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Bill Belichick Press Conf. Transcript - 9/11/2003

Belichick: Practice was good. We had a little crowd noise to try to get ready to deal with that.



BB: What's up for today?

Q: How was practice yesterday?

BB: Practice was good. We had a little crowd noise to try to get ready to deal with that. I am sure that it will be loud in Philadelphia. We got started. They are a tough team to prepare for. They do a lot of things well. They are very well coached. Jimmy Johnson gives you a lot of problems on defense. [Andy] Reid and [Brad] Childress give you a lot of problems on offense. John Harbaugh gives you a lot of problems on special teams. They present a lot of difficult things to get ready for. They do a good job.

Q: Getting acclimated to that stadium knowing two weeks ago nobody had seen that field. Is that an obvious help to you since you played there in the preseason?

BB: I think it is good to at least have been in the stadium and to have a little bit of familiarity with the surroundings. I don't think that hurts. You usually find something out when you go into a place that you have never been before. You usually find out something when you come out of there whether it is the wind conditions, the surface, the location of the 40-second clock or just the overall crowd noise and the noise level and atmosphere during the game. Each one is a little bit unique. To have gone through it, to experience it, to find out something about [for instance], 'Maybe we don't want to use these cleats, maybe it is a different pair of shoes.' It's the wind conditions when you are fielding the kicks or punts. 'Where is the 40-second clock?' We might have almost blown a timeout because we didn't quite pick it up. Just little things like that. There is nothing wrong with that. The wind conditions were difficult. It is a swirling situation kind of similar to the Steelers field where it is a little bit challenging just kicking even some of the intermediate type of range field goals. Both kickers are pretty good kickers but just watching them in warm ups and having a little bit of appreciation for that, there is a little break to the green.

Q: Does that acclimation process apply to the home team as well? Did you have to go through that last year?

BB: Sure. Without a doubt because you don't know your own home field until you have been on it and experienced it in different environments whether it is the lights at night or, again, the wind conditions, the field conditions. This field plays differently from the old Foxborough field definitely in terms of the wind. Without getting into the lighting and the background and all of that, especially in the red zone, goal line passing and that kind of thing, it is different. It is something that you definitely want to get used to. We had about three practices in the stadium this year. I think we had three last year prior to the start of the regular season in addition to the preseason games just to help do that and get used to being comfortable with the back drop for the ball for the returners and the receivers, the wind conditions and kind of knowing where you are on the field and forming some visual landmarks. We try to do that every year. There is definitely something to that. Just because you play at home, especially the way it is in the NFL now where you have a lot of new players on your team every year, that home field advantage for them isn't a home field advantage until they know what they are dealing with at home.

Q: Is it more important this week to get off to a fast start given what happened last week?

BB: It's always something that you want to do, sure. You always want to start with the game in your favor and be playing from ahead rather than playing from behind. It just gives you more options and more of a margin for error and more control over the game. That is always the way you want to start. We never go into a game not trying to take advantage of what we think will be some opportunities early in the game to try to create that situation as does every other team. It's a little bit of an advantage. It doesn't decide the game by any means. No game in this league is over in the first quarter. Sometimes it starts to get one team or another an edge into the last three quarters of it.

Q: I know you have had this question before.

BB: So do you just want to get the transcripts from the last few press conferences?

Q: Any second thoughts about releasing Lawyer Milloy?

BB: Second thoughts? I think the situation has been pretty well explained and documented. I don't really have too much to add to it. It wasn't something that we wanted to do. It was something that we had to do.

Q: Some of the players in that locker room believer that you compromised their ability to win. Do you care to comment about that?

BB: I did what was best for the football team.

Q: Was the plan to start Tyrone Poole all along?

BB: No, that didn't really have an effect on the corner situation. You are basically dealing with three new corners and trying to give them all an opportunity and evaluate how the best mix and combinations will be for them to play for us and contribute. That is really what that is about. Tyrone has more experience over Eugene [Wilson] and Asante [Samuel] but I think all of them when they have had a chance to play, have shown up positively. It didn't have anything to with [that] other than how that situation worked itself out. I am glad that we have all four of them here.

Q: Is Tyrone the starter for now?

BB: I think they will all play. I am not sure if we know exactly how that is going to go from here on out. I am sure that Tyrone will get a lot of playing time. Maybe we will settle firmly into that spot sooner or later. I think at this point, we will continue to play all of them.

Q: Did you like the play of Eugene Wilson amidst everything that went wrong in the game?

BB: I thought overall the corner play in the game was, it could have been better don't get me wrong, but it was competitive. We gave up a couple of big plays in the passing game and we had a couple of third down conversions that they got directly on us. Those were the major things in the game that caused us problems. I don't think it totally cost us the game. There were a lot of other factors involved as well. Those are things that could have been improved. Again, it was relatively competitive but it needs to be better.

Q: Does Tyrone Poole's experience allow him to make up some ground from not being here in the offseason?

BB: Sure. The fact that he has played in the league before, even though it is not in our system, it is still playing corner in the National Football League. That has definitely helped him. He has a lot of confidence out there. He knows what he can do and he can apply certain things that he has done previously with other teams into things that we are asking him to do. I think that definitely has helped him.

Q: What did you think of Tampa Bay and what they did to Philadelphia on Monday?

BB: I think that both teams played well. As I said, I think it was two good football teams there. Tampa is, as we all know, a very good defensive football team. They are good upfront. They have a lot of speed and a lot of range. They did a good job on third down. They did a reasonably good job in the running game and they had pretty good field position for most of the game. Those are all things that helped and they took advantage of it. Philadelphia played very well defensively as well. In the end it came down to a couple of outstanding plays by Tampa and their receivers and their quarterback. It was great and very tight execution to be able to score on the two touchdowns that they scored on.

Q: What differences exist in a 3-4 based defense when dealing with a running quarterback like Donovan McNabb than in a 4-3 based defense?

BB: If it's four-man pass rush, you end up with the same distribution it just maybe isn't as evident because the guy doesn't have his hand on the ground. The four-man line teams, Tampa Bay being a good example of one, play the overs and the unders. In the 3-4 in a four-man rush, you end up in those same spots. The x's and o's are the same, it is just the guys that were standing up are now rushing as opposed to having his hand on the ground. I think that the lane distribution is basically the same. It is four guys rushing against five. Or, if you bring five, then you have more of a balanced rush with one guy in the middle and two on either side. Whichever one you are in, however you do it, I think the distribution is basically going to be the same.

Q: Is he worth blitzing because a) he has got that shake thing and b) he is so strong?

BB: He is strong. He must be 250 pounds. He is a big man. You can change up on any quarterback. Anytime you do one thing, you can take something away but you are a little bit lighter somewhere else. If you blitz, that is a chance to pressure him if you can get him. You have fewer guys to cover and if he ever breaks out of the blitz, you have fewer people back there. The fewer guys you rush, the more guys you have back, there the more you can zone it off, the harder it is for the guys who are rushing to get him because he has more space to work in. Even if you break a guy free or you have a guy coming who looks like he is going to get free, then it is easier for the quarterback to elude him just because he has more room to be able to maneuver around. In the end, you are probably going to do a little bit of everything. A guy like him, it is hard to do just one thing all of the time because he knows what the weaknesses are and where to attack it. If he can anticipate it, it is probably going to be harder for it work. If you can keep him off balance a little bit then maybe he has that little bit of indecision until after the ball is snapped or into the play, until he is really sure what it is and hopefully you can gain a little bit of an advantage.

Q: Is he more accurate throwing? How much harder would he be to defend?

BB: I think he is an accurate thrower. I think he has a strong arm and can get the ball down the field and can put the ball on the money. The thing that the Eagles do a good job of is they spread the ball around. They don't just have one guy who catches 90 passes and the next guy catches 30. They have got four, five, six guys that are going to be in that 40-50 catch range. Those balls get spread around to all of the different receivers and he can make the plays throwing the ball down the field like he made against us. He hits the shorter and intermediate routes, a lot of the crossing patterns, using the backs on flare routes and screens and that kind of thing. The ball gets spread around to a lot of different people. It is unusual to see an offense that has as many guys as they do, catch as many balls as they do. I think the tight ends probably caught about 40 or 50 passes every year for five or six years. When you know that every guy is going to get three or four balls per game and then at the end of the year they are going to be in the 50-60 catch range, it is more difficult to defend. I think that is a tribute to McNabb, that he has the skill to make all of the different throws, to get the ball to all of the different guys to challenge you vertically down the field and to also utilize every body underneath whether it is the backs, tight ends or receivers.

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