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Bill Belichick Press Conf. Transcript - 8/17/2003

Belichick: When you are on the field defensively for 36 minutes, it’s hard to win unless you have a lot of big plays and we had enough to get us through last night which was good, but it is going to be hard to count on that every week.



BB: I think some of the same sentiments that I had last night are still in place. When you are on the field defensively for 36 minutes, it's hard to win unless you have a lot of big plays and we had enough to get us through last night which was good, but it is going to be hard to count on that every week. The turnover ratio was in our favor and we made a couple of plays in the kicking game that helped offset some of that, particularly time possession and third down conversions. Injury wise, it looks like [Damien] Woody has got a bruise. There are some other bumps and bruises but nothing really substantial to report at this time. That's pretty much it. Just overall, we were too inconsistent. But there were some positive plays to work from, to build off of. Overall defensively, I thought we hung in there, it wasn't perfect, but we hung in there considering the amount of time they were out on the field.

Q: Watching from TV, it was hard to see everything.

BB: It was hard to see it from the field.

Q: [Laughter] But you have seen it again since then. My question is, have you given any thought yet to putting Richard Seymour back at nose tackle full time?

BB: No, not really.

Q: Are you satisfied with the job that you are getting from the other guys that are playing at the nose right now?

BB: I think it's okay, like a lot of things it can be better. A lot of things can be better on defense. I think it's okay.

Q: It just looked like they were making a lot of yards in the first half up the middle. And that the linebackers were having to make tackles five or six yards past the line of scrimmage and the runner had not been sort of slowed down.

BB: Some of the yardage came up the middle. Some of it came off of tackle and came in that crease there between the end of the linebacker and the linebacker and the fourth guy. There were some in all of those spots. I agree.

Q: Do you think right now, that it looks to you like the pass defense is maybe ahead of the run defense?

BB: I think at this point you just keep working on everything. We're not going to know until we get to the regular season when teams start scheming you and trying to take advantage of what they think your weaknesses are. I don't really know. I think we have work to do in both areas and that is what we are going to try to do is to sure everything up.

Q: Did you feel there was a step backwards for Rohan Davey last night? Obviously, you wanted to take a long look at him and you gave him the whole second half. I know it wasn't just him, but there was just nothing happening offensively.

BB: No. Not until the last time we had the ball. That was very poor offensive output in the second half all the way across the board and the quarterback is certainly part of it. We couldn't make a first down. It wasn't at all what we were looking for. I definitely don't want to single him out and say well that was the whole problem. It was a collective problem and he was part of it.

Q: The fact that he did start the second half and did get the whole second half, I suppose we shouldn't read into it that he's moved ahead of Damon [Huard]? Is it a situation where you know what Damon can do and you want to let the younger guy get a good long look at this point? What was the reasoning behind that?

BB: Well, Damon went in first after the Giants game. We switched it around and we didn't have very many plays in the second half offensively. We did keep Rohan in there, I think it was only about 11 or 12 plays until the last drive that we played offensively. Most of our plays in the second half, a lot of them, came in that one last drive, I don't know, it was like seven or eight plays whatever it was, before we tried the field goal at the two minute warning. We just wanted to let him have some plays and it took quite awhile before we could even get as many as we did.

Q: How do you weigh a performance like Bethel Johnson's as a kick returner when he fumbles the ball three times on the same play and the next time he goes 98-yards for a touchdown?

BB: Well, those inconsistencies are what good players have to get out of their game. We've seen Bethel's talent and he has flashed some big plays. Plays like that, fortunately Mike Vrabel made an outstanding play to recover the ball. That play could have easily gone the other way and been the play that cost you the game. Instead the kickoff return, that was definitely part of the difference in the game. We have got to eliminate those and Bethel has got to eliminate those inconsistencies from his game. He has shown that he has the skill to make the big plays for us as well, keep the big plays in and take those negative ones out, that is what we are all looking for.

Q: What did you like the most that you saw from your team last night?

BB: I thought we showed some improvement in the running game offensively. I thought that defensively we had some staying power, we were on the field a long time but we played hard and kept hustling and were able to hold the offensive production to 13 points given all the time that we were out there. I would say those were the positives on the offensive and defensive side of the ball. In the kicking game We made some big plays in the game, the kickoff return, the turnover on the punt, but uncharacteristically we left opportunities to score points out on the field and didn't convert them. That would be my summation of the special teams performance.

Q: Was there any concern about Adam [Vinatieri] missing a few? I can't remember if he had [Daniel] Pope as the holder on several of those or if it was Ken Walter. Were there any problems with snaps?

BB: Both players held and it just comes down to execution. It's a team sport. It's team execution. He gets all the credit when he makes them, but there are other people involved and if he doesn't make them, there are other people involved there too. It's a collective operation. All the way around, we need to do a better job of snapping, holding, kicking, protecting, the hold, the whole thing needs to be a little bit better than it was for it to be consistently successful, not just hit or miss.

Q: Does either punter separate himself from the other guy at this point?

BB: I don't think so. I think last night was a pretty good indication of where we are and where it has been. In the first preseason game, in a scrimmage type of situation, in the practices, it's been pretty competitive, it's pretty close. That's pretty much the way it looked to me the way it was last night.

Q: How much of a factor is the fact that Adam, and this isn't blaming Pope for what happened, is familiar with Ken Walter and has worked with him for the better part of two years now? How much does that play in Ken's favor?

BB: Well, it doesn't hurt him any. We've changed holders before and the last time we changed holders that was supposedly a big deal. It hasn't turned out that way. Actually, some of Adam's best kicking has been after we changed holders in 2001 after the San Diego game. A lot of his good kicking has come after that. It's important. I think both players, both Dan and Ken, are good holders and don't forget that Damond Huard held for [Olindo] Mare's consecutive field goal streak in Miami. I think we have three players on the team that can hold. It's hard to keep a player on the roster because he is a holder. He's got to be able to do something else besides that.

Q: What were your thoughts on how Antowain Smith played last night?

BB: I thought Antowain ran hard. I think Antowain has been consistent in the entire training camp and in the first two games and it can still be better. I think he's running hard.

Q: Did you see any reads out there that Antowain may have been better off taking or did he seem to make most of the decisions that seemed to make sense given the blocking and the way the defensive was lined up?

BB: I think he got pretty much what was there. I think he got what was there. We got the touchdown play blocked pretty well that he scored on. I think it was the second or third play of the game, that was blocked pretty cleanly and he split the line of scrimmage on that. I can't remember him having any negative runs, which is always good. At least we are making positive yardage and hit a couple of big ones here and there, big in terms of double-digits type runs. I thought our running game overall started to show signs of consistency.

Q: In line with that, how did Tom Ashworth look?

BB: Tom did a pretty solid job at right tackle. We didn't have a lot of problems over there. We had one screw up that cost us a sack but it was really more of a technique thing right now. Overall, I thought it was okay.

Q: Is Kenyatta [Jones] any where close to coming back?

BB: Closer. He is closer.

Q: But not close enough for Philadelphia, I would assume?

BB: At this point, I would be surprised if he was there for Philadelphia. But, you never want to count anybody out especially guys that are making good progress like Kenyatta. Sometimes those things turn around a little quicker than you think they will. I am not saying he is out, but my gut instinct would be that it wouldn't be this week, with a slight window that it could. Is that good or is that too much of a hedge?

Q: How did [Dan] Koppen look and is Damien Woody out of the Philadelphia game probably?

BB: I don't know about Damien. He has got a bruised leg so we will see how that comes along. I thought Koppen held up okay. He had a penalty on the false start on the shotgun snap.

Q: Was he calling the fronts and everything?

BB: Yes. He could make the identification and all of that, again, especially with [Mike] Compton in there, which he was part of the time, with some other experienced players. I thought Dan held up pretty good. It wasn't perfect. I think he could do better. Overall, not bad, stepping in there on the sixth or seventh play of the game, whatever it was, and going the whole way. I thought it was a good solid performance. If he can continue to keep working and get better at a few little things, I think that in two or three weeks, maybe we would have some confidence that he could go in the regular season and be able to hold his own.

Q: Have you gotten a big enough sampling yet, from your first offense to draw any long-term conclusions or will that probably come against Philly this week?

BB: Any long-term conclusions?

Q: For instance, 'I am going to go with this guy as my starting running back,' or 'this guy looks like he should run with the first team at wide receiver or right tackle.'

BB: Well, I think some positions are a little more defined than others. There are still some positions where, right, we're still looking at. We haven't made a final decision on some other positions and we are going to continue to evaluate them as we go, although clearly time is getting short. I think some positions are pretty well set. Part of moving people around is to see how things all function with different combinations in there and also to build our own depth so if in the event we need to go to the third receiver or the sixth linemen or the third tight end, whatever it is, we see how they work in the other guys in that unit.

Q: I was thinking of two plays in particular last night. One was the throw behind Troy Brown by [Tom] Brady on third down. The other was the throw that glanced off of Troy's hand on, I think, another third down. Those plays there, I supposed they prevent you from getting more reps from your first team offense and keeping them on the field?

BB: Absolutely.

Q: From one hand you say, 'Okay, we blocked it okay. We ran the route okay. We got separation okay. But we just didn't execute the end.' Does that end up being a check mark or do you say everything stinks because we didn't get the end of it done?

BB: Well, it all comes down to the final product. We talk about it all the time. You can do nine things right on a play and do one thing wrong and it still be a bad play. For example, dropping the ball. Defensively, you can do nine things right and then miss the tackle. It doesn't matter if you did all of those other things and put yourself in position, you have to be able to finish the play. Finishing plays is just as important as putting yourself in position to make them. It's a lot easier to finish them when you are in position. If you can consistently get in the right spot, that definitely helps you out. Being a good finisher, that is being a good football player. Some guys get in position more often than not, but just aren't as good at finishing. It's definitely not a check mark, although, again, if you can put yourself in that spot more often than not over the long haul, that will work to your advantage. But sooner or later, you are going to have to catch the ball or you are going to have to make the tackle or you are going to have to finish the play finish the block, finish the run, whatever it is, for it to be a successful play.

Q: Do you take some consolation that, so far in this preseason offensively, your guys are in the right positions, I guess? While you are not getting a lot of reps out there and you are not having huge drives but at least the guys are in positions and it's just a matter of rhythm and timing to be corrected you think?

BB: Well, I think it could be corrected, but I don't think it is going to be corrected unless we correct it. Nobody is going to do it for us and whatever is wrong out there, the only people that can fix it, is us. Can it happen? Sure. Is it going to happen? Well that remains to be seen. That's what we have to do. Offensive football is all about consistency. One bad play can stop any drive. I don't just mean a turnover, it could be a penalty. It could be a dropped ball. It could be a missed block that ends up in a negative play. It could be a bad throw on a third down. It could be any of those things. You could have a lot of things going along pretty good, but inconsistent play offensively is going to prevent you from ever being able to stay on the field and have long drives. Sooner or later, you will knock yourself out of one of them. That is something that we need to eliminate. Any good defensive football team will continue to challenge you often enough where they are going to make a few plays, but then if you have a couple of bad ones in there on your own without any help from the opponent, then it's just tough to have any kind of consistency moving the ball offensively. The only thing that bailed us out last night, was a couple of big plays and we had a couple against the Giants too, and that good and you are always looking for those big plays. But if you ever get into a situation where you don't have them, and you are not getting that same kind of consistent offensive performance, converting third downs, scoring in the red area, keeping the second and third down yardage short, then you might be looking at a tough day.

Q: Last question on that, are you going to really stress this week and into the game that the offense doesn't really come out until it's shown that it's in a rhythm, in a groove because the fourth preseason game is generally…

BB: That's a good question. I think really what we have to do is, we have to play this preseason game to accomplish a number of goals and objectives and that is certainly one of them would be to have the group playing with consistency but on the other hand, there are still people we need to look at. We have a 16-game regular season schedule and you don't want to make a mistake on your personnel evaluations and keep the wrong guys. That just keeps you from getting better during the year. You want to balance that out with the evaluation and get your team as ready as you can and get the players playing together and consistently as much as possible in preseason. Again, it's an ongoing process. It would be unusual to have it accomplished in the second preseason game anyway for the third or the fourth; it's always going to be a work I progress until everybody gets to that proverbial mid-season form. Let's face it, that is a different level of play in October and November for a lot of different reasons than it is in August. You want to get there as quickly as you can, but it is a work in progress for every team.

Q: How did Ty Warren look to you last night? Did he make any progress? Was he up against tougher opposition than he was the previous week?

BB: I would say the competitive level of the opponents was good in both games. I think Ty has played solidly. Again, [he did] some things better than others, certainly room for improvement. There is room for improvement. A lot of things he did were good. Hopefully they will continue to be better. He is going to help us.

Q: Have you decided if Antowain will start on Friday or is it going to be Kevin [Faulk]?

BB: I have not made a decision on that. I haven't really even talked about it. Whatever it is, we will continue to get both players an opportunity to show what they can do in the early part of the game. Who is going to start and how that is going to go, I don't know.

Q: Is there any conclusions that you can draw based off of the two games on Dan Klecko and where he may be better suited?

BB: I think that the more things he can do, the more valuable he becomes. I think that his natural position, for what we are going to be asking him to do, is more inside than at the outside linebacker. We played him out there situationally in some of these games, to give him a chance to play and there may be times when he ends up out there. If you were to say what is his first position, I would say inside more than the outside linebacker spot even though he has had some playing time there. That was an opportunity to get him on the field and see what he could do, which overall was positive. In the long run, I think that he is going to end up being more of an inside player for us

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