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Replay: Patriots Unfiltered Wed Sep 22 | 12:00 AM - 11:55 AM

Bill Belichick Press Conference

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BB: I don't really have any injury news from the game. We had some bumps and bruises. Some guys were in and out during the game, but no real updates on that. I gave the players off today and tomorrow. They will workout with Mike [Woicik] but we are not going to have any formal team meetings or workouts or anything like that. I really think it is a good time for some of the guys to get over some bumps and bruises. We have played 12 games, plus the 4 preseason so some of these guys have been at it for a long time. Hopefully they can start to minimize the wear and tear a little bit here as we go into the last push in the season. We have been at it pretty much eight months, since the offseason program started back in March. Now we are coming down to the final four regular season games and we are in the fight and it is obviously going to depend on how we do from here on out. Hopefully we can get just as many people as possible at full strength and try to continue playing as a team like I thought we played yesterday. We had a good effort from a lot of guys out there. We had some guys step up that maybe haven't stepped up too much before. Guys like [Fred] Coleman, [Terrell] Buckley was in there for one play on defense and made a big fourth down interception in the fourth quarter. Things like that that is what it is going to take. We hung in there yesterday, as I said after the game and even though a lot of things didn't go in our favor in the first half we were able to hang in there. We made a big play on the goal line to keep them out of the end zone with [Bryan] Cox and Tedy [Bruschi]. Riddick Parker made a good hit on that and we hung around long enough to make a few plays. I thought that three or four play sequence there in the third quarter with [Mike] Vrabel's interception when Brandon [Mitchell] tipped it and then the pass to Coleman and Antowain's [Smith] run that gave us a little bit of spark and put us back in the game. That is pretty much where we are.

I think that Cleveland is a team that, obviously a young team that has played real well this year. They have a real good defense. We had a tough time with them last year up there in Cleveland as we all know so I think this is going to be a real big challenge for us this week. I know that they are a real physical team. They are well coached. They have good discipline and they are tough. I know Butch [Davis] is a hard-nosed coach and his teams have always played that way and I am sure that that is the type of game that we will see here on Sunday. We are going to have to wipe this one out as quickly as we can and be ready for the Browns.

Q: Yesterday after the game you said, 'We are 7-5 and not may people expected us to be 7-5', to paraphrase you, at 0-2 with the starting quarterback going to the hospital, did you think that this was a realistic scenario for your team?

BB: To tell you the truth I didn't really look at it that way. When you are 0-2 you just try to be 1-2 you are not thinking about 7-5, you are not thinking about anything but 1-2 or 0-3 that is what's going through your mind. We were a team that early, particularly after the first two weeks, we probably lacked a little confidence. I don't think we lacked the effort or the work ethic or the toughness that you need to have, but I think overall as a team we lacked a little bit of confidence and we lacked some execution. Early in the year, even in a couple of our preseason games, our execution wasn't nearly what it is now or what it should be or even what it should have been then. That was really evident in going back and looking at the first Jet game in preparation for this one of how our execution had improved over the last couple of months as it should, but it was pretty noticeable that is was better. I never really looked at it that way. I remember there was a point earlier in the year, I think we were maybe 1-3, and I asked the team how many wins it would normally take to get into the playoffs and they said, 'Ten' and I said, 'How many games do we have left?' We had 12 and we had already won a game, so you do that math.

Q: Speaking of confidence Tom's [Brady] performance the last two games, does that coincide at all with your giving him that extra vote of confidence naming him the starting quarterback, do you think that helped him these last two games?

BB: You would have to ask him that. I don't know. I think that in the first half yesterday he missed some throws I mean that wasn't a great half of football for him. He was under some pressure. He got hit. He got flushed out a couple of times and offensively we really didn't do much of anything. I mean it was a pretty lackluster offensive performance in the first half. He played well in the second half. He made some big throws and our offensive line protected better and gave him a little more time to throw. Those two usually coincide, but I think you have to give the kid a lot of credit. Again, as I said after the game, not so much for the throws but that last run that was a big run. Not big in terms of yards, but big in terms of heart.

Q: You touched on the confidence, questioning some of the teams confidence, Bryan Cox talked about that last week that he sometimes saw a team that wasn't as confident as it could be, where did you see those instances crop up and what kind of addition must it be to the confidence with the come-from-behind win yesterday?

BB: Well it was good, it was good. It is good for the confidence. You can have all of the confidence that you want, but until you actually go out there and do it and see the results it is not the same, it is just not the same. When you can do it then that is really what I would call a genuine confidence. We did that against San Diego. We came back from a ten-point deficit there in the fourth quarter. That is genuine confidence. We can all talk about coming back and coming from behind and being able to make up a deficit in the fourth quarter and all of that, but until you do it, it is just not the same. The same thing about protecting a lead and being able to run out the clock. We had a couple of games this year where we have been able to take the ball in the fourth quarter and run some time off of the clock or make a first down like we did yesterday and finish the game as we like to say, put a finish to it. We had some instances last year where we had opportunities to do that and weren't able to do it. So again I think the team has a…there is a certain level of confidence you have going in saying, 'We are going to be able to do this, this is something that we need to do and we are going to do it.' I think there is actually a different feeling when you actually go out there and do it and know that you have done it and say, 'We need to do it again.' That again is a…I think that adds a little bit of an exclamation point to the confidence level.

Q: If there was a lack of confidence is that more the players who are still leftover from the previous regime and have that over hang of a 5-11 season?

BB: Maybe I said it poorly, maybe I shouldn't have said lack of confidence let's just say more confidence because I never thought that the team felt like no confidence, didn't have a chance, wouldn't be able to do it, wouldn't be able to stop them on defense, wouldn't be able to score on offense, wouldn't be able to convert third downs, wouldn't be able to score in the red area it wasn't that. There was a level of confidence, right now it is just significantly higher because we have done it and we have been more successful doing it. I can say that it didn't' exist if I said that it didn't really come out the way I feel.

Q: When does it come to the point where talent isn't the overriding issue? You have some very high priced players that aren't playing Bledsoe, [Terry] Glenn, [Ted] Johnson you didn't have, [Willie] McGinest you didn't have yet you keep winning when is it not just about talent any more?

BB: Well in football it is all about team. It is about 11 guys doing something not one. You can have first round draft choices or you can have free agents, but it really comes to collectively how they all mesh together and how they perform as a unit. Particularly when you are going up against other good football teams like the Jets yesterday, you get challenged on every front. You get challenged in the running game with Curtis Martin, you get challenged with a good offensive line and a guy like Kevin Mawae, you get challenged with a good receiving back like Richie Anderson and you get challenged with good receivers like Wayne Chrebet and Laveraneus Coles and a talented guy like Santana Moss so that transcends into the whole unit. Everybody playing together and being able to understand where your help is and how to utilize your teammates and how to depend on them and count on them so that you can be more aggressive doing your job. Those are things that are really team oriented and that's really the strength of the…there is an old saying about the strength of the wolf is the pack and I think there is a lot of truth to that. On a football team it is not the strength of the individual players but it is the strength of the unit and how they all function together. That is something that I think the veterans on the team have had a lot to do with. I think the coaches have done a good job of holding it together as well and certainly when you have a little success that fuels the fire.

Q: Have you been on championship teams that weren't as talented as other teams in the league?

BB: Oh absolutely. The '90 Giants that team wasn't nearly as talented as the '86 team, was not nearly as talented and nobody expected the '90 Giants to win the Super Bowl, a lot of them didn't expect them to be in the playoffs, but that team played well together as a unit. They started off 10-0 and I think I said this before, but I remember when that team was 10-0 and everybody was talking about how the defense wasn't any good, the offense was inconsistent, wait until they play somebody good, this won't last, they are just beating up on some bad teams and other teams have played poorly and all of that you know we were 10-0. That team was not an overly talented team, but they played well together and ultimately won a championship. I know that first hand.

Q: Do you see some comparisons here?

BB: Well I think it is a little bit too early for that.

Q: After seeing those five losses…

BB: Yeah, we are a long way from 10-0.

Q: Yesterday after the half it is 13-0 and you were kind of hanging on…

BB: Barely.

Q: ...then you go three and out to start the half and have a 19 yard punt and then Vrabel intercepts the ball, now that is a big play but is it a bigger play because it makes everybody else say, 'Now I have to make a play.' Does it become a bigger play because of what it causes everyone else to feel like they have to do?

BB: Yeah I think it did. I think in that case it certainly sparked the fire. To me we had really one play in the first quarter and that was the hit on the goal line. Up until that point they had just taken the ball up the field twice and that was the only play we made that, you know it saved us four points. Then after that we kind of kicked it around out there a little bit. We were lucky we didn't give up some points at the end of the half and we were real lucky that we didn't give up some points at the beginning of the third quarter, but 13-0 as opposed to 21-0, you know that changes everything. There is an opportunity there in the third quarter for the Jets to get some points based on, where did they get the ball at the 30 yard line or whatever it was, it was down there pretty deep. Mike made a play and then Freddie made a play and then Antowain made a good run. They came back and answered it and then we got a couple of more good plays. We hit Antowain on a check down, [Marc] Edwards had a good run so that seemed to spark it. The last four times we had the ball offensively we scored on three of them and made a first down to finish the game. So those were four real good possessions, but boy up until that point we were struggling.

Q: After the game Bobby Hamilton said that if you were down 13 points against the Jets last year at the half this team would have given up?

BB: Well last year we were down 14 points against the Jets in the first quarter and it was 31-14 or whatever the final score was so we have seen being down 14 points against the Jets a year ago and what happened, that is reality.

Q: So you agree that last year's team would have given up?

BB: I am not saying they would have given up, but last year's team was down by 14 points in the first quarter and lost by 17 or whatever the final score was. It was significant. We were never in that game.

Q: In the first half your secondary had trouble, guys were wide open, missed tackles was that the assignment that was called or miscommunication?

BB: We played poorly. We did. We played poorly. We missed tackles. We were in a couple of man coverage situations and got beat. We just didn't play well. I mean they hit a couple of third downs and then there were a couple of other passes where we had guys right there and couldn't make the play. Vinny [Testaverde] had some good throws on the money, but we didn't play well defensively in that first half, again other than in the red area and on the goal line, keeping them out of the end zone a couple of times, but they moved the ball and there wasn't much good and it didn't look much better this morning. We were just lucky to make enough plays to extend the tide, keep them out of the end zone and hold them to field goals.

Q: At the beginning of the game the Jets came out aggressively on offense, did you ever get the sense that they started playing a little more conservatively to try to protect the lead they had?

BB: No not at all because they took several shots at us down the field. They had a, in fact right when they got the ball there on the, I think it was the next time they got the ball down on our side of the field they tried to throw a long pass, a play-action, it looked like they were going for the homerun there and I think [Richard] Seymour and Hamilton got him. They ran a reverse there in the third quarter. They had a couple of other shots down the field that either we got pressure on them or they didn't hit them or Vinny didn't throw it and he was trying to throw it, but he ended up dumping the ball off somewhere else that kind of thing. No I think they stayed with it. They got us a couple of times and then after that most of the completions were in the short to intermediate range on slant patterns and a couple of screens and check downs and that kind of thing.

Q: During the season you are always bringing guys in, Fred Coleman is one of those guys, why did you bring him in? What did you see in him?

BB: We had a little background with Fred at the Jets. Charlie [Weis] first saw him at Washington when he was the other receiver with [Jerome] Pathon that year and they both were pretty productive. In fact Fred put up some pretty good numbers in college at Washington. We had him at the Jets, we had him on the practice squad and to tell you the truth, defensively, he made quite few plays against us on the scout team. He looked pretty good and then he didn't make the team, but he is one of those guys whose practice squad eligibility had run out. He had already been on everybody's practice squad for two years and that had expired. Had that not happened we would have had him on the practice squad a) last year or b) this year, but he ended up in the XFL and then ended up with the Bears in training camp so that part of it just didn't quite work out. But this time what happened was we ended up needing a receiver on the roster on the regular roster and when we brought some guys in and worked them out a) he knew the system, b) he had a pretty good workout. You know he runs well and he was in good shape. So of the people we brought in he looked like the best one and he did have a little bit of background in the system. Charlie had seen him on offense and Romeo [Crennel] and I and Eric [Mangini] had seen him on defense and it is one of those things where if you are not out on the practice field with him you would never know about it, but having worked against him he was a good competitive receiver out there.

Q: Speaking of receivers, has Terry Glenn reported today?

BB: Well this isn't going to be a Terry Glenn day today. We have been working on trying to get through the tape from yesterday with the Jets and we will deal with that tomorrow.

Q: The third quarter has been your Achilles' heel this season but yesterday it proved to be the turning point of the game, what do you credit that to, what was the difference yesterday?

BB: Yesterday we played a lot better football in the second half all the way around. We were better on defense, we were better on offense, our execution was poor in the first half in a lot of areas and we just executed better in the second half and that's really what it came down to. That is what I talked to the team about at halftime. It wasn't about we weren't trying hard, we weren't playing hard or we were intimidated or any of that stuff. We didn't have a lot of penalties, we didn't have a lot of turnovers, but we just weren't executing things as sharply as we needed to and then based right on the heels of that speech we came out there and tripped on a screen pass and lost about seven yards and couldn't convert on third down and punted the ball 19 yards and gave it right back to them, but from that point on then I thought we played much sharper football. We executed better on both sides of the ball and really it came down to execution that is the best way I can put it to you.

Q: Do you have any idea why?

BB: I think better overall concentration and maybe a better understanding of…when you go into a game you talk about the opponent, you talk about the scouting report and the things that they are going to do and anytime, like a team like the Jets, we have got the last four games on them and we played them earlier in the year and there are so many things that they do over the course of seven or eight, nine, ten games however many it is you are looking at. You try to boil it down as a coach but sometimes it doesn't really totally clear up until the first quarter and you can see, 'Well this is exactly how they are going to play us.' Forget about the plays they ran against Buffalo and some of the things they did against St. Louis and some of their previous opponents. You can see at some point in the game this is how they are going to play the Patriots and I think we reached that point defensively at about the end of the first quarter, 'Look fellas here are the things that we have got to stop, these are the things that we have got to play better against let's get that straightened out and we will take our chances on everything else.' Again, I think that is how you get better execution sometimes by boiling it down to just a few things that are the absolute musts in the game and make sure that you concentrate on those and nothing else until you get that squared away.

Q: Your reaction after yesterday's game how strongly you reacted celebrating and hugging guys can you remember being that excited after a win?

BB: Oh yeah a couple.

Q: '86 and '90?

BB: Those would be two, yeah, those would be two, the Washington playoff game in '86. No I just thought that it was one of those games, we know we are going down there to play a big division game on the road, they beat us the first game, they are in first place, we are a game and a half behind them. We go down there with the idea that this is a game that we need to win to stay in the race with them. We go down there we are down by 13 at the half, we are having to fight our way back uphill on the road, a lot of things are going against us and the players just hung in there, they kept fighting, they kept scratching, they kept just doing everything they could do and we got a few breaks, we made a few plays and we made a first down there at the end to run out the clock and that just all culminated in a real ecstatic feeling for all of the hard work. We have been at this for eight months now. This win didn't happen in the last five minutes. These guys have been lifting weights and running the stairs and running outside and doing sit-ups and squats and everything else for eight months to get into that situation and to be able to fight back from the deficit we were at and pull the game out on the road and a game that meant a lot to us. I was happy for them and they were happy.

Q: You have been on both sides of this rivalry, it has been ten games now. The Patriots went into yesterday's game 2-7 in those games and the hangovers have been bad when they have lost, did you see a level of relief at all?

BB: Well one of the differences in this game is that we caught that ball instead of it going through our hands, but aside from that…no you know what I didn't feel like there was…look we went down there we expected to win. I mean we weren't going down there hoping to keep it close or anything like that, we thought we were going to win the game and we knew it would be a tough game. So I don't think there was a feeling that when is it going to go bad, when is the bell going to ring, I think it was just you are up against a good team, you are trying to make your plays, but they have some playmakers over there too that you are having a battle against I don't think we felt like the world is against us and we can't win down here, we can't beat the Jets. I don't think it was that.

Q: Eight months we talked about your obvious need to make this team tougher, those 11 free agents you signed toughness was a major aspect in all of those guys, do you think that is one of the reasons you are where you are?

BB: Sure I think that has helped. I think the toughness on this team is significantly better than it was last year both mentally and physically and I think their resiliency is better, absolutely. Look, a lot of these guys have been through the wars. A lot of these guys have been cut by other teams too or they have seen their careers take some turns along the way. I think they are battle-hardened, they have been in some tough games, they have been on the road, they have played hurt, they have played from behind, they have been the underdogs and that is why they are where they are. I think that certainly adds a certain element to it, no question about it. On the other hand I think we have some younger guys that haven't been through, I mean maybe they have, but no necessarily in this league okay like we wouldn't know what Brady has been through at Michigan, we have written 17 books on that already this year, but younger guys like Seymour and like Brady and guys like that, Fred Coleman, guys that are getting an opportunity to step up and because of the traits that we think we have seen in them some of those things are coming through. Again Coleman is a guy that has been waived and cut through the league five times. He has been out there for any one who want him any time they want him, but he has never stopped working, he played in the XFL last year, he's gone to training camps, he has been released, he keeps hanging in there, he keeps battling, gets an opportunity he is in the game for one play yesterday and he makes it. You can't have enough guys with that kind of personality or that kind of attitude.

Q: What did you learn from Brady's yesterday in terms of his character given that he got banged up a little bit by the Jets?

BB: I think that is another lesson for Tom yesterday. We were behind in the San Diego game, we have been behind in some other games, but I think this is the first game where probably physically he felt the affect of a couple of hits from earlier in the game, but Tom is a tough kid and it doesn't surprise me that he pushed through it. I am not saying I am surprised by it happening, but I think it probably was a first for him this year. Not that he hasn't been hit hard before, but where he really started to feel the affects of it later in the game.

Q: You were here in '96 when the team started off 0-2 and stumbled a little bit before getting on a roll is there a similar feeling what is going on right now to what happened there in '96?

BB: The '96 team, first of all I have told the team I don't know how many times in the last year and a half for all of us that were here in '96 the best thing that we can all do is forget about '96. There are so few similarities and there are so few people around that played on that team and even the ones that did are in different capacities, me included. But the guys who played on it were in their first or second year. Lawyer Milloy was a rookie. He is so far from that right now that to think of him in '96 is like night and day. That all being said I think the best thing we can do is forget about '96. The comparison though would be getting off to a slow start, building a little bit of momentum I mean I can't argue with that. Again, I would say one of the big differences in '96 was we had a lot of really young players. Guys in their first, second third year who were emerging. We have a few of those players now, but we also have a lot more players that I would say are at least in the middle if not past the middle of their overall professional career. I think their outlook on it is a little different than a second or third year guy

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