kind of the temperament of a person or a group of people and so I am sure he is very good with that defense. He has got them playing really well. He has already had an outstanding career and I am sure he has a great career ahead of him. I am sure it will just be a matter of time before he moves further up in this profession.

**Q: Do you see a lot of things on film that he does where you say, 'I thought him that?'

BB:** I think for the most part, Jimmy went down there and adapted to Jeff's system. Jeff had an opening on his staff. Schwartzy called me and said, 'Look would you mind calling Fisher for me, there is an opening to break down film,' or whatever it was. I called Jeff and talked to him and he said that he would consider him. I said, 'Look, just bring him in and interview him. If you can find somebody better, go ahead and hire him. But I will just tell you right now, you aren't going to do any better than Schwartzy. There is no way. I don't care who you get. Go ahead and try. Just bring him in and talk to him and if he is no good, send him home. I don't think that is what is going to happen. So he ends up going in there as the break down guy and the next year, I got the job and talked to Jeff about getting permission to hire him since all he was doing was doing was breaking down film and all of that. Then they promoted him to whatever it was. Gregg [Williams] left the next year and then he was the defensive coordinator. He popped up there pretty quickly.

**Q: So you were going to hire him as your defensive coordinator?

BB:** No, no. I didn't say that. First of all he was under contract and was with Tennessee. I called to talk to Jeff about talking to Schwartzy because we had a prior relationship and from the year before, the way I understood it was he was basically just coming in to just break down film and be a quality control type of guy. So I asked if I could talk to him. I never really got a chance to talk to him because they very quickly, I am not saying it is because of me, it might have happened anyway, but they promoted him and put him into a whole different level of responsibility there in Tennessee.

**Q: Had you gotten to talk to him, what position would it have been regarding?

BB:** Well I don't know. At that point, I don't think I had really hired anybody on the staff. They were in the Super Bowl. I had just gotten the job. They were in the Super Bowl within a week or so of that whole…It is a busy period and I was just trying to find out where things were with him and where things were with a lot of other people and just start talking to guys and putting it together. It was preliminary, but that is what transpired.

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