Patriots head coach Bill Belichick addresses the New England media during his press conference, on Tuesday, November 30, 2010.
BB: We've had a few days here to get a little head start on the Jets. They're a real impressive team. Rex [Ryan] has done a real good job with the makeup of the team and the way that they've performed and come through in a lot of clutch situations. Whether it's been offense, defense, special teams, they've been able to make the plays that they need to make to win. They really do a pretty good job with everything: run the ball, make big plays on offense, real strong in the kicking game, like they usually are. [They] cover well, return well and rush well. And defensively, [they're] strong against the run, make big plays, pressure the passer. So, [they're] really a solid team in all three areas of the game. [They're] very fundamentally sound, well-coached, tough, physical team. We know we're going to have to play a real good 60-minute football game Monday night. That's our challenge. Hopefully we can have a good week of preparation and be ready to go, take advantage of the extra time [and] be ready to go.
Q: What are the challenges in defending Dustin Keller?
BB: They definitely move him around. They use a lot of different formations, even within the same personnel groups, and they use a lot of different personnel groups. But, they definitely move him around. They move all their skill players around: Keller, [Jerricho] Cotchery, [Braylon] Edwards [and Santonio] Holmes - sometimes they're 'X;' sometimes they're 'Z;' sometimes they're in the slot. So, they juggle them around and try to give you a different look; try to give you different matchups, absolutely. Keller's a good receiver. He's quick. He's got good speed down the field. He can definitely threaten the vertical element of the defense. [He's] good after the catch, got good hands, good red-area receiver. He does a good job for them.
Q: What does Santonio Holmes add to their offense and what challenges does he present?
BB: Well, he's a big play maker. [He's] fast, quick, good routes, runs well after the catch, complements Braylon [Edwards] well because Braylon's a big, physical, downfield receiver and Holmes is fast, quick [and] has very good route running ability. He can get down the field, but he can also run short-intermediate routes, run after the catch [and] do all those things. They're both big threats, big-play guys.
Q: How has your offensive line managed to be successful despite so much change with Logan Mankins coming back and losing [Stephen Neal]?
BB: As usual, it comes down to the entire team. The passing game - part of it is protection; part of it is getting open; part of it the quarterback seeing the ball and seeing the coverage and seeing the matchups and all those - it all has to fit together. Good protection without receivers open is tough. Receivers open without good protection is tough. You really need a combination of all of it. Logan [Mankins] is an outstanding football player; we all know that. He's done a good job for us. It's been tough having Steve out of there, but Logan's played well; Dan [Connolly's] played well. I think the line has done a good job. Dante [Scarnecchia], as always, does a great job with that group. The passing game is a function of all 11 players, not just five. Part of the protection is the receiver getting open and giving the quarterback somewhere to throw the ball so he doesn't have to just stand back there and hold it.
Q: What makes Dante such an effective coach?
BB: He's got a lot of experience. Dante does a good job with details, a lot of fine coaching points, fundamentals. He really teaches the guys how to block from step one and how to handle all the different schemes that we have and also that we have to see from other teams. Players work hard [and] they work together. The offensive line is really a combination of the coach and all the players and the quarterback seeing the same thing at the same time. That's not easy to do, but that's what it takes. You can't really operate independently on the offensive line. You have to know what the guy beside you is doing and all five of you have to block the five players that you're accountable for, whatever the play is: run or pass. All the different looks and all the different things that can happen out there, all five of those guys have to see it the same way. And sometimes that works with the backs and certain protections or the tight ends, but certainly those five have to be on the same page and Dante does a good job preparing them and getting them to that point, whether it be [in] meetings, walk throughs, practice film or so forth.
Q: What has Alge Crumpler meant to the running game?
BB: Alge's a big, physical player that's able to hold up against defensive lineman, which is a challenge for tight ends and [he can] also block the more athletic, skill players: linebackers and, occasionally, the safeties that drop into the running game from the secondary. Tight ends have a lot of different matchups depending on where they're located and what the play is and what the defense is. They can be blocking anybody from a 350-pound nose tackle on a wham play to a 195-pound defensive back on an outside run, and that's two completely different and difficult types of blocks to make. That's what makes those guys at that position so unique - their matchups change so much from play to play. They have to be able to do a lot of different things and handle a lot of different physical and mental responsibilities and adjustments.
Q: Have Sammy Morris' responsibilities on or off the field changed at all?
BB: No, I wouldn't say so. Not really.
Q: Is he taking on more of a leadership role?
BB: Well he always does a good job. Sammy's a great team player. He's always well prepared. He does whatever we ask him to do. Danny [Woodhead] and Benny [BenJarvus Green-Ellis] have been doing a good job in their roles and they've given us some consistency, so that's the way it's been.
Q: Is he unique in that he can play any of those running back spots?
BB: Yeah, sure, and in the kicking game. He's back there as a short kickoff returner. He plays on the line on the punt team. He does a lot of different things for us in the kicking game and also, offensively, whether it be [as a] blocking fullback, third-down back, running back. He has a lot of roles and responsibilities within the team. [He] works hard. [He's] very well prepared [and a] really tough kid. He plays hard. [He's a] very physical player. He does a lot of things and he's a valuable guy for us.
Q: Is it cool for you to see a guy like Deion Branch back here in this environment?
BB: It's great to have Deion on the team. Absolutely. That's why we traded for him.
Q: Do you get a sense of how much he is enjoying being back in games that count, that matter, like the one you're about to play?
BB: Well, I think they all count. But, yeah, look, Deion's got a great attitude. He always has. He's got a smile on his face, but he works hard. He works as hard as any receiver we have. In practice, he's always going full speed. He runs crisp routes, is really alert, makes good adjustments whether it be in practices or in games [and] is a great example for the other guys at his position. So is Wes [Welker]. Wes does a great job, brings a great veteran presence there, as well. He's experienced, but also, his work ethic, his toughness, his effort to always improve his route running, technique, coverage recognition [and] those things... But, yeah, Deion's been great. He works hard. He's got a smile on his face. He's always ready to go. You love to coach players like that.
Q: Did you ask your players to be careful to not engage in trash talk with the Jets, knowing how much the Jets like to talk?
BB: We try to just concentrate on what we have to do; get ready to play [and] be ready to go when the game is scheduled. That's our goal every week, is to do our job, get ready to play and then go play.
Q: What is your relationship like with Rex Ryan and what do you think of his coaching style?
BB: I think he's an excellent coach. He did a great job at Baltimore, whether it says defensive-line coach or defensive coordinator down there. He's doing the same thing with the Jets; took them to the AFC Championship game last year. [He's] got a great record this year. So, he's a good football coach. His teams play hard. They're obviously well coached. They handle pressure. They play with a lot of confidence. He's done an excellent job.
Q: Rex said today that as much as he respects you, he came to New York to kick your ass. Do you have a response to that?
BB: Sure, that's understandable. There's no love lost out there between those two teams. We both want to win. That's what we're here for, Jets and the Patriots. I mean, both teams are walking out onto the field to come out victorious. Is that a big news story? That's something we didn't know? [That] he Jets want to win the game? [That] the Patriots want to win?
Q: Does his outspoken style amuse you?
BB: I don't really worry about everybody else. I'm trying to get this team ready to play. I'm not surprised that they expect to win and that they're confident they're going to win. I mean, so are we. It might be a headline story for you guys, I don't know: both teams expect to win.
Q: The Jets have been successful in the second half against you recently. How much are you concerned about that and how much will you stress to your guys that they have to bring it the full 60 minutes?
BB: [We] stress it every week.
Q: And why do you think the Jets are so successful against you in the second half? I think you've only scored seven points in the second half in the last three meetings against them.
BB: It's basically the first two games [in New York against a Ryan-coached Jets team]: the game down there last year and the first game down there this year.
Q: Your teams have been successful of not losing to the same team twice in the regular season. Is it something that you bring to the team or the players bring? Why do you think your teams have been so successful at bouncing back against teams?
BB: As I've said many times, I think each game is its own individual game. I don't think the game before has a whole lot of bearing on the upcoming game.
Q: When you look at Rex's defense, how would you describe it? Are they like the Steelers where they are going to do what they do or is it more game-plan specific?
BB: I think they have elements of both.
Q: How would you characterize where Taylor Price is at this point?
BB: Well, Taylor hasn't had an opportunity to play during the regular season, but from a practice standpoint and from where he was at preseason - he kind of missed the spring because of the school rule, so, he's been a little bit behind the whole way - but I think he's working hard [and] I think he's making progress. I think he's improving as a player. But, he hasn't gotten much of chance to play other than practice scenarios. There are a lot of players in that category: a lot of practice squad players, a lot of younger players. That's where they have to develop, whether it's the Brian Hoyers or the Taylor Prices or we can go right down the line. There are a lot of guys like that. That's why they have to improve and when they get the opportunity, take advantage of it.
Q: How do you balance giving a guy like that opportunities versus doing what's best for the game plan?
BB: We do what's best for the team every week. What are you talking about?
Q: Well you have a young guy that you drafted. You said he hasn't had many chances. You would like to get him chances, I assume, so how do you balance that?
BB: Our goal every week is to win the game. There is no other goal besides that.
Q: With Danny Woodhead having been on the Jets and having some familiarity with how their defense plays, does that help him individually?
BB: Sure, of course. He's practiced against those guys more than anybody on our team. Absolutely, of course it would.
Q: Is that something he can share and really help guys?
BB: Yeah, sure. I'm sure there are some things that he knows about their team that we don't know just because we're not as familiar with them or the personnel or the schemes as Woody is. Yeah, absolutely.
Q: Given how much the Jets do different formations, how do you prepare your team without overwhelming them?
BB: That's the way it is in the NFL. We practice against our offense all through training camp, all through the spring. We use a lot of formations. A lot of teams do that. Honestly, that's pretty much the way it is every week.
Q: Was Woodhead someone you were watching while he was still on the Jets?
BB: Well, sure. In preseason, you watch everybody. You watch all the other 31 teams. You look at their rosters. You try to anticipate who they're going to release on the final cut down [and] who's going to become available, whether it's a release or another way. Then, as those players' names cross the wire or whatever the circumstances are, then you follow up on them. Some guys you're interested in. Some guys you need to find more information about. Some guys you would be interested in if you needed somebody at that position. Maybe you have depth there now, but if something happened and it changed, who would the next guy be? And you do it that way. So, we scout all 31 teams in the NFL. All the players that become available, we evaluate each one of them. When the names come across the wire every day, we meet at the personnel department and talk about those players and classify them into some category for us: either players we aren't interested in, players we are interested in, or, again, we might be interested in if the circumstances changed, and then we go from there. Sometimes we need more information on the players and then we try to find that information out, whatever gap we feel like might be missing there. Sometimes we need to do more work on them. We've seen them, but we need to study them a little bit more carefully based on that player's individual situation. We do that with every player in the league. That's what the personnel department does.
Q: Where did Woodhead fall into those categories when he was cut?
BB: We had him as a player that we were definitely interested in and when we traded Laurence [Maroney] to Denver, that created a spot for us and that's when we signed him.
Q: Can you comment on how he has affected the team since he got here?
BB: He's done a great job. Yeah, he's done a great job. He came in from, really, day one, the first opportunity he had, [and] he's learning the offense very quickly. He does a number of different things for us: running game, passing game, special teams. He's got a lot of different roles on the team. [He] works hard, really does a great job on taking the corrections and the coaching that we're giving him. Again, he's learning the offense very quickly and it's not easy with all the protections and different routes and route adjustments that we have. It's a lot to do, but he's done well. He's picked it up quickly. He's a tough kid. He's out there every day. He works hard [and] keeps getting better, so he's done well.