Patriots head coach Bill Belichick addresses the media during his press conference at Gillette Stadium, on Friday, January 14, 2011.
BB: We're winding down here. We'll hopefully have a good day outside and get a good review on everything and be ready to go Sunday. I think we've had a good week of preparation. [There's] a lot to get ready for. The Jets do a good job. They give you a lot of different looks and a lot of things to prepare for, but hopefully we'll finish up the preparations today and be ready to go on Sunday.
Q: How has Brandon Spikes looked this week?
BB: I think he's gotten a little better. There was a period of time there where he really didn't do anything at all, at least football related. No matter how much you want to be running around the track, doing sit ups and all that, it's not the same as being out there with 21 other guys, playing football. There's no way to simulate that other than to actually get out there and do it. I think those are the kind of things that the more you do it, the more it comes back.
Q: Have you been impressed with what Kyle Love has been able to do?
BB: Kyle played well at Mississippi State. He played against good competition down there, like [Maurkice] Pouncy, for example, in that league. I think he's shown some of the same things here that he showed in college against SEC competition, which is good competition. He's had an opportunity to learn from some very good people: Pepper [Johnson], obviously Vince [Wilfork], Myron [Pryor]. He's worked hard and gotten better, so he's done a good job.
Q: Did they move him around much at Mississippi State or did he have a static position?
BB: He just played nose [tackle]. They shaded him some and, at times, he played in the guard and some of their even fronts, but he basically played inside.
Q: But you saw enough to know he could be versatile?
BB: Right, that's something we didn't know until we started working with him, but again, a lot of our techniques at the end are the same as they are at nose - just like Vince does, like Gerard Warren's done it. Mike Wright's done it. So, a lot of the techniques are the same, you're just seeing it [with] a little different blocking combination with the tight end involved as opposed to ... Obviously, the nose is the toughest because you've got two uncovered guys next to you whereas, as a defensive end, you're only looking at one uncovered guy.
Q: Once your preparation is done against the Jets, what part of your success is physical, is emotional and is mental?
BB: I don't know. I don't know. Playing well is about playing well. You can break it down into 17,000 adjectives, but it's doing your job. That's technique. It's execution. It's strength. It's toughness. It's consistency. It's all those things; I can't give you a percentage on whatever those adjectives were.
Q: How many points for creativity do you give Wes Welker for using feet in his press conference yesterday?
BB: Right now my comments are just about the Jets and that's what we're focused on. You would have to ask them about that.
Q: Is there a way you can gauge how your preparation's been and how ready you are?
BB: No. You always try to do the best you can. It's never perfect. That's what practice is for. It's seeing things out there, correcting them. It's always a little bit different in the game. You try to do the best you can and take advantage of all your opportunities to prepare, whether that's in the classroom or on the field or wherever it is - studying film. But, ultimately, the game is the game. There are going to be things that happen in this game that we haven't practiced and there are going to be situations that we have to react to that we probably haven't gone over, or haven't gone over as thoroughly as we've gone over other things. Maybe it's something we covered a week or two ago or maybe it's something we covered a month ago; who knows? That's always part of the game. Preparation is an ongoing thing, but, ultimately, it comes down to going out there and playing the game. You want to take advantage of your opportunities and get the most out of them, but in the end, it comes down to how you execute in the game. I think the two are related but, again, it comes over a long period of time. We can only run 100 plays out there in a week and when you look at all of our defenses and all of their plays or all of our plays and all of their defenses, the combinations are exponential. There are hundreds of thousands of different combinations that can come up: this play against this look, this play against that blitz, this play against that stunt. You work on some of them and then there are others ones where if they hit, they hit. You just have to react to them.
Q: Vince Wilfork said that the rookie class isn't afraid to ask questions. How much do you think that's helped them get ready for a game like this?
BB: Well, I think that's a great way to learn: to listen to what's being told to you and if you don't understand it 100 percent, to try and get it clarified, whether that's the coach or the player or whoever it is - the guys playing across from me if you're a defensive lineman to talk to offensive lineman or talk to a defensive lineman or talk to your coach - whoever it is. But, to have more knowledge and more understanding, more clarification, that's how you can really improve and really get a full understanding of, again, not just what you're doing but exactly how you're supposed to do it or maybe even what they're thinking when you do certain things. I think good learners are good question askers, and are good listeners.
Q: Is this rookie class kind of unique in your experience in that regard?
BB: No, I wouldn't say that. We've had a lot of good players come in here: Logan Mankins, Jerod Mayo, [Patrick] Chung, you can go right down the line - [Tom] Brady, he wasn't a first-round choice, but guys like that. We've had a lot of guys come in here - Wilfork, when he was a rookie - we have a lot of guys come in here and learn the system and gain more knowledge and gain more experience and have a better understanding of what's going on from one week to the next, from the beginning of the year to the end, from one year to the next, even as rookies. I think that's an individual thing. Some guys do a better job of it than others, in all honesty - that's no secret. But, I mean, this isn't the first rookie class that's ever come in and had a couple guys play well or do well or have a couple guys contribute to the team. We've had a lot of that around here.
Q: A lot of the noise is that this game is a very much chess match sort of football game. When you look at the Jets, is there something that particularly gets you excited to face them?
BB: Every team we play is a challenge. And the Jets are a big challenge, but so was Miami last week and Buffalo the week before, right on down the line: Green Bay the week before that, Chicago the week before that. It's a challenge every week. Every team has good players. Every team has good coaches. Every team works hard. Every team has the ability to hurt you with whatever they have you at their disposal. It changes from week to week. The Jets are the Jets. Nobody else has Mark Sanchez. Nobody else has [Braylon] Edwards. Nobody else has [Santonio] Holmes. Nobody else has [Darrelle] Revis. Nobody else has - you can go right down the line - Brad Smith. Those guys are all Jets players; they don't play for any other team. When you match up against another team, you match up against a different group of players. Even if they play a similar style or run a similar play, it's different because it's different players. Each game is unique. Each game presents its own challenges. Each player presents his own challenges. Each matchup is different.
Q: What have you seen out of Aaron Hernandez throughout the season? How has he progressed?
BB: Well, I think Aaron's learned a lot this year. He played in a great program in Florida and was a big contributor on their team, but some of the things that we do are different than some of the things they did. Their running game with [Tim] Tebow and some of the running game they had with their option offense and things like that, it's just different for us. So, some of the running game is different. Some of the passing game is different, but he's a smart kid. I think he loves football. I think he loves to practice. He practices hard. When we've had him simulate some of the other tight ends we've played, he does a great job of giving the defense a look and he loves the competition of it. I think he's done some good things. He's improved in a lot of areas. I think he still has a lot of upside. I think he can improve in a lot of other things. He's got a long way to go. I think he understands that and hopefully he can continue to work and get better in those areas. But, I certainly think there's a lot of progress over the course of the year.
Q: Jarrad Page said that there are only so many opportunities in the game and you have to take advantage of them because if you don't, there may not be a next week.
BB: Couldn't have put it better myself.
Q: Is that what you have been stressing with so many young guys who haven't played in the playoffs?
BB: Young guys, it's the same for all of us. I don't care if you've been in the playoffs or haven't been in them. We all understand it. It's a one-game season. However many plays there are, that's how many are left and if they aren't good ones, that will be it. If they're good ones, then we'll get another opportunity. But, if it's not good enough this week, then the season's over. The season's going to end for somebody this week. That's the way it is. It's not trying to put any pressure or overdramatize it. That's what it is. It's a one-game season.
Q: What challenges do the Jets present on special teams?
BB: They're good in every area. They really are. They're solid all the way across the board. They're a good return team. They're a good coverage team. They're a good kick-blocking pressure team. They have a good combination of skill players, speed players and physical players: linebackers, backs, guys like that. So, they have a good mixture of size and power and speed and quickness. They're well coached. They've been productive in every phase of the game. They're in the top of the league in kickoff returns. They're in the top of the league in kickoff coverage. They're good on punt returns. They're good on punt rushes. [Steve] Weatherford's an excellent kicker - a good plus-50 punter. I think their solid across the board. They're not afraid to run trick plays: the fake punt against Chicago, the fake punt against Green Bay. So, they keep you off balance there. You've got to be sound. They have good players and they're well coached, so they're pretty solid in every phase of that game.