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Patriots Playbook Thu Oct 21 | 02:00 PM - 04:00 PM

Bill Belichick Press Conf. Transcript - 10/23/2002

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BB: Ok, I think everybody has the injury report. We placed Steve Neal on injured reserve. He had a shoulder problem and is going to have surgery on that. That unfortunately will put him out for the year. He, I thought, was really making some progress and doing a lot of good things. It's an unfortunate set-back but hopefully he will be able to get this (surgery) done early enough where he will still be able to have a good off-season and work on his personal progress that he has done so well with. I think also you have the other practice squad transactions from yesterday, so that should bring us up to date on that. The bye-week concluded with a little bit of time off over the weekend. I think that we tried to take advantage of that to get as many of our bumps and bruises healed up. We're in a regular Wednesday (schedule), back in full swing getting ready for Denver. So we're really on a regular week now as far as our preparations go for Sunday's game. Denver, I think it goes without saying, this is a real good football team. They're strong in every area. It starts with (Mike) Shanahan. You know Mike's clearly as good as good as anybody in the league at doing what he does. He's just an outstanding coach. I think they have real good personnel and they're sound in every area of the game. They are good in the kicking game, blocked some punts this year. They have good returners with (Deltha) O'Neal and (Kevin) Kasper, (they have a) good kicker. Offensively, they can run the ball. When they had to throw last week, they threw it effectively. Defensively, they're one of the top teams in the league. They have a real good scheme and a lot of fast players; they're strong up front. (They have) good corners, they're just a good football team all the way around. That's a big challenge for us this week and we'll need to be at our best. This is a real impressive team coming in here.

Q: What has Ray Rhodes done for that defense?

BB: Well, they really have changed pretty dramatically from what they were doing last year. They have adjusted their scheme. Ray (team) has always been kind of a quarter's type of team with split saftey's and played more man-based coverages, which we saw last year of course. This year they are almost exclusively zone and blitz zone. They play a lot of a style maybe similar to what Tampa plays. So they've had quite a transformation defensively from what we saw last year. I mean, even though a lot of the same people are there, they're scheme's have changed considerably.

Q: They're no picnic to run against are they?

BB: They're aren't a picnic to do anything. It's a real good football team. Upfront they have (Chester) McGlockton, (Lional) Dalton, they have (Trevor) Price. Their linebacker's are fast. Their corners are good. Their saftey's are hard hitters. A lot of times they don't even bother to go to sub defenses. They just leave their regular defense out there on the field I think because of the confidence that they have in the speed of their linebacker's who probably run as well as most teams defensive backs or probably as well as their team's defensive back too. They are very comfortable playing that group in pretty much all situations, although they do have a sub group and that is a fast group as well – when they bring (Tyrone) Poole in the game and just bring in one guy.

Q: What kind of ripple effect does the loss of Tom Nalen do to them on offense? Apparently they have to shift a lot of people around on the offensive line to get a center in there.

BB: Yeah, we'll just have to see how they handle it. (Ben) Hamilton was one of top rated centers coming out of Minnesota. So he's a good player if that is the way they decide to go. But they've got good depth on the offensive line. Their line has always played well through the years. (With) Mike and Alex Gibbs they're well coached. Fundamentally, they do an excellent job and their players play with real good technique and they're very well coordinated with their running back. I'm sure whoever has to go in there, will go in there and play the scheme the way they want to play it.

Q: Last week by definition, at least when you talked to us, about working more on your team rather than working on an opponent. Thinking of that and incorporating it into today when you start working on Denver, what do you want to see from your team to let yourself know that the players got the message that things are going to start to go ahead here?

BB: Well, I don't we're going to have the answer to that until Sunday anyway. We're going to work on building on the fundamentals and individual technique things we worked on last week. We adjusted some scheme things, and again, based on what our production has been in the first six games, some things are going well, we want to try to do a little more of. Some things that aren't going as well, maybe we'll do a little less of or alter them a little bit. Our preparation for Denver has started a little bit last week but it's obviously full speed now. How all that will come together and what we will see on Sunday, that remains to be seen. What I am looking for from the team in practice this week is the same thing I look for every week, which is a team that is attentive, that is paying attention to detail and that is trying to execute the game plan both from a fundamental standpoint and a team communication standpoint the way it's designed to go. If we can do that and prepare and understand our opponent, what their threats are, and how we can best handle those threats, then it will come down to execution in the game and that's really what our challenge is every week during the week, is to prepare as well as we possibly can for every situation and the situations that are most likely to occur in the game and then when they happen, to be able to perform in an efficient manner.

Q: Do you have any sense that your team is embarrassed about what it has failed to accomplish the last few weeks?

BB: Well, I don't know if I would characterize it with that word, but certainly nobody is happy about it.

Q: When you look at the Denver defense, what do you see that really makes them so effective when it comes to stopping the run?

BB: Well, number one they have a lot of good football players. They are hard to block up front. Chester is hard to block. Dalton is tough. Trevor Price is one of the top defensive lineman in the league. So, you have to devote a lot of attention to those guys. The more you put on them, the less you get to the linebackers. The more you put on the linebackers the less you put on the defensive line. They usually play with the three linebackers stacked behind the line of scrimmage with four on the line and then three stacked behind them. You have your choices to make. You can't double everybody, so the more pressure you put on the down guys, the later you are getting up on the linebackers. They do drop the safeties down in the front a little bit. And they do blitz, so they give it some different looks, no doubt about it. You are going to have to block seven or eight guys on every play and they're not easy to block.

Q: This team has played Denver eight consecutive years so you should have a lot of knowledge of what they have done in the past against this team. Is that an advantage with preparation?

BB: Well, I think personnel wise, it's a team, as you said, that we have a little bit more familiarity with and offensively I think that their scheme, because Mike is such a good game plan coach, he has new things every week offensively to give you a different look to try to disguise what they're doing and try to attack how you play as a defense as opposed to how their previous opponent played. They're not a real predictable team that way, we know (Shannon) Sharpe, we know (Ed) McCaffrey, we know Rod Smith, we know (Brian) Griese, we know (Matt) Lepis, we know those guys. But the way they attack you and the way they attack each team on a week to week basis is different based on how they perceive you and how they perceive their match-ups, so that's just good coaching. Personnel wise, we're familiar with them but every game against them is going to be different. As we say this year, defensively they have changed considerably from a scheme standpoint from where they were last year. So normally we would go back, say with a team like Miami, and look at those games and look at them carefully because in my mind the schemes are similar this year to what they were last year. From Denver you almost look at the personnel. It's not really worth it to look at their scheme defensively because they just don't play defensively in a style the way they played last year even though some of the players are the same. But they have been moved around to. Pryce was an inside guy, now they've moved him out to end. O'Neal played in the slot last year in their sub, now he plays outside. Along with some of the other transitional changes like Dalton coming in, (Izell) Reese, guys like that, (Bill) Romanowski is not there. So they've got their personnel swap-off's pretty much like everybody does. But on top of that, their style of defense is different from what it was last year.

Q: Is their offensive line more cut block than others?

BB: Well, they play the way they always play. They cut block on the backside of plays like they always have. I don't think it's any more than they did last year or any less. I think it's the same. When they run to the right, they cut block on the backside. When they run to left, they cut block on the backside, that's the way they do it.

Q: Do they do it (cut block) more than other NFL teams?

BB: Maybe. They probably do.

Q: During the break, how much time did you put into going over the red zone defense? Did you see anything in particular perhaps other teams are attacking?

BB: Well, we worked on it last week. We worked on it in practice everyday. We met and talked about it, looked at the tapes. The attack I would say, there have been some game plan plays, just like you always see. But I think the attack has been probably similar to what we see, because we have a style of play down there and then get attacked the way, just the way anybody would want to try to attack a certain style that you are playing, the coverages and the fronts and so forth. As I said last week, the biggest problem in the red area, other than a few plays, a few isolated plays outside the five-yard line, has been the passing game. The running game statistically and just on tape hasn't been the issue there. Now on the goal line, that's a little bit of a different story. But between the 20 and the five most of our problems have been in the passing game.

Q: Have those been technique problems or guy's just getting beat physically?

BB: I would say it's been a combination of a lot of different things. Some of it is technique, some of it is just beat, some of it is scheme. We've had a couple of really good plays against us that coverage was good, but not good enough. It needs to be tight down there, because those throws come quick and quarterbacks don't need a lot of space to get it in because they're throwing a short ball. So we have to cover them better even though we're there.

Q: Is part of that problem with the passing game in the red zone based on the fact that guys are overly conscience of having to stop the run because that has been a real weakness in the defense?

BB: I wouldn't necessarily say that. Some of those passes are on third down. I don't think third-and-nine a situation where everybody is all worried about the running game. Not that they can't run it in that situation, but when it's third-and-goal on the nine, you think if they hand it off you can tackle him before he gets to the end zone. We've had some big plays on third down.

Q: A guy you are not familiar with is Clinton Portis. Tell us a little bit about him. Is he similar or different from the other backs?

BB: I think he is a little bit different. He's a speed back. He's a little smaller than those guys, (Mike) Anderson, Terrell Davis, those guys are in the 220 even up to 230 range, probably Anderson. I think Portis is more closer to 200 maybe 205, he is a little smaller back. But he has good speed, he's fast, he's a break away guy. He's got good quickness, real good hands, catches the ball well. He's a good runner and he's a runner that can hit you on all the fronts. I mean he can get outside, he can cut back and he's got the speed to go the distance. He doesn't bring the Jerome Bettis type of running style that we've seen from some backs earlier. He definitely has long ball ability. He can take a eight-yard run and stretch it out and go. He can run. In terms of speed he can run.

Q: The didn't have McCaffrey last year when you played them. How does he change things this year?

BB: I think that McCaffrey and Sharpe have both probably increased their overall efficiency and balance in the passing game than last year. They were probably more oriented towards Rod (Smith) and you know he is an outstanding player. But I would say that overall, they are able to spread the ball around a little bit more with the tight end and Ed back there.

Q: After the game, the last game here, you said you would start over. Do you feel like you accomplished some of the things that you felt were necessary in starting over going into this week preparing for Denver?

BB: I think we addressed them. I think that there was some improvement on the practice field. But I don't know that that's the bottom line. The bottom line is what shows up out there on Sunday. How much we accomplished and all that, really we'll find out Sunday.

Q: The way the teams are bunching up with 3 losses, does that make this Sunday more critical than any other Sunday? That you don't fall below .500?

BB: Every week for us is a one-week battle. That's really it. That's all we can do anything about. That's really (where) all our focus is. That's all we're concerned about. We're concerned about trying to prepare our team and play as well as we can against the Broncos, we know they're an outstanding football team from top to bottom. They are well coached. They've got good talent. They execute well on the football field. That's what it's about for us, is playing well against the Broncos and trying to win this game. And that's it, period. Nothing else really enters my mind, shouldn't enter another players mind at all.

Q: Is there a chance Leonard Myers could be activated before the three week window?

BB: It's possible, sure.

Q: How does he look out there? Does he look 100 percent?

BB: Well, he hasn't played in a long line. Obviously he missed the whole training camp. He has been out awhile. He's going to have to get back and get his time back and he's going to have to show us that he's ready to go and that he can help us and that he is ready to start playing. There is no other way for him to do that other than to go out there and do it. It's not something that you can talk about, think about it, either he goes out there and can show it on the field and give tangible evidence of it, otherwise he wouldn't make a move.

Q: Is there any chance on (Antowain) Womack?

BB: I think he's doing better. I think he's a little bit behind Leonard but maybe not significantly behind him.

Q: You have until week 12 to decide?

BB: Yeah, that's right. Exactly, that's right. To make a decision on whether to activate him or not, yes. Exactly.

Q: Are you concerned that the offense maybe to one-dimensional?

BB: I'm concerned about our overall offensive production. The name of the game is to score points, control the ball and score points. When we're not doing that, then I am concerned. When we're doing that I am not as concerned.

Q: How would you describe how the offensive line has played through the last six games?

BB: Probably characterize it like the rest of the offense. Offensively we can all probably put in into the same category, just not as consistent as what we would like for it to be. Some of that has been with different people changing. There are a lot of reasons for it. But the bottom line is, I think it's been like all the other areas of our offense, not as consistent as it needs to be. What you need to be on offense is consistent. You need to be able to take the ball and execute a series of plays unless you can hit it all in one big play, you need to execute a series of plays that will put the ball into the scoring range and ultimately in the end zone. When you don't have a consistent number of plays, then you're not going to have the production you're looking for. Whether that is turnovers, whether it's penalties, whether it's missed blocks, whether it's dropped balls, whatever it is. If you don't have some kind of consistency, you're going to end up getting knocked out of there at some point in the drive. Whether it's first down, being second-and-15 or whether it's not converting on third down or whether it's getting down in the red area and having to settle for a field goal. In the end, offense is all about consistency and it doesn't really matter what area. It could be the line one play, it could be the receivers the next play. It could be a bad play into a bad defense another time. But whatever it is when it doesn't work and the drive gets stopped and you don't get any points, then your offense isn't being production. That's been a combination of things.

Q: Do you see Joe Andruzzi making any progress since he has been out? Is he closer than he was?

BB: I think he is definitely making progress, yes. I think he is definitely making progress. I know that Joe works as hard as anybody. I think his toughness and competitiveness is really beyond question. I know he is doing all he can to be out there and to be out there all the time. He'd like to be there, we'd like for him to be out there. As soon as that can happen, we'd all like for that to happen.

Q: How about (Anthony) Pleasant and (Daniel) Graham?

BB: Same thing. I think they're both getting better. They're certainly a lot closer than they were the last time we talked. It's questionable. It's day-to-day. It's better than it was. Whether it's there or not, I'm not sure.

Q: What did you eventually decide upon to tell the team before the bye-week?

BB: I think in a nut shell we hit some issues pretty hard when they were here. I think that their time away was probably best spent just cleaning their mind from football and from the day-to-day grind that we're in. But (I told them) to come back ready to work and (to be) ready for significant challenges this week with the Broncos. We knew that before they played Kansas City and we know it afterwards. Hopefully that's the approach that we'll take. I think that a couple of day of clear air probably did them good especially after what went on last week. Hopefully we've got a new capacity to be open to deal with the problems that the Broncos will bring, which are numerous.

Q: As a coach, is it the penalties that bother you the most because those are mental mistakes?

BB: Well it's definitely a problem. I don't think that turnovers or missed tackles or dropped balls or missed coverages, I mean I don't know if anybody feels any better about those because of they are problems too, penalties are problems. Any time we don't play the type of alert football that I think we're capable of playing then it's not something that you are looking forward to and you need to correct it

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