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Bill Belichick Press Conf. Transcript - 11/11/2002

Belichick: I certainly have to take my hat off to a lot of the players that stepped up and made big plays at key times.



BB: Well, watching the tape this morning, you go through the whole range of emotions just like we all did yesterday at the game. There were obviously a lot of highs and lows in that game. We started out and had a number of problems, and the Bears really did a good job in a lot of areas and played very well obviously. Then the last 20 minutes of the game, or quarter and a half, or however you want to call it, even the two-minute drive at the end of the half, there were some positives there to start working with. In the end, a lot of things had to go right, and fortunately for us a lot of things did toward the end of the game. The end result is a fairly good feeling, but not without acknowledgement that there were a lot of problems in the game, a number of mistakes, and obviously a real close call there. Again, I think you've got to give the Bears a lot credit. They did an awful lot of things well, played very hard, played us about as tough as you could play it. But in the end, I certainly have to take my hat off to a lot of the players that stepped up and made big plays at key times, and were able to pull that one out. You can kind of look at this one half empty or half full, but just a little bit more on the positive side just based on the way it ended up. Do you guys see it any differently?

Q: Like a child psychologist, positive reinforcements get better results … so what do you do here in terms of congratulating them and reinforcing what they did right, but also pointing out how they got themselves in that position?

BB: Just exactly what you said, it's just that. We certainly have to recognize what caused the situation to be what it was, down by three touchdowns in the third quarter. Obviously that's a situation if you get into very many times, and we've had a couple that we've been down two scores or 17 points and we haven't been able to dig out of it, this is one that we did, but the odds are against that. The percentages aren't with you so that's certainly not any position that you want to be in. Certainly the things that hurt us the most were our third down performance on both sides of the ball, that was a big factor in the first part of the game. And the fact that we didn't do well converting, we were like 0-for-7 the first two and a half quarters out there on third down offensively. Defensively we gave up either third down conversions or a third down conversion that ultimately led to fourth down conversion. So all those things put us in the hole. There were some other problems too naturally, we had some turnovers in the third quarter, but I think the third down conversion situation accentuated our problems significantly and that's something that we've been working on, and we need to continue working on. Our ability to then to convert on third down at the end of the game on both sides of the ball, not that it was 100 percent but it was a lot better, that gave us an opportunity to get back into the game.

Q: With your years as a coach, are you ever amazed with Adam Vinatieri?

BB: You almost expect it. The way Adam hit the ball in pre-game I thought really that going in that direction, if we had to have it, that he'd probably would have a shot from 60. The question in a situation like that, though, is not just whether he can get the ball there, but whether he can get it through. You try a 57-or 60-yard field goal, whatever it is, and miss it then you're giving them the ball at mid-field on a short field where the wind and field position in a game like that was important, particularly early in the game. So, you know that's the tough call really. If it's the end of the half, you've got one play to go and the half's over, you try a 65-yarder and it doesn't really make too much difference as long as you don't let them run it back. In that situation there the real question was the risk reward of a shot at three points, versus if you miss it they've got the ball on their own 47-yard line. With Adam, he's as a dependable player as I think I've ever coached, and I'd put him right there with Dave Jennings. He doesn't have very many bad plays, and a lot of good ones. So maybe a little spoiled.

Q: What has the emergence of Kevin Faulk the last couple of games been like?

BB: I think yesterday Kevin scored two touchdowns on blitzes and the Bears didn't really blitz very much. They played mostly a zone defense, they mixed their zones a little bit, but on the two touchdowns, they both came on blitzes. On the touchdown down the sideline, Tom [Brady] made a nice read on the play, and Kevin did a nice job of getting away from Brown, and made a nice catch on the ball. On the screen pass, just came into the weak side, they blitzed on the other side, rolled the coverage away from it, and Kevin did a nice job of stepping out there and pretty much went into the end zone, down to the one or two yard line, spun off. So, you don't always draw them up that way, they just hit that way, but Kevin did a good job of taking the ball after he caught it on a couple screen passes yesterday and the draw play. He did a nice job last week as well on the screen pass or the lateral pass, whatever it was. It's a little combination of both really, some good running and some nice plays by Kevin, and also its kind of the way the ball bounced the last couple of weeks too that he happened to be there away from the blitz or into the blitz coverage, and that opened up a big play opportunity rather than just a play that would have been caught in front of the defense.

Q: He really took that lateral play in the Green Bay game hard. Is there anything to that?

BB: I hope that any player would take a play like that hard. We all take plays hard, whether it be the Green Bay game, the Denver game, or any game. Any of us that coach or play in this game, when you're a part of play and it's a negative play, then if you don't take it hard and it doesn't effect you, then that's probably even a worse signal. Kevin's a hard working kid. He has a lot of pride in his job, in what he does, and he works very hard at it. And he's well prepared, and he's had an opportunity to take advantage of some favorable situations, and he's done a great job of doing that. I think you've really got to credit him for his diligence, his perseverance, and his preparation on a daily and weekly basis.

Q: Is that a helpless feeling when the officials are there reviewing the play and the Chicago players were jumping around celebrating?

BB: It is, we're just standing there looking dumb like everyone else. Are you talking about the interception or no interception, yeah. I got a pretty good look at the play. I didn't really think he had possession of it as I saw the play live in the game, so I thought we had a pretty good chance on that one. But you never know how exactly it's going to look in the replay, and when you can slow it down and see the different angles and all that, but I wasn't really surprised at the that one. [David] Patten's catch in the end zone, I couldn't see it. My eyes aren't very good anyway, and I'm probably a hundred yards away from the play. It's obviously a close call when they replayed it up on the big screen. It looked like you could see the rubber there pop up when his second foot came down so it looked like a good play.

Q: On the Bears interception, the first thing that popped into my head was the Oakland play and the tuck rule from last year. Did that flash into your mind at all?

BB: No. Well as you bring it's a similar situation, it's a play that's in the last two minutes that the review is by the replay official, it's not a coaching challenge play or situation like that. You really don't have any control over it. Once you get into two minutes or get into overtime, you're at the mercy of the replay official. The thing that surprised me about that one though was that Chicago was close to getting the next play snapped and it was hard for me to believe that they wouldn't at least take another look at that one even if it was an interception, if they didn't overturn it. The way the ball came out at the end and all that, it just surprised me that the Chicago Bears almost offensively ran that play which then would have knocked the replay out if we remember from the Cleveland situation last year.

Q: Would you ever tell your group to jump across the line and get an intentional penalty to stop play?

BB: Well no because once that happens than that's the next play. That would actually accelerate the process. You've just got to wait it out. You're right, it is a little bit of a helpless feeling. The game's out of your control at that point, it's based on what somebody else sees and what their judgment of it is. Having seen the play, and even going back to the Oakland play, I think those were all pretty clear-cut based on the way the rule is written. We can argue about the rule, but the way it's written I think that's what it is. It's funny because Saturday morning I showed the team about seven or eight specific rule situations, and one of them was about how the officials no longer are concerned about the ball hitting the ground or about having their feet come down or their knees hit with catching the ball, it's all about control, and when you hit the ground, you have to control the ball for it to be a catch. It was really said more intently for our receivers because we had a couple of plays, even in practice where we catch the ball and hit the ground, and it's close but if you don't control the ball when you hit the ground, they're not going to give it to you. So not that this was exactly that play, but it did come up as an offshoot of what we saw Saturday morning with the team and talked about control in terms of catching the ball, as opposed to just having your feet down or your knee touching.

Q: Now, with (Tom) Brady going in there and taking a swipe, is that taught or is that instinctive?

BB: I think it's a little bit instinctive. Maybe the frustration would be part of the instinctiveness too. You know any time you see the ball in the defenders' hands a lot of times you see receivers coming up from behind a guy trying to strip it and get it back. I think a little bit of both, but it was a very instinctive play by Tom. Looking at it today on the coaches tape, if he doesn't tomahawk it in there, I'm not sure whether he isn't going to get possession.

Q: You mentioned before 'it's how the ball bounces.' Do you give any credence to the theory that some teams are lucky or for some games they may have luck on their side?

BB: Not really, I thought there were a couple of plays in that game that I didn't think were particularly fortunate for us, but that's the way it goes. Early in the game we got a 50-yard run called back on a play that's 50 yards away from the play, but that's the way it goes.

Q: Can you talk about the effective use of your backs as receivers?

BB: That's one of the things actually we talked about this morning as one of the real positives of the game is that the backs did a good job of catching the ball. They made some big catches, and we got the ball to them on a number of occasions. Again, for the most part the Bears played a lot of zone coverage, some zone and a little bit of blitz zone, but it was tough to get the ball down the field. Similar to what we saw from Denver, not exactly the same but the same basic type of defensive plan, and this time we were able to get the ball to the backs and get some plays out of it. Not just a three-yard completion, but get the ball to them on some screen passes or to Kevin on the wheel route, and I thought they were very effective. That third-and-10 play to [Marc] Edwards on the slant was another big play in the game, so that was key for us to be able to keep that drive going. If we don't hit that one, I don't know. There's a lot of plays if we don't make them, I don't know, but that was a big one. The backs did a good job. They did a good job in blitz pick-up, because the pressures that we had for the most part weren't a problem with the backs on blitz pick-up, it was some other part of the protection. I thought they caught the ball well.

Q: Has that been a conscious decision?

BB: I don't know about conscious, but I think it's a maybe a little bit of a trend when teams are playing you like that that you have to take those guys and let them do the work. Give them the ball in front of the defense and let them do what they can do, and run with it after the catch and try to make some yards, as opposed to trying to throw it down there. Part of that is maybe calling some plays where the backs are a little bit more of a viable outlet rather than just a part of the pattern where they're really not being thought of. Put them in a little better position where either they can run or the quarterback can get it to them. I think Tom [Brady's] done a good job of being aware of some of the secondary receivers the last couple of weeks, and they've really been productive.

Q: Do you feel like Tom [Brady] works well with that type of game plan?

BB: I think Tom has shown that he can do whatever he needs to do. He's thrown the ball to the receivers, he's thrown it to the slot, he's thrown it down the field, he's thrown it to the backs, he thrown it to the tight ends. It just really comes down to more from of a team standpoint of being able to execute those plays. The receivers being able to get open, him being able to make the throw, the protection being there to create the passing lanes and give us time for the pattern to develop, it all just needs to be synchronized together. I think that Tom can do it, I don't think there's any aspect of the passing game that he can't do, but in terms of the execution now that's on a team basis. It includes him and it includes everybody else.

Q: In the division, everyone is one game apart. Did you see this happening or is this how it is in the NFL?

BB: I think that's it really, this is the NFL. I wouldn't have sat here the first week of the season and told you this is what it's going to be. I don't know if anybody's got that type of foresight. The fact that it's close and that all the teams are bunched right there together is not really that surprising. The three teams that are 5-4, they've all beaten each other and lost to each other, and kind of a little round robin so you can't really get much closer than that.

Q: (On the defense recognizing plays … and the third-and-one stop in the fourth quarter where the Bears overloaded left side)

BB: The unbalanced line. It was the same play that they scored the touchdown on.

Q: But you could see that from the sideline?

BB: We saw it [from the sideline] on the touchdown too. It was a very poorly executed play defensively on the touchdown. They went to the unbalanced line, three guys saw it, we called it, we didn't adjust to it quick enough and he walks in the end zone. It was terrible. It was a bad play. They ran the same thing on 3rd-and-1, we saw it, we slid over, we adjusted to it and played it much better the second time. That's part of the game too, it's being able to see something, adjust to it on the sideline and play it better the second time around. But there's no reason why it should've been played as poorly as it was the first time. You always talk about unbalanced lines in those situations, goal line and short yardage situations, something you talk about early in training camp. It comes up two, three times a year, almost every year. Somebody does it to you somewhere along the line. You see it, you slide the line over, or you make an adjustment in your secondary, however you do it, but whatever your rule is, you have a rule for the unbalanced line and you adjust to it and you play it. But we just didn't do a good job of it. We saw it, but we didn't react to it quick enough.

Q: So was the right call made in the first situation but it just wasn't played well enough?

BB: It was basically the same call to be honest with you. It was the same call. They came out and gave us a formation, just like any other formation if they lined up in one back and split everybody else, we would have to make some kind of adjustment to that as well. When we saw the unbalanced line, we should have adjusted to it. We saw it, but we didn't adjust to it quickly enough it what happened. Because you can see in the play there's two or three guys there that see it and are calling it out and we just don't' react to it.

Q: Did [Brian] Urlacher play up to your scariest expectations?

BB: I thought he played well. He had a number of big plays in the game. We missed on him a couple of times and he showed his speed and athleticism to be able to run sideline to sideline and make plays. There's no question he is a good football player. [Rosevelt] Colvin is a good football player. I think that those two guys in the front seven were the two most disruptive guys, not that there weren't other people involved because they were, but those two were particularly disruptive as they usually are.

Q: What did you see defensively that Chicago did that maybe got your offense going a little bit more?

BB: They really played pretty much the way they played it the whole game. The thing that happened fortunately for us, was when they did blitz us, we were able to make a couple of big plays off the blitz and I think probably, if they're sitting out there in Chicago today, they might easily be saying, 'if we had it to do over again, maybe we wouldn't blitz in this situation.' Because it gave us a opportunity to make some big plays, that had we not made those big plays, had they been five or six or eight yard gains or whatever, I don't know. It would have been tougher to get back in without the big plays, like Kevin's touchdown, like the screen pass. Those were plays were able to, again, they made some plays blitzing too, I'm not saying that they shouldn't' have blitzed. They mixed it up on us and that is the same way they played the whole game. All I am saying is that we were fortunate that the line made some good blocking adjustments, that the quarterback recognized it, that the receivers made some good adjustments, that we threw it, caught it and we were able to make some big plays on it. And they were good team plays it wasn't one guy it was 11 guys seeing it, adjusting to it and being able to execute against a pressure defense and the Bears ran a number of different pressures. They brought their safeties at times, they brought their corners and obviously they mixed in some linebacker blitzes

Q: When it was 20-6 and time was winding down in the third quarter and it was fourth-and-one, is it a tough decision to have to punt in that situation, when you are afraid the game might get away from you?

BB: Yeah. Any time you are behind and you know there are a limited number of possessions left in the game. So if you are in the third quarter, how many more times are you going to get the ball? Four, five, six, whatever it is, but now you are starting to get down to a limited number of opportunities. Any time you give it up, you have to wonder how many times more are you going to be able to get it back. On the other hand, if you give it up and you're putting them in a scoring position or close to a scoring position, now you have just done the reverse. You have one more score that you are going to have to accumulate somehow and that much less time to do it. So that is the trade off. It is always easiest when you feel real good about your fourth down play and confident based on whatever your circumstances are. Then it's a lot easier to call. The hard ones to call is where you really don't feel good about it but you kind of got to do it. And that is a game-to-game type of decision.

Q: How is Joe Andruzzi?

BB: Joe's knee got a little bit sore yesterday. I think that it's a kind of a continuation of a situation that he has been dealing with the last few weeks. It worsened a little bit yesterday. It's been better at other points in time. I think we are just going to have to wait and ride this one out and see how it comes along.

Q: This would be the knee that he hurt during the season, not the one from preseason?

BB: Right.

Q: Are you happy with what you are getting thus far from the offensive line? That you are getting that continuity, that rhythm or are you looking for a lot more?

BB: I think it just comes down to consistency. It's just like yesterday, you could look at part of the game, boy this is great, we look pretty sharp here. Then you could look at other parts of the game and say we need to be better. We've seen that from game to game as well. And I think that's not just true of the offense or the offensive line. It's true of the offense, it's true to the defense. To a certain extent, true to the kicking game as well. We can play more consistently. We need to play more consistently. On the other hand at times, we've played the way we want to play. So there are positive signs there too. But there are also things that we need to work on and do better and play on the offensive line would be included in that but as would everything else.

Q: Steve Martin and Rick Lyle looking on the replays of Chicago's last possession where they got the nine yard run on first down and they got stuffed on the next two plays, it looked like both times, Martin and Lyle got a pretty good push in the middle. Did you see that?

BB: Yeah. The first play of the gain, I think they gained eight yards, nine yards whatever it was. We kind of hit them and then [Anthony] Thomas pushed the pile a little bit. On both the second and third down plays, we got push inside and then [Tedy] Bruschi and Ted Johnson came over the top and were able to keep Thomas from jumping and clearing the line. As all goal line plays are, there were a lot of good plays on that but certainly the initial charge of the guys upfront and getting penetration and creating a new line of scrimmage sort to speak, moving it back a little bit, that clears the room for the linebackers to run and attack the ball carrier.

Q: Were Steve and Rick in the middle on those plays?

BB: Yeah. And [Anthony] Pleasant. Actually, I thought Willie McGinest did a good job as well.

Q: On [Marcus] Robinson's touchdown, it looked like his knee might have come down on the one-yard line, did you consider challenging that play at all?

BB: Not seriously, no. Again, on those kind of plays, the way the play is written, you know, 'sufficient evidence to overturn it', unless it's pretty clear cut that the play was really judged wrong in our opinion based on what we see, it's hard to challenge it unless you are pretty sure otherwise. Especially when you are behind. You are not just giving up timeouts if you aren't sure.

Q: Even if you win they are on the ½ inch line or something like that. Would you challenge there?

BB: I mean, if they are not in they are not in. We saw that in the Jet game. It was second-and-one and it ended up being a short yardage play. If you can keep them out of the end zone, and you have enough confidence in your defense, anything can happen. You never want to give those points away if you are sure you are going to be able uphold it or reasonable sure, because you are never sure, but reasonable sure. If it's kind of 50-50, that's probably not enough to overturn it.

Q: On the final play of the game, did Tom have a say in that play? Did he suggest it?

BB: Yeah. Tom came over and we actually had two plays … Well, we were talking about one play and Tom came over and suggested the play about pumping one way, which he did, and then come back and try to throw to the corner there in cover two. I thought it was a good suggestion at that time because of the way they were playing and that is something that we had talked about doing during the week. There was another play that we were considering, and in the end Charlie (Weis) and I said, 'Yeah, lets go with that, that's a good thought.' It was something that we had talked about previously and this was probably a good time to do it. In the end, Charlie really would have the final say on that or I guess I could have it if I wanted it, but Tom really bringing it up at that point I thought it was a good suggestion on his part and obviously Charlie and I thought it was too. So we called it. That being said, without the throw and without the catch, which was a hell of a catch, that is really what makes the play.

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