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Replay: Patriots Unfiltered Tue May 21 - 02:00 PM | Thu May 23 - 09:55 AM

Bill Belichick Press Conference

Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick talks to the press today at Foxboro Stadium.To view the full transcript, click below.



BB: I think everyone has got the injury report. There isn't really much new here from what we talked about yesterday. As far as the Saints go I will say a couple of things that I think are really big keys to the game for us one is the power running game of the Saints I think is very similar to Miami. A powerful runner, a lot of inside plays, not that [Ricky] Williams doesn't have the speed to get outside because I think he does, but he really likes to pound it up in there. I think this will be a big challenge for us defensively to handle the running game and the athleticism of the quarterback who, for all of his athletic skills and his ability to escape and all of that, put on a pretty good passing performance last week against the Colts, probably about as good as you can see. Defensively this is a team with a very strong front seven; both their defensive linemen and their linebackers are active. It is unusual when you run up against a team whose leading sacker is their middle linebacker, but they play very well in the front and defensively I think that [Jim] Haslett has done a good job with multiple coverages. We use a lot of multiple coverages and different looks on secondary so I am familiar with some of the things that can go on back there, but they have a lot of them and they do a good job with it and that combined with the pressure they put with the front seven I think will be quite challenging. This is a good football team that has had some big wins this year. They have really been impressive at times with St. Louis and they played very well against Indianapolis. I think we will have a good stiff challenge for us this week.

Q: Based on yesterday, I wasn't here…

BB: You missed it?

Q: I was out of the country, but now that I am back in the country I have a question?

BB: You are going to revisit the whole situation?

Q: Only on one point, did you ever tell Drew Bledsoe that when he was healthy he would have a chance to compete?

BB: What I told Drew was that we would take the situation as it came, day-by-day and he has been on a basically eight week, seven week, whatever it has been rehabilitation program. The step that was different last week was for him to work with the offense, with the regular offensive group and not the scout team. That was the next step to take and what I told him was that we would see how that went and we would evaluate it and we did. I thought that Drew did some good things last week and we in fact had a decision to make last week to make sure that he was ready to play in the game as the backup quarterback which I thought that he showed in practice that he could do that effectively. I just didn't think that after the week was over that there was enough of an opportunity or enough evidence that we had to make a change and now a week later having gone through that and looking at the ramifications of that decision relative to getting the team ready to play a game there is a conflict. There is a conflict between trying to create an equal opportunity at a position and trying to get a team ready to play. I just don't think I can do both. I don't think I can get the team ready to play and the quarterback who is going to start in the game ready to play and still create equal competition at the position, that is really what it comes down to. The team has got to come first and we have got to get the team ready to play against New Orleans and that is what we are going to do and that is really where the definition at the position has to come.

Q: He seems to feel that he was going to get the chance to win the job back now?

BB: If it was possible to create that situation I would like to do it and maybe last week there was maybe a little gap in the understanding of what an opportunity would be and I think that at this point in time and that is why I talked to Drew and Tom Monday. In my mind things have changed a little bit from last week because after I looked at what I did last week I just don't think that that was the best way to go for the team. I don't think that, maybe I shouldn't have made the commitment to Drew that I did in terms of giving him the opportunity that I did last week because I don't think it necessarily served the team all that well. Again that is not to take anything away from Drew because look, nobody has more respect for Drew that I do about the way he competes, about the quality of play that he has put at that position for this organization and the way that he has given himself both physically and in terms of preparation for the team and those are very admirable qualities that I have for him, it is just at the end of November trying to create a fair competitive situation when one player has played the last eight weeks and the other hasn't, it is very, very difficult to do and at this point I just don't think I can do it.

Q: Even though you are the head coach and you are the one that makes the decisions, do you think that you need to do a little fence mending with Drew, because he is just not any player, just in terms of your relationship with him?

BB: Sure I want to have a good relationship with every player. I never have any intention at all of not having a good relationship with any player on the football team and I think I need to have a good relationship with him. I think I need to have good relationship with all of the players.

Q: So do you think you need to do a little fence mending with him because he is obviously very, very miffed and upset with what happened?

BB: We will see how that goes, we will see how that goes. I mean it takes two to make a bargain. I can't do anything other than what I can do and for that to happen it would have to be met half way.

Q: Obviously at the beginning of the year Drew's performance and skill level was where it was as a starting quarterback, is the bottom line then that at this point in time Drew's skill and performance level is not where it was at the beginning of the year and there is not enough time to get to that point?

BB: Well he hasn't played in eight weeks, he hasn't played in eight weeks.

Q: But is that the bottom line that his skill level isn't there?

BB: Well he hasn't had the opportunity, he hasn't had the opportunity yet. If everything had been equal, if both quarterbacks had had equal opportunities then I think it would be an easy decision, play the best player and that's what you do. Here you are talking about a situation where one player has been gone for eight weeks, the other player hasn't, how you make a change, what determines whether you make a change or not and can you get enough opportunity to see where both players are on equal footing and after a week of trying to do that I basically came to the conclusion that I can't create that situation. In order to create that situation I just don't think that would be fair to the rest of the team who is trying to get ready to play a big game against New Orleans. I just don't think I can do it.

Q: You said a bunch of times that you were going to play the player who gives the team the best chance to win, the last month your quarterback has been sacked 14 times and thrown seven interceptions, in eight weeks he never beat a team with a winning record, almost 40 percent of the points that the team has scored was scored against the Colts and 18 of those points were scored against David Patten, are you telling us that Drew Bledsoe couldn't do better than that, he could not beat a team with a winning record?

BB: I never said that. I am not saying that.

Q: But if you look at the facts and you say that you are going to play the player who gives my team the best chance to win…

BB: I think that in the last eight games Tom has given our team an opportunity to be in every game other than the Miami game, that we have had opportunities to win seven of those eight games and we have one five of them. So I think that his performance is certainly not one that has kept our team from having a chance to win and I think that's what the quarterback's job is. To get the team into the end zone and to win games and I think he has done a reasonably good job, I don't think it has been perfect, prior to that we were 0-2. I think Tom's performance speaks for itself. You can take it whichever way you want; it's 5-3…

Q: Against the Rams you scored one touchdown, the offense scored one touchdown, you've averaged 18 points a game on offense the last four weeks…

BB: We are 5-3, we are 5-3.

Q: That's because of Brady?

BB: I am saying it is because of the whole team and the quarterback is a part of it.

Q: Then the question is this if your original statement is true and you believe that you play the player that gives you the best chance to win…

BB: At this point in time.

Q: Right, this point in time, you are saying that Drew Bledsoe gives you less of a chance to win than Tom Brady?

BB: I am saying that Tom has been playing the last eight weeks, I think he is game ready, I think our team is functioning a certain way and at a certain level and I think that I don't see enough evidence to think that now is the time to change it. That may change in time, but right now I just don't think that's the time to do it.

Q: The conjecture is that perhaps the future for Drew Bledsoe here is somewhat hazy?

BB: I don't see where that has anything to do with it. This is not a decision about anything in the future or next year or anything else. I know there is conjecture and speculation and all of that, it is about trying to win a game. We are 5-5, we have a third of the season left and we need to win and we need to win right now and that's where all of our efforts are. Last week they were into beating St. Louis and this week they are onto beating New Orleans and that's what it is about, that's what we are trying to do. This isn't anything about trying to send a message or setup something six months from now or whatever it is, I don't even know where six months from now is or two months from now all I know is that this Sunday it is New Orleans and they are tough just like St. Louis was.

Q: Why not leave the door open for Drew just a little bit for the rest of the season out of respect for what he has done here?

BB: Drew can be in the game after the first play, just like John Friesz was in the Buffalo game last year after the second play. Drew needs to be ready to play and ready to win just like everybody else does. Somebody has to start being the quarterback, somebody needs to prepare to start the game and somebody needs to get the reps to prepare to do that. It can't be both players equally, it just can't happen that way. I think we need some definition at the position and we can't keep going the way we did last week that's why we did what we did. It is not a statement about anything that Drew can't do it is simply the circumstance that we are in. Drew didn't want the circumstances to be this way and I didn't either. None of us wanted him to miss eight weeks, unfortunately that's the way it was, that's the way the cards were dealt, that is where we are at.

Q: Frankly it sounds to me like you are saying that Bledsoe taking snaps last week caused Brady to throw interceptions?

BB: I didn't say that.

Q: Well that's what it sounds like.

BB: Well I didn't say that.

Q: Well what are you saying because I don't understand because it sounds like you are saying that it is a problem for the team that Drew was taking snaps?

BB: I think in retrospect as a coaching staff and as a head coach that we need to put more focus and more effort into getting the starting quarterback ready to play in the game and that is the way we have done it around here and I think that's whether it was Drew as the quarterback or whether it has been Tom as the quarterback, those guys have taken over 90 percent of the snaps in practice and I think that's the way…that gives you your best chance. Now that doesn't mean that if something comes up in the game that the quarterback didn't get or a receiver didn't get or a play that we didn't run against our defense, we still need to be able to handle it. That is part of preparation. You can't cover every single thing in practice, but you want to try to cover as much as you can and give your team the best chance that you possibly can to handle the situations that come up and that is what you try to do as a coach, you try to prepare them. So I think that is what we need to do and every player's job is to be ready to play. Whether it is one play, 60 plays, first quarter, third quarter, whenever it is in-between, that is their job.

Q: One of the facts that has puzzled me is that Brady had thrown exactly three passes in his NFL career when he stepped in, he had thrown three passes in preparation, I understand that Brady has played eight games, but Drew has played eight and a half years why not if he is ready, put him back in?

BB: Well because those eight and a half years have not been the last eight weeks. He hasn't played the last eight weeks that is a little different.

Q: Brady had only thrown three passes before playing against the Colts?

BB: Those were our only options. We could have brought back John Friesz or somebody that has played for 17 years, but those weren't our options. Our options, we had two quarterbacks and we made the determination with Tom as the backup quarterback at the end of training camp so he has been working in that second role and therefore when the opportunity then came he stepped into the first role just like he did at the end of the Jet game when Drew got hurt. I wouldn't want anybody to get hurt, I am not saying that, but that is part of the game. If that situation were to occur again then whoever is behind the first guy has to step and take over that role, whatever position it is. It is their job to be ready and I am sure that Drew will be ready.

Q: Do you feel that you are damned either way?

BB: There are decisions like that every day, every week. You have got to make decisions that is what this job is about. Whether you are a head coach or assistant coach or a player, you have to make decisions. There are always going to be pros and cons to every situation. You could sit here and argue anything all day long and you are going to find good points. When you cut your final roster down there are going to be four or five guys that could have gone either way on you. You have those things in the staff meeting, that is part of it. My job is to make the decisions for what I think are the best interests of the football team and that is what I am doing. So those are really easy decisions. You take all of the information, you get the facts, make the best decision you can and you go with it.

Q: What does Brady face in this defense that is unique from what you have faced so far?

BB: Well their coverages…they run a lot of what I would call match-up zone coverages. They are zone coverages, but they are really man coverages from a zone look. It is kind of unique what they do and they are tough. I think everybody has trouble with them St. Louis and Atlanta and the Colts, I mean all of the team they play. They create some problems because they do a good job of disguising them, they are a little bit different and on top of that they have a good pass rush and of course that is always an element for the passing game to deal with is the pressure and the multiple coverages. I think that is a good part of their package. They put a lot of pressure on your front and they have multiple coverages. I think Jim has done a good job, similar to what they did in Pittsburgh when he was there, but they build on that a little bit and they have a good defensive package.

Q: If you were to lose the next two games and Brady struggles would you consider starting Drew in that third game.

BB: I am not really considering a lot of hypotheticals situations. I just don't know what those would bring or what the circumstances would be, I am just trying to get the team ready for New Orleans. That is my focus right now and I think that is really where each player needs to look as well is the New Orleans game and the challenges that they bring and what we need to do to play a little bit better than last week.

Q: How many snaps did Bledsoe take before the Buffalo game?

BB: With the offense?

Q: Yes.

BB: None.

Q: He had nothing to do with Brady's performance that week, how many did he take before the Denver game?

BB: Drew's first snaps were last week before the Ram game.

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