New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick addresses the media during his press conference at Gillette Stadium on Friday, October 17, 2008.
BB: Did everyone get a good night sleep?
Q: What about you?
BB: I couldn't turn it [Red Sox playoff game] off. It didn't look too good there when it was 7-0. Then it was it was 7-1. Then it was 7-4 [and] then 7-6…I thought the Red Sox played with the heart of a champion last night. It was pretty impressive.
Q: You didn't turn it off at 7-0?
BB: Nope. That is the difference between baseball and football. You can't run out the clock. You have to get them out. You can't run out the clock. It's a tough nine outs. Joe Torre told me that and [Tony] LaRussa verified it. You have to get them out.
Q: A little bit of name-dropping this morning?
BB: No that is the truth. They give me a hard time about that. [They say] when you guys get the lead you can just sit on the ball and run the clock out, we have to get them out. Somebody has to pitch and somebody has to get them out. They made a good point there. I mean that is true when you are on defense in football, you have to stop them. It is one thing if you have the ball but if they have it you have to stop them. Do you have anything on Denver?
Q: Do you enjoy matching up against Coach Mike Shanahan?
BB: It's a challenge every week no matter who we play. It is a challenge every week. Every team has good coaches, every team has good players and every team works hard. They are going to give you your best shot in the regular season and it is very challenging. I think it brings out the best in all of us that really love football - the competition and the opportunity to compete against the best every week. Each one is a little different. Everyone has their own style. They have different players, different scheme and a little different way of doing things but it's always pretty well thought out and you can see that there is a plan there. They have a way to attack and you have to figure out a way to deal with it. But, Mike is very good. I don't think there is anyone better than Shanahan offensively - game planner. He creates a lot of problems for any defense. It doesn't matter what you run, what coverages you play, or what front you play. He does a great job of attacking the defense and putting you in positions that are difficult, whether it is run force, coverage, gap control or whatever. He has a real good understanding of how to attack you and how to force you to adjust to a certain formation or a certain look and then how to attack it - he does a real good job of that. Utilizing his personnel - he does a good job of that too.
Q: Does their offense look similar now to when they had John Elway was there?
BB: The thing about Denver's offense is that it kind of looks different every week. It is so game planned. We have played them in games where it has been all slot. Then there have been other games where there is no slot. Then you see games where there is a lot of empty. Then there are games where there is no empty. There are games where there are a lot of boots. Then there are other games where they don't boot that much or they run all the boots one way one week and the other week they mix them up and the other week they run them the other way. It is very much specific to the team that they are playing. What are you going to see? Some weeks you see a bunch of screens and the next week you don't see any screens. Over the course of a few games I think we have seen everything that we would normally see from Denver. But the amount of it, the number of snaps that they run of one particular thing is very specific to the team they are playing [and] how they want to attack it.
Q: With division games, some players say there are no secrets. Are there no secrets between your defense and Mike Shanahan's offense because you have been playing against him for so long?
BB: I would say there is a lot to prepare for. The thing that they do a very good job of is they make you defend from sideline to sideline and from the line of scrimmage to the back of the end zone. You have to defend the entire football field and that stretches you. They get the ball outside in the running game. They throw it outside in the passing game. They cut it back. They run bootlegs. They run all of those kinds of plays, so one play you have to get everyone over here and the next play everybody is over there - it looks like they are going this way and then they boot it back the other way. They run cut back plays and in the passing game they run screens, little slip screens and slants - plays like that, that are short passes and they combine those with intermediate passes and crossing routes, then they throw the ball down the field. You have all of that to defend and you have to do it every week. He'll get to it in different ways and he will create different formations or personnel groups - it will look a little different but it is different ways of attacking you from sideline to sideline, from the line of scrimmage to the back of the end zone. Whether it is Jay Cutler or John Elway, they can throw it 70-, 80-yards, or however far they need to throw it. So they are never out of range. You are back there 70 yards, he will throw it 70 yards, anywhere in between or the quarterback will run so you are back there chasing guys 20-, 30-yards down the field and then the quarterback pulls it down and runs it. So it's like having a sixth receiver. They have a lot of different options and they really stress the defense in a lot of different ways. They can pack them in and bring in two or three tight ends. They can spread them out and go with four or five receivers, or flex out [Tony] Scheffler who is like another receiver. They can get as tight as you want to get and they can get as spread out as you want to spread out and they do a good job.
Q: Over the years the players and coaches on Denver have changed. Can you give insight on why this team has been so tough to play over the years?
BB: They have done a good job against us there is no denying that. We have got them a couple times and they have gotten us more than we have gotten them. Look, they get a lot of people.
Q: (On Jay Cutler making plays specifically on bootlegs)
BB: Pick out the game. Some games they do it a lot. Other games, like the last time we played them here, I think they ran two. But I can show you games where they run 10. At this end, there is no way really to know what Mike [Shanahan] is thinking. You don't know if they are going to come in here and run 15 boots, or if they are going to be in empty 15 times, or if they are going to be in three tight ends. You can't put all your eggs in one basket and say, 'we are going to spend all week working on this.' You might get it, but you might not get it. You better make sure you have all the other stuff covered because you just don't know what he is going to feature. On top of that, they execute it pretty well; that is the problem. Do they run boots? Yes, they run them. Do they run a lot of them in every game? No. Do they run empty a lot in every game? No. Do they run it? Yes. They ran it a lot against San Diego. It's going a little bit that way on defense, too, between their 3-4, 4-2 nickel, 3-2 dime. They use a lot of different combinations on the defensive line with bringing Jarvis Moss in and [Elvis] Dumervil, Boss Bailey. They move them around in some different spots. They have a little bit of 4-3, 3-4, a little bit of a hybrid deal that carries over into their sub defenses, too. It looks like they are heading into that direction defensively as well.
Q: How have Oliver Ross and Stephen Neil looked on the practice field?
BB: Good. They have had two good days. It is good to have them out there.
Q: Would it be too soon to activate them this week?
BB: We will see. I am not sure. We will wait and see as the week goes on here. They got a few reps Wednesday and a few more yesterday, maybe they will get a few more today. We will see how all that goes and see how they hold up whether we feel like they are ready physically to play and then also evaluate how ready they are from a technique stand point and just really being able to execute it. The first day we worked on a few things. Yesterday we worked on mainly our first and second down stuff. You start adding in more situations, third down, red area, short yardage and goal line. Sometimes by the end of the week you throw it all in there [and] you realize a player is not quite ready yet. Where as when you are only working on one thing the first day you might say that looks pretty good but then as you pile things on and a guy hasn't been used to playing, whether he has been on PUP [Physically Unable to Perform] or out for a period of time for whatever the other reasons are. On the other hand sometimes by the end of the week you feel like he handled everything here on Friday, we went through all the stuff and he handled it all - he's ready to roll. That is the end of the week evaluation. Right now we are giving guys reps and letting them go and take a look at it.
Q: Earlier this week, Ellis Hobbs said he feels like the teams back is against the wall. Do you agree?
BB: I think your back is against the wall every week. Let me know when the game doesn't matter. Let me know during the regular season when you can come in and say that this game is really no big thing. We have 16 games [and] every one of them is big. When one of those games comes up, let me know so I will be able to understand that. I think our back is against the wall. I think every game is an important game. We have 16 of them. So, every game is a big game for us. We don't have 162 games or 81; we have 16.
Q: Do you ever feel like one game is more important than another?
BB: I think we all understand that the division games count a little more than the rest of the games. So if you go out and win a big game and then you go back and lose the next week, what difference does it make whether you lose the big game or win it, it is the same thing - you are 1-1. Maybe a division game counts a little more, I understand that. But all other things being equal what difference does it make whether you are 1-1 or 1-1? If that is the way it is than you are 1-1. I have never understood that maybe you can explain that to me too. How if you win this game but lose that one versus losing that game and winning this one - what the big difference is. I have never really been able to understand that.
Q: Is that a challenge to get players to believe in that?
BB: We have 16 games. We play once a week. So we work all week to perform one time. That is the nature of the game.
Q: With a team that is 0-6, as a coach, you don't think that is a pothole?
BB: What difference does the record make? I am sure you had the Giants picked on Monday night last week based on their record and based on Cleveland's record. But what do those records mean? They don't mean anything. One thing that matters is how those teams play that night. There are upsets every week in the NFL. That is the NFL - records don't mean anything. I think we covered that last year. Whatever our record was… anything can happen in the National Football League. The other team plays better than you do [then] you are probably going to lose. You play better than the other team [then] you are going to win. It doesn't matter what your record was.
Q: You don't think there is a danger with the players thinking that one team is going to be easier to beat than another?
BB: I think if they listen to what some people write they might buy into it but I don't think there is any validity to it. I don't put anything on records and what somebody did last week, last year or two weeks ago. This game will be decided on how these two teams compete just like all the other games are in the NFL. The talent level is really across the board, it is pretty close. You don't play well, turn the ball over a couple times, give up a couple big plays, have bad field position - anybody can beat anybody. We see it every week.
Q: Do you believe in momentum, negative or positive? That one game can affect the next?
BB: I don't think it affects the next. I think sometimes it might affects your preparation. We have all seen that too, just because a team loses one game doesn't mean they can't win the next one [and] just because they win one doesn't mean they are going to lose the next one. Like I said, I think if you played better than the other team than you are going to win. If you don't play as well as the other team then you are going to lose. But a big win or a big loss the week before…[For example] St. Louis - there is another. They were another win that you expected last week. Look, it is like that every week. You guys keep feeding me that and I really don't get it. I watch the same games you do and every week we come in here and talk about two or three teams that weren't expected to win, that won. Then we are ready to go peg it again, here are the teams that are going to win, here are the teams that are going to lose and here is one or two close games that can go either way [and] we are all wrong every week.
Q: The Red Sox are a good example of that…
BB: Yes. Tampa hadn't lost a five or seven run lead all year. Thank you. Exhibit A.