New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick addresses the media during his press conference at Gillette Stadium on Wednesday, October 1, 2008.
BB: We are back on the 49ers here today. We gave players the day off yesterday. It was a normal Tuesday for them. It gave us a chance to look at our Monday practice and make a few corrections on that. We will get back on San Francisco. These guys are, as Mike Martz's offense's always are, a big play passing team. I think they have the second most-big plays in the league this year behind Dallas - running and passing. It will be a real challenge for us to keep them from getting it all on one play or getting big chunks on one play. They use a lot of different pass rushers so our third down pass protections, offensively; we will have a lot of different guys to deal with. They use a bunch of defensive linemen, linebackers and put them in different spots and mix them up. So a lot of different guys to prepare for that we haven't played against. That will be a challenge for us too. Anyway, we are moving ahead. It will be good to get back out here on the field today.
Q: What are the things that make Frank Gore so successful?
BB: He's pretty good at everything. He really is. He is a complete back. He catches the ball well. He does a good job in pass protection. He's a strong guy. He's hard to bring down and he breaks a lot of tackles. He breaks tackles with his quickness but also breaks them with his lower body strength, running through them. Guys don't wrap him up. He puts his shoulder down and runs over them. He has a lot of different tools in the bag. He can do a lot of things - run outside, run inside. He has good patience. He has a good burst. He's strong, catches the ball well [and] blocks. They are taking him off the field less and less. I can see why. He's a good player.
Q: Does his style remind you of LaDainian Tomlinson?
BB: No I don't think so. They are both [number] 21. They are both in the end zone a lot. But I think he's a different style runner than LT. But they are both very effective.
Q: Al Davis has made charges of tampering against you. Do you have a rebuttal?
BB: No. I think we will just concentrate on the 49ers. I know there was a lot of stuff going on yesterday but we are just focused on San Francisco.
Q: There is a lack of familiarity with San Francisco. Do you just have to wait until you see them on the field to judge their speed and quickness?
BB: To a certain extent. Also the scheme and how they are going to play us. They have a lot of different ways of playing teams. You see a lot of different things from week to week. You can watch guys on film but their explosiveness, power, quickness, different moves -it's different in person than it is watching it on film. You can certainly prepare for it and that is a good part of the preparation. But until you see it live, it's a little different. We have seen a lot of these players - defensively, the whole secondary. Donald Strickland was in Indianapolis. Michael Lewis was at Philadelphia and Mark Roman was in Cincinnati. Nate Clements, we saw a lot of in Buffalo. Walt Harris was at Indianapolis and Chicago. We have seen Justin Smith. We have certainly seen Takeo Spikes and [Aubrayo] Franklin. We've seen a lot of those guys just not in that system. It's a pretty veteran group they have on offense and defense. Guys like [Barry] Sims, Issac Bruce, Arnaz Battle, Bryant Johnson and DeShaun Foster. Plus all of their specialists - those guys are an experienced group too. They have a few young players in there but it is a pretty experienced team. Some have come up in their system like Eric Heitmann and Frank Gore. So, we have seen some of those guys just not in a San Francisco uniform.
Q: What are your impressions of J.T. O'Sullivan?
BB: I think that the offense is a good fit for him. He's athletic and has a good arm. They throw the ball down the field a lot and he can make those throws - the deep in-cuts, deep comebacks, deep seam routes, double moves. He can sling it. He's athletic enough to buy sometime in the pocket, scramble around a little bit and create a little bit of extra time for his receivers to get open and for the backs to get out in their check down part of the pattern. He's gained a lot of experience and he's making some big plays for them. I don't think there was ever a question about talent. It's a question of experience and how much time you could give him. He's certainly done well with the opportunity he's had this year.
Q: Has Mike Martz's offense changed since Super Bowl XXXVI?
Q: (On Mike Martz adapting his offense to the personnel)
BB: Well, I think he adapts to the players too. His system is his system. I don't see a lot of changes fundamentally in his system. It's well coordinated and everything meshes together. But I think he knows who his playmakers are and he tries to utilize them, whether it was in Detroit, St. Louis or now in San Francisco. Frank Gore is a different runner than Marshall Faulk was, so the emphasis is a little different. Vernon Davis is a little faster tight end than Ernie Conwell was in St. Louis, so the emphasis there is a little different. It is basically the same offense and the same plays but who to get the ball to and the frequency of calling certain plays based on their personnel - I think that is what he does well. But it is still his offense.
Q: What was the team's deciding factor in traveling to San Francisco on Friday?
BB: The game's in San Francisco. It's a West Coast game. We fly out after practice on Friday. If you fly out on Saturday then you are spending the whole day in the air and you can't get your normal Saturday routine done unless you wait until you get it all done here. It's a one o'clock game out there so we felt that was the best schedule to put our team on.
Q: What kind of captain has Randy Moss been for you this year?
BB: If you look at him day-to-day, I don't think there is too much of a difference between this year and last year. He's still the first guy in line in the drills. [He's] very supportive in the huddle, always talking to quarterbacks and other receivers about what happened on that play, or how to get ready for the next one - with formations - we do a lot of that in personnel groups. He's always tried to stay a little bit ahead of the count. For the captain, I think that just shows the respect he has from his teammates. Then we have our captains' meetings every week and, obviously, he participates in those, which he didn't do last year. I think there is a little more carry over there. But on a day-to-day basis from meetings, to walkthroughs, to practice, to films after practice, I think his leadership last year was every bit as good as it is this year. His recognition as a captain speaks to that and gives him a little more support relative to the meetings that I have with the captains and the guys who have been selected as the leadership guys by the players.
Q: Is Randy Moss good at communicating with the quarterbacks about what he is seeing out on the field?
BB: Absolutely. Not only what he is seeing, but also what is up on the next play, little reminders. If we have a certain play called and we get a roll coverage, he might remind the quarterback, 'I am going to adjust this if they roll something,' we would anticipate in that down and distance or, 'beware of the blitz here.' The same thing for the receivers: Who's on the line, who's off, who's going in motion, how much to split, just little things like that. 'Make sure you get your depth on this route because of the way it is coordinated with other receivers.' Just like a quarterback would say, 'Stay alert on this play' because he is thinking if they play a certain coverage than that receiver would be the guy that he's going to. It is pretty common, but some guys do more of it in the huddle and after the play than others. Randy does it a lot. He's really smart. He really understands football, not only what happened on the last play, but what he saw is almost always what happened. Then, the anticipation going forward after the play is called, we break the huddle; what he's thinking might happen. He's just trying to stay alert and ahead of the game. It doesn't always happen that way but it's just an alert. You don't lose anything by being alert for it. That's kind of what I was referring to.
Q: Can you comment on the team's decision to stay on the West Coast for the week?
BB: Right now, we are focused on San Francisco and getting ready for this game. That is what our mindset is.
Q: What have other teams been doing well to get to J.T. O'Sullivan?
BB: As I said the other day, I think their offensive line is good. I think they block well. They were behind last week against New Orleans so that didn't help them any. They have been hit a couple times but other than Dallas they have made more plays down the field than anyone else. They have a good running game to go with it. Maybe to make a couple of those plays they held onto it a little longer than they normally would. Maybe a couple times they just didn't get them off. I just say overall, when I look at them, they do a good job of pass blocking and run blocking. Their offensive line has played well - Vernon Davis has been a big part of that. They move the ball successfully. I don't think down and distance is that big of a thing for them - if it's third and 12 or third and seven. If they hit a 20-yard in-cut they are going to pick it up regardless of what the down and distance is. I don't think third and ten is the only thing that hamstrings what they do. I don't think they worry about it too much and that is consistent with what Mike has done in the past. You might get them a couple times but they are going to get you a few times too.
Q: Can you comment on Vernon Davis?
BB: He's a very fast, explosive player [who is] good after the catch. They have some plays that are specifically designed for him - tight end screens and things like that, that you don't see every week. He can split the seam. He's seen a lot of coverage over the top of him to take away some of those routes. They use him a lot in protection. He's a good pass protector. They use him a lot in the running game. They have three tight ends and a full back but out of all those players he is at the point of attack more than anyone else. They count on his blocking presence both run and pass on a lot of plays. That might take away some of his catches but I don't think that diminishes his effectiveness as a player. He's had some big plays for them too. He's a tough guy to match up against. I don't think there are any tight ends that are faster than him. There may be some that are as fast but I don't think there is anyone who runs better at his position than he does. He plays fast too.
Q: You mentioned that they were right behind Dallas with most big plays.
BB: I think they have had about 20 and Dallas has had about 22.
Q: Are those passing plays?
BB: Yes. Although they have had some runs in there too. So both runs and passes.
Q: Are those passing plays, down field throws?
BB: Most of them are. There are a couple run after the catch plays but most of them are down the field. They have had a couple screens and Frank Gore is capable of going 20-, 30-, 40-yards. He has caught a couple down the field on seam routes coming out of the backfield. In fact he had one against New Orleans and he went for about 35-yards right down the middle coming out of the backfield - it's not all screen passes to him either. But I would say for the most part they're throws down the field.