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Bill Belichick Press Conf. Transcript - 10/30/2002

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BB: So we've got the injury report, the updates on that, Otis [Smith] is questionable, and Larry [Izzo], those are the two. I think everybody else, you're familiar there. Buffalo's on a three game winning streak, obviously they're playing good football as a team, and that's why they've won consistently. No secret, that's what I think every team strives to do offensively, Drew's [Bledsoe] done a good job, they're throwing the ball well. They've got a good group of receivers, [Travis] Henry compliments that passing attack well, and has been very productive on the ground. Defensively, and special teams, they have really picked things up a bit in the last month, I think they've improved steadily in those phases in the game. They're hard to score on and they're making big plays in the kicking game, so they've been effective there. Just overall as a team, I think they're playing good football, historically the games with Buffalo have been tough hard fought games, and that's what we're expecting this week. We know it'll be tough, and we know they're playing well, they're on a little bit of a roll, and the only thing we can do to improve the outlook around here is to beat somebody, so that's where our opportunity is this week, and we know they're a good football team.

Q: In scouting Bledsoe, do you see a change in his demeanor?

BB: Well, I think Drew's shown through his career, I mean he's been a good productive football player, and has made a lot of big plays in the passing game since he came into the league, and he's done that again this year. He's thrown the ball well down the field, well in intermediate areas, has thrown some nice touch passes, and has gotten his team into the end zone. He's done all the things that I think we've seen him do, we've seen him do it plenty of times before, and he's doing it. There's no question he's got a lot of skill, good talent, good touch on the ball, and you can see that, and we've seen that in years past, and we've seen it this year.

Q: When you traded him did you expect that he'd have this type of performance?

BB: Drew's a good football player. When we traded him, we traded him for a fairly valuable pick, and he's a significant player. I don't think there's any question about what his skill level is, and he's playing well.

Q: Do you regret that you traded him into your own division?

BB: We made the decision we made in April, we looked at what the situation was and what the opportunities were, and made a decision then, and we've moved on from that, and we're looking forward from that, and taking whatever opportunities have been since then, and in the future to try to maximize those. When we made those decisions, we made them because we felt it was in the best interest of the football team.

Q: Are you surprised that he's become that kind of a vocal guy in Buffalo?

BB: No, I thought Drew showed good leadership here. Even last year, in a situation that he went through, that wasn't easy, I though he handled that situation well too.

Q: Do you wish your relationship with him was more conversational?

BB: I've been in this business for a while, I feel like I had a good relationship with Drew going all the way back to '96. Last year, obviously there were some ups and downs, and it was a tough situation, one that came about unexpectedly, the circumstances of it. Sometimes that's just the way the ball bounces. I have a lot or respect for Drew, always have, he's very professional, he's a team player, football's important to him, he goes about his job in a professional way, and that's the way I've always felt about him. It has nothing to do with anything like that, I have great respect for Drew, and always have.

Q: Did the signals from him effect the timetable to which you had to make the decision about what you were going to do with him?

BB: That timetable really wasn't in our control, it was what other teams timetables presented, and in the end, the situation at quarterback is, that you can only really have one quarterback. That's the way it is, we all know what the situation was in the offseason, and it would have been a difficult situation no matter what happened, I think it would have been a difficult situation to move forward with. Again, I made a decision that I felt was best for the football team.

Q: Did you ever consider trading Tom [Brady] instead of Drew?

BB: What I did was take a look at what the situation was and what the options were, and again, made the decisions I felt were in the best interest of the football team. There's a million different scenarios we can always create, but in the end, there's certain options that were available, and there were certain options that weren't.

Q: Did you get any offers for Tom?

BB: Nope.

Q: Considering the way that Buffalo played against you last year, did you have any idea where they would be this year, in terms of what Drew would do for them?

BB: I think that Buffalo is a team that played very competitively last year even though their record wasn't very good. They played competitively, and certainly nobody played us harder than Buffalo did. That's a team that was a young team, it's an improving team, and there's no question that a player like Drew Bledsoe is going to improve that football team, there's no doubt about that. They also have a lot of other good players and they played well in a lot of different areas in addition to that last year. This is a league where every year you see teams move, particularly young teams that get a little confidence and their young players improve they can move quickly. To this point that's what Buffalo's done, they're playing solid football as a team, and that's really what it's about, it's not one player or one unit, or one guy, it's about an entire football team doing a lot of things well on offense, defense, special teams. Each group's complimenting the other one, and that's why they're winning, and I don't think that's any secret in this league, that's what we're all trying to do.

Q: Does Drew have the best passing duo in the league in [Eric] Moulds and [Peerless] Price?

BB: They have very explosive receivers, there's no question about that. Mould is explosive, Peerless Price, can turn a 15 to 20 yard pass into an 80-yard touchdown. Larry Centers, there's no better receiving back in the league than him, they've added [Josh] Reed to the mix, who's certainly a solid inside, third down receiver. Jay Riemersma the tight end, [Travis] Henry catching the ball on screen passes in addition to the running. They got five or six good skilled players, and a big offensive line anchored by Ruben Brown, so that's a team that's not without talent, they have plenty of it and they're all playing to it, and they compliment each other well.

Q: Kevin Gilbride's been around the block, is he doing a lot of the same things he's done before?

BB: Yeah. I think it is clear that this is Kevin's offense, it's similar to what he's done back in Houston, Jacksonville, San Diego, and most recently, Pittsburgh. Kevin's a guy that tries to get the ball vertically down the field, likes to spread the defense out and force you to defend in the passing game all the different receivers, particularly down the field. You're not going to get a lot of three and five-yard routes, you're going to get the guys that attack the vertical part of your defense and get down the field, and you're going to have to defend those routes. He's always done that going back all the way to Houston with the run-and-shoot type principles. That's a big element in his offense, and that's definitely in place in Buffalo

Q: What made you decide you were going to trade Drew and keep Tom?

BB: Well, there weren't a lot of options on that. Again, I think we can go back and rehash everything that happened last spring, and we've already done that several times. The situation last spring was what it was, and based on all the circumstances that were in place there, and again, we can write a couple volumes on that if we want to, but based on all the circumstances that were in place and everything that was going on, that there was a decision to be made, and we made that decision on the second day of the draft, and from that point, we've moved on from it.

Q: Eric Moulds said he thinks Drew would like to throw for 400 yards against the Patriots.

BB: I'm sure he would. I'm sure that everybody on Buffalo would like to play well against us, and I'm sure we have plenty of players on our team who would like to play well against Buffalo so that we could win the game too, this is a division game. Two teams that have played very competitively against each other, I hope we do well against them, I hope they don't score, I hope we score a lot, I hope we have a lot of big plays, that's no secret.

Q: Ultimately, is this team better for having traded Drew away?

BB: Again, we made the decision last year that we thought was the best decision for the football team. I think Tom Brady's a good quarterback, I'm glad he's our quarterback, and we'll move forward from there.

Q: Do you make it a point to tell Tom not to try to throw five touchdown passes in the first five minutes?

BB: Yeah. I think everybody's aware of that. Tom's aware of it, and I think our whole offense is aware of it. This is a team game, and there's no one player that can go out there and dominate a game. There just isn't any one player that can do it, each player's got to play his role, players around them have to compliment him, the different units have to compliment each other on offense, defense, and special teams, and it has to be a concerted team effort. That's what it's going to take, and that's what it needs to be every week, there's no one guy that can go out there and dominate the game, at least I don't know who he is, in all three areas, on any team, in any game. So, every once and a while you could have a guy put up a career day, but there's not that many of them in the NFL's 16-game schedule week after week. It's team football, and every player on the offense and defensive team needs to understand that, and they need to go about it with that kind of approach. That's the only thing that'll work.

Q: Are you happy with the effort of the team?

BB: I'm not happy about losing four in a row, I don't think anybody's happy about it. I think the team needs to play better, and I think that includes everyone. I can't tell you the exact nature and specifics of Tom's comments, but I would say that Tom's a good leader on this team, I think he's a team player, but I think that everybody can do a better job than what we've done in the last four games. Obviously that's why we haven't won them, so we need to find a way to improve in those areas, and that's everybody. I think from a competitive standpoint, we all feel that way, we're all looking for a way to improve our performances individually, and then collectively, that'll help improve the team.

Q: Is there ever a time for a good leader to call out his teammates?

BB: Leadership comes in a lot of different forms and fashions, and I don't know that there's any one book on how to do it, or how not to do it, everybody has their own style, and effective leaders are effective leaders, and there's a lot of different ways to skin a cat. I don't think I'm the one to say, 'this can or can't ever be done, or this won't, or will always work, or never work.' There are a lot of different situations, and some times one thing can be the right thing to do in a situation, and the wrong thing to do in another situation, even though it's the same thing. The best thing I can say about leadership is that when players are respected, they all have their individual way of showing it, and displaying it, and that can come in all different flavors. The bottom line is to be a respected player, to do your job, and to continue to show that you're putting the team first, and that's really what I think leadership's all about.

Q: Do you feel like Tom has the respect of the players in the locker room?

BB: I think Tom was one of the players that was elected as captain of the team, I think that obviously he and the other six captains had enough respect of the teammates for them to vote him not that position. Not that being a captain means that there aren't other leaders on the team, I'm not saying that at all, but I think that any player that is selected to be a captain by his teammates certainly has some measure of respect from his teammates.

Q: Do you think he's going through some of the same things that Drew went through when he was here?

BB: Well, I wasn't here for some of the years you were talking about with Drew in '93, '94, I wasn't here for those years so I can't tell you exactly what went down there, or what he experienced. I'm not sure about that, right now our team is just collectively, we haven't played well enough the last four weeks to beat teams that are a little bit better than us, and we've got to play better, I don't know that you can single any one player out, or that you can single any one thing out, I think it's been a collective thing, and I think everybody needs to collectively, that's the only way we're going to get out of it too, is for everybody to collectively be able to improve their performance and improve their units performance, so that we can achieve a higher level. We're playing this week in Buffalo, we're playing another good offensive team, this is three weeks in a row we've played the top offensive team's in the league. We're going to have to play better and rise to a higher performance level against this challenge than we were able to do in the last two weeks, I mean that's obvious. That's really what I think it's all about, it'd be hard to compare one year to nine years, where I wasn't even a part of that team

Q: Given that there are only four division champions and two wildcards, does that put more emphasis on division games?

BB: The division games have always been the most important games. I don't know how they could be more important than they've been, but maybe they are. They've always had the highest importance, they've been important, they're still important.

Q: How has Buffalo's defense improved in the last three weeks?

BB: They haven't given up a lot of big plays, they're a good coverage team, they do a good job on pass defense, the combination of pass defense and forcing the quarterback to hang on to the ball, and not have, what I'd say a lot of easy throws, "cupcake" type passes, they've limited those, so the quarterback has had to work a little bit harder to get it in there. The receivers are having to work a little bit harder to get open, and then when the ball gets held, it gives the pass rush just a little bit longer to have an impact, so, I think collectively they're playing good team defense, is really what it comes down to.

Q: In the first half of games you have been outscored 51-10. How do you bring that to the field in practice?

BB: We need to start the games faster than we have, no question, you said it better than I could, that's what needs to be done, so we're going to have to find a way to do it. We could waive a magic wand and say we're going to start fast this week, but unfortunately I don't think that's really the solution. Somehow, we're going to have to be able to execute and perform at a level to change and to reverse that trend.

Q: Is there any news regarding Willie Jackson?

BB: Is there any news on Willie Jackson? No. First of all the player's on waivers.

Q: Would you be interested in a player like that who could add some depth?

BB: I don't know, I wouldn't rule anything out, we look at every personnel situation, we do that on a daily basis, take a look at every personnel situation that's available and see how it effects our situation and whether it would or wouldn't be something we may be interested in, and then do what we would need to do to do that. I really can't make any comment on any player that's on waivers, he's not a member of any team, and we're not able to contact any player until he's cleared waivers.

Q: Are you surprised, given the way that your team started this year, that Buffalo is on top of you in the division?

BB: I'm as disappointed as anybody that we've lost the last four games, there's no getting around that. Am I disappointed about where we're at right now? Yeah, I wish our record was better than what it is, but the only way we can change that is to win this week.

Q: People have suggested that arrogance is a part of why you traded Drew to a team in the division.

BB: What were the other options?

**Q: You know better than I do.

Q: Keep him?

BB: I've said it a couple times before, I'll try to put it again, maybe in a simpler version. In April I made a decision that I thought was best for the football team, best for the New England Patriots, that's what all the decisions I make are for, are for the football team, that's what's number one. It was a situation that, at some point there was going to have to be some kind of resolution to, and I did what I thought was best for the football team. I don't know exactly who it was that made that statement that you're referring, or what context it was made in, but my decisions are made in what I feel to be in the best interest of the football team.

Q: Do you have to remind the team that they're playing Buffalo, and not Drew Bledsoe?

BB: I'm certainly not going to deny that that's a big story in the game, but I think the biggest focus for us has got to be the Buffalo Bills football team, that's more consuming than one individual player. We had a similar situation a couple weeks ago with the Packers, but I think our team needs to be mature enough and understand that this is totally a team effort and totally a team confrontation between the Bills and that's all it is. Hopefully, we're experienced enough to understand that, and deal with it appropriately because that's what it is, no one player on either team is going to be able to win this game by himself, it's going to take a lot more than that.

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