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Replay: Best of Radio Thu Apr 11 - 02:00 PM | Tue Apr 16 - 11:55 AM

Bill Belichick Press Conference

Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick talks to the press about the upcoming game against the Dolphins on Sunday.



BB: One roster move to announce this morning, we resigned Rob Holmberg and placed Jace Sayler on injured reserve. That is about the biggest news that I have got.

Q: Does Drew [Bledsoe] make the trip this week?

BB: No Drew will not be traveling, he will not be traveling with us.

Q: Can you comment on the contributions of Roman Phifer?

BB: Roman has been a real good addition to this team. He has a good veteran presence. He has had a lot of experience. He really knows what he is doing out there. Roman is a smart guy and he's very athletic. I would say the majority of our linebackers are probably overall better against the run than against the pass. I think Roman is either equally good against the pass or if anything a little better against the pass than the run. So it is certainly a good complimentary player to some of our other guys. He is real athletic. He can cover well. He covers good space in coverage whether it be on receivers or backs. He is pretty good in the open field. He is good in the kicking game. He is really a solid guy, both as a player and as a person. He is an experienced player that has been in the system and has also been in games and knows how to play.

Q: He seems to be around turnovers a lot?

BB: Again, he is a guy that is around the ball a lot just because of his speed and range. He gets to a lot of plays, again particularly in the passing game. He is one of our best linebacker coverage people. First of all he is in the field more in passing situations, but he is also around the ball more because of his range and his pass coverage skills.

Q: Last year at this time you beat Denver in Denver and then you beat the Colts here and it seemed like everything had come together then it kind of fell apart. Are you leery of the same type of thing happening here? Is it something that you have mentioned to the team to make sure that they don't get caught in the euphoria of a big victory?

BB: I don't think there was a real big let down after the Colts game last year. I think I might have said it after last week's game that I felt like the feeling in the locker room last week before the Jet game was very similar to the feeling I felt in the locker before last week's Indianapolis game. The problem was that we went out in the Jet game and turned the ball over quickly, got behind 14-0 and couldn't catch up in the game. That was a very disappointing score and result, but I didn't think it was from a lack of emotion or a lack of feeling like we conquered the world and took for granted the next game or being overconfident. We just made mistakes and didn't play well. As far as this week's game goes I have tried to emphasize putting the…I don't even want to talk about last week's game. It is about this week. It is about, as you said, the team who is the defending champion of the division on the road and we need our best effort this week. That is really the message that I have tried to give to the team, we need our best game.

Q: Yesterday you mentioned that you spoke to the team about the closeness of your games with the Dolphins, what else do you do? Do you just point that out to them and hope that they get the idea that there are going to be times when you have to make plays?

BB: Right and every play and every situation that we cover is done with an emphasis of this could the difference. Whether it be red area, two-minute, third down, goal line, a play action pass, like last week, we got beat on a play action pass on a third down play. We were in the red area down there at the end of the game and couldn't score. Any one of those plays could have made a big difference. Each time we go to those situations in practice this week we have tried to emphasize how we could be talking about the game right here and this is just another play. This could be the difference. I think ultimately it probably will be the difference. We will look back at the game and get a couple of key plays and say those key plays were really turning points in the game. We just don't know which ones they are now.

Q: Is this similar to the Colts have trouble with you guys, you guys have trouble with Miami, how does that dynamic work?

BB: I don't know, I think both games against Miami last year came down to a couple of real close plays. They won both games. I don't feel like we have trouble with them. We haven't beaten them, but we were in both games all the way to the wire. One or two plays and they would have come out differently. I don't think that we were outclassed against Miami any more than I think Indianapolis was outclassed against us. That is the way it is in this division. Just looking at last year, other than last year's second Jet game, as I said, I think we were well-prepared for, high emotionally, we turn the ball over and get down 14-0 and it wasn't a real competitive game. Other than that every game last year was a close game in the division, every single one of them. We have had two this year and they have both been tough games and I think we are going to have a lot more of them. I don't know that anybody has really got anybody's number, they are tough close games that come down to a kick or a play or a tackle or a decision at the right time and that's the type of game that we need to expect to play in. It is nice to win by 30 points, but I think you need to expect to play in a game like that.

Q: Torrance Small got a chance to get into the mix last week, how is he progressing?

BB: I thought he gave us a big lift last week. He had a couple of good third down conversions. He helped us on the kickoff team. I thought our kickoff coverage was the best that it has been all season. I think we will really get challenged on that this week as well. So Torrance gave us a lift on some plays in the kicking game and also with some plays inside in the slot and I think we can definitely use that. He is our biggest receiver and so he also adds an element of blocking to the receiver group that showed up in a couple of Kevin's [Faulk] runs on third down. Charles Johnson did a good job on that too, particularly there at the end of the half where Kevin was able to pick up some yards and also get out of bounds. Charles had a couple of good blocks out there on the outside that got us those extra yards and put us in field goal range. Torrance, those are his strengths, he is an inside receiver. He does a good job blocking and he helps us some in the kicking game. It was a good lift to have him.

Q: [Tom] Brady seemed to go to him a few more times?

BB: I think all of the quarterbacks have confidence in Torrance. In particular the first play you mentioned was that Indianapolis doubled Troy Brown. Troy was on our left side and Torrance was on the right. They doubled Troy on the left and Tom made a good read and came back with Small and hit him on third down. If that is what is going to happen, if people are going to double team one receiver then we need to get it to the other guy and another guy needs to win, he needs to beat his one-on-one matchup.

Q: Is he kind of what you wanted to get out of [Eric] Bjornson last year when you moved him to wide receiver?

BB: We never really moved him to wide receiver, he was split out of the formation some, but yeah it is very similar. It is an inside receiving position…well yeah we did move him out there a little bit, you're right, towards the mid-season there, yeah you're right, but Torrance's strength has always been as an inside receiver. He is a tall guy. He is a big target. He can push off and get open in there and that's something you need. That is something you need on third down, especially with Troy on one side and if you can get a good complimentary guy to go with him with Torrance, you have got speed outside with [David] Patten, that is what the quarterback needs. The more options the better and that is what is harder to defend when you have three or four guys to throw it to instead of just one that they can double up on.

Q: Being a young quarterback, does Brady surprise you with is ability to spot coverages quick enough and get the ball out before the pressure gets to him?

BB: No not really. Tom has done a good job of that all year. He has done a good job in preseason. He has been a good decision-maker in practice and in the game. I thought he did a pretty decent job in the Colt game. He had a couple of throws that you would like to see him get the ball a little bit lower and hit him, but he went to the right guy he just didn't make a good throw on a couple of balls. His field of vision, I think, is really one of his strong points, regardless of how long he has been playing. I think it is his strong point. The thing I really like about Tom is after the play when you ask him Tom what did you see and he tells you exactly what he saw. 'I saw the corner was inside on that route so that's why I came off to the back and I didn't have him because of this so that's why I threw it in there,' but he sees everything and then when you look at the tape you can go back and verify and say, 'Yeah I can see why you did what you did.' That is what you are really looking for from a quarterback. The worst thing is when they give you one of those, 'I didn't see the guy in there. I shouldn't have thrown it.' If he had seen the guy of course he wouldn't have thrown it, but that is what a quarterback has to do. He has to see the field and he has to see more than one guy and it changes quickly. You are over here and then you are back over here, but I think that is one of Tom's real strengths. He does see well and when you talk to him as a coach you have confidence that whatever he did, even if it was the wrong thing, he knows what he saw out there and he knows why he did it. So then you come back and correct him and say, 'The next time you get that situation do something else.'

Q: Is that unusual for a young quarterback?

BB: I think it is, yeah I think it is. He has a real good understanding of the game especially for a second year type player. He's sharp, but he understands football. He is instinctive. He can understand…when you are a quarterback or as a coach there are a lot of different things to take into consideration and two of the most important things are scheme, understanding what the coverage is and knowing by scheme where the soft spot is to throw, but also personnel. Sometimes you get a matchup in your favor and you want to work that matchup regardless of what that coverage is. Being able to put those together and being able to understand wide receivers against db's and tight ends against linebackers and backs against linebackers and then at the same time understanding the overall coverage scheme, putting that all together, that is what good quarterbacks do. They are able to process all of it. Sometimes it is a personnel matchup, sometimes it is a scheme matchup, sometimes you use a hard count to draw them offsides, I mean there are a lot of things going on there and to be able to process all of that, that's what makes good quarterbacks. Tom is not there yet, don't get me wrong, but I think he has shown a lot of those qualities to be able to do a lot of things that manage that position.

Q: Does Miami do a lot of things to confuse quarterbacks or do they just say this is our guy, he is on your guy and you are not going to beat him?

BB: Miami is more of that kind of team, yeah. It is not hard to find them. Zach [Thomas] is going to be in the middle and [Sam] Madison is going to be on the left and [Patrick] Surtain is going to be on the right. It is not real hard to find their guys, but what they do is they do enough that you can't just assume this is what it is going to be. They do some trapping with their corners, they do a lot of passing off underneath with their linebackers and sometimes they are db's and sub situations. Sometimes it looks like this receiver is going to be open going to the outside and then all of a sudden the corner comes off and jumps them and the safety overlaps. You just have to be careful. I think that the strength of Miami's defense is that they have some real strengths, they do them consistently and it is hard to defeat those strengths. In other words [Tim] Bowens and [Daryl] Gardner inside are tough to block, Zach Thomas is tough to block. It is hard to get those three guys. They can pretty much line up in the same place every time and it is hard to get all three of them. You might get one of them, you might get two of them, but it is hard to get all three of those guys and that is a real strength for them. Their corners play good man-to-man. It is not hard to get the corners at man-to-man you could pretty much get it every snap in the game if you want it, but their corners play good man-to-man and you have to beat them. You have to run a good route, you have to make a good throw, sometimes you have to catch it in tight coverage. So from a scheme standpoint they are not as exotic as say the Colts or Cincinnati a couple of teams like that that we played, but what they do, they do well.

Q: Can you just comment on Sam Madison's game?

BB: Sam I think is a very instinctive corner. He plays the ball extremely well. He really likes to see the quarterback throw the ball even when he is in man coverage. He does a good job of what I call peak in and trying to get a look back at the quarterback, he has real good ball skills. If the quarterback makes a bad throw he is going to intercept it. If the receiver runs a crummy route he will under cut the route and he will make the play. He is very opportunistic. He has got long arms. He is a big guy and he really likes to jam receivers aggressively and he gets an opportunity to do that because a lot of times there is a safety playing behind him so he can really get up in the receivers face and be physical with him and still get a little bit of protection behind him. He makes you pay for a mistake. Some guys you can make a bad throw and it is a foul ball and you are still at the plate, but with him it is an out. He will capitalize on those poor decisions or poor throws or tipped balls, stuff like that. He has real good ball skills.

Q: Does he just play the left or is he on the number one?

BB: He is almost always on the offensive left. I have seen occasions where he has gone over to the other side, like for example when they played the Colts, Surtain would go into the slot and then Madison would flip over onto [Marvin] Harrison, but I would say 95 percent of the time he is on the offensive left.

Q: Are you less inclined to challenge the cornerbacks like that with a young quarterback, would you scale back a little bit of what you do with Brady?

BB: I think you have to respect who you are playing against, there is no question about that, but I don't think we can go into the game and say that we are not going to throw the ball. Let me put it this way, I think we have seen…with the Jets we saw two good cornerbacks with [Marcus] Coleman and [Aaron] Glenn and I think that Madison and Surtain are a comparable, they play different styles so it is hard to compare those guys to each other, but I think that in terms of the level of play I think that Coleman and Glenn are two corners that probably start for most teams in the league and I think that Madison and Surtain are corners that could probably start for most teams in the league. When you have two good corners like that as opposed to a team that has a star on one side and then somebody on the other side that is not as good, well it is clear that the opponent will probably will want to throw on who they perceive as the lesser player. With a team like Miami both guys are pretty good quality guys. I just think that it is not that you can't throw on them you just have to be careful. You have to run a good route, you have to have a good throw and you got a chance to hit those if, like I say, the receiver runs a sloppy route or the quarterback puts some air on the ball and just lobs it out there you are looking for trouble and you will probably get it

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