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Replay: Best of the Week on Radio Thu Jun 13 - 02:00 PM | Tue Jun 18 - 11:55 AM

Bill Belichick Press Conf. Transcript - 11/05/2003

Belichick: I feel like we are getting back on track here. Yesterday was short day for us.



BB: I feel like we are getting back on track here. Yesterday was short day for us. The players are in today. Today we are going to spend some time trying, to especially in the last three weeks, the last three weeks we have given the players off the day after the game the last three games – Miami, Cleveland, and Denver, we are going to take some of those games and find plays and situations that came up that we need to correct and improve on. The coaches have had a little time yesterday to take a look specifically at some of the situational things that we have gone through during the year and, again, kind of review those with the players. I am sure there will be things as we go through the week here that we will want to make adjustments to and maybe a few scheme modifications and that kind of thing as we head into next weeks game with Dallas and future games. That is kind of the plan for the week. The players will be in here today and then they will be off through the weekend. We have already started on Dallas and will begin our in depth work on the cowboys with the players on Monday. Of course, we will be working on it prior to that time and try to be ready for the team when they come back in. That is pretty much the situation here for this week. There were some good things and some positive things to build on here but looking at the overall picture we are still trying to find a little more consistency and a little better execution and try to avoid some of the problems that we have had and try to get some of those things corrected and straightened out so that they don't catch up with us, which eventually they are going to do if we don't improve them. That is really what we are trying to get done this week.

Q: What is the one thing that you know you have to work on that really bites you as the season goes along here that you are most concerned with?

BB: There are a lot of things; the penalty situation obviously is not good. We gave up a punt return for a touchdown last week. Defensively, we had a lot of third down conversions go against us, especially on a couple of their scoring drives. The red area offense. You can go right down the line. Every game, every week, is its own entity. I am sure you will pick up the papers on Monday and say, 'Wow, this team lost' or 'That team beat this team,' you know, there are always upsets in the league. Every week it is not about who is the best team or who has the best record, it is about who played better in that game and how one team matched up against another team. It might be the only time all season that team wins or it might be one of a few times that the team wins, but the reason why they won is because they matched up better and they played better in that particular game against their opponent. That is what we face every week. All of the games are important obviously and total record is important but on a week-to-week basis, and on a short-term basis, the only thing that really matter is how your team matches up and how you play and compete that week against that individual opponent. Nothing else really matters. That is the way we try to look at it. I don't think you can take one thing and say, 'Well, if you look at all of our games, a lot of them came out differently.' There were big plays in a lot of different aspects of all of those games. I don't think you can say, 'Well this one thing is going to carry us in every game.' I just don't think it works that way or at least it is not working that way for us. I don't know, maybe it could for somebody else, but it is not for us.

Q: Can you talk a little bit about the schedule after the bye week? The first four games seem pretty brutal.

BB: Well the schedule after the bye week is Dallas Sunday night. That is the schedule. They are playing well. They are obviously one of the best teams in the league. They are leading the NFC East. They are doing a great job. Bill [Parcells] has done a great job with the team. The team is playing well and it is going to be a big challenge for us. They are tough and they leading the league in defense. They are running the ball. They are hitting a lot of big play passes. They look pretty good.

Q: What is the difference between Dallas this year and the Dallas of last year?

BB: Well I don't really know a lot about Dallas of last year. We didn't really spend a lot of time on that because they have had a coaching change and they have had some personnel changes and all of that. We have tried to watch them this year. We will be doing more work on them as we go into the next few days. I think they are playing well as a team. It starts defensively. They are giving up 240 yards a game, whatever it is, defensively. They are leading the league. So they are not giving up a lot of points. They are not giving up a lot of yards. Offensively, they are making plays. They are up at the top of the league in terms of big-play passes. They have a solid running game. They are good in the kicking game, which you would expect them to be. They go out there and kick, whatever it was, six, seven field goals against the Giants and take advantage of their scoring opportunities. They are a solid team.

Q: Can you explain what happened with Richard Seymour this weekend in terms of being probable all week and then not making the trip.?

BB: It was a coaching decision. It was a coaching decision. Seymour could have played and I didn't think he would be as effective when he had other players who are healthier. It was a coaching decision.

Q: Did he just not get better?

BB: It was a coaching decision. We played other people.

Q: Have you heard from the league?

BB: Have we heard from the league?

Q: Yes. Has the league contacted the Patriots?

BB: Well, look whatever the league does is the league does. Whatever they do, that is a league matter. I never comment on league matters.

Q: Is it a big deal coach that he was probable and didn't play?

BB: Look, I have to make those decisions every week. Some player's play, some players don't. You can't have everybody active. You take a look at what each individual situation is and you make those decisions. We have players play who are less than 100 percent. There are also some players that don't play who are less than 100 percent. Everybody that is listed on the injury report has some degree of medical problem that is why they are listed. Some of them play, some of them don't.

Q: Last year going into the bye week you were struggling a little bit and you talked about getting back to the fundamentals. How does that change this year heading into the bye on a winning streak?

BB: I don't think it changes a whole lot. I think still some of the fundamental things; you work hard on your fundamentals in training camp. You go out there and practice twice a day and you have a lot of individual periods. In the morning you work on the running game. In the afternoon you work on the passing game. You pick out one aspect of the kicking game so with your punt team you work on it twice during the day. That is training camp and preseason. When you get into the regular season and all of that gets accelerated and what falls behind is the individual stuff because you have to get your team ready for the situations that they have to face. Now is a good time to, as it always is a good time to take advantage of it and go back and work on some of the more fundamental individual things that you just don't have as much time work on during the season, I am not saying you don't work on them, you do, you just don't work on them to the degree that you do in training camp. Training camp is where you establish those habits, hopefully good habits and you hope that can carry on through the year.

Q: How much time will you take off personally in the next couple of days?

BB: I don't know. We'll see how it goes here towards the end of the week. Maybe Saturday might be a lighter day around here. Don't be looking for me here on Saturday. Let's put it that way.

Q: Any trips or anything planned?

BB: Not yet. I am not planning on going to the Mediterranean or anything. Don't worry about that.

Q: Do [Ted] Washington and [Ted] Johnson have a decent chance to be ready by next week?

BB: I don't know. They are getting better. They haven't practiced so until they start practicing, I don't think they are going to be playing. Once they practice then that will move them closer to playing. We will see how they look at that point.

Q: Can you talk a little bit about the degree of confidence you have in this team to what you need them to do?

BB: I think we have some good players on this team. I have confidence in the players that we put out there to play and we have had a lot of different combinations and a lot of different groups. That has been all the way through the years. I do have confidence in the players and I have confidence in the team. We don't always do it perfect. We have plenty of screw ups out there. I make plenty of mistakes too. In the end they have been able to play under pressure and they have been able to make the plays when they've needed to make them a number of times this year. I think that is a real credit to the players and their preparation and their ability to execute when two or three plays make the difference in the outcome of the game. A number of times, they have been able to make them successfully. That is a good quality for your team and for your players to have.

Q: Can you talk a little bit about the decision of taking the safety? That situation doesn't come up too, too often.

BB: It is an unusual situation. The classic take a safety situation is when you are ahead by six points. Then you give up the safety to be up by four and it still takes a touchdown to beat you in that situation and you get the field position and don't have to punt out of your endzone. Taking a safety when you are behind is a little bit more of an unusual situation. It is unique. It came up in that game. I don't really think it was that hard of a decision. We are one our one yard line, we have no field position, there are 2:40 seconds to go in the game, we have timeouts and the two minute warning. How are we going to get closer to the goal line than on our own one-yard line? Punting the ball out of the endzone didn't really seem to do much there. Even if we stop them and get the ball back, we are still going to be 90-something yards away and they may have more points on the board. I felt like our best chance at that point was to give up the points. We would have been kicking the field goal for the tie instead of the win, but give up the points and try to create some field position. As, far as taking the safety, snapping the ball over the punters head, I mean that is easy. I used to do that when I snapped on regular punts. I think Lonie loved that call. That was one where he could just really rifle it and let it go. I think he was trying to put it up there in about the 20th row.

Q: You mentioned your teams ability to make plays, 13 interceptions is top five in the league. Is that guys just making plays? Are the coverages just allowing them to play the ball more maybe?

BB: I don't think we have any new revelations in coverage. I think that we are a little faster in the secondary than we have been. I think our guys back there for the most part have good hands and good ball skills. Anytime you are playing from ahead and the other team is throwing from behind to catch up like the interception we got against Denver. It is desperation and you are going to get a few more like those where if you are playing from behind and begin to run out the clock, you are going to have a few less of those opportunities. I think, again, those can be a little bit of the statistics being based on the circumstance. Overall, I think our pass coverage is okay. It is certainly better than it was last year. I wouldn't take hardly anything. We cover better and we have some guys with good ball skills and we haven't dropped very many balls back there that would have been good catch-able balls.

Q: Do you play more man coverage?

BB: We have probably played more man. Relative to last year we probably play more than we did last year. Our corners have done a good job with whoever it has been out there. Whether it is Ty [Law], Asante [Samuel], Tyrone [Poole], Eugene [Wilson] down there, overall they have done a good job in coverage.

Q: Has that put them in a better position to make plays on the ball?

BB: When you play man-to-man coverage you are covering your man and your back is to the ball. In zone coverage you can see the ball, you can see the quarterback better. There is a place for both. Guys intercept in both situations and they also give up completions in both situations. It comes down to the technique. I don't know that you have better chances to intercept in man coverage, probably not. I think it is harder for the quarterback to complete the ball if the coverage is tight. There is just less space there.

Q: Have you thought about what it is going to be like for you personally coaching against Bill Parcells given how well you know him as a coach?

BB: Well I think the real challenge is Dallas. Dallas is playing well. They are right at the top of the league statistically in a lot of areas. Of course their record speaks for itself. I think that will be a big challenge for us. Bill, I have a lot of respect for Bill. He is doing a good job with the team. I don't think that is any surprise to anybody. The team is the matchup. I am not going to be calling any plays, or throwing any passes or any of that kind of thing. It will be challenging to get our team to get ready to play the Dallas Cowboys. There is no question about that. They are well-coached and they have a good football team.

Q: Last week in many ways you were playing a coach. We talked about that all week about how that was [Mike] Shanahan's team.

BB: He is tough to get ready for too. You are right. He is tough to get ready for too. There is no doubt that will be a big challenge. Denver is a challenge. Dallas will be a challenge. They will be coming every week after that too.

Q: How about the distraction of 'us' as a whole?

BB: You guys? Yeah. Look, I understand it is a story. It is a natural story so it is not unexpected. Even as unaware as I am, I can pick that up. I figured someday they would be writing about Belichick and Parcells this week.

Q: Have you coached against another guy that you worked so long with? It doesn't add anything to the game for you personally?

BB: It is not really about that. It is about the Patriots and the Cowboys. That is really what it is going to come down to. Somebody is going to have to make some blocks out there. Somebody is going to have to make some tackles. Somebody is going to have to catch some passes. It is not going to be me and it is not going to be Bill. We will both do the best job that we can getting our teams ready to play and we will try to make the best decisions we can during the game to help our team. I don't think that is any secret. In the end, the players are going to win the games. That is the way it has been all year. I haven't caught a pass this year. Don't plan on it. Thank goodness I am not out there playing defense. We wouldn't stop anybody. But we have some decent players, good players, that play well and that is what it is going to come down to.

Q: When you look at film and you watch Terry Glenn and the kind of year he is having for Dallas. He is kind of re-born.

BB: He is having a good year. He has done a good job. They are getting him the ball on some reverses, some big play passes down the field. We all know that Terry has a lot of talent. That is no secret either. He is playing well. It looks like he is playing with confidence. He is in an offensive system where he has been able to perform and he has played well. It is evident on film. There is no question about it.

Q: Do you think that your team is equipped or used to these media hyped games with all of the [Drew] Bledsoe stuff last year?

BB: You guys, hype?

Q: Those Jets games, it seems like you have had an in ordinate number of these sort of games where we…

BB: Just trying to make your job easy and give you some stories, you know?

Q: Is the team used to it? Do you think there has been a certain conditioning to these games?

BB: I don't know. I don't know. I think every week there are certain things that every team has to deal with whatever it is. Whether it is a story, whether it is a situation on your team, it could be the elements of late in the season, the heat or the air, whatever it is. There is always something that you have to deal with. I think that good teams and teams that win eventually find a way to work through those. I am not saying ignore them, but you deal with them and work through them and get ready and get focused to play the opponent. That is really what it comes down to. It's how you perform against that other team, your opponent, on that day. That is what decides who wins the game. Not who has the most talent or who has the best record or who has the psychological edge and all that other stuff. It is who plays better.

Q: How much self-scouting and self-analysis will you do this week?

BB: This is the week for it. We do it every week, believe it or not. I know you guys don't think we do, but we do. We do it every week. We look at it, try to find trends positively and negatively, and try to look at things. If things aren't going good you've got one of two things, either fix it or get rid of it, those are your two options. If things are going well, maybe you want to do more of those things. But you have to be careful about doing too much more of them because at some point the other team is going to be able to stop them. That is the balance there. We do that every week, but this is the week where you look at it more carefully and in a little bit more detail. You look at it statistically and then visually you actually go and look at the plays. Sometimes the statistics are you have run this pass 15 times and you are 3 for 15 on it, but when you actually go and look at the play, it is open a bunch of times. Maybe you had pressure, maybe the guy dropped it, or maybe it was a bad throw. It is not a bad play, it just has not shown up as positively as you would like for it. Sometimes it is the other way around too. You look at a running play and you say, 'Well this play is averaging a lot of yards', and you look at it and maybe the reason it is averaging a lot of yards is they missed some tackles and you really don't have much there, but it looks good because your runner made a couple of good runs or something like that. The combination of the statistical part of it and then actually visually analyzing the play and seeing whether they are in fact in sync.

Q: Do you ever get surprised by what you see?

BB: Sure. Well again I think because you do it on a regular basis you don't get too surprised. I don't think we would be sitting here and saying, all of a sudden, 'Gee, we have some problems in the red area here.' We have been talking about that for a month, maybe longer. Sometimes the numbers jump out at you a little bit, they really do, especially as you go into more detail and break it down further and further. For example when you get into third down conversions—and this is common, this is no state secret or anything—when you look at the third down conversion ratio and you see where you are, whatever it is. Say you are twentieth in the league—pick a number—from third and three to five you might be fifth. And from third and six to nine you might be thirtieth. So a lot of times there are numbers within numbers. Your third and ten-plus numbers might be among the best in the league, but you are really doing poorly in another area. So it is not just third down, it's even more broken down than that. It's a specific third down situation that you're not doing well in.

Q: No one has ever compared the bye week to spring break, but do you have any concerns as you send these guys off?

BB: Sure. Every week there are things we want to try to get accomplished. In training camp it is the same thing. One-week builds to the next week, you have certain points of emphasis and so forth. Yeah, I've talked to the team this morning, I'll talk to them again. Other coaches will talk to them. Guys that have been out there playing for nine straight weeks now, that are banged up, that have been playing through some tough situations—that player is in a different situation than a practice squad player, or maybe a younger player who has played less and is maybe starting to get a little bit of playing time. His situation maybe is starting to unfold a little bit more than it was a month ago or six weeks ago. I'm not going to say the same thing to Troy Brown that I am going to say to Chas Gessner. I'm not going to say the same thing to Brandon Gorin that I am going to say to Damien Woody. Yeah, they are all players on the same team, but their situations are all totally different. And they are all important.

Q: Do you tell them to not do something stupid?

BB: No. We want to go out and do a bunch of dumb things.

Q: So do you remind them for the 800th time, in other words?

BB: We are a professional football team, and we expect everybody to act professionally—act and play professionally. That is what our expectations are. It doesn't change. Wednesday of the bye week is not a whole lot different from Wednesday of next week. We are not looking for anything this week that we wouldn't be looking for next week.

Q: Overall though, are you a fan of the bye week? Is it good for rest or does it slow you down?

BB: It is not something we have any control over, so honestly I don't worry about whether we have them or don't have them. When we have them we try to take them and utilize them the best we can. We play a lot of games without bye weeks. It does come, and when you get a break you take advantage of the break. If we didn't have it, we wouldn't worry about it. We do try to take advantage of this week because it only comes once a year. In terms of whether I am for them or against them or whatever, if we have them we use them. If we don't have them we keep playing.

Q: Is this more advantageous—having the bye this late in the season?

BB: If you go back to the '01 season, we had it at the end of the season. We had it after the Miami game, prior to the Carolina game if I am not mistaken. When they schedule them, we play them. That's all I can say. Whenever they come they come. You try to take advantage of whenever that is. Whatever the situation is, to me you just try to do the best you can. You can't control it, so why worry about it.

Q: Personally, you showed a lot more exuberation on the sidelines after the win in Denver. Are you more emotionally attached?

BB: We've had a couple of games that have been very emotional, and games that have ended—I don't want to say unexpectedly—dramatically is the word I am looking for, dramatically. You are behind and you have the ball on your own one-yard line, things are not looking too good. It is not like you are sitting there running out the clock with a 14-point lead there. You are on your own 18-yard line, you are in overtime, and all of a sudden you win the game four or five seconds later. It is not like you are methodically marching the ball down the field and all that. There are dramatic plays that have won some games and some tough situations. Even as unemotional as I am, I react to those.

Q: Do you really ever catch up in the injury race?

BB: Ever catch up? Well let me put it this way—every team in the league goes through certain injuries. I don't think anybody's ever gone through a season without guys missing games. Some weeks it is worse than others, some weeks it is better than others. Over the course of the 16-week season, some games you are going to have more guys out and other games you are going to have fewer guys out. So does it get better? It can. Sometimes you can go from having fewer people out or having more people out—it fluctuates. It is usually not the same. That is one of the things that makes the NFL so exciting—from week to week there are so many variables that even when you play the same team twice in a season, as all division teams do, or you have those rematch situations, there are always factors that make them different. That's part of it, the availability of your players.

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