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Bill Belichick Press Conf. Transcript 8/3/04

We had a couple of guys get back to practice yesterday, Lawrence Flugence, Jarvis Green and Buck Rasmussen. It is good to see a few guys back.



BB: We had a couple of guys get back to practice yesterday, Lawrence Flugence, Jarvis Green and Buck Rasmussen. It is good to see a few guys back. I think that, as I said a few days ago, we have a group that is very close and talking to some of them again this morning, watching them work out there yesterday afternoon and a little bit this morning even in the weight room, I think that we have a lot of guys that are really close. I am hopeful we will get some reinforcements back out there soon. We kind of broke it up a little bit this morning with some of the younger guys getting an opportunity to get more reps. I think it has helped us. It certainly helped them not just watching other people do it but actually getting out there and doing it themselves. We have done that a couple of times here in camp and I think that has worked out pretty well for us. That is the deal this morning. We will be in the stadium tonight. We will be doing some situational things. We will be doing some kicking in here, trying to get acclimated to a little bit more of the team game rather than everything just being segmented. We will try to do some first down, second down, third down progressive type things and plug in some things in the kicking game to try to not only evaluate the team but also get them accustomed to some of the situational plays that come up in the kicking game, not just the conventional ones as we build towards preparing to actually play a game. That is where we are. There are more things going in everyday. It is probably more of a grind everyday and that is training camp. I love it.

Q: The alternate practices, is that because of this team or something that you believe in?

BB: Our schedule is the same as it was last year. The two-a-days and the one-a-days, then the two-a-days, alternately to facilitate having a good solid meeting before every practice that a] we can cover the film from the previous practice and it doesn't back up like it does when you have two practices and one night meeting and then b) to have enough time to install what is going in for the next meeting. That was always a problem and I have been through a lot of camps that way but that was always a problem. You get to the night meeting after two practices and you have a lot of film that you want to show with a lot of good teaching there and then you have things that you need to install to be able to go out and practice them the next day. On top of that, the players have been on the field for five-and-a- half/six hours during the day and it is getting later at night, their attention span with the coaches is, at that point, staggering. So, the quality of it just wasn't as good. Then when it was one a day, then two a day, then one a day that whole thing, we talked about it last year and did it and it was brought by other coaches on the staff that had experience with it and we really talked our way through it. It seemed like a good idea and we did it and I think we all feel good about it. Not just me, but the other coaches on the staff, the players, collectively. You have 24-hours in a day, you are using them to eat, sleep and get ready for football in one form or another. We just feel like this is a more productive use of our time. It is not about what this team needs or about what some other team needs. We just feel that for us it is efficient. I am not saying that is right for another team or not right.

Q: You have a veteran team that has been around your system for a while. How much new do you put in, particularly on offense?

BB: Offensively and defensively there are a decent percentage of new things, I don't know, 15, 20 percent. More importantly you have new people. Even if it is the exact same stuff as we had last year and there were no changes, you still have a lot of new people now that are going to be involved in that system plus you are trying to evaluate the younger players on your roster to see what they can do. So, you still have to go back and go through a lot of the same process. Now, you get in a situation like we had today where Charlie [Weis] and Romeo [Crennel] were working with the veteran players. Now, we got some things covered with them that, in all honesty, they are ahead of the less experienced players on and those are situations that those guys will be able to handle better than the younger guys who really need more time on the fundamentals. Other than a few exceptions like that, it is really the same process and you have to build it all the way through. When new players have to interact with veteran players in the system, it still comes down to how well the team can function at a particular time in a certain situation and get the whole communication and play executed the way it needs to happen.

Q: With Rodney Bailey going on injury reserve, how much does that change your plans for the defense?

BB: Well, it is a tough break. Rodney worked hard and we really like Rodney. I thought he had a real good offseason. It is unfortunate and it is a tough break. It is unfortunate for him and he is a good player. We are moving on. There is nothing we can do about it unfortunately. I hope he will have a good recovery and we expect that he will but that won't be for a while. So, we will just take that in due course.

Q: What day did he get hurt? Do you know?

BB: Well all the days run together, I don't know, Friday. I think it was Friday.

Q: How does it change what you had hoped to do with maybe a rotation at the end?

BB: Well we haven't set on any kind of rotation or anything. As I said with all the positions, we put the players out there, we evaluate them, we let them work together and we let the roles developed based on how the players perform and how the different combinations look to us. We weren't set on anything. We would evaluate it. We were looking forward to it. That just won't be an option for us.

Q: How is Dan Klecko adjusting to linebacker?

BB: Good. I think Dan had adjusted well. We talked a little bit about it this morning. I think he is feeling better about it each day. The more reps he gets, the more times he sees things repetitively, the more comfortable he is with them like we all would be. The first time or two, there is maybe a little bit of hesitation, 'Should I do this?' Now that he has seen it and he has done it and he has confidence in it, he is doing well. I think he is doing fine. For a guy who has never really played on his feet, other than a little bit last year where we were kind of blitzing him most of the time in pass coverage, which is the big thing for him. I think that it looks pretty good, really, all things considered.

Q: He will still play down at linebacker?

BB: Sure. Yes. He has the ability to play down and there will be situations where I am sure you will see his hand on the ground in addition to his roles in the kicking game and whatever he does offensively.

Q: Is that why he is staying at 275 pounds right now and maybe not coming down more closely to what the other linebackers are?

BB: I am not sure exactly where he is right now. I don't think he is that. I don't think he is 275.

Q: Is he bigger than that? 275?

BB: No. He is less than that.

Q: So, he could get a quarterback jersey? [Laughter]

BB: [Laughter] Yes, we could put him in the teens.

Q: How does Corey Dillon look running the ball?

BB: Corey looks good. He looks good. I think he is adapting well to the things that we do, some of which are different than things he has done in the past. I think he is seeing things well, protection and assignments and that is coming along. He should be a factor for us in the passing game. I like what Corey has done. He has worked hard and he is a powerful guy. He is a very explosive runner.

Q: Does he have good hands?

BB: He does have good hands. He catches the ball well. I don't think that is a problem at all.

Q: You have been part of successful organizations before, but now given the amount of sustained success that you have had, has it been that much more difficult given the amount player movement that is so prevalent now in the league?

BB: That is what it is. It is not going to change. I think you just deal with the conditions that you are playing in or coaching in, whatever the case might be, and just deal with them. I really don't worry about it. As I have said before, I think if you probably look at any team and look back at their roster five years ago, you are probably going to see a 75 percent turnover on just about every roster. In some cases it is going to be more than that. That is what it is. It is a little bit like a college environment. In talking to coaches like [Nick] Saban and Pat Hill and guys like that, they talk about the turnover on their team and it is very similar to the turnover that we have on our team with a few exceptions. Obviously every team is going to have players that will be with their organization longer than five years. But statistically, there are not a whole lot of them.

Q: Has the role of the NFL coach become the same as that of a college coach?

BB: It is just a little bit different that is all. I don't think it is lesser or greater or whatever. It is just a little bit different. Every person on the team has a job to do. A coach has a job to do. The quarterback has a job to do. The left guard has a job to do. The middle linebacker has a job to do. I can't do his. They can't do mine. They can't do each other's. They have to do theirs. How the team comes together and everybody is able to perform in their role and maximize their capacity in their role, that is what having a good team is all about. Nobody is doing anything that anybody else is doing and I don't think it is ever going to be that way.

Q: What are the top priorities for Klecko or any lineman to grasp to be able to make the adjustment from hand on the ground to linebacker?

BB: Well, the two biggest adjustments are 1) pass coverage and 2) seeing and reacting to more people. When you are lined up on the line of scrimmage with a hand on the ground you are usually about 'this' far away from your opponent and things happen quicker. Fewer people can really get to your position than when you are back further off the ball you can be threatened by more people, different angles, it happens slower, but there are a lot more multiples. Then, when you get into pass coverage and they have five receivers, you have seven defenders, there are a lot of combinations there, a lot of different routes, a lot of different coverages, a lot of different matchups. The multiples of those are almost infinite. Those things are different than the way that a player with his hand on the ground sees the initial part of the play. The longer the play develops, then probably the more common ground you have. You are running to the ball. You are tackling. You are playing leverage on the runner, the guy with the ball, using their help, using the sideline, avoiding blockers, all that kind of thing. The later in the down the play is, then the more similar playing up and playing down are. Initially there is a big difference and those initial keys and recognition, you are just dealing with a lot more people when you are on your feet.

Q: Is it a feel thing? Is it instinctual thing or do you have to know exactly where you are supposed to be?

BB: I think it is a combination of both. You certainly have to know what you are doing. You have to know what your assignments are. Even if you recognize the play, if you don't do the right thing or fit properly in a team defensive system, then the system is going to break down. Instinctively, that is a big part of the game too. Guys have to make multiple decisions on every play whether to take on a guy whether they can slip him, whether they have an angle to play over the top of them when they have to play underneath them, whether they can tell by a player's stance or his initial reaction that it is a run or a pass or he is pulling or whatever it is. There is a lot of that instinctiveness that goes with it. There is no getting away from the assignments. You just can't put 11 guys out there and let them run around and think that everything is going to work. There has to be some coordination within that group at this level anyway.

Q: With the veterans such as Otis Smith and Jeff Burris that have been released in this camp, what does it mean to have someone like Terrell Buckley in the backfield?

BB: It is good. I think Terrell and some of the other veteran players back there, Tyrone [Poole], Rodney [Harrison], and those guys, that it is a good mix. We have some young players, and then we have some guys that have played a lot of games in the NFL, not necessarily all of them for the Patriots, but they have a lot of NFL experience and a lot of Patriots experience, too, at least in the last couple of years. I think that is kind of a good blend. The young guys have people they can learn from, and I think our young players in this group have shown to this point, I know it's early, that they are receptive to that. They have their ears open. They listen to what the veterans say, and they take the advice that those guys give them and try to apply it. I think they are starting to develop a decent working relationship between the veteran group and the rookie, first-year type group. And we have a long way to go. I'm not ready to stamp that as anything, but I think we are off to a good start with it.

Q: As a coach, what kind of comfort does it give you to have Terrell Buckley back there?

BB: I am glad we have him. I would rather have him than not have him. We have tried to have him the last…this is the fourth year. We have tried to have him all four years, and it has worked out in varying degrees there from year to year. Terrell is a smart player. He is a very heady and instinctive player. He sees things very well, particularly in pass coverage. Sometimes he doesn't always do it in the most orthodox or best-technique way, but he knows how to play. [He is] similar but different than Everson Walls, another player that I coached with the Giants who did not exactly do it by the book but, you know, was pretty good with 50-some career interceptions and all of that. He was a pretty good player, but if you had a young player you would not say, 'You want to do it exactly like this guy.' That really was not Everson's thing. Like I said, Terrell does some things very well. Technically, other things he has his own style on, but the bottom line is he is a productive player and he really knows how to play. He is a smart player.

Q: When you played Miami last year, did you have to scheme against Terrell Buckley?

BB: Miami, they play a lot of man-to-man coverage. As we all know, they have very good corners. They are very good defensively. I think you just have to be aware of the matchups and try to beat them. It is hard. They had a lot of good players. He [Terrell Buckley] primarily played in the slot for them last year with [Patrick] Surtain and [Sam] Madison playing outside, although there were times he did play outside when Surtain played in the slot. He has done both, so he has some versatility. In the '01 season he played inside for us a lot. He has also played on the perimeter, more in '02 than '01, but has done both and is doing both now. It gives you some flexibility, gives you some experience. [Buckley] has consistently been a playmaker throughout his career. You really have to respect that. In looking at defensive plays, he will continue to make plays on the ball in his position. That is what you are looking for out there.

Q: The organization has gone to great lengths to provide a nice environment for the fans here during camp. Does that present anything of a challenge for what you are trying to do?

BB: I think the facilities here are good. Practice has been open to the public ever since I have been in the league, whether we were down at Bryant [College], we had a lot of fans there, a lot of people around who get a chance to see what we are doing. Whether they do it from a bleacher or standing behind the ropes, I don't think that affects the team too much. The signing autographs, interacting with the fans and all that, I think that is a part of training camp. We've always done that. From my perspective it is working well.

Q: Was there ever a time when there was nobody following the team during training camp?

BB: I wouldn't say 'nobody,' some crowds are bigger than others. Generally speaking, on the weekends and if the weather is good, Denver we had a lot of people, Detroit we had a lot of people, Baltimore we had a lot of people, Jets we had a lot of people. Whether it was a thousand or two thousand, I don't know, but in all those places I think, places I've coached, Cleveland, there were good fan turnouts when the weather was good and people had the time to come, and so forth. You get a 130-degree day with 85 percent humidity, and there will be nine people out there. We never had the beer vendors.

Q: What is your reaction when a player is doing a penalty lap and the fans are giving him a standing ovation?

BB: I don't even notice it.

Q: Do you take the rule changes into consideration when you coach the players?

BB: I know the officials are going to talk to you guys in a little bit. You can ask them all the specific questions about the rules. Our approach to the game is the same as it always is, to know the rules and to play within them. It doesn't matter what they are. It doesn't matter what we think of them. It doesn't matter whether we think something should or shouldn't be a foul. Again, I emphasize that to the team as well. It doesn't matter what I think, and it doesn't matter what they think. It only matters what the guys in the striped shirts think because they are the ones calling the game. It is our job to play the game within the framework of the rules as they are calling the game. That is what it is. The more we can understand it and play within it, the better off we're going to be. On any specific rules and that type of thing, it is up to us to know them and it is up to us to understand them and try to play within them. Sometimes there is a gray area, but sooner or later you have to try to draw the line on that and either get within it or get out of it because penalties are costly. There isn't one penalty that we are coaching. If something is illegal and it is a foul, then we're coaching the players not to do it that way and trying to find a way that we can get the job done without causing a foul, with very few exceptions. Nothing has changed, from my standpoint. Nothing has changed on that.

Q: To what extent did Ben Watson get the system down during minicamp?

BB: As much as everybody else did when they were here. We have talked about that before. It is what it is. It is an orientation. It is some terminology. It is getting some experience in the system, and it is different from training camp.

Q: Do you expect a guy who is missing from the practice field to be studying?

BB: No, we don't have any contact. What he is doing, we're not supervising and can't supervise it and don't know what it is.

Q: Is it getting to a critical point in negotiations with Ben Watson to where he's going to be really far behind?

BB: I don't know. I really don't know the answer to that. Some guys miss time and it affects them more than others. That being said, I think it affects everybody, but I think it varies in degrees how much the effect is and all that. We're not going to know until we see it. It is certainly not helping him any. It is not helping us any. So, I don't know who it is helping.

Q: At what point do you move on in your work with the tight ends and say, 'We're not going to have him [Ben Watson] here so let's move on'?

BB: We never started that, so there is never going to be a time that we will have to stop doing it. We never said, 'Okay, this player is here, and these are all the things we're going to do because this guy is here. When somebody else is here, then here are all the other things we're going to do.' We put in our system, for better to worse, from A to Z. Here is our system, here is what it is. We think we have enough flexibility in the system between Charlie and Romeo and Brad [Seely] that we have coached a lot of players, a lot of different types of athletes, a lot of guys with different skills, and we feel like, in the end, we will be able to utilize those players in our system in one way or another eventually. And right now is not the time for putting in stuff for one guy in the system. Right now it is about everybody learning the system, and as we get further down the road it is developing game plans and trying to make some modifications as you see your team developing. It is way too early for that. That process has not begun, so it certainly can't end.

Q: Do you ever get to the point when you are at a fork in the road and you have to make a choice on players? Does that happen with a first round pick?

BB: Sure. It happens with everybody. At some point you either make a decision based on the information you have and what you think is best for the team, or you come to a point where you have to make a decision, then you have to make a decision. We are going to have a 53-man roster out there at the start of the season, and we are going to have 45 active for the game. At some point, 11 guys are going to go out there and play, and those are all decisions that will be determined by what we think is best for the football team which will be what the players have performed and established and what they have been able to create for themselves in their opportunities that lead up to that point. All those decisions are going to have to be made. There is no getting around any of them. When they will be made and what the course will be and the progression and the circumstances around them, now that has yet to be determined. Some of them are going to be choices that will be obvious the way they should go, and then there will be other choices that there will be a fork in the road and we'll have to go one way or the other.

Q: Troy Brown has some young guys nipping at his heels. How has be been able to stay ahead of those guys?

BB: I think Troy is like a lot of other veteran players. I don't want to speak for Troy, but I don't think he looks at it that way. I don't think he should look at it that way, and I don't think any other veteran player should look at it that way. Troy has been a productive player in this league for a long time. I don't think he really cares who else is out there. If he goes out and does what he does well, I don't see why he can't continue to be productive. If somebody else can go out and do something else, or not do something else, great. But there isn't any reason for Troy to think that if he doesn't go out and do what he's been doing in the past that has made him successful…if he continues to do that, I don't see any reason why he won't continue to be successful. I would say that about every other veteran player who has successfully played in their career, that I'm sure if they are in condition and if they get their timing down and they work at it the way they've done in the past and they are prepared and they are physically ready to go and they understand what they're doing and they have confidence in their teammates and so forth, that they will be able to go out and be as productive as they have been in the past. And I think they should feel that way. I don't think they really care what somebody else is doing. It doesn't really matter what anybody else does. They just need to control what they can control. I think that is really what the whole team should be thinking about, is to get themselves ready to go. Whatever somebody else is or isn't doing is beyond their control. There is nothing they can do about it.

Q: How has Richard Seymour evolved from a rookie to a leader in just four years?

BB: It is hard to believe it has been four years since we were talking about him as a first-round pick, and what was he going to do, and all that. He has really played a lot of good football for this organization. Now, other than Keith Traylor, who has more experience in the league but not more experience with the Patriots, he is our elder statesman on the defensive line. It is funny to think of it in those terms because it was such a short time ago that he was just coming in here trying to find where the field was just like all the rest of them were. He has come a long way. Richard is a very mature kid. He was when he got here, [and he] has continued to mature. I think he has a really good perspective on the game. He sees it through his role as a player and his position, but he sees the big picture defensively. I think he sees the big picture organizationally, things that need to be done for a team to be successful and not only his role in it, but he was selected as caption by his teammates last year. I think that speaks to the respect and confidence that his teammates have for him in that leadership role, and I think he has continued to evolve and grow into it. He is really a special guy on and off the field and in the many different roles that he has on this football team, from being a player to a caption to a well-respected leader. He does a pretty good job in all those different areas.

Q: Given what happened in the offseason, were you concerned with his mindset coming into camp?

BB: We have talked about it through the whole process. He has been in a tough personal situation. He has had to deal with that, and I'm sure that has been difficult. That has been something truly on the personal side of it. Professionally, from a football standpoint, I think he has done everything he can to put that aside when it is time to deal with football and has dealt with football in as positive and professional a manner as he ever has. I think that speaks to his overall maturity and ability to really be a solid, not only player, but person in a number of different roles.

Q: What were you saying about Richard Seymour wanting to be better at recognizing the double team?

BB: In the running game, there are very few double-team blocks that stay as double-team blocks because the defensive team has just as many, if not more, players that have to be blocked in running plays than the offense has blockers. The offense has a quarterback and they have a guy that is carrying the ball, so they're down to nine people right there that somehow have to block 11. You start double teaming, you don't have enough people, plain and simple. A lot of times two people start off on one guy, like a defensive lineman, and then one guy will come off and block a linebacker on the second level. So, it initially starts as a double team, but it eventually ends up as a single block after the offense has seen where the defensive players are deployed and then one guy will bump off on the second guy. It ends up really being one-on-one. There is no other way offensively to do it, you just don't have enough people. So, what might start out as a double team can't last as a double team very long unless you want to give the back the ball with no blocking. It is just a flat out numbers game. Now pass protection is a different story. Pass protection, offensively, you are going to have at least five blockers with five linemen and then sometimes you could add more to it whether it is a back or a tight end, whatever you want to do, but there is going to be at least five guys. If you conventionally rush four, which is the highest percentage of the rush in the National Football League, then you have a five-on-four situation, so potentially the offensive line could double one of those four rushers. Who it is could depend on a lot of things. It could be set up to double somebody. It could depend on where they have the defensive players aligned, but it is a five on four situation. When you start bringing more people than that defensively and blitz, it is a lot harder for the offense to double team anybody. It is the same thing. They need people to block the guys who are blitzing, so they run out of people. In the pass protection, there is one guy in a five-on-four rush who is potentially going to have two blockers on him and three of them are going to be singled. In the running game, you really can't double team a guy for more than initially the snap of the ball for very long because somebody else is going to show up there defensively that is going to have to be blocked, or they are going to make the tackle. I would suggest when you are watching the games, in the running game when you see the double teams where two blockers legitimately stay on one defender for any length of time during the play, cut that one out and let me know, and we'll have a very short reel at the end of the year. You just don't have enough people. You just don't have enough guys.

Q: What was Richard Seymour talking about then with regards to double teams?

BB: He has seen a lot more double teams in the passing game than he has in the running game. In the running game, the double teams start as double teams and those blocks have to be played differently by a defender than if you are just getting blocked one-on-one because they start off as doubles and you as a defender have to determine which guy is going to stay on you and which guy is going to come off. So, the technique i

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