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Bill Belichick Press Conf. Transcript - 9/3/2003

Belichick: [on any possible progress on the Lawer Milloy front] No. Not on our end.



BB: Well, I will open it up to you this morning. Do you want to talk about Buffalo or do we have a follow up from yesterday? How do you want to handle it? Not all at once. [Laughter]

**Q: Has anything changed on the Lawyer Milloy front from yesterday? Have you made any contact with him?

BB:** No. Not on our end. No.

**Q: Do you have a feel for the level of distraction it has caused in the locker room?

BB:** Well, I think we are moving on. We have to. We are moving on. Less today than yesterday.

**Q: Did you formally say to them, 'I know it's a difficult thing that happened today. I know he might have been a friend…'

BB:** To the team?

**Q: Yeah.

BB:** Sure. We addressed it yesterday.

**Q: The NBA and their salary cap has a rule that allows you to re-sign your own player and go above the cap. Would you have liked to see that in this situation?

BB:** Sure. As I said yesterday, this isn't anything that we were looking forward to or trying to do. There really wasn't much recourse. On the other hand, the system is what it is. We all know what it is and we all have to work within it. That is the way it is for right now.

**Q: Although Lawyer hasn't signed with anyone yet, in situations where one of your former players signs with one of your opponents, how much do you have to change your game plan, knowing that he has the knowledge of your system?

BB:** I think it is something that you really pretty much deal with every week. When you look around the league, just about every week there is somebody on another team that we have had and in a lot of cases there is somebody on our team that has been with the opponent if not every week, many times throughout the year. It's not uncommon. You deal with it on a regular basis and some of the things that you talked about, you change some things sometimes or make adjustments depending on what the specifics of the situation are. You take it into consideration. I don't think you over-do it but sometimes it's worth a consideration given what the circumstances are.

**Q: What about the man that is going to replace him? I see [Aric] Morris is the next man on the depth chart.

BB:** I believe that depth chart is unofficial, if I am not mistaken.

**Q: [Laughter] So that can change?

BB:** Well, yes. Aric will certainly haven an opportunity to work at that spot. Antwan [Harris] has the most experience in our system. Chris [Akins] has played about half of every preseason game there or there abouts in the four preseason games. I think Chris and Antwan will probably get a good number of snaps this week but Aric will also get some work there. Since all three players are involved on special teams, including Aric, it's similar to the situation that we had in the past two years at that position where the players are involved in special teams and defense. Their roles in the game relative to those two responsibilities are collectively handled.

**Q: How much better is Buffalo? They Added [Takeo] Spikes and [Sam] Adams and loosing [Peerless] Price probably hurt them a little bit.

BB:** First of all, the biggest change that I notice in Buffalo is on special teams. They have a new kicker but they have a very explosive return game. Their kickoff return game in preseason has been strong. The punt return game is probably as good as anybody's in the league. Antonio Brown has shown great speed and play making ability in that phase of the game. So that is a big change for them. Offensively, they have a number of new faces. They have [Sam] Gash at fullback. [Josh] Reed stepped in as their regular receiver. [Bobby] Shaw is their third receiver. It looks like there is a little more emphasis on some of their two-back runs with Gash in there but they also still have their passing game even without Price they still have a lot of weapons in the passing game. They get the ball down the field and do a pretty good job of balancing their attack between power running and giving the ball to [Travis] Henry who is one of the top backs in the league, and being able to sling it. Defensively, the additions starting, with Dick LeBeau. I think you can already start to see some of his influence in the defensive scheme, some blitz-zoning, some different pressures. They are doing a few things schematically a little different than they did last year on defense. They have added some players like Spikes and [Jeff] Posey, Adams to go with Pat Williams on the defensive line. [Ryan] Denney is starting for them at left end so they look like they have incorporated a little bit of some scheme changes and then also some personnel changes. They look bigger on defense especially with Adams in there and Williams. They have added some pass rushers in terms of Posey and some playmakers in terms of Spikes. They are a good solid team that has added some players and added some scheme things in the offseason. You see those things in the preseason games. I am sure they have got some things that they are holding back too.

**Q: When you hear the often-used phrase that Bill Belichick gets into Drew Bledsoe's head, what is your reaction to that?

BB:** Ridiculous. I am not in anybody's head. I am just trying to put together a game plan against each opponent that we play. Each team presents its own challenges and Buffalo presents a lot of them for us. They are a well-balanced team. Offensively they are well coached and they have good players. They moved the ball against us well last year. They have been as explosive as anybody. They will be tough to stop, especially at home on opening day.

**Q: Do you feel that the fact that when you played them previously and got off to a 17-0 and 20-0 that you didn't really get a change to see Travis Henry that much?

BB:** Sure. Without a doubt. Those two games, what happened early in the game affected what happened in the second half of the game. There is no question about it. If the games don't go that way, which of course you never expect they will, the game would take up a totally different personality.

**Q: What impresses you about Henry?

BB:** Henry is a strong runner. He has got good balance and has got real strength. He has got good lower body strength and he has got good upper body strength. When people get shots at him, they bounce off of him. He gets north and south. He is a down hill runner. He gets his pads low and he doesn't take a lot of hard hits because you don't get a good shot at him. He protects the ball well and protects his legs well. He is instinctive. He has got good vision and he likes to cut back and like to bounce outside. But, if you give him a crease inside, he will go ahead and smoke it up in there. He is a good back and his hands are good out of the backfield. He has got a full complement of skills.

**Q: How much more difficult does it make it for you and the staff to formulate and put in your game plan this week considering you are also dealing with a last minute personnel change under duress?

BB:** This schedule came out a long time ago so we've had quite a bit of time to prepare for them. They have had a lot of time to prepare for us. All of the offseason work has been done. We have seen the preseason games. I think that both teams know each other pretty well and I would imagine that those staffs had a pretty good idea of what they were going to do going into this game several weeks ago. There is certainly some fine tuning that goes on and some adjustments that you make during the course of the week of preparations after you've really had a chance to look at the preseason games and take a little closer look at them. I think a lot of preparations on this game are done in the offseason and prior to even getting to training camp and I am sure that Buffalo is doing that on us as well.

**Q: Even though teams change year-to-year, in some ways are you glad this opponent is a division opponent?

BB:** I don't know. You have to play them all anyway. Whenever they show up, you prepare for them and get ready for them. I don't really worry too much about the sequencing or the days that the days are scheduled on and all of that, just more of trying to get your team ready to prepare and face that opponent. Each week the circumstances are different no matter when you play them. Even if you were to play them back-to-back, it would still change from week-to-week. In my mind there is nothing I am really looking forward to about playing Buffalo. I think they're a tough opponent. We are opening with them on the road. I am sure they will have a lot of energy in the game and I think we will have to play well to win. They are a good team.

**Q: Drew Bledsoe was sacked 54 times last season. Have they solved that problem?

BB:** They made one change in their offensive line at right guard. Otherwise it is the same group. Some of those guys have gained a year of experience and they have worked together longer. I think Gash, in terms of blitz pick-up, is very good there. I think they have probably made some adjustments to it. Through experience they look a little more sharper in the execution of their pass protections and their pick ups. In the end, the toughest thing about trying to throw the ball for any team is when they know you have to throw it. If you can maintain a balanced attack and it is clear that they are taking steps to head in that direction, that takes a lot of the pressure off of the pass protection and slows down the pass rush when you have to defend everything.

**Q: Who are your starting corners going to be on Sunday?

BB:** We won't announce that but I would expect all four of them to play and contribute. We will put the guys out there that we think give us the best match ups. It may depend on the personnel that Buffalo has in the game as well.

**Q: The fact that you possibly will have a rookie starting cornerback and a relatively inexperienced safety corner back there, do you imagine that Buffalo is going to key into that? How do you prepare these guys to know that?

BB:** Again, they are a well-coached team and I am sure that whatever they think our weaknesses are, they won't hesitate to go after them. That is certainly what we would expect. Wherever they think they are, I am sure they will try to hit us. Talking defensively in general though, as we said at the end of the season, if you are trying to get younger on defense, then you are obviously going to be less experienced there. There is no way to meld those two together. To be younger is to be younger. To be more experience is to be older. You kind of have to make a choice there.

**Q: One of the biggest contributions Lawyer made aside from what he did on the field was the kind of motivational, inspirational type of attitude he had. Do you have another candidate right now who would step up and be that player?

BB:** I think we have good leadership on this team. I think we have good leadership on defense. I don't that is the kind of thing that you orchestrate or you just flip a switch and say, 'Okay, Joe today you are our inspirational leader.' I don't think it works that way. Team chemistry changes every year from year-to-year. Sometimes you have people, Bryan Cox as an example, that come in and provide a certain personality and a chemistry to the team and next year it is somebody else. We'll just have to see how that works out. I think every year the team has to develop its own chemistry and its own leadership. Sometimes some elements of that stay the same. Sometimes even though the people stay the same, the chemistry changes. We will just have to see how that works out. I don't think that it is anything that I can orchestrate and say, 'Well, this is the way it's going to happen.' I just don't think it works that way.

**Q: Have there been years, either here or in Cleveland, where you felt that your team's might be better prepared for the regular season coming out of the preseason? How do you feel about this team?

BB:** I would say that the two low water marks there would be the first year in both situations, the 1991 season and the 2000 season. On both teams there were a lot of new players, a lot of young players, a new system, and not a very good team in either case. Relative to those two years, I think that would certainly be the low water marks. I don't know if you ever know how well prepared you are at this point. You really find that out in the first three or four games in the regular season. After the first three or four games of the regular season, when everybody has had a chance to look at everybody else and really start matching things up and trying to attack your weaknesses, then you are really seeing in October and November just where your team really is in those two months and how you are going to deal with your strengths and your weaknesses and vice versa. I think right now, everybody in the league probably feels good about some things going into the season and they are probably concerned about some other things. It will be interesting to see what happens in the first month or so of the season how all of that turns out.

**Q: You said about the release of Milloy that you have to move on. That is easier said than done for some people maybe in the locker room. How much of a concern is it going to you that maybe some of your players are going to be a little bit 'down in the dumps?'

BB:** I think it's human nature. I think it would be an aberration if it that wasn't the case and there wasn't some feeling about it. But that being said, we are going to move on.

**Q: In order to help the team move on, what you want these guys thinking about to try get past Lawyer if they can?

BB:** Buffalo.

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