Patriots head coach Bill Belichick addresses the media during his press conference at Gillette Stadium, on Monday, January 17, 2011.
BB: Well, definitely today's a day where it's sort of like things happened and it ended unexpectedly. You always think your season's going to continue. We had a lot of confidence going into the game and it didn't work out, so [it's] a disappointing day. We had our chances yesterday, but in the end, [we] couldn't make as many plays as they did, so that's the result. That's playoff football. There were certainly a lot of good things that happened for us this season, but that definitely gets overshadowed by the final results. We'll have to work hard to get back to this point in the future. We'll go forward. There are a lot of things in the future that are questions that we just can't answer and probably won't be able to answer for quite a while - a lot of things that are out of our control as an individual football team that are related to a bigger picture. We'll deal with those in due course and in the meantime, we try to deal with some of the things that we can have some control over and move forward in our preparation in the offseason on things like the draft and stuff like that, that we'll know we'll have an opportunity to work on. So, that's where we're at for today.
Q: Is the draft the only thing that you know you can work on until the CBA is resolved? You can't do any of those March workouts?
BB: Yeah, I think all the relations between the clubs and the players, I'd say that right now there's kind of a template or a format. My understanding is though that... I mean, obviously that's something that can be negotiated. It may or may not change so rather than try to get too far ahead of ourselves on things like that with our current players, that we'll wait and give that some time and see what exactly are the rules of the offseason and so forth if there's not a collective bargaining agreement. Really, all that stuff right now is secondary. We'll wait and see what happens. Whatever it is, we'll deal with it then. For right now, the draft is the one thing that is pretty well cemented in the future. We all know what the situation is on that.
Q: Overall, what's the focus for you guys over the next three or four days?
BB: Just to wrap up a lot of the end of the year things, just pulling a lot of things together. It's a long list - just wrapping up a lot of the things that you have to do to tie up things at the end of the year.
Q: Have you had a chance to see how the Jets got some of the pressure on Tom Brady like they did?
BB: I'd say it's a combination of things. There were a couple of times where they had a scheme where we really didn't have it picked up. There were other times where we had it picked up, [but] either a route wasn't open or we didn't do a good job of getting open on the route or the protection broke down - it was a physical breakdown - things like that. It was a combination of things.
Q: On Jerricho Cotchery's pass over the middle, have you gotten an idea of how that broke down?
BB: Yeah, absolutely. Obviously, we did a very poor job on that play, defensively. It was bad. A 4-yard pass that goes for 60 yards, it was just bad.
Q: In the fourth quarter you explained your approach of running the ball against their dime package. As you've thought about the game with more time, do you still think that was the way to go or looking back, would you have hoped for more urgency there in the offense?
BB: Well, I hope to score. That's what I'd hope for. I'd hope to score. There are five minutes to go in the game - over five minutes to go in the game - we were stopped on the fourth-and-13, but if we score on that drive, it's a one-score game with five minutes to go in the game. It's not the position you want to be in, but it's not a bad position to be in. Without the score, now you're down by two scores with five minutes to go - now that's a problem.
Q: Assuming you've watched the game, the idea of going hurry-up there, is that something that when you replayed it back that...
BB: I wouldn't have done it, no.
Q: Was there a lasting message that you have left these guys with or some sort of focus for the offseason?
BB: Well, you know, we'll talk about some things today when we meet with the team. There are a lot of things we could talk about, but I think we all feel the disappointment today.
Q: Some of the receivers talked about the Jets playing zone a lot more than you were expecting. How long do you think it took you to adjust? Did they keep you guessing for a while?
BB: No, I wouldn't say so. The first two drives, we took the ball right down the field. It wasn't - we had one or two bad plays in there - but for the most part, however many plays it was - 14, 15 plays - were good plays. We moved the ball. We mixed it. They did what they did. We had a lot of success with moving the ball, staying on track and putting ourselves in position, really, to score a lot of points there on those two drives. We ended up with three and that's not what we hoped to end with based on the way those two drives started. We felt like we should have had more points in that, but we didn't. So, I don't think it was something that we couldn't handle or had to make a big adjustment to as the game went on. We had the two bad drives there in the second quarter. Certainly, there were a couple plays that we'd have liked to have done better on, but that's pretty much the way the whole game played out. What they did in the first two drives, what they did in the first quarter, the third quarter, it was really all pretty consistent. They mixed it up, but that's what they do: they mix it up.
Q: Your defense was very young this year. Looking back, how would you say they progressed throughout the year?
BB: I think we made progress. I definitely think we've made progress. I think we have a ways to go. [There are] certainly a lot of things we could have done better and some things we did, overall, with a fair amount of consistency over the course of the year. But, there's certainly room for improvement in a lot of areas, no question about that.
Q: In general, is the personal protector allowed to make calls based on the numbers he sees at the line of scrimmage?
BB: Yeah, there are a lot of things that can happen on a lot of different plays. So, really, I'm not going to get into a detailed analysis of one play. There are a thousand things that could happen.
Q: Do you think Mark Sanchez did an effective job keeping your defense off balance throughout the game?
BB: I think it was a competitive game. I think they made some plays and we made some plays. That was a real good throw [Sanchez] made to [Santonio] Holmes. The touchdown throw I thought was an excellent pass, great catch. But, it was a competitive game.
Q: You have some veterans that have some decisions to make with an uncertain future. Do you have a feel for what those guys are considering?
BB: I've talked to those players. It's a common situation every year with every team. I don't think we have to act like it's never happened before. I don't know if the day after the end of the season is the time to make a lot of decisions on those things. In due course, I'm sure those decisions will all get worked out. It will be a combination of factors: some by the players, maybe some by the club, maybe a combination of both. We'll just have to see how it goes. But, that's pretty common this time of year for every team to have a certain amount of players in that situation. Again, you communicate with it. You work your way through it and, in the end, it works out one way or another.
Q: Even if the fake punt had worked out, would you have situationally disagreed with the call?
BB: I mean, we can go through a thousand hypotheticals, so what happens, happens. I'll let you deal with all the ifs, ands and buts.
Q: What are your thoughts on coaching the Pro Bowl? I know it's not where you want to be.
BB: It's definitely not where you want to be. We'll go out there and do it.
Q: Will you get a little scouting done - free agent scouting?
BB: Based on the level and the tempo of those practices, I think that'd be pretty minimal. [I'll] scout the golfing.
Q: Are the coordinator positions something you will reconsider over the offseason?
BB: We'll always do what we feel is best for the football team. I mean, we'll always do that. Players, coaches, scheme, draft, free agent - whatever we feel is best for the football team, then those are the decisions we'll make to try to improve it in every area.
Q: It's probably too soon for reflection on the 14-2 regular season, but how would you sum up the regular season?
BB: It was good.
Q: Going back through it, do you feel like there was a turning point?
BB: Each game is a huge challenge, its own game, but [we had] a better record than any other team. It was good, but it's not the final measuring stick. We've all got a lot of disappointment today in the final results.
Q: When you have a regular season like that and then lose in the playoffs, do you look at it like everything needs to be fixed or that the playoff game is considered just a bump in the road in the regular season where you were heading in the right direction?
BB: Well, I think we all understand what the playoffs are: it's a compilation of the best teams playing each other and the highest level of competition. I think that's really where you measure all the teams and see what you can do against those top levels of competition. There're obviously some things that we're going to have to do better relative to that. [We] found that out last year, too. We'll try to address those.
Q: There was some conversation in the locker room from the veterans that they thought the lack of experience of some of the younger guys might have played a role in the loss. Did you see some of that inexperience and lack of playoff experience in the young kids?
BB: I think that collectively as a team we lost. I think that everybody that played in the game sure has plays that they would like to have back. There were mistakes out there by rookies, veterans, players in between, coaches. In that game, I think there's something that each and every one of us that participated in the game or competed in it, I feel like there's something that we could have done better, something we'd like to have back. I think that includes everybody. I wouldn't just limit it to any single player or any group of players. I'd include the veteran players in there along with everybody else.
Q: Do you think this game was at least a good teaching tool for some of the younger players? At least now that they got their feet wet and maybe know what to expect next time with the intensity?
BB: Well, I think experience is always helpful, but I don't think it's a prerequisite. I think it's all about going out there and performing well and sometimes experience is beneficial; sometimes it really isn't. There're plenty of teams that have done well in the playoffs, plenty of players that have done well in the playoffs without a lot of experience, so I don't think that's a prerequisite.
Q: What are your thoughts for returning for a 12th season and the chips that you have to keep improving the team?
BB: Pretty much the same as they've been every year: take the offseason and try and look all the thing that we've done, look at the challenges going forward and try to make the most of opportunities - whatever they are - to try and get better as a football team in all areas.
Q: For you personally, what are your thoughts on coming back for a 12th season?
BB: Pretty much the same as being here for an 11th season or a 10th season.
Q: What's the one message that you want to boil down and give to this team about this season?
BB: I think there are a number of things that we'll talk about, like we usually do at the end of the year. We'll cover some things that we need to cover. There are just some things that we have to talk about, logistically, going forward that affect everyone. Then there are some things that affect some people more than others and so forth. I think there are a number of things to cover. Individually, there are some things to talk about, as well. Some people have individual situations that are different from others that you have to allocate time to handle those - things that we weren't able to discuss or it really wasn't the right time to discuss during the season when we're getting ready for a game or getting ready for the divisional playoffs, things like that, that now that the season has concluded is an appropriate time to discuss some of those things with the individual players. So, that's what we'll do.
Q: What's it like to be a coach right now in the situation? You hear about how it's kind of owners versus players. Are you in a gray area? Are you just frustrated in the lack of progress because you want to have the schedule and know what you're doing in the offseason? What's it like from a coaching standpoint?
BB: It's different, but it's similar to two other situations that I was involved in: '82 and '87. It's the same type of thing. I'd say if you're in the business long enough, that's part of it. It's uncertain in that situation. Eventually, I'm sure it will get resolved, in time - whenever that is - at some point. In the meantime, you do what you can do. Those things are all out of my control as a coach. I don't have anything to do with any of that. So, whenever it's resolved, it's resolved. In the meantime, we'll do the best that we can with the opportunities or the information that we have. When those things become defined, then we'll deal with those definitions, whatever they happen to be. I mean, I would say that certainly between now and whenever it is - the beginning of March - we'll know more at the beginning of March than we know right now, today, as we sit here. It might not be much more. It might be a lot more, but we'll know more. So, at least until that point, I think it's still some degree of speculation. Maybe there will be some resolution even in terms of the interim, if you will, period between March and whenever actually football season really starts - if that's the way it goes - between the players and the owners as to how things are going to be handled between March and the start of the season. Maybe there won't; I don't know. We'll see how it goes.
Q: Are there contingency plans in place for different scenarios?
BB: There's nothing to work on. Right now, there's nothing to work on. Until there comes more clarification on that, then really there isn't anything to set as far as an offseason program or something like that. There really isn't anything to set up because there isn't one.
Q: How do you watch the last three games of the playoffs? Do you watch it out of interest? Do you evaluate how the teams play?
BB: I don't know. We'll deal with that. Right now, I've got a lot of things to do today - a lot of things to take of today. So, we'll worry about today. I know there are some things that I have to do tomorrow, as well, and other things in the week. So, I'm not looking that far ahead right now.
Q: Will the guys invited to play in the Pro Bowl be evaluated medically sometime this week to see if they can participate or not?
BB: Yeah, well every player has a medical, end of the year physical - a medical evaluation. Every player in the league does that. That's part of the process as a league, in their contract and so forth, so every player goes through that.
BB: I know it's been a long year for us. I appreciate everybody's cooperation and patience at times. I'm sure we'll see you at some point down the road. Thank you.