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Replay: Patriots Postgame Show Sun Nov 28 - 06:00 PM | Mon Nov 29 - 08:55 AM

Bill Belichick Press Conf. Transcript - 11/13/2002

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BB: I think everyone has got the injury report. Joe (Andruzzi's) situation is he wasn't able to finish the end of the game but we will see how he is. He is a pretty tough guy. If he can't go obviously we will have to take a look at the options there with Grey (Reugamer) having finished the game. (Adrian) Klemm has played there and (Damien) Woody has played a little bit on that side. So we will have some options there that we can address if it comes to that. As far as the Raiders go, it was a real impressive performance Monday night against Denver. I don't know how a team could play much better than the way they played or the way (Rich) Gannon played. It would be hard. I am just trying to visualize hitting that many passes in practice where somebody wouldn't drop one or something wouldn't happen. It was quite a performance. There are a lot of great skilled players and a very big offensive line. So offensively they are a very efficient unit. (Charlie) Garner is averaging six yards a carry. It seems like everybody has got over 50 catches already and we are only halfway through the season. They've got a lot of juice, a lot of firepower and, again, a big offensive line that can keep it going. Defensively, it's pretty much a traditional Raiders defense. They're big up front. They've got some very experienced and savvy players. Guys like (Bill) Romanowski, Woodson, (Sam) Adams, Trace Armstrong, you can just go right down the line. Rod Woodson that is, they've got two Woodsons in the secondary. It's a very experienced group and a lot of young talented players. They are tough. They are physical, a lot of tight coverage and they really force you to do a good job both blocking the big guys up front and throwing into some close quarters. They have already scored six touchdowns this year on defense and special teams, three interceptions return, a couple of punt returns and a kickoff return. So they are also getting some bonus points from those type of units. There are just an all around solid club. I think Bill (Callahan) has done a great job out there with the offensive line with John (Morton) and I think he's got the team playing really well. They lost two tough games in overtime. This is a real good football team. It will be a big challenge for us this week going out there, but we're looking forward to it.

Q: Are you amazed at what Jerry Rice is still able to do?

BB: Yeah. At his age and the production he has, the skill level … The thing I could just say about Jerry is his work ethic is really superior and he has always been one of the best conditioned athletes in the league. I remember when I was at the Giants coaching against him, the thing to me that was most impressive was his stamina. It felt like in the fourth quarter, he was running with the same speed and the same explosion that he had in the first quarter. We all know he is not the fastest guy in the league but he has a real good competitive speed, but it's the same speed every play, down after down for four quarters for 16 regular season games a year for virtually every time he is out there. He has always been that way. His longevity is pretty impressive. He is a really great route runner, has great concentration. He almost always looks the same. Good.

Q: When a team has a lot of success throwing the ball as well as they did on Monday, can you make any kind of assumptions on what they might do against you?

BB: They've had success throwing the ball every week. They have almost thrown 70 percent of the time. On a lot of those plays, are plays that are shorter down the field throws that the running game would produce. Then they get yardage after the catch, they run a lot of crossing patterns. Garner has got a whole bunch of catches. All their receivers get involved in the game. A lot of those plays gain four or five yards just like a handoff would but it spreads you out and it gets the ball to different people and makes you defend the whole field and of course Garner, when they do give it to him, you are even more spread out. He's got more room to work and that's the kind of runner he is. He is really an outstanding, make-you-miss type of guy. He's got great quickness, lateral change of direction. You can see a lot of times where guys have got him lined up and they don't even get a hand on him. He just gives them a little stutter and he is gone. I think their offense is a ball controlled offense. I think they lead the league in having the fewest three-and-out series. They have a ton of first downs and they move the ball up and down the field. They have been successful. I wouldn't expect them to change too much.

Q: How much do you think they will be thinking about what happened here last year in the Snow Game?

BB: I don't know. You would have to ask them that. I don't really see too much carryover from that game. Strategically we look at the tapes and we see some of things that they tried to do and some of things that we tried to do but there's different players and plays. I don't think the snow is going to be a factor in this game. There's just a lot of things that are going to be different. What our focus really is the way the Raiders are playing right now and to try to see what we can do about it. They're playing extremely well in every phase of the game. They are an explosive team. They can do a lot of damage in a hurry. And they have.

Q: Do they do offensively what you tried to do a little bit of this year in terms of throw and set up that run, spread it out, etc…?

BB: Well, they really run the West Coast offense. That's what it is. In saying that, every one is a little bit different. They are all cousins but they are not all identical twins. But that's really what they do, all the formations and the plays and the passing concepts that they use are … there is certainly carry over between what they do in Philadelphia, the Giants, and Seattle, Tampa. You can just go right down the line. All the teams that are running that type of a system and it's modified towards the individual teams personnel and maybe the coaches' preference or the quarterback skills or whatever. That's really what they do. They are very good at it. There is no question that their ability to throw the ball opens up a lot of opportunities for them in the running game as well. And they have that kind of a back in Charlie Garner. He's a tremendous back, but I don't think he is the kind of guy you would want to feature behind two tight ends running in between the tackle down after down, week after week, not saying he can't do that because he can, I'm not saying that. He does a lot of other things very well and you would like to get him to blow out in some space.

Q: I know Charlie (Weis) is not born of that system, but are there any elements of the West Coast at all in your offense?

BB: Well, yeah. Sure. Concepts are concepts and there is some carryover. There are certain things in that system that are specific to that system and therefore they play off of each other. Our system isn't that identical system. It's different. The concepts that we have and the interchangeability and how one thing relates to another, it's probably a little bit different. I'm not saying it's Chinese and German, but it's not exactly the same as the way they do it. And certainly a player going from their system to our system or our system to their system, Christian Fauria is an example. There's a difference.

Q: How are Callahan's Raiders different from (Jon) Gruden's Raiders? Or is there any difference or has he kept the same blueprint?

BB: I think certainly it's similar. Offensively they are similar. They run the same the system. There's no question about that. A lot of the personnel on offense is in place from what it was last year. I think that (Jerry) Porter has really come on for them and has given them a lot of production. Defensively, the system I think is very much the same, there has been a transition in personnel on defense with Romanowski and of course Trace Armstrong didn't play last year even though he was there. Rod Woodson has made a big difference for them. (Tory) James has taken over at corner for Eric Allen. They've changed their middle linebacker (Greg) Biekert for Napoleon Harris. (Eric) Barton is playing instead of (Elijah) Alexander. Sam Adams is there. So there are some new faces on that defense. I think that where they line up and the defenses that they call are very similar to what they were last year. But when you have six or seven new people doing it, that changes a little bit.

Q: When you started in this business, the Raiders were kind of had the image as 'rough and tough' and 'knock your block off'. Are they still that way? Was it legitimate back then in the '70s and '80s?

BB: Yeah, it was legitimate. They played a very physical style of football. Offensively it was much more conservative. Of course, everything was more conservative back then too. All the teams were. That was back with (Mark) van Eeghen and Marv Hubbard and they had a great offensive line. They were basically a team that ran the ball a lot and threw it deep a lot. And now, through the years of course, that's transitioned. Whether it was (Mike) Shanahan or (Tom) Flores, Mike White, (Joe) Bugel, Gruden, Callahan, their offensive system has gone to a little bit more of a possession passing type of system that also features deep throws in it. As opposed to a deep passing game that has an occasional possession pass in it. I think it has transitioned a bit there. And the running game is more spread out. Not that they don't move them in at times. There's just not as much of it.

Q: Are they still of that mentality?

BB: Well, I think they are a good physical football team. I don't think there's any question about that. On defense they are tough. They are physical. They have a big offensive line. They are physical in pass blocking. If they get a free guy in there and he finds somebody to help and does some damage, they'll run the ball with power. They'll put (Jon) Ritchie in there. He is one of the better blocking full backs in the league. They've maintained that, I'm not saying that's gone, I just think the percentages are a little bit less than what they were. I mean we're talking 20, 25 years ago.

Q: Was that an advantage to them to play against a team with that persona?

BB: Well I think it was more of an advantage that they had several Hall of Fame players, playing for them. I mean they had (Gene) Upshaw, they had (Art) Shell, they had Kenny Stabler, Cliff Branch, (Ted) Hendricks on defense, (Jack) Tatum, the corners (Mike) Haynes, and (Lester) Hayes. I think that was more of an advantage than wearing a skull and crossbones. They probably had a dozen Hall of Fame football players out there. I'd take that over the uniforms any day.

Q: When you take a look at their four-game losing streak, was there something that you noticed that caused that four-game losing streak that they maybe corrected on Monday night?

BB: Well, two of those losses were in overtime and they went right down to the last play and could have gone either way. I think that is the way the league is. Both of us lost to San Diego. They beat Denver, we beat Kansas City. They were real competitive games. That's the way it is in this league. You can pretty much turn it on every Sunday and you're going to see a good, competitive, tough game regardless of what somebody's record was or what streak they were on, winning or losing, I don't know that really has a lot bearing in not just our season, or the Raiders' season but I think you can look around at a lot of games in this league and see that is really the common thread in the league. That each game is its own entity and it's who plays better that game. Not that there is one dominant team and one team can just show up and that would be good enough. It doesn't look like it's going to be good enough very often.

Q: Why do you think the Raiders offense had so much more success against Denver's defense than you did a few weeks ago?

BB: They played outstanding. The quarterback only had three or four incompletions in the whole game. He had a tremendous night. The receivers had a big night. The offensive line blocked well. I am sure that Denver probably doesn't feel like they played their best game of the year defensively. They let Charlie Garner run down the middle of the field, 60-yard gain, I am sure that is not the way any of their defenses are designed. You've got to give the Raiders credit. They played an outstanding football game and they are capable of that. As is Denver. Those two teams will play again, maybe the result will be the same. Maybe it won't.

Q: There's always a sort of 'any given Sunday' but it seems this year more than ever.

BB: Yeah, I know what you are saying about the final score. But you know there is one play in that game (Oakland vs. Denver) that if that one play is just a little bit different, all other things being equal, you are probably looking at Denver being ahead 7-6 at the half instead of down 13-0. I mean, that's a 14-point play right there. It doesn't take too many of those, I mean it could be a turnover, it could be a big field position swing, it could be a pass interference call, it could be a strip sack that's a fumble, that's an incomplete pass. There's very small margin of error between big plays that turn games around and foul balls that you know, you are back at the plate. The pitcher has got another pitch. To me, that's the thing. I didn't see the game as being overwhelmingly dominant. Actually I thought Denver did a pretty good job in the first half. One big play changed the whole complexion of that half of the game. In the second half, Oakland made some plays and the game kind of got away from them and we've seen that before. They are two competitive teams. I don't that the Raiders are necessarily … How many points did they win by? 20-something points? I don't think they are 20-something points better than Denver any more than I think we're 30-something points, whatever it was, 20-something points better than Pittsburgh. Sometimes the games end up that way.

Q: Is the talent level the same though?

BB: Well, I think that each team is going to have to establish its own identity and its own personality every given year. Whatever happened at some other point in time, it doesn't matter. But we've seen that before. We've seen teams go 6-2, 7-1 to start the season and miss the playoffs. We've seen teams bump along .500 and then come in and finish strong. That happens every year. It will happen again this year. There were teams the first month of the season that I was hearing people talk about how they're counted out and they can't get in the playoffs and they're out of it and all of that, now those teams are leading their division. They're ahead of just about everybody else. And vice versa.

Q: You talked about Charlie Garner in their passing game. You seem to be using your running backs a little bit more in the passing game the past few weeks. Is that just a coincidence or is just the way things have worked out with Tom (Brady) throwing to Kevin (Faulk) and Antowain (Smith) a little bit more?

BB: I wouldn't say it was a coincidence but I think that when teams are playing a lot of zone defense against you, that is one of your options. I think that has a little bit to do with it. Kevin, in particular in the last game, had a couple of opportunities and he really made big plays out of those opportunities. That's a real credit to him to be able to take advantage of those situations. On the touchdown for example, we called that play and we didn't know they were going to safety blitz. I wish I could sit here and tell you, 'oh yeah, we knew what they were going to do, we checked to this play so that we could block it like that and there he would be going running down the sideline, nobody within 10 yards of him and (David) Patten escorting him in the end zone.' But you don't know it's going to happen like that. It came up, he made a good play, Tom (Brady) made a good play, and it worked and that's the way it worked out. But it could have been a different coverage, it could have matched up differently, maybe David Patten would have made a good play or Deion Branch or somebody else. Some of that is just the way it hits. What you have to do to be a good football team is, who ever has got the opportunity to make those plays, if they are in position, they need to be able to take advantage and make them if you are going to win. If you don't make them, then there's going to be some long Mondays.

Q: Has the offensive line been blocking better over the last couple of weeks?

BB: I think it's a combination. We've got some good blocking on the screens. I think we've also had some good running. At times the backs would make guys miss that really should have been blocked or we should have been at least more disruptive to. They've made some really outstanding blocks too, especially in the Buffalo game on Kevin's run, well I guess that was a run because it wasn't a pass but whatever. Andruzzi made a heck of a block. Woody made a super block, (Mike) Compton got out there and made a nice block. Troy Brown made a good block down the field. Kevin made two or three cuts to set up the blocks. Anytime, you see it all the time, Garner is good, Kevin is real good at it, a lot of those blocks are really made by the back. I mean if the back can make it look like he is going one way and forced the defender into the blocker and then cut the other way, again it's good teamwork, it's good between … Even though there is no verbal communication but there is a good feeling between the blocker and the runner and the runner and the blocker that by setting up the block properly, it gives the blocker a good opportunity to make it and then the runner can run off it. Whereas conversely, and you see this sometimes, where the runner instead of showing a little bit of patience to set up the block, runs past the blocker right into the tackler and ends up really losing an opportunity to gain more yardage. I think it's a little bit of both.

Q: You have been in the league for many years. Is there more parity today than there has ever been? And is that a direct by-product of free agency/the salary cap?

BB: I would say probably yes. In the more recent, say in the last 10 years with free agency and salary cap, I think that has probably leveled it out a little bit more. Going back to when I was at the Giants or before that whether it was the Lions, or the Broncos and whoever, but with the Giants we had the same team every year. We had the same team every year. We would sit there at the draft from '86 on, okay we would take a couple of guys, it didn't matter who we took or where we took them, they are not going to come in and beat out Pepper Johnson and Carl Banks and Jim Burt, there's just no way. I don't care who they were. They weren't going to come in and be better than the guys we had. So we'd line up with the same guys and maybe get a new backup middle linebacker, maybe get a new back up right end behind Leonard Marshall or somebody but that's it. It's the same team out there every year. And you look at a lot of other teams in the league, San Francisco, it's (Joe) Montana, it's (Jerry) Rice, it's Dwight Clark, it's the same guys. (Roger) Craig, (Wendell) Tyler. The Redskins, I could rattle off that lineup, it seemed like it was the same offensive line for 10 years in a row. (Joe) Jacoby, (Russ) Grimm, (Jeff) Bostic, just the same guys. Mark May, Donnie Warren, same damn guys, every week, every year. Maybe one of them would get a sprained ankle and miss a game against us, but it never happened. They lined up the same guys every single year, game after game. You just don't see that anymore. You look at the great Dallas teams down there, (Tony) Dorsett and (Ron) Springs, (Preston) Pierson and (Calvin) Hill, (Jean) Fugett. I mean those were the same teams year after year. Even some of the good teams, even going back into the '70s like Minnesota, that was the same defense. Those 11 guys, (Paul) Krause (Carl) Eller, and (Alan) Page and (Jim) Marshall, the same guys every single year for probably 10 years. Maybe one or two changes but that's just not the way pro football is now. That's no secret.

Q: Because of the way the system is today, even though there are some teams like Miami that have been competitive for years, is it going to be harder for 'dynasties' to pop up and stay together?

BB: I don't know. That's a good question. I just see it's a different game than it was in terms of the personnel changeover and the consistency from year to year with teams. It's just not like it was. Again, going back to before free agency, if you had a need, you couldn't fill that need really for three years. You would draft a guy and he's not going to be ready to play as a rookie. If you need a left tackle, you are still not going to have enough at left tackle for at least another two years until the guy is ready. Maybe it's three years. But that is the way you fix your hole. Nobody else is going to cover left tackle. That never happened. You are not going to find one just parachuting down out of the sky. If you get one that somebody else has cut, if he can't play left tackle for them, he probably isn't going to play left tackle for you and that's the way you were looking. It was a much slower process in building your team, but then once it was built, it lasted a lot longer. Whereas now, I think it's not the same. I'm not saying that. It's not the same, but it has some elements to college football. I mean, you look at some college team, the guys play there two or three years and they are gone. They have some other guys come in there and they play there two or three years and they are gone. Some teams are pretty good, some other teams can't seem to achieve that same level of success, so why is that? I don't know. I don't know about college football, but in a lot of respects I think that coaching pro football, it's different. I am not saying it's the same, it's different. But in some respects it's like college football in that there is more a transition every year. Whereas, again, going back to some of the … When I was with the Giants, there was no transition. You could pull out, we play the Redskins, you want to look at last years Redskins game, well it's the same guys playing against the same guys. It's not like this guy is different, that guy is somebody else. Hey, they couldn't draft anybody to make their team either. They couldn't draft a lineman to beat out Mark May and Joe Jacoby and Russ Grimm. They couldn't draft a receiver to beat out (Art) Monk, (Ricky) Sanders or the other guy that killed us, Gary Clark. I mean, they couldn't find anybody better than John Riggins. I mean those guys are going to line up there again. You are going to have to play them again.

Q: (on those players' skill level)

BB: I don't know if they were that good, but that is the way it was. Things aren't that bad now, I'm not saying that.

Q: No, but you might not have a Super Bowl ring if we changed a few … 5-11 to 11-5 generally didn't happen much. It sounds as if you have the affinity …

BB: No, I'm not saying that. Like instant replay, I've coached with it. I've coached without it. I've coached with free agency, I've coached without it. I've coached in a lot of different situations. Whatever it is, that's what it is. I'm happy to be here, it beats working. Whatever it is, I can live with it and I am happy to do it. It's just different that's all. I'm just trying to point out that it's different. I'm not saying that it's good, bad, better or worse, or anything else. There was a time when one game was on TV. That's it. Now you flip it on and you can watch anybody you want.

Q: As a fan do you prefer where you had the have and the have nots as opposed to now where you have 'any given Sunday'?

BB: Well, I think it was 'any given Sunday' then, too. I don't think that there was that big of a discrepancy in the talent level. I just think that teams were more … There was more continuity. It was pretty competitive. When I was with the Colts, the first year I was in the league, the team was 3-13 the year before or whatever it was, no it wasn't three, how many games did they play 14? 2-12 something like that, 3-11 whatever they were. We were 1-4 in '75, okay, and won the division. That was one of the biggest turnarounds in the history of pro football. It might have been for one year too, from 1-4 to 10-4 and (we) won the last nine games. We can't say it didn't happen back then. My first year in the league I found that out. That happened, 20 …. How many years ago was that? Too many.

Q: Do you think it's a great idea for a player to guarantee the outcome of a game?

BB: Do I think it's a good idea? I guess it would depend on the circumstances.

Q: Can you come up with any circumstances in which it would be a good idea?

BB: It's a long time ago, but I think (Joe) Namath guaranteeing the Jets winning the Super Bowl took a lot of pressure off a lot of other people, and it put in on Joe Namath, and he certainly was able to handle it. Both mentally, physically, the position that he played, maybe in his mind it couldn't have been any more pressure than he had anyway so what difference does it make? I see some of those wrestlers, you know on WFW or whatever it is, and they say they're going to beat somebody, and it happens all the time. Sometimes they go out and win it, sometimes they don't.

Q: Do you think it's a good idea to put that kind of ownness on a quarterback?

BB: I don't want to make a generic statement, but you asked the question could it be good? It might have been good in Super Bowl III for the Jets, with Joe Namath did, it might have been, I wasn't there. Maybe there are some examples where it is good, maybe there is somewhere it isn't.

Q: Would you ever encourage your players to take that kind of license?

BB: No. I wouldn't want to say never on anything, I'm not saying right now that's at the top of my list. Maybe there's a circumstance that would warrant it, I don't know.

Q: How about coaches predicting a victory? We had that this year.

BB: Where?

Q: Dick LeBeau in Cincinnati.

BB: He didn't say that. He was talking about a golf game. That's the media taking it totally out of context and blowing it into something that just wasn't the case.

Q: So it's our fault?

BB: I think it was misconstrued, I absolutely do. I know Dick well and first of all I don't think Dick said it. Second of all, if he did say it, where it was taken that it was said that way, I don't think it was anywhere near in the context of what he meant.

Q: Despite Charles Woodson guaranteeing a win this week, are you guys going to go out there and play anyway?

BB: We're going to make the trip regardless.

Q: Can you give some kind of a rationale for what's happened to Deion Branch, one catch in two games, what's going on with him?

BB: I can't give any good definitive reason. It's not like there's been an attempt to not throw him the ball, and any time he gets it thrown to him he can help himself on those by catching it, so there's a little bit of that. But he hasn't had a lot of opportunities; maybe they'll be coming his way soon. I don't know.

Q: It's not a physical thing?

BB: No, he's been returning kicks also and he's actually done a pretty good job doing that. I don't see any physical problems there, and it certainly isn't an attempt by us offensively or in any way shape or form to try to exploit him from anything we're doing. Sometimes the ball bounces your way when you're a receiver, sometimes it doesn't.

Q: Until very end of game, when Tom made great throw to Faulk and the game winner to Patten, I'm not sure that you went down the field at all, or not very often. Was that part of way game played out? The way the Bears were playing you?

BB: Again, the Bears played a lot of zone defense, and sometimes we throw it down there and there's too many guys, and not a lot of good things happen. There's plenty of examples of that if you watch the Bears on tape. When the opportunity's there you want to take it, when the opportunity's not there, forcing those throws isn't always the best thing to do, to throw one for the sake of throwing it.

Q: Sometimes you don't get wide when you run, but you run to test other team, keep them honest?

BB: That's what I'm saying. We could go back over and throw the ball 10 yards over their head, 10 yards over our head, 10 yards over everybody's head. Maybe that will loosen them off, maybe it will. Really for a quarterback to be efficient, what he really wants to do is complete passes, take the completions that are there. When the defense comes up and challenges those routes, and makes it tough, and that opens up some space in the deeper part of the field, then you want to try to take advantage of that. And hopefully you've got a route that is conducive for him to be able to do that. There's no better example of that than Oakland, no better example. They'll throw those four yards all day, until the cows come home. But if they get an opportunity to go downtown, and you give it to them, you better be ready to deal with it.

**Q: Rice and (Tim) Brown clearly not kids, but they can still scare you deep? I don't put Patten and Troy

**

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