New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick addresses the media during his press conference at Gillette Stadium on Tuesday, November 18, 2008.
BB: We have had quite a bit of time the last few days to watch quite a bit of tape on the Dolphins. They really are doing a great job. They are doing a great job of coaching. They are doing a great job of playing. They look pretty strong at everything. I think they have had a real impressive last month here. [They are] just doing a lot of things exceptionally well: making the plays they need to make, playing physical, running the ball, stopping the run and playing real smart football. It's a big challenge this week down there, there is a lot to get ready for offensively. They probably run as many different gadget plays and they are very much of a game plan team with Dan Henning like they have always been. They give you a lot of different looks from week to week, kind of like we talked about with [Mike] Shanahan at Denver. They change things up and run plays and looks that you haven't worked on because they haven't shown them. As I said, [Chad] Pennington has done a great job of taking care of the ball [with] very few turnovers, very few negative plays, a lot of positive yardage [and a] great job in the running game. Their time and possession in the last month and fourth quarter has been outstanding. [Ted] Ginn is making big plays for them [and Davone] Bess. The tight ends have done a good job. I think they have a good offensive line, good backs, good tight ends, good receivers - [Greg] Camarillo, Bess and Ginn. Defensively, their front seven are strong, tough to run against, good pass rushing team, they have a good covering secondary, haven't given up a lot of points and are strong in the kicking game with both Bess and Ginn returning [and] good coverage teams. They are just doing a good job all the way around. [They are a] very strong, solid team. They played well the last month. [They] are probably playing as good as anybody in the league right now and they do a lot of different things. So, good job of coaching, good job of playing; it has been impressive.
Q: How different is the Wildcat? How much pressure does it put on a team in terms of read and react?
BB: It's a formation they run maybe five to eight times a game. They jump into it, jump out of it. They change it up every week, either add a couple new plays or add a couple of new looks off of it - however they do it. And in the meantime they move around ten other things too: their two tight ends, their three receivers, their regular stuff, they use different combinations of backs - they have four backs, they use the fullback and then three half backs. They have a lot of different combinations with those guys, as well as, the tight end groupings and the receiver groupings. Again, the Wildcat is something that you work on but they only run it a few times a game and they are going to have some new things on it that you haven't practiced against. But that is the way it is going to be when they go to three wide receivers. That's the way it is going to be when they go to one back and two tight ends, all their different empty packages - they have a lot of different looks when they empty out the backfield. So, that's what they do.
Q: Now that people are catching on to the Wildcat play, is the value of it to them that they make you have to prepare for it?
BB: Well, it is a good productive formation because they are able to gain an extra blocker or an extra gap by having the quarterback be the running back and you have to prepare for it. But that is what they make you do on everything. They make you prepare for all the different empty formations, all the different two back formations, all the different two and three tight end formations [and] unbalanced line. They give you a lot of things to prepare for. That is what they do offensively. The Wildcat is one of them but there are ten other ones too.
Q: Is it a drain on your time to prepare for it?
BB: Well, that is their whole offense, it's like - Is empty [backfield] a drain on your time? Is three wide receivers [a drain on your time]? Is unbalanced line? Is Ricky Williams and Ronnie Brown in the backfield? Is lining up tight ends in the backfield? Is shifting? I mean, you have to defend everything. So, you work on what they have done, you work on what you think they might do but the fact of the matter is that [Dan] Henning is down there drawing up stuff today that he probably didn't know was in the game plan yesterday. So, what that will be we won't know until Sunday but that is what he has always done. That is his offense. That was the way it was when we played him at Carolina [and] that is the way it is now. That is the way it was when we were together at the Jets. That is the way it was when he was the head coach at Atlanta; that is what they do.
Q: In the Oakland game Miami ran the Wildcat 11 times. It seems like their productivity with those plays has declined. Is it still as dangerous as it was in the beginning games?
BB: Well, I think everything they do is dangerous. Every time the ball is in Ronnie Brown's hands it is dangerous. Every time it is in [Chad] Pennington's hands it's dangerous. Every time it's in [Patrick] Cobbs hands it's dangerous. Go look at the Houston game, 80-yard screen pass for a touchdown to Cobbs, 50-yard flea flicker to Cobbs for another touchdown. They hit their reverse again last week for a 40-yard touchdown. Ronnie Brown has had his touchdowns, Ricky Williams has his long runs, [Greg] Camarillo same thing that was another one, it was either Houston or Baltimore where he caught about a two yard pass and ran for about 35-yards and [Anthony] Fasano on all those seam passes. If they threw out every that didn't work, none of us would have any plays in our offensive playbook. There are always plays that don't work and then eventually they usually do. Sometimes it is what you call and what it matches up against. Sometimes it is the way you execute it. There are a lot of factors there but that is their offense. I don't think they are going to change it they are just going to keep adding to it all year. That is what they have been doing all year and I don't think it is going to change.
Q: What led you to experiment with a change in offense [direct snapping the ball to Kevin Faulk], was it Miami having success with it?
BB: We snapped the ball to Kevin six or seven years ago. That wasn't something that was new this year. We can go back and find that in the Super Bowls. That is part of our offense. Those are plays that we have. We don't run them every week but we have those plays, we have used them at times and then a lot of times we don't use them. When it is the right situation, we just change the pace.
Q: How do they use Jason Allen?
BB: Jason is really their nickel back. He comes in as a fifth defensive back and Will Allen moves inside into the slot. When [Michael] Lehan went on injured reserve back in October, it was about a month ago I guess, that is when [Jason] Allen who was playing some as a dime safety, he comes in at the left corner which would be on our right and that is usually where they play him. [Will] Allen plays in the slot and [Andre'] Goodman plays on the other side.
Q: Is this as good as you have seen Joey Porter play?
BB: He's a good player. He has been a good player. We have seen him sack quarterbacks for ten years.
Q: Is there anything that has led him to be so successful this year?
BB: I think he is the same player we have seen. I think it certainly helps them defensively. Their turnovers, their sacks, some of their big plays on defense have come, as usual, when the offense is in long yardage situations, or they are ahead, they have to throw, they have taken more chances [and] they are more exposed. Defensively, when you are behind by two touchdowns you are not going to get a lot of sacks. When you are ahead by two touchdowns and they are throwing every down, you can rush different pass rushes and it is a one dimensional game then it makes it easier to rush the passer if you you're a good pass rusher. I think those things have helped him. But he is a good player. He has gotten them on every down. I am not saying it's all been in those situations but I think he's a good pass rusher. The more they get in long yardage situations and the more they get you in situations where they are ahead in the game and you can tee-off on the quarterback, then the better they are going to rush the passer just like every other team.