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Replay: Best of Radio Thu Apr 11 - 02:00 PM | Tue Apr 16 - 11:55 AM

Bill Belichick Press Conf Transcript - 12/3

Belichick: I have known Kenny [Walter] a long time, probably as long as any player on the team, but obviously this is a situation that we felt was in the best interest of the team.



            **BB:**  We made a roster move at the punter [position].  We signed Brooks Barnard.  He, as you know, punted at Maryland and was with Chicago in preseason.  I have known Kenny [Walter] a long time, probably as long as any player on the team, but obviously this is a situation that we felt was in the best interest of the team. That is why that decision was made.  Looking at Miami, I think that right now they are probably playing as well as any team in the league.  They have won the last three.  They went into Dallas and scored 40 points on the top-ranked defense in the league.  They are 5-1 on the road this year.  I think they are playing well and obviously getting [Jay] Fiedler back in the lineup seems to have helped their passing game click a little bit with [Chris] Chambers and [Randy] McMichael being a couple of key guys there, Ricky Williams, we all know about him.  The offensive line is playing well.  Defensively they look good like they usually do. They are strong inside.  They have 18 ½ sacks from their ends.  Their corners are tough and they are good in the kicking game.  This is a game that both teams are pretty familiar with each other.  We have had a lot of tough games against the Dolphins and I am sure that this one will be no exception.  It will come down to the team that plays the best on Sunday and is able to take advantage of the opportunities, not what happened last week, last year or last month or last anything else.  

**Q: Who is going to hold for Adam Vinatieri?

BB:** Well we have been prepared for that situation. You always have to have somebody else ready just in case. It will probably be one of the quarterbacks.

**Q: Does this affect your depth chart right now? Because with [Damon] Huard having been the third quarterback obviously he cannot go into hold at any point in the game if he is still the third quarterback.

BB:** That is correct.

**Q: So who will you use, a quarterback?

BB:** So it will be one of the other quarterbacks. That's right.

**Q: Might you have [Tom] Brady hold? Is that a possibility?

BB:** He has done it in the past.

**Q: Will you work him out at that spot?

BB:** We will work through it this week. We will have something ready by Sunday.

**Q: Is it difficult when you look at Sunday's game and you don't know what the weather is going to be? It is kind of iffy at this point.

BB:** Well I tell you what, I would probably make a lot of money if I could predict the weather five days in advance in this area of the country. We are all at the mercy of last minute changes in Northeast weather at this time of year. Whatever it is, it is. I am sure that through the course of the week or weeks of practice that we had or that we have this week we will face some of the elements that we will see on Sunday or we have dealt with them in the past. But the bigger concern, I am not really that worried about the weather. I am worried about the Dolphins. That is who we are playing. Whatever the conditions are, they will be the same for both teams. I don't think it is that big of a deal. We played them at the end of the year last year and the game went into overtime so I think that is indicative of how evenly matched the teams are here. We went into overtime down there. It looks like we will probably have a little dog fight on our hands on Sunday. Whatever it is like. Whether it is 80 degrees or it is not.

**Q: Do you think the weather factor is overrated?

BB:** I don't think it is overrated. Well, I think the most important thing is how the team plays the game. Certainly the conditions have an effect on it. It has an effect if it is 80 degrees out. It has an effect if it is 20 degrees out. It is how you play and how you do against the other team. I think those conditions at this level; those guys have been in plenty of games. We have been in plenty of games, I think the experience level is pretty good on both teams. I am sure that everybody can deal with whatever it is going to be.

**Q: Fiedler does not enjoy a reputation amongst fans and maybe the writers as one of the elite quarterbacks in the league. He certainly seems to have a dramatic effect on Miami's performance. What are the 'x' factors that maybe we don't see?

BB:** I think you just take a look at the final score. That is the number one thing. Take a look at his record. He wins a lot of games. That is what a quarterback's job is to do. It is to do what he needs to do for his team to win. He does a pretty good job of it.

**Q: Have you noticed a change in Fiedler since his injury?

BB:** Well he came back at the end of the Washington game. Then of course played all way against Dallas. He has looked sharp. He has made a lot of plays. He has led his team on some long touchdown drives and also hit some big play passes to move the ball down the field pretty quickly. He looks sharp. The offensive line looks good. The running back looks good. The receivers look good. They look sharp. They are moving the ball and they are productive offensively. They are good on defense and they are good in the kicking game. They look pretty good to me.

**Q: How tough was it to find someone to replace Ken Walter? What make Brooks Barnard the guy for this team?

BB:** Well, we looked at a number of different people. We just felt like in this situation that he, based on the workouts and the exposure that we had of the players, that right now he would be the best fit for us.

**Q: Is there anything that you look for in a punter specifically given the weather conditions?

BB:** Well, again, we can't predict what the weather is going to be. What we look for in a punter is a guy who had the fundamentals and techniques that you need to consistently punt the ball. Brooks is a young player. He has got some development and a ways to go obviously, but I think he has some tools to work with. Where he is now fundamentally I think that he can be effective.

**Q: Will he have a chance to kick in the stadium this week?

BB:** Yes, I am sure by the end of the week we will have him in there. Actually I think that the conditions are similar outside, the fields are running the same way and all of that. It is just not quite the same. But at some point I am sure we will have him in there.

**Q: Was there anything in particular in his college career that stood out as far as you know that attracted you to him?

BB:** I think it was more the preseason evaluation, seeing him punt in the NFL in the preseason. He had a decent college career.

**Q: Can you talk a little bit about Daniel Graham's blocking last week against Dwight Freeney?

BB:** Well I think Dan is an all around player. He is a solid blocker. He has been a solid receiver. He can run after the catch and that kind of thing. He has worked hard on his blocking. Pass protection is tougher for tight ends especially when they have to do it from the line of scrimmage. Sometimes they are on and sometimes they are off but it is always tougher when they are on. That is something that Dan has worked on and all of our tight ends have. I think Jeff Davidson our tight end coach has done a good job of that. When we went to training camp working against our 3-4, our defense, a lot of times the tight ends are in pass protection against those outside linebackers whether it was [Rosevelt] Colvin, [Willie] McGinest, [Mike] Vrabel, [Matt] Chatham, whoever it was, and getting some work against them. So those are speed type upfield rushers similar to the guy we played last week or guys we played this week or the Houston outside linebackers, those types of guys. He has gotten a lot of work on it. It is something that can be overlooked on tight ends and it doesn't really show up until you get beat and give up a big play. I think overall Christian [Fauria] and Dan and Fred [McCrary] when he has had an opportunity, those guys have done a pretty solid job on it. But it is a tough assignment, blocking those edge rushers and being one man further removed than the tackle is challenging.

**Q: Speaking of tight end, what makes McMichael a tough matchup?

BB:** Well I think that he has good skill in the passing game. He runs well. He has good quickness, good hands, he can adjust to some throws wherever the ball is, he can make adjustments to make the catch. He can stretch the field vertically and he is good in the short routes and can run after a catch. He has good receiving skills. I don't think there is any question about his ability.

**Q: What made you pursue Ted Washington, other than his size? What else about him?

BB:** He has a lot of experience at the nose tackle position and that is one that we were relatively inexperienced at in preseason and training camp. I think the fact that he was available and that we had an opportunity to acquire him, there was interest there. That had gone back even into the offseason when I talked to Chicago about him but at that point they weren't really willing to do much. As we got into preseason, then the conversation kind of lead to where he was available and the fact that he played a position that we are in a 3-4 defense and he is a nose tackle, that is a marriage.

**Q: Did you know it was a possibility that he would be available down the line?

BB:** I can't remember exactly what the verbage was but basically he wasn't available and then he was. Whatever their reasons were, I don't know. You would have to ask them.

**Q: How much better is your defense now against Miami than it was back in October?

BB:** I don't know. That is a good question. I think again, it doesn't really matter how good it was or it wasn't. It matters how the match up is on Sunday. I thin that Fiedler is playing very well. I think that with Miami having [Rob] Konrad back who didn't play against us in the first game, that changes their offensive formationing flexibility a little bit. Yes, there will be some different match ups in the game and I am sure that Norv [Turner] will have some adjustments in his offensive game plan and we may do a couple of things differently ourselves. We will see how all of that matches up. That is why we will all be at the game on Sunday to see how it turns out. I don't think you can really make a comparison to the last game. I am sure that this one will have a lot of different elements. Not that I know what they are, but I am just sure they will be different.

**Q: when there is that amount of lag time between two games, do you tend to look closely at recent games this team has played in?

BB:** I think that is a really a good question. I would say the answer is both. You look at the match up that we had with them directly but we have changed a little bit over the past few weeks. They have changed. Some guys are playing better, some guys maybe not as well. The emphasis may have shifted a little bit schematically. You kind of take all of those things into play a little bit and then try to figure out what you want to do. But they are all important. Certainly our game is one that we want to look at but I don't think we can overlook the way they played against Dallas, the way they played against Washington, the way they played against Baltimore. They played strong football the last month of the season. You have to recognize that and some of the trends that they have developed there. I am sure that they want to continue to build on.

**Q: Overall on offense, when you compare the Patriots offense last year to this year, what are the things that the team is doing better?

BB:** I don't really know if I can make that whole comparison right now. I would just say offensively this year that we have had our moments both good and bad. We have been inconsistent. There have been games where we couldn't score a touchdown. There have been other games where we have been in the 30's. I think it is hard to say, 'Well, we are going to go out there and here is what we are going to do – we are going to score six points, or we are going to score 38,' it has been both. We are looking for more consistency. Again, at times I think we have shown the elements to put a number of things together in place offensively but there have been other times where we haven't. I think that is our big challenge, is to develop more consistency on that side of the ball.

**Q: Is it more pressure on Tom with the receivers changing week to week?

BB:** I do not think 'pressure' is the right word. I really do not. I think that, again, Dedric [Ward] and J.J. [Stokes] have come in recently and there has been a little bit of a timing and adjustment situation with them, but the other guys have been here all year. If we call it a comeback, it is a comeback. If we call it a curl, it is a curl. They have run them and they have thrown them, and they have seen it against different coverages and I do not think that is a major point. It is something you have to work through. With Ward and Stokes and some of the routes they are running, there is a little bit of a learning curve there. They are experienced players, and Ward was here in preseason, which is certainly helpful to him. There is a little bit of a learning curve in terms of the exact coverage or the exact techniques being played by the defender, how specifically we are going to react to it, where the ball is going to be thrown and that kind of thing. I think there is a little bit of that.

**Q: Is Troy [Brown] improving or is he in a holding pattern?

BB:** I think he is improving. I talked to him this morning. I think he is improving.

**Q: In a rivalry game, there are issues that other games may or may not have. In your experience, is that a distraction or a plus?

BB:** Clearly the focus is on the team aspect of the game. It is our team against their team. The individual match-ups are always important and they lead to the end team result, but it is a team focus. Everybody has a job to do and you always want to go out there and do your best. Sometimes the motivations can come in from different angles, whether it is a team you used to play with or a player that you have a little more competitive spirit with—you compete against everybody, but maybe a player that you have a little higher competitive spirit with. I think those things are normal from week to week. They probably even themselves out. I think there is maybe a little more of it with division games where you are doubling up and playing those teams twice a year, but we have all been through that before, or most of us. We have a couple of rookies on the team, but for the most part we have all been through that before I think. I think we can deal with it professionally and I am sure the Dolphins can too.

**Q: With a new punter, do you have to set aside extra time? Do you need more time or is there a timing factor with the guys getting used to his kicks, the way he kicks and how long they hold up there?

BB:** Yes, and we will probably add a few plays. Normally we do not work on it on Wednesday. It is more of a Thursday or Friday thing. We will have a few plays in there in practice today, just so everybody can get used to the punter, get used to the protection, get used to—right-footed punter or left-footed punter the ball drifts a little bit different, all those kinds of things. We will take a few more plays on it this week, yes.

**Q: As you get further along in the season and the bad weather comes here in New England, how much will the running game really begin to take center stage on both sides of the ball?

BB:** I think it is always important. How important it is going to be this week relative to last week or next week, it is always important. It varies from game to game and from situation to situation, but again, to me the most important thing in this game is Miami. It is not any of the external factors. Whatever it is during the game, we will deal with it, they will deal with it. Last year the temperature was whatever it was. It was the end of December, whenever it was, and they are up by 11 points with three minutes to go in the game. Whatever effect that had on the game was not helping us that much for the first 57 minutes, I can tell you that.

**Q: With [Jason] Taylor and [Adewale] Ogunleye, is that about the best pair of defensive ends you will face during the season? And is Taylor similar to Freeney, who you faced last week?

BB:** I would say that, combined, they are as good as anybody we have faced. They are both very explosive, fast guys. They can bring power. They are very athletic. Freeney and Taylor, there are a lot of similarities. They are both fast. They are upfield rushers. Taylor is kind of a tall, lanky guy who has a long of reach. Freeney is more of an explosive, shorter guy, better initial quickness. Yeah there are some similarities. I think just in terms of body type and frame and a little bit of technique there are some differences. These two guys are really good edge rushers, 18 sacks or whatever it is. There is a lot of pressures to go with it, believe me. It is not just the sacks. I am not going to hang it on the sacks. There are plenty of plays where they are closing in on the quarterback, they are hitting him when he throws. It does not show up on the stats, but they are there.

**Q: Let's talk about Matt Light against those guys. Has he improved?

BB:** Yeah, he probably plays the toughest position in football. We have seen a lot of guys out there this year, a lot of speed rushers on the edge, you can go right down the schedule and there are one or two of them every week. That is the nature of the position. You play left tackle you are going to go against not only good rushers, but usually good, fast rushers.

**Q: It seems like you gave him a lot of help against Freeney last week. How many left tackles in the league would be able to handle a guy like that one on one? Are there any?

BB:** At every point in the game somebody has to handle it one on one. In pass protection—we talked about this before—'help' is relative word. It depends on how many guys they rush what you can do with your blockers. If they only rush four, you have more than four blockers. You have at least five. Then, depending on what you want to do with your backs and tight ends, you can have more than that. When they rush more than four, how many guys can you double team? You do not have enough people. Again, 'help' is a relative term. It depends on what protection they are in, it depends on how many guys they are rushing, it depends on what type of pass it is as to who is helping, where the help is or whether there is in fact any at all. Through the course of every game everybody is going to have plenty of one on one opportunities. At some point in the game you want your extra blockers to block somebody. In other words, if it is five on four we do not want our free guy to just stand there and chop his feet and chew up the grass. We want him to find somebody that he can help on where we have a double-team somewhere in the protection, and not waste him. Where that occurs could be in a number of different places depending on the protection, depending on the rush or the game that they are in or that kind of thing. I would say that there are plenty of one on one situations throughout the course of the game in pass protection across the board. There are times when you can try to give some help or try to put more help, more blockers in one spot than another, but again you do not really have full control of that unless they drop everybody off into coverage.

**Q: Ken Walter was struggling for much of the season. Why did you decide to release him?

BB:** Because I thought it was in the best interest of the team.

**Q: How important is the consistency been across the offensive line the past five games?

BB:** Sure, it always helps. It is five guys that function as one. On almost every situation, run or pass, those five are responsible for five defenders. It is really five on five. How they unfold after the snap, whether it is a stunt, a blitz, whatever the blocking pattern is changes, so the more that they can work with consistency, work in unison, combo block two on two, three on three, whatever it is, that is to their advantage. That has been helpful to have some consistency there over the last few weeks, no question about it.

**Q: Do you think that is the most important element in a successful line?

BB:** I think it is important. I do not know that it is the most important. We could probably take five people in here, put us out there and be together for ten years and still not block anybody. I think it is better to have good players and then have good players with consistency, but you have to have good players. Just being together I do not think—I am not going to block anybody

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