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Bill Belichick Press Conf.Transcript 7/31/04

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Q: Coach, Christian Morton yesterday, he looked like he tightened up yesterday.

BB: Yes, he tightened up a little bit. He will probably be out for a couple of days.

Q: What was the focus yesterday?

BB: Just more installation, just moving along. We probably got nine days' worth of installation. Each day a little bit more goes in on both sides of the ball which means the plays that we ran yesterday we now have new looks that we are going to be facing with those in addition to the new installation going in on the respective sides. The multiples really start to add up. But each day there is a different phase or group of plays or protections or, as we get into it, situations that we will put in on a daily basis so we will have to cover it by the end of this coming week so we can go into the Philadelphia week with everything more or less in so that we can play the game and then we will add things to it.

Q: You re-signed Mike Cloud in the offseason and acquired Corey Dillon. Where can Mike possibly fit in with the offense this season?

BB: I don't think [signing] Corey really has a lot of affect on him. I think that Mike's situation is to try to get his performance and game up to the top level that he can. He will get plenty of opportunity. We liked working with Mike last year. He ended up missing all of training camp really and then he ended up missing the first month of the regular season. He never really had the fundamental background that everyone would have liked for him to have. There were circumstances that obviously prevented it. I think we are all looking forward to that, and we will just see where it goes. But I think Mike is a good player. I think that he will be able to contribute for us in the backfield, but then again he will have to earn that playing time with Kevin [Faulk] and Patrick [Pass] and Corey back there. We will see how that works out. I certainly think he will get a good opportunity to do it, let's put it that way. How it will all turn out? I don't know.

Q: He showed some things in a few games last year like the Tennessee game. Does that still carry some weight into this season?

BB: Well, he showed he could be effective with the ball in his hands and that was a positive for him over the course of the season. Some plays were better than others and there were some good ones in that game and they were big plays for us. Again, I think we are off to a whole new start with Mike this year. He has had a good offseason. He has trained hard, and I think he is in good condition and fundamentally he has had an opportunity to rep the things with the team through all of the passing camps and now in training camp just on a competitively even basis with everybody else. That is good for him and that makes the evaluation a lot easier when you are comparing apples to apples.

Q: Guss Scott and Cedric Cobbs signed yesterday?

BB: Yes.

Q: Will they be out on the field today?

BB: Scott practiced last night and Cobbs is on PUP.

Q: Coach, just your take on the officials and how they will be taking a closer look at the five-yard contact with the receivers. Are you kind of curious to see how all of that will unfold this season?

BB: Well, yes I think you always are. You want to see exactly what, verbally, the officials are going to do is one thing and then when you actually see the game and how the game is called, sometimes it is another. In this particular case, there has been no rule change. The rule is the same as it was. It hasn't been re-written. What the substance of what is in the rulebook isn't any different from this year to what it was last year. The closeness in which it is going to be called or emphasis or whatever word you want to put to it, I really don't know what that means. Sorry.

Q: Has there been any movement with the last un-signed draft pick?

BB: Well, it is not done yet. Again, I would really hate to characterize any of those negotiations, and I am not directly part of them, so I don't know. It could look like a guy is never going to get signed and he signs in an hour. It could look like he could get signed in an hour and you can never get him signed.

Q: The time that he has missed, is it crucial?

BB: Well, it is not helping him any. It is definitely not helping him any. Everybody is here. The previous years, everybody has been here within a day or so. This is a little bit of an unusual situation, since I have been here, that we would have a player in his situation that is not here.

Q: With Lonie Paxton still sidelined, how comfortable do you feel with Brian Sawyer taking over the long snapping duties?

BB: Brian has, obviously, done it in the past. He has some experience with it. Lonie is working his way back. I think that will be a competitive situation before it is over. We will see how it goes, practice is one thing and that is usually okay. It is in the games and the pressure situations where those guys really have to earn their stripes. So we will see what happens under fire. I think so far Brian has been fine. Like any rookie, he still has a lot of things he has to work on but he has some experience at the position, that is a skill. Lonie, of course, has three-and-a-half really good years for us but now he has to start at a different level and move back up there. We just see how all of that works itself out. I think it will be competitive at that spot.

Q: With Christian Fauria on PUP and [Benjamin] Watson unsigned, what does this camp mean for Daniel Graham? Does this allow him to get some separation from the others to solidify a spot for himself?

BB: Well, sure. I think every player that is out on the field has an opportunity to forge ahead for himself and create a role for himself with the opportunities that he is either being given or is earning depending on what the situation is. As you said, there are two guys who aren't participating. Fauria will be out there. He is pretty close. We will see what happens with the other guy [Benjamin Watson]. I think in Daniel's case, the big thing for him is just to focus on what he is doing and make the most of his own opportunities notwithstanding what anybody else does or doesn't do. Daniel has had an outstanding offseason. He was one of our offseason award winners. He has had really good production and performance in the camp that we have had. He is off to a good start in training camp even though it is very early. I won't be running up the pole with anything here, but it has all started off on a positive note. We will see where he can take it.

Q: What was the biggest thing for him that he needed to improve upon?

BB: I think the biggest thing would just be consistency. I think he has shown in two years that he can pretty much do everything that he is going to be asked to do, and he has done it, at some times better than others. That is his main focus, his overall consistency in his performance

Q: Do you think the fact that you drafted a tight end in the first round put a buzz in his ear maybe played a role in his approach to the offseason program?

BB: Not really. I really don't. I think he has approached it very professionally and he worked hard and was having a great offseason before the draft happened. I don't know. You would have to ask him that. Maybe it did. I don't know. I think that we have an awful lot of offensive plays where we have more than one tight end on the field and depending on the quality of the players at that position relative to the performance of players at other positions that could increase or decrease. Again, that is all up to the people who are out there playing and the competition will take care of itself. What role each player creates for himself based on his performance and his value to the team is kind of what training camp is for. Daniel will have every opportunity to do it, and I think he has so far gotten off to a really good start going all the way back to March.

Q: Any possibilities of doing some different kind of things with the personnel that you do have, you do have a lot of running backs?

BB: Sure, I think we will try to get the best players on the field and depending on how we are being defended, try to create some kind of attack that we think can put pressure on different points of the defensive system that we think could be vulnerable on a week-to-week basis. We have always done that formationally. I think there is a good level of skill at the different positions, receiver, tight end and running back. We use some of those combinations. One thing we are interested in seeing is how some of those different combinations look on the practice field, if they create some problems for the defense, how much of a problem does it create for us and how easy is it for us to work around some of the situations that it could present on our side of it not having a fullback in the game or not having a second tight end in the game. That is something that we will have to get comfortable with as well.

Q: In 30 years you have coached a lot of guys. Where does David Patten fit in as far as enthusiasm and work ethic and getting the concept that you guys as a coaching staff try to fulfill?

BB: David is an upbeat guy. He has a really positive attitude. We all know the story of him bagging groceries and all of that. I think he has an appreciation for the game, for his opportunity in the NFL, and he comes to work everyday with a smile on his face and a great attitude. He is one of the best team players I have been around. He is very upbeat and a real positive guy. He is fun to be around.

Q: You had J.J. Stokes kind of in and out the door last year. Then you re-signed him in the offseason. What was it that you might have seen in him last year with the team?

BB: J.J. has had a lot of production in his career. He is a big receiver. He has good hands. He has had a lot of production in the red area and [in] tough-catching situations, tight situations where he can use his size and his hands and his overall receiving experience and technique. I think that relative to the people that we have here, and relative to J.J.'s skills, that he can be very competitive in our situation and he showed that in our spring camps, which primarily the emphasis was in the passing game and he was very productive out there in terms of getting open, catching the ball, making good decisions and adjustments in the passing game. They come pretty naturally to him. He has had a lot of experience doing it going all the way back to college at UCLA. When J.J. got to us to last year and he was in and out a little bit, again, his overall background his was a little bit similar to the Mike Cloud situation, his overall background and conditioning and experience in our system at that point really enabled him to catch up with the rest of the players who had already had that. This year is a whole different story. He is even with, if not ahead of, most of the players at his position when you look at everything, his total amount of experience and also his now understanding and experience in our system; not just league experience but actually experiencing running the plays that we run against the different things we see.

Q: Mike Shanahan said that when they won consecutive Super Bowl's, the league suddenly started looking at chop blocks. He obviously thought they were singled out. Do you feel that in anyway you were targeted in this offseason as far as the secondary is concerned from a rules standpoint?

BB: I don't know. I really haven't given it too much thought. Whatever the rules are, we're going to play by them and try to get the best advantage of them we can and play within them. [We are going to] try to understand them so we don't intentionally violate them. Some penalties are going to happen, we all know that, but you don't want to be coaching something or doing something that officials are going to look at and call you on. They're going to force you to change it, so you might as well see that and make the change ahead of time. We'll see how it goes. I don't know if we're being singled out or anything. I doubt it.

Q: What makes Dan Klecko so versatile?

BB: I would say number one he has good athletic ability and size. Those two things make him potentially involved in a lot of different situations. He is also a very instinctive player. I think the game comes relatively easy to him, or naturally to him. He picks things up pretty quickly, so when you ask a guy to do some different things there are a lot of things that can happen. Sometimes you can't, without going over and over and over and over it, you can't anticipate and show the player all those things. But if he is instinctive and has some versatility and it comes naturally to him, then sometimes he can see the few things that happen to him. Then you can kind of go over with him some of the other things that might happen without actually doing them, and there's a pretty good chance that he would react in the proper way when they happen. I would say it is a combination of those things. Now, on the defensive side of the ball he did some of those things in college. He played end. He played tackle. He pretty much played all the way across the line, at Temple, from the end all the way to center so he's pretty much lined up in all of those spots. Now he's playing on his feet, so that's a little bit of an adjustment for him until he goes down in passing situations. In the kicking game, some of that's different in terms of the actual protection and that kind of thing, but the chasing the guy with the ball and tackling him and all of that, those are still really defensive skills. Offensively, he played fullback in high school. So, in some of the areas he has some background, in others he doesn't. Overall, it seems like the game comes fairly naturally to him.

Q: Are you just trying to get Dan Klecko on the field?

BB: No, if he is there it is because he has earned it. He is there because he is better than somebody else. Any time a player creates a role for himself it doesn't mean necessarily that the player who's doing that is better than everybody else at doing it, but when you can only take 45 active players to the game, and if one guy can do five things second best on the team than five different guys, you just run out of people. So, that can have a lot of value in itself to be versatile. Versatility and durability are two of the most important things in the National Football League. I don't think they can be overstated. That being said, I'm not saying that everybody who has a job out there is the best at it, at that particular thing, and I tell the players that all the time. You know, if you can only be good at one thing, you'd better be really, really, really good at it, and it better make a difference in the game, or we can't afford it. It just doesn't come up that much. If you can do a lot of things pretty well, in the end you've probably created more value for the team than you have if you can just do one thing, if you can just run one route or just play one position in a certain situation, unless you can justify that situation coming up a lot of times, or, it's such a critical player, like a field goal kicker. Maybe he is only out there half a dozen times a game, but those plays win and lose games so that justifies it. You can't say that about everything. We start talking about two or three quarterbacks, a kicker, a punter, a long snapper…now you're down to the 30's already. Those spots get eaten up in a hurry.

Q: When did the idea of using Mike Vrabel as a tight end come about? Did he play that position in college or high school?

BB: Yes, in high school. Going back to the '01 season, we only had two tight ends on the roster in '01. We used a number of different people at tight end. We bumped offensive linemen out. We used Mike in there a little bit. We've also used defensive players in the backfield. We had [Bryan] Cox at fullback. We had [Dan] Klecko. We had [Richard] Seymour. We had different people doing those things. Again, depending on what the depth of your team is, if you only have a couple of tight ends or you only have a fullback, when you get into those situations sometimes it is easier to take a player who is more of that size type of athlete, that 250 to 270 type of guy and play him in one of those roles. Obviously Seymour is bigger than that, but he's pretty athletic that he can fulfill those roles in a short yardage situation or that type of thing. So, that's really how it came out, and Mike's done a good job with it. He's been productive in practice. He always comes back to the huddle and tells you he's open. There could be eight guys on him, but in his mind he was wide open. He's got a lot of confidence in himself, and Mike takes a lot of pride in what you ask him to do, whatever it is, whether it's the punt team, whether it's kickoff return, whether it's short yardage and goal line or a defensive play. Mike's well prepared, and kind of like we were talking about with Dan, he is smart, he is instinctive, he picks up things quickly. I think the game comes pretty easily to him. He'll be a good coach some day.

Q: Were you looking at using Troy Brown as your nickel back yesterday?

BB: Troy took a couple of snaps on defense.

Q: Was it a personnel thing?

BB: Again, we've done that from time to time in some of our prevent situations on defense. When I was with the Jets we used Keyshawn [Johnson] back there. We've used [Christian] Fauria in some of those situations. We ended up using [David] Givens a couple of years ago in preseason. He played some corner. Again, it's something we'll maybe take a look at situationally or again in a certain situation where you have prevent-type defense or a multiple defensive back situation that that's really what the situation calls for. It could be something that might have application at some point.

Q: Do you have the luxury of teaching offensive players things they may never use during camp?

BB: If you can't justify the value of it, then there's no point in doing it. If it is an important enough situation…we've all seen teams lose a game at the end when somebody lobs up a Hail Mary and the offense catches it. If you don't have somebody that can, again, going back to the Jets thing with Keyshawn, it was worth it.

Q: You might have been close to doing that in the Super Bowl there at the safety position near the end of the game.

BB: We were really close. Again, a couple of years ago in preseason we ended up with Givens playing corner. When you only have so many players on your roster, if somebody can give you depth at another position, sometimes it's using an offensive lineman on defense on a goal line…play it in reverse as a big guy on a goal line to try to penetrate the line of scrimmage, things like that. If there's somebody that can do that, whether that's their background or whether you look at them and say physically and mentally I think that they could do this for us. Now, or sometime in camp, is usually a good time to take a look at it and experiment with it. I don't think you want to get into the middle of the season and say, 'Gee, what if we put so and so over here where he's never played before? I wonder how that will work.' Then you go into the game and find out that it doesn't work. That is not really the way to do it.

Q: Talk about the development of Deion Branch and David Givens as receivers.

BB: I think there is a good contrast with both players. Branch started out pretty productively his rookie year and came from a relatively sophisticated college passing offense. He had a good quarterback there, a good offensive system, played a number of different spots outside in the slot and so forth and was productive for us his rookie year, particularly early in his rookie year, the first half of the season. He played solidly last year and made a lot of key plays in a lot of situations, both in possession-type situations and down the field whether it be the Denver game or what have you. Givens, on the other hand, came from a system that wasn't as sophisticated. He had a lot more refinement in his game that he needed to work on in terms of the route-running techniques and reading defenses and making pattern adjustments and those kinds of things. David has worked hard. He is a smart kid. He has been one of our hardest workers these past couple of years. He's been an offseason award recipient just as an indication of what kind of effort he's put into the offseason. His game really came on particularly at the end of the season last year. He's a much bigger, more physical player than Branch is. He's learned a little bit how to use that to his advantage as a strength and not how to be neutralized by players who are defending him that can't match up to that. He has found a way to use that as a strength to create opportunities for himself and make some plays with it. Both guys have come along, maybe a little bit differently, but nonetheless they've come along and both were strong contributors for us last year. David has done a good job for us in the kicking game as well both in coverage and as a blocker in the return game. He's got some size and is a physical player for his position. He has some versatility.

Q: It seems like Tom Brady kept a lower profile this offseason. Did you welcome that?

BB: When I've seen Tom, Tom's worked hard. Tom has put in every hour of every day that any other player this offseason has put in here in the last three years. He works hard on the field. He works hard off the field. He's well prepared. I think he's one of the guys that really sets the pace for everybody else. That was true after the '01 season, it was true after the '02 season, it was true after last season. If you're talking about keeping a low profile as in visiting the Pope and stuff like that, hosting the Playboy party out there at the ESPY's, I don't know. Players in that position, they're going to do stuff like that, and whenever they do anything it will be written up by, if not the sports writers, the society writers. I'm just saying, in my observation of Tom he's been as consistent as any player I've been around in terms of his work ethic, his preparation, his diligence. It really hasn't been too affected, at least I haven't seen it be affected very much, by the results of the previous game, the previous season, the weather. He's there to work hard to get better to help the team improve. He's not just working for himself. He's working with other people so he can help improve their game whether it be the receivers or the tight ends or whoever it is.

Q: What does it say about his upbringing and his family that he stays as grounded as he is?

BB: He's pretty solid, yes. He's pretty solid. I think you have to give a lot of credit to, not only him like you say, but to the entire family and all that they stand for. It's an impressive family.

Q: Which kind of situation precipitates what type of receiver you put back there in terms of height and ball skills?

BB: I think in the end, being a receiver comes down to two things in the passing game. It comes down to getting open and catching the ball. You can do it with quickness. You can do it with size. You can do it with savvy and experience, and we can all find plenty of players in all those categories. In the end, that's what it comes down to. One without the other isn't any good. [If] a player doesn't do one of those things very well, in the end he's probably not going to have the kind of production another player will, regardless of how the other player does it. If the player can get open and catch the ball consistently, he's going to have value in the passing game. Now, some guys are better outside receivers, some guys are better inside receivers, some guys may be better at one type of route versus another. But if you can do that, then you've got something to work with and the quarterback's going to throw him the ball. If they're not open, you can't throw it to him. If they don't consistently catch it, you're going to lose a lot of plays just because you can't make the play.

Q: What determines what kind of player you flip from offense to defense, whether it's a receiver like Keyshawn Johnson or Troy Brown?

BB: I think it's more about what you're asking him to do specifically because it would probably be a very specific job there. The corner has to force the run. He's got to play possession routes. He's got to cover long routes. He's got a million things to do just like any other position. If you're just putting a guy in for a specific role, then the player you put in there, the requirements of the role might tell you which guy it needs to be. I think what Troy does as a slot receiver compliments the skills of the person on the other side of the ball that will be defending him, put it that way.

Q: Can you tell us about the status of the new guys you signed last night (Gus Scott and Cedric Cobbs)?

BB: Gus Scott, the status on him is that he practiced yesterday afternoon. He's out there. He was here for the whole spring. He was pretty well indoctrinated into the system. He's missed some time here recently, but hopefully he'll be able to make that up and catch back up with everybody else. We'll see. Cedric (Cobbs) is on PUP at this time. As soon as he's ready he'll be out there, and we're looking forward to having him on the field. He's also worked hard, but he's just not quite ready to go yet

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