Patriots head coach Bill Belichick addresses the media during his press conference at Gillette Stadium on Wednesday, November 10, 2010.
BB: The Steelers look about like they always do: good. I've been real impressed watching them on tape. [They're] a real physical football team offensively, defensively [and] in the kicking game. They're strong. They're tough. They do a real good job. They've got an explosive offense. [Mike] Wallace has certainly added a lot to them in terms of the deep ball [and] his ability to stretch the field, along with all their other outstanding players: [Rashard] Mendenhall and [Mewelde] Moore and the receiver, tight end group, Heath Miller, [Hines] Ward and [Antwaan] Rande El and all that. [They have] a lot of familiar names on defense. [They're] a tough, physical football team. We know what kind of game we're in for on Sunday night. Hopefully we'll have a good week here at practice and be ready to go Sunday. These guys are good. They're good at home; tough at Heinz Field. So it will be a big challenge for us. I'm looking for to it, but we understand what's ahead of us there. They're a good football team.
Q: Can you comment on today's moves in the kicking team?
BB: They're pretty self-explanatory. We placed [Stephen Gostkowski] on injured reserve, signed Shayne [Graham] and brought in Matt [Katula] for Jake [Ingram]. We just decided to make a change there, so we'll go with that.
Q: How much has Shayne's history in the AFC North, playing at Heinz Field, had a role in this?
BB: I think just his performance in the league is definitely a positive for him. He's had a good career - an outstanding career. I thought he performed well this year when he's had an opportunity. Scott [O'Brien] had him, so he's got a background with him. I think all those things were favorable for him. But he's a good kicker. He's had a real good career.
Q: How long does it normally take for a kicker, snapper and holder to come together?
BB: Well we've got a few days, so it doesn't really matter. We'll do the best we can in the time that we have. I know those guys have gotten started on it already. We know there's a lot of work to do, so we'll get at it. But, you know, they've all played in the league. They're all hardworking guys and I'm sure they'll do what they can in the next few days to get it the best that it can be.
Q: Was it a difficult decision to put Gostkowski on the Injured Reserve?
BB: In the end, we did what we thought was best for our football team. You go with the information that you have and make the decision based on the information that you have at that particular time. If you had two weeks to wait and make a different decision, then that's one thing. If you had a month, then maybe you'd make a different decision. I don't know. I don't know what the information will be at that point in time. So you just go with what you have now and do what you think is best.
Q: You've talked about how impressive the Steelers have looked, in particular, Coach Dick LeBeau. How scary is it when they do blitz packages?
BB: They show you a lot of different looks and Dick does a great job, no question about it. He does a great job with that defense. They've got a lot of outstanding players and you really have to be ready for all of them. They give you different formations, different looks, different combinations and run different games with them and so forth. One thing that helps is to stay out of long yardage. If you're in third-and-10s, third-and-12s, then you're going to face a lot more of that than if you have more control of the down and distance situations. So, that's always a part of it - staying out of long yardage or falling way behind in the game where you have to deal with that with every down. That's really not where you want to be. When they get you there, they can do whatever they want.
Q: If you look back at some of the games that you've played against the Steelers, is there one game that jumps out to you, a win or loss?
BB: Well, we've had a lot of big games against them. This is a team sort of like San Diego [or] Indianapolis that's not in our division, but you kind of feel like they are. But, right now, it's not really about that. It's about getting our team ready to play against their team Sunday night. Both teams are 6-2 and halfway through the season so it's time to strap it up and go play. I'm sure both teams will be ready to go. It will be a good, tough, physical football game. It's the kind you have here in the middle of November with teams like this. We're looking forward to it. I'm sure [Pittsburgh] will be ready and we'll see what happens.
Q: As a football historian, do you have a lot of regard for what the Steelers have done over the years with ownership and coaching lineage?
BB: Absolutely, sure. Since Bill Cowher came - well Chuck Noll before that, you can't discount Chuck's record - but I was very familiar with him when Bill came in '92 and competing against him in Cleveland and then all through the years of Bill and now Mike [Tomlin]. They've been very consistent and been able to really maintain pretty much their same system [both] offensively [and] defensively. That's very impressive in this day and age where you see teams change on a much more frequent basis. I don't think anybody's really got that kind of consistency like the Steelers have. So, yeah, they've done a tremendous job. I think you have to look at the entire organization, like you said, from ownership to coaching to personnel to the players. Even though [since] that period of time, players have changed, they've also had a lot of continuity with their players at various points in that string of success. You can certainly see the different eras there as it went from [Neil] O'Donnell to right down the line. Same thing with the running backs, from [Barry] Foster to the last time… We see new running backs now, but guys like Hines Ward, players like that. Some of the players on defense: [Ike] Taylor, [Troy] Polamalu, [James] Farrior and those guys that have been there for a long time. There's certainly a lot of carry over too.
Q: What makes them so tough against the run?
BB: They have a good scheme. They're well coached. They have good players and they play well. It's usually what it is - all those things.
Q: Have they had a guy with the speed of Mike Wallace in the past?
BB: I don't know if there are too many players that have the speed of Wallace, period - anywhere. There or anywhere else. And this guy's really fast. He's really fast. He's a special player and can really get in the deep part of the field in a hurry. He's very dangerous back there, and that, of course, opens up some other things in the passing game, too. And they've definitely got a guy that can get him the ball, too. It's hard to outrun Ben [Roethlisberger]. He can throw it about as far as it needs to be thrown even when he's not totally on balance. He can just rear back and let it go. That's a lethal combination.
Q: Do the refs give Roethlisberger a little more leeway in the grass because he is so tough to take down?
BB: Well, I think it's the official's judgment when he actually is in the grass. It's a tough call, because a lot of times, he's not down until he is actually in the dirt, and that's hard to do. He's a strong guy. He can stand in there. You see a lot of plays where he throws the ball with guys hanging on him, hanging on his jersey and his leg and around his waist and everything else [and] he can still rear back there and throw it. So what's in the grass and what isn't, that's the officials' call. Our job is to try and get him down and that's a tough job. He's good and he's strong in there.
Q: Julian Edelman has four catches. Last year at this time he had 20. Is there any reason for that?
BB: No, I wouldn't say so. I think he's a better player than he was last year. Sometimes it just goes that way.
Q: Is that something that could change moving forward?
BB: Well, we run the plays that we run. Depending on what the defense does, especially in the passing game, the ball goes to the guys that the quarterback feels are open based on the coverage and the route that we have called. So, I don't see that changing, no.
Q: Do you feel Fred Taylor is getting closer to contributing?
BB: Yep, I think he is definitely getting closer. We'll see how it goes today. Each Wednesday is kind of a new opportunity for those guys because they have had an extra three or four days since we really last saw them on Friday to continue to work. We'll see where things are at today based on warm-ups and stretching, getting loosened and getting ready to go and whether they are ready to participate or not. Wednesday is usually a day where you see some guys turn the corner that have been out for a while. But then sometimes it ends up being next Wednesday, so we'll just have to wait and see.
Q: Do you tend to wait a little bit longer with a guy that you know can bring so much to the team and has such a good track record before making a roster move?
BB: I think each time you get into those situations, you have to, of course, do what's best for the football team, whatever that is. You take everything into consideration: the player, his situation, what your depth is, where you are in the season, so forth and so on. There're a lot of things and, in the end, you try to make the best decision you can for your team - whatever that happens to be. I don't want to say it's the same for every player, but on the other hand, I can't say that it's actually different for every player. Each situation is different. I'd say that's the main thing, and you just try to analyze the overall situation, look at what your options are and take the best option for that particular point in time. If you don't have to make a decision at that point in time and you can have the flexibility to hold it off for a little while, then sometimes you have different information or maybe more information at a later point [so] you make a different decision, or, maybe you don't. Maybe it's the same decision, but you just know more. Sometimes you have the flexibility to do that and sometimes you don't. Each situation is different.
Q: Why have coaches gone to the decision where a separate player has to be a long snapper as opposed to to training someone else on the team to take that role?
BB: I think, really, that's just the way of the world now. It certainly didn't used to be like that, but you can say the same thing about the other positions as well. It wasn't that long ago, at least in our lifetime, where you had punters that did other things besides punt. You had kickers that did other things besides kick, and you had snappers that played in a different position other than long snapping. But, you don't see it much in college and that's where our players come from, [so] you don't see it too much professionally. When you can afford that situation, then you can certainly actually have an extra player, if you will, on the team, but really, no team has it to speak of, or very marginally if they do. It was not that long ago where, even on the Pro Bowl squads, where if you didn't have a long snapper on your team, [then] you were allowed to add one, but, really, nobody would have one, so they just include it as a separate position. That's really, I'd say, been in the last five, eight years. So, it's definitely a different skill. I think there are some issues with it even though a lot of players did it in the past. I'm not diminishing that at all. You take players that play other positions like offensive line or linebacker [and] they wear the big pads and the things they need to play their position - to play center or guard or middle linebacker or nose, whatever the position is, tight end even - where some of the deep snappers have come from in the past and just to try and do it with that type of equipment is limiting. I think there are a lot of things that play into it. If everybody's roster was 35 players and you had to do it, I think you'd find someone that could do it, especially with the rules now about hitting the center. I think that's made it a little bit different for the position compared to what it was before those rules were in place. Really, the interesting things about that is, not only are they just pure snappers, but I'd say in a high percentage of the cases in punt returns, those players aren't even blocked. The returns are set up so that those guys aren't even accounted for. They're blocking all the other guys except that one. So, literally, they're snapping and, I'd say, overall over the league, they have a minimal impact in the coverage game. It truly is a specialty. But if you can do it well, you can have a 10-year career. You don't have to do a whole lot else. You can just do that well and have a 10-year career, maybe longer.
Q: As a former defensive coach yourself, what is it like watching Dick LeBeau go into the Hall of Fame?
BB: I think it's awesome. Yeah, I think it's awesome. Dick is such a football guy. I've never had the opportunity to coach with him, but I know Dick. I've spent some time with him and he's just an outstanding person - just a great individual. I don't think anybody that I know that's ever known or spent any time with Dick could say a bad thing about him. I mean, he's just such a quality person, tremendous coach [and] great player. He did a great job as a coordinator and had a lot of success as a head coach and [he] is just, really, a football guy. I think for all of us that really appreciate football in its purest form, [he's] a guy that I think we're all happy to see get recognized. I think there are a lot of other assistant coaches along the lines of Dick LeBeau that could easily be included among the other great people in the National Football League. The Hall of Fame has its list of contributors or whatever in there, but I would certainly say there are a lot of assistant coaches and people like that - even some other people that have contributed, not even necessarily in the coaching aspect [but] trainers - a couple people like that that have been lifers in the National Football League that, really, depending on what the criteria is, could certainly be expanded for consideration. But I think it's awesome. I think it's awesome. I can't think of anybody that's any more deserving than Dick, although I can think of a lot of people that you could put into that category certainly for consideration, relative to the recognition that goes with that, with the Hall of Fame and with those kinds of positions, the people that have contributed a lot to the NFL.