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Bill Belichick Press Conf. Transcript - 12/26/2002

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BB: Everybody have a nice holiday? Disappointed we didn't practice yesterday? We're going to go and practice at BC this afternoon. We did that last year and with the snow and some of the other logistics here that's the way it's going to work out today, so I was just trying to get a couple of those things tied up. So that's where we're headed today, no changes on the injury report and today's the day, in terms of preparations on some of the situational things for Miami. Third down, red area, goal line, that type of thing. Miami's very good in a lot of those situations, they've been good in the red area, they've been good defensively on the goal line, one of the top teams in the league, so third downs and area that's critical in every game, it's always critical and I'm sure it'll be important on Sunday. I feel like we really need a good day of work on those situations to get ready for Sunday, but that's where we're at.

Q: You're going to be inside at BC?

BB: We're going to be inside at BC, yeah.

Q: Are you going to get outside at any time?

BB: Yeah, well, we wanted to try to get outside today and tomorrow, with the winds and the overall conditions outside, I'm not sure how much we'd get done. We can go out there and get through it, but I'm just not sure how productive it'd be for our timing and those kinds of things. And hopefully those situations will improve and we can do that tomorrow, but yeah I'd like to get outside.

Q: Is it a detriment that you weren't able to get outside?

BB: Well I think what you want to try to do is to go into the game you want to have the timing of the things that you're going to do. And Miami, the way they play defensively, we want to make sure that our routes and our patterns are timed out to go against their defense. And at the same time defensively we want to make sure that we're covering their patterns about the way they run them, and get the ball thrown to see whether we're there or not, at least in the practice scenario. It's hard to do that when the elements keep you from getting that type of timing out there on the field. We've had a lot of days outside during the year, and hopefully, that'll carry us through whether we get outside tomorrow or not, that we've played in the elements out here for a couple months

Q: Is there any advantage from the elements from your perspective?

BB: No, not too much. I really think the team that plays better, that's the team that'll do better. Whether it's 90 degrees or nine below zero, I think the team that plays better will have the advantage.

Q: Clearly you're more comfortable in this weather, psychologically do you have an advantage?

BB: I agree. We can be used to it, and we can have a little more experience in it, but that doesn't really carry too far. There's certainly a slight comfort level, I'm not going to argue that, but at the same time, you talk to players that have been in Miami, it's hot for them too in September, it's not any cooler on that side of the field. In the end, I'll say this too, as a team, if you let those kinds of elements, whatever they are, if you let them effect your play negatively, you've really hurt your chances to win. If you go down there in September and are psyched out because you're playing on a hot day in Miami in September, then that's not the kind of frame of mind you want your team to be in.

Q: In terms of home field advantage, do you notice noise as being less of a factor here than at Foxboro Stadium?

BB: Well I think that obviously this stadium is a great facility, it has a lot of positives here in terms of the facilities, the training room, the weight room, the locker room, our meeting facilities and all that, they're not even comparable to what we had in the old stadium. Game days, a lot of that depends on the situation during the game, and if things are going well and there's key situations it's going to be loud. If things aren't going well it's not going to be as loud and I think that's true, and we've seen that in other stadiums too when we've been on the road, it goes both ways. I think that game has a lot to do with it and sometimes whether it's a night game or a day game, sometimes that has something to do with the fans too. So, I don't know, I don't really try to measure the decibels and volumes and all that, but I know it can be loud and I know it can not be loud and I think a lot of that has to do with the a particular situation in the game and the time in the game than probably anything else.

Q: Can you differentiate?

BB: I'd have a hard time putting my finger on it at this point.

Q: Talk about how the game goes in relation to weather.

BB: Right. You put it perfectly. You notice the heat a lot more when you're not playing well, and you're a lot colder when you're losing than when you're winning at the end of the year, there's no doubt about that. That's when you feel coldest is when the score's not in you favor, it doesn't seem that bad when it's in you favor.

Q: Would you say you did a decent job against Ricky Williams the last time you played him, he only averaged 2.9 yards per carry.

BB: Yeah, I mean the bottom line's the score. We can improve in every area, we certainly can improve in our defensive performance and our offensive performance, I would include all that, rushing yardage is rushing yardage, [Jay] Fiedler had a big scramble for a touchdown in that game and that obviously hurt us. Again, a lot of Ricky Williams carries, I shouldn't say a lot of them, Ricky Williams carrying the ball and his threat to carry the ball and the production that he's had on it already this year, whether it's against us or against anybody else, that opens up some other elements as well, so it's how you play the total game, not how you defend one thing. I think that's … Defensively, what we always have to keep in mind, it's how we do as a total defense, not, 'did we hold 'so-and-so' to no catches, or did we hold 'so-and-so' to so many yards.' Well, if you do that, but you have problems somewhere else, it kind of gets washed away, the bottom line is to play well as a defensive team, not only against all the different individuals, but to play well situationally in addition to that.

Q: How did [Fred] Baxter and [Fred] Coleman look the other day? Do they have a chance to play?

BB: I think they both have chance to play. Both guys have experience, Baxter more from New York, then here obviously, and Fred, going back to training camp here. Both guys have some experience in the system, I think they were able to pick up, reacquaint themselves with the terminology and the techniques of doing those things as quickly as possible. I'm not saying it's like guys that have been doing them for 16 weeks, but as quickly as possible and I would think that both would have a pretty good chance, at least 50/50 if not more, of being active for the game. Now how much we use them in the game and how much they actually play versus how much they are there as insurance, as backups, we'll have to see how that goes as we get through the week

Q: You're the defending Super Bowl champs, is there a reason why you got to this point?

BB: How we got to … We played 15 games, so has every other team in the AFC, I think it's all a matter of record, we're where we are and everybody else is where they're at. I mean that's really no secret. The games are in the books.

Q: Why are you where you are compared to where you were last year?

BB: We've been talking about that for a couple weeks and I think right now's the time to do a season analysis, and do a season wrap-up and all that. Right now we're playing for the AFC east division, and we're playing against Miami, and they're playing for it, it's big game and that's where our attention is. It's about this game coming up and what it means to both teams that are in it, which is a lot. So, that's really where my emphasis is and where my focus is.

Q: If you play Sunday the way you played the last 3-4 weeks, do you think that'll be good enough?

BB: I don't know. That's why we'll all be out there Sunday watching it. I think there's a lot of different elements in the game that you're talking about. Some things have been .. Some things probably would be good enough, some things probably wouldn't depending on which game you're talking about, and what phase of the game you're talking about.

Q: Overall, the feeling is that this is a big game that you have to win, does the team feel that?

BB: Yeah. I think the team feels like it's ready to win. I don't think there's any doubt about that. I think the team's … I don't think that's been missing, it hasn't been there at the end of the game every week that's for sure, but I don't think it's been missing going into it. I don't think we've gone into any game feeling like we're not in a position to win or we're not prepared to win or anything like that, no, I don't sense that at all.

Q: Is there anything you might do differently on Sunday? Is there a point in time when you would do something?

BB: We've talked about it a little bit last week because with just two games to go the playoff situation's a lot clearer with what a win or a tie would do. You go into every game trying to win it, there's nothing that'll help our team as much as a win, that's the case every week. I don't think you ever want to get too far away form that philosophy. I think if you really got down to a key play at the end of the game, similar to what Minnesota had a couple weeks ago, the games tied ,it's right at the end, do you go for two to win it, or kick the extra point to take it into overtime. Maybe that's something that you give a little consideration to, but I think the rest of the game you're playing to win all the time anyway, and whatever that strategy is to get you to that point that's probably where you want to try to be.

Q: Is there a point where you might say, 'Alright, we're going to try to blitz the house here, we're down nine points with five minutes left, we're going to bring everybody.'

BB: Sure. But I wouldn't say that's any different from the first game of the year to the last game of the year. There 's a certain point where if you're behind you do all the things you do when you're behind to try to come back. You try to create a negative play defensively, you go quicker on offense, whether you go no-huddle, or you speed up the process, you have to gain more yards in a shorter amount of time, you have to take some chances. I really don't see that being any different in Week one or Week 16 or any other week.

Q: Are you a believer that you need to play to your strengths to win?

BB: I think we go into every game trying to figure out what our best strategy is to win. Whether it's trick plays, whether it isn't trick plays, whether it's to blitz, whether it's not to blitz, I don't think it would be any different. I can't think of a game where we've gone in saying, 'We don't want to show this play, or we don't want to use this because it might be better some other time,' if it'll work and it'll help us win then we use it, and that's every game. I think that's as fundamental as our philosophy can be, it's not, 'Well, this is the last game of the year, this is a lot of stuff we haven't used all year, let's take a look at it now.' Used it last week, used it a the week before, use it whenever we think it'll be effective, but I definitely wouldn't look at this game like that, and I wouldn't look at any of the other 15 that way either, that we're saving that for another time. Whatever we have we're going to try to use that week and try to win that week. I say every game's a big game, not just the last one, and this one is, don't get me wrong, but it isn't like we've kept things back waiting to use it now, we've used everything, tried to use everything we've had going up to these games.

Q: So there's no comparing it to baseball, everyone's in the bullpen, everyone's rested?

BB: Pitching on three days rest. I don't know how I could relate it, an analogy like that.

Q: Ty Law at wide receiver?

BB: If Ty Law at wide receiver would have helped us last week, he would have been a wide receiver last week. If Tom Brady returning kickoffs would have helped us last week he would have returned kickoffs last week. It's not like they haven't been out there.

Q: Is it an obvious indication that you're spread pretty thin bringing in a guy like Freddie [Coleman]?

BB: I think you'll see that every year. And I think you're going to see that with other teams in the league as well. If you go back two, three, four, five years, you're going to see the same thing. You get to the end of the year … Look, first of all, there 's no question that the talent in the league has been diluted by however many players Houston has, 60, 65, 70, whatever the number is, including their IR, their practice squad players and all that. That's a group of players, basically two a team let's say, that aren't available anymore. I think if you go back and look at any year you're going to see the same thing, once you get to November and December guys have injuries, it's one thing when you turn an ankle in Week one and you're out for six weeks, it's another thing when you turn an ankle in the middle of December and the guy's out for six weeks, then you put him on injured reserve and you bring in a player that can help you however much he can do. Whether it's one play, or two plays, or maybe it's no plays, maybe it's just depth for practice. You bring him in at the end of the year to strengthen your team wherever you can and that's something that Scott [Pioli] and I have always believed in, we've worked hard at. You try to strengthen every spot on your roster, not just your best player, but all the way down to 53, wherever you can make it stronger, you make it stronger. I understand what you're saying, Fred was a guy that was signed later in the year last year as well, not the last week, and I think there are other guys like that. Now last year for us at the end of the season we didn't have very many injuries and weren't in the signing process. The year before we signed a few guys that year too, guys like [Grey] Ruegamer for one, Steve Neal was another guy we signed last year. I'd say Steve Neal was probably the last week or two of the season. I'm saying I think it does happen it just depends on what your injury situation is, but if you look at every team in the league you'll see more transactions in December then you're probably going to see in October, November.

Q: How's Tedy Bruschi doing? Do you anticipate him playing on Sunday?

BB: Better, Tedy's doing better. I'd say each day, I'd say the last three practices [he's] doing a little bit more each day and you look at him and say, 'this is his best day, he's been better than he was the day before, better than he was the day before.' Whether that's him being ready to go against Miami or not, that I'm not sure. I think it's still day-to-day, but he's definitely making progress and I think that he's turned the corner and that that progress is coming quickly. How quickly it'll come, we're just going to have to wait and see, but he's definitely moving forward.

Q: Is he practicing without restrictions?

BB: No. He still hasn't practiced with the team. But in terms of working on his own and the things he's doing on his own, and getting to that point, I'd say it's getting real close.

Q: How about Kenyatta Jones?

BB: Kenyatta practiced Tuesday.

Q: (Re: Mike Compton and his name never being mentioned.)

BB: That's always a good sign for an offensive lineman, his name doesn't get mentioned, that's the biggest compliment he can get. Mike's been solid all year, he played guard and center. He's been real steady, and obviously that left side has been a lot steadier for us in terms of personnel week to week with Matt [Light], Mike, and [Damien] Woody, that's been a little more solid for us and there's been more continuity there, it's been more consistent.

Q: Without a season analysis, is there a significant difference between this years club and last years club?

BB: A significant difference, I don't know. There are obvious differences, I don't think we need to detail those. There are some guys that that weren't on this team last year that are on it this year and vice-a-versa, there's some that aren't. I don't know exactly what you're looking for. A personnel analysis, it is what it is.

Q: Well, you still have your key guys.

BB: Some of them are here, some of them aren't, some of them are playing, some of them aren't. Tedy Bruschi's not playing, he was here last year, he's not playing. Some are, some aren't, it's a question of what point in time you're at, and like I said I really don't think now's the time to do a post season wrap-up, which really sounds like what you're asking for, wrap-up this year compared to wrapping up last year, and I don't think this is the time for it.

Q: To this point are you happy with what you've been getting from the guys?

BB: We're 8-7, I don't think eight wins is going to get you anything in this league, I think we need more than that. We get another one and I think we'll be a lot happier than we are right now. If we don't then I think we probably won't.

Q: A year ago, you were happy with the work ethic, do you feel the same way about this team?

BB: I think that this team has a good work ethic, I don't think that's been a major issue all year. I think the team's worked hard, I think they're prepared.

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