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Bill Belichick Press Conf. Transcript - 11/6/2002

Belichick on the Bears: This is a team that obviously has good football players. (They are) a real talented team.



BB: Getting right into Chicago. This is a team that obviously has good football players. (They are) a real talented team. They're obviously in a tough stretch right now, something that if anybody can relate to it, we can and the way we approached the Buffalo game last week. To me that's the kind of game that I am expecting from Chicago out there. Offensively, the Bears are a real physical team, they have a good running game and they're a very strong team both up front, their running backs are big powerful guys. Their receivers are big, they come in and block in the secondary and crack on those linebackers. They are really a physical group. But on top of that, they league the league in big play passing. (Marty) Booker is an outstanding receiver. They do a good job of running the ball and making you come up and play the run and making you respect their ability to pound it out and run some ball control passes and then hitting you for big plays. I'd like to say they have more of them than any other team in the league. They do a good job on that. Of course defensively they have a lot of outstanding players on that defensive unit. They have been banged a little bit, getting some of those guys back. They have two real good safeties with (Mike) Brown and (Mike) Green. (Jerry) Azumah, (R.W.) McQuarters is a good secondary. Obviously the linebackers with (Rosevelt) Colvin and (Brian) Urlacher, (Mike) Caldwell, those guys, it speaks for itself. Colvin is an outstanding push rusher. (He is) one of the best little pass rushers in the league. He is not a real big guy like a lot of them are. Some of them are 6'5 defensive ends and we've seen plenty of them. Colvin is very fast, very explosive and he's tough on the blitz. When they put him down and let him rush on third down he is very quick around the edge, he a little bit different type of player for an offensive lineman who blocks and does a good job there. I've got a lot of respect for the Bears, the organization starting with Jerry Angelo and Dick (Jauron), guys I have known for a long time. I coached Dick back when I was with Detroit, back two centuries ago. Guys that I know are very sound football people, they work hard they have a good plan, they are sound fundamentally and schematically. I have a lot of respect for that organization and that football team. We're going into a little bit different environment playing in a college stadium and college markings on the field and that kind of thing. Some of those are a little bit different; we're going to have to make adjustments to those in a tough environment.

Q: How disruptive can Urlacher be? Is he one of those defensive players that you have to put special emphasis on?

BB: Urlacher does a lot of things well. I think one of the greatest strengths that he has is his versatility. He runs very well. He has a lot of range, he comes off and covers a lot of ground. Of course we know that he has a background as a defensive back. Unlike some linebackers, he is very good at pass coverage. But he is big. He is a good blitzer. He plays the run well and with guys like (Keith) Traylor in front of him, he's a hard guy to get to without giving up Traylor. So the longer you stay and have to block Traylor, the less time you have for Urlacher and he's fast and he can get the perimeter. They blitz him a lot, he is disruptive on the blitzes. He's got some power and he's also a big rangy guy so going up against little backs they try to cut him and he can hop out over them, so he does a lot of things well. He doesn't do everything, he doesn't always blitz, he doesn't always cover, sometimes he is in the middle, sometimes he cheats over to on edge or the other. They ask him to do a lot of different things but they have no problem running him out there to cover receivers in extended zone coverage and things like that that allow the time … you see middle linebackers that, what we call play in the box, if they can tackle the tackle and that's about it. You don't see that with Urlacher. He has a variety of responsibilities. At times he plays like an outside linebacker. At times he plays like a middle linebacker. At times he plays like a defensive lineman. At times he play as a strong safety and he gives them a lot of versatility.

Q: Now, given the talent level and the success they had last year, have you look at them and found one overriding reason for their current difficulty or is a whole multitude of things?

BB: Well, no. I think it just comes down to one or two plays each game. I mean they have lost two games in overtime. They lost two other games literally on the last play of the game or last drive of the game. They were in tight games; it could have gone either way. They certainly had a great change to be Philadelphia last week. It comes down to the last couple of plays and that's the way it is every week in this league. Last year they did the same thing. They won a couple of games in overtime, they won a couple of games on the last play of the game. They are in the same kind of games it's just turned out differently this year. But you're seeing the same type of play, same physical style, run the ball, ball control passing, hit you with big plays, you know, play tough on defense, make you earn everything, don't give up a lot of cheap plays, play a lot of zone, but also blitz a lot so that you have got to be very good on your protections and your pick ups or they can hit you for negative plays because they're popping guys through there pretty quick and pretty regularly. Then again it's a different type of blitzing. For example, trying to block Colvin on a blitz is a lot different from trying to block Urlacher on a blitz. You know, when they blitz Brown, they blitz Green at safety, so they give you a lot of different problems. Again, it takes a very good defensive coach and Greg Blache, those guys do a great job out there. They have a good scheme, they have good players. It's hard to move the ball on them.

Q: When you were coaching Dick, did you see any indication from him because he is a quiet guy …

BB: Yeah he is.

Q: Did you see indication (in him) to be a head coach?

BB: First of all Dick is a real smart guy. He is very smart. At Detroit he played free safety, returned punts and was a versatile player. We had a complicated defense and he could run it without much trouble at all. Things came very easily to him, making checks, making adjustments, not 'why do we need to do this?' Obviously when we are in this defense and they give us that formation, so this is the way we get out of it and this is the way we handled it. He did a really good job of that. He and Charlie West in the secondary ran it like a couple of coaches would run it back then. His demeanor is, he is a quiet, thoughtful, observant person and I think he has a got a lot of management skills and obviously he can do a good job on a football team.

Q: Was he a good a player?

BB: Well, of course we know of his reputation from around here both in high school and college. He is just an outstanding athlete. He had really good quickness, great hands, could handle the ball well, caught it well, a very instinctive player. Dick is the kind of guy that would see a little opening and be able to recognize it and hit it. (He) anticipated well, made a lot of interceptions and returned punts. He was a good skilled player.

Q: Speaking of skilled players, Ted Johnson. What did you see in him and where he has come from since earlier in the year?

BB: I think Ted has really played well the last month of the season. He's worked hard. He is doing a lot to things well. He's timing out his blitzes well. He's hitting guys in pass coverage and re-routing them. He is getting quicker reads in the running game. I think he has really done a good job in all the different responsibilities that he has had whether it be goal line play, short yardage, pass defense, blitzing. He's done really well. He's taken on a great attitude towards practice and meetings and getting things right. Working hard on the practice field to improve and they have improved in the game and it seems like they get a little bit better each week. I thought he really has done a nice job for us. He's taken a little more command defensively in terms of, again, we had some checks and adjustments and calls we have to make defensively based on formations, motions things like that, he's really stepped up there too in terms of being more vocal on the field. He's done a good job.

Q: Some players when they get off that kind of start, they might just go south and you may not see them again and then there are other players like him that just elevate his game. Is that something that as far as character is concerned?

BB: Sure. But I would say with Ted, since '96 or we can go back to Colorado when he was coming out of college and working him out and scouting him back there. I've never seen Ted do anything but work hard and he is a team player and he is a very dedicated athlete. He doesn't do anything other than get himself physically in good condition, understand what his job is and play hard. Now that doesn't guarantee great success but it certainly puts you in position to do it and then when things fall into place then you are happy for a guy like that because he has worked hard to give himself every opportunity for it. But I mean in terms of things like his training and nutrition and doing the extra things or stretching and so forth to give himself every chance he works as hard as anybody at those types of things.

Q: What then are the factors that lead to him improving so much week-to-week?

BB: Well, every year is it's own year. Ted missed a couple of preseason games, missed a little bit of time in training camp, missed a couple of preseason games. Some of the situations that came up in the early part of the year weren't as favorable for him for one reason or another but you know hasn't really let that get him down. He's worked through it. He's persevered, he's shown a lot of diligence and things now have started to come his way for, again, one reason or another. When you call a blitz you never know for sure how or what's going to happen or where are they going to run the ball, where are they going to throw, what the protection is going to be or whatever. He had some great opportunities last week and took advantage of them, again, (he) made a real good play in short yardage on that third-and-two play in the first quarter. (He) had a big hit on the goal line. Sometimes you do get those opportunities and sometimes you can do a lot of the same things and be ready for those situations and sometimes they just don't come as quickly. But when they do come, the idea is to be prepared and take advantage of them and he has certainly done that.

Q: Is he fast?

BB: Yeah, I mean Ted has always been able to run. When you watch him on things like punt return when he has got to run down the field 30-40 yards and stay with guys, you know he can run. I don't think his speed is an issue. I mean he is never going to win the Olympics but for a middle linebacker I think he runs pretty well.

Q: Is there something that you stress to players right before the start of the season, that you tell them the active/inactive situation and because of the nature of the long season there will come a time where just almost everyone on your roster is going to get that opportunity to perform to the level of their ability?

BB: Yeah, I really believe that. Absolutely. I really believe that. I talk to the players about that from … well when you are in preseason everybody plays and everybody gets an opportunity to play that can't physically that's not injured, but once you get to the regular season then that situation changes a little bit. The player can only control what he can control and what he can control is his effort and his attitude and his preparation. If the coach puts him the game, the coach puts him in the game. If the coach doesn't, the coach doesn't. But that's not a decision he can make. But what he can control is his effort his preparation and his attitude. So, at whatever point he does get an opportunity then that is when the player needs to be able to capitalize on that. We can see 1,000 examples where that happens and some guys are able to capitalize on it more than others.

Q: (on a player being named inactive for a game)

BB: I understand the players feeling there because when you are a player and you work in the offseason program and you work hard in practice and you sit there in the meetings and study all the information that is being given to you and you are prepared for it and you are physically ready to go and you want to go and for whatever reason you don't get an opportunity, then you've got to really be tough and you have to fight through it to come back and do it again next, and next week, and next week because you just don't know when the bell is going to ring for you. But what you don't want to do is give up and say 'oh, it's not going to happen, I'll just cruise through it this week.' Then you get thrown in there and you don't play it well then coach doesn't put you in again the next week either because you had an opportunity and didn't do much with it. All players go through that. I can't honestly think of one that hasn't at one point or another.

Q: So after paying Ted all those compliments, how surprised were you when during week one when he decided to take a little mini-vacation?

BB: I don't really want to get into the specifics of that. We talked about it. We're past that and we're looking ahead not back.

Q: Is there a misnomer or is it just a manufactured thing? A lot of people say that a player is in the dog house with something like that. Does that really fester or is it just a case where a player once he does get that chance to prove himself, and it may take awhile, that the slate is clean?

BB: I can't speak for every other coach, but for myself, I don't give out the dog bones. When a guy is in the dog house, when you feel like it's time to move on from a player for whatever the reasons are then organizationally and as a coach, then we make the decision to move on from him. I guess that is what being in the dog house is. It's when you decide to go with a different player and release him from your team. Any player that is on our team I feel that can contribute and has a strong role or he wouldn't be here. Obviously some guys are maybe their opportunities are a little more in the future and other players opportunities are a little more current and less in the future, I mean you are always going to have that kind of balance. Roster spots are so precious and the players are so important and everybody's role is so important that it, for me, just doesn't make any sense to have a player around that you don't want around. If he is truly in the dog house and you truly want to move on from him, then move on from him and get somebody that you want to play.

Q: There was talk that (Greg) Robinson-Randall was in the dog house or maybe out house, I don't know …

BB: We need an addition for that dog house the way it's been portrayed.

Q: But the fact is he came back you played him. How did you view the situation where he did finally work himself back into the lineup? Was he in the dog house or the out house?

BB: No. He wasn't in the addition. No. It was one of those situations when a player is playing and he is playing well, you let him play. At some point in time, if the competition equalizes for whatever reason, whether it's one player moving up or another player moving back or maybe some combination of both, then you have a more competitive situation and sometimes it changes for whatever the reasons are. Circumstances can vary. Last week's determination was just made that Greg was a little more ready to play that position than anybody else, so that is why he was put in there.

Q: Is it going to be a weekly decision?

BB: We'll play the best people that give us the best chance to win every week. Whoever those people are. I am not saying he didn't do a good job, I mean, it wasn't perfect. It was ok. We'll play the best players. That situation may change, it may not. I really don't know. You tell me who the best right tackle is going to look like two weeks from now or three weeks from now, that's who it will be playing, but I am not sure who that is going to be.

Q: Does the surge for continuity on the offensive line play into that?

BB: It sure does. It's a tough balance. You don't want to just be moving guys to move around. But if you can move them and improve the team then it's hard to justify not moving them. 'Well we're not going to change because we don't want to make a change.' Well things better be going pretty good if you are going to take that kind of attitude or it's not going to change anything.

Q: Looking at Chicago, knowing somewhat the defense yet they have only allowed one team less than 20 points a couple of teams have been in the 30s, has their identity changed at all this year? Why are they allowing so many points?

BB: I don't think their identity has changed. I really don't. When we played them two years ago, I think their style of play was similar. It has changed a little bit from year to year, we couldn't score on them. We couldn't move the ball. I mean, we had a hard time and that's my memory and when you watch them on film you look at them and say 'okay, this is a good team.' Yeah stuff happens and then Randy Moss makes an outstanding catch in the endzone. But it's not like you look at that play and say that's bad defense, anybody could have made that play. It's a great throw, it's a great catch. He goes up and takes it away from the corner in the back of the endzone and they score and you give it them. It's a great play by Minnesota and great execution. But you don't look at it and say, 'well the Bears defense is just terrible, look at that.' So have they given up some points? Well, yeah. Sure. We all have. But I think they are very competitive on virtually every play. You've got to execute well, you've to work hard, you've got to do a lot of things right to come out with a positive result. Now can somebody move the ball against them, can we move the ball against them? Hopefully we can. But I think we are going to have to go out there and play well and execute well and do a lot of things right. They are not just going to give you a lot of easy opportunities, 'here take 15 yards, here take 20 yards, it's really not that important to us.' You've got to scrap for every inch.

Q: How much difference is there between Chris Chandler and Jim Miller?

BB: Well, we played against both of them. I've competed against both of them. I think they are both real good quarterbacks. They are obviously both experienced, they throw the ball very well they are both smart guys and accurate quarterbacks. So they bring a lot of the same strengths to the table and they both have been very good at many different points in their career. We'll have to prepare for both of them. But I would expect, my guess would be, that the offense would be pretty similar no matter what guy was in there because they both can read very well, throw accurately, make good decisions under pressure. I thought Chandler when they signed him, I called and talked to Jerry and I told him I thought that was one of the best free agent signings in the offseason last year. I think he is a top a bit. The guy has started and won a lot of games in this league.

Q: Two years ago when you played them, did he just have a hot game? Do you expect to see that again?

BB: Yeah, that's their game. They're a ball controlled passing team but again, I'm saying they are a ball controlled passing team and they lead the league in big play passes. They make a lot of money on ball controlled passes but if you get over aggressive on those, they will hit you down the field. They've got those two receivers, Dez White and Booker are big physical guys. They are 210, 215 whatever they are, they are strong. They go up there and take the ball away from the defenders. They will catch it and break tackles and turn short and intermediate passes into long runs. They are more than just a possession passing team, but they are certainly are that. They are a run play action possession passing team that can create a lot of second-and-third shorts and keep the chains moving and keep their defense off the field and keep your offense off the field. That's the way they play. That's they what they did against Philadelphia last week and they did a great job of that in the first half. They put on a clinic against us two years ago. So they will be a challenge as they have been.

Q: Given the emotional outcome of last week's game, do you fear a letdown against Chicago this week?

BB: Every week it is going to be like that. Every single week. I don't think you can look at any game and feel it's going to be anything other than a competitive game in the National Football League. Chicago, we know that their football team, what has happened the last couple of weeks to them, I don't think has any bearing on anything just like last week we were talking about one team on a roll, another team on a losing streak and that didn't really have any bearing on that game. I think what is important for us, for our team the Patriots, to take the best possible approach that we can to play in this game. To play in it the way we need to play it to beat the Bears. If we do that and then can go out there and execute and play a physical, energetic, smart, tough, football game against the Bears then I think we might have a chance and it will be a competitive game. It will take all of that to do it

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