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Replay: Patriots Unfiltered Thu Apr 22 | 02:00 PM - 11:59 PM

Bill Belichick Press Conference

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BB: We don't have any changes on the injury report and I don't think I have a lot of big breaking news for you this morning. One of the big things I talked about yesterday is still very much in our focus is just that we need to learn more about the Atlanta Falcons. I have harped on that theme for the last couple of days and I will keep harping on it because it is just a team that we don't have the kind of background with that we have had with the other teams that we have played and they have had the extra week to prepare on us. So we really need to push the preparations. We have been looking at all of their games even back to preseason, some of the things they did last year because it is a carryover from their coaching staff from the 2000 season. There are some new players, but there is a lot of carryover there. We are just trying to make sure that we know them as well as we can and close the gap in the preparations that they I think have a little edge on right now because of the extra time. So that is pretty much what we are doing.

Q: People say that that is one of the most physically, aggressive teams on defense yet they are 31st on past defense, what has been the problem?

BB: It is kind of a dichotomy there. They are very good on pass defense on the early downs on first down, in fact they are one of the best teams in the league. I think they are only giving up four yards per pass attempt or something like that on first down. It is very good. I think they have had more trouble on third down then first down. A couple of games they have been ahead in and teams have gotten some yardage at the end of the game like New Orleans. Both of the San Francisco games went into overtime, but they were ahead in both of those games so there was a lot of passing in the fourth quarter. I wouldn't say it is a huge weakness fort hem because they do have, statistically there are times when they are very good on pass defense.

Q: And yet they are 31st overall?

BB: Well again it is yardage. Some of that yardage is situational.

Q: Do they do a lot of blitzing, do they rely on pressure or coverage?

BB: No they mix in pressure, but I wouldn't say that they are a big pressure team. I think their pressure is probably in the neighborhood of 20 to 30 percent, somewhere in there depending on the situation. They like to let their front four do much of the pass rushing and let their linebackers and defensive backs cover and they mix in man and zone situationally. I think they are a pretty good zone team. The one thing they really do a good job of is not allowing a lot of big plays. They don't let a lot of people behind them and give up a lot of long plays through coverage breakdowns and that kind of thing. They are a pretty experienced group. A couple of guys, Terrell Owens had a couple of good runs, catching runs on them. When they hit a couple of backups, a couple of times they had backups in there and they would hit them, but for the most part it is a defense that doesn't give up a lot of long plays.

Q: For a couple of weeks things were going well and you had a lot of momentum, then you lost week, from a growth process are you interested to see how team reacts to some adversity? Are you curious to see how things go this week with that process?

BB: Sure I am anxious for every week. Every week is a new challenge and it is a little bit of a different situation every week either what you come off of or what you are going into and the circumstances that go with it, whether it is players having to step in for other players or…so whatever kind of transition that your team is under it seems like there is always a little something you have to deal with. It is challenging every week and certainly this will be a good test for us. It is a road game against an NFC team. We didn't do well against the NFC last year. It has been one of our targets this year of an area that we absolutely have to improve is our NFC record as well as our division record. So this would be a good chance for us to prove that.

Q: To follow up on that, it will be extremely challenging for Tom Brady because this is the first time that he has gone through some adversity?

BB: Well I don't think the Miami game was a great game for him. Tom is a pretty level guy and he has had some good performances and there are other ones that I am sure he would like to have had better. I don't think that the Miami game was a great game for him, yet I think he came back and played fairly well the following week. We will see what happens, but I think his week of preparation needs to be good. It needs to be a little better than it normally is just because of our unfamiliarity with the Falcons relative to a team like Denver that we played last year or Indianapolis that we played twice or the Jets who we have a better background with.

Q: Troy Brown has been critical of his play recently, how is he playing in general this year and what is it like to coach him?

BB: Troy has been one of our top producers in the passing game and also he has given us some plays in the running game on reverses and those kinds of things. His punt return production hasn't been quite what it was last year. I think that is a combination of things. We are not getting some of the opportunities to return punts that we need. A lot of them are plus 50 ones where they are fair catch opportunities. A couple of times we have had a chance and haven't blocked well, but overall I think that he is clearly one of our most productive players. He has got a spark about him. I think he is the type of player that not only plays hard, but also kind of inspires other players a little bit with his play. Maybe it is because of his size and his stature and his background, not coming out as…not a premier guy coming out of college, but sort of worked his way up, gained a lot of respect and just continues to make plays that maybe you just don't think are going to get made. I am not even sure how the play came out, but on the play against Denver where Rod [Rutledge] dropped it or fumbled it or whatever happened I am not really sure because the end of the play wasn't that significant because of the penalty, but for Troy to go back in there and get that ball when it didn't look like we were going to end up with it. I think they ended up calling it an incomplete pass, but that was a pretty…you say, 'How did he come up with that ball?' He kind of has a way of breaking tackles and coming out of piles and ending up with more than, when you look at the play, what you think he is going to end up with.

Q: Obviously he has greatly improved over the years, but it almost seems like he hasn't leveled off, he still is getting a little better? Is that wrong?

BB: No I think he does do some things and we have had some things that we have asked him to work on and he has worked hard on them. But I think through the years and I remember when I was here in '96, from that point I think his hands have improved, his quickness has improved, his strength has improved and he knows how to use all of those attributes.

Q: How do you improve your hands?

BB: You're catching techniques. Sometimes it is like your golf swing. You can go out there and hit a lot of good shots and still shoot 80, I am talking about good golfers now, for me it would take a lot of shots to hit, but you know what I mean. You can go out there, but you eliminate three or four bad ones and then you can get down to par. I think that is what he has really worked on doing. He has a real good understanding of coverages, he has a real good rapport with the quarterbacks because he is disciplined in his routes and they know where he is going to be and know how to anticipate what he is going to do because he is consistent doing it. There is nothing more important to a quarterback then knowing, and having confidence in the receiver and I think Troy has gained a lot of confidence himself. I am not sure that he had the same kind of confidence in '96 that he has now about what he can do, but I think now he is a very confident player and he plays like one.

Q: Do you find that you have to use him in the kicking game because of his reliability? Would you like to have someone step and take that punt return role so he doesn't have to be used as much on special teams because he is such a big part of the offense?

BB: I think if we had someone that could do it better than he could it would be great to put that other person in there, but I really think he is the best punt returner we have. I think he is probably one of the best punt returners in the league. Last year he was very high up there and again we have all seen him play, some of that yardage comes on his own too. I can't understate the importance of field position and ball handling in those punting situations. As long as he is our best player I think that we will continue to try to use him there. If we could take a load off of him would we, sure, if we could find the right person to do that.

Q: You brought in a lot of new players in the offseason and training camp, is there anyway to explain how so many of them have contributed so much so quickly?

BB: I think a lot of those players, a number of them were productive with the teams that they were with. In some cases we just had openings there for one reason or another. I think some of the other players that we have taken are kind of younger, when I say younger players, players like Marc Edwards or Mike Vrabel, Matt Stevens, guys like that, that are in their fifth, sixth, seventh year, somewhere in there. Really those are the prime football years, so it is a good time for those players, generally speaking, it is a good time for those age players to be playing because they have the experience, they have the training and they haven't hit the wall yet. That's what we really tried to do when we signed people onto the team. We really didn't intentionally sign anybody with the intention that they wouldn't be contributors, that they were just here to have another body type of thing. That wasn't the intent at all. It was to sign them figuring that this can be this player's role and we really think that he has a chance to help us by doing that and I think that a lot of players have been able to step into those roles.

Q: When you sign so many guys, when you sign two, three, four guys you expect those to pan out, but when you sign 24 and 21 of them are playing significantly or starting you have got to be pleased?

BB: Yeah, no I think that Scott [Pioli] and the personnel people and the coaches that worked on that did do a good job of identifying the players and the type of players to fill the roles that we were looking for and for the most part you are right, they have and I think that certainly has upgraded our team. We need to continue to do it, but we are a lot closer then we were a year ago sitting here at this time, there is no doubt about that.

Q: Could you talk about the Terrell Buckley incident in Indianapolis, was it a misunderstanding?

BB: No there really isn't much that I can say about it. It is an internal matter, it was handled, it's over. He will play this week against Atlanta. It is done. I know that is not what you were looking for.

Q: Getting back to Troy Brown, after the game he took the blame for the interception on that option route and took a lot of the blame for the loss saying he had to get better. Then you think about all that he did do in that game, is that the kind of attitude where you scratch your head and say it seems like he did all that he can do. Is that what makes him a special player because he still feels like even though he did all of that he still needs to get better?

BB: Exactly. I think that is the mark of a real competitor and a real champion. Anytime you lose a close game I think that you are going to have a lot of people, everybody really should feel like that, but you are going to have a lot of people that feel like that. That if it had been one more catch, one more block, one more tackle. As a coach, one different call, one thing maybe that you thought about putting in, but for some reason didn't because you thought maybe it would be too much or didn't have time or whatever and then you get into the game and say, 'Boy I wish I would have had that.' I think every competitor goes through those kinds of feelings after a close loss regardless of what the sport is. Basketball making one more shot or one less turnover or whatever when you lose a game by a point or two. When you lose a football game in a close game like that everybody, no matter what you did you still feel the burden of one or two plays that you wish you could have done better, that you wish you had back. I think that is how a champion and I think that is how a real competitor should feel.

Q: What is J.R. Redmond's status, he seems to be healthy again?

BB: Yeah J.R. came back two weeks ago against Indianapolis and had some plays. We were trying to work him back in and had some plays on third down, plays for us in the kicking game. I think Antowain [Smith] and Kevin [Faulk] have taken advantage of their opportunities and also have been pretty productive for us. So we will continue to use all three for right now. We will probably use Antowain more as a first and second down back, but J.R. is certainly ready and capable of stepping in there for him as well as on third down and in the kicking game. I don't think at this point that J.R. is going to assume all of the things that Antowain is doing, but we certainly wouldn't be afraid to have him in there at any time and do them.

Q: Are you comfortable where the team is now going halfway through this season?

BB: I think we are better. No we are not there yet and that is where we are trying to get. Look, until we win consistently here then we are not where we want to be. But do I think we are a better football team this year then we were last year, there is no doubt in my mind.

Q: Since you don't have a lot of background on Atlanta, what else can you do to prepare to try to get caught up to what they have done?

BB: When I say we are not familiar with them I am talking about in terms of relatively not familiar with them. We haven't played them in the last couple of years, like for example Carolina we played them in preseason, Denver we played last year, we have our division games. The thing about Atlanta, their coaching staff, they have had a couple of changes on their coaching staff. The defensive coordinator left and their offensive line coach left or weren't there from last year, but [Dan] Reeves is still there and there are a lot of things that are in place. We did extensive work on them in the offseason and I feel like we have a background of what they did in 2000. Now some things have changed there some of their personnel like everybody's does and then we have seen their preseason games and their regular season games this year. So it is not a question of is there any information to work with. It is like going to the library. There are a million books there, you only have so much time to read them and get the information out of them and you have to kind of cram it. That is a little bit what I think we are doing here because the information is there. There are a lot of experienced players on that team. It is not like we are facing eight or nine rookies. They have a couple of impact guys. [Alge] Crumpler has done a good job for them and [Michael] Vick could show up and those kind of things. But I think we can learn about and the players can learn about the opponents and we can understand the schemes. It is just that we don't have that first hand familiarity with it like we would with a lot of the other teams that we have played and it works in reverse too. It is the same for them the only difference being that they have had a little bit more time on it then we have.

Q: So was it really Troy Brown's fault on that one interception? You're not going to touch that?

BB: Well anytime you have a turnover like that there are factors involved. Part of it obviously was the breakdown between the quarterback and the receiver. When the ball is ten yards away from the receiver right into the chest of the defensive back…

Q: He acted like it was his fault?

BB: I think that there is plenty of blame to go around.

Q: Is that a route where he reads the coverage and goes one way or the other based on what he sees?

BB: Not really in that one it is just a question of whether he is stopping or continuing on outside. It is not one of those where he could have gone six different directions. Basically what you try to do in man-to-man coverage you try to run away from the man, you just stop right there then the man just takes you. If it is zone coverage then you have to work your way into a hole somewhere, but you don't want to run into the next man. That's really what the quarterback and the receiver are trying to do on a lot of routes. There are some routes where a guy just runs across the field and the quarterback hits him wherever he is open, but

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