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Replay: Best of Patriots Radio Thu Jun 01 - 03:45 PM | Tue Jun 06 - 01:55 PM

Bill Belichick Press Conf Transcript - 11/12

Belichick: We have been hitting the books hard on the Cowboys. They really put a lot of pressure on you to know them, to know the Cowboys, because they use everybody.



            **BB:**  Full force today.  How are we all doing?  Are you ready for Dallas?  

**Q: Are you ready for Dallas?

BB:** We have been hitting the books hard on the Cowboys. This is a team that as the New England Patriots we are not very familiar with this team. They really put a lot of pressure on you to know them, to know the Cowboys, because they use everybody. I think that when you play Dallas, whichever 45 guys are active for the game, you are going to see every single one of them in some role throughout the game. They use different people. They use all of their defensive linemen. They have a number of backs that they use, the receivers, and even on the offensive line they have some interchangeability there. So they do a lot of different things with different people and playing against one guy is sometimes a lot different than playing against another guy even though he plays the same spot. For example, [they have] a couple of different nose tackles in different situations and shift their personnel around so that it really makes a big difference to the center whether he is blocking [Willie] Blade who is 330 or blocking [La'Roi] Glover who is 280 or whatever he is and one of the quickest players in the league. There are a lot of things like that you really have to study up on. That has been a big emphasis point for the team. Like I said, we are trying to hit the books pretty hard. These guys do a good job. I think the other thing that really jumps out about Dallas is they are a team that doesn't beat themselves. They play good, sound football. They are very good defensively. They don't have a lot of errors. They really force you to go out there and make a lot of plays against them. They are not going to give you many easy opportunities. Conversely when their opponents have made a mistake, missed a guy on kickoff coverage, left a receiver uncovered because of a mix up in their communication or things like that, Dallas does a real good job of pouncing on those opportunities and making you pay for them. I think that is why they are 7-2. They deserve to be. They are a good football team and they are playing well.

**Q: Is that your team you are talking about?

BB:** No, that is the Cowboys. No sir.

**Q: Well it does sound familiar though, a lot like your team, pouncing on the mistakes, interchangeable.

BB:** I think the Philadelphia game was a good example. The Eagles opened the game with an onside kick. Randal Williams made a great play on the ball and ran it back for a touchdown. That was an exceptional play by Dallas. You could see what Philadelphia was trying to do but the play wasn't executed probably as well as Philadelphia hoped it would be. Dallas is alert. You are not going to catch them sleeping on a play like that. Boom, they run it in for a touchdown and it is 7-0 seven seconds into the game. That is what I see on film. That is what I see the Cowboys playing like.

**Q: How does having Ted Washington and Ted Johnson affect your team this week?

BB:** We will have to see how those guys do going through the week. If you put together a few days of practice, we'll see whether they improve, maybe there is some soreness, it could a little bit of a setback, or maybe not even a setback, but just not a progression on a daily basis. We will just have to evaluate that when we get to the end of the week. We do expect them to practice this week. It is good to see them back out there. How much they will be able to do in practice, how much they will be able to do in the game, how effective they will be, that is a whole other question. We will just have to wait and see.

**Q: That was a surprise today with Kevin Johnson and Cleveland.

BB:** It was a little bit of a surprise. We examine the wire everyday, whoever is on their and go through it whether it is a guy we might want to bring in for a workout, a guy we might want to put on the practice squad or somebody that we would have an interest in claiming. We will discuss all of those people. Obviously he has been a productive player since he has been in the league with Cleveland. We will look into the situation.

**Q: What is the difference between with a guy having to clear waivers and a guy automatically becoming a free agent?

BB:** Well, there is a point in the season, I believe it is the trading deadline, where up until that point a vested veteran terminates immediately, up until, say, the middle of October, whatever the date is. A vested veteran will terminate immediately. He would be free to sign with any club at 4:01 p.m., as soon as he was terminated. Beyond that point, any player, regardless of his service in the league whether is be one week or 20 years, would still have to go through the full waiver system. Any team that claimed a player that was on waivers after that point, would be a priority ranking based on the schedule and your record. Then the team that claimed that player would get him. Then it would go from there. I think the intent of the rule is to prevent teams from being able to shuffle one player…for a team to gain a competitive advantage later in the season on picking up players, that type of thing where a guy might theoretically rather sign in the 15th week of the season, he may rather sign with one team than another based on that teams record. Earlier in the year it is one way, but later in the year it shifts to the ranking by your record in terms of priority.

**Q: Knowing Bill Parcells as well as you do, what has he changed there? What the things that you must be very aware of?

BB:** Well I think that he is very successful in Dallas the same way he has been successful everywhere else. Again, his teams don't make a lot of mistakes. The Cowboys have been playing relatively error-free football. No game is perfect, I am not saying that, but they make you earn it. They don't give up a lot of easy plays. They are smart and they take advantage of mistakes. Again, because they are in good position and they are well disciplined, when an opponent makes a mistake against them, they have guys there who are alert and they capitalize on it and they turn it into a turnover or a big play on their side. They do a good job of utilizing a lot of different people. That creates personnel matchups and they try to create them in their favor. A lot of times they do. That is the way that I see Dallas playing. That is the way I have seen Bill do it with other teams.

**Q: How about the aspect of the individual players playing better?

BB:** I think anytime your team is 7-2, you have a lot of guys playing well. It is not a one man band. They have a lot of guys that are playing well and you certainly have to give credit to the coaches, the individual players and their whole system.

**Q: What about the coach makes the players better?

BB:** Well I am not down there. I can't tell you exactly what is going on, but yeah, they are playing well. Some guys are playing better than I guess they have previously.

**Q: In your past experience, what do the players see in Bill?

BB:** Well, Bill is demanding. He wants it done a certain way. Basically a player either conforms to doing it that way or somebody else plays. That is how you fit a team together. You get people to do it within the system, within the framework of your system. They can be great doing it some other way but if it doesn't really fit with what you are trying to do or the other 10 guys are trying to do, it is not really all that effective.

**Q: What challenges does Quincy Carter present?

BB:** Quincy is very athletic. He has a very good arm. He can make all of the throws. He has got a ton of talent. You can see him throw the ball on a rope on a 20-yard out cut on a 35-yard post. He has the touches to throw the screens and get it around the linemen and underneath stuff and all of that. He is very mobile. They run him on a lot of bootlegs and roll out passes things like that. He has got good vision down the field. He is athletic and he can make plays with him feet. He has a very good arm and he is accurate especially on the long ball. That is why I think the Cowboys complete so many big plays is because a) their receivers are good and they can get open but b) Carter can get them the ball and he can get it in some tight spots. There is not a lot of hang time on his throws. He gets it down there pretty good.

**Q: Is he unique in terms of what you have faced this year?

BB:** Well I think we have seen other players that have a similar style. Everybody is a little bit different. We have seen [Donovan] McNabb, [Steve] McNair, I mean we have seen some guys that can run around. I think that Carter is in that group. He can run, he can scramble, he can make plays with his feet, but he is also very accurate like McNair, down the field, throwing long balls and hitting big plays.

**Q: In your 15 seasons with Bill, what things did you take away from Bill? What ways are you alike and what ways are you different?

BB:** I don't really think that is what this week is about. This week is about the Patriots and the Cowboys. That is really what the game is. What happened 15 years ago, what happened 25 years ago when we first started working together in 1979, we have a lot of guys on this team that weren't even around yet. They weren't even born. I don't really know how relevant that is. We have a professional relationship. We had a lot of success together. I am proud of our record. We are playing each other. We haven't coached together in four years.

**Q: Is it safe to say that he was a mentor to you?

BB:** I would say that the thing I appreciated the most about working for Bill was the fact that, as a defensive coach, he gave me the latitude to put together game plans, utilize personnel and coach defense. It gave me the latitude to do the job and I felt like I worked hard and did a good job for him. There were certain things that he wanted done and of course I always conformed to those and did them within that framework, but I appreciate the latitude he gave me to coach the defensive team with some independence and make calls and make adjustments and utilize different people. Like I said, I appreciate that opportunity.

**Q: You have been an athlete all your life. We always talk about the great confrontations, Bird versus Magic, etc. Do you get more pumped up as a coach, whether it is Parcells or, a few weeks ago, Mike Shanahan—a big offensive guy—or do you put that aside?

BB:** I'm trying to be honest. I'm trying to put the Patriots against the Cowboys, Patriots against the Broncos, and the Patriots against the Dolphins.

**Q: When Bobby Fischer played [Boris] Spassky, it wasn't the same as going out into Central Park and playing chess with some guy on a bench.

BB:** But they were the players. I am not a player. I am a coach. I am not going to make any tackles, I am not going to throw any passes. I am not going to do any of that.

**Q: There is a game plan in the Hall of Fame.

BB:** Only because the team won. Only because the team won.

**Q: If you put them in the wrong places, they don't win.

BB:** If Everson Walls doesn't tackle Thurman Thomas, if Mark Ingram doesn't get the first down on third and 17 or whatever it was, you know.

**Q: If Scott Norwood made the field goal.

BB:** That's right. If Scott Norwood makes the field goal, then his shoes are in the Hall of Fame and that game plan is kindling for some winter fire.

**Q: I could see a young coach maybe over-scheming going against you.

BB:** I don't know about that, but what you try to do as a coach is you try to put your team in the best position you can to win. That is all you try to do. There is a balance there between doing what you can do and doing what might look good against that team that somebody else has done. You watch the Cardinal film and see some things that they were successful with, you watch the Tampa film and see some things that they were successful with. Then you have to go back and look at your team and say, 'Can we do those things?' or 'Are they good at them because they are good at them, but we are good at something else and we have to do something else?' I think those are decisions you have to make as a coach and it is the same thing every week. You look at what everybody else does, some ideas you can take from it, other things are great but just not things that you do or you don't think you will be able to do them well, and you go back to the things that your foundation is laid on.

**Q: How does the loss of [David] Patten affect this team?

BB:** It has been a frustrating situation because he has been a big contributor for us the last couple of years and really had some contributions this year as well. Each week you are going in there, 'Do you have him or do you not have him?' One day it looks better than the next and then ultimately you just have to take him out of the equation. Unfortunately it is a tough break for him and it is a tough break for us. The other guys are going to have to step up and either replace that production, or we are going to have to get it from a different position or from somebody else. David is a good leader, he is tough, he is as hard a worker as anyone we have, he is really a dependable guy, and he has made a lot of big plays for us in the past couple of years.

**Q: With the other receivers, do you have confidence that Bethel [Johnson] can work underneath and be more than just a situational player?

BB:** Sure. Any player we put out on the field we have confidence in. I have confidence in Bethel, and he is a young player and he has a long way to go. If we put him out there and run him deep, I don't think it will take a long time for people to catch on to that either. I think to be a player you have to be a complete player. You can't just run one route or just do one thing, have one move. If that is all you have, it better be really, really special or they are going to take it away. And that is the challenge for all young players is to develop their skill set and develop their technique so that they have more than one pitch—they have a fastball, they have a change-up, they have a curve ball, then you have something to work with. If you only have one pitch then it better be a really good one.

**Q: You said at the start when he came here that he was a little bit raw. How is his progress?

BB:** He has probably come further than anybody this year. Probably further than anybody. The starting line was behind a lot of people too. In terms of the background that he had in the passing game, techniques, and that kind—not just raw ability, not running and catching and that kind of thing—but knowing how to be a receiver, reading coverages, reading releases, making adjustments on routes, I think he has probably made as much progress as a player as any player on this team. And that is not saying that he has arrived. He still has a long way to go.

**Q: How about defensively, who has come the furthest?

BB:** That would be a tougher question. I think when you look at all of our young players; I would say Bethel would probably be in front of the entire group, from that aspect. I am not saying that he is the best player; I am just saying that he has come the furthest.

**Q: Over the last year and a half, most of the receivers have been battling nagging injuries. Is there concern there?

BB:** Sure. You bet. Through the years and this year, definitely this year too. It is definitely a concern.

**Q: Does that force them to play through stuff more?

BB:** Well I think everybody has to do that, but yeah. They are all tough. Nobody questions Troy Brown's toughness. He is going to be out there, he is going to give you everything he has, and you hope that it is as close to a hundred percent as it can be.

**Q: Is there a chance for [Chas] Gessner? Is there a decision coming this week?

BB:** The decision on Gessner will have to be made by tomorrow. Something is going to have to happen to him by tomorrow.

**Q: Any indication? You have had 21 days now, right?

BB:** Right. We are still working on it. It is kind of like those college papers that you used to do. You don't want to get them done too early.

**Q: Is Bethel durable enough? He took some bumps in Denver and seemed to be down longer than you would expect.

BB:** I don't think so. I didn't see it that way. I don't think a player can prove his durability until you have an extended period of time where he can prove it. No one can be durable for one game—that is not really the definition. We will see over the course of time. He has been out there on a pretty regular basis, and everybody has had to fight through something at some point this year at that position. He is in that group.

**Q: What are some of the points of emphasis for Tom Brady this week? It seems Dallas is coming after everybody with blitzes.

BB:** Oh, they are going to blitz. You don't have to worry about that. It is part of their package. They will blitz. The keys for Tom are probably about the same as they are every week. Number one, make good decisions with the ball. He is going to handle the ball a lot. The Cowboys do a good job of mixing up their coverages, so reading coverages and getting the ball to the right spot. There will be a lot of situational plays that will come down to where the ball is, what the field position is, where the front is, and all those kind of things that we will need to identify and make good decisions. Quarterbacking, a big percentage is decision-making. When you put the ball in the guy's hands, then he carries the fortunes of the entire team with him. Whether it is a hand-off or whether it is a 50-yard post pattern, what he does with the ball in those situations and how he handles it are very important. I'm not saying that everybody else doesn't have to do their job too. They can all make a quarterback look bad, but a quarterback has to do what he can do and that is make good decisions and execute the plays the way in which they are intended to be executed.

**Q: Speaking of decision-making, have you ever given any thought to dyeing your hair bright blonde?

BB:** [Laughs] It does get a little blonder during the summer. I kind of did it on my chest, you know? That is where it gets first.

**Q: Is this one of the fastest defenses you have faced?

BB:** They are fast. They have good speed at every position. The corners can run, the safeties can run, the linebackers are very good in pursuit, and the defensive line is quick, they can rush the passer and they pursue well. I think that is why they are the top defensive team in the league; really it is their team speed. They chase down everything. You see a hole on film, looks like a guy is going to get through and have a decent play, and he gains two yards and all of a sudden it closes up. Or you throw a pass and it looks like there is nobody around him on the flat or over the middle or that kind of thing, looks like you are going to have a great play, and you gain six yards. It is hard to get down the field when it is all two, three, four, eight, one-yard gains. You have to have 20 good plays, and it is hard to put them all together like that. It is a lot easier if you could get a 30 or 40-yarder in there, or get the ball on a turnover and play on a short field, but you have to go a long way against this defense and execute good plays and have them pursuing and chasing you down and getting you from the backside and all that. That is why they are successful. They eventually stop people.

**Q: You have a lot of teams that have speed on defense that you have faced.

BB:** I think these guys have maybe a little more than everybody else. I am not saying that we haven't seen some other fast defenses, but these guys—they are pretty good.

**Q: How about the control? Is there a lot of controlled speed league wide, or is that something they are still trying to get at? Are they disciplined with their speed?

BB:** Very disciplined. Yeah, they are very disciplined. They are good football players and they are fast. It is not like there is an Olympic track team out there. These guys are good football players, their techniques are good, their playing strength—you are not going to see any more physical safeties than what we are going to see this week. Dat [Nguyen], he is fast and he is very good in pursuit, but he is as instinctive probably as any middle linebacker you are going to see. He has to be right up there with Zach Thomas. You won't fool him on much. [Dexter] Coakley—Coakley is really a defensive back playing linebacker. So every time the ball is snapped, they are already in nickel. They don't need to go to nickel. He has the kind of speed that most defensive backs don't have. I think their team speed overall is better than ok, it is pretty good—maybe as good as anybody's.

**Q: To run on a team that is that fast—how do you combat that? Is it just with power?

BB:** I think you have to pick your spots. You have to find a few openings and try to take advantage of those. There are not a lot of them. They are only giving up—whatever it is—230 yards a game. It is not like people are going out there and getting 400, 450 yards against them. You are pawing and scratching for every yard you get. There are a few yards in the running game you have to get, a few yards in the passing game. You have to convert on third down to stay on the field. You just have to do a good job of executing your plays and taking advantage of the windows that are there, and I am just saying they are not very big windows

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