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Bill Belichick Press Conf. Transcript - 10/16/2002

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BB: We have one transaction to report, that's on the practice squad. We released T.C. Taylor, a receiver, and we signed Scott McCready to the practice squad. The last 48 hours as a staff, we spent going back over a lot of our self-scout stuff, looking at all six games, even some of the preseason games. Not only that, without getting into a lot of specifics, because there are really a lot of different ways to look at things, I just think generally, that we need to do a better job, first of all, in one-on-one situations. One-on-one pass rush, one-on-one pass protection, one-on-one run blocking, one-on-one run defense, one-on-one coverage. We can do a better job in a lot of one-on-one situations which are always a lot of individual battles, no matter what you do across the board, however you want to scheme it, and help a little bit here and a little bit there, but the rest of the game comes to a lot of one-on-one battles. We need to do a better job of that, that'll certainly be a strong point of emphasis today and through the week, because no matter what we do it's going to come back to that. Basically, it's clear right now that we're an average team in the NFL. There are a lot of teams ahead of us. There are a lot of teams behind us. And we're with some other teams right there in the middle, and it's going to go one direction or the other, and we're going to have to change it to go into a positive direction. Nobody else is going to do it for us, and that's the approach I think we need to take this week, so that's pretty much the state of where we're at.

Q: Are you losing one-on-one battles because the other guys are just better? Can you just coach it better?

BB: We're going to approach it the best we can, it comes down to the one-on-one's, those match-ups, the more you win them the better off you're going to be, and I think we've got to do a better job of winning a higher percentage of them. You're never going to win them all, but we got to win a higher percentage of them, and that just comes from playing. There are also different things that go into it, but it's fundamental football, it's using proper leverage, it's taking advantage of whatever help you do have on the play. It's being aggressive; it's being physical, and playing from the snap to the whistle. I'm sure there are plenty of examples of all those things, in the end, it's winning and losing those individual match-ups. We can help ourselves by being a little more productive in that area, and that's not isolated to any specific area, it's general.

Q: Do you see situations where you've got 10 guys doing things right and a one-on-one not going right, or is it more than one breakdown every play?

BB: I don't think every play is going to be the same. There's going to be some where there's more than one breakdown, there's going to be some where it's just one. For example, a missed tackle, or a missed block in the running game, but in the end, rather than try to isolate one play, what we try to do is take an overview look at all the plays, all the situations, and try to find things that are . . .where we can have the most impact, rather than if we change one thing with this one play, that would help, and it would. When you have, like we have this year, already close to 1,000 plays, there's a broader stroke, and that's really the point we want to try to get across to the players.

Q: Isn't fullback always one-on-one? Maybe your individual guys aren't as good as their individual guys?

BB: Sure is, you can push a scheme a little bit one way or the other, they got 11 and you've got 11. You can push a little bit here or a little bit there, but six, seven, eight, nine of those players are one-on-one, you're helping in one spot, but you can't help everywhere. But again, that's part of knowing where your help is and where it is and how to use it, and also playing good fundamentals so that you can win as many of those one-on-one match-ups as possible. That's where you try to use your scheme to try to help get those players a little bit of help, but you can't help everybody, they got 11 guys too, the more you help in one spot, then the lighter you are somewhere else. Somewhere you've got to hold up, you're always trying to scheme to help the . . . either where their strengths are or your weaknesses are, however you want to look at it, sometimes both, but, you can't help everywhere, and where you're not helping, then you just got to do a better job in those one-on-one situations. Really, those are a lot of the situations that you look for, that you're trying to get, you're trying to get one-on-one pass rush situations, you're trying to get receivers one-on-one on defensive backs, you're trying to get those one-on-one match-ups.

Q: Are there guys on the film that cannot do things at the same level that they once did?

BB: In any isolated situation you can see that any player's going to have his ups and downs, his good plays and his bad plays, but there were six games and there were some players who clearly made some improvement, there are other players who have not improved at that same rate, or maybe in some cases, they're not doing some things well they did earlier in the year. When you look at a large number of players like we have on our roster, 53 players, you're going to find some in each category, and the idea is to fit as many as possible, and move forward and make improvements. And then that collectively should improve the team. If each guys can improve at five or 10%, collectively, you multiply that by 11 players that are on the field at the same time, then you really make a significant gain even though one guy has maybe only improved a little bit. It adds up when you get everybody doing that.

Q: What's the thinking behind releasing T.C. Taylor and signing Scott and what does Scott bring to you that he didn't bring in training camp?

BB: I just thought we should make that change now, really, not getting into a lot of specific stuff, he was with us last year, he's got a little bit of experience in the system, a little bit more than T.C. does. T.C. did some things in training camp, we've taken a look at him for a few weeks, I don't think we're necessarily moving on from him, but we're just swapping him out right now. Usually on the practice squad you try to . . .it gives you an opportunity to take a look at some different players without having to activate them on the 53-man roster. We just try to monitor guys that have been on the practice squad who we feel at some point, may have a chance to be on our team. If we could have a 10-man practice squad we would, so you try to keep as many of them as possible. I think Scott has a little bit more experience in the system than T.C. does.

Q: Somewhere down the line do you think you might activate him to the 53-man roster?

BB: Any player that's on the practice squad should be ready to be activated every week. We tell that to all the practice squad players, and it's going happen during the year at some point. A practice squad player, on Friday or Saturday, is going to be activated up to the roster, and sometimes you know that on Monday or Tuesday, sometimes you don't and something happens later in the week, a guys turns his ankle in practice, or he come down with the flu. Whatever it is, and a practice squad player then gets the opportunity to step up and play. The key for him is to be ready at that point whenever that happens, and again sometimes that's on very short notice, but everybody out there on the practice squad is, part of their job is to give the other guys a look, but I think part of their job is always to be ready so that if something happens on short notice, they're ready to go.

Q: Going back to your days as a defensive coordinator, I can't imagine that there were as many backs rushing for over 100 yards. Has it happened often? And what is your reaction to it?

BB: Well again, a lot of the running game, whether you run it or play run defense, a lot of that has to do with the score, it always will. So when you're ahead, and in control of the game from the score standpoint you're not going to see as many runs. We saw that earlier in the season. When you're behind in a game, and the other team is running heavily in the third and fourth quarter, you're going to see more runs, and consequently you're going to get more yards. In that situation, what's more significant, are the yards per carry, if you're getting to 35-40 carries, it'd be almost impossible not to have 100 yards, you could do 45 quarterback sneaks and get 100 yards. Then it comes yards per carry, when you're giving up yardage particularly early in the game, or at critical points in the game, that determines the score, then that's really a serious problem. So, I think it's a combination of both things, obviously it's not . . . what's my reaction, I think in the San Diego game and the Kansas City game, it really hurt us in both games. In the Miami game, I think that the yards per carry were very much under control, and I thin that in the Green Bay game, for the most part it was very much under control, other than the one that [Ahman] Green had in the fourth quarter. That's the best reaction that I think I could give you, it depends on how it happens and how much it really affects the game. When you're running the ball like we were at the end of the Jet game, you don't know how important those yards really are.

Q: On the other side of the ball, clearly you and Charlie made a decision after last season that you would have Tom (Brady) throw the ball more …

BB: That's not really true. We didn't make that decision.

Q: Maybe in the circumstances, you've had, what, three touchdown passes the last eight games a year ago …

BB: What we decided after the season was we were going to try to increase our efficiency in the passing game. That's what we wanted to try to do. It wasn't the decision to say, 'well, we're going to throw the ball so many times.' That's really not the way it is. Again, I'll go back to the Miami game a week ago, there are not very many passes there in the first half. The score changed that game and changed the way we really wanted to try to play it. Those are just the facts.

Q: On Sunday certainly, to me at least, made a lot of sense to throw when you look at a Green Bay defense whose secondary is injured. What surprised me is not that you threw it that often but you didn't throw it very effectively. Is that just bad decisions, the kind of one-on-one things that you were talking about?

BB: Well the one-on-one's are going to be a part of everything. Again, a major problem that we had last week against Green Bay was we had three good drives the first time we had the ball and didn't have very many points. We moved the ball, it's not the same as the San Diego game, but had some elements of the San Diego game where we were able to move the ball. We moved the ball against San Diego, we didn't score enough points. So that's not taking advantage of your opportunities, not getting the ball in the end zone, turnovers were certainly were a part of that which led to some problems defensively, but when you move the ball and don't get it in the end zone, it's different from say the first half of the Miami game where we didn't make a first down. We did get into their territory then had penalties and all that and the penalties created long area situations and that led to more problems. But when you have 25 yards of total offense in the first half, you've got no chance to score in that situation. The other games were games where we moved the ball, we had it in their territory, we had opportunities to get in the scoring area and convert it into points and at that point we didn't finish the drive. To me there is a difference in those two situations.

Q: (On having a certain level of performance from the offensive line with all the movement)

BB: Well, each week it's . . . we've had to mix and match a little bit each week, and that's certainly the situation we don't want to be in. That's what it is and that's what you have to do.

Q: With Adrian Klemm, he had a little bit more continuity than Steve Neal this past week. When he get flipped out and Steve starts instead one would think that it's probably a performance situation?

BB: Part of the whole issue there is just with Adrian's versatility and how many people we can go into the game with on the offensive line. The more offensive linemen you carry, basically, the weaker you are on special teams and at the skilled positions because the offensive linemen hardly ever contribute in the kicking game. So that's really what it comes down to. With Klemm, we're starting to get him spread a little bit thin in terms of tackle, left guard, right guard, and even right tackle depending on whether Grey (Reugamer) was active or not, which he was last week but he hasn't always been. That's a hard situation to practice a player in, in that number of spots. So part of moving Steve in last week at right guard was to try to get a little more solidification at the right guard, which unfortunately, he got hurt in the first half. But that's a spot has been playing in the entire year, he's been playing right guard. We thought that might take a little bit of the … you know moving Adrian around from spot to spot, from left guard to right guard and then also having to work at tackle even though our tackles have not been injured to this point, but you don't know that going into the game, so that's thinned him out a little bit more. So that was part of the decision to play Steve there was the fact he had been playing there and has had a lot of reps at that right guard spot. Of course half way through the game, that changed.

Q: Stephen Neal, how did he play and how bad is he injured?

BB: They are doing some test on Steve and I think we'll probably have a little bit more here later in the week. If the game was today, I don't think he'd be able to play. But we'll see how this pans out. I thought he did a good job when he was in there, I really did. I thought it was very encouraging.

Q: To get back to the continuity you mentioned, how important is the level of continuity among the five that are up front?

BB: Continuity is important at every position. It's important on the offensive line, obviously because those guys work in unison and a lot of the blocking assignments are based on what happens after the snap. Guys start out in spot when the ball is snapped, when they stunt and change positions, then everybody on that offensive line has to make an adjustment to that or the guys that are involved there have to make an adjustment to that and then work to pick up the defense as it unfolds after the snap. Whether that is pass blocking or run blocking. So the more continuity you can have there, the better off it is. But that extends to your backs in the line, your quarterbacks and receivers and it extends to the defensive side of the ball and on special teams as well. The more the better and the more you can be consistent the better off you are. Again, unfortunately on the offensive line we've been in and out of some situations particularly at the center and guard spots and we just haven't had as much continuity as we had in the past or as what we would like to have. But, what are you going to do? You've got to march on.

Q: By taking Adrian out, does that give him more work exclusively at tackle?

BB: Well it will just limit the number of spots that he has to work at. Again going into last week, we were working Joe (Andruzzi) and Steve at the right guard spot trying to, again, take a little bit of the load off Adrian there rather than work him at left guard, right guard and both tackles, not anticipating the injury.

Q: Will Daniel Graham have a chance to practice this week?

BB: Daniel is getting better. He is definitely getting better. We'll go through the same process we do with all those injured guys, take them out there, get them going, see how they do once they get into the positional drills. Then either take some of the team work or take it until we have to back them down or not take it and those are just really day-to-day. I think Daniel is in that classification. It's really more of a day-to-day and we'll see how he is.

Q: In taking a step backwards to sort of straighten things out to get back where you were a couple of weeks ago, do you do anything differently in practice? Do you change your approach at all?

BB: We're going to do a lot more one-on-one work and a lot less scheme work in these next couple of days and try to concentrate on the specifics of each position and fundamentals. (We'll) probably work more against each other rather than … usually in practice during the year you work against what the other team is doing. So last week, we would be running our offense against Green Bay's defenses and vice versa. In training camp you work more our offense against our defense and that really creates a little bit higher level of competition in practice because both guys are doing the things that they normally do. You can control the schemes. So you can tell the offense, 'here's the formation we want to be in.' Or tell the defense 'here's the coverages or the type of fronts that we want to run,' and try to work on those match-ups. Even though you are doing team work, you can create them across the board by controlling what each side of the ball is doing. So we'll definitely be doing that.

Q: You spoke about penalties earlier. Are most of the penalties a result of losing the one-on-one battles?

BB: Yeah, there's a percentage of that. Some of the penalties are just bad judgments at that particular point and time. Blocking guys in the back, sticking arms outside, and obviously false start penalties and lining up offside and all of that, that's just lack of concentration. Those are lack of concentration penalties. Other penalties result in as you said losing the one on one battles and then trying to reach out and grab a guy, whether it's trying to cover them, or trying to block them, face mask penalties by not bending down and having leverage to make the tackle and reaching up and grabbing them around the head and stuff like that. Part of that is definitely being on the losing end of a battle and trying to scramble to keep up. As we know in those situations, sometimes it's better to cut your losses. If you're losing the guy, rather than create a penalty just to try to compete even though you are at a little bit of a disadvantage and try to fight to keep up rather than to take the penalty. So that's a little bit of both absolutely.

Q: Coach, you are probably going to have to go back the fundamentals of tackling this week too? Wrapping up as opposed to trying to bounce people down?

BB: I don't think that the emphasis has been any different. We work on tackling every day on the defensive side of the ball. Each group always works on tackling and we'll continue to do that.

Q: Is seems to come and go though sometimes?

BB: Well, I think that one of main things is just how much space the runner has to run in. You're pretty much going to see missed tackles in every game from every team. But the more space the runner has, generally speaking, the more missed tackles because of the quality of the runners in this league. Runners or receivers in either case. Now if the more you've got him pinned in, the less room they have to work with, then you have a lot fewer missed tackles because the defenders have to cover less space, or, even if you do miss them, then it's not as noticeable because you have two or three other guys there finishing up the play even though the first guy might go in there and miss him. The more you can keep the runner, or whomever has the ball not just say the running back, it could be a receiver, the more you can keep the guy with the ball confined into a shorter space/smaller area a) the fewer tackles you are going to miss and b) the one's that you do miss are going to be less noticeable because there are other people in that area to minimize the damage. It comes down to, again, using your leverage, keeping the ball in a smaller area but then also fundamentally using good tackling technique, wrapping up the arms, keeping your head up and finishing with your feet and your lower body. Not leaving your feet in plays and just lunging at the tackle, but bring your feet and run it through the runner.

Q: Were the Patriots interested in Orlando Brown?

BB: We're interested in doing anything we can to make our team better. So as a blanket statement, I think that would cover any player. Specifically, I can't make any comment on that player because of his current situation that he is in.

Q: The lawsuit?

BB: Right. He still involved in a situation with the league. So I am not going to make any comment on the player until that is resolved.

Q: Would be unusual for a player who has been out for three years to come back and be effective?

BB: Be unusual? Well there are not a lot of players that go through that process. Again, most cases with veteran players, probably depends on the player and the situation how it's going to go, how he's going to do.

Q: How about Jamal Anderson? Have you talked to him?

BB: I have not talked to him recently. No.

Q: How about the team? Have they talked to him or his people?

BB: Not anything substantial that I'm aware of. Did they exchange Columbus Day Cards? I mean they might have, I'm not sure. It looks like Jamal had pursued a broadcasting career as well at this point.

Q: In looking at the films, is there any area of the team that hasn't won consistently at the level you were expecting to during the fist six games?

BB: Well, none of the three major areas, I mean offensively, defensively, and special teams. I think that all of those areas have not been as consistent as we'd like them to be, no. What we can do, we can go through and pick out certain plays if we run 54-Z option we might see that that play is averaging eight yards an attempt or whatever it happens to be. So I mean you can find certain plays, (where) our left kickoff return may be averaging 26 yards an attempt. But overall the kickoff return average should be better as an example. With each segment that's part of what you do in self-scouting, you go through all your plays. There are certain running plays that are averaging a lot better than some of the other ones. So then you have to make a decision as to whether you want to try to prop the other ones up, run the ones that are more effective more often and what's going to compliment those plays, you might want to run them more often. But there is going to be a point and time where the defense is going to recognize that and you're going to have to have some kind of compliment to that play, either one that is in place or create one or do something. You're just not going to be able to line up and run the same play in this league. I don't care what the average is. After six games, at some point you're going to have to compliment those plays. So in each group, what I 'm saying is, there are some plays that are well above average, some plays that are well below average but the consistency of any of the three major units, I think should be better and needs to be better.

Q: When you are practicing against yourself, what does that allow you to do? When you are focusing on the one-on-one battles, obviously for every one you win, you also lose judging from the other player's perspective.

BB: Right. That's the good thing about coaching like that. You can find somebody to yell at on every play. That's right.

Q: When your offensive line goes out today and your offensive linemen are consistently winning those one-on-one battles against the defensive linemen or if the wide receivers are against the corner backs are you happy that the offensive linemen are doing well or are you ticked off at the defensive linemen?

BB: Well, I think it depends on how that battle is fought. Here's what you try to do as a coach. You try to get the play executed the way you want it executed. So if everybody goes out there and does it the way it's supposed to be done, then you evaluate it. Now if it works, then that reinforces if we do it this way, we are going to have a successful play. If there is a problem with it, then at least everybody is doing what they are supposed to be doing and then you say, 'okay, here is the problem that we are having on this, we're going to have to make a little change here, a little change there because even though you're doing it the way we're telling you to do it, it's not turning out right and here's what we need to do to compensate for that.' The biggest problem comes when the play is not executed the way it's designed to be run. Now you don't know if it's any good or not because until you get it run right, you can't really evaluate the success or failure of the play. That's what comes into play. If a player goes out there and executes his technique the way that he is taught to do, and he gets beat, then as a coach you say to him 'okay, well here's what you could do a little bit better.' Or you might come back and say 'you know what? This is just too hard of a situation. He's playing inside technique, the receiver is running an outside route, we know we're going to be a little bit lighter on the outside route than the inside route because of the technique that we're telling him to play.' So either you give that up, or you move him outside and you take away the outside route and maybe you're a little lighter on the inside route because there is help somewhere inside. So that's how you try to manage it. If the guy is doing what he is supposed to do and he's trying to do it the way you want him to do, then it's usually, again at this level the talent level is fairly good, you try to correct the player, not change him, but just correct him and say 'look here's the things that you can do just a little bit better that will help you out a little bit more on this.' Maybe it wasn't good enough this time but it's going to be good enough next time if you can just see a little bit quicker or just be a little bit more inside, or whatever the coaching point it. Use your hands just a little bit quicker and it's easy to coach that way. The hard part is (you) tell a guy to play inside, (and) he plays outside. What are you going to do now? Just try to get the guy inside. That's really what coaching is all about in my mind. Get him to do it the way you want them to do it then adjusting it from there. Because it's never going to be perfect but at least if you have a base to build from, you can correct it.

Q: In evaluating the team, do you get the impression maybe you guys are asking Tom Brady to do too much as a second year quarterback?

BB: I don't think it's about one person. I think you have a team out there. You have a team on offense, you have 11 guys whoever those 11 guys are, because we use different personnel groups, again, you are looking to execute a play. Each play you call is it's own entity, it's one play. On every play, everybody can't have an easy job. Again, you can help some people, somebody else has to win their one-on-one matchups. Collectively we just need to do a better job of that. I don't think it's about any one player and collectively overall we need to do a better job. So I'm not going to sit here and say we're not going to throw the ball. I'm not going to sit here and say we're not going to run it. I'm not going to sit here and say we're not going to kick it. We're going to do all of the above. We're going to try to do them better.

Q: But the passing game is obviously dependant on the quarterback making the right decision…

BB: The passing game, at times, has been good. At other times it has been below average. When it's good, it's great and everybody is happy. And when it isn't, we're not. So the idea is to try to improve the performance of the passing game, the running game, which compliment each other, the field position, which comes from the defense and the special teams, all those things contribute as they do the other way around too. It's the same thing. Being able to stop the run, being able to stop the pass, playing well in the red zone, field position is created by the other two units, it all ties together. Again, I think there are things in every area that need to be improved and that we're addressing. I just don't think you can put your finger on one thing and say, 'well, it's this.' It's more than that.

Q: Have you ever had to do this starting over program before in any of your other previous jobs? Is this the first time you've had to do this?

BB: Well, no. Unfortunately, I have (had to start over). Two years ago, we went into the bye week (and) we were 3-5, 2-5, I can't remember but it wasn't where we were now. In 1999 with the Jets, we were coming off the AFC Championship game 1-6 maybe, 1-5, I can't remember but it was something like that.

Q: Did you take a similar approach to those situations?

BB: Again, each situation is a little bit different. I don't think any two years or any two teams are the same. I think the process is the same. I think you look at what you've done and where you're at and then you make some decisions on what the team needs and what you want to try to do improve it or correct it. I don't think those solutions are necessarily the same every year with every group. I think you are depending on the specific things that are pertinent to that particular team that you

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