Patriots head coach Bill Belichick addresses the media during his press conference at Gillette Stadium, on Wednesday, January 12, 2011.
BB: We got everybody in here; Fought through the snow. We couldn't really get the field cleared so we'll be inside today, but we'll be back [outside] the rest of the week. Hopefully we won't have [this weather] on Sunday, but onto the Jets here. Good football team. Big win for them in Indianapolis. [They] do a lot of things well: offense, defense, special teams. We know it's going to be a huge challenge for us Sunday. Need a good week of preparation and we know we're going to need to play our best game, so that's what we're working toward.
Q: What type of contingencies were in place for the weather? Did some guys stay at hotels?
BB: They're all here. We have some experienced northeastern drivers on our team.
Q: Anyone late?
BB: We're all here.
Q: Did the trip down to Atlanta [in the preseason] have any impact on the team? You spent a week down there.
BB: I think all of the experiences that you have as a team are part of the season. Each year is a little bit different depending on the players and the circumstances of the year, the games, whatever you go through as a group, we all go through it together. Each of those experiences has value. No doubt about it.
Q: As much effort as Rex Ryan puts into these comments and gamesmanship, does it take effort to not respond at all?
BB: Our job is really just to get ready for the game, so that's what we're going to do.
Q: Is there a line that can be crossed though, thinking about the comment that Antonio Cromartie made about Tom Brady?
BB: That's all out of our control. Our job is to get ready to play and that's what we're going to do.
Q: When you look at what Tom accomplished earlier in his career and where he's at now, has he really evolved a lot as a person?
BB: We've all grown up, matured. I don't know what the right word is. But yeah, sure, you have those experiences, you go through them, you learn from them, and it affects you going forward. So you learn from them, both good and bad. I'm sure he's done that. We all have.
Q: Deion Branch said that since the time he was first here before he has seen Tom evolve as a leader. Have you seen that?
BB: Yeah, I would agree with that.
Q: Where there circumstances that brought that on or was that just natural?
BB: I would say it was pretty natural.
Q: Is that something that you can encourage as a coach?
BB: I think the dynamics and the interactions between the people on the team are unique to those people. I can't tell two players that they need to like each other or they need to be best friends or they need to do this or do that. All of that stuff happens... it's the chemistry. It's no different than relationships that you have with your friends and your people. Some of them you do certain thing with, some of them you are closer to than others. That's just the way it is.
Q: Do you take what other teams say and use it? And in your experience, what kind of effect does that have on players' play?
BB: I don't know. You'd have to ask those players.
Q: When you drafted Devin McCourty, did the fact that he had a twin brother who was already playing in the league have any impact?
BB: No. Not really.
Q: What about what Devin has given you this year?
BB: He's done an outstanding job. He's got a lot of maturity. He's worked very hard. Of course he was in a good system. Coach [Greg] Schiano at Rutgers has an excellent defensive system and I think Devin learned a lot there about preparation and fundamentals and technique and so forth. And he's worked hard and he's built on those, built off a real good base. He's done a good job for us. Right from the beginning he showed a good level of maturity, similar to maybe what [Jerod] Mayo showed as a rookie. Coming in, being confident, having good experience and making a lot of adjustments that maybe a lot of other rookie players would take longer to get, he got them pretty quickly and has performed well, very consistently through the course of the year.
Q: Do you remember him when you spoke to the Rutgers team that year?
BB: Well I spoke to the whole group. There were probably 100 people in the room.
Q: What about Kyle Arrington? How has he developed this year?
BB: Kyle has done a good job. The thing about Kyle last year is that he came in at the end of preseason and was on the practice squad for a little while and did an excellent job on special teams. This year he had the chance to start participating in a lot of quality defensive snaps early on and was very competitive at the position. He turned that into playing time and turned those playing time opportunities into a good solid season. That's kind of the way that worked. Had he been here at the beginning of the season in '09, who knows? I don't know.
Q: What's Vince Wilfork's role been, especially with so many young guys at his position?
BB: Vince is one of the team captains elected by his peers, but his role is the same as everybody else's, which is to do their job and be ready to play, play at a high level and perform consistently. Defensive communication and adjustments, being right in the middle of the defensive line, that's important. All of the players in the middle of the formation are important. Safeties, middle linebackers, interior defensive linemen are important in the communication because they extend it out to the perimeter. On the front, that's [Wilfork], at the linebacker level that's Jerod and at the secondary level it's the players at the safety position. That's important too. Certainly Vince has a lot of respect on this team. He's played a long time here. He's played in a lot of big games. He's an outstanding player, so I think he's looked up to by everyone.
Q: What kind of a comfort is it and how much of a value is it to have Dan Connolly?
BB: Dan is one of those guys that he's so, so consistent, I don't want to say that you take him for granted, but in a way you kind of do. He's always there. He's a very intelligent player. A very football smart, savvy player. He makes a lot of good football decisions on the field, adjustments, those kind of things. He's been doing it for long time for us. I know that every vet has a lot of confidence in Dan, his teammates on the line, the guys playing behind him in the backfield, the coaches. Like I said, he's there every day, performs at a very consistent level and a high level, both run and pass, blitz pickup, adjustments, all those things. So he's been solid for us and it's always a plus at the offensive line position to have that kind of consistency and continuity. He's provided it.
Q: Is the relationship between Koppen and Brady almost like a pitcher/catcher relationship?
BB: I don't know about that, but it's a good relationship and their communication between the line and the backfield on blocking assignments, blitz pickup, adjustments, they all need to be on the same page. The quarterback has to know who the line is blocking just like the line needs to know who they are blocking so that the hots and sight-adjusts and run-blocking adjustments and so forth all get coordinated and worked out properly. Those two guys spend a lot of time together and they communicate in their own way. Sometimes it's through signals and sometimes it's obviously through a lot of experience, but it's critical that the center and the quarterback are on the same page and see the same picture, whatever it is. However they want to treat a certain look, that they both treat it the same way so that we can have a consistently executed play. Tom and Dan both do a great job of it.
Q: Do you think there is a line that a player can cross when talking about an opposing player that goes past trash talking?
BB: I don't know. I'm sure there is.
Q: What is the line?
BB: I don't know.
Q: But in your mind -
BB: In my mind right now it's the New York Jets Sunday at 4:30. That's what's in my mind right now.
Q: What does it say about your team that no one has bought into the trash talking or veered off course this week?
BB: I don't know. We're trying to prepare for the game; that's our objective - to play our best game Sunday afternoon, so that's what we're pointing toward and that's what we're going to try to work toward.
Q: When you were looking for a kicker, what stuck out to you about Shayne Graham?
BB: Shayne has been a very good kicker in this league. He's had a lot of production. He's kicked very well. He had a situation in Cincinnati that I don't think was really football ... It wasn't specifically football-related; there were some other factors involved. He's done a good job kicking. We were fortunate that he was available. He's come in and done a very good job for us, been a very dependable kicker. He kicked in bad conditions - or outdoors and so forth - in Cincinnati in that division: in Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Cincinnati. Those aren't the ideal conditions to kick in and we're in a similar situation here with Buffalo, the Jets, New England. That's a little bit of the same kind of climate, so his consistency, his ability to handle inclement weather and less-than-perfect conditions, those are all things that were positives for him and he did very well with it.
Q: Considering how the season ended for him last year, do you take into account how a player has performed in the playoffs and game-winning situations?
BB: Well, sure. I think you take all of that into consideration and you try to make the best decision that you can for your team. And there are a lot of circumstances, some of which a player can control and some they can't, such as injuries and things like that. And then when you get into - like the situation we were in when Steve [Gostkowski] was injured, then [it's] 'who's available?' It's not like you have your pick of 31 other NFL kickers. They're all spoken for and so are some other guys. And so your pool of players is whatever it is - whatever is out there - and you have to do what you feel like is the best decision based on the information that you have and the players that are available. And that may not be the same for all teams, but we did what we felt was best for our team.
Q: What have you seen from Deion Branch since he returned and did you expect him to have such an immediate impact?
BB: I think Deion is really very similar to the player he was when he was here before. His work ethic, his intelligence, his football instincts are all superior. He has a great feel for the passing game and when to adjust routes, when to shorten them, when to cut them off. He just does the right thing [in] man coverage, zone coverage. Quarterbacks have a lot of confidence in him. His skill set as a receiver is very similar to what it was when he was here before. All of those things are big positives for him and for us.
Q: He said that he thought Tom Brady was more effective with the deep ball than when he was here before. Do you think it was playing with Randy Moss the stretched that ability to look downfield more often?
BB: I think Tom is the type of player that works to improve on everything every year, every week, every day. So over the course of time I think he's improved in a lot of areas because he's continued to work on them and work on all the little things. And that's not saying they were deficient to begin with; Tom just strives for perfection. I think there is always a place for every player to improve and that's what Tom does. He works hard to try to find that little area of improvement that could result in a better play somewhere down the line. I would include, really, all of his game in that.
Q: Have the Jets changed much or are they pretty much the same team you saw in Week 12?
BB: Well, there are certainly a lot of similarities, but there are some things that are a little bit different. We all go through that. That's what the NFL is. You have different things happen to your team: you lose players, you gain players, or you face different opponents, different matchups and that has a certain transition effect on your team. I think every team in the league goes through that. You play three or four games and you're a little bit different than you were even if you don't want to be. You have to because you have to react to what your opponents are doing.
Q: With all the external things going on and with all the young players, do you have to keep the players' emotions in check early in the game and do you send that message to the players at all?
BB: I don't know. We've played a lot of football games this year. We've been in a lot of games, so hopefully we can learn from the experience in those games and put it to use in the next one.
Q: It was 11 years ago last week that you resigned as coach of the Jets. Have you ever thought about what would have happened if you stayed and coached the Jets?
BB: I haven't thought much about it, no. I didn't think it would work at the time, so that's why I made that decision.
Q: What do you like most about your team?
BB: I think they've worked consistently well over the course of the year on a daily basis. They've come to work, been ready to go, tried to improve, tried to get better and I think we have improved over the course of the year.
Q: Is that more mental or physical?
BB: Both. You've got to be able to physically do it. You've got to work at it. Mentally, you've got to concentrate on it and focus on those things and not just mark the days off, but actually come in and be productive and improve. I think it's a combination of all of those things.
Q: How much has Mark Sanchez grown as a quarterback since you first saw him, especially with Braylon Edwards and Santonio Holmes evolving as guys he has a lot of trust in?
BB: He's got a lot of trust in all those guys. I think he trusts [Jerricho] Cotchery, Brady Smith, [LaDainian] Tomlinson, [Dustin] Keller, all of them. I don't think that's an issue. I'd say the big thing with Mark has been his performance. They've been in a lot of close games. They've won a lot of close games. He's brought them back, like in the Detroit situation where they were behind in the fourth quarter. And overtime - the Cleveland game, for example. The Colts game last week where they were down, game-wining drive, field goal kick. I think the thing that he's done this year is he's been in a lot of close games and he's won a lot of them and they've won them with a final drive or a final possession. I think that's what the mark of a good quarterback is: your record and doing what you need to do to get your team to win. I don't think it's necessarily about stats and all of that; it's about winning the game and a lot of times those decisions at the end of the game - whether it's clock management, the decision to throw the ball away or whatever it is - those are the decisions that win or lose games, sometimes a lot more that what the 'numbers' say. If the quarterback is winning games and they're tight games and he's making plays at the end to help his team win, then you've got a good quarterback. If he's not, then you're probably not real happy with him.