Patriots head coach Bill Belichick addresses the media during his press conference at Gillette Stadium on Monday, November 15, 2010.
BB: It's a short night, so suffice it to say, we are running a little bit on fumes here this afternoon, but good fumes. It was a real solid effort by our players last night. I'm really proud of the way they played. The Steelers are a good football team. It's tough to go into Pittsburgh and win there. But it was a solid effort by our team all the way around. We got good work from all three phases – good complementary football. We were able to take advantage of field position that we had, that we created defensively with the offense and vice versa. In the end, it was just a few more plays last night. It was a good feeling, but it's really time to move the page, turn the page and move onto the Colts. It should be another big challenge this week. We certainly know what their about and the success they have. So it's going to be on to Indy. It already is onto Indy. It'd be nice to sit around and celebrate this one for a while, but there's just no time for that.
Q: On at least one of Gronkowski's touchdowns, maybe two, Tom Brady did a play fake. Is that something that he works on usually or was that specific to the Steelers?
BB: On the first one, it really wasn't – there was no fake. It was [Danny Woodhead] went out on the flat and Rob [Gronkowski] ran a post route over the middle. It was a great throw [and] great catch. Rob's got good length and was able to reach out there and get it. Tom [Brady] put it where it just cleared the defense, inside of the safety, so it was a good throw, good catch. The second was a good play-action fake. [Wes] Welker was coming over the middle and coverage kind of collapsed on him and Rob got out to the flat and nobody was really on him. I'm not sure who exactly was supposed to extend out there with him, but I'm sure it was just a missed assignment on their part. And then the last one, [the Steelers] were in their nickel defense and it actually ended up on [William] Gay. [Troy] Polamalu took the back of the flat. I think it was [Woodhead] again. So the one play-action was the one Rob caught on the fly where he really came open. The other two were one route was on Gay, the other one was... actually, I think they were both on Gay. Gay was covering the slot because we were on a sub offensive group and regular, so he was the inside receiver and Gay was the inside defender and had great coverage on the first one. It was just a good throw by Tom.
Q: How important has Patrick Chung become to your defense?
BB: Patrick's a good football player for us. He does a lot of things: he plays safety, plays sometimes in the nickel or dime position or sub defenses, fullback on the punt team, a lot of different jobs. So, he's a valuable guy for us, no question about it.
Q: After watching the past two games, are you confident that your team is closer to how they played last night as opposed to last week?
BB: Well, each week is its own new week, so we'll see. It starts all over again today. When it comes down to us and the Colts, it's the team that has the best week of preparation, that's able to execute the best on Sunday, that's able to take advantage of the other team's mistakes [and] take advantage of the opportunities that are out there - that's the team that will come off the field victorious. I don't know what that will be. I know we have a lot of work to do. Hopefully we'll be able to do a little bit more than they will, but that will be tough because they're a team that prepares well, [that's] well-coached [and that has] a lot of outstanding players. They have a lot of smart players. You really have to work hard to gain an advantage, so that competition will be all week.
Q: Why do you think you were such a different team last night than eight days ago?
BB: For all the reasons I just said. Everything: all the preparation, the practice execution, the execution level on the game, the alertness [and] the awareness to situations. There were a lot of good situational plays in the game from our standpoint that I thought we executed pretty well. That makes a difference – being able to complete a pass on third-and-20 to get the ball into field goal range to kick a field goal even though you don't get the first down. Those end up being big plays in the game.
Q: You guys were able to get to Ben Roethlisberger a lot and ran some pretty creative plays. Did you debut anything new last night?
BB: I don't think so. I think actually after the game, [The Steelers] talked about how they didn't really see anything that they hadn't seen before. I'd have to agree with that.
Q: So what was the difference then?
BB: It's players playing against each other. Somebody makes a play, somebody doesn't. I think Mike Wright had a real good day rushing the passer. He was disruptive. We also got some pressure off the edge at times. It is always good when you combine inside and outside pressure, but again, that ties into the coverage. A couple of times the receivers were covered and Ben had to pull the ball down. The rush wasn't that great, but it got to him because he had to hold the ball because the coverage was on the receivers. As always, it's a combination of things and it's team defense. When there's a good pass rush, there's usually good pass coverage. When there's pass rush, there has to be a little less pass coverage because the quarterback can't hold the ball too long. So, all those things are related.
Q: League wise, has this been one of the more unpredictable seasons? Is it tough to predict who is going to win each game?
BB: It's been like that in the NFL for 35 years. Teams that are in last place one year are in first place the next year. Teams that nobody thinks are going to win a game, like Miami, end up winning the division two years ago. You see it every year. Teams that aren't predicted to win, win. Teams that are expected to win, [don't] win. That certainly happens from week to week. That's the National Football League.
Q: Does Tom Brady show the emotion he showed last night during practice, too?
BB: You see it all through training camp. You guys are at all the training camp practices.
Q: But does he show it on a regular basis?
BB: There's no question that Tom is the leader of our offense. There's no question about that. I think he has enough experience and understanding to know what's right and what's wrong. He's very encouraging when guys make good plays and do something that's really good. He's the first one to congratulate them, tell them about it [and] show the appreciation. If there's a mistake, whether it's his mistake or somebody else's mistake, then he'll talk about that. Sometimes it's him talking about something he did wrong that everybody else on the team was right on and he screwed it up. Or maybe it's somebody else, and he'll talk to them about what that person needs to do right. But I think that's what any good quarterback – any good leader – does. They reinforce the positive and try to correct the negative in a positive way and try to be objective and fair about it. I think he does all those things. That's why he's Tom Brady. He's not only a great quarterback, but he's a great leader. He certainly is in command of our offensive team.
Q: On Shayne Graham's missed PAT, did he just miss-kick it or is that a result of the new operations?
BB: There were a couple of things involved there, but I'd just say, overall, that he had a pretty good night. I thought he kicked the ball well on both the placement kicks and the kickoffs. It certainly could have been better. I'm not saying it was perfect by any means, but I thought he hit it pretty well. There are certainly things that we need to do better in all phases of the operation of the kicking game, whether it's on the kickoffs, the extra points and field goals, or punts. The whole operation and the kicking in all those situations can certainly be improved, but I thought he did a pretty solid job.
Q: In the pass rush, are you starting to get more synced up in the coverage?
BB: I think at times, but it's not consistent. Certainly, I don't think you can say that about the fourth quarter. At times, I think it looks about the way we would like it to look. It looks very competitive. But at other times, it's not as good as what it needs to be. We need to do a better job of coaching [and] a better job of playing and understanding. Some of that comes from experience. Some of it comes from the scheme [and] the way it matches up with the opponents. If you're expecting a deep pass and you get a short one, you're coverage has to be able to adjust to that change in timing and vice versa. So, there are a lot of factors that go into it. Sometimes it's all right; sometimes, it's really not all right.
Q: In terms of the pass rush, there are the things that Roethlisberger can do, like restarting a play, that Peyton Manning can't do, but are there also things that Manning can do like seeing something earlier in a play?
BB: I'd say it's not just the quarterback. Again, it's the scheme and the system. Certainly, the Pittsburgh system, and with Ben in particular, he's a guy that keeps plays alive as well as any quarterback in the league. He's strong. You can't get him down in the pocket. He stiff-arms guys, stays up there, scrambles, pulls up throws, [and] sees the field very well. He has that ability to keep plays alive. I'd say very few quarterbacks can do [that] as well as he can, as consistently as he can. They might be able to make one here or there, but he must have had 10 of them in the game last night, which isn't unusual for him. We showed that over and over again all week in our preparation. He makes them against everybody. I don't think Tom Brady is that kind of quarterback. I don't think Peyton Manning is that kind of quarterback. Not that they haven't done it at times. We can certainly find plays where they have done it: the one that Manning hit against us in '05, whenever it was, early in the game where he scrambled out to his left and threw it over the defense or Brady's play with Tate a couple weeks ago. So, it's not like you can't find those, but not with the frequency that Ben does it. Each quarterback, each offensive system, each scheme is a little different. It changes from week to week. They're all good, but there are some differences. I don't think you can necessary play them all the same. I mean, you can, but I think there are some differences.
Q: The synchronicity is different in the Steelers passing game than the Colts passing game.
BB: Yeah, I'd say it's definitely a different type of passing game: different emphases, I'd say different philosophy in the passing game. In general, I think you can find plays that are similar in both, but I think there are more differences than similarities. But they're both effective; they're both good. I'm not saying one is better than the other, they're just different. I don't think they try to be the same. They try to be what they are.
Q: Some of the guys were talking about guys getting chippy on Brady, did you see that last night?
BB: Yeah, but you got two physical teams playing in a big game. Emotions run high. I don't think that's uncommon. I thought the game, for the most part, as far as that part goes, was pretty well officiated. There wasn't a lot of ... But that stuff happens in a lot of games. Two teams that are competitive, sometimes that stuff happens. I think that's part of the game. You never want it to get out of hand. Each team is trying to knock the other guys around. That's what happens.
Q: Does it amuse you to hear who analysts are predicting to win games each week?
BB: To be honest with you, I don't really spend a lot of time analyzing that or listening to it. I think sometimes somebody with a totally objective point of view, whether it's Cris Collinsworth or Phil Simms or whoever it is, that they can take an objective look at both teams and say, 'Okay, here's how I see these two teams matching up and this is what the game looks like to me.' A lot of times, I think guys with experience, guys that really understand how the teams really do match up or how they see each other, I think sometimes they can give you some interesting insight into the game, particularly if they have some inside information. The announcers sometimes do and when they're broadcasting the game and they say, 'Well coach so-or-so or player so-or-so told us what they're going to try and do and this is what they've seen and this is how they think they can...' I think that part is interesting because they really have the ability to try and put the game together. You know, [John] Madden was great at that - one of his real strengths as an announcer. He made the game very entertaining, but as a coach, he had a great perspective of how he would match up against the other team and if he was on that team, how he would match up against the game he was broadcasting. I thought he would give you some interesting insights, which I think a lot of those guys do. They come in every week, we talk to them and they obviously, I'd say generally speaking, are well prepared. They've seen film. They've studied the teams that they're broadcasting on [and] they have a pretty good sense of what their strengths and weaknesses are and when they put it all together on the day of the game, they can say, 'This is what they're trying to do and it's working and this is what they're trying to do and here's how the other team has countered it.'
Q: Do you see Wes Welker making incrementally better progress, physically?
BB: I'd say it's been pretty consistent all year. Really, from the early part of the season, to me, he looks about the same: good, about the same.
Q: From the way you defended the run, is there anything, in particular, you did better yesterday than you did against Cleveland?
BB: Well they're two totally different games. But I think one of the big things in this game was just the score. That's the best way to defend the game, the running game, is if you're far enough ahead, then it's hard to keep patient and keep running the ball. But whatever success we had in the running game goes to the players. They're the ones that defeat the blockers, tackle the ball, tackle the runner [and] play good team defense. That's what it's really about. You've got six, seven, eight, however many guys are involved in a particular play in the running game. Everybody's got to do their job. If seven of them do it and one of them doesn't, then there's a gap for the runner and that's where he'll go. So it's everybody playing team defense, taking care of their run responsibilities and then all tackling. [Rashard] Mendenhall is a good back, so is Mewelde Moore – we had trouble tackling him a couple of times in the game. So, part of it is being in position. The other part of it is actually getting him on the ground. That's a challenge with good back, too. But whatever success we had, give that credit to the players. They're the ones who handle the blockers and eventually made the tackle.
Q: One of the things that has been consistent in this organization over the years is not dropping back-to-back games. Who gets the credit for that?
BB: Well in the end, it's a players' game. The players have to go onto the field and they win them. They win games. They go out there and make the plays. They make the passes, the blocks, the kicks, the tackles, the interceptions, the force-fumbles. Whatever the plays are, they're the ones that go out there and do it. We've had a lot of outstanding players in this organization through the years. I've been very fortunate as a coach to be able to coach some of the guys that have played for this team. The games that we've won and the plays that the Rodney Harrisons and the Tedy Bruschis and the Corey Dillons and the Randy Mosses and right down the line, all the other guys you want to name - plays that those guys made, that's why the team won. Players making big plays.
Q: Can you see the players circling the wagons in the meetings and practices after a loss?
BB: I think, unfortunately, after the Cleveland game, I think we could all take a look and see that not only was the game not good enough but there were a lot of things associated with the game that really weren't good enough either. If we learn from that game and if that loss helped us do things better in this game or future games, then that's an unfortunate positive that we can take from that game. Do I think that exists? Probably to some degree it does. A lot of times when you lose a game, even though you can say the same things, the reality is you've lost and the things that might have been okay or you got by with in a win, you didn't get by with in a loss and it puts a higher emphasis, focus, priority, however you want to describe it, on them. Again, there's such a fine line in this league between being good and being bad that, in a lot of cases, it doesn't take a lot for that differential to show up, one way or another. If you don't do the things that you really need to do or do do the things that really need to do, you can see a big difference in the results on Sunday. So, I think there's probably some truth to that, unfortunately.
Q: You said after the game last week that there wasn't anywhere to go but up. Could you see a change immediately on Wednesday?
BB: Well I'd say the biggest change was Wednesday, coming off the field. When you walk off the field, you can walk off the field and most days know whether you either had an average type of day, a bad day or a real good day. We've had 80 practices this year, so if you want to rank them, a lot of them will be ranked and be pretty close together but then you'll have a couple at either end. But I think when you walk off the field on Wednesday, and with a good feeling about the way practice went, about the way the game plan is shaping up and the way the players are executing, that's a good start. Obviously, that doesn't mean anything, but that's a good start because Thursday definitely related to Wednesday. And if you're behind and you don't have a good feeling when you come off the field on Wednesday, then Thursday, you have to take time to correct things that happened on Wednesday and it keeps you from moving further ahead. And if you have to continue to do that on Friday, then it detracts from other things you could be preparing for that you really need to prepare for. So, if you get all your work done on Wednesday, then you can move on and get all your work done on Thursday and then move on and get all your work done on Friday and you can really have a good week of preparation and move ahead and go into the game confidently, knowing that you've prepared for everything, that you've executed on the practice field. You're confident on what your teammates are going to do. The coaches are confident in the plays they're going to call because they've worked out there and it looks like everybody knows what they're doing and can do it. And the reverse of that is if you look bad on Wednesday, a bunch of corrections on Thursday, you've still got new stuff to cover and now you don't cover it as well because you're wasting time going back over on Wednesday and now Thursday's not... and that can lead into Friday. Or sometimes it turns around – sometimes Thursday turns around the stuff you do on Wednesday gets worked out and the stuff you do on Thursday is good and then you're onto Friday. Or it could go the other way. You could have a good Wednesday and come in on Thursday and take what should be a good building block and come off the field on Thursday and say, 'I don't feel good about third down. I don't feel good about our two-minute. I don't feel good about this; I don't feel good about that.' And up on the field on field on Friday and it's not a good feeling either. You come off the field on Friday and you're like, 'This didn't look good. That didn't look good. This didn't look good.'
Q: On Mike Wright's shoulder sack where Patrick Chung came off the side, too, is the design to force the running back to pick a guy or did somebody miss something?
BB: I'd have to go back and probably look at the play again. I can't remember exactly, but, generally speaking, for the most part, there are a few occasions when rushers are not blocked and their just free into the backfield and that's either a missed assignment by the offense or you've brought more guys than the offense can pick up in that particular protection scheme. The rest of the time, they have enough blockers to block you, which is certainly in the majority of cases. And that comes down to either individual matchups or some type of maneuver that helps you gain an advantage in the pass rush or the pass rush game, or an alignment that forces a certain type of a set, or blocking adjustment that might create an opportunity somewhere else. There's an aspect of scheming there a little bit, too. But, ultimately, a defender has to get past a blocker. And unlike in the running game, the offensive line, most of the time, has more blockers than you have pass rushers – most of the time. Whereas, in the running game, there's one blocker for every defender. The triple teams in the running game really can't really exist because who's going to block the other guys that are standing there? Whereas in the passing game, if you really follow your receivers, it could be five-on-four, it could be five-on-three in a three-man rush, you can keep an extra blocker in and it could be six-on-four or six-on-five, depending on the protection. But a lot of times, there's an extra guy and so one thing you try to do in the pass rush is make that extra blocker ineffective, where he's essentially blocking air or he's blocking somebody that it's in the coverage so it ends up being a two-for-one type of situation, like I'm blocking you, but you're in coverage, so I don't get anything out of this block and you're covering somebody in the passing game, in the pattern. So, that's kind of a game within the game that you're going through there. So that's how all that sets up. You try to create the advantages that you can and if you do get two blockers on one – if it's five-on-four, and two guys end up blocking one, then you hope that with the other three players that are single, that you can create some an advantage in the pass rush there or just win the individual match up. It's like everything else in football - it just comes down to numbers. Numbers are basically the same - any time there's more numbers in one place, there's got to be less numbers somewhere else. And how do you take advantage of that, whichever side of the ball you're on?