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Bill Belichick Press Conf Transcript 10/30

Belichick: I think that each week is a whole new ball game. Preparation, the schemes, the matchups, the adjustments and so forth.



            **BB:**  Good morning.  Anything on football today?  

**Q: Why do you think over a 16-week season it is so hard to achieve consistency at the same level each week?

BB:** I think it is because you have so many moving parts. Each of your opponents presents different challenges. Your team is in a state of flux through the course of the season for one reason or another. As soon as you start doing something well, then your opponents really pay more attention to that and try to stop it when you are not doing something as well then there is more stress in that area and they are trying to exploit it. I think there is really a lot of moving parts in a 16-game season both personnel wise, strategy, scheme-wise, weather conditions. There are a million factors that go into it. It is just not the same week after week.

**Q: Is that a message that you have stressed more this season with your team, being more consistent?

BB:** That is why I have said in the past and I will always say it, each week is its own entity. I don't really think there is a lot of carry over from week to week. There is obviously some. In the big picture, 10 percent, I don't know, I don't think it is a lot. I think that each week is a whole new ball game. Preparation, the schemes, the matchups, the adjustments and so forth. You just have to start all over again every week. I definitely try to explain that and point it out to the team how playing Denver is a lot different than playing Cleveland. Playing Cleveland was a lot different from playing New York. Playing New York was a lot different than playing Tennessee. There might be a few things that are similar but when you get to offense, defense and special teams, when you look at the whole picture together, there is a big spread week-to-week.

**Q: To this point, are you pleased with your consistency?

BB:** Some things are better than others. Some things have been better than others. If you are saying am I pleased with our consistency in the red area offensively, no. I am pleased with our punt coverage overall, yes. Some areas have been more consistent than others.

**Q: How about their approach in their preparation?

BB:** I think the approach in the preparation has been pretty good. I think it has been pretty good all things considered. I thik the hard part is understanding the subtle differences, even though you call the same play, it is blocked different or it is executed differently from week-to-week based on a) scheme and b) personnel. So trying to double team Tim Bowens is different from trying to double team somebody else even though you are double teaming that position, that guy is a three technique and that is your rule and you double them and all that, dealing with him is different than dealing with Kevin Carter or whoever the next guy is in there.

**Q: A lot of players did talk about after the game about being prepared and how they feel prepared. How smart is this team in your mind in they are able to get it in what you are trying to get across from week-to-week?

BB:** I think they have shown that we can do it. We haven't always done it. But I think we have shown that at times we can do it and I think when we understand and we are all on the same page it certainly works to our advantage. The problem is when it is nine out of 11 or 10 out of 11, it only takes one guy to make the tackle. Where defensively you only need to be weak in one gap. You could have eight of them covered and one not covered and you have a problem and offensively you could make seven or eight good blocks and miss one guy and you have a bad play. It is just getting everybody with it from a full team standpoint, offense, defense and special teams, all three phases. I think at times we have shown the ability to do it but other times you would just like for it to be better. You are always looking for a more consistent and a higher level of performance.

**Q: During the offseason, most of your personnel moves were on the defensive side of the ball. The offense had some young players, [Daniel] Graham, [Deion] Branch that were returning. Did you have raised expectations on things you were counting on them to improve to improve the overall offense?

BB:** I think you always expect and hope that players will improve between their first and their second year. That is usually for most players, there are no absolutes, but for most players that come in their rookie year, they give you a certain level of performance and that is based on a lot of different factors, where they came from, what their background was, a lot of circumstances in training camp and so on. The second year, you know the player better. You can put him in the position and have a much better idea of your expectations and what he can do and what he can't do, what his weaknesses were in the system the year before, what you think his strengths were and how to incorporate all of those things and then he has the full offseason to work on it as opposed to coming in here in May after the draft and trying to pick it up. Usually you have a growth spurt there so to speak from the first year to the second year. I think we felt that would be a possibility with those guys from the '02 draft class?

**Q: Does that play into your philosophy when you approach the offseason in terms of what you need to add or change?

BB:** Well, I think it is more of an individual thing. You take those players and sit down with each one of them specifically and individually and say, 'Okay, here is what you need to work on.' Then you go to the next guy and say, 'Okay, here is what you need to work on,' and try to find maybe the three most important things for them to work on in the offseason. Sometimes you say, 'Boy, what this guy really needs is a lot of game snaps.' Well you can't give him that in May. So you have to find things that he can do in the offseason and then readjust those goals when you get to training camp and preseason games.

**Q: Of those two guys, where are they at the midway point in this season?

BB:** Which two guys?

**Q: Graham and Branch.

BB:** I think they both made a good improvement from last year both in their technique, their understanding of the offense and their ability to adjust. Offensively, we use a lot of different formations and some personnel groups so I think their ability to understand the offense has given us some more variety in terms of our formationing and moving guys around at different spots to try to create mismatches and that kind of thing. I think that they have come along. They have made progress in that area. I would say that about the whole group really from Jarvis [Green] that would true of, David Givens [as well]. Rohan [Davey] really hasn't had the regular season experience but I think he showed in preseason that he had made some gains in those areas too.

**Q: You talked about consistency, is that even more important for those young players?

BB:** The most important thing for young players is to develop good habits and develop a good foundation of what they are doing and then if they can do that, then those are building blocks that they can work higher on and start to pick up some of the finer points and the subtler techniques that will help them be better players. If you always have to go back and try to rebuild that foundation on fundamental things, then it is hard to make the kind of progress that you wan to make. That is why that first offseason that you have with them is usually a really important offseason so they develop themselves physically the way they need to for your particular system and they also develop a skill set in the offseason that can help carry them into training camp and into the second season that they can build off of. Again, whether the techniques are, if you want the guy to play left tackle instead of right tackle, or if you want the guy to play 'z' instead of 'x' or a specific role in a sub situation or in the kicking game, then you can get a lot more specific and you have a lot more time to work on it in the offseason.

**Q: You mentioned yesterday that [Mike] Shanahan uses a game-plan approached offense. Do many teams use that?

BB:** Well I think that Mike would be at the far end of scale in terms of formationing personnel groups and trying to create scheme matchups against defenses.

**Q: Is that much more difficult? Do you have a game-plan type of defense too?

BB:** Well we try to take advantage of what our strengths are and we try to stop what the other team does well. But just looking at the offensive side of the ball, I would say of all of the teams that we faced, like I said, I would put Denver at the far end of formationing personnel groups. Whatever they do, it is done to create stress points for you defensively whether it be personnel stress points where they have a favorable personnel matchup or it is a scheme stress point where you are really not comfortable playing what you want to play against that particular look. They either try to force you out of it or they force you to play it but not play it the way you are comfortable playing it. That is what I think one of the things that they do a real good job.

**Q: What offense is the most consistent that you've faced, on a week-to-week basis?

BB:** Let me think here, who have we played? Well, let me just put it this way without specifically naming. I think there is certain offensive teams that you would look at, when you see a certain group of players in the game, you've got a pretty good idea where they're going to be. You look at Buffalo, you're probably going to see Sam Gash in there as a fullback. If you look at Miami, you're probably going to see [Rob] Konrad end up at the fullback, even though he might start out in some different position, he is probably going to end up at the fullback. If you see Miami, you are probably going to see [Randy] McMichael be the tight end. If you look at the Jets, you're probably going to see Wayne Chrebet in the slot. With Denver, those things would be a lot less predictable. I really can't tell you where Rod Smith is going to line up. I really couldn't tell you where Ed McCaffrey is going to line up. I have no idea where Shannon Sharpe is going to be. I don't even know if [Patrick] Hape's going to be in the game. I don't know if—you know, right down the line. I'm not talking about injuries; I'm just saying even when they're all healthy I don't really know. The only guys I really have a pretty good idea where they're going to be are the quarterback and the five offensive linemen. Those guys are usually in the same spot. The rest of them, it is very unpredictable. And I say that with the quarterback because they are not a big shotgun team. Even though they do use the shotgun some, but you look at teams like Cleveland for example. They use a lot of shotgun, so you don't know whether the guy's going to be in a shotgun or not. That is one of the variables in their offense. It is less of a variable in the Jets. They are never going to be in the shotgun. That is one thing that is not much of a variable with them, whereas with Cleveland it is a different story. It just varies from week to week, but in terms of knowing where Denver's personnel is, I really don't have any idea.

**Q: Wouldn't you think that more teams would do what Mike does?

BB:** Well there are two different schools of thought on that, and they are both solid. If you line up in pretty much the same place every time then it is a lot easier to recognize how the defense is deployed and when they are deployed differently. So if the free safety has cheated over in this look, then there is a reason he has cheated over. And you get that same look again and the free safety is back over here on the weak side or the outside linebacker instead of being behind the line of scrimmage now moves up on the line, well that is very easy to recognize because you are in the same spot, and 'Why are they moving?' Well, they are getting ready to do something. If your guys are all over the place then a lot of times they are just adjusting to where you are. They could be playing the same defense with a guy on the line of scrimmage or off the line of scrimmage, it just depends on where your backs are located, and that could move them around a little bit. In order to see the moving parts, it is a lot easier if you can be stationary.

**Q: Are there advantages to both schools of thought?

BB:** There are advantages to both schools of thought and in your system, you have to be able to recognize, you have to know what you're looking for and when you see it you've got to be able to take advantage of it, whatever it is. A lot of teams on third down—this is no secret—a lot of teams on third down in this league just come and they spread out and they spread the field as wide as they possibly can to create as much space so that they can see where all eleven guys are going to be. They don't want everybody in there tight because it is easier double and triple coverage and all that when you're in closer together. Then there are other teams that like to have everybody in closer proximity so they can run crossing patterns and pick people off and get overloads and crack block in the running game and things like that. But it is a lot harder to see where everybody is deployed when they're all in there close together because there is not much variation between one lineman and the next; but the more you spread them out, sooner or later they'll have to declare. If they have got to get out and cover somebody then they have to get out and cover them. There is just too much space involved. Both are good, you just have to decide where you want to be.

**Q: You spoke earlier in the week about your team's execution late in the game. How would you rate the team so far this year, both offensively and defensively, early in the game?

BB:** Well, defensively some games have been better than others. We've had a couple of games—the opener for example—where they took the ball right down the field and scored. That is not what we are looking for. Other games have been better than that, where we had turnovers early in the game that have created real positive field position, scored in one game right in the first few plays of the game. Offensively we' have had some production on the first drive of the game. Not a lot. We are well below average in the league in that category on just that stat alone, so that certainly could stand some improvement.

**Q: Are you preparing to face [Ed] McCaffrey?

BB:** Sure, sure. We're prepared to face all the guys who are on the active roster. I mean, even if they were declared out on the injury report, I think we would have an awareness of the player. Unless the guy is definitely declared out, we're expecting them to all play.

**Q: You don't have anyone with [McCaffrey's] size. How do you make up for a size difference when you don't have size?

BB:** We can't play with those elevator shoes. It is the same problem we ran into with [Jeremy] Shockey or anybody else. We don't have a guy that's 6' 5", 260 that plays defense that runs 4.5 that covers him. We don't have a guy that's 6'5" that's big enough to play McCaffrey. Every player has got his own strengths and weaknesses. Some guys win on quickness, some guys win on speed, some guys win on size. You have to try and use what your strengths are to compete against whatever the other guys strengths are. If he is big then you use your quickness. If you're bigger than he is and you try to use your size, and try to minimize his speed and quickness. Whatever the match-ups are.

**Q: Last year, your offense versus their defense, I think they gave you guys some problems; they were in a lot of bunch formations and different receivers.

BB:** They did do that some, yes.

**Q: Are you better equipped to deal with that type of thing than you were last year?

BB:** I don't know. I don't know. I think in Denver's case, they're going to test you on that anyway. They're going to test you on motion, they're going to test you on formation adjustments like moving the tight end and moving people back into the backfield and running them out past the receivers and inside the receivers. They're going to give you some overload formations, they're going to give you some bunch formations. They'll give you that sooner or later. Or if you don't get that in your particular game, you've seen enough of it in previous games that you have to be ready for it. Whether they call it or not is up to them, but you're going to have to defend it at least going into the game because they've shown enough of it in recent games. They're going to test you out on all of that. I'm sure there're things that they feel better about than others, and if they get into the game and they see that you're not doing too well against it then you're going to get more of one thing than the next. But they're going to test you out on all fronts. I don't think you can go into the game saying 'well they're not going to motion this week' or 'they're not going to shift the tight end' or 'we're not going to see any one-back. It'll be all two backs this week'.

**Q: What happened [in the first half of last year's game]?

BB:** Well I think when you don't convert on third down offensively and when you can't convert on third down defensively, you pretty much write the story of the game right there. They are going to have the ball twice as much as you do. They are going to have a lot of field position. If they convert in the red area, they are going to have a lot more points than you do. So I think that is pretty much what it was, 21-7, right? If you don't convert on third downs and they convert them, well, unless there is some other big aberration in the game, then 21-7 with twice as much time of possession is about how the game is going to go.

**Q: Is Rod Smith playing at the level that he usually is?

BB:** Yes. Yes. Rod Smith looks good. Yeah. I don't like Rod Smith. He is a good player, and he has killed us before. I can name some other guys that have been part of that too, but he's especially been a problem and continues to be a problem—not just for us but for everybody else too. He is one of the best receivers in the league. He is fast, he has got good quickness, he is a go-to guy, he is a real confident receiver. He knows he is going to be open, he knows he is going to make the play, and I think they know it too and they're not afraid to go to him. They don't get scared off by double coverage either.

**Q: Have you ever gone into a game and tried to take away Rod Smith?

BB:** Rod Smith is kind of a sensitive area. Maybe we can talk about him some other week. I mean since it is a game plan thing, and he's right in the middle of the game plan. Absolutely. Rod Smith is a player that defensively you've got to stop. I mean, he'll beat you. He'll definitely go out there and beat you. And they're going to him. It's not like he's some secret weapon that they might use and they might not. They're going to him, he's a big part of the offense, he's right in the plan. A good example is the opening play of the game last year. First play they run a bootleg, we're right in [Brian] Griese's face, he hits Smith on a little three, four yard pattern, 20-yard gain. Could've easily been a sack, could've easily been a big play early in the game, they gain 20 yards on it. And Smith got most of it on his own. I mean Griese made a good play to get the ball off, but that's the kind of problem that Rod Smith brings. He can take nothing and turn it into a good play, and he can take something and turn it into a great play like he did a couple years ago out there. He takes a two-yard crossing pattern and goes 70 yards.

**Q: Is that the kind of thing that, with [Danny] Kanell, they'll have to scale down their offense?

BB:** Maybe they will and maybe they won't, but they haven't. In the last two weeks, I don't think so. They run their offense.

**Q: Is Ashley Lelie a weapon now? I know he made a clutch play against you guys last year.

BB:** Yeah he did. That kind of sealed the game. It was a third down play and they threw it up to him out of their end and they ran out the clock on that. Ashley's big, he's got good vertical downfield speed, he's definitely a big-play threat. He's a guy you've got to watch out for. They've got a good group of receivers, with [Chris] Cole, Lelie, McCaffrey, Smith, plus the tight ends. They've got good skill people. They've got a good group.

**Q: You've seen so many themes—the Browns receivers, or the Titans receivers or the Giants receivers.

BB:** We've seen—this year in the games that we've played including the Denver game—we've seen an outstanding group of skill players and outstanding groups of defensive linemen. Front sevens in some cases. All the way back to the beginning of the year. All the way back. It's week after week of very good skill players and very good defensive line or front seven. I feel like I'm standing there in front of the team saying the same thing every week. 'We've really got to be physical on the offensive line. We're going to really get challenged by this group.' And they're sitting there saying 'here we go again. Here's another of the best defensive lines in the league, sixth week in a row.' That's what it is, and here we go again this week too. You've got [Bertrand] Berry, you got [Trevor] Pryce, now you've got [Daryl] Gardener, Al Wilson, [Darius] Holland's playing good. They've got a good front, just like Miami had a good front, just like the Giants had a good front, just like the Browns had a good front, you can go right back to Philadelphia. We've faced some really good fronts and some really good skill groups this year.

**Q: Is it luck of the draw? Or are there more good players out there now?

BB:** I don't know. I mean we'll take stock at the end of the year. I think a lot of these guys we knew about. We knew [Laveranues] Coles was a great receiver, we saw him with the Jets. Now he's down there, but I don't know if that helps you with the Jets any more because now they got [Santana] Moss in the lineup. Now he becomes a very skill, big-play guy on the field that maybe wasn't on the field as much. There certainly is a group of guys that is coming. A lot of these guys, the Rod Smiths and the Eric Moulds and the guys like this are the guys you're familiar with and you see them every year. But there's another group that's coming along that's going to be a problem. Clearly the Cleveland receivers—that was a real good group. If you talk to anybody that plays against them—especially in that division—there is a lot of respect for those guys. Talking to other coaches, guys getting ready to play them, they all say the same thing, 'you better watch out for these guys.'

**Q: If you look at a team that doesn't have a great front seven, do you say to the team, 'We can destroy this front seven'?

BB:** I think you look at the strength of each team and look at what they are. Any time you go up against a good defensive front, if you can't control them, it really won't make any difference what else is going on in the game. You get sacked, you lose yardage in the running game, strip sacked, you get a couple of balls batted at the line of scrimmage for turnovers and all that, that's the game right there. I don't care if you have good punt return or not, or some other deal, it won't make any difference. That's the kind of thing that can dominate a game, and good skill players can do the same thing on offense too. They go out there and convert some big plays and put up a bunch of points. You can move the ball up and down the field too, and get beat 35-24. It's no problem. If you've got a team that can score a lot of points and has good skill players—I'm not saying that's all they need—but you better be able to do something about it or you're going to have a long day.

**Q: Lonie Paxton—other than the snow angel, he hasn't really gotten much attention has he?

BB:** Yeah and he is, sorry to say, he is a typical offensive lineman. The less attention he gets, the better you know it is going. Once you start talking about Lonie, then there is usually some other negative thing involved, with a bad snap or a penalty or something like that. He has been pretty consistent for us.

**Q: How is his record over four years?

BB:** It's pretty good. He's pretty good. He's been very consistent. He's had a couple that were—

**Q: Four years ago—was that him or Lee Johnson?

BB:** No. Up until this year really I can't even think of one.

**Q: Have you ever encountered that before?

BB:** I've been around some pretty good snappers, but he is starting to add them up now. It's not a few games or it's not one year. He's in his fourth year here and it's something that you start to, I don't want to say take for granted because we work hard on it. Brad [Seely] works hard with Lonie and Kenny [Walters] and Adam [Vinatieri] and they do it every day. They do it a lot. And even when it's a little bit off, there's emphasis to get it a little more perfect, to smooth out the operation. Overall, he is pretty good. He is one of the better ones in the league. He has got good zip on the ball, he's accurate. He is never going to lead the league in tackles, we know that. That is one thing that he has worked on but could improve on.

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