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Bill Belichick Press Conf. Transcript - 9/10/03

Belichick: They are a very solid team in every aspect of the game. I think it goes without saying it is a real good football team and it starts with the top.



            **BB:**  Philadelphia is a team that we have seen a lot of through the offseason in preparation for not only this game but the preseason game.  Of course we saw them in preseason and the Tampa game came in late Tuesday around noon.  Most of our work on Philadelphia has been prior to this Tampa game and then we have had a few hours to analyze that since it came in.  I think the bottom line on this team is they have been in the NFC Championship game the last two years.  They are a very solid team in every aspect of the game.  They are well coached.  They have won more games than any team in the league over the last couple of years in the regular season.  They are good on defense.  They set a franchise record for scoring points on offense.  They led the league in special teams.  They have led the league in a number of defensive categories over the last couple of years including points, third down efficiency, and red zone.  They are high in turnovers and high in sacks.  I think it goes without saying it is a real good football team and it starts with the top.  I think they are well coached.  Obviously Andy Reid has done an outstanding job there.  Jimmy Johnson, the defensive coordinator, has been in the league a long time and I have tremendous respect for him and Brad [Childress] and [John] Harbaugh, the special teams coach.  They do a good job all the way through every aspect of the organization and the team. They are solid.  They have been impressive to watch.  It is a big challenge for us to go down there this week.  I expect us to have a good week of practice and I expect us to certainly play better than we did last week in Buffalo.  That is what we started with on Monday and it will continue all week.  I think that we will get everybody's effort to get that performance from Sunday markedly improved.

**Q: From what you saw on film from their game against Tampa Bay, scheme-wise, were they completely different from what you saw in the preseason?

BB:** First of all I think that we have to understand that the Eagles have a very expansive scheme. They cover a lot of ground. If you watch enough games on them, you see a lot of offense and a lot of defense. They just pull segments of that into whatever game it is they are playing whether it is a preseason game or a regular season game. They gave us a multitude of formations. They gave us some different looks offensively. They blitzed us and I am sure all of that is going to happen again and we will see different varieties of it and probably some different combinations and some different looks and they do that from game to game. They did it against Tampa. They did it against us. I'm sure they will do it next week against whoever they play. That's kind of their style. They've been in their same system now for a number of years with the same coordinators and with a lot of the same players. I am sure that they have built on that over time. They have a number of things to draw from so they give you quite a few looks regardless of what aspect of the game you are talking about.

**Q: Ted Johnson, have you been given a time table on when he will be back?

BB:** No. He will probably be out for a little while.

**Q: Is Roman Phifer the guy who fills that spot now?

BB:** Yeah, we have three guys that have played those two spots all the way through training camp now it will be [Tedy] Bruschi and Phifer. Yes, they will play.

**Q: That is a tough pull for him considering how he played last season and rose up and had a good comeback isn't it?

BB:** Yeah, it's a tough break. Ted had a real good training camp. I though he played well in the preseason games. To this point, he was having a very solid year. It's a tough setback.

**Q: Will you play more of a 4-3 front with him out?

BB:** Well, we play that anyway.

**Q: Is Don Davis the next guy in?

BB:** Don will be ready to go. Larry [Izzo] will be ready to go. We have five inside linebackers on the team. Those four guys should all be ready to go.

**Q: Do they run the same stuff with [Correll] Buckhalter and [Duce] Staley?

BB:** Yes, they run the same thing with everybody. Last year they had three different quarterbacks play. I am not saying all quarterbacks play the same but they run the same offense, they run the same plays. They do what they do and they do it pretty well no matter who is in there. They haven't had much changeover on their offensive line. That group has been together for about three years, whatever it has been, that has been consistent. Last year all three quarterbacks played and they all won. They had different guys at running back and receiver. They just keep on scoring points.

**Q: Is anybody close to Tampa Bay right now defensively?

BB:** I really haven't seen everybody play. Tampa played impressively Monday night. There is no doubt about that. Even that being said, I thought that Tampa made some outstanding plays just highlight type of plays to win that game. It took some special plays, a couple of great throws, a couple of great catches, and some really good plays on defense. Tampa played well. I thought Philadelphia played well. I thought Tampa played a little bit better.

**Q: Do you ever have a situation where you sit back and say, 'If I had Warren Sapp, I could do this,' or maybe even with a Derrick Brooks?

BB:** I don't think you worry too much about that. I think that everybody in the league has seen Tampa play on defense. They are very good. You study them in the offseason and you watch some of the things that they are doing because they have had so much success and try to see if there are things that we can implement into our system that they are doing. Sure, we have done that. We have done that in the offseason. But, that is why they won the championship last year. They played better than everybody else.

**Q: You still have that empty roster spot and now you are down a linebacker. Do you expect to have movement on filling that spot at all?

BB:** There could be. We don't have anything that is going to be announced. I don't think we are going to announce anything in the next day or so. If we see something that we want to do there, we could do it. Of course, we always have the availability to bring somebody up from the practice squad. That is another option. It could happen either one of those ways or it could just stay the way it is which is the way it was last week. We stayed at 52.

**Q: What do you take from the exhibition game against the Eagles into this game?

BB:** I think from a coaching standpoint, not a great deal. I think it is probably beneficial for players to have actually gone up against the player that they are going to play against to actually see him physically and see his stance and feel his strength and feel his quickness and all of those kind of things. I don't think there is any advantage to that. It is like playing a division game where you play your opponents twice a year. I think that from a preparation standpoint for a player, it can be helpful to have seen directly what the competition is going to be just a few weeks ago. Scheme wise, again, the Eagles do a lot. They are very well coached. They have a good scheme. They have a good system. I don't think if there are any big tendencies that we got out of that, it is probably something that they wanted us to get out of it that they plan on breaking anyway. I don't think there is a whole lot from that standpoint that is all that helpful.

**Q: Is Kevin Faulk an every down type of back or he is just suited better for certain situations and Antowain Smith suited to be in other situations.?

BB:** I think both players will play. I think both players will contribute. I think both players will be involved in the offense. That may vary from game-to-game in terms of the number of opportunities or the production or that kind thing but all four backs played significantly in the Buffalo game. I think that is probably the way it will be most of the time.

**Q: Do you think a smallish back like Kevin could stand up to 20-25 carries a game?

BB:** I don't know. He might be able to. I wouldn't say he couldn't.

**Q: Can you talk a little bit about the challenges in your secondary?

BB:** The big thing in the secondary is communication. It is everybody being on the same page, making the adjustments. Offensively, teams try to naturally give you a lot of different looks, try to create mismatches, try to overload formations to see whether you are going to overload with them to weaken the back side or if you don't go over and overload with them then they take advantage of the numbers on the overloaded side and all of those kind of things. You just have to decide what your rules are going to be defensively and how they are going to apply. Then when the situation comes up, apply them. It is a communication thing that the secondary, because they are the last line of defense, it's an important spot for them but it is also important for the linebackers to be consistent with the secondary. It is a very important part of the defensive system.

**Q: How was the communication against Buffalo?

BB:** There were a couple of areas where at times it could have been better. For the most part, I did not think it was a big problem. Like in every game, there is always going to be a few plays that weren't as tight as it needed to be.

**Q: A lot of emotions over the last week here, when you talked to the team this morning did you put any more special emphasis on looking ahead from here on in?

BB:** The emphasis this week is on Philadelphia. That is all it is on.

**Q: Does the team seem more focused? Do you feel like the team is more fired up this week?

BB:** I expect the team to have a good week of preparation. I expect the team to be ready to go in Philadelphia. That is what my expectations are.

**Q: What does Tampa do to [Donovan] McNabb? Do they do things that other teams can't do because of personnel?

BB:** I think we all understand that Tampa is a real good defensive football team. They are a good football team period but they are a very good defensive football team and they give a lot of people problems. I don't think it is any secret. They put pressure on the quarterback. They have a good front four. Their linebackers and safeties are very active guys. They cover a lot of ground. They are fast and they have played together for a while in the same system so they are very well schooled in their adjustments. They know how to react quickly when they are having a problem and how to get it fixed.

**Q: But because of his mobility it would seem that he is hard to defend wouldn't it?

BB:** Well, he is hard to defend. He is one of the most productive quarterbacks in the league. He can beat you in a lot of different ways. He is a great player. We all know what kind of production he has had. I know he missed some games last year but when he has played on a per-game basis, he has been very productive both throwing the ball and running it and managing the team and winning games. I don't think that is any slight on McNabb. I think it was two good teams playing. One team played a little bit better than the other one. It was a tough game. I think they are both good football teams.

**Q: How about McNabb's toughness? Can you just comment on his toughness? Last year he played on one leg at one point.

BB:** He is a good player and he is a tough player. I think that he has been like that since really when he was in college. You could see that at Syracuse. I think we have seen it in the NFL. He plays hard and he is tough. Not that he won't slide, but he is not a big slider or run out of bounds type of guy. When he runs, he will run like a running back and stand in the pocket, shrug people off and go out there and play to help his team win no matter what the circumstances are. I have tremendous respect for Donovan McNabb.

**Q: When defending him, what is the most important aspect because of his mobility?

BB:** Well defending his mobility is certainly important. You don't want to get beat that way. On the other hand, he more than capable of throwing the ball down the field and slicing you up with his arm. It is going to take good team defense all the way around, Philadelphia is productive running the ball, they have a lot of tough scheme plays like their play action passes and their screen game and all of those type of things which are hard to defend. They are a well balanced offense. McNabb is the trigger man and he makes it go and he can beat you in a different number ways but it is going to take good team defense all the way around. It is not like you just shut down one thing. Their offensive line is very experienced. They are good and they play well together. They handle a lot of things pretty well, blitz pickup, combination blocks, stunts and all of those kind of things. They do a pretty solid job with that. It is a good football team. There is a reason why they have won more regular season games than anybody else in the last three years. They are a good team.

**Q: Getting your offense back on track, is it a matter of executing better?

BB:** Well it would certainly start there. I think if we execute better, whether it be offense or defense, I don't think it really matters. I think if you execute and you have a problem, then you can at least fix the problem. When you don't execute well, then you really don't know whether you can fix the problem or not because you haven't seen the play executed well enough to know what you need to do to correct it or how it can be done better. I think that is where it starts, having good fundamental execution. If there are problems with the scheme then you can adjust the scheme.

**Q: Can you talk a little bit about your personnel from two years ago on the Super Bowl team to now? Do you think there has been a significant enough change?

BB:** I think there is change is just about every team's personnel every year. That is the National Football League. We have had it. Everybody else has had it too. I don't think there is any team that hasn't had some turnover one way or another. That is the way it is. You put together your team every year. Then you go into the season with, at least what we do, a basic playbook – things that we have used through the years and have had success with and then try to adapt those schemes to the players that you have or the players to the schemes a combination of both really. That is the way it has been. I think that is the way it is going to be. It is the way it has been for me for really since the 80's, for the last 12-13 years.

**Q: From the outside looking in, it seemed like the offense has become more diverse. Do you sense that teams are keying in on what you are doing?

BB:** I think there is enough diversity in our offensive system to be able to handle the different things that we've seen. I don't think that we've gone through over three years in the same broad offensive system and I don't think we saw or probably are going to see too many things that we haven't dealt with at one point or another. I think when teams play certain coverages, that dictates the ball is going to be thrown in certain areas. When they play certain fronts, it is more advantageous to run in certain spots. That is all game planning. I don't think that is going to change too much. I don't think we should necessarily run plays right into what is really the teeth of the defense just to say, 'Well we ran a different play, we ran it right into the heart of the defense. Let's see how that goes.' I think I know how that is probably going to go most of the time. It would be hard for me to sit up here and say, 'Yes, I think that would be a great thing to do.' I honestly don't think it would be. I think it would be a lot better if we could do the things that we feel like give the defenses a problem because it puts stress points where they should be stressed and see how they can handle those. That is probably the way I would continue to go on it.

**Q: Last year and two years ago, you had so much success with the wide receivers being drawn outside. Are teams starting to play their corners closer to the line of scrimmage to take away that opportunity to move it outside quickly?

BB:** Well, I think if you look at those plays, two years ago I think there was a lot of success with those plays throughout the league. We had some success with them as did a lot of other teams. I think if you look at those type of plays last year, you will see a lot less success with them, us included and we ran a lot of them especially early in the year. I think that defensively teams are playing those plays, and we see a lot fewer of them on defense too, we defended a lot more of them two years ago than we have defended in the last two years. I am not saying the play doesn't come up, just with a lot less frequency. We've spent a lot less time working on it defensively than we did in the pass because teams don't run it as much. That is one of those subtle trends in the league that I think there is a reason why people aren't doing it as much. I don't think, overall, the production on those plays has been there. From time to time you might see one. You might see a successful one, but there is no where near the frequency with that type of play that there was two years ago, with us and I would say that is a general trend in the league.

**Q: Is that from not having a bunch of success on first down and now you are in long yardage and you see a lot of cover two, so why go deep?

BB:** When teams roll coverages up on an outside receiver it is hard to throw the ball to that receiver when the guy is being covered short and long. You can try to stuff it in there and I am sure sooner or later you will hit one or you will hit a couple but there are a lot of other people on the field that will be getting less coverage than a receiver who is getting rolled into as an example. The quarterback's general read is when he sees coverage in a certain area based on the pattern, then it is to go where the lighter coverage is on the play. I think that is probably pretty much what every team does. Every once and a while you have a play that is designed to go to a certain player, like a screen pass or maybe you just have one option on a roll out or something like that where you are really betting the play is set up well enough for that player to be there, that is one thing. But just in a general drop back passing game, basically what you try to do is read the coverage and throw the ball where the defense is the lightest. Not pick out one guy and see whether you can cram it in there to him when the coverage is tighter.

**Q: If [Brian] Dawkins and [Bobby] Taylor don't play, how much will it weaken their team?

BB:** I think that the Eagles have a lot of depth in the secondary. They have got two high draft choices from last year [Lito] Sheppard and [Sheldon] Brown that they have been trying to work in there anyway. They traded Al Harris in the offseason and they have played Sheppard and Brown a lot. I think they have good depth at corner and safety as well. Those guys are both tough players, Taylor and Dawkins, and we're planning on them being there. Until something definitive comes out on them, I would expect them to be there. They are veteran players. They are tough players and I am sure if anybody can be there, they will. That is what we will prepare for. I think the Eagles have good depth in the secondary. They also have good depth on the defensive line. I know they lost a couple of guys there too. They have a number of players there and those guys play pretty well. They have a rotation system. They have to keep a lot of guys involved in that. The ones that they play in there, play well.

**Q: Tom Brady had a pretty good preseason. How do you assess his struggles on Sunday? Is it what Buffalo did? Did he just have a bad game?

BB:** I would assess everybody's performance against Buffalo about the same. We didn't play very well. I thought Buffalo played well. They did things a lot better than we did. That includes every player you could mention on offense, defense, or special teams. Put whatever player you want up there, I would say that we didn't play as well as we needed to play at any spot or coach at any spot in that game. I don't how else I could put it. That is the only way I could say it. It wasn't as good as we can play. It wasn't good enough. Buffalo played well. If that is the way it is going to be every week, then that is probably going to be the results every week. If we don't play well and we don't execute the plays and we have a lot of penalties and turn the ball over and give up big plays on defense and the other team comes out and plays well, I am sure it will be a problem every single week of the year.

**Q: But specifically to Tom, there looked like plays where he was completely confused like he had never seen what they were doing. He just looked bewildered at times.

BB:** Maybe you got a better look at that than I did. There were plays that everybody had that I didn't think were their best plays. There were plays that every player had that I am sure they would like to have back. There were coaching decisions that I am sure the coaches, including myself, didn't think we did the best job on either. I am not going to dispute that. It wasn't a good performance. It wasn't good by anybody. Any player you want to mention, I will say that about and any coach head coach, assistant coach, anybody. We got beat as a team. They outdid us in every area. I don't know how else I can put it. I am not going to sit here and say anybody did a great job because they didn't, me included.

**Q: Is there any one specific thing that you did wrong that you would like to share?

BB:** There are a lot of things I would like to have back in that game. There are a lot of things. I will be the first to admit it. I made mistakes. I make as many as anybody. My job each week is to look at them, try to correct them and not make them again, win or lose, it is the same thing. We always look at our performance and try to evaluate it and try to find somewhere we can do a better job. Just because they don't hit a play, that doesn't mean that it was done perfectly either. It could just be circumstances that prevented it from being more of a problem than what it was. Those plays come up every game. They've come up in every game this year – all four preseason games, the one regular season game, last year, the year before that. There are always situations that from a coaching standpoint and a playing standpoint, there is going to be room for improvement.

**Q: Is there any one particular instance?

BB:** More than one.

**Q: How do you get past that?

BB:** We are past it. We had the autopsy. We are past it. What are we going to do? Kill it again? How many times can you pump bullets into a dead body? I mean, what good does it do? You analyze it, make the corrections and move on. We are playing this week

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