New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick addresses the media during his press conference at Gillette Stadium on January 4, 2008.
BB: A couple of things to start. First of all, I want to acknowledge the Coach of the Year [award] yesterday from the AP. It's certainly an honor and something I appreciate. I think there are a lot of great coaches in this league. I think there are some guys that have done really fantastic jobs at their teams, so it's really an honor to be selected. At the same time, I think it's much more of a team award than an individual award. It's based on the success of our team and the players and what they've done, and certainly the assistant coaches. They're the ones that do most of the coaching and most of the preparation, so I think really they deserve a lot more credit for that than I do. It is certainly an honor to be recognized like that, but I think most of the credit needs to go to the players and the team for winning and the assistant coaches for the job that they did.
As far as the situation with Josh [McDaniels] goes, I think that he's said what he had to say about it and I really wouldn't have a whole lot to add to that, other than I think Josh is an outstanding coach, one of the best that I've worked with. I know he's young, but he's outstanding, does a great job and has done in a number of different areas in this organization and for me personally. I think he has a tremendous future as a coach. But, as he said, all of that's being put aside right now and we all are focused on our task at hand. We're 0-0. We're right at the bottom with everybody else in the playoffs, so we're looking forward to trying to get ready to go for our first opponent and play well next Saturday night. So that's where we're at.
Q: Congratulations on being named Coach of the Year. I have a question about something that a lot of people are wondering. There are voters that have come out yesterday and today and expressed why they would not vote for you, reflective of what happened in September. Does that surprise you or concern you at all?
BB: I think everybody is entitled to their own opinion. Whatever they said, that's their opinion.
Q: Typically your teams are known to play their best football down the stretch, in December. Do you feel that's been the case this season?
BB: It's a tough question. I'd say each game is it's own entity, as we've talked about many times before. [I'm] happy with our record. There are always things we can do better. I think that's true of this year, last year, every year. [You] take each game, try to emphasize the things you did right, try to correct the things that you didn't do as well as you wanted to do them, improve on them in the opportunities you have to improve them and get ready to go the next week, but there are new challenges ahead. It's a different opponent, different personnel, different scheme and so you're on to the next challenge. That's the way it always is.
Q: In light of the record and the honor that you got, when you look back on the season were there any games where in particular where you felt like required you to bring of yourself the utmost?
BB: Well, look, I think everybody in that locker room - every player and every assistant coach - prepares. We play once a week. They prepare the best they can for that opportunity to play, whatever their role is, however many plays it is, whatever their responsibilities are, and we all need each other. We're just trying to do our job. We have to count on everybody on the team to do theirs and I think we do the best that we can. I'm not saying it's perfect. Some weeks I don't even know if it's good, but we do the best we can each week to put ourselves in that position and then perform when we get an opportunity to perform. I think that's… I'm speaking for everybody on that - every player, every coach that's in those meeting rooms, that goes through the preparation for the week. Sometimes things work out better than others, but I think the intent is always the same. And I commend the players and the assistant coaches and all of the support people for that attitude and that type of approach to the game. Sometimes it works out better than others, but we try to do our best each week.
Q: Obviously the success this team has had has brought a lot of opportunities to a lot of people in the last few years for advancement in the coaching ranks. Now Josh is basically in a position where he could get ahead on it. What does it take for an individual to basically step away from that opportunity, to stay in place and maybe learn more? What do you see as a motivating factor for him not to jump to a team like that?
BB: I think that's a question for him to answer. I think he's already spoken to it, to some degree. I don't think I could or should speak for anybody else on that, so [I'll] let him handle it.
Q: Did you ever turn down an interview when you were with the Giants, when it was requested?
BB: Yeah, sure.
Q: How tough was that for you?
BB: It's an individual decision. We all make personal decisions in our lives. Whichever one you make, you try to take the information you have, the situation you're in, decide what you think is best and that's what you do. I think we all go through that pretty much on a daily basis. You don't say yes to everything, you don't say no to everything. There's a balance somewhere and you do what you think is best for you or the people that you represent, whatever that group happens to be - family or your team or whatever it is.
Q: Is there something to be said for interviewing just for the experience?
BB: There's something to be said for everything. You can gain anything out of an experience. There's always something positive to be gained. Sometimes there's a cost. Again, it's an individual decision.
Q: When you bring in a Junior Seau, a Randy Moss, a Wes Welker, a Tom Brady, what is the common thread you were looking for?
BB: I think the common thread when you bring a player onto your team is that he can help the team. There's no other reason to bring him on, so if you don't feel that's the case then it's probably not something you want to do. If you feel it is, then that is something you want to do and then how it works out, that's not always predictable, but that's the intent. Junior has been great. He was here last year. He missed the early part of training camp and came in and I don't want to say he was behind, but he wasn't here for the spring camps, he wasn't here for the early part of training camp. And this year he not only was, but he also had a significant amount of experience in the system to fall back on from last year. Now, of course, he played at Miami in a system similar to this with Nick [Saban], but each system is unique. Even though there are a lot more similarities than differences, there's still a uniqueness to each team and each system and certainly to our players. Even if you in the exact same system, when you're doing it with a different team… Mike Vrabel is different than Jason Taylor and Vince Wilfork is different than Keith Traylor and right on down the line. It's still working with different people and timing and communication and all of those things. He had a big jump on that this year. I think his election as a captain is a reflection of his respect that he commands in the locker room, and I think that's across the board - old players, young players, offense, defense. I think his leadership and his ability to connect with his teammates transcends any position, age or anything else. He's well-respected, he has great knowledge of the game, works hard, puts the team first, [is] a very unselfish player, tough, physical, committed, works hard. There's hardly anything… It's all good.
Q: With respect to your award, how important is it to have players, young and old, rookies and veterans that take to coaching, both from you and your staff?
BB: That's what our job is, is to try to help the players improve and I think that's a two-way street. You need to have players that you can work with and that they can work with you, and I think any time you have the type of relationship between two people you can make progress and improve and head towards whatever goal it is you're heading toward. I think our players have been receptive [and] coachable. I think they try to take the information that we give them and apply it, both from the classroom and on the practice field and onto the game field. Again, it's not always perfect and we make our share of mistakes, too. We make plenty of them. A lot of times the coaching isn't all that good and it needs to be better, so when that happens we try to correct that and get it straightened out and give the players a better opportunity to be successful. I think they do a good job of taking it, trying to apply it and then if it doesn't work then we modify it or change it in some way and try to improve it. That's the only way really that that can happen, because until players accept the coaching and try to do it the way you' re instructing it's hard as a coach to make any adjustments or changes because it's not being done the way you told them, so how do you know if it's any good or not until it's done that way.
Q: Where do you feel Richard Seymour is at right now? Do you feel he's still making strides towards 100 percent or is he at that threshold?
BB: I think Richard is like every player for the most part that goes through a significant part of the season: A player comes in, gets his timing and techniques, gets in playing position and then he plays - and he plays at a pretty high level, which I think Richard is doing. There's a lot of - It's a physical game. There's a lot of bumps and bruises and sometimes players work through those as they get their timing and all down and get their game up. I think Richard is probably at the same point that 90 percent of the rest of the team is.
Q: A lot of the '72 Dolphins have come out over the last four months describing what they went through with the 1972 undefeated season and said that with every win, the pressure just magnified. Have you guys experienced anything like that, and how do you deal with that going into the playoffs?
BB: We deal with it one week at a time. Last week we dealt with the Giants, this week we're working on things to try to improve our team until we know who our opponent is, next week we'll work on our next opponent.
Q: Have you felt the pressure?
BB: We deal with it one week at a time. Obviously every season the later you go into the season, the fewer games there are, the more important each game is. So when you get to the playoffs, every game is a one-game season. Every team is one game away from elimination. That's nothing new - that's the way it always is. We all know that. Every team in the playoffs knows that. It's the same for all of us.
Q: What can your advance scouts tell you that you can't just see on film?
BB: Basically the things that happen in between plays. What you see on film is from right before the ball is snapped until right after the whistle blows and whatever happens in between - substitutions, different timing situations. Maybe alignments, depending on how quickly they happen, how close to the snap they happen. Say on a punt formation a team lines up in a two-deep look and then they roll up from a two-deep into a one-deep look and bring a guy in off the - Well, maybe you can see all of that on the film. Maybe you can't. It depends on what the timing is, when the camera starts and when the play happens. So, you know, there's things like that that basically, like I said, when the camera's not running then whatever things they see they can make a note of those.
Q: You mentioned when a coach decides to try for a head coaching opportunity it's an individual decision. Why were the factors right for you when you make the choice to go to Cleveland?
BB: Why were they? I think that's a lot longer answer than we have time for here. It was just I was at a point in my career [that] I thought it was the right time.