Patriots head coach Bill Belichick addresses the media during his press conference, on Wednesday, January 5, 2011.
BB: How's it going? We're just trying to work on some things that we feel like we need to improve on. We've got a good list of those. It doesn't matter who we play, just things that we feel we need to do better. I think there's definitely some carry over in the three potential opponents that we could face, but more important than that, right now, it's trying to work on things that we feel like need to get worked on. Then we'll deal with whoever we have to play after this weekend.
Q: What are some of those things?
BB: It's a long list, a long list.
Q: We've got a couple of days before the game.
BB: Well, yeah. We'll be sure we get them all in. You know, some situation things, some execution things, some things that we want to make sure that we've seen that we've had trouble with, that if they come up again, we'll handle them better: blitzes, things like that.
Q: Does it help that all three potential teams use a base 3-4?
BB: That's one thing they have in common. Yup.
Q: Kevin Faulk's specialty was third downs, so how do you feel the offense has done without him? Has it been a collective effort?
BB: Yeah, well, the offense, it's a collective effort. You've got all 11 guys doing their job: the offensive line, the protection, the passing game, the running game, it's a group of players. It's no one-man band.
Q: Have a lot of those plays fallen to Danny Woodhead?
BB: Yeah, right, whoever's in there. We use a lot of different personnel groups on third down. You've seen that. You know, Danny's had a big part in that. But just different personnel combinations: Aaron [Hernandez], [Rob Gronkowski], Alge [Crumpler], all the receivers, Wes [Welker], Brandon [Tate], Deion [Branch], Randy [Moss]. Whoever it was, you have to go out there and get it executed, so they've all had a part in that.
Q: What is your understanding to how much latitude Tom Brady has to executive the play based on what he sees at the line of scrimmage?
BB: Depends on the play. Yup, depends on that play. Some plays, everybody knows that it could be this play or that play or it could be this, or if we see something else, it could be that. And then there are other plays where we are pretty set and committed to run [them]. I think when the whole team goes up there they all need to know that. You don't want them all to go up to the line and think that we're going to do this and all of a sudden, out of right field, we do something else. That's a tough adjustment for everybody to make; they're not really focused on that. But if you go up to the line knowing that if they give us this, we want to run this play and if they give us that, we want to run that play, those types of things, then I think you can handle that to a point. There's some benefit to that. It just depends on the play and the situation.
Q: Will you watch the Colts-Jets game on TV when it's on?
BB: I'm not that far ahead right now; just trying to get through today.
Q: Have you generally in the past?
BB: Yeah, I might see part of it.
Q: Is Alge Crumpler a perfect example that stats don't mean a darn thing some of the times?
BB: Well, yeah, I think stats can be overrated in a lot of ways. Alge's been a big contribution to this football team in a lot of ways, probably too many to mention. He's played a lot of football for us. He's played well and he's done a good job in all the phases of the game: kickoff return, field goal team and also, of course, in the running game and passing games. He's had a lot of different roles and he's performed well in all of them.
Q: How tough is it for a player [Alge Crumpler] to go from the Pro Bowl catching touchdowns to what he is doing now?
BB: Well, I think it depends on the player. You see a lot of players' roles change and it's not a problem and then you see other guys have a harder time making that adjustment. Without having worked with Alge before, I didn't really know exactly how it would go with him, but really, since day one, whatever we've asked him to do, he's not only tried to do them but he's very receptive to everything, a 'whatever you need type attitude,' [asking], 'Do you need me to do this? Do you need me to do that? Or how do you want me to do something else?' and then he'll try to do it that way. So, he's been great.
Q: Can you talk about what led to Brandon Deaderick's suspension?
Q: Is that something that could change?
BB: Whatever is between the player and the team is between the player and the team.
Q: What have you done in the bye week during the past that helps? Do you like having all this time off?
BB: I think it's just like having a bye week during the regular season. You try to improve your team. If you've improved it, then you've used the time well. If you don't, then it's a waste of time.
Q: Do you find it helpful because you have three potential opponents to prepare for?
BB: I think each situation is a little bit different. Honestly, I'm not too worried about what happened some other year or [in] some other situations. I'm just trying to make the best of the time we have this week until we know who the opponent is and then try to make the best of the time once we know who we're playing. I think time is only valuable if you can use it efficiently, so that's what we're trying to do.
Q: Do you have any thoughts on the new overtime rules?
BB: Whatever the rules are, we [will] have to play with [them].
Q: Given the depth issues that you have on the defensive line, what kind of contributions are you looking for from a guy like Kyle Love? And what gave you the confidence to throw him out there in the special team situation?
BB: Contributions are the same for every member of the team. We expect everybody to prepare and be ready to go and do the best they can to help the team win in whatever role that is. Each of the 53 players and our practice squad players, they all have important jobs and we expect them all to prepare and do the best they can at each and every one of them, whatever that happens to be. The coaching staff, our job is to try and put the team and the players in the best position that we collectively can to be productive. So, that's what we'll try to do. However that turns out, it turns out.
Q: Kyle Love said that you saw something in him leading up to that game that led you to putting him in that situation. What was it that you saw?
BB: Like he said, the way he described it. We needed some guys to work on the kickoff team for our kickoff return team. He showed up in there. It was a while back, in training camp, but we've used him there some, from time to time, and felt like he would be able to help us there and he sat in on a couple of plays against Miami. I thought he ran down there and played pretty competitively.
Q: Has Rob Ninkovich's performance exceeded your expectations?
BB: Yeah, I don't really know what our expectations were when we got him. We were just starting training camp. We needed a little depth in that position. I think we had just released Vince Redd at that point or somewhere around in there. We had an extra spot, so we brought him in and he started playing and took advantage of his opportunities, played well in the kicking game, contributed on defense in all three downs - first, second and third downs - and, again, on fourth down and special teams. So, he carved out a special role for himself and Rob's gotten better over the two years that he's been here in terms of understanding our system and playing with good technique and, again, contributed on all four downs as he did last weekend. When we first got him, it was kind of a last-minute thing - get a guy in here for training camp and all that. There wasn't really a lot of preparation put into the signing other than by Nick [Caserio] and Jason Licht and our personnel department, they got who they felt was the best player available at that position and I'd say they found a pretty good one.
Q: I know you don't like to make comparisons, but...
BB: So why don't you ask me to make one?
Q: Are there things at all that Ninkovich has athletically that remind you of Mike Vrabel?
BB: Yeah, I think Rob's a good athlete. For his position, I think he's a good athlete. He's a big guy. He's got good size. He's got good playing strength. [He] runs well, moves well for a guy his size. You can see his athleticism in the kicking game and for a guy that is 250-plus pounds, whatever it is, you don't see that all the time for those guys, in terms of lateral agility and quickness.
Q: Is Deion Branch a different player from when you first had him here?
BB: I'd say the similarities far outweigh the differences. [He's a] very intelligent player, really smart, really instinctive guy. No matter what the route, no matter what the coverage is, he always seems to do the right thing, make the right adjustment, make the right decision, make the right adjustment and I think that gives the quarterbacks a lot of confidence in him. Deion prepares well. He's got good experience, but he's also got a good skill set. He can get open and catch the ball. He can run with it after the catch. He's returned kicks in the past. He's got some running skills and certainly has got a lot of experience. As a pure receiver, he knows how to get open and he has the skills to get open.
Q: What qualities do an Atiyyah Ellison bring to the team?
BB: Well, we'll see. We haven't had a lot of background with this player, so we'll see how it goes. We had a roster spot, so we brought in some players, took a lot at them, so we'll see how it goes.
Q: Does the fact that he has so much experience in the league help him in terms of getting used to a new system quicker?
BB: Well, we'll see. I'm not sure about that. I mean, we've seen him play. We had [Louis] Leonard in here and felt like making a change, so we brought in Landon [Cohen] and he's done a good job for us, and so that's worked out better than Leonard did. So, we'll see how this goes.
Q: How much is it an advantage that you've seen two of the three teams you could possibly see next weekend?
BB: Well, I don't think it's a big advantage. Whoever we play is going to be a big team and the teams that we've seen, they've seen us, kind of like a division game. So, I don't think that favors anybody, necessarily. I think the teams that at this time of year, all the teams are good, that's why they're still playing. Obviously, whichever team plays the best on that particular day in that matchup, that's who will move on. Whoever that is, that's a challenge for anybody that's playing at this time of year.
Q: It seems that it is always the same teams this kind of year: the Colts, the Steelers, the Ravens. What do you attribute that to?
BB: I don't know. When you start naming those teams, then you can always name other teams that weren't there last year. We've seen that for a number of years. Again, obviously anybody that's here now that's still playing is a good football team and they're a couple of games away from being where everyone is trying to get. I think it, again, comes down to not what's happened from [the start of the season until now] or whatever you want to take it back to, it's what happens going forward in the next few days, few weeks. That's really what's important, so we'll see how that all comes out.