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Replay: Patriots Unfiltered Tue Apr 16 - 02:00 PM | Wed Apr 17 - 09:55 AM

Bill Belichick Press Conf Transcript

Belichick: I think this is one of the fundamentally best defensive teams that we have seen all year and seen in quite a while.



            **BB:**  It seems like I have been saying the same thing up here every week for the last few weeks.  But here we go again.  The Broncos are leading the league in defense, they are right at the top of the league in red zone defense.  They are tough in the red zone, tough on short yardage, leading the league on third down and really are doing a good job defensively.   I think this is one of the fundamentally best defensive teams that we have seen all year and seen in quite a while.  I know they have had a lot of turnover and I am sure that some people might not recognize the names of some of the players but they are very well coached.  They are playing well.  I think that Mike [Shanahan] and Larry [Coyer] have done a great job with that group.  It is really an outstanding unit and they are playing very well in all phases of the game.  Of course we know Denver can run the ball and as usually they have it going and [Clinton] Portis has got it going.  So it will be a real big challenge for us out there.  We know Denver in Denver is about as tough as it gets.  This will be a real big challenge for our football team.  We haven't done too well against them the last couple of years.  Once here and once there and we need to find a way to play better than we played the last couple of years.  That is really where our focus is this week.  Today we will be inside in the new renovated bubble.  I know that the organization has been working hard to get that up.  Today is the kind of day that without it, it would be a tough day to get much done outside other than a little snorkeling.  We will be able to get some work done inside.  That is a great addition to an already outstanding facility that we are a part of and the commitment and Robert [Kraft] and the organization to do everything that they can to provide facilities and the opportunity for our team to play as well as it can.  That is the setup today  

**Q: What about Denver's situation at quarterback? Can you talk a little bit about their injury situation there?

BB:** I think one thing that Denver does is they have a lot of consistency in that position. They always have an athletic quarterback, a guy that can run their offense which is a heavy run play-action type of game on early downs, usually a smart guy that can utilize the different formations and so forth and I think that is what they have. They still run all of their bootlegs and play actions and of course it all starts with the running game with the offensive line and Portis. They have had a couple of different guys there the last couple of weeks. I know from experience that is never a change that you want to make but those guys are good players. The key to it is Mike Shanahan. When you talk about offense in the NFL, nobody has done more than he has on a consistent basis year after year. It doesn't matter who the back is, it doesn't matter who the line is, it doesn't matter who the quarterback is, they move the ball and they score points. They produce in the red area, they are good on third down and he has done a great job year-after-year-after-year with whoever the players are.

**Q: Is it their system that has allowed them to have such a series of running backs who have been successful?

BB:** Sure. You have to start with the constants and that is the coaches. Shanahan and [Gary] Kubiak, Alex Gibbs, those guys have done an outstanding job. The players have changed but their production hasn't. Whether you go back to T.D. [Terrell Davis] or [Mike] Anderson or Portis or [Olandis] Gary right down the line. It doesn't matter who has been running, they have all gained a lot of yards and they are all good players too. I am not taking anything away from them and the offensive line, they have had a number of different people in that spot all the way across the board. They keep producing it and I think it is a real credit to their game planning and their coaching skills. They give you a lot of different formations, a lot of different looks and they are a very hard team to prepare for as I have said many times. I think that Mike does as good a job and better job than just about everybody that we face in terms of making it tough on you defensively. He is very good. And they have a lot of good players.

**Q: In your eyes, does playing on Monday Night Football involve a greater distraction than normal?

BB:** It throws you into a little bit of a different routine. It is something that we have done here couple of times a year for the last couple of years so I think that we are used to a little bit of a change in the routine. Denver in Denver. That is about as tough as it gets.

**Q: What do you do differently since it is a Monday night game? Do you change anything in preparation?

BB:** Well, you always try to work backwards. You take the time and the day of the game and then work backwards in your preparation from there, a day before the game, two days before the game. We pick up an extra day here earlier in the week and with a team like Denver you really need it because they do a lot of things that you have to get ready for. We will need the extra day of preparation. As it gets towards the end, four days, three days, two days before the game, those days will pretty much fall into line into our normal preparations.

**Q: So you still put the game plan in today?

BB:** Yes.

**Q: Are they doing much different defensively with Coyer as opposed to with Ray Rhodes?

BB:** They changed their whole system when Larry took it over last year. Absolutely. They changed their whole system.

**Q: What are they doing differently?

BB:** I would say it was similar to the Tampa Bay scheme. But they have adapted it to their own style of play. We know what kind of speed they have at linebacker and they have got kind of a unique combination at corners. A couple of big physical safeties and a defensive front that is very good. Of course, it starts with [Trevor] Pryce, now they have got [Daryl] Gardener back and [Bertrand] Berry and [Darius] Holland and they rotate those guys through there. They have a lot of speed at linebacker, very physical and dominating defensive line, hard hitting safeties and a couple of corners that are playing very well [Kelly] Herndon and [Lenny] Walls. They are different style corners. One guy is 6'4 and the other guy is 5'10 but they both play well and they play well within that scheme.

**Q: With no [John] Mobley and no Ian gold and Danny Kanell being the quarterback and last week losing 26-6 and you guys have won five out of six, it seems as if you guys will probably win easily? [Laughter]

BB:** What are you kidding me?

**Q: No.

BB:** Well, that is the same thing that people were saying a couple of weeks ago against us, 'Well this guy is out and that guy is out, maybe we just ought to save the plane fair.'

**Q: Is it difficult when you are going to watch film of Danny Kanell? He went 13 for 23 last week. Do you say, 'Can this guy still play quarterback?' Do you take him seriously?

BB:** Well, look, you have a couple of turnovers in this league and that is not good. It doesn't make a difference who you are or where you play or who you play. If you have a couple of turnovers and that is a problem. You take those away and you have a whole different situation. Minnesota, they get a couple of plays in that game that are more than highlight plays, those plays would be up for play of the year, you get one or two plays like that, you get a turnover and that tilts a game. Make no mistakes about it, this is a good football team. They are outstanding on special teams. They are a good coverage team. Offensively, they lead the league in rushing. They are going to give you more problems in the running game than any other team in the league. Defensively they are at the top. If you can't score, you can't win. It doesn't make a difference where you play. You don't get any points, you are not going to win any game. If you are a good defensive team like they are, they are good in the red area, they are good on third down and they are good on short yardage. They lead the league on the goal line. If you can't get any points, then they are going to be in every single game. Statistically they still move the ball and they move it pretty well offensively.

**Q: You must anticipate a level of desperation from them too?

BB:** No. They do what they do. I am sure their approach is to do it better than the way that they did it. I don't expect to see any drastic changes. They are going to run the plays that they run from a lot of different looks and a lot of different formations and all of that. They have just had too much success. They have played with different quarterbacks, different running backs, different linemen, and different receivers. They have had to shuffle the deck before. That is a credit to Mike, Gary and Alex and those guys. It is their system and their consistency. They plug guys in and they still play well and it is the same thing on defense. They plug linebackers in there and they still lead the league in defense. They don't have any problem with that. Two corners, I am sure a lot of people couldn't even name who they are. They are playing good on pass defense; they are leading the league on third down. So don't tell me about their corners. They are just the best in the league, that is all.

**Q: At times you have seen the need to take plays out of the repertoire for a certain week and focus on what you did well. Have you noticed anything in maybe a reduction in the Denver offensive package right now because of Kanell's presence to try to keep to keep it easier for him?

BB:** Nope. They game plan every week. Denver is a game-plan team offensively. So the formations that they run against Kansas City, you are not going to see against Oakland. The formations that they run against Oakland, you are not going to see against Minnesota. The formations that they run against Minnesota, you are not going to see against Baltimore. So you can forget about all of that. The plays are going to repeat but they are going to change the looks. They will change the personnel groups. They change the motions. That is just the way they do it. I don't care who is in there at any position. That is the way that they way. I think that is the way they are going to play.

**Q: How would you compare Portis to some of his predecessors as far as what he does well?

BB:** Fast. He is fast. He is a fast back. He gets a crease and he makes a lot of yards. He has got good run vision. He is not the 235-pound back, but he is fast and he quick. He sees the hole, he hits it, he is through the line and then he chews up yards in the secondary in a hurry. If you don't get him through the line of scrimmage, those five-yarders go to 20-yarders in a hurry. Denver leads the league in 20 yard runs. That is really no surprise because they get through the line a lot. They have a fast back that can do it. All of their stuff comes off of that, the reverses, the play actions and so forth. So everything ties into the running game. When the running game is going, which it always is out there and it is going now, then everything flows right in with it.

**Q: He is relatively young. I think he came into the league when he was 20 or 21 years old. Is that unusual for a guy to come in that young and be that good?

BB:** Well I think you saw it in college at Miami. He started of as kind of a rotational guy and they have several backs down there with [Willis] McGahee and [Frank] Gore and all of that group. By the end of the year he was the guy and it was pretty clear. He had a great year, whenever it was, two years ago. They were feeding him the ball and he was making a lot of plays with it. The guys is really a good football player, he has got good hands. He is an outstanding runner. He has got speed but he also has great vision. He can find the holes and he hits them.

**Q: Has [Kevin] Faulk emerged as your feature back based on circumstance or because of his performance?

BB:** Well, Antowain [Smith] missed a couple games and then last week was his first week back. Again, we have confidence in all three of our backs. I think that all three of them are going to be productive. How it goes from game-to-game, that could vary a little bit and Kevin has done a good job. I am sure that he will continue to be productive too and get opportunities. I think they all can contribute.

**Q: You run up against three good red zone defenses the last few weeks.

BB:** Three in a row, leading the league.

**Q: What can you do as an offense do to be better in the red zone?

BB:** We have to execute better. They are good defenses and we have to play better. Some of the problems have been our own problems. Some of it has been going up against good defenses and there is not a lot of margin for error and you better have it right or you are not going to have it. It has been a combination of both of those.

**Q: Have you been disappointed?

BB:** Well some plays, they made good plays. Some plays we just screwed up. It could be Attleboro High School out there on a couple of those plays and it wouldn't have made a difference. If you can't throw and catch, you drop the ball or commit penalties or run the wrong play, one guy runs this play and the other guy runs another play, of course you are going to have a bad play. That is not about the defense. That is about your poor execution and we have been guilty of that. On the other hand, we have had some plays that had been well defended by our opponents the last couple of weeks and they are good in that area. I am not taking us off the hook. We have played good teams too, but we have to play better. That is all I can worry about is how we play. Until we play our best, then I will still feel like we can improve.

**Q: Is Denver one of the tougher atmospheres in the NFL to play in with the altitude and the fans?

BB:** Well I don't know about the altitude but the fans and the environment, Denver's home field record and confidence that they play with and all of that. They are tough. They have been tough there.

**Q: Do you think the altitude is overrated?

BB:** I think it is going to be the same for us as it is for them.

**Q: Aren't they more conditioned to it?

BB:** Well I am sure they are.

**Q: Is it something you don't want to talk too much about it because you don't want the players to think about it?

BB:** What are you going to do about it? We are both playing on the same field as far as I know. I have lived in Denver. I have coached teams out there with it. We have gone out there and won when we played well. We have gone out there and lost when we haven't played well. Three years ago we won out there. Two years ago we lost. I don't think the air beat us. I don't think the air won for us either. I think either you go out there and you play better than the other team and win or you go out there and you don't play better than the other team and you lose. That is the bigger part of the problem. It is Denver that I am worried about. I am not really worried about the clouds and the air and how much hydrogen there is and all of that. I am worried about Denver.

**Q: You said a couple of weeks ago, there are some games that you remember clearly and then there are other games that you can remembers specific plays. How vividly do you remember the 2001 game at Denver when you guys were playing so well and then in the second half things started to fall away?

BB:** Yes. I remember that the game shifted a lot in terms of the momentum. We had a couple of turnovers, gave up some plays defensively and then the game got away from us there at the end of the third and early in the fourth quarter. Up to that point, it was pretty competitive. We were ahead in the game but if you make mistakes and turn the ball over and give up plays defensively, you are probably not going to have very good results.

**Q: Tom [Brady] had a rough second half in that game…

BB:** Well, we turned the ball over. We had some problems. Again, I know we want every quarterback to take responsibility for all of the interceptions and I know that is what we are looking for but that is really not the way it is. He had some plays he would like to have back. There were some other plays that were poorly executed and when you lose the ball and give up plays on defense, you are not going to do well.

**Q: I was just wondering did you see a difference in maybe did he learn from that game into the rest of year? It seemed like he took off from there.

BB:** There was a point in that game that we didn't play very well in from whatever the exact point was in the third quarter and into the fourth quarter. There was a combination of things that happened. But the turnovers were the end result. Yeah, it wasn't good.

**Q: You mentioned that they have run the ball successfully in recent years. How much of that is them hitting on good backs and how much of that is what they do up front there and their run blocking?

BB:** I think it is a combination of both. I think the backs do a good job but the scheme is good. The line is good. The coaching is good. They execute their plays well and they also, again, I can't overstate the job that Kubiak and Shanahan do with their formations, with their personnel groupings, with their looks, with their complimentary plays, so that two plays look the same but they are not the same, one is a run, one is a pass, it makes hard to defend, it makes it hard to differentiate one from the other. They give you looks that it looks like it is going to be one thing but then it turns out to be something else. Then the next time it turns out to be a third thing but then it all gets executed pretty well. It is not like they are just slapping it out there. They do all of them. So it doesn't really matter which one you get, all three of them are a problem. Some teams might do one thing well and then the other one is. But they do a good job of all of it and they put it together in a package that is very challenging to defend both for your coaching staff, in our cases, for the coaches and also for the players.

**Q: Do they still do a lot of cutting and chop blocking?

BB:** They run the same offense they have run for the last 10 years. It changes every game, it changes every week but basically it is the same thing that they have been doing whether it was [John] Elway, Terrell Davis, Tony Jones at left tackle, take whoever you want. [Shannon] Sharpe was there. Sharpe was gone. Sharpe is back. Still it is the same.

**Q: How impressed were you with Mike Vrabel on Sunday?

BB:** Mike did a good job rushing the passer. He did a nice job rushing. We used him mainly in nickel situations. Fortunately we were able to put Cleveland in some long yardage situations and some of the schemes that we had there and the calls that Romeo had, there were some good opportunities for us to rush the passer but Mike did a nice job and knocked the ball out of the quarterback's hands a couple of times. That showed a lot of good awareness on his part.

**Q: Denver fans can still be very loud I am sure. Is it fair to say that nothing in Invesco could approximate to the old enclosed end at the old Mile High Stadium and the affect it could have in a game?

BB:** Yeah, well that south endzone was pretty loud down there in mile high and they had the metal seats and all it was like 80,000 fans clapping cymbals in that place. It rocked pretty loud. I will say when they got it going in the 2001 game out there in the third and fourth quarter when they made some plays and scored and came back into the game, that got pretty deafening too. I think it is like any other home stadium. But maybe a little bit more so in Denver when the team is playing well, when they are making plays, when they have got you on the run, they are loud, it is hard to hear, it is hard to think. If you are doing well and you are moving the ball and you are making plays, it is going to quiet down a little bit. I am sure at some point in the game we will hopefully deal with both scenarios. I am sure they will be loud. I am sure they will be enthusiastic and if they are running up and down the field on us and sacking us and turning the ball over and all of that, I am sure that it will be pretty loud there in Invesco too

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