New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick addresses the media during his press conference at Gillette Stadium on Wednesday, October 22, 2008.
BB: It is a short week but we have a lot of work to do. The Rams are one of the hottest teams in the league right now, playing very well. They had two big wins and they seem to be doing a lot of things well. They have a level of confidence and playmaking that we have a lot of respect for. I have always thought a lot of Jim Haslett [and] have had a good relationship with Jim for a long time. I think he did a great job at New Orleans and obviously has things going in the right direction at St. Louis. I think they are extremely well coached on defense and now that's carried over to the rest of the team. [They have] a lot of playmakers. They can move the ball - [Marc] Bulger, [Steve] Jackson, [Torry] Holt, [Donnie] Avery, a good group of receivers, an excellent running back [Steven Jackson] and a good offensive line. Defensively they are a very active front kind of like we have talked about the last couple of weeks. They have fast linebackers, real active guys on the line of scrimmage, experienced secondary, free safety - I can't pronounce his name [Oshiomogho Atogwe] but he is a very productive guy with eight interceptions last year [and] he has already had a bunch this year including pre-season. He is around the ball a lot. [They have] very good specialists - [Fakir] Brown and [Donnie] Jones can really hit the ball, good returner [Dante] Hall and good group of core special teams guys like Gary Stills and kids like that. They use a lot of the starters on special teams too like Corey Chavous - those guys are in there on a lot of plays too. They are a good football team, a lot for us to get ready for. They have a very explosive offense. Jim has a lot of good things on defense that they do, a lot of zone pressures, tight man coverage, and stunts with their front. We have a lot to get ready for in a short amount of time so we are really going to have to push through it and try to be ready to go on Sunday. We will meet a team that has a lot of momentum and is playing well.
Q: Other than the change at quarterback are they doing anything different scheme wise?
BB: Sure there are the little things. It is hard to tell how much of it is game plan and how much of it is a fundamental change that will take course over the long haul. They're a little bit of a scheme team anyway. They change their schemes up from week to week depending on what you are doing. I would say the big thing is they are playing fundamentally. The last two weeks they have played fundamentally sound. They haven't made a lot of mistakes and they have taken advantage and capitalized on a lot of the ones that Washington and Dallas made. They look like they are opportunistic. They are hustling. They are around the ball. They are getting extra yards off runs and passes where it looks like the play is kind of coming to an end and there is more there. So, I would say they are probably doing a lot of little things and those little things, as we all know, turn out to be the big things.
Q: Would bringing back John Lynch be an option for you?
BB: Our roster is full. We announced those move so right now our roster is full.
Q: Down the road would brining John Lynch back be an option?
BB: Well anybody would be an option that is not with another team. But that would mean we would have to make room on our roster to accommodate someone else. So potentially everyone is an option but we would have to do something.
Q: Are you confident that Brandon Meriweather could fill Rodney Harrison's role?
BB: Well Brandon has been playing a lot of football for us this year. We have really had three safeties playing the entire year - James [Sanders], Brandon Meriweather and Rodney Harrison. I am sure that the two of them will… They will have to play more but I don't think they will be doing anything they haven't been doing.
Q: How do you think Brandon Meriweather has progressed?
BB: Good. I thought that he came on towards the end of last year and that is really where I think his increase level of production and high performance started. He had a good camp in the spring and I thought he got off to a good start in training camp and in the pre-season games. He has played well. I think his game at the end of last year was improving at a good rate and he has picked right up on that this year.
Q: Can James Sanders do some of the things that Rodney Harrison did on the line of scrimmage?
BB: I think we'll have to count on a lot of people to do some of the things that Rodney did. Rodney had a lot of different roles for us defensively, so I'm sure there won't be any one person that will do what he did. We'll have to combine and use a number of people.
Q: You have had a chance to look at the second team like Gary Guyton, Mike Richardson and Le Kevin Smith, how have they looked?
BB: The way we look at it is all of our players are important productive players for us. Whatever role they're asked to play in, we expect them to go in there and do that role and do a good job at it. We've gotten good play from a lot of players, particularly the other night, and that's the way it will be going forward. I don't really know about starters and all of that. All I know is when a guy goes in the game we need him to do that job-whatever it happens to be-whether that's on first down, second down, third down or fourth down. I thought Le Kevin [Smith] made some productive plays. Gary [Guyton], that was a big turnover. Gary has done a good job for us. I think he's improving very quickly for a rookie. Some of the other guys like Jonathan [Wilhite] and Mike Richardson, who hadn't had a chance to play, really, in two years, showed up as well, so that's good. Hopefully we continue to build on that.
Q: Have you rotated the front seven more often than you have in the past?
BB: Again, some of it is game-to-game, so it's hard-I don't know what the normal would be. I don't know if there is one. It's whatever it is for that game, but we have confidence in all of those players, including Jarvis [Green], obviously, when he was in there. We expect all of those guys to be ready to play and I would expect to play all of them if they're all active for the game.
Q: Are you a believer in the long term?
BB: I think the most important thing is to put your players in the best position to be productive for the team to win. So whatever that is, that's what I'm in favor of. I think if you have Reggie White, you play him.
Q: How do you think Stephen Neal looks?
BB: We've talked about all of that. I think we're really trying to move past the Denver game and move on to St. Louis. Steve played and it was his first game and I'm sure that the next game he'll get into it a little better timing and all that.
Q: What did you see in BenJarvus Green-Ellis?
BB: He was productive in college. He was productive in Mississippi. He is a tough kid, runs hard, has good balance and catches the ball. He's done a good job for us. We ask a lot of our running backs offensively - in the running game, in the passing game, in pass protection. A lot of things can change for them by formation and sometimes even at the line of scrimmage we go from one play to another or change the protection from one thing to another. He's handled all of those well from day one even though he hasn't gotten a lot of practice, there have been a lot of people in front of him. But when he's had the opportunity he's shown that he's on top of it and he's been productive for us with the ball in his hands. But he did that in college. He was a productive player for us at Mississippi.
Q: Is LaMont Jordan any closer to getting back on the field?
BB: Yes. I would say he is day to day.
Q: Wes Welker saw some action the other night on punt return. What led you to bringing him back?
BB: He wasn't there the first… Well he handled the ball a little bit in the first game but he's really been doing it. He and Kevin [Faulk] have really been doing it. He's been working at it all year. Some of it's plus 50 and some of it is situational but those two guys have been doing it all year. So, he's good at it.
Q: On that 44-yarder Wes Welker had, it looked like he had a 10-yard cushion, was that good blocking?
BB: We got the gunners. We doubled one and the other one Kevin [Faulk] helped on, so we got the two gunners. When Le Kevin [Smith] rushed the punt that took the center and carried the full back and tied him up a little bit too. I don't know how long the punt was but it was pretty far. Basically in punt coverage if the punter hits a long punt, 50-yards let's say, then you expect your gunners to be down there first even though they are getting doubled. You expect them to be first and then that other wave is a little bit behind them. So if the gunners get held up then there is some separation between the returner and the wave of guys on the line of scrimmage. A lot of times the full back or the personal protector is able to get out of there first, even though he is lined up deeper initially, a lot of times he is usually the first guy down in the interior group so he is sometimes the third gunner. Again on that play everything got jumbled up inside there. Kevin came over and helped on the other gunner and then Wes got started. He broke a couple tackles and got outside. It was a combination of getting the returner started and then the returner making a couple of guys miss. Then guys hustling for second block like Pierre [Woods] did there and Matthew Slater - that got him a few extra yards. You can't block them all and if you double the gunners now you are down to six guys. You have two out there on each side and then you have a returner so you only have six guys left to block, let's call it eight - you don't block the punter. But you can't get them all. You have to get the returner started or just get the ones where you want to try to run the ball and let the other guys go and hope that he can run away from them.
Q: (On Steven Jackson…)
BB: He's really a good player. He does everything very well. He is one of the best and most complete backs that we will face all year. He's big. He's strong. He's fast and he's very quick for a big man. He makes a lot of guys miss with his lateral quickness. He jumps in the hole. He can go from one hole to the next. He cuts back well, catches the ball very well - he has natural hands. They split him out some; they throw it to him. They throw him a lot of screens but he is not just a screen back he can run routes down the field. He has the speed to break away and go the distance. He has enough power to run over people. He has enough quickness to dodge them. So, he is really a good player. He does everything well. He is good in blitz pick up. He is a big guy. He is physical. He is fast. He is quick. He is a really good player. You have to know where he is every time the ball is snapped. They don't always put him in the backfield. They don't always put him behind the quarterback. Sometimes they off set him and sometimes they split him out. But wherever he is you better find him because he can go the distance from anywhere. He is one of the best backs in the league, there is no doubt about it and has been for a while. He was a good player coming out of college and he has done everything as advertised.