Patriots head coach Bill Belichick addresses the media during his press conference at Gillette Stadium on Tuesday, January 5, 2010.
BB: It's good to be in here, getting ready for the playoffs. It's always an exciting time of the year when you're coming into postseason play. It's something we've been working for all year. I know our football team and coaching staff, players, everybody is excited to get going here. [They have an] outstanding football team in Baltimore. They're tough. They certainly have played a lot of very competitive games. It was an interesting comment that Ray Lewis made that their experiences this year have made them tougher and more resilient, more ready for playoff competition. I can certainly see that. Other than the Chicago and Detroit games, the last half of the season, all their games have been very competitive, where they've been behind in the fourth quarter and come back to win them or played them right down to the wire. Or even last week's game was an eight-point game for the better part of the second half. They've been in a lot of competitive situations. They're excellent on defense. They are very good in the kicking game, lead the league kickoff returns and strong defensively, really in all areas, particularly the red area. They are a good turnover team. They don't give up much. They take it away. They lead the league in points differential off turnovers. Offensively, they have a strong running game, good runners, real good tight end, good receivers, good quarterback, big offensive line. They do a lot of things well. It's easy to see why they've had a successful season and why they're our opponent this week.
Q: Can you talk a little bit about your reaction to Wes Welker's injury?
BB: We've covered that and we're off of Houston and onto Baltimore. The players we have out there, we'll put together the best plan we can, get our players prepared, get them ready to go and I know they will all work hard to be ready for Sunday's game against Baltimore.
Q: Can you just talk about your reaction to Wes Welker and how it's going to impact your team?
BB: We've already covered it. We're over and done with that. We're onto Baltimore.
Q: So you don't want to say anything about Wes Welker?
BB: I've already said it. He's a great player and I know he'll work hard to get back as soon as he can.
Q: As a follow up can you talk about the field, you were quoted saying the turf at Reliant Stadium is the worst you've ever seen?
BB: We're onto Baltimore. We're done with the regular season. This is the postseason. We're onto Baltimore.
Q: Everybody saw Wes Welker get hurt on TV and it's what is on some of the fans minds right now?
BB: I respect the fans and I respect you and all that, but right now we're onto Baltimore. We're onto the Baltimore. We're done with the regular-season games.
Q: [On playing penalty free]
BB: I think every game you go into, at the end of the game, you'd like to have the advantage in the game, and turnovers, and field position, and in penalties. [You want to] have as few penalties as possible, as few turnovers as possible and try to take advantage of the opportunities the other team gives you. I don't think you can ever count on penalties. I don't think you can ever count on getting a whole bunch of turnovers. You just hope that those opportunities - that when they're there - that you can take advantage of them. That's what you try to do in every game, but you can't count on penalties. As much as you would like to have turnovers, defensive scores, kick returns for touchdowns and all that, it's tough to really count on those plays. You work on them and you hope the opportunity is there and when it's there you hope to take advantage of it, but it's hard to really count on those. You always try to play penalty free. You always try to play turnover free.
Q: How well do you know John Harbaugh?
BB: I know John fairly well. We go back a little ways, when he was in Philadelphia as special teams coach. I spent a little time with him in the offseason - combine, stuff like that. He's a solid guy, great special teams coach. He coached the defensive backs in 2007 when we played them here. Then, obviously, he's done a great job at Baltimore. When we aren't playing, we can be on good terms and be friendly, but this week we both got a job to do.
Q: You have expressed before the value of being a special teams coach before becoming a head coach. Have you seen that in John?
BB: I think you would have to ask him that question, but it was certainly valuable for me to coach special teams and deal with all the players. I had a great experience coaching defense, being a coordinator, coaching the linebackers and all those kind of things. But to be able to interact with all the players and players have different mentalities and different make ups. You are trying to put together special teams with some players who see that as their primary role on the team and other players who see that as a secondary role. As the special teams coach, you get to deal with basically all 53 players and I think that's a valuable experience.
Q: How much does your game plan change from playing a team in the regular season to playing them in the playoffs?
BB: I think it's like your division games where you play a team twice a year. Every game is different. Those games can be ... One game's 41-40 and the next one is 7-3. You just don't know. A lot of the players are the same, the matchups are the same. But the plays, what the other team's in when you call those plays, the situations in the game and all that, I think in this league you can play the same team three or four times a year and you'd get different games every time. We'll have to see how all that unfolds. You can watch the game. You can certainly get a feeling for the matchups and how different players compete against each other. But how this one will unfold, we'll have to wait until Sunday.
Q: Obviously, they've had a lot of the same players there and Ozzie Newsome has been there a long time. Can you see the mark John Harbaugh has made and the differences you've seen the last couple years with him in charge?
BB: Well, we played them in 2007, when Coach [Brian] Billick was there, and that was a very competitive game, we know that. A lot of the players are the same, but they've got some new players in there. Guys like Ray Rice and players like that, Joe Flacco; those are guys we didn't see in 2007. But I think they've been a solid team through the years, going back to the 2000 season, their championship year. They bring in young players. They integrate them into the system. They've got some real solid steady guys - the Derrick Mason's, the Trevor Pryce's, the Ed Reed's, guys like that who have been through the wars and have been there for a long time. But they've continued to turn over the roster, bring in new players and remain competitive and play at a championship level. I give Ozzie a lot of credit for that, certainly the players and all the people that are involved in the process.
Q: Your defense has gone back and forth with Cam Cameron quite a bit. What makes his offense difficult to defend?
BB: They give you a lot to get ready for. They use some different personnel groupings. They have some key personnel, guys like [Todd] Heap, who is a very good pass-receiving tight end, borderline receiver. But they do [different] things - the unbalanced line, the different slot formations. They've used their versions of Wildcat or Pistol, whatever you want to call it. They just keep you off balance. They do a good job of attacking you on all fronts. Everybody's got to be ready to go. It's not just one thing you've got to stop. They hit you in a lot of different areas. Cam does a good job of mixing it up and keeping you off balance, but at the same time, attacking your personnel and your scheme at the weak points. Usually, when you look at them or you watch them run a play, it's pretty easy to say, 'We see what they're after on this play.' We see how they're trying to attack something that's a little bit different than traditional.
Q: This is the Jets offense, too, so you are familiar with it?
BB: Similar. Although I would say it's a little different than where the Jets are now. But I think at one time it came back from the same trunk, but it branched off a little bit.
Q: Tom Brady has now played a full season. Are you happy with his comeback?
BB: I think Tom's had a good year. He started off in the spring and did everything everybody else did all the way through, the offseason program, spring workouts, minicamp, training camp, preseason, all that. He's had a solid year.
Q: You had some comments about the field at Reliant Stadium. Is there any type of recourse you can take before a game with the league? Is there anybody that oversees that?
BB: Right now, we're onto Baltimore.
Q: There's no one in the league who looks at that?
BB: Right now, I'm focused on Baltimore.
Q: Do you advise players who are going through the playoff experience for the first time and if so, what do you tell them?
BB: Well, we kind of went through it last week, going down to Houston. Houston needed to win that game to be in the playoffs. It was really a playoff game for them. It was that kind of atmosphere, loud stadium. It's that time of year where it's truly a one-game season. And that goes for all of us - veterans, however many times you've been in it, however many playoff games each of us have been in or not been in, it's now down to a one-game season - one loss and you're out. So as important as everything is during the regular season, it's all heightened now because there's so much at stake. I think that's really the main message for everybody. We all need to take heed of that regardless of whether we've been in the playoffs or not been in the playoffs. [You] leave no stone unturned, do everything that you possibly can to be ready to go, and perform your best this week, and worry about next week next week.
Q: Do you put any stock into how much playoff experience a team has had?
BB: No, I don't think it matters. In 2001, we didn't have any playoff experience and we were OK. We had playoff experiences in other years; in 2005 and 2006, that was probably as much playoff experience as any team in the league. I think what it comes down to is which team plays the best on Sunday.
Q: Will you spend extra time with Julian Edelman?
BB: I think everybody's going to spend as much and all the time they possibly can to get ready for this game. I hope they do. It's that kind of game. Everybody puts everything we've got into it and we'll need to against the Ravens. They're a good football team. We'll get challenged in every phase of the game on every level - their players, their scheme. They've competed well against everybody.
Q: Will Wes be around the team to help Julian Edelman?
BB: He'll do whatever's best for him at this point. I'm not sure exactly what that is.
Q: Tom has thrown for fewer than 200 yards in the last four games, is that a concern or is that a result of the plays that were called or execution?
BB: As we've talked about many times, the important thing on offense is to move the ball and score points. If we're moving the ball and scoring points, then we are happy with our offensive production. It's not a stat. We're not worried about stats. We're worried about scoring points and winning.
Q: You've added players to your roster entering the playoffs. Is it imperative to find a replacement for Welker or is there nothing out there?
BB: We'll always look at what our options are. We do that weekly and we will do it. We have done it and we'll continue to do it. Whatever we feel like our best options are that's what we'll do. You're limited as the number of roster moves you can make in the playoffs. Since we haven't made any, the door is open right now.
Q: Is it possible that Fred Taylor being out all year was a good thing because now he is fresh?
BB: I don't know. I think you can play that one either way. That's a positive to it and the negative to it is that he hasn't had as many reps as other guys have had. But he's a pretty experienced player. I think the bottom line right now is I don't know if what happened in Week 2, Week 4, Week 6 or Week 8, right now today is really that significant. I think both teams have established the fact that they're good football teams. They played in a lot of different situations in the course of the year and right now everybody's got to get ready and play on Sunday. And it's whichever team can do the most between now and then and ultimately go out there and execute it on Sunday. And that's who will be the winner. I'm not sure that who played in Week 5 or who didn't play and all that ... Who won in Week 5 or who didn't win in Week 5, that's water that's long under the bridge. Right now, it's about the next five days.
Q: As a follow up to that, Fred Taylor and Sammy Morris have fresher legs. As the weather turns worse does having two running backs who don't have the wear and tear on them, can that be helpful?
BB: I watched Chris Johnson last week. He played every week, ran every week, got tackled and it looked like he ran pretty good last week as he went over 2,000 yards. If he hadn't played for two months of the season, would he gain 400 yards last week? I don't know. I doubt it. I think at this point all players, they're a little less than 100 percent, probably over 90-95, I don't know. But it's a long season for everybody, whether you've played or haven't played, but this time of year you get that second wind and you reach down and give it all you got going into the playoffs. I think that's where every player and every team is that's in the situation now. That's what they do.
Q: Is today a Monday for the players?
BB: It's a combination of a Monday and Tuesday. They're in, working out. We're going to go through some scouting report stuff, get a jump on the Ravens, so we'll be a little further ahead than we usually are on Tuesday. We're not really going to spend a lot of time on the Houston game. We're more looking forward to Baltimore than we are on Monday reviewing the previous game. There are some corrections - a couple things we need to talk about - but we're much more focused on going forward than looking back.
Q: You moved the player's day off from Tuesday to Monday this week?
BB: We did that at the beginning of the week, before we made the trip down there, not knowing if we were playing on Saturday or Sunday, however it turned out and this is the way it turned out. This is where we're at. We're going to have an extra day compared to a Saturday game. But if we played on Saturday, we'd have done the same thing today. We felt like that was the easiest thing just to know exactly where we're going to be moving forward.
Q: [On penalties]
BB: Again, I don't think we can worry about their penalties. I think we just have to worry about our penalties and whatever gets called gets called. If they call it great and if they don't call it, then the biggest thing we have to do is not get penalties ourselves and let the officials and the other teams play the way they play and let the officials call the game. I think the most important thing from a penalty standpoint is eliminating or minimizing the fouls that you commit and your teams commit, so that's really where our focus is.