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Replay: Patriots Unfiltered Fri Apr 09 - 12:00 AM | Sun Apr 11 - 11:59 PM

Bill Belichick Press Conference

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BB: On the injuries, I don't think we had anything serious in the game yesterday. We had some bumps and bruises, but it doesn't look like there is anything that at this point that would be a great cause for concern. I expect that we will get some of the guys who have been out back. Bryan Cox, Ted Johnson, Terry [Glenn], we will see where we are with [Kole] Ayi, but I would expect that all of them will do some work this week. I think we are making a little progress on that front.

In the game yesterday I thought that, you really have to give the players a lot of credit. I thought that they played very hard, a very physical game against a physical team. We had some success on the line of scrimmage, both sides in the running game. I thought really one of the big keys to the game was the turnover situation that we were probably fortunate to come out of the game without any turnovers because the ball was loose a couple of times, but in the end we were able to get it back. The turnovers, I thought, were a big factor in the game. This week we have got the Jets who lead the league in the turnover ratio, 20 something turnovers, whatever it is and then Cleveland after that who is right behind the Jets with 15 or 16 on the plus side whatever it is. This three game stretch here, we are going against teams who have had tremendous success turning the ball over and a top priority for us has to be taking care of it and being able to create them on the defensive side of the ball or in the kicking game. I thought we had a good performance from Kenny [Walters] yesterday punting the ball. We were able to get good field position when we were backed up and we were able to pin him up a couple of times, so that was good. Just generally again, I have got to really give the credit to the players. As a team they played hard, they played tough for 60 minutes and they played a physical game the way it needed to be played against the Saints yesterday all the way around. Obviously we had some guys step up and make some big plays in key times. It was real encouraging to see some of the players who maybe haven't had as much production in some of the previous weeks step in there yesterday and be able to really make good, solid contributions for us, plays, different points in the game that we needed both on special teams and on the offensive and defensive sides of the ball. That's the update for today.

Q: One of those players you are talking about is Charles Johnson, he certainly had a breakthrough game?

BB: Charles had a couple of big plays for us. I thought J.R. [Redmond] gave us a good lift there running the ball. I thought Ben [Kelley] did a nice job on the second kickoff return that he hit it up in there pretty good and gave a couple of good, encouraging signs there. We got plays from Antwan Harris in the kicking game and on defense. I mean there were several guys that I think we all saw some of the plays they made out there yesterday. It is nice to get, like I said, good, firm contributions from those guys.

Q: [Antowain] Smith, the last month, seems to be running like he did in Buffalo. Are you noticing much difference in terms of this last month and earlier in the season?

BB: I think Antowain has run hard all year. I think he ran hard in the Carolina game. I think he ran hard in the Washington game. I think there were plays in both of those games, particularly around the goal line, where it looked like he was going to be stopped maybe on the five, six, seven yard-line, whatever it was and he basically made the yardage into the end zone on his own. So I think he has run hard all year. I think he has run with good power and good speed. I thought he showed in the Indianapolis game that he can take a toss play and take it half way down the field. So I think he has run hard all year.

Q: Why do you think he has had more production now than earlier in the season?

BB: I think it is a combination of things. I think that the more consistency that we can get with the line and the back simultaneously working together I think that is always an asset to the running game. I think that as time has gone on we have gotten a little better feel for Antowain as a runner and the plays that he runs well we probably call those at a little bit higher frequency. I think maybe that has probably taken a little bit of time to sort itself out, but the continuity of him with the line and also making sure that the running game is really tailored to his strengths. I think we have tried to do that some. I think there has also been a good confidence from the team with the receivers and blocking on the backside and things like that because Antowain has shown that he has got the speed to get outside. I think everybody knows that kind of little saying that we have that you are always at the point of attack. So even though the play may be designed to go the right, the left side can really be the point of attack too because he can bend it back or like what happened yesterday and also happened in the Atlanta game, he kind of gets stopped up outside and he can reverse his field and if you just stay on your blocks there on the backside, we can still have good things happen on the play. The receivers do a good job of coming in and cracking on the safeties and blocking those secondary guys and keeping them out of the run lanes and give Antowain a little bit more momentum to be built up into the line of scrimmage. So I think those are all factors. I think Dante [Scarnecchia] has done a real good job with the offensive line on the blocking schemes and the game plan with Charlie [Weis] and Jeff [Davidson] so there are probably a lot of contributors there.

Q: Running backs often times get stereotyped or almost pigeonholed if they don't produce over a certain amount of time they are just considered backups, would you think that is fair to say about Antowain and his experience in Buffalo?

BB: I think Antowain's situation in Buffalo was a little bit unique. I really do. I think that when he had an opportunity to play, maybe similar to the way we are playing him this year, I think that you can see even back in Buffalo a similar type of player and a similar type of result. Even last year in the Seattle game, Buffalo's last game of the year out there in the rain and all of that, he had a terrific day running the ball. I think what happened in Buffalo last year was that the offensive system went a little bit more towards the spread formations, towards empty backfields, toward shotguns to emphasize some of the things that Doug [Flutie] did well and take advantage of their depth at receiver with [Jeremy] McDaniel and Peerless [Price] and of course [Eric] Moulds and [Jay] Riemersma and those guys. You can't do everything and I think that might have hindered Antowain a little bit in terms of his opportunities just because they were emphasizing different things.

Q: That being the case you spotted that and decided if he became available that would be something that would fit into what you were thinking about?

BB: Well we have been looking for a back…since I have been here we have been looking for a back that we feel like we can give the ball to consistently. I am talking about game after game, in the first quarter, in the fourth quarter, on the goal line, in short yardage and Antowain has done a real good job for us in all of those situations and it is great when it can be the same guy. If one guy can emerge and take over that role and be the guy then I think that is the best situation for everybody. That is not always the case and again there are plenty of examples of teams having success doing it with more than one guy, but we prefer for it to be one. I think Antowain has done a good job of convincing everybody that he needs to get the ball more. So we will try to give it to him.

Q: Did you have competition for his services?

BB: You know it came down pretty quick. It really came down pretty quick. We were in the June mini camp and I think we had already had a couple of days of it or it had started, I forget exactly the timing, but we were in it when he came in and we got him out on the field for the last day of the mini camp so we could at least start giving him some information so he could start to get a feel for what things were going to be like and show him what the conditioning test was and all of that. Maybe we should have shown him a little better.

Q: Were there a lot of teams in the hunt for him?

BB: I think you would have to talk to him about that. I can't really speak to that. All I know is that we got him in as quickly as we could and talked to him and fortunately we were able to come to an agreement with him. I couldn't tell you exactly what all of his other options were.

Q: When you got him on the field and saw him did you think this is what we were looking for or was it more of a thing where this might be the guy?

BB: Are you talking about mini camp?

Q: Yeah even in mini camp.

BB: Yeah it was just that one day so you know he certainly showed what we see know. He is a big, fast guy that catches the ball pretty well and we know about his toughness and his competitiveness, how hard he runs and he has had good ball security through his career. So I think you could see those things a little bit in mini camp, but again it was just one day. It was more of trying to get him into the system. I think where it started to show up was really in preseason and he had, I thought, some real good runs. Again going back to the Carolina and Washington preseason games where he made quite a bit of yardage on his own, particularly tough yardage around the goal line and that was impressive.

Q: Chicken and the egg theory, is it the running back that makes the offensive line better in these situations or is it the offensive line?

BB: I think it is a combination of both. I really think it is and the more they can work hand in hand then the better off I think it is going to be. The more the back can get a feel for the blocking and the more that the linemen can get a feel and know what things really help the running game the most for that particular back and what things not to do. The more of that you can get obviously the better and the more continuity that you can have on the offensive line and the tight ends. I think with Marc [Edwards] and Antowain working together too, I don't want to…I would say it has been this way all year, but Marc has had some key blocks on most all of Antowain's runs. Whether it be the toss play in Indianapolis or some of the inside plays that he has hit, he has had some real critical blocks that sprung him through the line so I think that is part of it too.

Q: I know that it is our job to come up with the analogies and not yours…

BB: Well I will just do anything I can to make your job easier.

Q: All right then, how much better is the offensive line at this point this season than it was last year?

BB: It is hard to put a real percentage on that, but I would say it is significantly better in a couple of areas. One, the continuity of the line is better. We went through the first three or four games with kind of musical guards. Then I think that Greg [Robinson-Randall], Greg played at the end of last year and he has played last year, but he is a better football player than he was last year. I think Matt [Light] has come in and done a good job for us at left tackle, not without some problems, but overall it has been a pretty solid job, but I think the three guys inside, Damien [Woody], Mike [Compton] and Joe [Andruzzi] have really been pretty solid week in and week out and we didn't have that last year throughout the 16 game schedule. Even toward the end of the year after Joe got hurt we still had…first we had Joe getting in there and there was a transition and we had [Derrick] Fletcher and Jason Andersen and, I am trying to remember who else played in there, Max [Lane] played some in there, we had musical guards…

Q: Sale [Isaia]?

BB: Sale, right, well Sale was pretty consistent, but then the other guys there was fluctuation in and then after Joe got hurt then that got the ball rolling again. So the continuity there has been a lot better and I think our tackles have…Greg has played better and Matt has done a good job particularly in the running game. I think Matt has given us a little lift in the running game.

Q: Has Compton met or perhaps even exceeded your expectations and is Andruzzi also, has he given you more than you thought he might have based on his performance last year?

BB: I think Joe is about where he was last year. I think the big difference for Joe is he is playing on the right side instead of the left side and just from a scheme standpoint that probably means a little tougher job in pass protection. So he has played on the right side where Sale played and Joe has done a good job for us in pass protection at the right guard and that is just a little tougher position to play in the passing game. Mike has given us a lot of flexibility on the offensive line because of his play at guard and his ability to help the left tackle whoever it has been whether it has been Grant [Williams] or Matt or even Adrian [Klemm] when he was working in there earlier in the year. His experience and his continuity have been good there and then his ability to shotgun snap. So that has been a pretty painless transition to the point where we almost don't even notice that, 'Oh that is Damien at guard and that's Mike at center.' I mean you notice it on the snap, I am talking about when the play develops there are not a lot of cases where you are sitting there saying, 'Oh well that's tough for Mike because he is at center, that is tough for Damien because he is at guard,' that has been pretty painless. So Mike's versatility there has been and his experience have been a big plus. That's really why we sign them, but he certainly has performed well in that role.

Q: When you were talking about players that might be back this week you mentioned Terry's [Glenn] name, does that mean that you didn't watch television last night?

BB: No, I was sleeping.

Q: Have you heard about it?

BB: I heard that he did an interview, but that is about the extent of it.

Q: He said among other things that he didn't expect to play for the Patriots again…

BB: Okay well whatever he said, he said. I didn't see it. I don't really have any comment on it. I am not going to get into whatever he did or didn't say until I at least have a chance to look at it. So I will just withhold those comments for right now if you don't mind. That's not what you were looking for right?

Q: Well he strongly intimated that his hamstring may not get better unless he gets his money?

BB: Well again I am not going to comment on, I am not saying it is heresy, but I don't know how it was said or what the context was or anything else.

Q: He was given several chances to clarify it…

BB: Okay well then you have your opinion on it that's fine.

Q: With five games left, have you reached the point where injured reserve is an option?

BB: No I haven't reached it yet, but as each day goes by it gets a little bit closer, there is no doubt about that. That is true for every player at this point. It is like a baseball game. You have to bring in your reliever and you lose your starter, but that is it. You are taking him out of the game to get an out and in our case to win a game. So if we have to do something at any position with any player, if we have to do something then there isn't that many games left we will have to make our decisions based on what the current needs are and not look back.

Q: Does your medical staff still support his contention that the hamstring injury is sufficient enough to hinder him legitimately?

BB: Well what I said is the way it has been conveyed to me and basically what I think the situation is.

Q: Which is what?

BB: Which is we expect him to do some work this week. I mean just so we don't have any miscommunication on that, is that what I said the first time or does that come out differently?

Q: I was out of town when you said that.

BB: Were you?

Q: How is Willie McGinest? Did he re-injure what he had been out with?

BB: No I think he just got a bruise, yeah I think he just got a bruise.

Q: Do you feel like you dodged a bullet on that one?

BB: Well I think anytime you play a tough physical team like the Saints you are going to have some bumps and bruises and I think we got some. I don't think we have anything that looks tremendously serious at this point, I mean that's just an hour or so after the game, sometimes things crop up but if there was anything that was a major concern I would let you know right away, but I just don't have anything right now.

Q: Could you talk in general about the reliance between the offense and defense and the trust between the two?

BB: We talk every week about playing a complimentary game. That is what we call it and I think really that all three areas have to fit together. Special teams, your offense and your defense all fit together because one way or another they follow each other out there. We talk about how each unit needs to play and certainly some situations dictate a particular style of play, but in general how the units need to play to compliment the other units and I don't think that can be overstated. I think that the coaches need to have a good understanding of that and I think the players have to do it too and when those situations come up during the game that we have talked about then we try to get things executed in a certain way. For example defensively when you are out there for a long drive, a 15, 16, 17 play drive, that kind of thing which sometimes those things occur, that the offense needs to understand that they just can't afford to go three and out. You want to answer with a touchdown, sure that's great, but the most important thing is to be able to get a couple of first downs, keep the ball, give the defense a chance to rest, a chance to make some adjustments and not throw them right back out on the field the next play. Defensively, it plays in similar ways. Special teams, the same thing. There are certain things we want to try to take advantage of and when you have those opportunities then everybody needs to be in sync to be able to do that. Certainly when you are scoring points it gives you an opportunity defensively to be able to be a little bit more aggressive and maybe to take some chances if you feel like a field goal is going to lose it that's a lot different perspective than playing with a ten or 17 point lead.

Q: Can that be a potentially explosive situation on teams that is often overlooked?

BB: I think there is always a little bit of that there just like a lot of other things. When you are losing those things become much bigger issues then when you are winning. When you are winning it seems like everything is always or usually goes a long at a pretty even pace, but sometimes when you are losing there is a tendency toward finger pointing, but I think that this team has done a good job of keeping their nose to the grindstone and sticking to business. There are enough areas for each individual and each unit to improve on rather then focus their attention on a problem that has gone wrong in some other area to just address what it is that they need to do a better job of.

Q: I noticed that on the sideline at the end of the game you were pretty demonstrative more so then usual, slapping guys on the helmet, pumping your fist as you walked off the field, obviously a win is a win, but was their anything about that game that you felt was different?

BB: No I thought the players really played well. I did. I thought that everything we asked them to do during the week they really tried to do during the game. They played hard. They were physical. We talked about trying to control the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball particularly in the running game. We were able to run it. We were able to stop the running back from running it. We couldn't stop the quarterback, but we did a pretty good job on the normal running game. I thought that we needed to make some big plays offensively in the passing game, we were able to make them. On special teams we got a big play there on the blocked field goal. We downed two punts inside the three-yard line. We kicked another punt, it was about a 50 yard net or whatever it was where [Je'Rod] Cherry got them. I thought that they really tried to do all of the things that we asked them to do. Like Thanksgiving is, it is no different for us than anybody else, but it is a little bit of an unusual week. We didn't practice on Thursday. We got into the game plan and preparation on Tuesday, which is a little early. I know guys were stiff and sore when they went out there on Tuesday, but they pushed through it, they didn't complain, they weren't down about it they just looked at it and they knew what the situation was. They took the challenge. Friday we really got on them about not easing back into it, that we really had to put our foot on the gas and come back. Not from a physical standpoint, but from a mental and an intensity standpoint. We had one of our best practices of the year, I thought we did that on Friday, so I really just have to give all of the credit to the players. As a team they responded to everything that we asked them to do. They played hard. It was a tough loss against St. Louis. As a football team we were extremely disappointed at the result, but the big thing was that we didn't let St. Louis beat us twice. They beat us once and that was enough. We were able to bury that one and come back and really probably overall play one of our best games of the year yesterday. The players deserve all of the credit for that and the Thanksgiving and unorthodox week that we had they were able to deal with all of that in a positive way and perform well on Sunday. It was gratifying to see all of those things fall into place.

Q: In retrospect when you look back at all the swirling controversy around your quarterback controversy…

BB: Most of the controversy was in this room and it was outside of here. I mean I am not saying it didn't exist, but I don't think it was controversial from my standpoint. We made a decision and I know that the public and the media and the fans…and I certainly acknowledge that there was a lot of conversation about it, but I don't think internally it was the way it was externally.

Q: When you got Antowain Smith did you have a confidence situation that you had to deal with, because Joe Pendry did not think much of him, that is the story anyway, did you have to build his confidence as well as his endurance?

BB: I don't think so. I think Antowain had a lot of confidence in his ability. I think Antowain's attitude was, 'I will do it, just give me a chance. Just let me show you what I can do,' and I think our other backs deserve that opportunity too. I think J.R. [Redmond] deserved it and I think Kevin [Faulk] deserved it. We tried to, as much as we could in training camp and in the preseason games, give them all an opportunity. They all had strong moments. Of course Kevin had a big game against Washington on the screen pass and had a couple of big runs and did a good job in the Indianapolis game, J.R. has had his moments, but we just tried to let that competition sort itself out and I just think that in the end Antowain was able to perform for what we were for looking for in terms of consistency of an every down back and has been able to win that job. Kevin and J.R. have both been able to make to make plays for us and give us a lift and be productive, but I think that Antowain has shown that he has been able to take that responsibility and carry the load. I think he has had the confidence that he would be able to do that all of the way. I don't think that it has been a big rebuilding project there with his confidence.

Q: Back to the quarterback, do you think that announcing it on Monday helped Tom in any way during the week of preparations?

BB: Well I did it to put some clarity to the position so…

Q: But now looking back do you think that it had a positive effect?

BB: Well I think if I had it to do over again I would still do the same thing. I might change the delivery just a little bit, but I think the decision would be the same and I think it gave some clarity and definition to the position. I hope it helped.

Q: Can you talk about Tedy Bruschi and how he has done filling in, you have two middle linebackers out?

BB: Right, well Tedy, you just can't say enough about Tedy. I would say the biggest thing with Tedy is not only what he has done for us defensively, but in doing that he still has been very productive for us on the punt team, on the kickoff return team, whatever we have asked him to do, sub defenses, Tedy, he is a warrior. He is just a good football player. Sometimes he is a little unorthodox doing things, but he is instinctive, he knows where the ball is, he has good quickness, he can stay on his feet well, he is not on the ground very often unless he is making a tackle or that kind of thing, but I am talking about that he doesn't get blocked down very much. Tedy is just a smart football player. You give it to him once and he has got it. Then a lot of times he will come back to even say, 'Hey if we just did it a little this way or that way I think that would help us out,' and he has got a lot of good suggestions there that really show how he understands the game plan and the concepts that we are trying to use on defense. For a middle linebacker he is quick and he is active in there and he's a contrast in style to Bryan and Ted who are bigger, bulkier, more physical, not that Tedy isn't physical, but they just pack a bigger load.

Q: Do you see him as a guy who could stay at middle linebacker?

BB: I think Tedy can play, he is a very versatile player. He plays well in the kicking game, he plays well in the sub defenses, he can rush the passer, he has shown he can play outside, he can play inside. I think that when he plays inside, he plays it a little different style then some of the other more conventional middle linebackers and that is not to say it isn't productive, it is just a little different. So I think that he can play any of those spots and he has shown he can.

Q: Any percentage on Ted or Bryan getting back this week?

BB: Well I think we are going to have a shot, yeah I think we will have a shot. Bryan of course hasn't worked in a few weeks and this will be two weeks for Ted by the time we get to the middle of the week so Ted has played a lot more recently than Bryan has, but we will get them out there Wednesday and see where they are. I think in talking to both of them they are both anxious to get back, they both expect to be out there working this week, I know they are both gearing towards being ready to play. So hopefully, with no setbacks, they will be ready to play.

Q: Because of the way that Terry Glenn returned to the roster, the legalities involved, are you in any way restricted in the way you can deal with his roster spot because of that, is there anything that would keep him on this roster even if you felt that you should put him on injured reserve?

BB: No, no, all of that is, it's water under the bridge. It has no impact…the decision was what it is and we will certainly abide by it, but that's done. Whatever happens now is about what is going on at this point in time and what happens in the future doesn't have anything to do with that.

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