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Bill Belichick Press Conference

Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick talks to the press about the Pats upcoming game in Atlanta on Sunday.To read a full transcript, click below.



BB: Just to update you on the injury report I think everybody has that. Obviously [Bryan] Cox is out and a couple of guys are doubtful and a couple of guys are questionable so we just have to see how some of those come along. As I have said to you many times it is hard at this point in the week to really be as definitive as we would like to be let alone what you would like to hear. A guy like [Rod] Rutledge last week who had trouble doing much on Wednesday and on Thursday was able to play the better part of the game on Sunday. So we will just have to see how it goes. Some guys come along and then some guys don't.

As far as Atlanta goes I think that this is a situation for us this week where Atlanta had a bye week and the way the schedule works out you play these teams usually once every three years unless you happen to have something unusual or a preseason game or that kind of thing. We are not real familiar with each other. Atlanta has had a bye week so they have had a little extra time to work on us and I think they have an edge right now in terms of their preparation. I am sure that they are a little further along then we are at this point so we are going to really have to hustle to catch up. Overall I think that Atlanta played real well in their last game against New Orleans, winning in New Orleans. I think they have a real good football team. Their offense and their passing game are as good as anybody's in the league. I think that [Chris] Chandler is obviously one of the top quarterbacks in the National Football League. He is a guy that I have always had a lot of respect for and I think is a little underrated in the league, but I have talked to several people who have been on teams with him that are in our organization, players and coaches and from what I have seen I don't think there is really much of anything this guy can't do and doesn't do when he is in there. They throw the ball well. They have got some big plays out of their rookie tight end, [Alge] Crumpler and of course Shawn [Jefferson] and [Terance] Mathis have been their two big go to guys with Tony Martin out, but [Brian] Finneran stepped in and has done a good job. They have got good backs, good tight ends, a real good quarterback and big play receivers. So they throw the ball very well and they put a lot of points up on the board particularly early in the game. This is a real fast starting team, a team that's jumped on top of basically everybody that they have played. Defensively I think that [Keith] Brooking has done a good job in the middle for them. He has missed a little time here and there the last couple of years, but he has really gotten off to a tremendous start this year. I think this guy is going to be one of the best linebackers in the NFL in the years to come, similar to [Brian] Urlacher type of guy, when he gets going he is pretty good. They have a very experienced secondary, experienced defense, but particularly an experienced secondary. Those corners have played and played together for a long time. The safeties are very experienced. They make very few mistakes as a team. They have a good return game, both punts and kickoffs with [Darrick] Vaughn and [Darrien] Gordon. They cover well. They haven't really given up any big plays on their returns, kickoff or punt returns this year so they are pretty solid in that phase of the game too. This is a pretty good football team. They really throw the ball well and they are pretty solid on defense. They are experienced and they have a good solid kicking game. They will be back home, they are coming off a bye week and it will be a big challenge for us to bounce back on this one.

Q: Have you talked to Terry Glenn the last few days and what can you tell us about his status?

BB: His status right now is that he is doubtful for the game. He wasn't able to play last week and until he can get out there and practice with the team and perform with the team I think he is still doubtful for this week. That is what his status is. He is getting better, but until he does that I don't think it can be any more that.

Q: Have you talked to him face-to-face the last few days?

BB: I can't remember the last time I talked to him, a couple of days ago.

Q: What is your relationship with him? From what he said in the paper the last few days he basically thinks you are trying to run him out?

BB: As I have said before, I think my relationship with Terry through the years, not just this year, but over a period of time going back to '96, has been a solid player/coach relationship. Maybe I overestimated a little bit last week, I don't know. That is what I would like for it to be. That is what I hope it will continue to be, but it takes two people to have a relationship. I can't speak for anybody else and I am not trying to, but I would like for Terry, just as I would like for every other player on this team to be productive, to help us win, for us to help put them in productive situations so they can be successful and then everybody will live happily ever after if that is the case.

Q: Could you assess your defense the last couple of weeks?

BB: I think defensively we haven't been consistent for several weeks. At times we are okay. We have given up too many big plays and any time you give up big plays then you aren't really playing good defense and I think that is the number one thing we need to do. We need to eliminate the big plays and do a better job on third down and there have been times where we have done that they just haven't been consistent.

Q: But with [Lawyer] Milloy, [Ty] Law, [Willie] McGinest and [Bryan] Cox until recently, you have got a lot of experienced, highly paid players to not be playing top flight defense?

BB: It is not about one player it is about team defense. There are a lot of guys out there and that is what you need to be a good defensive football team. You need 11 guys playing well not one or two and that is true of any…you look at anybody in the league who is playing good defense and you will always be able to point to a couple of guys, but everybody will be holding up their end. That is what you need and you need to do it on a consistent basis. We have had plenty of three and outs, we have had plenty of good series, but we have given up some longer drives which are the result of third down conversions and we have give up some big plays which are more than we would like to be giving up. A little bit of a problem there, is needs to be fixed, it needs to be better than it has been.

Q: What is [Richard] Seymour's situation? I was under the impression originally that you thought it wasn't much of an injury and he has been inactive the last two weeks, do you have any sense that because he is a rookie that he does not have the pro's mentality of playing with pain?

BB: Let me put it this way, going back to your original question on the injury, I think this injury is similar to the injury to the one he had on his other leg prior to the Cincinnati game. When it first happened he felt, and the people who treated it felt that is wasn't as severe as the one he had before the Cincinnati game which he was out of that for about two and a half, three weeks whatever it was somewhere in that range and they didn't think it was as bad. My guess would have been that it would have been less than what that timeframe was. Muscle injuries, as we all know are a little bit unpredictable. Even though it is with the same player they don't always heal at the same rate and certainly if you have the same injury with two different players they don't necessarily heal at the same rate either. I think that he is coming around. Each week he has been able to do more than the previous week so I think that he is getting closer. Whether this is the week or not I can't say for sure, but I think he has got a chance and if that is the case then that would put it in about the same timeframe as the first injury.

Q: Did you have any medical history on him at Georgia that he was susceptible to these kinds of injuries?

BB: He was as shocked as…when it first happened to him prior to the Cincinnati game at the end of training camp I talked to him about it then he was shocked that it happened. He had never had any problems. He went through the whole training camp, he went through all of the two a days, as much stress as you could put on the body in training camp he went through it and we were down to one a days and down to getting ready for regular season games and that's when the injury occurred. He hadn't had any problems, hadn't had really any signs that it was coming on, but I think if you look around the league and we have done a couple of studies on this, but again it is hard to do a precise study other than with your own players, but if you look around the league I think you will see that rookies probably have on average more injuries, particularly pulled muscle type injuries than other players particularly when you look at the respective positions. Number of injuries of the rookies relative to the number of injuries of the other players at that position with pulled muscles and basically I think it is because of the level of the competition that they are going at. I mean you are talking about guys who in college were the best guys on their team or maybe some of the best guys in college football and they were playing against guys who couldn't run as fast, couldn't push as hard, weren't as quick. Whatever they had to do physically against them just wasn't as demanding as what it is at this level where every single guy is a lot better than guys they played in college who aren't in the National Football League. That continued exertion and force and all of that without the same level of training and not to say that players don't train in college, I am not trying to say that at all, but it is just a higher level of competition and a higher level of performance. I think that's what really one of the learning points for all the rookies is and we try to train them as much as we can in the offseason and in June prior to training camp, but still it's a lot to make up in a short amount of time. That is why veteran players who train in the offseason and train through the offseason program, not that there is any guarantee, but statistically and historically are a little more injury free then the ones who don't and the rookies who don't have that opportunity.

Q: Have you done a study on that?

BB: Just of the players that we have had. It is hard for me to say what happened in Seattle or what happened in Kansas City or whatever, but just going back through about the last ten years in Cleveland, New York and New England, just looking at each year-by-year what happened and what happened at the positions and what happened to other players at that position in relative terms. Look, it is not a scientific thing all it is just the evidence and some of it is a little bit subjective as to why it happens, but that definitely has been true in the programs that I have been involved with.

Q: I am not sure if you have a policy on injured players traveling, but would Bryan Cox be given the opportunity, would you want to have him along?

BB: I wouldn't say that it wouldn't happen, I don't know that is would either. I would have to talk to Bryan and talk to the medical people about first of all whether that would even be advised. For example in Drew's [Bledsoe] case it was advised that Drew not travel when we went to Miami. We have also had a couple of cases where if guys, it looks like they are not going to play, maybe 25-20 percent chance they are not going to play, a lot of times with the long trip on the plane they would be a lot better off getting treatment on their ankle or leg or whatever it happens to be. So we will do what is best for the player from a medical standpoint. If that's cleared then we will have to make the decision as to whether or not, what he could do at the game and how that will fall together. We haven't got that medical part of it yet.

Q: He has family down there?

BB: Yes his offseason time has been spent in Atlanta, yeah his kids are there.

Q: How much are you going to miss him, not just physically, but emotionally?

BB: I don't know, but I think every team in the league during the regular season goes through a situation where they lose a player or two or three or whatever and when that happens the other people who are there, somebody has to step up, I mean that is just the way it is. Somebody has to step up and that is part of sports. It is an unfortunate part, but it does provide opportunities for the people who are able to take advantage of them and capitalize on them. Every player that you lose is missed. There is nobody that we have lost that we can say it didn't make any difference, it always makes a difference, but it does create an opportunity for somebody else and when they get it we will see what they can do with it. There is no question that Bryan is a player that has a lot of positive attributes and has contributed positively to our team, but at the same time we have to move on and somebody is going to have to step into his place in a number of different areas. Whether it is field goal protection or inside linebacker or a leadership role on the team or whatever it is and pick up some of that void until he is able to return and then on the other hand it is not like he is gone forever. If you walk in the locker room you will see him down there so he still will add some things to the team some things to the team just by his presence even though they won't be on the field.

Q: How does that change your linebacking core, what changes will be made and who will fill that void?

BB: Basically from the preseason on the three players that have played in there have been Bryan, Ted [Johnson] and Tedy Bruschi. There has been almost no time, since the first preseason game against the Giants were all three of those players have been healthy and on the field and have had a sustained number of weeks behind them. They might be healthy today, but I am talking about where you get two or three weeks of the sustained health and practice time and rotation. That was one of the concerns going into the season and that's one of the reasons why we signed Bryan to have Ted, Tedy and Brian in there, but unfortunately we just haven't been able to have a good three person rotation there for very long at any point this year. Right now Ted and Tedy are the healthy ones and that's who we expect to play there.

Q: Do you expect to see Michael Vick at all?

BB: I think we have to be prepared for him. He played quite a bit in the Chicago game. It looks like he'll play from time to time, they have him in there situationally, but in the Chicago game he was in for I think it was 40 snaps or something, he has played about 75 plays this year. In seven games, 75 plays, we have got to be prepared for him.

Q: Will you work on him during the week? Will someone play his role on the scout team?

BB: We will definitely spend some time on Michael Vick period or part of practice because he presents some elements different from what Chris presents at quarterback. So we will have to work on that and have a game plan to deal with him if they put him in there. We certainly have to be prepared for him, how much he does or doesn't play of course is out of our control.

Q: The situation with the defense of Atlanta, how do you characterize this defense in terms of how [Tom] Brady has to attack it, what he has to be leery of, this is a high caliber defense, one of the better ones you will face?

BB: I think there are a couple of things that Tom is going to have to do well in this game. First let me just say this about the Atlanta defense, this is a very experienced group. They have played together for awhile and the players have played in the league for awhile, so even guys like [Ray] Buchanan and [Ashley] Ambrose who have been with Atlanta, played together in Indianapolis prior to that. There is a lot of carryover there at safety, there is a lot of carryover in their front seven, even guys like Brady Smith that played in New Orleans, but this is his sixth or seventh year in the league whatever it is. So this is a very experienced group. They play well together. They disguise coverages well. It is not just a corner or a safety, but it is all 11 guys kind of moving in unison. They are well coached. They do a good job of making you recognize what they are doing after the snap. They don't line up before the plays and say, 'Okay here is where we are, come and get us.' They line up and then they subtly shift their alignment and make the receivers and the quarterback and the tight ends and those people read where they are going to be and how they are going to be there after the snap. The biggest thing we are going to have to do is executed well after the ball is snapped, recognizing what is going on there and not guess at what the defense is going to be, but actually read it out and sometimes that's a lot tougher. They do a good job of taking advantage of the offense's mistakes, again they are an experienced team. If a guy runs a crummy route, the defensive back will undercut it and make the play. If a guy makes a crummy block, takes a bad set [Patrick] Kerney or [Brady] Smith will go inside and they will get the quarterback. Everybody needs to be on their game. There is not a lot of margin for error because I think they are very opportunistic and they are pretty sound. They are in the right place so if you are out of place then they will be able to hit that gap or make the play.

Q: Could you discuss your defensive philosophy, if you had your druthers what would and what could you do with this defense?

BB: I think defensively what I have always believed in number one is to not allow big plays and not beat yourself. To play sound defense, not to take chances to the point where you are exposing your self to big plays and missed assignments and that kind of thing where you are just not sound. Where they run plays that you just can't defend, where you are going into the game saying, 'I hope they don't do this, or I hope they don't do that.' It starts up front, you have to control the line of scrimmage and then pass coverage is a combination of zone coverages and man coverages based on personnel, game plan, situation and so forth. In the end the real principles of defense are stopping the run and having good tacklers on the field regardless of what position they play, playing well on third down, playing well in the red area and not giving up big plays. If you do that then they are not going to score a lot of points.

Q: What were your impressions of Michael Vick leading up to the draft and were you studying him from your draft position?

BB: We spent some time on Vick. It was pretty early in the running. In all honesty when we completed Drew's contract then we really stopped working on it because that just wasn't an option. Michael is very athletic, he is fast, he is almost like a running back playing quarterback, has a lot of speed back there and is a good runner in the open field, has a big time arm. He is young, but I think he is a sharp kid. As he gets more experience he will do things better just like most young quarterbacks do.

Q: Is his situation advantageous being behind Chris Chandler or is a situation like Peyton Manning's where you are submersed from the beginning more advantageous?

BB: That is a tough one for me because I don't really know exactly what the situation there is in terms of the reps and all of that, but what I would say is I think Chandler, as I said earlier, I think Chandler is one of the best quarterbacks in the league. I can't imagine anybody playing behind Chandler and not learning and being a better quarterback from watching him play because he is a pro, he's talented, he is a very smart player, he makes very few bad plays. He will not lose the game himself, throw it to the wrong guy, make dumb plays, he is a sharp guy, he has a lot of skill and when he's been healthy and when he has been in the game he has done well and they have won. I can't imagine anybody working with Chris and not being impressed. As I said we have a couple of people in our organization who have been with him as players or coaches and when you are playing a team that we are not as familiar with like Atlanta, I have talked about him as well as some other players and I will tell you can't find anybody to say anything bad about that guy. He is well respected from the people who have been with him and from standpoint coaching against him.

Q: Brady didn't have success this week, do you want to see anything different from him or want him to keep doing what he has been doing?

BB: I think anytime you have a game like we had out in Denver as a team, no matter what your position is quarterback, head coach or anything else, you have got to do better, you have got to do better. Whatever we did wasn't good enough and I think it is on all of us to do better, to be better prepared, to find another way, to find some way to be more productive and to not have some of the negative things in that game that happened to us happen to us. That is part of Tom's responsibility, it's is part of mine and it's part of every player on the team or we will see the same results again that we saw in Denver. If we don't change it nobody else is going to change it for us.

Q: Do you have to use more deception now, when you think of the '85 Bears that weren't exactly that subtle and the same with your Giants defenses, do you find yourself having to be a little bit more schematically creative? I remember those Bears being subtle.

BB: I would have to respectively disagree with you on that because they had a pretty good package. I mean they blitzed a lot, but they also had a lot of changeups in there that were tough to deal with. It wasn't that easy just to find them. You had Mike Singletary playing in the deep half of the field and stuff like that, which nobody in the league did that. They did things that were I would say were unprecedented. A lot of their trapping and the man coverage principles that they used were not only creative, but difficult to deal with, plus they had good personnel and they were well coached and they had a good game plan. They had a lot of things going for them. I was criticized in 1990 for being too schematic in that year several times including the Super Bowl. Played one defense in one half and another defense in another half and it might have been too much and all of that. So I don't know. Usually it comes down to when you are playing well and you are winning then everybody is a great coach and everybody has got a great plan whatever it is, whether it is real simple or complex or whether you blitz or cover, you are always on top of it and you are a genius. Then when it is not going as good then it is too many of the wrong decisions, too many of the wrong personnel moves, it's strategy, it is everything. I have seen that one before and that is the way it is, it is a bottom line business. If you are winning things are going good and if you are not winning then for the most part something needs to be fixed. You go out there and lose 50-49, you are not going to be talking about great defenses that day either, I understand that, but for the most part it is going to come down to a few critical key plays in the game and if you don't make those you have got to them fixed if you are on the losing end and that's where we were after Denver.

Q: What is the likelihood about Drew being upgraded to maybe backup quarterback?

BB: Doubtful.

Q: Is there a chance that that could happen as the week progresses?

BB: It's doubtful, I would doubt it. I think he will be doubtful going into the game, I think he will be doubtful at the end of the week and I think he will be no more than the third quarterback in this game. I don't see his status changing between last week and this week. At some point I think it will change, I don't think that this is the week that it is going to happen.

Q: Will he do the same amount in practice?

BB: Yes, those are our plans yes, for him to have another week like he had last week. Then at some point that may transition into something more, but this week will be more of a carryover from last week. Then it will another big step into more participation in practice.

Q: Have you considered putting Terry on injured reserve, is that an option at some point?

BB: I don't see it as an option right now. At some point it is an option, at this point it is an option for injured players. There are nine regular season games left and just like every team in the league you will see more guys go on injured reserve, as the regular season winds down you will see more guys go on IR because you are talking about the percentage of the year. If the guy is out for six weeks with eight game to go that is three quarters of the season. Just like if he is out for 12 weeks with 16 games to go, percentage-wise you are looking at the same type of decision. Yeah there is a point where any injured player you would have to consider how long is he going to be out and therefore how many games could he realistically be back for and would that contribution be better than putting him on IR and taking another player and having him active. There is no question those decisions will be part of every injured player's situation, at this point and going forward if it any substantial length of time.

Q: Will Terry be out there today?

BB: Will he be practicing? I doubt it, I doubt it.

Q: Will Arther Love practice this week?

BB: Yeah we are going to active Arther Love off of the PUP this week. He is going to begin practice and that then would start the 21 day window for us to make a decision whether to activate him or not. It basically puts him in the Todd Rucci category that Todd was in last year.

Q: He is not on the 53?

BB: He is not on the 53.

Q: Have you had a chance to reevaluate Matt Light at all?

BB: He hurt his shoulder in the game. He has got some pain, he has got some discomfort. It is just going to be a matter of how quickly that comes around and how much he will be able to deal with there. I doubt that he will be able to do much today. We will have to see how that progresses later on in the week. Whether it becomes a Rod Rutledge situation by Thursday, Friday, Saturday he is able to regain his motion and his strength and the pain goes down or whether it is a Richard Seymour situation where it just carries over a little longer before we get through it.

Q: If he is unable to go is it Grant Williams in his place?

BB: Yeah.

Q: Does [Adrian] Klemm factor in there at all?

BB: Yeah I think [Adrian] Klemm is going to be in the same boat that Light is in. I don't think that he is really going to be doing much today. He would probably be lucky if he comes around by the end of the week so we will have to give Kenyatta [Jones] some work out there at tackle and also of course [Mike] Compton has played out there previously in his career so if we had to go to that emergency we would have to do it. It looks like to me this is going to be one of those situations where we are light at tackle for a couple of weeks. We would expect that these tackles would come back, but in the meantime we are going to have to hold the fort until that happens as opposed to going out and signing a couple of guys because of a more longer term thing. It looks like it will not be that long hopefully

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