Patriots head coach Bill Belichick addresses the media during his press conference at Gillette Stadium on Friday, October 29, 2010.
BB: Got your Halloween costume ready?
Q: Any plans for a costume?
BB: Yeah. I'll be a ghost. Got your candy ready? What are we giving out this year?
BB: Pez? With the dispenser? Good.
Q: Do you have a favorite type of candy?
BB: Yeah, all of them. Remember when you were a kid and you went back to the house that had good candy twice? And then they threw you out like, 'Hey, you've been here. Get out of here.' Or you hope that everybody didn't show up at your house and there was some left over. Those were the days.
Q: What was your best Halloween costume?
BB: I kind of lucked into it. It was John Kennedy. It was easy; you dress up and you put on the mask. But it was during the Cuban Missile Crisis as it turned out. I think I won the prize there. Everybody was really impressed that the president was able to break away from the Cuban Missile Crisis to attend a Halloween party - a school Halloween party. Yeah, Joe Bellino. Those were the days.
Q: You don't have a Randy Moss mask?
BB: I don't. I bet there will be some this weekend, though. There will be some. What could be a better holiday than costumes and candy? How can you go wrong? Whoever came up with that - that was brilliant...We're winding it down here on the Vikings. Like I said last week against San Diego, [they're] a really talented team, a hard team to get ready for. They give you a lot of stuff and they're really good. [They're] really impressive in the kicking game. I think this is one of the more impressive teams on special teams that we've seen - just how physical they are. [Heath] Farwell, but the whole group. The linebackers, they've got a lot of big guys - strong physical players. And of course a player like [Percy] Harvin that is as fast as anybody can really break the game open. They've got two good kickers. Really, it's a solid group. They're very good. Field position is important. Their defense has been really good on long fields. They don't give up much when you've got a long way to go, so hopefully we can create some good field position. Playing on a short field would definitely help, but it doesn't happen very often. They do a good job with it.
Q: Has there been a common thread with the way you guys have stopped the run the last two weeks?
BB: No, I don't think so. As usual, the running game comes down to team defense. You have to have good run force outside. You have to have good technique inside. You have to tackle well. Everybody's kind of got to do their job. These backs, all of the guys we've seen - [Ray] Rice, [Ryan] Matthews, [Adrian] Peterson - they'll find space. If somebody is not where they're supposed to be they'll find it. And tackling is definitely an issue. I know Peterson does a really good job of breaking tackles with his stiff arm, with his power, with his quickness. He outruns people, so he's got a lot of different things going for him. A lot of times guys have a shot at him but they just can't get him for one reason or another. They can't catch him or he's too quick or he's too strong or something. There's no secret to run defense; it's got to be good team defense. It's got to be good across the board. If one guy is out of place then they're going to gain yards.
Q: What's something you've learned about Randy Moss that you didn't know before you traded for him?
BB: Probably just really how good he is. He's as smart as any receiver I've coached. [He has] great hands and timing on the ball and really a very accomplished route runner. He can do a lot of things. We talked about it a couple of weeks ago, but some of the catches he makes in practice that a lot of people don't get to see - like the play he made against the Jets - just reach out and take the ball with one hand like a center fielder but it's football. I thought when we traded [for him] we were getting a great player and we got really a very talented receiver with a lot of love of football. Really, he's a football guy. I was impressed with that, too.
Q: In your mind, what constitutes a smart receiver? Route recognition? Coverage recognition?
BB: Yeah, all the above. What they're doing. Why they're doing it. And if this part of the coverage is doing this, this is how they're playing the rest of it. And why they would do it against this set but they wouldn't do it against a different look because of the way they would have to...they couldn't make the same adjustments. All those kind of things.
Q: Have their schemes or tendencies changed at all since he got there?
BB: I think they run their offense. I don't think they put in 50 new plays or anything, no. [Brett] Favre throws it to him.
Q: You often make the point that you prepare for every player. How much stock do you put in any media reports that say -
Q: You don't like the media?
BB: I don't put any stock in their reports. They don't know. We'll prepare for all the players. The ones that play, we'll try to defend. The ones that don't, we won't. It's fairly straight forward, really. It's the same media reports that said Terrell Owens wasn't going to play in the Super Bowl. Are those the ones you're talking about?
Q: Are there times that you know Friday who will play or mostly do you come out Sunday morning and decide then?
BB: It varies. It varies. Sometimes you know on Friday that the player is just not going to be ready. All the indications are there. But there are other times that you truly don't know. If they're definitely not going to play, then we list them today as 'out' on the injury report like we have. Or if we think it's really a long, long, long shot then we list them as doubtful. If we don't know, then we list them as questionable. In the next 48 hours between now and kickoff on Sunday, that's when that question mark gets answered. Sometimes they play; sometimes they don't. Or sometimes they can play, but we elect not to play them [for] whatever the reasons are. Sometimes they just physically can't play. It could be any of the above.
Q: How remarkable is Brett Favre's consecutive games streak to you?
BB: It's like the great ones: [Cal] Ripken and [Lou] Gehrig and those guys that just play forever. It seems like he's played forever, and he has. He has. It's pretty impressive. It's hard for most players just to make it through a 16-game season. This guy has made it through how many years? 18, whatever it is. It's pretty impressive. Obviously it says a lot about his physical ability. It says a lot about his durability. It says a lot about his mental toughness and physical toughness. For all that to happen, there are a lot of things that have to go right. It's one thing to want to be out there but it's another thing to actually physically be able to be out and take what he's taken and be out there for all those games for all those years. It's pretty remarkable.
Q: Given Percy Harvin's speed and ability to line up anywhere, is it a little bit like playing against Reggie Bush last year? It seems like they can use Harvin all over the place.
BB: They have some similarities, but I would say the different is that Reggie Bush is a running back that plays receiver and Harvin would be a receiver that plays running back. I think their primary positions are different. Do you seem them switch positions occasionally? Yes, but you see a lot more of Percy as a receiver than you do at running back and you see a lot of more of Reggie as a running back than you do as a receiver. They do switch, but it's just kind of the reverse.
Q: Did you guys scout Tarvaris Jackson coming out of college?
BB: We didn't spend a lot of time on him. We felt pretty good about our quarterback situation, but we scout all the players. Yeah, we scout all the players.
Q: Is there anything that stands out?
BB: Yeah, [he's] a strong-armed guy that's very athletic that you felt like, like a lot of quarterbacks coming out, had good talent and would need to develop in some areas to become an accomplished professional quarterback, which I think he definitely has. You see a lot of players like that every year in the draft. You get four, five, six guys that are athletic guys that have a good arm, that have a lot of production, that you can envision as pro quarterbacks, provided that they are able to make the adjustments in the pro game, relative to the passing game. From high picks like the Vince Youngs...really, it's the whole spectrum of the Vince Youngs to the Matt Cassels to all the guys in between that are athletic guys with good arms that have some degree of production. And then it's just the question of where you think those players are going to get to and that's reflected in where they are picked. How strongly you feel about that.
Q: Do you see on film that the Vikings get quarterback pressure?
BB: Yeah, without a doubt. Definitely. It's one of the best pass-rushing teams in the league. They're all a problem, really, but [Kevin] Williams, [Jared] Allen and [Ray] Edwards in particular, those three guys. I think Edwards is a very underrated player. Allen, we all know what he is. Kevin Williams, we all know what he is. Their linebackers complement their pressure well with [E.J.] Henderson and [Ben] Leber and [Chad] Greenway. Those guys are fast and they get pressure in a different way, but they are fast in the line of scrimmage. If you have to commit a blocker to them, if you have to commit one of your linemen to them, then you're basically singled up across the board on the other four guys, as opposed to having a three-on-two or some kind of three-on-two situation, whether you're three-on-two inside, or three-on-two to one side or the other if nobody blitzes. Once they blitz a guy, then whoever blocks that linebacker leaves you singled across the board. I think their pass rush is very good. They get a lot of pressure.
Q: You mentioned Ray Edwards being underrated. Is there anyone you think he is similar to? Or what type of player is he?
BB: He's a good player. He's strong against the run. He's quick. He's very athletic. He plays with good leverage, good strength. He makes chase plays from behind. He makes power plays at the point of attack. He's a good quick stunter when they bring him inside on their inside stunts. He's a tough matchup for the tackles because of his quickness and his speed, but at the same time he plays with good power and leverage where he can neutralize those guys because they can just come off and get him because he's so quick. So they kind of have to come off under control and then when he comes off with a lot of power, then at times he looks like the more powerful of the two players, because his quickness has kind of neutralized their ability to really come off and just really try to go get them because of his movement skills. He really does a good job and it's not just the pass rush. He's good in the running game. He's good on plays to him. He's good on plays away from him. He's a good chase player on screens. Really, he's a good all-around, three-down player.
Q: He'd be over Sebastian Vollmer?
BB: Yes. He lines up on our right. He's on the right and Allen is on the left.
Q: Did you go back to 2008 when Tavarris Jackson got a few starts?
BB: Yeah, in '08. Yeah, we saw those games.
Q: How much has he developed from that period?
BB: Well, I don't know. He's just played in preseason.
Q: In the preseason did you notice anything different?
BB: Preseason is preseason. Everybody is trying to do the same in preseason. They're running a lot of basic plays. Everybody is working on their fundamentals, their techniques, just trying the players and different combinations of guys in there and all that. I think you see the same player. You see a guy with a strong arm. You see a guy that's athletic that makes good decisions that can certainly run the offense, run the team, and do what they ask him to do. But you don't see any really regular season action in the last two years.
Q: He was good in'08 during that period of time.
BB: Yeah. He definitely had a lot of good moments and like every player, had some plays that I'm sure he'd like to have back, but you can say that about everybody. He was a productive guy. I'm sure they have a lot of confidence in him. They should. When he had an opportunity to play in preseason, he looked very competent in handling what they asked him to do. It wasn't a big game plan situation. It wasn't the same level as what it was in '08, but what he had to do, he looked like he was fine.
Q: That week that you guys played the Falcons and Matt Schaub played instead of Michael Vick, was Vick even listed on the injury report?
BB: Sure. Yeah. Everybody knew about it.
Q: So that wasn't a total surprise for you that Matt Schaub was playing in that game?
BB: That week was more that Vick was going to play, was going to play, was going to play, and then right at the last second he didn't.
Q: So that's another example of why you don't believe the media reports?
BB: No disrespect. We're all wrong a lot. I'm wrong as much as anybody.
Q: Just checking in on Fred Taylor. Any progress?
BB: Oh definitely. Definitely. Fred is definitely making progress. He's a lot further along this week than he was last week. Last week was definitely ahead of the week before. I think it took him a little while there to kind of just get going, but now that he's back doing things, he's making good progress.
Q: Is it just a tricky situation because of where the injury is?
BB: No, it's no different than any other situation. If a player has an injury, you rehab the injury until the injury is at a point where he can begin activity. Once he begins activity and there are no setbacks, then you increase the level of activity until the player is ready to participate in mainstream with the rest of the team. Once he is ready to do that and he has demonstrated all the steps along the way that he is ready to do that, then you put him into those situations [like] practice with the team, whether it's on a limited or full basis, whatever it is. Then once he shows that he's able to practice and work at all the football things that he needs to do - because again you can go out there and run and jump and cut and all that, but it's not quite the same as playing football and all the dynamics that go into the game. So, once they demonstrate that in practice and at that point the injury symptoms are gone or minimal, then you're ready to put him in the game. I mean, it's the same thing. It doesn't matter if it's a wrist, an elbow, a shoulder, a knee; it's the same process and you just take those different steps along the way. Sometimes it goes like that. Sometimes it dips. Sometimes it levels off. It's very unpredictable, just like all of us when we don't feel good. We want to feel better and sometimes you feel better the next day and sometimes it takes to two days. Sometimes it's a week. Sometimes it's two weeks. The next time you get a cold, we should say, 'When are you going to feel good? Tell me the exact day when you're going to feel good.' That's what you guys ask me. 'When is this player going to be [ready]? When's he going to feel good? When's he going to be right?' Next time you get sick, you tell me the exact day that you're going to feel good and we'll make sure that you are confident and positive you can hit that target. It's impossible. You just take it day-to-day. What else can you do?
Q: So you don't want any more questions about injuries?
BB: We all don't feel good at times. We all are sick or we have something and none of us know the exact day that it's going to all of sudden magically be back to where it normally is. So when I can't tell you that, why is [there] the big disappointment that I can't predict how somebody else is going to feel in a point in time down the road?
Q: How would you like if we said, 'The injury report comes out Wednesday. We'll find out then'?
BB: I'd love it.
Q: Darius Butler got the belt this week. What did you like about him in practice?
BB: He had a good week of practice. He did a good job. He got his hands on a lot of balls and made it hard on our offense.
Q: Is he maybe closer to getting back in the mix?
BB: I think every player that is active is in the mix. I think everybody is in the mix. If you are active for the game, then you have some role in the game. Whether that materializes or not, that could depend on the situations in the game and so forth, but anybody that is active for the game we have confidence [in] putting them in the game. They have a role and we expect them to do well if they are inserted in that role. How that all plays out, some of that we don't know, but of course we have confidence in those players or there would be somebody else in that role or active for the game. Everybody that is active is in the mix. They all know that.
Q: Is one of the challenges that if you double team Allen you leave yourself weaker against Edwards or someone else?
BB: I think the double team guy on that is [Kevin] Williams. That's the problem: if you don't help the guard with Williams then the guard is really isolated on Kevin Williams because the center is tied up on Pat Williams and the tackles are tied up on the ends, whichever guy it is Allen or Edwards. And so a lot of single opportunities come from Williams, but it's hard to double him with a center because the center is on the same side as the guard. So you either have to do it with the tackle and that leaves you with a back or a tight end or whatever the combination is, it leaves you with somebody else out there on Allen and Edwards, which is a problem. Or if you leave your tackle on them, then it leaves your guard singled on Kevin Williams, which [is] a problem. That's kind of the idea of the over and under front - to have a player in that three-technique who's got a nose tackle on the other side of the center and an end on the other side of the tackle, so that those guys have to kind of block their respective guys and then you have the three-technique singled on a guard. I mean, guards generally play in, obviously, a more confined space than the tackles do, so if you have a guy that's really a good defensive end playing tackle, like you have with [Kevin] Williams, then you really have an end on a guard instead of an end on a tackle. He's a tall guy with good range, real good quickness. He's powerful. He could easily play defensive end, but he's matched up the guards and that's a tough matchup.