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Replay: Patriots Unfiltered Wed Apr 14 | 12:00 AM - 11:55 PM

Bill Belichick Press Conference

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BB: Everybody has the injury report, I think things are moving along there with some progress. We will basically put everybody out there and see what they can do other than [Drew] Bledsoe. He will be able to do some light throwing this week and then we will just progress from there and see how that goes. As far as Denver, I think this is a team, an organization that I have a lot of respect for. I think they have a lot of real good football players, they have some experienced players, guys that really are tough, consistent guys that I think every coach in the league would like to have them on their team, that type of thing. They are well coached. They obviously play well at home. That is a tough place to play in and I think that they are definitely one of the teams to beat. I think this will be a real good opportunity and a good challenge for us going in there this week. I am talking about players like Rod Smith, [Bill] Romanowski and [Brian] Griese, guys like that, that just, Al Wilson, that just show up every week, make plays every week and are tough guys, tough guys to battle against, [Tom] Nalen, those running backs. They have got a good solid group. I think this is the best special teams group that we have played all year. I think their specialists are excellent. They have good kickers, they have good returners and they have a lot of good core guys that cover well and block well. They have made a lot of big plays in the kicking game this year and they made a big one against us last year so that is an area that we are going to have to continue to work hard in if we want to do well and we do want to do well and that is an area that will be key in the game. I don't really care about their record, I don't really care about what problems they have, I have a lot of respect for this football team and the people who are running it. I am sure that they will be ready to go and we need to be able match that same type of effort on the road in Denver.

Q: What kind of similarities do you see between Brian Griese as a quarterback and Tom Brady?

BB: They both went to Michigan.

Q: And as a result?

BB: I think both players have good field vision. They don't make many mistakes with the football. They are team oriented, they do what is best for the team. They do a lot of little things that help the team win, not just their passes, but snap count, formations, tempo and bringing some energy to the game, things like that. They have a little different style. I think Brian is a little more mobile maybe than Tom is, but they both can make a lot of throws. They can make the touch throws, they can get the ball down the field. They both have good courage, can stand in there under pressure and let the ball go even when somebody is getting ready to nail them. Brian has just done it more than Tom has so he has a longer track record. I think they have a lot of the same good intangible qualities, being able to run a football team and get the offense in the end zone. That is really what the quarterback's job is, however it is done, to get them into the end zone at the end of the drive.

Q: Ted Johnson's play last week, is he returning anywhere near to the level he played at a few years ago when he was one of the top run stoppers in the league or does he still have a ways to go?

BB: No, I think he is getting there, I think he is getting there. I think he has been able to string a few good weeks together, both on the practice field and progressively more time in games and productive games with it. I think that Ted, his level of play is improving each week and I thought he had his best game Sunday against Indianapolis.

Q: I guess he had said that he was a little bit lighter, have you noticed any more mobility?

BB: No. I think Ted, you can take a couple pounds off of him or put them on, but I think Ted is still pretty much, Ted is Ted. Ted is a physical, inside run player. It think his strengths are in the running game, tackling. He is a smart player. He's tough. He is not going to be the kind of guy that you are going to want to put on backs on third down and that kind of thing. I mean not many middle linebackers do, do that, but I don't think that's the strongest suit that he has, but he is good in the running game. His play-action pass coverage has improved in the last couple of weeks. I thought he made a couple of good plays in the Colts game that prevented some throws where they were trying to pull it down on him. So I think his game is definitely headed in the right direction and he has been able to string some consecutive weeks together which is the real key. I think that if you look at our football team in the last month or the last six weeks, the places where we have had the most continuity and consistency your are able to see some kind of improvement in those areas and that is true of individual players as well.

Q: Have you noticed any kind of renewed confidence with the team over the last two weeks?

BB: I think the team gained some confidence in the San Diego win because of the way we won the game being down by ten late in the fourth quarter and doing a lot of things to get back. Then I think we build on that with our first road win against an explosive Indianapolis team. So I do think the confidence level is good and I think that is a positive, but I don't think that is the bottom line. We are going to have to go out and play well this week or that won't mean a lot. What I told the team today is basically to understand why we have won three of our last four and why we have improved, it is because we are a better football team, we are playing better. Why are we playing better? Because we are practicing better, because we are more aware of situations and we have a better understanding and our execution is better and if we continue to work like we have since the start of the offseason program, through the camps, through training camp, if we continue to work at that pace then we will continue to make progress. If we think that we have arrived because we are 3-3 and won one game on the road, big deal, then we won't improve and we won't be where we want to be.

Q: If you are a defensive coordinator trying to put something together to stop the Patriots this week you see the film of the Colts game, does that change dramatically what you have to do to plan for this team or is it still wiser for someone to look more at what your normal tendencies are? Is that what you wanted to accomplish to confuse them?

BB: Well no, what we are trying to accomplish is to score points. We were trying to score points and however we could get them, that's what we were trying to do. Some of those things worked out favorably, but believe it or not, really that is what we try to do every week on offense. I mean it doesn't do any good to have an 18 play drive and miss a field goal or go down to the two-yard line and get stopped and kick a field goal. However you do it whether it is one play, 18 plays or 5 plays, at the end of the play you want to end up in the end zone. That is what you are trying to do. Sometimes it can be on a more controlled basis, sometimes it happens quicker, but that's really…it is not so much of, 'Let's do it this week so Denver has to worry about it.' If we do it this week against Indianapolis it is so we can get some production out of it. I am not really sure. I think that is an interesting question, how other people will look at it. It will be interesting to see how Denver plays us. I think that on the one hand they may look at some things and be concerned about them. They may go into the game thinking, 'Well how many times are they going to throw a wide receiver double pass?' I mean I don't know. I know they have a good defensive coordinator. Ray [Rhodes] has had a lot of success in this league at several different places. So I think that there is more to it then the people he has with him. He obviously has a good system and a good program. It has been successful at San Francisco, Green Bay and Philadelphia and now in Denver. So whatever he comes up with I am sure will be a challenging for us.

Q: There is probably as much parody as ever in the league in general. How do you view that and why is that happening?

BB: I don't know. To be honest with you I haven't had a real good chance to look around the league a lot. I focus more on the team that we are involved with and like last week with Indianapolis, really the only other game that I have much working knowledge of at all is the Denver/San Diego game. The other games that took place I just have seen at the most one or two plays from those games that I happened to catch them on a highlight show or something, but that's it. I am just not that familiar with what the other 20 some teams did last weekend. I just see the games that we play and the ones that involve us or the teams that we are getting ready for. I think this league is pretty much like it has always been. Half of the games are going to come down to a touchdown. A quarter of the games are going to come down to a field goal or less. I would say probably 90 percent of the games are going to come down to two or three critical plays at some point in the game, which had they gone the other way it might have swung the outcome of the game regardless of what the score was whether it be a momentum thing or a turnover or something like that, that takes points away and puts them up for the other team, just like last weeks game at the Colts. That blocked field goal really ended up being a ten-point play. It took three off of the board for them and set up seven for us. A few plays like that in the game, you take two teams that are dead even and a couple plays can tilt it pretty hard one way or the other.

Q: Have there been a lot of David Patten type stories in your career? Players that played in college, enter the workforce and then come to pro football and if so can you talk about that?

BB: My experience with players like that, that they are pretty hungry. They have been out of the league. They have been out of football. They understand what it is like to have other types of jobs and work for a living and what those jobs pay. Then a lot of times when they come back into the National Football League they come in with a desire, with a fire, with a purpose to them that sometimes is a little bit stronger than maybe some of the other guys that played in high school, played in college, got drafted high, started playing here, I am not trying to stereotype anybody, but sometimes some of us take it for granted. Sometimes you get into a situation when a player gets injured and he goes out for awhile and then goes through that same type of thing. He goes without football and then comes back to it. At the Giants we had a guy that I know everybody is familiar with, Phil McConkey who spent some years in the Navy and in the service and was out of football and came back. He was a free agent, another undrafted kind of guy, that type of thing, but he was able to work his way onto the team and work his way onto a Super Bowl team and have a significant role in it. David is very similar in a lot of ways. He plays the same position, kind of smaller guys that have to really establish themselves. Everyday Dave comes to work with a smile on his face and just wants to get better. He just wants to find a way to improve his game and to be productive, whether it be in the kicking game or blocking or running a route or catching the ball or whatever it is. Those kind of guys are good to have on your team.

Q: Would coaching be an easier job and would there be fewer discipline problems in the league if everybody went through what a McConkey and a Patten went through before playing in the league?

BB: Yeah, I think in general that anybody that maybe has had some success and has fallen for whatever reason, again sometimes it is injury, sometimes it is circumstances, sometimes it is whatever it is that you then appreciate both sides of it. You have the good, but then you have the bad. You win a Super Bowl and then you go 4-12. You appreciate that Super Bowl a little bit more than you did when you were an 11-5 and 10-6 the two years before. So yeah I think there is certainly a balance on that particularly when it is real life and it hits you right in the face.

Q: Last week you mentioned that in talking to the players you wanted to address to the players that you didn't want to see them get carried away, does that danger increase after two wins in a row, do you have to remind them not to be too cocky?

BB: I am not sure of what the right word is, but I think regardless of what happens Sunday, you have to get rid of that game by Monday night, coaches have to get rid of it, players have to get rid of it. It is just like when we lost to Miami and it was just symbolic of burying the ball and the whole idea of having the funeral, paying our respects and moving on, that's what we did and I think win or lose you have to do the same thing. We have got to bury the ball from Indianapolis just like we had to bury it from Miami because that game won't have any impact at all on this one, particularly if you look at our team this year, if you look at what happened the week before that is certainly no indication of what is going to happen the following week. I think each week is independent. It really is, good bad or indifferent. You have to erase the board, start all over again and start getting ready with just as meticulous preparation and intensity as any other week regardless of win or lose or playing at home or playing on the road or windy or not windy. That is what a real professional is, that is what a good professional team is and that is what a good professional player is. There are some guys and teams too, and I hope we are starting to become this way because that is what we need to do, but come in every Wednesday and Wednesday is Wednesday. Wednesday there are certain things that you have to get done, there is a way to go about them and get them done efficiently and with good preparation. You come in and you do those things. That's what the best professional players do. You know you can count on that every single Wednesday, every single Friday and every single Sunday. One of the things we talked about in training camp, I talked to the team a number of times about having a bad day. You should never have a bad day. You might have a bad play, you might make a mistake, but it can't turn into a bad day. Bad Wednesdays become bad Thursdays and bad Thursdays become bad Fridays and bad Fridays become bad Sundays and you get to that point in practice where a guy jumps offsides, a guy drops a pass, something happens like that, that team needs to respond to that right there and not make this a bad practice. 'Okay we had a bad play, but we are not having a bad period or we are not having a bad practice,' I think from a football team that, that is a process that doesn't just happen with one talk to the team or it doesn't happen in one week, but it is a process that good football teams get to. That's our target, that's where we want to be consistent day after day, week after week and that will provide success for the year.

Q: How do you stop something like that from snowballing?

BB: As coaches you try to address it, but also the leadership amongst your players and the peer pressure, if they did something then everybody has to be accountable for it. I don't think one person can start it and I don't think one person can stop it, but I think team-wide everybody needs to collectively understand what can't happen, but like I said for me and for our team the goal is not to have a bad day. I know we are going to have a mistake out there in practice, somebody will drop a ball or we'll miss a coverage and a guy will be open and you get that mistake corrected and move on, but to let that play effect the next play and that play to effect the following play and pretty soon you get ten plays and eight of them are crummy. That's not eight crummy plays, that is one play that is effecting six of the next seven and you can't do that, you cannot do that. If that happens then you are going to have problems in practice and those problems will carry over to Sunday afternoon at some point.

Q: Have you seen that from them, a progression of them understanding that?

BB: Yeah, I think it started all the way back in the offseason program. I think our consistency is better. I don't think it is perfect, it is not exactly where you want it to be, but it's improved. I think the team has made significant improvement in the last four weeks as a football team, regardless of who our opponent has been or whatever. We are doing things better now than we did them a month ago, but that doesn't mean anything for the coming month. It doesn't mean anything at all. Again that is the point that I tried to get across to our team today is what we did the last month means nothing, it is what we do the next month. We can control that, but we have to proactively control that. We just can't think that it is going to happen because what happened two weeks ago or anything like that or because there is some beer award that we got, big deal, Denver doesn't care about that.

Q: Is that where mental toughness comes in, you mentioned dropping a pass, but if you are mentally tough you would forget it and get back out there?

BB: Exactly, exactly and a good football player and a good football team can do that. They can do that, they have to do that. You watch whoever the best basketball players in the world are, they all miss shots, they all miss them, but some of them come back and they make more and they make enough and they win. Guys strike out, they come back and they hit home runs. That is what it is about, but when one strike out leads to a pop up and that leads to another strike out and then that leads to when you finally get on base you get picked off then those things snowball, I mean that is a lack of mental toughness. It is a lack of, usually, preparation and consistency and there is no way to win without it, not at this level. It is too tight every week. You just can't go out there and flop it out there and hope it is good enough. We know it won't be good enough. We need to be close to our vest every week and if we can get there then I think we will be okay every week, but if we just try to slap it out there and hope for the best and think that, that will get it, it won't get it.

Q: How valuable is Tebucky Jones to this team right now and how much better is he know then he was when you first got here?

BB: Tebucky has a significant role and it is kind of a unique role on the team because he is what I would say is a difference maker in the kicking game. He is not just a guy out there that plays a position and that takes care of that position. He is a guy that when you put him out there you feel that he can make a difference. That they will have trouble blocking him, that he will be able to create some field position for you or if he doesn't that he will be able to screw it up that will give some other guys opportunities. Defensively he gives us good range in the secondary. He is a tough guy, he will come up and tackle, he is a strong tackler. The balance is…we'd like to have him on the field for pretty much every play in the kicking game, all of our punt, punt returns, kickoffs, field goal blocks, other than the field goal team, we don't need him on that. But everything else we could play him there. We like having him on the field on defense as well, but you just have to try to find a balance there where we think he can make the most difference and be the most effective and balance that off with Matt Stevens and that is what we are trying to do. But he is a very valuable player for us. I just think that what happened in the past was when we played him all on defense, his special teams wasn't as good and when it was all on special teams then the defense wasn't as good. I think we need to balance because it is just hard to ask a guy to go out there play every play in the kicking game and every play on defense. We are trying to pick out the plays where we think he has the best chance to make a difference.

Q: Is he a much better than the product you saw when you got here?

BB: Two years ago when I first got here he had been at corner and we played him at corner in mini camp before we moved him to safety heading into training camp last year before the 2000 season and I think he has made good strides at safety defensively. I think in the kicking game that he has been pretty consistent through that period of time. A lot of those things really haven't changed a whole lot, both for him and with Brad [Seely]. The scheme is very similar. But from a safety standpoint he has a good understanding of our system. He makes very few mental mistakes and the more he sees it then the better he does it and his second year in the system he is ahead of where he was last year, there is no doubt.

Q: Does Drew take one more step this week?

BB: We are planning on him doing some light throwing, which is more than he did last week and then we will see how that goes and if that goes good then he will do a little bit more. Yeah, I think we are making progress there, we are headed in the right direction, take some baby steps and take some longer ones.

Q: Is there any chance that he could be the number three quarterback this week?

BB: I think it is a possibility. I certainly couldn't say that now, yes, that he will be. We will see what he can do today and then see what the reaction is tomorrow and then see what he can do tomorrow and we will go through to the end of the week. I wouldn't rule it out, he is doubtful for the game, so that means what a 25 percent chance

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