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Replay: Best of Radio Thu Apr 18 - 02:00 PM | Tue Apr 23 - 11:55 AM

Bill Belichick Press Conf. Transcript - 9/29/03

Belichick: This was obviously a game of missed opportunities. We had opportunities in all three phases of the game and couldn’t make enough plays to win.



            **BB:**  Just as a follow-up to yesterday, I don't think I have too much more to add from what we talked about after the game yesterday.  This was obviously a game of missed opportunities.  I don't think that is any secret.  We had opportunities in all three phases of the game and unfortunately we just couldn't make enough plays to win yesterday.  I think it is one of those games when you look back on it, every player and coach that participated in the game feels like, 'If I could have just done one thing differently or one thing better on this play, or that play, that it would have made a difference.'  I am sure that we all feel that way, again, all of us that participated in the game.  You carry those losses with you heavily when you invest a lot of time and energy into the game.  There is a lot of disappointment when it doesn't come out well.  There is no way to minimize that.  I think that we had a number of guys in the game play through some bumps and bruises. We had some guys go out and come back into the game.  I think there is a lot of respect for the toughness of our team and a lot of the players in particular that displayed it yesterday at various points.  At the same time, this game is measured in wins and losses, real wins and losses, and not in consolation prizes.  It's not anything that I am into and I don't think it is anything our team is into.  That is our feeling on that.  Injury-wise, no big updates.  Some guys we will just have to monitor their progress as we go along.  Everybody that saw the game saw that it was a physical game and saw people come in and out of it and at this point, nothing really substantial to report there.  That is where we are.  

**Q: On your last possession of the game, it seemed like the most important thing was to get the ball into field goal range for Adam [Vinatieri]. The first down pass was kind of a medium like pass and then the pass to [Daniel] Graham was incomplete and that was long too. Was it just that there was nobody open for the short more high-percentage pass to move the chains? Or was it that Tom [Brady] didn't have time to see them? What did it look like?

BB:** Well, I agree with you on what the strategy was when we had got possession of the ball there on the last drive was to make one first down which would ensure us being in field goal range. We talked about the field goal range before the game and during the game on that particular day, on that particular field, in the direction that we were going in. We felt like the secure area was from the 35-yard line in. In a desperation situation, which is different than that, we always talk about how far could we get it there if we had to have it. Getting there and it being a high-percentage kick are two different things. The 35-yard line was really our benchmark on that particular series which was one first down. We had the ball on the 45. That was our objective. That is what the play calls were intended to do. That is what we were trying to do. In the end, we just didn't get it done. But that was the strategy. There could always be different plays or other formations. That is what they were. That is what we were trying to do. On the last play, they took away the short routes and we just weren't able to hit the pass over the middle, which we had a shot at but they made a good play on it. We didn't and that was it.

**Q: What about on the first down play? Did they take away the short routes there when Tom threw to Deion [Branch]?

BB:** We had four plays. They could have been better executed and as I said at the beginning, anytime you play in a game like game and you lose it, you have a feeling of, 'Well maybe if I had called a different play or maybe if we had executed a little bit better or something had happened,' sure there is that on that series as well as a lot of other plays in the game. Yes, if we had those plays back maybe we could do them a little bit better. Maybe we could have called different one's but the bottom line is we were trying to do just exactly what I said we were trying to do but unfortunately we didn't get it done. I don't know what else I could add to it.

**Q: Larry [Centers] seemed to think he was open on that play. After watching the film, was he?

BB:** I wouldn't have thrown it to him.

**Q: Tom is not known to force anything. Did it surprise you to see him make those kinds of uncharacteristic decisions?

BB:** I think that anytime you turn the ball over offensively, you probably like to have those plays back. I am sure that any quarterback that has thrown an interception or any back, receiver or tight end that has fumbled the ball, anytime you lose possession of the ball, you would like to have those plays back. That goes without saying. When you have a play like that, I don't think anybody is going to sit here and say, 'Well, yeah it was a great play. I am glad we lost the ball.' That is not what it is about. You make mistakes, the other team makes a good play and you try to not let those things happen again and you regret that they happen. That is the way we all feel. Anybody who handles the ball or anybody who calls plays or anybody who is involved in that when they don't work out favorably and when you lose possession of the ball, nobody feels good about them and you would like to have them back. You would like to do it a little bit different. That is not what happens. That is the way it is.

**Q: Tom has always taken care of the ball. He has had two games this year so far where he has had three picks or more…

BB:** Look, we can talk about the interceptions and we do talk about them. We talk about them as a team. Every interception is not because the quarterback made a bad throw. That is just the fact. Sometimes, it is a combination of the recognition of the route, the visual communication between the receiver and the quarterback. Sometimes receivers make mistakes. Sometimes there is pressure. Sometimes it is a combination of things. As I said, I am sure that every time a quarterback throws an interception, he would like to have that play back. That is the way I am sure that Tom feels and the way every quarterback feels. I would also say that not every interception is the quarterback's fault or it is a bad pass. I don't know any other way to put that either. Not every single interception belongs to the quarterback.

**Q: Do you have any plans for Mike Cloud this week?

BB:** Our plans for Mike are we have requested a one-week exemption on him. I think we have been granted a one-week exemption on him so he will be with us this week and for one week he will not count on the 53-man roster. That is what his situation is. I haven't seen him in a month. I don't know what he can do. We will try to evaluate it in that period of time and go from there.

**Q: What grounds do they grant exemptions?

BB:** It is historically what the league has done in situations similar to that. It is common.

**Q: A guy coming off of suspension or an injury?

BB:** Right, or guys that aren't in camp that don't sign until late. It is more of a procedural thing. It is common. You apply for it and they either give it to you or don't give it to you. My understanding is that we've been granted that.

**Q: Do you think your receivers could have been more aggressive to the ball?

BB:** I think that there is always room for improvement in the passing game. I think there is room for improvement in all areas of the passing game, protection, throwing, catching, route running, route-discipline, the distribution of the receivers on the patterns, so that it opens up throwing lanes. I think there is room for improvement on that. There always is. That being said, I thought at times we threw the ball well and effectively. But, at other times it wasn't as good and that wasn't good.

**Q: Can you talk a little bit about your defensive effort?

BB:** I think that our whole team performance falls under the same umbrella and the defense would be part of it. I thought that there were some things that defensively we did well. We had a couple of long drives that led to points in the first half and had a long drive in the third quarter that led to points. We had a couple of opportunities to turn the ball over. We didn't have any turnovers defensively or on special teams. They ended up with four so that is not a good ratio. I thought overall there were times when our pass-defense and our pass-rush were adequate. Our third down defense was most of the time okay. It could have been better. We had some success in defending the running game but at other times, that could have been better too, [like] on some cut-back runs. There are always plays that you could play better and things we could have done better that would have helped in the game. I wouldn't say it was bad. We are looking to improve on it.

**Q: On the final drive before that fourth down play I know that you said that you had some parameter on how far Adam could kick the field goal. Before that fourth down play, was there any further discussion about the field goal?

BB:** Well on that particular drive, it is not the same in every single game. I am not going to say that. It changes from game-to-game. In terms of field goals there are two factors. One is how far can you kick the ball, where does it have to be to have a shot at it to have the distance. Two, inside of what range is there a high percentage chance that you are going to make it. In that game yesterday, since our determination was that it was the 35-yard line based on the conditions in that game and kicking in warm-ups and so forth, that with the ball on the 45 there really wasn't, on that particular drive, I don't think there really was a scenario where we would have gone for it. Now had it been fourth and 20, that changes the situation. Then maybe you try a 57-yard field goal rather than trying to covert and fourth and 20. That wasn't obviously the situation. There is not an absolute on that. Given the situation that we were in which was fourth and two, somewhere in there, that was more of a fourth down offensive situation than it was a 56, 57-yard field goal situation. That was the thought process there.

**Q: Before the game, we received word that Russ Hochstein was starting at right guard and Tom Ashworth at right tackle. Joe Andruzzi ended up at right guard and Hochstein at left. Were we misinformed or did you make a last minute switch?

BB:** I guess you were misinformed. Doesn't it say unofficial on those depth charts?

**Q: Before the game, it was announced as 'changes to the starting lineup – Hochstein at right, Ashworth at right tackle.'

BB:** I guess that was misinformation then.

**Q: Back to Mike Cloud, when is the soonest you could see him get some playing time?

BB:** I have no idea. I don't have the slightest idea.

**Q: What do you like about him? If and when he does play, what does he bring to the team that you don't already have?

BB:** Well I don't really know. I don't really know. We signed Mike in June. Mike was with us for a few days in training camp and he was injured. I would say he was on the field for no more than a handful of days and was injured. He did not participate on the field. He was here to rehab and was in meetings but was not on the field after that and then has not been on the field since the start of the regular season. Mike's on field participation for us has been limited to a very few days and that even includes the beginning of preseason practices. That was basically two months ago. What he can do at this point and through no fault of his own, he really didn't have a chance to show a whole lot of what he could do even in the brief time that he was here. When you are asking me what he can do, I really don't know. I don't know. I have to wait and see. We will put him into whatever situations we can put him into and evaluate it based on that. I don't think there is a whole lot to go on from this year. What we can go on is what we saw when he was at Kansas City. There were certainly a lot of things that we like there which is why we signed him in the first place. Based on where he is at now, or where he is at this year, I wouldn't even begin to hazard a guess.

**Q: Were you please with the way the offensive line played?

BB:** I thought the line hung in there well. I thought they competed hard. They played tough. Some plays were better than others. Overall I thought it was a courageous effort by the group. There were guys that were in and out of the game that played through some bumps and bruises. They stayed in there and hung in there. I respect the way that they went about it yesterday.

**Q: Could Kevin Faulk have come back into the game if you needed him?

BB:** Maybe. I don't know how effective he would have been so at that point we had other players that I felt would have been ahead of Kevin at that point and time.

**Q: David Givens, how has he progressed?

BB:** He missed a little bit of time there at the beginning of the season and right at the end of preseason. He has worked his way back onto the field now. As we thought in training camp and in the first couple of preseason games, I said then that I thought he would be competing for playing time. Now that he has gotten more of a chance to be on the field he has been very competitive and has made plays both in the running game as a blocker and in the passing game. I think he is going to continue to challenge for playing time at that position.

**Q: Not to disrespect the abilities of the other receivers but is he probably your best blocking receiver?

BB:** David does do a good job blocking. He is easily our biggest receiver. So he does have a size advantage relative to the other guys. Not to say that they are not competitive blockers but he is a bigger body and a more physical receiver. He plays in the kicking game in some of the bigger positions where normally you would see safeties and linebackers. He is a physical player and that works to his advantage in both the running game and the passing game. He is competing for playing time and as he has gotten out there and been productive that leads to him having more opportunities to do that.

**Q: What about Graham? He seems to be getting a few more receptions.

BB:** I thought he did a good job there taking a hit on the middle read there from the safety after he caught it. I think when Graham gets enough opportunities that he will be productive. He didn't have some of those in earlier games. He had more yesterday. I think as he gets the opportunities in the passing game he will be productive because he has the skills to be productive in that aspect of the game. Part of that is him, but part of it is also the coverages, the plays, the way the pattern develops as the defense plays it.

**Q: Is a big factor because he knows the offense so better than he did last year?

BB:** He definitely knows it better than he did last year. I think the big thing is this year he has been on the field and last year he had three situations really where he was out there between the shoulder and the ribs, where he is out there for three or four weeks and then he was out for three weeks and then he is back for three and then out for three and that kind of thing. He just didn't have the kind of consistency through his rookie year that you would like for a player to have. After that time off he would come back, and it wasn't starting over again, but it was definitely dropping back a couple of pegs.

**Q: Do you get a sense that Tom is look for him more? You and Tom both admitted earlier in year that you weren't really focusing on the tight ends a lot.

BB:** I think that from a certain point last year, I am not sure exactly when that was, but between Christian [Fauria] and Dan, and even this year, that the tight ends have become a more consistent part of our passing game than what they were going back to two years ago. Whether it is Dan or Christian I think the quarterbacks, Tom specifically, are aware of those players in the passing game and when they get an opportunity to come to them, they are certainly not afraid to put it in there direction.

**Q: Even outside the red zone, it seems that Christian is getting more balls.

BB:** I think the more that we can distribute our passing game equally amongst all of the receivers the tight ends, the wide receivers, and even working our backs, that kind of opens it up for everybody and it keeps the defense from clamping down on one or two guys. When the coverage is tighter in one area then hopefully we can go to where it is lighter somewhere else regardless of who that guy is and feel confident that we can pick up yardage throwing to where the softer coverage is.

**Q: What is it about Tennessee that makes them a physical team? Do they hit harder than most teams? Are they bigger?

BB:** I think they have some big, physical players. They have a very aggressive attitude. They are a good football team. There is no doubt about it. They have a lot of players that bring that element of the game starting with a guy like Eddie George. Some runners are guys that make you miss or guys who are going to use their speed to get outside and then there are other runners that are almost looking for contact and looking to run over you. That is kind of Eddie George's style. He is a big physical powerful runner. The quarterback is a little bit the same way, similar to what we talked about with [Donovan] McNabb. I not saying that he won't slide, but he is not looking to slide and run out of bounds. He is looking to run and gain yardage. Defensively they have a very good defensive line. They are big and they bring it. They blitz the linebackers a lot. They are a tough team, they are a physical team, and they are a very good team.

**Q: Yesterday you did a little bit of flip-flopping on the defensive line between the 4-3 and the 3-4. Have you decided on a base or was it just to give Washington different looks?

BB:** Well as much time as we have invested in both of those fronts, I think that we can continue to use them. Depth is an issue. There is no question about that. I am not trying to avoid that situation. As long as we have the people to play them I don't see any reason why we shouldn't be able to play them. We've invested a lot of time and our players know how to play it. They have confidence in it. They have confidence in the techniques. If we need to do that, I think we can do it. We have to make a little bit of an adjustment for our depth situation at linebacker. We tried to do that yesterday. I think that there will be elements of that which will be continuous now until that changes, whenever that is.

**Q: Elements of going back and forth?

BB:** Yes and elements of what we did yesterday in terms of managing our depth situation at linebacker, that we will have to continue to have to do that.

**Q: I know you said success is figured with wins and losses but with that said, the team's comeback yesterday, were there some things that stood out and impressed you a little bit?

BB:** Sure. I thought that they showed some resiliency and toughness. But, again, the bottom line is wins and losses. We expected to win. We played to win. We went down there to win, not to keep it close. That part of it is disappointing. It is disappointing that we didn't win, that we couldn't coach, play, and perform as a team a little bit better to come away 3-1 instead of 2-2. That is disappointing.

**Q: How important is continuity when it comes to the success of the offensive line?

BB:** Well it helps. It helps. There are a lot of one-on-one match up's on the offensive line but a lot of that is sometimes after the ball is snapped. Before the ball is snapped a lot of it is five-on-five. Us five linemen have these five defenders, whatever the combinations are depending on whether it is an outside play, inside play, or pass protection play. How that unit functions together as a group in terms of the five linemen blocking the five people that they are supposed to block the way they are supposed to block them, that is really the key to the execution of that group. Depending on the look that the defense gives you, whether it happens before the snap when the linebackers walk up into the line or if the defensive line shifts or that type of thing, there has to be a communication and a total understanding between all of the linemen as to, 'What are we going to do in that situation? How is it going to go from being one thing to being something else?' That continuity and the overall ability for five guys to think as one is really what it comes down to. It is important for that unit. It is important for any unit but especially for those five guys because they do have to work so cohesively on their assignments.

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