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Replay: Patriots Unfiltered Fri Sep 25 - 12:00 AM | Sun Sep 27 - 10:40 AM

Bill Belichick Press Conference

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            **B:** We got started yesterday on Tampa. We have another day this week so we are going to try to stretch three into four. We had really four non-football days since the Carolina game, players worked out on their own and that kind of thing, but yesterday was the first chance for us to get back on the field as a team. We were a little rusty but I think we have got a good week of preparation ahead of us and we got off to a good start. This is a lot to get ready for it is the opening day plus with a new offensive system like Tampa has there are a lot of things, a lot of curveballs that they could be throwing at you. Defensively they have a long history of playing good defense down there and likewise there are a lot of things to prepare for on that side if the ball. We made one roster move today, we released Josh Rawlings and we are in the process of signing Sale Isaia who is a veteran guard. I just felt like we needed a little more experience in there and a little bigger, more physical guy in the inside part of the line. Sale is a player that I have some background with from 1995, so we will see if we can get him ready.  

Q: Can you talk about Tampa's new offense and also yours, does the defense have to carry the load, do they have to have a really outstanding defensive performance to turn the tide?

B: Well I think both teams have some pretty significant offensive players. Keyshawn Johnson is one of the best receivers in the league and Warrick Dunn is one of the most explosive players in the league. Mike Alstott is a Pro Bowl fullback, Randall McDaniel is a Pro Bowl guard, and Jeff Christy, so there are five guys right there that are at the top of their position in the league. I think there is a lot of talent, they have some other good players too, but those guys have all been award winners and have been recognized by a lot of people for what they have done. I think they have a good solid team.

Q: How much does Keyshawn Johnson add to their offense?

B: I think Keyshawn adds a couple of things. He is a good football player and he does a lot of things well. I think he is probably as complete as any receiver in the game. He had two plays last week in the Kansas City game last week, one was a draw play to Dunn and the other was a slant problem to I think (Reidel) Anthony. On those two plays he hustled and made blocks that probably provided at least 50 extra yards combined on those two plays and he wasn't even handling the ball. Those are the type of things that Keyshawn gives you there is a lot of hidden yardage there in his play. He is the kind of guy that will come in and crack on linebackers and crack on defensive backs and create holes in the running game that a lot of other receivers just don't do. As well as his ability to catch the ball on third down, to catch it in the red area and as big as he is and as physical as he is he is a good down the field receiver too. There isn't really any play that he doesn't somehow effect the play on, either as a principal participant in the play or as a, I don't want to say decoy, but as part of the play that you have to defend it takes away from your ability to defend Alstott, Dunn, and guys like that. He is a very complete player and he has got good stamina. He is there for all four quarters and he is a tough guy. I really like him as a football player.

Q: Keyshawn kind of shot himself in the foot when he first came out of college with the autobiography and everything, so are you saying that he is the real deal despite the early public casual perception of him as a loud mouth and a showboat?

B: I can't really comment on what happened in 1996 because I wasn't there. When I got there in February of 1997, when I was named the head coach, from that point forward, again I don't know what happened in 1996, but from that point forward I gained a lot of respect for Keyshawn Johnson, I really did. He is a man. He is a good football player and football is real important to him. He has some other things going on, but football is pretty high up there on the list. I really respect him for that. Then in the 1998 season when we put him on defense for some situational plays, we worked together in practice as the defensive backs and receivers always do, but then when we started using him in some situational plays in 1998 and I was really working with him one-on-one in terms of some defensive things. A lot of guys would just brush it off, but it was important to him. It was the last two plays of the game and here are the different things that could happen and each week we would talk about it, how far the quarterback can throw it and how deep is he supposed to stand and what was the formation.

Q: He wasn't just going to rely on his athletic ability to go back there and play defense?

B: No, he wanted to be prepared when he went in there and we would talk a lot about how to cover different receivers. He takes a pretty good look at how everybody else is doing it, how this receiver is running and how those guys are running, how different guys are effective and we would talk about covering them. He also would talk to me about, 'this is what this guy is doing, what does Ty Law have trouble with, what does Jimmy Hitchcock have trouble with, guys that I have coached that he was going to play against and that type of thing. I have a lot respect for Keyshawn Johnson.

Q: Where did the idea come from to use him defensively?

B: He has great timing for the ball and he is obviously a big guy that can leap for it and go up and take the ball away from people. In those situations at the end of the game that is the kind of guy you are looking for. At the Jets, in that particular situation, some of our defensive backs on that team weren't real tall, there were a number of them that probably were under 5' 10", I would say probably half of them, so that put a little more of a necessity on having a big guy to play in some of those situations.

Q: I heard in an interview with him the other day and he discussed his relationship with you and I was surprised at how strong he felt about you.

B: Yes, we went to a couple of Mets games together.

Q: Did you?

B: No. We have been to a couple of sporting events and things like that together, but he's a good guy to hang around. He is a very entertaining and enjoyable player. He has a lot of personality.

Q: Can you talk about Terry Glenn and his importance to this offense and when you were defensive coordinator how important he was and how is his role changing without Shawn Jefferson and Ben Coates around?

B: We have Terry doing a lot of different things. Terry plays several different positions in our offense. He runs a lot of different routes. He is an extremely gifted player because of the number of things he can do both physically and mentally. He is very adaptable mentally to changes and adjustments and that type of thing. He also has a great variety of skills speed, quickness, coming in and out of cuts, reading the defense both as an outside receiver and an inside receiver, and he has exceptional hands, so he has a tremendous amount of tools to work with. As a coach those are fun guys to coach, you can do a lot of different things with him. You can run by people, you can run in front of them, you can run him inside, and you can put him in motion. It creates a lot of opportunities and especially when you have an experienced quarterback like we do, where you have some ability to change and be flexible and then sometimes you can create some of the match-ups that you are looking for.

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            **Q: When you were defending the Patriots was he one of the key factors in your game plan?**  

B: Oh sure, he did. He changed the game and he changed game plans, believe me. I think one of the biggest problems when you play against a receiver like Terry Glenn or Keyshawn (Johnson) is find them. Sometimes it isn't that bad if you just know where they are then you can set your defense and take care of it, but when you can't find them then that makes it more difficult. Sometimes they are here, sometimes they are X, sometimes they are Z, sometimes they are in a slot, sometimes they are on the strong side, sometimes they are on the weak side that type of thing. It just puts more pressure on the defense. The downside of it all offensively is can they do it all. Can a guy do all of these different things and do them well? Is it too much variety and too much change for everybody to handle, but if it isn't then those are the toughest situations to defend is when you have a real good receiver but you can't find out where he is.

Q: Does a lot of the offense's success depend on how good a year he has and how good he is?

B: No, I think it is clearly a team effort offensively. We are going to have to block people on the offensive line, we are going to have to compliment our running game with our passing game, and we are going to have to compliment throwing the ball to different receivers. I don't think we are going to be able to throw it to any one guy, but certainly he will have a large role in that.

Q: Based on the way this team struggled in the second half of last year, are you worried that you might want to come out in the first game and do too much and are you worried that goes might want to get things going too fast to try to make up for the end of last season?

B: My main focus has been this year. Everybody is a lot more worried last year than I am. I wasn't here last year so I don't know what did or didn't go into a lot of things that happened. What I am more concerned with is what happened this year at training camp and in the preseason games and I don't really see that as a problem.

Q: What about Drew how is he picking up the new system?

B: I think Drew has done a good job of picking up what we are doing offensively. He has the benefit of some carry over from 1996. I think that there are probably other players, I don't mean individual players but I am just saying collectively I think that there are probably other people on the offense that have held us back more than Drew has. In other words I think that Drew could go at a faster pace then some other people because of his overall experience and his familiarity with the system. Terry (Glenn) and Troy (Brown) would be in that category too, but we have a number of other players on our team that they just don't have the background and in some cases we haven't had enough continuity to be able to move along as quickly as we could in other positions. One position may be moving ahead and you might be able to move them slightly ahead and do some things that are different, but not at the expense of everybody else. You just have to gauge how much everybody can do and then do that.

Q: The preseason is for experimenting, what are your plans going into the regular season now of the shotgun situation?

B: It is a possibility we could use it.

Q: Are you going to have Jason Andersen do it or Damien Woody?

B: It depends. I don't want to give away our game strategy on what we are going to do. We have talked about the shotgun situation. We know how to handle it. I feel like there is a place for it and there may be when we don't want to do it. Depending on a number of circumstances, but depending on how we feel about the whole situation. Shotgun versus no shotgun, and I am not just talking about the snap, but being under the center versus being away from the center effects some of the plays you can run and the timing of them. We just have to make a decision on what we think is the best way to go.

Q: Are your own emotions different coming into the beginning of this season?

B: I think as a coach your emotions at the beginning of the season are always about the same. They may be in a different area when you are the head coach as opposed to coaching a position, but you always kind of dream and envision that if you are defensive coach you are going to go out there and have a shut out and win 15-0 and have eight turnovers and all of that. Then you think of reality of what if they do this when you are in that and what if this happens and what if you get beat 15-0 and give up 700 yards, you never know. If you are the special teams coach you worry about whether you are going to get four punts blocked. You would like to return three for touchdowns, but in your mind you don't know if you can get one off and all of those things have happened in the opening game of the season. So I think as a coach there is always some trepidation about how you are going to perform, but at the same time there is excitement about moving forward to the real games and seeing how it is going to all unfold.

Q: Is there any less trepidation now that you are a much more experienced coach?

B: Twenty-four years, twenty five years what's the difference.

Q: How important was it for you to get Charlie Weis here?

B: It was real important. I have a lot of confidence in Charlie. We have worked together a long time in three different organizations prior to coming back here. He is a smart guy and he has done a good job whatever area he has coached. He has coached running backs in the Pro Bowl. He has coached tight ends in the Pro Bowl. He has coached wide receivers in the Pro Bowl. He handled a lot of different responsibilities on the offensive side of the ball and he worked for me on the defensive side of the ball in New York. He is an experienced coach and I have a lot of confidence in him.

Q: Can you comment on your relationship with Charlie Weis? It seems that you have delegated a lot of the offense to him do you guys have a good working relationship are you very comfortable with each other, is that rare?

B: I don't think it is rare, I think that is what it is. I have had that relationship before, Nick Saban in Cleveland it was I think similar. Nick and Charlie are different personalities, but I am just saying that I think it is a similar type of thing where Charlie and I talk about philosophically what we want to try and do and Dante as well. They both have a lot of input. We talk about things, get things worked out and then the details Charlie and Dante handle.

Q: Is this offense built around Drew's talents or is Drew being fit into a system that Charlie brings?

B: I think the system that we are trying to run on offense and defense is a flexible system that needs to be able to utilize whatever talents you have on your team. If you can't do that then as a coach you are kind of not giving yourself the best chance whatever those talents are. I think we have enough volume and enough background in using different types of people. Power backs, elusive backs, mobile quarterbacks, immobile quarterbacks, receiving tight ends, blocking tight ends, possession receivers, vertical receivers, whatever it happens to be and it is the same thing on defense. You try in total to manage that situation and play with it. Good tackles, bad tackles, good guards, bad guards, good center, bad center there are a lot of positions that you have to manage and when you look at all eleven guys that are out there and we mix and match people some too, so some of that helps to utilize some players talents and maybe minimize some other weaknesses that we feel we have. That is the offense. What would it be with O.J. Anderson as the running back, what would it be with Curtis Martin as running back, it is not quite the same. The elements of it are the same, the fundamentals and the foundation are the same, but the things that you do would vary if you had two different running backs like we've had.

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            **Q: What are they able to do defensively that enables them to shut down a team like St. Louis?**  

B: I think Tampa plays a good complimentary game. They try not to put their defense in a lot of positions. They don't create a lot of turnovers on offense and they are pretty good in the kicking game, so number 1 most of the time when they go onto the field they have reasonably good field position. Then from a scheme standpoint they play just basic coverages they are not super exotic, but they have a real active front seven and it is hard to get big plays on Tampa. As a result they force you to take the ball generally on your end of the field and then execute somewhere between 10 and 15 plays to move it down onto their end of the field and somewhere along the line they get you either with an individual play or with some type of movement with their front seven. They have a very active group obviously (Warren) Sapp and (Derrick) Brooks, but there is a lot of other good players in that group too and a real good safety in (John) Lynch. Sooner or later they get you on something and then you punt or you turn it over. Then the next time they go back out there they get another 80 yards to defend. It is a complimentary game though. You very seldom see Tampa come in their first and goal on the eight-yard line. They usually don't put themselves in that situation and that's part of the overall team game that they play.

Q: Does the fact that you just played them a couple of weeks ago, I know it was a preseason game, but does it effect it at all, do you like that you have seen them just a couple of weeks ago?

B: We've seen them, I think we got some things out of that game. I'm sure both teams held things back. It was a cat and mouse situation. There were definitely some things that came out of that game that I am sure both sides learned, there is no question about that.

Q: Do you find that you may be forced to entrust more duties to Charlie and to make sure that he is fully confident with the offense so that you won't have to worry about it much because you have assumed the duties of defensive coordinator as well as the head coaching responsibilities?

B: I feel like I trust all the coaches on a lot of things that they have to do. I'm downstairs doing any of the coaching right now. There are a lot of other people that are doing a good job bringing our players along.

Q: How much of a drain on your time for what you would budget if you were just overseeing things as head coach adding the defensive coordinator role to your plate?

B: That is a tough question.

Q: Is it fair to say that it does add some considerable amount though?

B: I don't know. There are so many hours in the day, so many productive hours in the day and as a head coach you have to decide how best to spend those hours. There are a lot of different things you can be doing. Looking back to the Cleveland situation in contrast, I spent a lot more time on the offensive side of the ball in Cleveland and Nick was more like Charlie was there and so here it is a little bit different and I spent a lot of time on special teams. If I wasn't as involved in the defense now I don't think I would be out playing racquetball. I would probably be spending more time with the offense or the special teams, or with Mike (Woicik) in some aspect of the weight program, or wherever I felt I could have some type of positive impact on what we were doing. I think as things move along here from year to year I don't think I will necessarily budget my time identically to the way that I am doing it now. In Cleveland I probably spent more time on defense my first year, then I did the next three and then when Nick left after the 1994 season and a couple of other things happened, one coach had a medical problem and so forth, then I went back to spending more time on defense. I think it could change, but the way it is right now I feel like this is what I need to do to get the defense installed to get everybody to understand what we are doing. At whatever point we move on from that I will try to find something else to do.

Q: How many hours a day do you spend doing this job?

B: I don't know, I don't count them up.

Q: What is the status of Ted Johnson? Will he play, start?

B: We have nobody on the injury report so everybody should physically be ready to go. Whoever we decide to play and however much we decide to play them will be based on either what their role is for the game or how much we think they can contribute. It won't be an injury situation at this point.

Q: Do you think this year's AFC race will be just as competitive as it was last year?

B: I don't know. I think that is why the stadiums will be full and a lot of TV sets will be tuned in because everybody is waiting to see what is going to happen. I think that is the excitement of pro football. Nobody knows believe me I don't know.

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