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Bill Belichick Press Conf. Transcript - 11/7/2002

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BB: There are no updates on the injury report. I think we're going to move along pretty much at a normal pace. One guy we didn't really talk about much about yesterday, well two guys we didn't really talk about yesterday that I think deserve maybe a little more conversation than we had was (Rosevelt) Colvin and (Olin) Kreutz and those guys, I don't know, may they are a little underrated by some people or they haven't gotten the recognition. You talk about (Brian) Urlacher but it's hard to overlook Colvin. I mean that guy is really a good fast football player. He is probably one of the smallest rushers in the league, but also one of the most effective. He has got tremendous quickness and even though he plays end in a lot of cases as well as linebacker, again this is a guy that has big time speed off the edge, pass rush ability, is very, very instinctive. People try to run plays on him, you know draws, screens, shovel passes, stuff like that, to take advantage of his up-field speed rush and they just can't get him. This guy is really good. Then Kruetz at center. I mean we have seen some good centers but this guy is pretty good. He is strong. He is a real smart player, very instinctive. He makes a lot of good decisions in there. He is really the heart of that line. Anytime you have a good center in the running game, it usually gives you two points of attack because you very seldom call plays that run right directly behind the center every once and a while. But, most of the time the plays are designed to go somewhere like off-tackle to the outside so you have a chance to get the ball and enter it into the defense at that point. But if your center gets his block or he makes a real strong block, then that gives you another gap that you can hit so you can either hit at the point of attack or even cut it back into the centers block which isn't that far away and sometimes that opening is created when the defense plays the entry point of the play. He is really a good football player. (He is) a guy that just the more you watch him, the more impressed you are with him. So I just thought I would throw out those two for you.

Q: With Colvin and Urlacher in the same linebacker core, you guys have already gone up against some linebacker groups that are pretty well thought of. Are those groups similar at all to any of those other ones?

BB: Well, I think that the thing that is a little bit different here is Colvin is just really an outstanding blitzer and pass rusher. Now he is good at everything. He is very instinctive in the running game. Even though he is not a real big man, he plays with explosion and strength. But what makes him really effective as a blitzer is he ends up being the fifth rusher, not the fourth. So you get a 3-4 team like the Steelers, well you know those linebackers are coming because they only have three down linemen. Whereas when you get a four down line team and they bring that fifth rusher and match him up on a back or a tight end or get him to come off the edge, he can be really tough to block. Now they put him down on some of their third down stuff and playing as a true defensive end. And he is very effective there too with his hand on the ground where he is just coming But when you add in the blitz element to that and make him as a fifth rusher, not the fourth, then defensively you can really create some mismatches and they do a good job of that. Urlacher, he is a different style of play. Urlacher is good, but he is a different style than Colvin. Colvin brings his own style but I think it's every bit as effective as Urlacher. He just does different things.

Q: In terms of getting a body on Urlacher, I know it's probably be a combination of everybody, but is it really the interior three offensive linemen?

BB: Yeah, usually that's the way it is. Because you have two defensive tackles, a middle linebacker and the tackle generally block the ends. Somehow, between your two guards, center, and maybe your fullback is the other option, you can do something with him, but when you bring him in there that usually brings somebody else in there with him, whether it's a safety or a linebacker you fold him back or whatever it is. Basically your center and your guard have to handle somehow the tackles and middle linebacker and again maybe you can combination block him with your fullback from time to time. But for the most part those three guys are going to have to do it one way or another.

Q: Does he present an obvious matchup problem because he is so fast?

BB: Yeah, right. It's a little bit like Zach Thomas, it's hard to get him on the outside plays because he is so fast and if you're running the ball outside, the center or the guard has got to get off and get him before he gets out there because they are not going to chase him out there, they need to get him at the beginning. He's got good acceleration and quickness and it's hard to get him right there. But he is a big physical player as well too so when you run right at him, he can step up there and hold his ground. But (Keith) Traylor is even more of a problem because even if you get Urlacher then it is hard to get Traylor too. Similar to (Tim) Bowens and Zach Thomas, you get one of them but it's hard to get both of them.

Q: Is that why they keep mourning the loss of Ted Washington?

BB: Well, Washington presented another problem because then you have three guys in there and you can't block any of them. With him it really presents another problem in there just in terms of getting any movement. Nobody is going to move Ted Washington. The best you are going to get is a stale mate there. You can't move Traylor and then Urlacher has got a lot of quickness in there that can avoid people. It's a bad combination.

Q: You mentioned that you were preparing for both quarterbacks given that (Jim) Miller has got tendonitis and (Chris) Chandler has been pretty injury prone. Do you have to also look at (Henry) Burris?

BB: Well, you know, anytime you get to the third quarterback that really changes the whole dimension of the game. It isn't much of an option for you offensively because when you go to your third quarterback, then the other two guys are out of the game for good unless it's in the fourth quarter and you only have a limited of plays. Burris is a guy we had to talk about and be aware of. I know what Chandler's history is but Chandler hasn't been hurt this year and when he has had a chance to play, I think that we can see the same skills that we know Chris has and he's a very good passer. I would think between those two guys that that is where the majority of the snaps will come from. But anybody that is active on the roster, as a player you need to know who lines up across from you or who could wind up across from you. Then you have to prepare for that guy even if it's a 10 percent chance that he gets in there because if he does play, you don't want to be unprepared for that matchup.

Q: Is this the most physical team in all facets that you have seen this year?

BB: I think they are a physical team. We have played some other physical teams but this is a physical team. They play the game physically at every point. They really do. Their interior line is physical. Their linebackers and their running backs are physical. Their wide receivers are physical. These receivers are big. They are 215, 220 whatever it is. They come in and they crack block. They are getting balls in the running game. It's almost like having another fullback in there at times. They are definitely a physical team. Special teams, they are physical. It doesn't matter whether it's (Anthony) Thomas or if it's (Leon) Johnson returning kicks. He's a physical returner as opposed to some of the other jitterbug type guys you might see. He's a bigger stronger more physical type guy. No question that's the way they try to play the game and they take pride in that. You are going to have to go out there and deal with them in the ring. It won't be a finesse game.

Q: Was that four-seven alignment with no defensive linemen, is that something you think you can use consistently if you guys are in favorable situations?

BB: Well, if you get a team in there with third-and-20, you can probably put whatever out there you want. There are only certain things that teams can do when the down and distance situation gets so disadvantageous offensively. To me that's something that fits into our system. It fits into our system. We have it in our system. At any point in time we could take anything in our system and implement it into a game plan if it fits against the team we are playing against. Whether it's that look, whether it's a three-four, whether it's a variations of four-three, whether it's a coverage or whether it's a play we ran last year but we haven't run this year something like that. If we had it in our system, we have background in it, the players may not know it like they know the things we do on a weekly basis, but situationally you can come in and with a good amount of practice time you could get that ready. What it comes down to though, is how much time you want to commit to it. In other words, I don't think it would be a really be a good idea to take something like that and just say we're just going to use it one play, two plays where it's just too much time to commit to a personnel group to only run it for one play or two plays.

Q: Would you equate that to something on offense like an option pass or a reverse that if you don't run too often with it, it's going to lose some effectiveness?

BB: Well, I think plays like you are talking about like reverses and option passes and those kind of things, they are deceptive plays. They're plays that feed off of something else. So in other words a reverse words because the defense is over pursuant. If an option pass works it's because the defense is coming up too quickly to force the run. You can only run those so many times because once they are ready for that deceptive play, if they cover you don't have any other options. You know, you run the option pass and they are back on the guy you are trying to throw it to, it's not like there's any other receivers. You either pull the ball down and run or throw it away but you don't have anything. Whereas when you change your personnel grouping I think it's more like offensively running the same play from two backs and one tight end and then run the same play from two backs and two tight ends and then run the same play from one back and three tight ends, that's all the same play, it's a whole different look for the defense when there is three tight ends in the game from when there is one tight end and two backs in the game. it changes all the force rules. And it changes their alignment. But offensively for you, it's all really the same play other than you just have to tell your people where you want them positioned. Where defensively when you put linebackers in the game so the defensive linemen everybody is doing the same thing but now you just have to get those guys to know where they would line up instead of whether you would normally have defensive linemen. It's more of doing the same thing with interchanging personnel.

Q: In terms of injury management and not to get specifically in terms of how they are hurt…

BB: Oh, okay. Good.

Q: With a guy like Troy Brown who was out and then he came back, do you have a luxury of bringing him back more slowly because Deion (Branch) has emerged?

BB: We never look at it that way. To me, every week is important. Every game is important. So you do everything you can every week. Now, all those decisions in terms of injuries are made with, number one, the player's personal condition at the forefront. So when a player is ready to play, then you have an option. Until he is ready to play, there is no option. He can't play. Once he is cleared to play, then it really becomes more of a coaching decision as to how affective he will be or maybe how long he can play depending on what the nature of the injury is. And you make those decisions on a case-by-case basis. Once a player is cleared to play then he is an option. Then we try to determine how effective and what role he would be when he did play, but until he is cleared there is no decision to make.

Q: So if I was to make the assumption that you guys would prefer to save Troy for December for punt returns, that's probably not an accurate assumption?

BB: Right. If we thought … now again, forget about injuries for a minute now, too. When players have multiple responsibilities particularly in the kicking game and on defense. Whether it's Troy Brown, Tebucky Jones, Mike Vrabel whoever. There are a lot of players that fall into that category. From a coaching standpoint, forget about injuries, then you still have to make the decision as to how much the player can do and how effective he can be doing it. For example, if a player could play 60 plays and play them at grade A quality versus playing 80 plays and playing them at B quality where are you better off? You can make an argument for either one but in the and that is the kind of decision that you have to make. Sometimes if a guy does a little bit less his production will be … he can track it. You figure it is going to be a little bit harder. Sometimes you give up a little bit higher production to have him in there all the time particularly if you don't have another good alternative. That is how I would answer that question. When you take an injury and factor that into it, it's really a little bit more of the same how would a guy be at 80 percent versus another guy who is to say not as good a player at 100 percent. Again, that's a case-by-case decision that you would make. But, we try to use our best players every week to be the most productive that they can for the team and if there is a case where it's basically equal, where we feel like the production will be equal or if we by playing a guy longer it might hurt his production, then we look at what the alternative is and decide whether or not its better to spread that out or whether more of a load on one guy.

Q: Do you feel like Deion Branch gives you the big play ability on punt returns like maybe Troy gives you?

BB: Yeah, oh I think he definitely gives you the big play ability. In saying that, I don't think there is a better punt returner than Troy Brown either.

Q: Are you weighing that out by Troy returning a couple of punts down deep …

BB: The one thing about Troy, there is nobody he would take a back seat to in terms of his ball handling and decision making. In terms of catching the ball, making decisions, handling the ball, dealing with the elements, rain, wind, sun, snow, whatever it is. There is nobody that is going to do it better than Troy Brown. I have been involved in special teams my whole career. I mean I have never seen anybody any better than him. So that's one element of it. Now just in terms of catching running, taking the ball up the field taking hits, returning balls and all of that, relative to what else the receivers have to do in terms of blocking and run a route and catching and so forth, that's another different area.

Q: The linebacking core of such a physical team, will you be using more linebackers, more tight ends or double tight ends or probably three?

BB: Well, we have had three tight ends in the game the last couple of weeks. I think that all three of them have contributed and all three have a solid role on the team. Christian (Fauria), Cam (Cleeland), and Dan (Graham) last week. As long as they are healthy and as long as they are productive then we would play with three tight ends into the game. There will certainly be times when we could utilize them and have utilized them. There are other times where that's not always what we're looking for. But it certainly gives you an element that defensively they will have to account for and it takes care of the edges. It keeps (them) coming off a shorter edge because you can put another guy out there?

Q: Does Graham allow you something in the passing game maybe the other two don't? Does he have some skills that Christian and Cam don't give you?

BB: Well, I think that Graham in time is going to be a good tight end, a good football player. He is obviously a work in progress, he's not a finished product right now. But he is making progress. He is further ahead in some areas than another. He is further ahead on some plays than others. Some plays he has just had more experience and more reps with than he has with others. I think everybody likes the way Graham has worked and some things that he has been able to do. He doesn't do everything perfectly yet.

Q: Jarvis Green filled in when Anthony Pleasant was out, but he is getting a good amount of snaps. Is he one of those guys who plays better with more opportunities?

BB: Yeah, that's definitely true of Jarvis. If you remember going back to the first game of the year, I think Jarvis was inactive the first or second game. Then he was active and he got some spot playing time. Then when Anthony got hurt be got more playing time and I think that he has shown that he can play competitively when the opportunities that he has had and therefore he will continue to get opportunities, it may not be as many as Pleasant works back in there. But he still get them. That is a good case of a young player, and (David) Givens is another example, who have gotten opportunities and have taken advantage of those opportunities by playing well and being productive. Therefore, there are more coming.

Q: How did Ty Law play the other day?

BB: I thought it was one of Ty's best games of the year. I thought he did a good job. He was obviously going against one of the top receivers in the league in (Eric) Moulds. I thought he competed from the first play to the last play. The last play of the game and he is in there battling like that was the play that would have decided the game. You know Ty is a really competitive player, I thought he really showed it in that game. Not just with his coverage but also just totally competing in terms of disguising coverages, tackling, jamming the receivers, just being heads up in a lot of areas. I thought he played well.

Q: He's gone up against Moulds, (Rod) Smith the week before, (Terry) Glenn and (Donald) Driver. What does a player gain when going against top tier receivers? Can it drain them or does it make them more sharp?

BB: Well I think, when you are a player like that, you know you are going to go up against good guys every week. We're not going to take Ty Law and put him on their fourth receiver. That's not what he is here for and that's not his role. I think it really comes down to the individual matchups and each receiver is different. Some guys are, all the guys you described, they all come in a little bit more different strengths and weaknesses in terms of speed, route running, quickness, hands and on top of that, it's the scheme they are in. Eric Moulds runs different patterns for Buffalo than he would, for example last year when he was at Buffalo, in an offense that was more like Green Bay's offense. So if his whole repertoire of patterns if different, even though Moulds is Moulds, Moulds this year and Moulds last year are two different receivers in terms of what they run and the techniques they run it with and how they try to beat you with their routes. That's really to me what it comes down to each week and those one-on-one matchups with the corners and the receivers or the tackles and the defensive ends or the outside linebacker and the tight ends run or pass, even though the competition is high each week, each player has his own set of individual skills and how you match up against those skills is really the challenge on a weekly basis.

Q: In 2000, there seemed to be a gap between you and Ty, now there seems to be kind of a change and a happy medium that you have reached? What's his role?

BB: Sometimes we match him up on certain players. Sometimes we play left and right. We have different ways of matching him up and I don't think that, defensively, it's good strategy to always necessarily do it the same way because then they know where everybody is and then sometimes it helps the offense scheme against what you are doing so it's good to keep them off balance and not always put everybody in the exact same spots. Look, I have a lot of respect for Ty. As a competitor, nobody competes any harder than Ty does. But I think in the end what Ty and I both have to understand is, Ty is a player and is a good player. And I think I can coach. So I think I am a better coach than Ty is and Ty is a better player than I would be. I think we both need to understand our rules on that.

Q: Has that been an on going thing?

BB: Not in a confrontational way.

Q: Like does he say 'hey look, I can do this'?

BB: Yeah, Ty will say that. Ty will say 'look I can do this' and 'here's how I feel about it.' And there are times where, I talked to Eric (Mangini), I talked to Romeo (Crennel), and we'd say 'you know what, I think Ty made a good observation, he's got great points here and this is the way to do it.' Then there are other times, like any other player, and you say 'yeah, that is a good idea, in the overall scheme of things, that just doesn't fit right now.' 'Maybe it was great last year, maybe it was great in some other system, maybe it was great the last time we played the team, but for whatever the reason are this time, that's an individual thing that just doesn't fit into the team concept or it only fits into it on these certain calls.' 'This is the only time we can do it, is when we have this, this, or that called, anything else we need to play it a different way for other reasons that affect the overall team defense.'

Q: Does he still bother you about playing wide receiver?

BB: You know Ty hasn't brought that up in a little while. I'm glad you reminded me of that.

Q: Do you think that Ty's personality is more in line of what you expect from a cornerback?

BB: I don't know if there is a book on personalities by position.

Q: I mean the kind of guy that is confident enough that he can stand six inches out of the neutral zone from the guy that he is covering, some of the fastest people in the world, you don't stay in there and jock space him all over the field you have to have a lot of …

BB: That's true. What position though really isn't like that. I mean you've got tackles blocking guys that run 4.6, 4.7 off the edge where the camera will be on them as soon as they hit the quarterback you are going to have receivers out there standing six inches away from the best athletes on the team playing corner trying to cover them. If they drop a ball, there's a lot of positions like that where it really comes down to a one-on-one matchup. You are going against good people every week. Not only are you going against good people, but you are going against good coaches who are trying to make it as difficult for you as they possibly can. Doing the same multiple things out of the same look, making one thing look like this and it's something else. Tricking you, running guys in your way so you can't do your job, all those kind of things. So that is the competitiveness of the league and balance of the league. It's tough. I mean no matter where you play, sooner or later somebody is going to scheme you, somebody is going to find a expose one of your weaknesses and you just got to try to stay one step ahead of the posse.

Q: How hard is it to keep your team from retaliating this week against another physical team and not get stupid penalties?

BB: Well we are going to try to play a physical football game against a physical team. That's the way we have to play. I don't think you can go in there and try to finesse the Bears and hope for the best. We are going to have to go toe-to-toe with them and play physically. We all know what the rules are and we always try to play by them. We try to do the same thing every week. It's really no different. We never go out there with the intent of breaking the rules or going beyond the measure of the rules. That has never been coached. And that's not the way we want to play. Sometimes you get called for penalties, sometimes you don't. You've got to try to play within that guideline. There's no question about it. I mean, that's something that every team has to do. Every player has to do it. Sometimes that line is not as straight as we would all like it to be, but it's up to all of us to figure out what it is and stay within it.

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