Patriots head coach Bill Belichick addresses the media during his press conference at Gillette Stadium on Friday, January 01, 2010.
Q: Happy New Year.
BB: You too. Wish [you] the best for the New Year. It's pretty cool watching Bobby Orr skate out on the ice there at Fenway. Watching Bobby on skates and Bobby Clarke. It makes you realize what a special sports town this is.
Q: Were you a hockey fan?
BB: I saw a lot of Orr. I went to school at Andover and then at Wesleyan. It was kind of right half New York half Boston, so it was a good rivalry there between the Knicks and the Celtics, and the Rangers and Bruins. He was tremendous, he is tremendous. It was great to see him on skates there.
Q: Have you met him?
BB: Oh yeah. I've spent a lot of time with Bobby, good golfer.
Q: Who wins?
BB: Bobby's tough. He's tough.
Q: What is your relationship like with Terry Francona and Doc Rivers?
BB: They're great. I really enjoy all of them. They have been very helpful and gracious to us. Doc came over and talked to our team at the beginning of the year. [He] did a tremendous job. The experiences he's had as a player and a coach and going from a player to a coach and being in this town. It was great. It was outstanding. And Terry, I've been down at spring training with him a couple times, and over in Fenway. He's great and all the players, they're great.
Q: How much can you share notes on team building?
BB: Yeah, team building and just competition. It's good. You share it. It's a different sport, but it's still competition. It's coaching great players, playing against other teams, other great teams with other great players. I could spend all day with those guys. They're terrific. And some of the great sports figures here, Hondo [John Havlicek], Bobby Orr and guys like that. And we have all of our Patriots here. I get to sit with Gino Cappelletti every week, so it's pretty special.
Q: There was an AFL special on the other day and it had a quote from you about Lamar Hunt and how Lamar Hunt would call you before or after every Super Bowl and say, 'AFL'. It's 50 years in now and you're heading into the playoffs. Does the AFL resonate with you?
BB: Yeah, the thing about the AFL was we had Baltimore and the Redskins and in Annapolis, you got both games, so that was pretty good. And then when the AFL game came on, that was always the 4 o'clock game it seemed like. It was always Kansas City, Oakland, San Diego, Houston and it was sort of a West Coast league. It was always the second game there with Paul Christman and Curt Gowdy. They were kind of the voice of the AFL. Those were some exciting games. They really were – a lot of scoring. A lot of players, some players, that you hadn't really heard of, smaller school guys, but they were good players as we saw when the leagues merged.
Q: Are you an AFL guy now?
BB: I think it's all NFL now. I was definitely NFL. The Baltimore Colts, that was my team. All the great Colt players. Every kid went out there and one kid was Johnny Unitas and the other was Raymond Berry, whoever's throwing, whoever's catching. Lenny Moore, they had a great defense, too. It was fun when I worked for the Colts, in 1975, to see all those guys come back – except for Big Daddy [Eugene Lipscomb], he of course passed away, but Art Donovan, Ordell Bracey, Gino [Marchetti]. In fact, I had a great night with Art Donovan this summer. Down in Baltimore with Coach [Dave] Pietramala from Johns Hopkins. Yeah, we all knocked out some crabs. It was great. Art, he's the ultimate throwback. He's not an AFL guy, but he's the ultimate throwback football player. He's a little short guy, he's 5-11.
Q: Is he small?
BB: He's thick, but he's not a tall guy, no, not like Big Daddy, Gino Marchetti and Ordell Bracey and those guys. They're almost 6-4, 6-5, 6-6. He was kind of the nose guard.
Q: Can you imagine how much money he would make if it was 30 years later and the media was then what it is now?
BB: Oh man, yeah. He's had a commercial and advertised with just about everything that gets advertised. I would say I'm an NFL guy, but AFC.
Q: Can you talk about the moves yesterday with signing Ryan Wendell and releasing Titus Adams?
BB: Ryan's done a good job for us and we just felt like it would be good to get him up on the roster.
Q: And Titus?
BB: We'll see what happens here today with Titus.
Q: Could he be back?
BB: Sure, yes.
Q: Can he be resigned to the practice squad?
Q: Do you know what you're offensive line is going to look like this week?
BB: That's a good question. I think we'll probably see a couple different combinations in there this game. I think we have guys that have played, a couple guys like hopefully Nick [Kaczur] will be able to play this week. We'll see. I'd definitely like to get him back in there some if he can play, and Dan [Connolly] and Stephen [Neal]. Those guys, they've all played. They've played well, you know, Mark [LeVoir]. We'll see how it goes, but I think we can play some different combinations of people. We've done that inside a little bit with Dan and Steve.
Q: Is it the kind of thing where you put a couple of different combinations in there to them out for the playoffs?
BB: We'll worry about next week, next week. I don't even know who we're talking about. Right now, I just want to make sure the guys that we feel like need to get some playing time, need to get some snaps, get them, like Nick. Hopefully he can get some. He hasn't played here in a couple weeks. It was good to get Steve Neal back out, but Dan's done a good job in there.
Q: Kyle Arrington has 17 special teams tackles and he's only played in seven games. Is that speed, is it want to because that seems like a great production?
BB: Yeah, Kyle's been very productive for us. He's certainly got good speed. He's very strong for his size and plays strong. He plays with good leverage and good balance. For the guys he matches up with he has good strength for them. He's a very instinctive guy. He has a good nose for the ball. A lot of times you see the runner and three or four blockers or defenders in a little bit of a maze there and some guys have the ability to sift through there and get the runner and other guys get caught in the wash. Sometimes they don't even get blocked, but they just can't quite seem to sift through it, but he definitely seems to have a good knack for that on kickoff coverage. He's done a good job. I thought he and Matt Slater have done a good job for us as our gunners on the punt team. It was a nice play Kyle made last week and Matt was kind of right behind him on that. If Kyle hadn't made it Matt looked like he was going to be right there, he was two steps away. Kyle's done a real nice job for us in those areas.
Q: Is there a moment that stands out when you first saw a defensive package, like the one you guys have used the last couple weeks with the five linebackers and six defensive backs, standing guys up at the line?
BB: I think we used it a couple times with the Giants. In fact, we did one game with the Giants was all the linebackers got on the kickoff team and it was all eight of them, expect for the safeties. They were the kickoff team. It was a pretty good team – Harry [Carson], Lawrence [Taylor], Pepper [Johnson], all those guys, Carl Banks, Andy Headon. Some of those guys were on it anyway. I think we did a little bit of that with the Giants. We had a lot of two defensive linemen, with Lawrence and Carl outside and Pepper and Harry or Andy Headon were the inside guys. Then I think we got to a couple times where we just had one defensive lineman and we were in an odd front. There was a couple situations, where if I remember correctly, we didn't have any lineman on the field.
Q: Do you remember why you decided to do it?
BB: Not that the defensive lineman - I'm not saying they can't run - but it gives you a little more speed and more athleticism. And all those linebackers are potential rushers and potential droppers. I always remember my first year when I came in the league, Coach [Ted] Marchibroda would take like our second secondary with the quarterback and he would have me call coverages and we'd break the huddle and the secondary would rotate to the coverage, whatever it was and the quarterback would see the rotation and as soon as he saw it he would call it out, 'Cover Four'. As soon as Burt Jones would take one or two steps out of his drop it would be Cover Four or Three C, and try to get it out as quickly as he could based on what the strength of the formation was, but there was only seven guys and the other four guys never dropped, so now you can play the same coverages with blitzers and different combinations, so it's seven guys of the 11, but it's not always the same seven and that's made it difficult for quarterbacks. And compared to back then when you almost never saw that happen, now that's pretty commonplace with the 3-4 defense and the two defensive linemen that a lot of teams use, most 3-4 teams use. It puts nine guys in coverage, sometimes 10. There're potentially 11 guys that the quarterback has to read. You start thinking about, well the coverage drops off so you can drop the ball off the underneath zones and all that, but that's not always true because those guys that you think are rushing aren't always rushing and sometimes they drop off with those backs, too. It's tough on a quarterback.
Q: Is that something that's decided for the play?
BB: Yeah, there's some kind of a system. There is some type of a system. Since they can all sort of do the same thing it's easy enough for two guys to switch responsibilities. I'm covering and you're rushing and alright, you rush and I'll cover. And that happens sometimes at the line of scrimmage.
Q: Is it a balance? You obviously want to be clear on your responsibilities?
BB: Right, exactly. When we're confused it's no good. We don't want that. We want to know what we're doing and be able to change up and give them some different looks. But when it becomes confusing to us and there're too many options, we can do one of 19 things and there's 10 third-down plays in the game. We really don't want to be there. A lot of times those guys can tell, you can't tell from the sideline or you can't tell from film, but when you get out there on the field, they can tell who's going to block them. And Lawrence Taylor was really good at that. He knew who was going to block him and who was assigned to him. And a lot of times he would take the coverage from somebody else and also to draw the block because he knew, like I said, a tackle was going to come and get him. He would start across. He would draw the tackle to him. He would take coverage on the back and that would allow somebody else to get a matchup or hit a gap somewhere else. Again, a lot of times, some of those adjustments take place on the field and a good experienced player can do that. Junior [Seau] does a good job at that. For example, a lot times when he's out there he can pick things up like that, and sometimes change it right on the spot almost because he can see what's happening.
Q: Would Randy Moss be an offensive version of what you experience with Lawrence Taylor in some ways?
BB: Right, the coverages that Randy sees are relative to the protections that Lawrence saw. Yeah, and a lot of that is not always something you can plan for. You go into the game and talk to Taylor about the way they're going to block it and he'd come off after the first series and say, 'Coach, they're not blocking it. Like what we said they were going to do, they're not doing that, here's what they're doing. This guy's looking at me, that guy's looking at me and this guy is looking here,' and he was usually right. And Randy can do that, too. He can say, 'This guy's watching me from over there. He looks like he's got that, but they're trying to disguise it. He's really looking at it.' Yeah, sometimes you get that. I mean those guys that have experience that have seen all that, they know when they're getting something and it might not be something you prepared for.
Q: On the defense with the five linebackers and six defensive backs, was that something you would probably have done anyway?
BB: I don't know. It just kind of worked out that way for the Buffalo game and then we had it in and we ran it a few times last week. I don't know. If things had been different, I don't know.
Q: But now you have it?
BB: Well, again, we don't really have anything different. We just have a different combination of people doing it. It's not like 11 guys have to learn a new assignment. One or two guys are replacing somebody else.
Q: Do you have to be in certain down and distance situations to run that personnel out there?
BB: I think that's something you have to be aware of, although that came up a couple times last week. We expected it. We thought Jacksonville, which they're a good sub run team anyway - sub being third down or their passing people in there and then run the ball. They do a good job of that and we expected they would try that because we had already shown it a couple times. Until really that last drive, that last draw play, I think they ran it three or four times against that group and we handled it pretty well. Being on the other side of it, the Jets did that a couple years ago, too, where it wasn't all linebackers they would walk some guys around. It's easy to say they have the smaller guys out there and we'll just ... But you've got to find them and you have to have some new blocking rules because you don't have the traditional odd or even calls and things like that. You're trying to get five or six guys to all block their five or six guys, sometimes there's a lot of stuff to sort out. If you can catch the right blocking scheme against the right look you could probably hit a petty big play and if you don't you could probably get hit in the backfield, which, like I said, happened a couple times last week. But we definitely have to be aware of it. There's no question about it.
Q: So even if it's the idea of making things look chaotic, discipline might be even more important when you're running that type of thing?
BB: Again, if you keep different combinations in there, you've got guys on one side or guys in the middle, guys on the line, guys off the line, different levels. It just creates, sometimes, a timing of the running game could be a problem or the timing of the pickup could be a little bit of a problem, too. The easiest thing is when they're all on the line and they all come at once. Then it's pretty easy, not easy, but it's relatively clean to be able to sort that out, but sometimes when they're on different levels and one guy gets there before the other guy does and there's some type of cross action, depending on what the blocking combination is it can be difficult.