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Bill Belichick Press Conf. Transcript - 9/26/03

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            **BB:**  Good Morning.  Not many changes here, we're status quo.  What do you guys have going?  

**Q: Rodney Harrison, has he fit in as quickly as you expected he would, being a veteran?

BB:** Yes, I think so. He has a lot of experience in the league and has been through multiple defensive systems. He is a good player and a smart guy. He can handle all aspects of the game, the run game, the pass game, sub-defense, and all of the situational stuff. I think he has done fine.

**Q: Was it tough for him at first because [Lawyer] Milloy was gone? Did he have to change his role at all? Did he have to take on more leadership?

BB:** Yes, I think that part of his role has changed. Lawyer had a lot of experience in our defense making calls and all of that back there. Eugene [Wilson] really hasn't so a lot more of it is falling on Rodney's shoulders. I don't think there is any doubt about that.

**Q: Is there a sense when you acquire a guy like that who has a reputation for being a leader but you never really know until you see it for yourself and see him in action on your team?

BB:** I think there is something to that. Each player's role is different on each team. The way a situation is for one guy when he is one place may be a little bit different when he somewhere else, just the chemistry and the make up and what the other personalities are on the team. I think it takes all of us, it's human nature, a little while to get comfortable. If you have been with a team for a number of years and then you go to another team it is a little different setting. It would be like that for anybody.

**Q: He had three or four different coaches in San Diego, but yet he said that he has never been in a system that is so complex. What makes your system so complex? What do you do?

BB:** I don't know.

**Q: Is it just so many changes and adjustments?

BB:** I guess it is more than some other systems. I am sure that there are other teams that do more than we do. I am sure there are teams that do less than we do. We just try to do what we can do within our system. It is broad so it is not the same thing every week but we can draw from the things that we have had experience with and try to apply them as the situation comes up.

**Q: Does the opponent and what they like to do, does that figure into whether you go with the 3-4 or 4-3 defense?

BB:** I think the opponent has a lot to do with the game plan. You certainly have to have the balance between what you can do and what you need to stop. I don't think you want to get so far out of your system that you just say, 'Okay, this is going to be great against another team,' but it is not something that you are comfortable with. It has to be something that your team has some degree of execution and comfort with, I think that can be counter-productive. That being said, you try to defend what the other team does well. There is nothing worse than going into a game saying, 'Well this is what they do well,' and then they go in there and beat you with it. That is not really what you want either.

**Q: What is it about Steve Spurrier's offense as to why it is so successful, passing in particular? Do you think he will have the same success that he had in college?

BB:** Number one, he has got good players. He had them in college and he has certainly has them now. He has a good quarterback, he has good receivers and he has a good system. I think when you put them together, that is a good formula for success.

**Q: How does that system differ from other systems? What does he want to accomplish in terms of general strategy?

BB:** I think he likes to attack the weaknesses of the defense. Based on what you are doing then you are going to get a game plan or strategy that is going to attack what you do rather than just going out and doing the same thing every week. I think they are going run the plays that they feel like are going to hit the best against what you are doing.

**Q: Is it something like facing a cover that is not as good as say the other three guys and everything goes in his direction to kind of wear him out?

BB:** I am sure that they take that into consideration. I think it is more of a scheme. If you are playing man coverage then they are going to run patterns to beat man. If you play zone coverage, two-deep, then they are going to beat two-deep patterns. If you play three-deep coverage, then they are going to run coverages that beat three-deep coverage. If you run some kind of combination quarters, then they are going to run the quarters beaters. You tell me what you are running and I will probably tell you what he is going to want to throw.

**Q: Is that unusual in terms of basic strategy? It seems like it works, but don't most people try to do that?

BB:** I think it varies. Some teams run what they run. They run basically the same plays and then depending on what defense you are in, the ball goes to different spots on the pattern. It is more of a balanced pattern rather than a pattern that is geared more towards one specific coverage. Attacking personnel is certainly part of the program, I am not saying that. I think that he has a good understanding of defense and has a good understanding of defensive adjustments and he tries to put the stress where the weakest point of the defense is. If he knows where that is then he is going after it.

**Q: Can you remember a point in your career where your roster has been so depleted like this?

BB:** Not right off hand, no.

**Q: You have to rely on some of your rookies? How are they fitting in?

BB:** Good. They have all pretty much been on the field since the beginning, since mini-camp and passing camp in the spring, all through preseason they have had a lot of reps. They have played in all of the preseason games. They have gotten a lot of snaps in practice and some live work. I think they have made steady progress as a group from day-to-day, from week-to-week, from month-to-month and they are getting better and they are having a better understanding of what the schemes are and how to prepare for games. They are seeing different opponents. Now we have played some teams now where the opponents have started to repeat from some of the preseason games. As we get into the division games, some of those situations will repeat. I think that they are on a good learning curve and they have been out there and they have worked hard and they have continued to improve at a steady rate. That is good.

**Q: Do you find yourself force-feeding them more stuff as time goes on?

BB:** I think you have to do what you can do. Not just for the rookies, but just as a team, you have to find out what your comfort level is. Some things you try to go out there and execute and you just can't get them very well and then there are other things that you can and you feel more comfortable doing those things. I think each team has to find it's own equilibrium there. What you can handle and what you can't, what causes too much indecision or too much recognition or it's too hard to get on the same page versus just going out there and doing something that maybe it's not the best thing against what they are doing but everybody knows what they are doing and you can keep the level of aggressiveness.

**Q: I think you said yesterday that Asante Samuel at Central Florida only played on the outside.

BB:** Primarily and with [Eugene] Wilson too. Occasionally when they would match receivers, if a team would go to slot formation and their guy lined up in the slot like when Illinois played Louisville and [Deion] Branch was in the slot. Then there were times when Wilson would play in the slot, the same thing when they played LSU. They would go into the slot when he covered [Josh] Reed, just when his guy would go in there. In general, it was just a normal situation you wouldn't very often see them in the inside slot position.

**Q: Injuries aside, Asante has primarily been playing the slot?

BB:** Yes.

**Q: Is it easier to go from playing outside into the slot or vice versa for somebody who has primarily played one or the other?

BB:** I don't know if there is a set formula on that. Again, really when you play inside like that you are basically playing a linebacker responsibility but you are covering wide receivers. It is kind of a combination of playing linebacker, safety and corner. A lot more can happen inside instead of you have the slot receiver, you have the outside receiver, you have inside receivers crossing. It is a lot different than when you are playing outside when you have your outside receiver and then maybe some of the guys can cross on the inside but they have a lot further to go. It is just harder to get to that quadrant of the field. It is different. Is it easier or is it harder? It is different. For some players it is not that big of an adjustment. Like when I was with the Jets, [Ray] Mickens had never played inside there. He had always played outside and we moved him inside to the inside position and he played there and played well and has continued to play there. That has kind of been his spot throughout his career. Some guys that is the way it is. Other guys, they are not as comfortable in there.

**Q: Has Asante displayed characteristics or certain talents playing primarily outside that made him a good fit to play inside?

BB:** I think his instinctiveness is a big plus. Just being able to anticipate things, anticipate the quarterback the receiver, the splits and having an idea of what the guy is more likely to do, not just by tendency from week-to-week but just fundamentally understanding that the wider the receiver is split, the more likely they are to run inside. The closer they split, the more likely they are to run outside. Formation and starting to put all of those things together, there is just a lot more happening inside than what there is outside. I am not saying it is easier to play or harder to play. It is just different.

**Q: Is he a gambler? Doe she gamble on thing?

BB:** I think he is pretty consistent in terms of executing the techniques.

**Q: Does Steve Spurrier have one of the more impressive resumes you have ever seen for a guy getting his first NFL coaching job with all he does?

BB:** Yes. I guess so, sure. He has got a real good record. He had accomplished a lot, yes [in] pro football and college football. He played in the USFL.

**Q: That is kind of rare. There are not too many former NFL quarterbacks becoming head coaches. I can only think of three. Wouldn't it seem they would be natural people to become NFL coaches after knowing systems so well and everything?

BB:** I am sure that there are NFL quarterbacks, guys that can lead teams and basically execute offenses and all of that, certainly have a lot of leadership and a lot of strong qualities going for them. Whether being a coach or a head coach, is it right for all of those guys? I am certainly not in that category so I don't know exactly what the mentality is. Maybe it is playing quarterback and coaching, they seem like they should be the same but maybe there is a distinction in there. You would probably have to talk to those guys that have been more in those shoes than I have.

**Q: Do you think he brings a quarterback's mentality to his offense?

BB:** Sure. No doubt about it. I think he feels like probably the quarterback like he did when he was the quarterback. Now that the quarterbacks who are playing the game almost within him that, 'When we get this situation, we can make this play. We get one-on-one coverage wherever it is, here, inside, outside. If they are playing deep, we will throw short. If they are playing tight, we will throw deep. If they are playing inside, we will throw outside.' I think every quarterback has got that confidence that there is going to be somewhere on the field that they can make the throw and make the play. Maybe they double cover one guy and take him away but they can't double everybody and they can't cover all of the routes. There has got to be something that we can do and somewhere in the pattern, there is going to be a spot for us and if I make a good play and if the quarterback makes a good play then we will have a successful play. I am sure that he has got that mentality and that transcends into the rest of his team but particularly the quarterback. I don't think there is any doubt about that.

**Q: Is his system similar to anybody else's when you set up a defense for teams around the league?

BB:** Sure. He has got elements of every system in it.

**Q: It's not like you can say, 'Well this is pretty much what we saw against this bunch or that bunch?'

BB:** I can't think of one right off hand.

**Q: Have their first three opponents played predominately one coverage against them?

BB:** No.

**Q: They have mixed it up?

BB:** The Jets do what they do. Atlanta gave them some different looks and then in the second half, they moved the ball and scored a lot of points and hit a lot of passes. The Giants, the same thing, they kind of had the game under control there in the first half. Then in the second half, they moved the ball and started throwing it with a lot of effectiveness. I would say that they have probably gotten a little different look from all three of those teams or maybe quite a bit different because the Jets primarily are a zone team. The Giants play a lot of man-to-man. Atlanta mixed it.

**Q: Does Patrick Ramsey display maybe an unusually high amount of poise or it that pretty much the normal progression?

BB:** No, I think he is past the average mark in poise and toughness for a second year player. He is tough. He has no problem standing in there and taking a wallop to complete a pass and he will come right back too. He doesn't care about that. He has got good toughness and good poise and a good presence. Like the run that he made against the Jets, at the end of the game when he scrambled out of there, he recognized the coverage. It was man coverage. Everybody was locked up. He saw an opening and hit it and ran down there and set up the field goal. It was good recognition and he is not afraid to go in there and make the play. I think he is definitely in the above average category there.

**Q: You talked about Jay Fielder and how doesn't make a lot of bad plays. Does Ramsey possess some of those qualities?

BB:** I think for a second year player, he has good judgment, good accuracy, and good toughness. Guys like that are always going to improve as they go through. He is putting up good numbers and he is throwing the ball well. We will see how that goes over a 16-week time frame but I would say in the certainly in the last two weeks and in the first half of the Jets game. Washington is leading the league in offense and he is a big part of it. A lot of it is in the passing game. You have to give him and his receivers and the coaches their credit. They know what they are doing. They are helping him move the ball and they are not making a lot of bad plays.

**Q: As a coach but also a motivator, do you face a challenge in displaying a confident demeanor with your team when inside you might be saying, 'I can't believe we have another injury?'

BB:** Well I am not saying that inside. You don't have to worry about that. I do have confidence in all of the players on this team and confidence in the way they have prepared. We will be there. We will show up Sunday.

**Q: Do you think Spurrier has something to do with Ramsey's [success] obviously, speaking quarterback to quarterback?

BB:** I would think so. Sure. I would think so.

**Q: Back to Samuel, how much does the school size play into your evaluation of them? Eugene Wilson was dominant on the Big 10 level and Asante was dominant on the Mid-American Conference level. How do you evaluate that at draft time?

BB:** It is harder when you don't see players go up against the highest competition. It is easy to watch Samuel against the Lee Evans' and the kid who came out of Penn State this year [Larry] Johnson, the Michigan receivers from the last couple of years, [Charles] Rodgers. There are plenty of guys you can watch him against. Asante was matched up against them and there are some quality players there. I don't think it was quite at the same level as what Eugene did at Illinois in the Big 10. The guys are not quite as fast, the quarterbacks that aren't quite as precise, but he was productive nevertheless. I'll say that when he had opportunities, that included returning punts, he was a productive player. It is not his fault who he played against, that it is who he played against. I think that Illinois competition was a little bit higher. I have to say that being objective.

**Q: Do you have to see him in an all-Star game against top-notch competition? Did he play in those types of games?

BB:** I think the draft is a part of a long process. You evaluate the player in college. You evaluate him in the all-star games. You evaluate him in a personal work out. You evaluate them in the combine. You look at his physical skills. You look at the way he plays. You look at the way he would play in your system relative to other players who may go out and play just as good or maybe better in college. But when you project into what you want him to do in your system, maybe they don't quite have as much of what you are look for and somebody else does. You have to put it all in the pot and let it boil and see what you come up with there. I don't think you can just say, 'Okay, this guy had a good all-star game, that is the kind of player we are going to draft.'

**Q: Does that help?

BB:** Sure. Anything the guy does that is good helps.

**Q: Do you remember what all-star game he might have played in?

BB:** Most of what I saw in him was at Central. I can't remember if he did play in the all-star game or not. We had three or four scouts look at him and pretty much had a consensus on that. They all say the same thing. It wasn't one of those deals where two guys thought he was great and two guys thought it was a throw away. Everybody pretty much saw the same thing. When you have that kind of a situation, and you see the same thing, then you feel relatively comfortable with the way the player is evaluated. The hard ones are where a guy has got one good game and he has nine interceptions and in the next game he gives 10 completions. It depends on which game you saw whether you like the game or not

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