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Bill Belichick Press Conf. Transcript - 9/5/2003

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BB: Good Morning. Not a lot of news from my end. As I told you yesterday, we finished up the preparations in terms of all of the new stuff and all of the game plan stuff to be installed. Today is kind of a review day to tie up a few loose ends. The hay is pretty much in the barn here. I think we had a pretty good week in terms of on the field practice once the dust settled a little bit. We are looking forward to starting the season off on Sunday.

Q: How were the practices this week?

BB: Tuesday was a tough day but I think the overall concentration and focus on the field was good through the week. We'll be ready to go.

Q: Who is going to bring back punts for you?

BB: I think it could be more than one person depending a little bit on how the workload goes offensively with those guys and maybe a little bit situationally as well. I think we could see more than one; certainly Troy [Brown] will be involved. I could see us using other people as well.

Q: Is it important to get these guys multiple opportunities in the pre-game or whenever to get them accustomed to the sky and the settings? Are you going to have to have five different guys taking reps?

BB: It would be no different than the way we normally do it. We always warm up more than one guy, usually three, because you never know it could be one play and the second guy could be in there anyway. It would just be normal and those guys that catch them will catch them.

Q: Would the pecking order still be kind of what it was in the preseason?

BB: It will be situational.

Q: Brown, [Tyrone] Poole, and the rookies?

BB: Well the best thing I could say is it could be more than one person with Troy certainly being involved in it. Some of it could be situational. If we want to handle the ball down there on the 10-yard line, it may not be the same guy that we have handling the ball if they are kicking out of their endzone. It may be, but it may not be. Part of that will just depend on the overall utilization of the players during the game. If that is a factor, if somebody is in there for a lot of plays, we may want to take some of it off of them in the return game.

Q: Anybody on kickoff return? Is that going to be Bethel [Johnson]?

BB: It's the same type of thing. Some of that will depend on what the receiver situation is in terms of how many are active and who is active for the game. Again, that is another one where we have more than one guy that can do it. It may be more than one guy back there during the course of the game. Hopefully, we won't be returning 10 or 12 kickoffs, but that could be a factor too. Same thing with the punts. If we end up returning a lot of punts versus not returning very many, that could affect who is doing it. I am really not trying to give you the run around on this.

Q: Oh, I know.

BB: It is a little bit of some game decisions. I'm not just totally trying to give you the run around.

Q: I am just trying to get a feel for who the candidates are. I know that Tyrone Poole returned a little bit during the preseason.

BB: Sure, Brown, Poole, [Deion] Branch, [Kevin] Faulk, those four guys have all done it.

Q: Where is the offensive line at in terms of readiness? Are they ahead in your estimation?

BB: Well I think in some respects they are. There has been more continuity on the line once [Joe] Andruzzi got in there. Now [Damien] Woody didn't play in the last two preseason games, but Woody has played a lot and has taken a lot of snaps in practice. I think the overall continuity, those seven/eight guys, have played quite a few snaps together when you combine practice and the preseason games. Not necessarily all five of them all of the time, but whether it is Andruzzi and [Adrian] Klemm, or whether it is Woody and Andruzzi or whether it is [Mike] Compton and [Matt] Light who have been there all the way through camp. There are, at least, elements where there has been a lot of continuity. Again, not necessarily all five guys at once. [Tom] Ashworth has taken a lot of snaps at both tackles.

Q: Is there going to be rotation at center between Compton and Woody?

BB: Well, we have done that in the shotgun situations. That still could be an option for us if we are in shotgun.

Q: Woody still hasn't gotten that snap thing down?

BB: Again, part of the situation with Damien is he has missed the last two preseason games. He didn't play that much in the first game against the Giants. That was about 12 plays. It's okay. He could do it. He's done enough of it there.

Q: If you lost one of your guards, would Woody move outside and [Dan] Koppen move there?

BB: Yes, that could be one option or we could move one of the tackles down to guard. When you only go with seven or eight offensive linemen, more than one guy is going to have to double up.

Q: Is Woody a better guard or center? Do you have a preference?

BB: I think he is a good center and I think he is a good guard. I think the goal of the team is to get the best five players out there and put the best offensive line out there. Sometimes that means playing a guy who may be a little better in one position than another position because it gives you the best line. He has played most of his career at center but he has played a lot of guard for us especially in all of those shotgun situations. I don't think it is a problem. Sometimes it is a little bit of a match-up situation too depending on who they have and who we are playing against. Depending on what you are really trying to get done, some guys may match-up better at one than another. So is Woody a better guard than center? Against certain match-ups, we might really rather see him at guard than center. Against a different match-up we might rather see it the other way around.

Q: With his size, could he play tackle?

BB: He is pretty athletic. Maybe he could. He is, I would say just as a league-wide average, probably a little bit on the short side for a tackle. But there are some tackles with his height that could play there. Brad Hopkins, there are a couple of guys like that who come to mind. Overall, I think most of the tackles that you would see probably are going to be a little bit taller than that.

Q: Is it tougher this year to come up with your seven game day inactive's?

BB: I think the way I would put it is if we were to take a 46th player, that player would play. It's not that we would just be taking him in case something happened or for depth. If we had him, he would play. If we took the 47th player, that guy would play. He wouldn't just be there as insurance. When we start talking about who the inactive's are going to be, when you put a guy on the inactive list, the feeling is on the staff is, 'If that guy was here, here is where he would play. He would play in these situations. He would play on these special teams,' or whatever it is. Whereas, I've been in those types of decisions where that 46th guy wouldn't play. He would only play if people ahead of him were injured.

Q: Is that typically game plan related or these are our 45 players?

BB: Well it could be both. It could be game plan related. If you were planning on running a lot of two tight end offenses and you only went into the game with two tight ends and you lost a tight end, then you would really be in a bad spot. The same if you were planning on running a lot of six defensive back defenses and you went into the game with seven defensive backs, that kind of thing. It is a little bit game plan related, yes. At the same time, you don't want to just carry guys because of that is your package and leave, so-to-speak, a better player off the roster. There is a little bit of a balance you would have to keep there.

Q: You are one down on the roster right now. Are you looking for a specific person to fit that or are you kind of flexible?

BB: I would say the right person, the right player. I am not sure who that is, but the right player. At this point, we just don't see anybody out there that would be active for the game if we were to bring them in. That being said, it just would create another depth position on the team. We have some of that depth on our practice squad. If we find the right guy, we can add him there. If we don't, then we will wait a week or two. There are other people on our roster that we can all see that at some point could be eligible to return, wouldn't have to be but could return. If it goes for a week or two like that then maybe one of those guys would fill that spot. I don't know.

Q: Did you go back and make an offer to Lawyer [Milloy] on Tuesday morning after he was released?

BB: Did I? No.

Q: Did someone in the organization?

BB: Not that I am aware of.

Q: Who is [Takeo] Spikes similar to either on your team or on another team?

BB: Most of his career, he has been an off the line linebacker. He has played behind the line of scrimmage, not that he couldn't play on the line but most of his career he has been off of the line of scrimmage. A player like Roman Phifer has done that a lot in his career, not that Roman hasn't played on the line, not that Spikes probably couldn't play on the line. They are just athletic guys that have good range, and good speed for their size and are instinctive.

Q: Is he a good pass rusher?

BB: I think that he has a strong game all the way through. They blitz him some. He doesn't play like a defensive end. Maybe he could if he was put in that position. He is more of an off the line guy, but they do blitz him some. He is big, fast and athletic. He is a problem on blitz pick-up but it is not like he comes all the time. Whereas, a guy like [Jeff] Posey, of their linebackers, they play him as a down lineman in their sub-situations. He is more of a linebacker to a rush end.

Q: Is he [Posey] a guy who in your meetings you say to the team, 'Listen, Spikes is good, but Posey is a problem too?'

BB: They fill different roles on their team. I am not saying one is better than the other. They just do different things. Posey is a linebacker to a pass rusher. Spikes is, in passing situations, used more in coverage and then occasionally as a blitzer. Posey is more of a down lineman more similar to [Rosevelt] Colvin relative to our type of scheme, somebody like that.

Q: Did you watch the Jets/Washington game last night?

BB: I saw a little bit in the second half, yes.

Q: Do you pick up much from watching it on TV?

BB: No, not a whole lot. I would need to take a lot closer look at it before I would really feel confident, even if I did see anything there, just to really be able to take a look. We play both teams early in the season. One thing you get out of watching the game is you get the flow of the game. Whereas, when you watch the whole offense or the whole defense, you don't get the flow and the momentum of the game, so-to-speak. You can kind of factor it in if there is a series where a team has got the ball on the 35-yard line, well obviously they got it off a turnover or a long return or something to have that kind of field position. It's not quite the same as watching the game live and seeing the flow of the plays and the momentum. Other than that, the study of what is happening is much better off of coaching film.

Q: When you are watching game film, do you watch the TV version as part of that?

BB: Occasionally. Not always, occasionally. Particularly if it is a specific situation where timeouts are involved or maybe a kicking situation or something like that. I might go to the TV tape to take a closer look at it. Sometimes the TV tape is good for close ups for example for coaching receivers or defensive backs on releases or penalties that are called where sometimes you get a lot better look at it on the TV copy where they just zero in on those two guys and you can see him pushing with his hand or jamming to the face that you can show the players. After one of our games, we see a penalty that is a close call and it's hard to really see on the coaching copy but if you go to the TV copy sometimes they really zero in and you can get a good look at it and see what the problem was.

Q: You saw Washington during the preseason. Do you see anything different on TV?

BB: I think anytime you go into the regular season, you are just seeing a much higher level, emotionally and the intensity of the game, opening day, everybody is ready to go. They have been waiting for 6/7 months for this game. I think that is a lot different than what you see in a preseason game even though some of the players are the same, this game is one that both teams have been pointing to for a long time as we will see with the other 15 opening day games this weekend. Those games have a high level of intensity, enthusiasm, and energy in the game. It's opening day.

Q: What is the level of excitement for you as coaches? Is there anything different because it's the first game of the season?

BB: I think the big difference is on opening day is you don't really know where your team is. You just haven't seen it in those live game conditions. Everybody holds a little bit back in preseason. Everybody is playing some players to look at. It's not the true battle that you have during the regular season and there is no way to simulate it. How you look against yourself in practice or how you look against some of the preseason teams that you played based on what they are doing, which a lot of times is not all that extensive in terms of scheme, and what that looks like opening day is sometimes two different things. Sometimes you have a false sense of security or sometimes you are worried about something that you are going to be okay on. Sometimes when you match-up against your team or when you match-up against some of the preseason teams, just the way it hits, maybe that is the worst it is going to look and you are really facing some tough match-ups but you maybe don't see those match-ups every week. For example, playing against a guy like [Jeremy] Shockey or playing against a guy like Chad Lewis, you could come out of a couple of those games saying, 'Boy, we are really having trouble with the tight ends.' Maybe you don't see other players that are quite that level of play for a while and it doesn't turn out to be the weakness that you think it might be going into the year and vice versa. You do well against some other positions and then all of a sudden you open up with Eric Moulds and maybe that is a different story or Aaron Schobel or whoever it is. Pretty soon you have got a couple of match-ups there and it becomes more of a problem than what it looked at earlier.

Q: Do you have anything motivational planned for Saturday night for the team?

BB: I think what is important in this game is we go out and be able to play well and execute well. After a few plays in the game, I don't think it is about which team slammed their helmet in the locker the hardest coming out on the field. I think it is about what team can execute and play under pressure and make adjustments during the game and make good decisions in the game in terms of turnovers, penalties and ball handling and all of those kind of things. That is the team that will do the best. Not necessarily the team that is going to have a fight in the locker room because they are all hyped up. I mean, that is great and I am sure there will a lot of energy in all of the opening day games, but going out there and being able to play well I think, in the end, is going to be what determines the winner of these games.

Q: With the Drew [Bledsoe] equation and the Lawyer equation, does that drama get lost in the coaching? Do you look past that?

BB: I don't know about looking past it. We are aware of it. We know what it is, not the drama, but the players. We know who the players are. Some of our players know it in reverse, Larry Centers, Ted Washington, and Antowain Smith. It goes both ways on that. I am not saying that it doesn't exist, it does and I acknowledge it but there are a lot of other things that exist as well. I think in the end, those are probably overriding. Not that those are insignificant, but there is just overriding. We see it every week. We play the Jets. We play Miami. We play every team in this division. There are players on both teams that have played on the other teams. It is going to be like that all season long

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