New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick addresses the media during his press conference at Gillette Stadium on Friday, October 3, 2008.
BB: It will certainly bring back some memories for me going back to Candlestick [Park]. It has been awhile since I've been out there. I think it was when we were at the Jets we opened with them. But before that it seemed like we were out there every year with the Giants playing them or at least every other year one way or another. It has a great tradition and some great teams there. I know they have the Steve Young [ceremony] going on so I am sure that will whip everyone up into a frenzy. It will be interesting to go back there. We don't have too many games on grass - this is one of them. We are going back to old school kind of - old stadium, grass, 49ers. [There is] a little different flavor to it this weekend.
Q: What's the wind like there for Stephen Gostowski?
BB: I never thought it was that bad. There is some but I don't think it is anywhere close to what we play here, Giant stadium or Cleveland for that matter. There are some days out there but I don't think I have ever been out there when it has been a big factor in a game. It is usually pretty light. Now that I am saying that there might be gale force winds.
Q: Do anyone of those games out there stand out to you when you were with the Giants?
BB: Yes, the 15-13 [Giants vs. 49ers]. The 21-17 game - the [Mark] Bavaro game. We lost to them 7-3 out there in '90. We played pretty well defensively but they played a little better than we did. We had some great battles with them. We lost to the playoffs out there in '84 and '81 too, after we beat the Eagles. They're tough at home and that is still true.
Q: You've only been flagged a few times this year. How key is that for you?
BB: It's great. It's always been a point of emphasis and it's been a strong one this year. I think the players have really responded to it. One was the last play of the game against Kansas City. We've done a good job of not hurting ourselves with penalties and I hope we can keep that going.
Q: You had a penalty on a kneel down [against the New York Jets]?
BB: Yeah. That was pretty bad.
Q: What does it take for the offensive line to get comfortable with Matt Cassel?
BB: Well, they have had a lot of snaps with him this year. They have had more snaps with him than anybody else. I don't think it's about being comfortable. I think we just need to go out there and play well. That's for everybody - line, receivers, backs, tight ends, offense, defense and special teams. We just need to go out there and play good football again. I think everybody is comfortable with everybody. We've been at here, we've had over 50 practices, 7 games and Matt's been in there for most of those snaps.
Q: Is anything different the way Matt Cassel moves in the pocket?
BB: I think every quarterback has his own unique style but basically it's pretty close.
Q: You mentioned the grass surface. How different is that to a player?
BB: Its kind of going the reverse. It used to be you practice on grass and you would have a game every once in a while on turf. Now it seems like everyone practices on turf, the games are on turf and every once in a while you have one on grass. But we are on the grass just about every day unless we are inside the bubble. We get plenty of playing time on grass. I think that our players are comfortable with that. We've had over 50 practices on it. I think that's a minor adjustment but something we are comfortable with. I think it would be different if everyone of our practices was on turf and all of our games were on turf. I think it affects the kickers a little bit. It's a little different plant and contact point with Stephen Gostkowski, not so much the punters but with the kickers. It's a little adjustment but again these are all experienced guys. They have been through it before.
Q: Are you worried about your routine being disrupted by staying on the West Coast for the week?
BB: Well. Right now we are not even worried about next week. We are worried about going out there and playing San Francisco. This is the way we would normally do it, playing on the West Coast, especially with it being a one o'clock game on Sunday. If it were a night game than maybe the schedule would be a little different but it isn't. We are out there Friday after practice and it's a one o'clock Sunday game. That's the way we would normally do it.
Q: This is an old Giants question: Did you hear Dick Lynch is passing?
BB: Yes. It's sad. Dick was the color commentator all the years that I was there. It seems like Dick's been there for a hundred years. There are other Giants like that too that played there and work in or around the organization forever - Rosie Brown and guys like that. Dick is a great guy. He always had a smile on his face and had a great sense of humor. There wasn't a cigar or joke that he didn't like. He kept things loose. I don't think he ever took himself or the game too seriously. He was a great player. In college at Notre Dame, he was very loyal to Notre Dame, and with the Giants - he had a great career. I don't know how many years he was with the Giants; it had to be over 50. It was a long time.
Q: Do you have any special memories going up against Steve Young?
BB: We caught Steve Young at the end too. We caught him at the end and played him one or two times in Cleveland too. Steve brought a unique dimension to the position. There were the scrambling quarterbacks and the throwing quarterbacks. He was a little bit of both, like Fran Tarkenton but faster. He ran when he needed to run and he ran fast. He was primarily a passer and had tremendous production in that offense. It's rare to see a guy come in and replace a Hall of Fame quarterback with another Hall of Fame quarterback. You run the same system and you have to give Bill Walsh a lot of credit for his vision. In trading for Steve after he didn't have a very good start to his career in Tampa. They brought him out there and he sat behind [Joe] Montana for a couple years. Then when he got his opportunity - they split time for one or two years - his career took off. He had a great career. To have two quarterbacks like that in the same organization over that stretch of time, no wonder they won a lot of games.
Q: You got a little taste of the Spread Attack against Miami. That has taken over college football. Have you talked to some of your college contacts and do you see it trickling over into the league?
BB: Yes. Dean Pees ran that offense with Josh Cribbs at Kent State. It's a little bit different but the same type of player. Obviously, we didn't do a very good job against it, against Miami. That goes without saying. It isn't anything that defensively we haven't dealt with before. We just got to do a better job of coaching it, playing it and executing the defense against it. We didn't do that and that starts with me. I am sure we will see it again. We'll see what happens the next time.
Q: Do you see that more teams are adding that package [Spread Attack] and it's trickling into the league?
BB: I think it's trickling into the league. San Francisco has lined [Frank] Gore up there. The Jets lined Leon Washington up there. I think Kansas City put someone up there last year. It isn't like every week we haven't at least talked about it. Miami ran more of it than anybody else has. We've prepared for it.
Q: Did the 49ers use Michael Robinson a lot?
BB: They haven't. He's a fullback on the punt team. They have used some formations in the punting game where he comes up under center. Again, kind of like what the Jets do with Brad Smith, when he's a fullback personal protector. So they walked him up, walked him back and faked it to him. We worked on it from there.
Q: Do you have to prepare for the possibility that San Francisco will do that?
BB: After a game like Miami, I think you better prepare for it and make sure you have it covered in case someone this week, next week or any week pulls it out. It's giving the other team an incentive to say, 'lets see if they've got this figured out yet, see if they got it stopped.' So we need to work on it whether they've shown it or not.
Q: What is it that makes Justin Smith so dangerous for them?
BB: He does a lot of things well. He's a very instinctive player, like the interception he had against Detroit. It came when he read the screen, pulled off the rush and made a very athletic play on the ball. He's quick. He's got a real good motor. He comes hard all the time. A lot of times you see the start of the play and think that he's not going to be a factor on this play but he outworks his opponent. He hustles to the ball, makes plays off the backside and makes plays on second and third effort spinning out of blocks and coming off blocks late. He's very instinctive. He's athletic. He's fast. He has good quickness. He can work up field around the edge. He can also come up and under. He lines up inside at times over the guard and then at times he lines up over either tackle when they flip him in their over and under package - he's the over-under end. He lines up in a lot of different places. I think it takes an instinctive player to be able to do that and be as productive as he's been.