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Replay: Best of Radio Thu Feb 22 - 02:00 PM | Tue Feb 27 - 11:55 AM

Bill Belichick Press Conf. Transcript - 10/23/2003

Belichick: Today is the start on the red area for us. Once again this week, Cleveland is second in the league in red area defense.



BB: There are no changes to the injury report. Today is the start on the red area for us. Once again this week, Cleveland is second in the league in red area defense. Last week Miami was first. So we are seeing some very good red area defenses here. They are also pretty good going in so that is a real strength to the team and an area that we are really going to have to work on and we will start working on it today. That is, as always, a huge factor anytime you get into close games, it's a factor in every game, but especially in close games, historically Cleveland has been in a lot of close games, probably as many as anybody in the league over the last three or four years since Butch [Davis] has been there. That is pretty much where we are at today. Whatever the elements are, we can always deal with them in practice and eventually they will probably come up during the season sooner or later.

Q: How much do you study the stat's pack every week?

BB: A little bit. Especially things that a team is very good at or when you are watching them and you just kind of take notice of it and say, 'Boy they look pretty good in this area, I wonder where they are statistically on that.' It's used as a reference point.

Q: It just seems like, what we were talking about yesterday, you might look at a team's record or their performance and say that they maybe are a little bit weaker and seemed to be able to come up with the strengths within a team and have your team focus on them.

BB: And make sure that you can deal with those strengths. If a team is real good in one area than you want to try to find some way to neutralize that a little bit when you play them.

Q: Are you please with a lot of your special teams groups? Are you satisfied with the job that Brad [Seely] is doing with them?

BB: I think that Brad does a great job. I think our production could be better. It hasn't been bad but I think it could be better. We have had a couple of big plays called back. We have made some big plays. I would like to see our return game get going a little bit more than it is. I think our coverage has been okay. You always like to be 100 percent productive every time you kick the ball on field goals and extra points so that is always the goal. You never go out there thinking you aren't going to make them. Our field goal rush has been all right.

Q: A couple of years ago when you played this team, and Troy returned a punt for a touchdown, you spent a little bit of extra time working on that. Is that something that you saw with [Chris] Gardocki?

BB: I think it was just the whole situation. It wasn't geared toward one guy.

Q: It wasn't his punts? It wasn't his style?

BB: Well, you have to block the other 10 guys if you are going to return one. It is awareness of the kicker, it is awareness of the team's situation. We just felt like at that particular point and time we had a pretty good match up there and tried to put a little extra time into it.

Q: The red zone defense, are the Browns and the Dolphins fairly comparable?

BB: A little bit but actually they kind of take a different approach. First of all, the fronts that they play are a little bit different even though Cleveland plays the same front most of the time and Miami plays its same front most of the time, they are different fronts. There's some coverage carryover but they do it a little bit differently. So some of those things that look good against Miami wouldn't look as good against Cleveland. Again, there are certain elements of red area defense that are probably pretty common on a week-to-week basis but the change ups and how a team keeps you from having a good attack in the red area, how they counter those things, that changes from team-to-team and week-to-week.

Q: Deion Branch is fourth in third down receptions in the conference. Has there been any conscience effort to switch roles between Troy [Brown] and Deion?

BB: No I wouldn't say really conscience. It has just been more to spread it out. Earlier in the year we had Larry [Centers] and was converting a number of third downs for us and I think we are getting a little more production just across the board. That makes it a little bit easier to convert them on third down when you are not just going to one guy and they take him away and there is no where else to go. We have tried to be a little bit more balanced in that area. Some has been better than others but Deion has made some plays there but so have the other guys.

Q: This is the point last year where he tailed off and he had a few injuries. Does he appear like he is going to continue on a consistent basis here?

BB: Well, yes I hope so. He kind of got off to a slow start this year. The same thing happened last year, he missed a couple of games early in the season but I think he is a lot better football player than he was last year. There is no doubt about that. Hopefully his production can continue to grow. He has done a lot of things well. He has blocked well. His route running and his catching has been more consistent. His overall understanding of the offense and making adjustments is better. Hopefully he can go in that direction.

Q: Has he developed a good relationship with Tom [Brady]?

BB: Sure. I think that even started last year. David [Givens] is a smart kid. He works hard. He understands what you are trying to do in the passing game. Just coming in last year, he didn't have a lot of experience. The passing game that he ran in college was a lot different than what an NFL passing game would look like. There was some transition there. He is a pretty smart kid. He picked it up well. He is a good athlete so he has got some versatility and some different skills. I think his progress as a player has been solid including in the kicking game.

Q: I'm sorry, were you talking about David Givens just now?

BB: Yes.

Q: I was talking about Deion Branch.

BB: Oh, I'm sorry. Thank you. [Laughter]

Q: [Laughter] Louisville's passing system is pretty similar to yours right?

BB: Right, Louisville had a very sophisticated game, absolutely. Notre Dame's was more of a wingback.

Q: Well has Deion developed a good relationship with Tom?

BB: I think that was almost instantaneous. It is probably as quick as I've seen a receiver come into this league and be able to adapt to the schemes and the skills and the routes that we are running and also playing multiple positions because we play Deion at really three different spots last year and in the sub-groupings as well. He played a number of different positions. He continues to do that. He has the versatility to move around both as an athlete and mentally the ability to go from one position to another, which is hard to do for a receiver because when you are in the huddle, you always here the same pattern. One time you are playing 'x', one time you are playing 'z', one time you are playing 'y' and one time you are playing 'f'. If you are moving around, you have to remember where you are and then what to do in the pattern and not just get locked into one spot.

Q: We asked about coverage on Troy all of the time, is there something on third down that is really noticeable and teams have tried to take him away on third down and try to make you go to different options?

BB: I think there is an awareness when teams play us. I think there is certainly an awareness of Troy on third down absolutely. And they mix it, sometimes they use more and sometimes they use less. But they mix in coverages that pay more attention to him or the spot that he is in however you want to look at it. I don't think there is any question about that.

Q: Anthony Pleasant seems like he has become more of a situational pass rusher I guess?

BB: Yes.

Q: Is that because of his skill set, the other guys and where they are playing or his age? What is factoring in the way you are using him this year?

BB: I would say one word on that – [Richard] Seymour. Richard is on the field in just about every situation. At times there is some rotation there but he is in there just about every situation. They really pretty much play the same spot. We have been using Jarvis [Green] in some situations with Anthony but for a big part of the year Richard and Anthony played the same spot.

Q: How has Anthony's production been in those limited opportunities?

BB: I think it has been okay. I think if you look back at the games, there are games where he plays probably 15, 20 plays in that range and then there are other games where he has had relatively little playtime. I think that anytime a player can get in there for a sequence of plays and get up in the double digit plays, he can get some kind of rhythm and tempo in the game and that is pretty much what happened. If you are only playing one or two plays, it is usually hard to get much done.

Q: He has always had a great reputation as a hard worker? How has he handled that dramatic decrease in playing time as far as attitude and work ethic?

BB: I think his attitude is good. He works hard. That reputation, that's what it is and it has been well earned and deserved. I think that any player that transitions from being an every single down player…

Q: Which he was before?

BB: Yes. To go from not doing that, there is a transition. That is common. Anthony and I have talked about it and I think that he understands what we want him to do and what his role is. He is doing everything he can to try to do a good job at it.

Q: Can you just think back to a long, long time ago to when he first got to Cleveland?

BB: 1990, yes.

Q: What he like then? Was he similar to the same player that he is now just a little bit younger?

BB: Well, he was a lot younger. When he was drafted out of Tennessee State, he was maybe 250, high 240's. You know his body frame, he is a tall, linear, kind of guy that was a real good up field speed type of pass rusher. In Cleveland we did that some and that was fine on third down when he would come over and play left end and Clay Matthews played on the right side and then [Rob] Burnett moved inside but as we developed our defense, we really needed him to be more of a two-gap, even if he was a one-gap player, less of a run up the field player but more of a stay on the line and control the blocker type of skills. I remember in 1990 which was his second year, he came in and we talked. I still remember talking about it in the office there, getting into stances and doing techniques and all of that about 'What do you want me to do? What do I need to do? What do I need to do better?' I tried to explain to him what we were looking for in the defense and looking for from him. I think he was probably a little concerned at that point about whether he was really going to fit into what we were doing and whether we were trying to replace him with somebody else or that type of thing. Which really wasn't really the case, we were just trying to get the best players that we could and get them out there and get them playing. He worked very hard to do the things we asked him to do. He had a good line coach in Jim Bates who is the defensive coordinator at Miami now. Jim worked with him. Nick [Saban] of course was the defensive coordinator and Anthony got very good at using his hands, he has a lot of playing strength even though he is not the biggest guy but he plays strong. He is still athletic and can run like he could when he came out, in relative terms, his athleticism, his speed and his range is good. I think that he really developed his strength, his inline playing ability to go with his up field pass rush skills.

Q: Have you or will you talk to your team about not taking Cleveland lightly and having them geared back up after the emotional win in Miami?

BB: Well we are talking about getting ready for Cleveland. That is all we have been talking about not relative to anybody else.

Q: A lot of people have labeled this game as the classic trap game for your team.

BB: Well, if you just look at Cleveland on film, you have a lot of respect for the Cleveland Browns as a football team, offensively, defensively and in the kicking game and that is all there is to it. I don't really know how anybody else looks at the game. I know how our team looks at Cleveland and looks at this game and that is really what our concern is, not what somebody else thinks about it. Cleveland is a good football team. They were a playoff team last year. They are very explosive on offense. They are good on defense. They are very explosive in the kicking game. They have a couple of veteran kickers. They have big time returners. This is a good football team.

Q: Could it be a let down type of game not because of the opponent but maybe because of the emotional high your team has been on regardless of who you are playing this week?

BB: You can put down if you want to at the beginning of the week, you can put down 10 excuses on if we lose this game, why we lost it. {We could say] it is the schedule, we got some bad breaks, it is the weather, it's injuries, it's this or it's that. We can write down whatever you want and write them down right now and then if things don't go well then pick out whichever three or four of them you want and say well, this one happened, that one happened then it would have been different. That is always the case. You can always find something if you want to make excuses. You can always dig some out. The same one's you used when you didn't do your homework in third grade. They are all there.

Q: My dog ate the game plan?

BB: Sure.

Q: With [Mike] Compton out, is Russ Hochstein your backup long snapper?

BB: He would be, yes.

Q: Is that another way that he got himself on the active roster, with position flexibility?

BB: Well, it certainly helps. Anytime a player can provide depth that's always to his advantage and it helps the team. You have to take a lot of things into consideration. There is depth at all positions—not just center, not just snapper, not just guard—so it's a combination of all of them. Sometimes you take a situation where say you have your best guy and your second best guy and your third best guy. At one position maybe you take your third best guy, but he's your second best guy somewhere else. He's your second best player here but he's your third best player somewhere else. You just have to manage that situation across the board. You can't always take your number two guy at all the positions. You just don't have enough roster spots to do that. It just doesn't always work out that way. It's nice if it does and sometimes it does, but sometimes it doesn't and you just have to make your choice where you say 'Well we'd really like to have this guy in this situation but we'd rather have this guy in that situation.' Then, when you pick one or the other then you have a little bit less relative depth at one spot or the other.

Q: Are you finding it that you don't have to worry about every team each week?

BB: Just call up Pittsburgh and ask them what they think about Cleveland. Just ask Pittsburgh.

Q: I mean with the situation now in the NFL today , do you find yourself saying that more now than you did when you were in Cleveland?

BB: No. You worry about every team and you have worry about every player. They wouldn't be in this league if they weren't good. If they didn't have talent and they didn't have the ability to make plays, and if they hadn't made plays, they wouldn't be in this league. Somebody else would be here. You can look at every guy in this league and they've done enough to deserve to be here, and they've had enough production at one point or another where they've gone up against other good players and they've won, and they've beat them. I think if you don't respect that you're a fool.

Q: I have an injury report question. Cleveland doesn't list either Tim Couch nor Kelly Holcomb on their injury report. One guys says that he has blood oozing internally in his tibia. The other guys has sprained an ankle. At what point are you supposed to list them? Am I missing something? Because if they're practicing, do they not have to be listed the injury report?

BB: That's not the way I understand it. I think that's a very good question. That's a very good question.

Q: Anything to add on to the Kenyatta [Jones] situation?

BB: No, I don't think I'm going to add anything on it. Until the situation really gets resolved, I'm going to withhold making any comment on it.

Q: Is he practicing at all this week?

BB: His status on this team has not changed in terms of his PUP status or his practice status or anything else—that is all the same as what it was.

Q: Will these charges at all alter whether or not you put him in to start practicing?

BB: I'm not going to make any further decision on anything until the situation has more clarity to it.

Q: When you have to prepare for two quarterbacks, as you do with Cleveland, is there something that you can do so that in preparing for those two quarterbacks you don't prepare less for another component of the team's offense?

BB: Well I think you have to prepare for two quarterbacks every week because, no matter who the quarterback is, on the second play of the game he could turn his ankle or twist his thumb and the next guy is in there. You don't want to be sitting there in the middle of the first quarter going, 'Gee what is this quarterback like?' You have to go through that preparation a little bit anyway. In this case, since both players have played and won already during the regular season, which is about halfway through here, you see both of them on tape, it's a lot easier to study both of them, which is a positive because you can see them but it's also negative because you really do have to devote more time to both guys, but that is just part of the preparation. Some weeks you go against a couple of running backs. Some weeks you go against—like last week—one running back, but again in any one given play, the next guy could be in there, you could be facing [Travis] Minor for the whole game. So you better know what he can do as well. Or Trung Candidate and then it is [Ladell] Betts in there the next play. Each week you have to, as a defense, since we're talking defensively here, as a defensive team and as a defensive staff we go through every single player. Whether it is the first tight end, the second tight end, the fifth back, the fourth and fifth receivers. Whoever it is, we go through each guy, and say 'Okay, this is what the player's skills are, this is how the team will use him if he's in there situationally and if he's the back-up and he comes in when the other players not in there then this is the way he plays the position, these are his strengths, these are his weaknesses.' So we would prepare for all 21, 22, 23 players on the offensive side of the ball that either have been active or we think are potential to be active. We would cover all of those situations. Obviously you get a better look at some guys than others, but that's part of the preparation. It is no different in any week. You have to cover every single guy, unless he's absolutely out of the game either by injury or he's been placed on a reserve list or whatever it has to be.

Q: What if you have a guy who hasn't played in six weeks and he has been on their practice squad for a year or two. Do you go all the way back to college?

BB: If you haven't seen him. Usually you'd be able to see him in preseason. If you haven't been able to see him in preseason, then you would have to go back further based on what you know about the player's skills coming out of college the last time you've seen him. If the player's not on tape—say you're in the fourteenth game of the season, like last year with Jevon Kearse. Obviously he's a high-profile player, but as an example, he hadn't played in twelve or thirteen weeks or whatever it was. Then we would go back and make a tape of the plays that he had played—whether it was the first game of the season or whether it was preseason or whether it was the previous year—so that the players who are playing him and the coaches can look at this player and say, 'Okay what's going to happen when he's in here, what are we going to have to do?' That would be part of the preparation. But in a situation like we've had this year, we're in a little bit of a transition stage here. In the first let's say three, four, five games of the regular season, you can find those players in preseason, and you're probably looking at some of the preseason games as well just to get a feel for the team and to get a feel for all of the players. Now we're at the point of the season where some of these guys have been inactive six or seven weeks. Now all of a sudden they get activated because of a new personnel situation on the team, and you haven't seen them. Then you have to go back to preseason and dig them out. That's how it works.

Q: Ty Law—is there a chance he could get that cast off by the end of the week and be able to play Sunday?

BB: I believe it is already off. I believe so.

Q: Is there something going on where Ty is doing some things that you're not aware of?

BB: Well I'm sure Ty does some things I'm not aware of. [Laughter]

Q: [Laughter] In regards to his foot.

BB: No. No, I think that Ty is doing everything he possibly can to prepare for the game and to be ready for the game. Medically, we're doing everything we can, and it's a day-to-day, week-to-week type of situation. Some days it feels better than others, some weeks it feels better than others. Anytime you go out there and put stress on it there is a chance that there may be a little bit of an irritation to it, and there's other times when it doesn't happen and you just have to evaluate it day-to-day or week-to-week.

Q: Why would a cast go on Monday and come off by mid-week?

BB: To immobilize the joint.

Q: Is that unusual, for it to be for that short a period of time?

BB: No, I wouldn't say so. I mean it depends on the injury and it depends on the diagnosis it depends on what the doctors think is the best thing to do. From what I understand, sometimes it's better for the joint to keep moving and the circulation and so on and so forth, that that's beneficial for it. Other times it's better for there not to be any mobility, to give the tendons or whatever, a chance to heal and tighten without that motion. And I'm sure there are good reasons for doing it both ways; it just depends on the individual circumstance.

Q: So you have a lot of medical experience with this?

BB: Well I asked some of those questions too, like 'Why is this guy in a boot? Why is that guy not in a boot?' 'Because this is able to help this guy and it wouldn't help that guy and that is the way we're treating it.' 'Great.' I'm not going to argue with them.

Q: You've talked about the explosive nature of the Cleveland offense. Is having a physical defense like yours the best way to combat some of that explosiveness?

BB: Yeah, if you can hit them. If you can hit them, that's always good to be able to slow down an explosive group. These guys are really fast. Just look at what they did last year—[Dennis] Northcutt's got eight touchdowns, [Andre'] Davis got seven touchdowns, [Quincy] Morgan's got seven touchdowns. Kevin Johnson's got a million catches, he's got a ton of production, [William] Green, [Jamel] White. Where do you want to start? And when they're as fast as they are—which this group has a lot of speed. You're not going to find anybody faster than Morgan. White's fast, we know Green can run. Northcutt, Davis—those guys all had a bunch of long plays, long punt returns, long kickoff returns. Kevin Johnson. You say, 'Okay let's go up and hit those guys.' It's a lot easier to say than actually getting up there, catching them, and being able to hit them and disrupt them and reroute them. So it is definitely a good philosophy, it's definitely a good way to say, 'Okay this would be a good thing to try to do.' The flip side of it is, if you go up there and try to hit them and miss them, you're probably not going to catch them. Not a group like this. You have to take that into consideration, because any one of them can score from any point on the field. Put the ball on the one yard line—I don't care if it's a punt to the one, a kickoff to the one—hand a ball off to one of those running backs or throw a pass from the one yard line, any of those guys can score. They can go the whole length of the field, and they've done it. They've done it. When you talk about an explosive offense, that's what you're looking at. You're not looking at guys that you say 'He'll gain about five yards and then we'll tackle him. It won't be a problem.' With this group, every single guy who has the ball is really a threat to go the whole length of the field on any play. You've got to respect that.

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