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Bill Belichick Press Conference

Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick talks to the press about the Rams game on Sunday.To read full transcript, click below.



BB: We have one practice squad roster move we released Saul Patu and added Ula [Maugaula] Tuitele to give us a little more depth at the linebacker position. I think a couple of key things for us this week, obviously we are on a little bit of a different schedule and this is a game that I think has some similarities to the Atlanta game in that it is a team that we are not real familiar with. We need to familiarize ourselves quickly with this team. New Orleans is a very physical football team. They have an excellent running game, an excellent offensive line, an athletic quarterback and some big play receivers. Defensively they are very good upfront. They have a good front seven. They are active, they put a lot of pressure on the quarterback and they cover well. They are a little bit unusual in that their leading pass rusher is their middle linebacker, you don't often see that, but they are very disruptive upfront. They have good returners in [Wane] McGarity and [Deuce] McAllister. So it is a real good football team and they had a big win last week and I would expect a real physical game. I think one of the big things for us this week is to move quickly from the St. Louis game. St. Louis beat us once, that is enough. We can't afford to carry that game with us and have it impact another game. We have got to let that one go and that is what I expect that we will do. But I think that those are the challenges for us this week and that is where we are at.

I felt that yesterday after giving the situation a lot of consideration I thought that we had to have a little more definition at the quarterback position. So barring any unforeseen circumstances Tom [Brady] will be the quarterback. I want to make it as clear as I can, this is not about Drew [Bledsoe] losing a job or being beat out or anything like that and that is in now way, shape or form the case in this situation. This is strictly about the team. It is about getting the team ready and obviously the quarterback position is a very important part of the team. I don't think you can really get two quarterbacks ready. I think you can get one ready and that is what we have to do. We have to get one guy ready to play and that is my responsibility to the football team. One player has had an opportunity to play the last eight weeks, he is game ready and we are in a rhythm and that's the way it is and unfortunately Drew hasn't had that opportunity. So it isn't a case where somebody beat somebody out or somebody is taking something it is the circumstance that we are in. Right now we have six regular season games left, we are 5-5, we are in the last third of the season and how we do will determine what happens in the postseason. So that is really what this is about. It is about getting the football team ready and I feel very fortunate that we have the kind of quality of players and people at the quarterback position that we do. I have a lot of confidence in that position and the players in it. I wish I could say that about every position on this football team. It is a position of strength and I am sure it will serve us well.

Q: How did Drew take the news?

BB: I think Drew can speak for himself.

Q: So you had actually had meeting with them both last night?

BB: The reason I didn't say anything when we met yesterday was because I hadn't had a chance to talk to the players and I felt a responsibility to talk to them first before I said anything about it.

Q: Do you foresee Drew getting any snaps in the games or are you going to use him strictly as a backup?

BB: Well Tom will be the starter and that is the way it will go. He will be the starter unless there is an injury I don't see him not being in there.

Q: So you wouldn't say just because he was healthy give him a series in the second quarter?

BB: I don't plan on that, no.

Q: This is obviously a decision that you didn't have to make at this time if you don't want to…

BB: Yeah, I understand what you are saying, I don't want to ask the question for you, but I feel like I do have to make it because last week the way the practice was split up and looking back on it I don't think we did as a staff, and of course I am going to accept responsibility for it because I am the head coach, I don't think we did a good job of getting our starting quarterback ready last week. That is not a commentary on the players, it is a commentary on the coaches. I feel like for us to get our starting quarterback ready, whoever it is, that we need to give that player the majority of the reps and the majority of the looks in practice to get so that when those looks come up in the game then we can expect him to execute it. When you divide the tray and split it up too thin then inevitably you are going to get situations in the game where you look back and say, 'Well he really didn't see that in practice and maybe he would have read it a little quicker if he had seen it' and that is a coaching problem. That is not a playing problem. I felt like it had to have more definition. We had to just try to get one player ready and that is the way it has been whoever the quarterback has been. Before Drew got injured and he was the quarterback, it was the same way with him. I just don't think we can do it with two players as much as…if we had a bye week and if this was at a different point in time maybe it would be different, but we are at the end of November.

Q: The suggestion has been lately that after playing a couple of weeks opposing coaches are starting to catch up with Tom and are able to game plan against his strengths better, how do you see that, are they catching up to him?

BB: I think every team in the league, every team we play they are certainly, they are studying our films and trying to find the best game plan they can. We are doing the same thing. I don't think that there is any doubt that they are studying Brady, they are studying [Matt] Light, they are studying Marc Edwards. I mean everybody is getting analyzed and that is what you do as a coach you try to find out what the other team's weaknesses are and how to take advantage of them and also look at their strengths and see how to stop them. I am sure that is true of every player we put out on the field, every team we play and Tom is in that group so is everybody else.

Q: How would you assess Brady's play Sunday night?

BB: I think offensively we…I think you have to look at the whole team, everybody is a part of it. I think that we had our moments. Again I thought that we were in a good position at the end of the half. In the first half we had two costly turnovers and that took away from our opportunity of being in a lot better position than what we were in at the end of the first half. We need to take care of the ball better, we need to run the ball a little bit better and we need to pick up third downs better. Part of that is keeping the yardage shorter on first and second down. Everybody is involved in that. It is a receiver issue, it is a protection issue, it is a running game issue, it is a quarterback issue, everything is part of it. I couldn't single out one thing in the game that you could say was really an Achilles heal. Some things were good, but we didn't finish our drives and we had a couple of turnovers. Those were problems.

Q: So basically you were not unhappy with Brady's play?

BB: Well I wasn't happy with losing, I am unhappy about losing to St. Louis. We had our chances and we didn't take advantage of them, but that was again…it was in all three phases of the game. I certainly couldn't point the finger at one player or one play or one anything to say, 'Gee this was the problem, if we could have just eliminated that.' Tom did some good things in the game and there were a couple other things that could have been better, there is no question about that. I think we could probably identify that with all of them.

Q: Did you have to adjust the snap count ratio because you know so little about the Saints?

BB: No, no, it is not about…

Q: Would it be different if it were the Bills?

BB: Yeah I think it is about getting the team ready, this is about getting the team ready.

Q: What is an unforeseen circumstance in your mind, injury performance issue?

BB: I would say right now I would think injury. Again they are unforeseen, I can't tell you what is going to happen, but in the normal course of events, we've played ten games and four preseason games it was the normal flow. I don't think anything has happened in those fourteen games that I would throw into that category, what it would be I don't know, but injury certainly would be…

Q: If Tom throws up a stinker…

BB: If he throws an incomplete pass, no.

Q: No I mean a bad performance…

BB: But that's what it is though. I just don't feel like we can be in a position in terms of running a football team and getting ready to play a game where we are living pass-to-pass and quarter-to-quarter and series-to-series, I just don't think we can go that way.

Q: Given that then, play-by-play and quarter-by-quarter, why the decision not to go game-to-game?

BB: Well it is game-to-game, but I don't see what is going to…I think that is the way it is going to go. I don't see where that is going to change. Next week we are going to be sitting here talking about nine weeks of playing and nine weeks of not playing. A week after that we could be talking about ten weeks. I just think it needs a little bit more definition. If something happens to change it that we don't know about right now then it happens. I just don't see it right now.

Q: You must feel that Tom Brady is pretty special player to name him the quarterback starter for the duration of the season?

BB: That really, that is not what it is about. It is about trying to get the team ready. That is all I am trying to do. I am trying to get our team ready to win the game.

Q: But it is still an endorsement of Tom?

BB: I think Tom is game ready. He has played eight regular season games. It is not preseason, it is not training camp, it is eight regular season games and that is what we have going. He has played in those games, he has done a reasonably good job. I don't think it has been unbelievable, but I have seen a lot worse too, but that is where we are. I think our best chance and the quarterback's best chance, no matter who the quarterback is, is to get the full preparation for the week and that is really the way that we have always done it.

Q: Is it far to say then that it is not so much about Drew or Tom, but rather that the time is the biggest factor?

BB: That is certainly a big factor. I mean there are a number of things that go into it, but those are certainly big factors. Again if this were a bye week then there would be a lot of snaps for everybody. It would be different, but it is just not like that. We are at the end of November.

Q: Is it safe to say that changing quarterback's again would be a disruption?

BB: It is not even so much changing them, but to go through the process of trying to cut it in the middle, I just don't think I can be fair to the team to get the team ready to play by trying to resolve the quarterback situation with equal turns and equal reps and all of that kind of thing. I just don't think we can do it.

Q: But if you gave Drew all of the turns you wouldn't have to do that?

BB: Yeah again, given the situation that we are in right now I just don't feel that I can do that.

Q: Was it a mistake to give Drew the contract in the offseason?

BB: No I don't think it was a mistake at all, but this position as I have said is a position of strength, look, nobody has done more for this organization and this football team than Drew Bledsoe. Drew is a consummate professional, he is well prepared, he works hard. He goes through the offseason and does everything that every other player does. Which is the way it should be. He is not in any way singled out as a quarterback program or anything like that. Just like Adam Vinatieri does the same thing. Those guys are consummate professionals. Drew has been a tremendous asset to this organization continuously. He has been a big factor in the way that we have performed this year in terms of helping myself, Charlie [Weis], the other quarterbacks and Drew is an asset to the football team. We have good talent at that quarterback position. I am glad that we have it. I wish we had the same kind of people and players at the other positions that we have at quarterback. We probably wouldn't be 5-5, I'll tell you that.

Q: With the salary cap, is it a lot of money to spend on a player who does as much as he does, but not on the field?

BB: Look, Drew didn't want to miss these games. Drew didn't want to be hurt. Drew didn't want to go through what he has gone through medically and physically. He is out there playing as hard as he can, trying to beat the Jets and he got hit and he had an injury. That wasn't anything irresponsible on his part. He is out there trying to bust his butt to win a game. You can't have any more respect for a player than that and to want to continue to play in that situation. He is as tough a guy as they come. So that is not what it is about.

Q: I am not questioning him as much as I guess I am questioning you?

BB: Look he has done all he can, he is a good player, he is a damn good player. I mean we know what he can do, we have all seen that. The situation, it is what it is. Nobody scripted it this way it just worked out that way. My job, I have been here two years, my job is to make the decisions for the football team and that is what I am going to do. I am going to make the best decisions I can for the football team. That is what Mr. Kraft is paying me to do and that's what I am going to do. I am going to make the decisions that I feel are best for the football team, T-E-A-M, as in team. I can't make them for an individual or a group, I have to do what is best for the entire team.

Q: Does this change the notion that a player doesn't lose his job because of an injury?

BB: Again this is not about losing a job, this is not equal. One player has played the last eight weeks and the other player hasn't had the opportunity to do that. Now if both players went to training camp at any position, two guys go to training camp, they compete for five or six weeks, at the end of training camp one guy is ahead of another guy, now that is equal competition. One guy gets beat out the other guy wins the job. This is not what that is about. Drew has not had an equal opportunity the last seven or eight weeks. You can spin it however you want to spin it, but I am just telling you it is apples and oranges. One guy has played, the other hasn't, we are at a point in time where we have to make a decision on what we are going to do, it is not equal. Tom has been playing for eight weeks and that is a little bit of a stronger issue than a guy coming back from an injury.

Q: The only argument that can be made on that point is Drew's experience to this point, what he has done for the franchise in many cases it would warrant that he would be considered the starter no matter what, obviously in your case you have seen something in Tom to lead you to go away from that?

BB: Well those are your words not mine, those are not my words. It is not about evidence; it is about the situation that we are in. Tom has been playing; Drew hasn't had that opportunity. That is beyond any of our control. That is just the way it is.

Q: There was a report that Drew was bull "bleep" at your decision?

BB: I think whatever comments Drew has he can make them. Look, I respect the competitiveness of players who want to play and Drew's competitiveness is one of the things that makes him a great player and we have a lot of other players like that on our team too. I respect competitiveness and I respect the work ethic and the desire to perform well and do well for the team. I think that the players at this position this year, the quarterbacks, Damon [Huard], Drew [Bledsoe] and Tom have exemplified that throughout the entire season. From the first day of training camp, even back since the offseason program, from the first day of training camp and all of the way to the point where we are at right now. I can keep saying it, but I wish we had the same situation at the other positions on this team that we have at quarterback in terms of quality of people, work ethic, performance, teamwork, willingness to win, all of those types of issues. The characteristics of those players that's really what we are looking for and the fact that all of them want to play, all of them want to do well and all of them competitive, that is what makes them great players.

Q: Kurt Warner got his job replacing a guy while he was injured and the Rams got rid of that guy, is Bledsoe done playing for this team?

BB: I don't think that right now it is really any part of the question. This is not about March, it is not about 2002, it is about New Orleans and the last third of our season. That is where we are at. As I said, it was my decision to, as part of the football decision, when we signed Drew last spring. I am glad we did it. I am glad he is on our team. He is a good player and I will take all of the good players we can get.

Q: You must be happy with how Tom is playing because if he was 0-8 I assume you would go back to Drew?

BB: Again, I don't see this as a decision to not go back to Drew that's not what it is about. What it is about is a decision to make going forward that we can get one quarterback ready for the game.

Q: Not trying to compare the two, but overall you have been happy with Tom?

BB: I think Tom has done a pretty good job. I don't think it's been perfect. I think it's been pretty good. I think there's a lot of room for improvement. I've seen a lot worse. I think there are some positive things that our football team has accomplished in the last eight weeks when he's been the quarterback. I would like to have seen a few more, but overall I on balance it's certainly been competitive. It's been competitive league wide, regardless of how you want to look at it. Whether it's record or quarterback performance or however you want to look at it. I mean I think you can take a couple different angles there, but I'd say at the minimum it's been very competitive with the rest of the league.

Q: Is there a specific play or two from the game that if Tom had had more time to prepare for they might have gone differently?

BB: Yeah, there were several plays in the game and that's part of the whole process.

Q: Can you tell us what they were?

BB: We'd be here for a while. Again there are specific things. There are little things, but that's what the game is about. It's about little things. When the quarterback gets the ball there are 500 things that go through his mind in three seconds or the two seconds between right before the ball is snapped and he's looking at the defense and then when the ball's released. You know, what our players are doing, what the call is, what our players are doing, what adjustments have to be made, what the defense is doing, what the rush is in front of him, where he can step up or how he has to maneuver to get the ball in there and all the things…I mean it's a blur. It's a blur and you just want to try to put those players in position when they make those decisions to give them as much practice and preparation as you can. There are a lot of little things…now whether, how much they affected us or didn't affect us, I don't know. But you know, when you run plays in practice and then you run them in the game, you know you like to have the same people doing it. It's just like the receivers. You know you put in a receiver to run a route and then you run the route in the game with a different receiver and the timing is not there and you look back in practice and say, 'Gee I wish we would have had so and so in to run that route.' I mean it is the same thing. You can't always have it as perfectly as you want it, but that's your goal. If it's a special play…you know if it's a pattern that everybody's run 1,000 times, you know that's one thing. But if it is a game-plan play or a play that you want to specifically work on for this team, then you are usually better off to try to get the guy that's doing it in practice that are going to do it in the game.

Q: Did you announce this to the team this morning?

BB: Did I? No. What did you want me to announce?

Q: That Tom was the starter for the foreseeable future.

BB: Well he's been the quarterback for the last eight weeks, I mean what's…is there a breaking news story? …Right well he started last week. He started the last seven weeks before that and he's going to start against New Orleans. I mean this is talk show material for everybody.

Q: Do you reserve the right to change your mind on this?

BB: [No Answer]

Q: I know you don't want Tom looking over his shoulder and worrying pass to pass…?

BB: It's not so much of Tom doing that, but as an offensive coaching staff and as a team, we don't want to be looking like that either. I mean OK, there's an incomplete pass are we going to change quarterbacks? I mean you can't operate like that.

Q: I Tom had a game that went completely south, five interceptions or something, would you give Drew a full week of snaps?

BB: I don't know, it's a hypothetical situation. I really…I don't know what bad is or kind of bad or not so good or you know, I really don't know what that is. The only thing I can tell you is that Tom has played the last eight games. I mean that's all on the record. We've all seen them. We've all been able to see what he's done. I didn't see it in those eight games. Now what is going to happen next week, what's going to happen in the first quarter against New Orleans? I don't know, but from what I've seen in the last eight weeks I haven't seen anything, yet, that I think would fall into the category that you are asking. I can just put it that way. A hypothetical question of what could happen, you know I don't know, but that's not what this is about. It's about trying to get this ready to play and what's the best way to do it.

Q: Did you have any sense of discomfort before talking to them because of what Drew has meant and does still mean to the team and the franchise?

BB: Sure, sure. Look it's tough any time you tell somebody on your team something that they probably don't want to hear that you have the utmost respect for. That they work hard, they prepare hard, they do everything they can, they are team players, they are trying to do everything they can to win for your team and sometimes you have to tell those players something that you know they don't want to hear and that is never a good feeling. You know it's just like in the end of training camp where you have to make cuts and you have to release players that have gone out and done everything they could possibly do. They've worked hard in the offseason, they study their playbook, they know their assignments, they work hard in practice, they are banged up in camp, they're hurt, they continue to go out there, they never complain about it, they just work as hard as they can, but in the end sometimes you have to tell those guys that there is not a spot for them on the team. I mean those things are never easy. They're the hardest things to do, you know, to tell players that something they don't want to hear when they've done everything they can possibly do. And I think in Drew's case he's done everything he can possibly do. He's worked hard to come back from the injury. He's pushed himself hard. He's been in the game mentally. He's prepared well. Look, there's no way I could stand up here and say anything negative about him. It's not about him. It's about getting the team ready to play.

Q: Does the number of new guys on offense have anything to do with it? Are they more used to playing with Tom?

BB: I mean that may be true, but that really wasn't a part of the thinking in the decision.

Q: What are the practice plans for Terry [Glenn], Matt [Light] and Ted [Johnson] this week?

BB: You know we'll do the official injury report tomorrow. I would say that the two guys that I would expect not to play in the game at this point would be Bryan Cox and Kole Ayi. I think everybody else will go out there today with the anticipation of warming them up, see where they are and seeing what they can do. I am not saying they are all going to play, but I think that they all have at least that opportunity to go through the process of getting ready to play and let's see where it comes out. I think that the two linebackers…it's unlikely that either of them would be able to play this week.

Q: When did you make the decision about the quarterbacks?

BB: I informed them yesterday afternoon. So between the end of the game and…

Q: If the team goes 0-2 the next two weeks is it still Tom's team?

BB: I can't deal with all the hypotheticals. I just…who knows? So if you are saying if we get beat 60-59 by New Orleans, scrap the offense and start all over again. I don't know.

Q: Scrap the defense? And you're the defensive guy.

BB: I don't know.

Q: Are you concerned at all that this might split the team?

BB: As I have said many times before I can't control what other people think or what they want to think. The only thing that I can do and the job that I have is to try to get the team ready in what I feel is the best way and I would hope that everybody would respect the time, effort and energy that I put into trying to get the team ready to play. I am not saying it is perfect, I have made plenty of mistakes, but my intentions are to get the team ready to play to its' highest level and to win every week. I think that if everybody respects that, whether they agree or disagree with anything that I do, whatever the decisions are, I think at least they will respect the fact that the decision was made with the intent to do what is best for the football team and that is the only intent that I carry is to get the team ready and to win.

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