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Replay: Patriots Postgame Show Tue Nov 24 | 12:00 AM - 11:55 AM

Bill Belichick Press Conference

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            **B:** To kind of follow-up to yesterday, I think that as a coaching staff one of the things that we are in the middle of in this game is not so much what we want to do so much what we can do. I think after a couple of days of practice, we as a staff have to take a good look at the things going into the game that, again the contrast between what we would like to do, what would look good, but what can actually get executed based on the different things we will see from Tampa. That is kind of the game that I think all staffs are dealing with at this time of year getting ready for the opener. Unless you have a real veteran team that have been in a lot of games together and has played a lot together then you probably have a lot better answer to that question. That is one of the things that I think we have to do a good job of this week. I am sure if we win it will be about the right amount, if we lose it will either we didn't have enough or we had too much.  

Q: Generally what do you think you cannot do against that defense with your personnel?

B: I just meant more of individual things like how many plays could you have. How many is too many? The main thing we can't do against their defense is to let them be disruptive and have the ball get turned over with tipped passes and strip sacks on the quarterback and throwing the ball into coverage and that type of thing. Any turnovers I think are going to be, as they always are, critical plays in the game.

Q: Were you encouraged at all by how your guys played (Sapp) and the Buccaneers defensive line in the preseason game?

B: I thought we played better as the preseason went on discounting the San Francisco game, but from Detroit on through Carolina. I thought that offensively we came together a little bit better as a group all the way through. There was some encouraging things in the Tampa game we just had too many turnovers. We gave up too many plays and they came in many areas of the game. We had a long pass for a touchdown on defense, a fumble recovered in the end zone on offense and a blocked punt, you can't win with those kinds of plays they are major errors.

Q: Did it encourage you that the offensive line could do a good job physically against their defensive line?

B: Yes, I think we can go out and play with them on both sides of the ball. I think we showed that in the preseason game. It will be another challenge for both teams on Sunday, but I think that game was pretty evenly matched given the time that the starting type players were in there through the early end of the third quarter.

Q: As a coach how do you keep from playing favorites, in terms of keeping guys that have lost it and are not as good, but you have a sentimental attachment for what they have done for you, how do you check yourself?

B: That is a tough question and you get into that. As a coach you get into that every year. You have to make the determination of when you are going to draw the line and make a change, but it's tough. I think you have to weigh all the factors that are involved in those decisions and then just try to do what you think is right. Obviously you are going to give up something when you lose a guy who is experienced and has a good understanding of everything that you want to do and knows how to do it. The flip side of it is that you are playing with a guy who is declining at that point in his career and pass an opportunity to go with a younger player who has some upside. I think in order to be right on that one thing that you don't want to do is hold back a good young player. If something is holding him back then that is a good reason to move the veteran player out of the way.

Q: In baseball they say trade a player one year earlier than one year later?

B: I don't think there is any doubt about that knowing when that is. But you are also trying to gauge the younger players development and I think a lot of times you can send a bad message to your team by releasing a player that is well-respected and a good solid player for the hope that somebody else will do it. Then if that guy doesn't do it then, but now if he steps in and does it then, if you have Lou Gehrig then it is no problem.

Q: Can you assess your offense, defense and special teams going into Sunday's game?

B: I could assess them based on what happened in preseason, but we are getting into a whole new world now.

Q: When you run into that situation about deciding on a player do you often use one of your assistants for some objective feedback?

B: Definitely. The more people that can evaluate the situation the better chance you have of making the right decision.

Q: Are there any instances from the past maybe in the Cleveland days that you could site where you thought you may or may not have made the right decision?

B: I was involved in a couple of controversial decisions involving older players and younger players. Unfortunately the player's football career ends for everybody. They just can't play forever. I have seen it every place I have been. Some of the players we had in New York, and in some respects it is a little bit of an easier transition when the player goes out on their own like Harry Carson. Then you don't really have to make that decision. They make it because it is the way they feel, or Roger Staubach, but most players don't retire, they don't, and then you have to make the decision. Again I think it is really a tough question and it is a tough situation. It depends on where that player is and it depends on who is going to be potentially taking his place. To a certain degree it might depend on who else you have on your team, can you afford to lose a player who has a lot of veteran leadership.

Q: Somebody like Raymont Harris, I know he didn't play for you in the past, but to some of us it seemed like he was your first free agent signing and yet you cut him, you didn't worry about looking bad for cutting him.

B: In Raymont's case I don't have any second thoughts at all about bringing him in here. He was as professional and hardworking and dedicated as you could ask anybody to be. I think every day that he was here he was a positive influence on the people in his position, and also everybody else that worked with him, to the coaches and the players. That is what makes it hard, but in the end you have to do what is best for your football team. Every time you release a player you lose something. You either lose the youth and the future or you lose some veteran experience, or you lose speed, or you lose toughness, or you lose size, I mean those players have some attributes and whatever you lose with them somebody has got to make it up. It has got to come from somewhere else.

Q: Did you make Pepper Johnson full-time?

B: Pepper will be with us for the season, yes.

Q: A certain coach that we are all familiar with said, "You are what you are", in your mind what are the New England Patriots right now?

B: I think that is the question. That is what we need to see. What is everybody in 2000, not where they were in 1999 and that's what everybody is going to have to establish, not only in the first game but in the early part of the season. What can we do, what can't we do. I think that every team has their hopes and aspirations for what it is going to be, but I don't think anybody really knows for sure the way it is going to turn out. Where we are now coming off of preseason, or where anybody else is coming off of preseason I don't really think it means that much. I mean all it means is that you have prepared and you have gotten to a certain point, but what is the product going to be when it goes out on the field we will see it Sunday. Some teams will be a lot different from what people perceive them to be come Sunday afternoon. It will look a lot differently then the way people thought it would look and that us pro football. That's why we are all here.

Q: Do you have any sense of how your team will look?

B: I have a sense of how I hope it will look, but we really won't know for sure.

Q: Are you concerned about the penalties and turnovers in the preseason, do you do something specific to cure that or do you feel that once you get into real games they will correct themselves?

B: Oh no I don't think they are going to take care of themselves at all. I think that they all have been addressed and they have been corrected. That blocked punt against Tampa, I don't think that is going to take care of itself at all, I think if we don't block them they will block another one. We have to get that situation corrected. I think that long tipped pass, that one for 60 yards, needs to get better defended. If we tip it around again sometime they will probably come up with another one. We have got to have better coverage and more pressure on the quarterback so he doesn't have enough time to throw it down there. Those plays have to be played better. I definitely don't think they will take care of themselves.

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            **Q: Are you at all concerned that there were so many penalties and turnovers in the preseason or is that part of preseason?**  

B: I wouldn't say that. From a penalty standpoint overall in preseason I thought it was about average. It wasn't extraordinary. There were more in the Tampa game then in any other game. Some of those problems were definitely with the people who are going to be playing and they have been addressed and they have been corrected and hopefully they have been straightened out, but we won't know for sure.

Q: Will you be excited Sunday walking onto the field?

B: I think there is always an excitement on opening day, but that is not really my job. My job is to coach the team and make good decisions Sunday between 1:00 and 4:00. I don't know if being excited, if there is a big correlation there. I think the preparation, judgement and decisions we make during the game that is what will be important.

Q: Do you have the pregame speech all set to go or will you just wing it?

B: You try to build your team up each week with whatever the issues are from week to week. We have a certain approach we want to take to this game and start on Tuesday in this case and build through Sunday and hopefully we will have the team in the right mental frame of mind when we go out there Sunday afternoon.

Q: But this being your first game here as head coach, will your speech be special or different?

B: No it will be what we think is best to beat Tampa. If we were playing somebody else it might be different I don't know. We think there is a certain approach we need to take to give ourselves the best chance to win in this game and that is what we want our players to be thinking and to mentally be in that frame of mind.

Q: Some of your players have admitted that they are scared of you, is that a good thing?

B: I don't know. What I would like for the players to do is to have respect for me that is what really counts.

Q: Can you talk of your impressions of Tampa Bay's quarterback and how much will you try to make it hard on him and what will you do to him as opposed to what you might do to a veteran quarterback?

B: Shaun (King) has shown a lot of maturity from year one to year two just by the way he has conducted himself in the preseason. Overall he threw the ball very accurately, he generally made good decisions and I think you can see progress from year one to year two. He is a guy that I think understands what he needs to do for Tampa to win and you can see him trying to do that. He has a role on the team, other players have their roles and I think he is a complimentary player on the offense and he does a good job of it. He doesn't make a lot of errors and he doesn't give you a lot of easy plays. Defensively you always want to try to make things difficult for a quarterback, any quarterback young or old. Part of the problem with Tampa's offense though is you can't really count on them throwing the ball 45 times a game. They may throw it 25, so 25 out of 70 plays, which 25 are they. That's how they keep you off-balance. They run the ball a lot and they throw the ball in certain situations, but most of the time they play well-balanced and I don't think you want to be too heavily defending the passing game when the ball is getting handed off to Dunn and Alstott. You are looking at a lot of short yardage situations.

Q: Will Charlie Weis be up in the box or on the sideline?

B: Charlie will be downstairs.

Q: Is that his decision or was it kind of a group thing?

B: We have talked about it, we've done it both ways and collectively we feel like this will be the best way to go.

Q: In terms of what you might want to do, is there a big difference between (Derrick) Fletcher and (Jason) Andersen at left guard and what do you want to do?

B: I think that is a good comparison that they both have done good things in preseason, but they are both different type players. Their playing style is not really identical so there are certain strengths and weaknesses that they bring and let's face it, it is not like we have five entrenched players in the offensive line. We have been working with six, seven, eight guys in there and I would think that on Sunday that probably all of the players that we bring to the game on the offensive line will most likely play. I think we are still a little bit in that process of knowing exactly what, as we were talking about earlier, what we are and what we aren't, what we can and what we can't do. Some of those questions still are a little bit up in the air like who are the five starting offensive linemen week in and week out. I don't think that has been totally established yet.

Q: It is nice to have continuity on the offensive line, but you have to have players there?

B: But you want your five best players out there and then you want continuity with them and to a certain extent that hasn't been clearly established yet. On the other hand it is pretty close and it may not make that much different. The players may be so close and their performance may be pretty much equal that it may not make a huge difference.

Q: Is it usual to go this long without one guy really establishing himself as the better guy?

B: It has been an unusual preseason for us at that position. Encompassing the whole position with some guys playing different spots and that has given us some depth and those players have done things to help themselves, but it has slowed down the process a little bit of getting those five guys established and moving forward. Jason (Andersen) and Derrick (Fletcher) have both played three different positions in training camp each. It gives us versatility, but it does prevent a little bit of the continuity.

Q: Everybody talks about Warren Sapp when discussing Tampa Bay's defense, but John Lynch is also a pretty effective player on defense?

B: Very effective, he is an excellent football player. He is always around the ball. He has got great instincts. He's a big hitter. I think Sunday you will be seeing two of the best safeties in the league out there, (Derrick) Brooks, (Chidi) Ahanotu, I mean they have good defensive football players, (Donnie) Abraham, it is a good group.

Q: Are the types of players on Tampa's defense going to be the smaller, quicker players?

B: There is no question that their scheme is one that is built around smaller, quicker players. We have seen many different schemes work well on both sides of the ball. The main thing that I would say about it is that fact that it is consistent. What they do is consistent, they don't try to make chocolate out of vanilla. They are what they are and that's what they want to be and I think that's the right way to go. It really is. The only problem is when you commit to a system that is pretty rigid then the onus falls on your organization to come up with the players to fit exactly into that system and in doing so you are going to exclude other players. If you don't want big players who are big, strong, stout guys somewhere along the line there is going to be a good football player like that who isn't going to fit into your system. That is okay, but you just have to understand that he is a good player he just doesn't fit for us or vice versa.

Q: The past three years Tampa Bay's defense has allowed the fewest points in the league, your Jets team allowed the second least, were you aware of that and was there always a little competition between the two of you in that respect?

B: I didn't realize the numbers were right there. I knew both teams hadn't give up a whole lot of points and that is really what it is about on defense. The styles are a little bit different I think that there are a lot of elements that are the same on both defenses. Neither defense gave up a lot of big plays. Both defenses were pretty good against the run, but again it becomes philosophical a little bit from a building standpoint. I don't think that the players, again there are some very good players that could play in either system, but beyond that then a lot of players that fit in one system don't necessarily fit in another one. Actually we do have one new roster move today we signed Carl Bradley a defensive lineman from Virginia Tech released by Tampa in the preseason.

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