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Bill Belichick Press Conf. Transcript - 10/25/2002

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BB: How is the core group doing? What do we have today?

Q: What types of things are you missing with a guy like Anthony Pleasant out?

BB: He's a special player and he really means a lot to us. Hopefully he will be back out there as soon as possible. It will probably come down to a game time type of decision similar to Troy (Brown) on the offensive side of the ball. Those are veteran guys. They have been through the wars that bring a lot of not only experience but (also) leadership to the field.

Q: What types of things does he do that you can't really see on the stat sheet?

BB: He's just a real consistent player. And anytime on defense, it all starts with the defensive line. When the defensive line can play consistently, then the linebackers can play consistently then the secondary has a chance to play consistently. The defensive line they are supposed to be in one spot, they are supposed to be in one-gap and then they're not there. Then the next time, the linebacker is not quite as aggressive, he's starting to play off the guy in front of him. Then he's playing off the guy in front of him, then the safety is playing off the guy in front of him, then everything just doesn't quite fit as aggressively as it does when 'I know where he is.' 'I know where I am, the guy behind me knows where I'm going be.' 'He fits there.' Anthony gives you a real level of consistency and solid play. There are very few times where he is out of position. It's a snowball effect. And not that Jarvis hasn't come in and done a good job, I'm not saying that. But that is what Anthony gives you. He gives you a real consistent level of play and that helps the players around him play consistently.

Q: Is it fair to say that this is a particularly important game for your club at this juncture? If so, why?

BB: It's one of 16. They're all important.

Q: If you were 6-0 would this game be as important?

BB: Sure. Why wouldn't it? The only games that aren't important are the ones you don't play in. If you're not playing in the game, then it isn't important. If you're playing in it, then it's important. Whether it is the first game, the last game, or some game in the middle. They're all important. I've never been in a game, to me, that wasn't important. They're all important

Q: Can some be more important?

BB: I'm not going to say the Super Bowl wasn't important. I mean yeah it was important. There is a certain point in the season where because there are only a few games left, then certainly 1-4 is more important than 1-16. Or 1-2 is more important than 1-4 or 1-1. When you're in the playoffs and in single elimination, then it's win or go home. That's a different point and time. So right now I don't think that… we're just not at that point. I'm not saying this isn't an important game. It is an important game.

Q: Clearly they really are all important. We can see that.

BB: Right.

Q: The flip side is you have had two weeks where it appeared that you weren't playing well. I know you hate to look more than the Sunday ahead, nor should you, but you have three straight games on the road, all of which figure to be tough. Are you thinking that you really need to grab one here at home?

BB: Well, they're all tough. And I'm not looking ahead. I'm just talking math. If we win one and lose the next three, than we're going to be a lot worse off than if we lose the next one and win the next three. You know, that all changes week to week. You win one, then you give it back with a loss or you lose one and you make it up with a win. However important one is, the next one is just as important because if it goes the other way…

Q: You know that if you don't start making progress, then next three are going to be really tough.

BB: You know we…

Q: Not to say you can't birdie those…

BB: But we're not playing Rice this year. They're not on the schedule. They're all tough. You tell me which ones are going to be. There aren't any games like that. Every week, look at the scores that come in. There are two or three games every week that are in overtime or they come down to the last play or the last possession. That's the way it is in this league. You can't sit here and say 'well we're going to win these games and we might not win those games. We could probably win every game, we could lose every game. That's the NFL. It's like that every Sunday.

Q: You're also in a situation with, because of the bye-week and going back to the basics, probably the fan expectations and the media expectations are we'll all be faked out and these will be the Patriots we're used to seeing rather than what we saw recently. And if they're not for whatever reason, panic in the streets.

BB: Tell me that. I'm sure if things don't go well, they'll boo. And if things go well they will cheer. That's Sunday afternoon in the NFL. And I'm not taking anything away from any game. The first game of the year was … how important that game was, nobody cares about that game. Two weeks ago it was another game. Nobody cares about that game. In all honesty, three weeks from now nobody is really going to care about this game. It's going to be whatever that game is and so forth down the line. As you come to each one, it's not like baseball. You're not playing 162, you've got 16. Therefore each one is, from that standpoint, it is more important.

Q: When you're playing run defense, is it better to force the runner outside to contain outside, keep him back inside where you have help?

BB: I think it's, like a lot of things, there's a lot of different ways to skin a cat. I've seen defenses be successful doing it both ways. I think it also has a little bit to do with the runner. Some runners are better inside runners. Some runners are better outside runners. Where their strength is, when you say is it better to force them outside, if a guy is really fast and he's a good outside runner and he gets to the corner, well you are probably better off not forcing him outside. On the other hand, if you have a back that really can't run well enough to stretch the corner, then you would want to do everything you can to make him run laterally and not let him get his shoulders turned up field. Just in general defensive principles, I think there is certainly a place for both. And we play both defenses. There are some defenses that where we're really more oriented towards the middle of the field or the middle of formation. Then there are other defenses that are predicated on setting a hard edge on the outside and making sure that everything is turned back in. In either case, you have to be able to defend whatever it is they do. So if you're going to defend the inside, you still have to be able to defend the outside. I mean you might be a little heavier in there, or you might be a little heavier outside and a little bit lighter inside. You still have to defend them. When you play either one of those schemes then you fit your personnel to play that scheme. So for example, if you're going to force everything back inside, then you're going to need a couple pretty good or at least pretty big, players inside. If you're going to count on being tough inside and forcing the ball to spill and go to the corner, you're going to try to kick everything out, then you better had be pretty fast inside so that you can run as fast as the guy who is running out there with the ball. I think that fundamentally those are the principles that you would want to employ whichever one you did.

Q: So when teams are running that, the fake end around and giving it to him, if you have guys, the ends I assume, (would) have some responsibilities?

BB: Okay, anytime you call a defense and they run the ball, somebody is responsible to turn the play in. There's never a play defense that you would call where if they hand the ball off and the guy runs outside and he runs down the sideline for a touchdown, you're going to say 'okay good play, we didn't have anybody turning the play.' Somebody is responsible. It could be an end. It could be a linebacker. It could be a safety. It could be a corner. It could be any of those. But there is always somebody responsible to turn it in. There is never two people responsible because if you have two guys outside to do that, then you don't have anybody in the cutback. Sometimes, there is some confusion and sometimes on a reverse play, even though your responsibility may not be to turn the ball in when you see that reverse coming a lot of times instinctively you just start chasing it and then you open up that cut back which happened a couple of times. It happened against San Diego. It happened against Kansas City. It looks like there are two people trying to take the reverse and there shouldn't be. There aren't two people assigned to that. There's basically one and then everybody else reacts to it but not until they handle their area first. I think that's probably what you were referring to there. It was clearly a breakdown in responsibilities defensively.

Q: But you want that guy turned back in, you don't want to try to string him out?

BB: No.

Q: When they faked and gave the ball to Priest Holmes, the guy on the reverse should have been in the hole trying to make him …

BB: I think we had two people on the reverse. We should have had one in hole and one on the reverse and we had two on the fake reverse.

Q: How has Brian Griese been playing? You have gone against four quarterbacks who were seemingly a little bit more mobile than Brian consecutively. Is this a greater opportunity for you to change things up and try to get a little more heat in the back field. Is that at all related to scheme?

BB: No. I think it's more related to, honestly, the situation of creating longer yardage situations consistently and also obviously the score. I don't think that Griese is … when you talk about all those quarterbacks collectively, (Drew) Brees, Trent Green, (Brett) Favre, (Jay) Fielder, Fiedler clearly would be the most athletic of that group and the best scrambler in that group. I mean the rest of those guys, they're all probably about the same give or take a little bit. They can run a little bit, but they're not really out there to light it up like a Kordell Stewart type of athlete or Michael Vick. You're not anywhere near in that category. I think Griese is pretty athletic, he moves around pretty well. But again, I'm not putting him in a Randall Cunningham class. I think it's due more to really creating the down and distance situations or the score situations that allow you to be able to unleash the pass rush. When it's third-and-three it's hard to cut it loose. They just have too many options. They hand the ball to (LaDainian) Tomlinson, they hand the ball to Priest Holmes, they hand the ball to … whether it's Mike Anderson or Clinton Portis, whoever it is. Three yards, when you're averaging almost five yards a carry, third-and-three, that's just as much a running situation as it is a passing situation. That's really where Denver has done a good job, but defensively that's where we need to do a better job of is creating more of those situations and obviously when we get them in those situations to convert them. I mean, we didn't do a good job of that in the Miami game particularly in the red area. That was a problem. You've got to create them first and then you've got to be able to execute them. But Denver does a good job. Now Denver is the best team in the league really in creating second down and favorable situations and then their production on second down is better than anybody in the league. They do well on first down, then they get to a second-and-five to seven kind of range. Then they have high production on that down. That's why they are a good offensive team.

Q: You must know off the top of your head how you guys have done on first down defensively.

BB: Needs to better. It definitely needs to be better. In terms of creating long yardage situations, creating second-and ten, and second-and-eleven and second-and-nine and that kind of thing, statistically, that hasn't been a real strength for us this year.

Q: Was that really one of your strong points last year? It seems like you have gotten off track.

BB: That and the score. You look at games where … there are games earlier in the year where there's a certain point in the game where it didn't really matter what the down and distance was, the score basically dictated the situation. Again, that is where a lot of pass rush comes and a lot of sacks come, and a lot of interceptions, you know pressures, and turning it into a one-dimensional game. Then it is on us to create that. But the flip side of it is, when you do create that, you're usually going to have a lot higher production in that area than when you don't when they can run, do play action, throw short, throw long, throw an incomplete pass, it doesn't really matter because either they're in control of the down and distance, so it's second-and-four, now its third-and-four, they miss it, it's no big deal. Or the score puts them in control of it

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